So, you may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a fatsplosion over at Newsweek lately. When Kate Dailey, Newsweek’s still-relatively-new health blogger, reviewed LFTF as one of her first assignments, I wasn’t sure what to make of her — her interview seemed hampered by an unwillingness to give up on toeing the “fat bad!” line. It wasn’t that she seemed hostile, but that she seemed reluctant to give up the obesity crisis security blanket. And why should she? We’ve seen how science writers tend to cover fat; it’s easier to get published if you vilify it, plus you get to use all sorts of fun synonyms. (Here, we usually write “fat.” Anyone penning an OBESITYCRISISBOOGABOOGA article also gets access to “corpulent,” “portly,” “flabby,” “overweight,” and lots of other colorful language. It’s hardly fair.)
As it turns out, I’ve apparently seen the “this is all very interesting, and if you need me I’ll be over here clinging desperately to conventional wisdom” response often enough that I’m getting to be an expert. That’s exactly what Dailey was thinking, she says –and here’s how she dealt with it:
I started to re-examine what I thought I knew about weight and health. I also started to pay more attention to how fatness was discussed and debated in the media: It’s not pretty, and it seems that the venom we have for fat people far exceeds the scorn we lay on smokers, or adulterers, or those who text while driving, and the recent health-care debate is only making things nastier.
I wonder whether part of the change of heart comes from reading her blog comments — I know Miss Conduct came to fat acceptance partly by being stunned at the vitriol she got when she suggested treating fat people like human beings. We’ll need to get Dailey on Sanity Watchers.
Anyway, because Kate Dailey is by all appearances a thoughtful and reasonable person, she didn’t yell and fight and stomp her foot when she encountered ideas she found unnerving. Instead, she investigated not only the ideas but her own resistance to them — and that’s how we got America’s War on the Overweight, Who Says Americans Are Too Fat?, and a guest post from the Fat Nutritionist. (Though it may be officially unrelated, there’s also a terrific deadpan paean to correlation/causation errors and overgeneralization in the blog this week: Redheads Fear the Dentist, and Tall Men Get Cancer: What Your Appearance Says About Your Health.)
Read them! And then, put your face where Dailey’s mouth is. By which I mean you’re going to want to give her a big smackeroo, but also: she’s calling for photos of fatties doing healthy things. “Healthy” here seems to be hovering in the “running a marathon” category, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t explode that — Dailey asks you to gloss your own photo, so if you want to write “I have fibromyalgia and here is a picture of me standing up long enough to cook a whole meal,” by all means submit that puppy. No reason we can’t challenge conventional notions of “health” while we’re challenging conventional notions of what a healthy and fit person looks like. And meanwhile, if you do have photos of yourself running or hiking or dancing and you’re willing to use them to say “in your face, haters,” you can submit them to Newsweek’s Tumblr page.