My favorite day for the local commuter paper is Tuesday, when they have the fitness section. I know, how many people would freak out to hear a fatty say that? But I love it. I’m never going to pay for the classes they review — I fucking pay enough for belly dance (it priced me out of yoga!), and I already have a gym I don’t have to pay for. But I like reading about them and fantasizing about the fitness programs I would fat-test for you guys if this blog were my permanent job. And there’s often good advice about things like weight-lifting technique or decent-tasting energy bars or how cinnamon is good for you.
And I love the advice column, Baggage Check. The woman who writes it, Dr. Andrea Bonior, makes some forced-sounding jokes, which irks me — I’d rather she, you know, be a knowledgeable clinical psychologist than meet her weekly humor quota. But she’s always seemed sensible and the column does not make me want to hurl the paper against the wall, like some other columns I could mention (*coughAskAmycough*). Until today, though, I just considered Baggage Check to be another nice feature of the minor weekly pleasure that is the Express fitness section. Now, I can confidently report that it should also be a role model to other advice columns. Again unlike other columnists I could mention, Bonior seems to be capable of writing sane, caring, non-fatphobic advice for men with fat girlfriends.
(See, Savage? Even fatties, even feminist fatties can be satisfied. All it takes is acting like a fucking mensch for five minutes.)
The short version: A guy writes in to say that his girlfriend has gained weight and has “hygiene and grooming” issues, and is it fair for him to “expect his girlfriend to maintain a certain weight”? Dr. Bonior reframes the question:
Your approach, though, should not be about “expectations” (which sound suspiciously like the phrase parents use before a grounding) or numbers on the scale. It should be about your concern as to why she’s changing and what seems wrong under the surface.
Bravo, Dr. B., bravo! I think the “hygiene” thing may be a red herring — hard to tell, without knowing a priori whether the guy is a jerk, whether we’re talking about a depressive episode or a drop-off in leg-shaving frequency. But the reframing is exactly right. Do you care about your partner’s weight because a significant gain or loss could signal a problem? Do you care about their grooming because it indicates lethargy or depression? Or are you just worried about the state of your arm candy?
If you like the column, feel free to write Bonior and express your appreciation: baggage at readexpress.com. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to pat people on the back for the radical act of suggesting we treat fat people like people, but this isn’t, and we do.