Sweet Machine noticed this otherwise-okay article from the New York Times. She commented, “This article is not so bad… But the ‘what about your heeeeeealth’ caveat is even more ridiculous than usual.”
Indeed, check it out:
But others point to serious health consequences of being overweight. Andrea Marks, a specialist in adolescent medicine in Manhattan, suspects that “the vast majority of overweight girls are not so happy.” Apparent self-acceptance, she added, may be a cover for defiance or resignation.
Okay, I don’t really know who Andrea Marks is. Google tells me she is on the faculty at Mount Sinai, has co-authored a book called Health Teens, Body and Soul, and previously wrote a column called “Ask Dr. Marks” for CosmoGirl. More to the point, I don’t know if she was quoted correctly — which can be difficult, I’ll grant. So I’ll hold off on lambasting her, personally, and try just to look at this as a phenomenon.
Let’s say you’re a fat adolescent girl – or hell, ANY adolescent girl in any sort of western capitalist milieu – and you manage, somehow, to hold onto your self-esteem and like your own body, despite all the shit that our culture hurls at adolescent girls. You even think you might like to dress, or eat, or look, or sing, or dance, or date, or not date, or talk to adults, or [insert your own activities here] in a way that pleases you.
Apparently such girls exist. I was not one. But thankfully, blessedly, they are there — evidently in numbers large enough to have their “apparent self-acceptance” be a phenomenon that gets a nod from experts.
Except… wait, no they’re not! Turns out they’re only pretending. Because either the paper of record, or an expert in adolescent medicine, or both, can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea of a fat adolescent girl who likes herself. “That’s cute, dearie,” they say, patting you on the head in response to your adorable little act where you stand up for yourself, “but you can’t REALLY think you’re worth anything, and deep down inside you know this. That veneer of confidence is really just defiance and resignation.”
OH GEE YOU THINK? Bravely defiant to smarmy condescending attitudes like the ones displayed in the article, perhaps? Stoically resigned to the fact that there’s not a lot an adolescent girl can do to change the fact that most dominant discourses describe her primarily in terms of her defects? WHY YES I THINK SO TOO.
But, pray tell, how are those two attitudes — that’s “defiance” and “resignation;” as opposed, one assumes, to “compliance” and “lack of interest in buying self-improvement products — incompatible with the very same adolescent girl thinking, “Hey, I really kick ass!”
(Hint: They actually are NOT incompatible! In fact, they may be correlated. Also, you don’t bury survivors, and the surgeon was actually the child’s MOTHER. Mind-blowing.)