Sometimes we have to cover the same old ground, to make sure we’re all on the same page, to cement our commitment to certain ideas, to remind ourselves to check our various privileges. And so I say to everyone:
Health is not a moral issue.
In the bygone years of history, people have at various times believed that afflictions of the body were the result of moral failings of the person. There’s even a fairy tale called The Willful Child, about a little girl who would not do what her mother said.
Eventually, God takes no pleasure in the girl (that’s the language of the story right there and EW) and allows her to sicken and die. Her arm thrusts up through the earth at the funeral until her mother beats the arm with a stick, at which point the arm is withdrawn and the child finds her rest.
Now, part of the message here seems to be that good health is a result of having the favor of God. Whether you believe in God or not, that seems fucked up to me. I mean, that implies that all you need to be healthy is religion and, well….
That’s how you end up with people who won’t take their sick children to the doctor. Never mind that, if one believes in a God, that God probably gave people the intelligence to become doctors and develop medication in the first place! (I make no statements about my own particular belief system here, by the way.)
So, if good health isn’t going to be guaranteed by good behavior and God’s love, can we really turn around and say that ill health (however that’s defined) is punishment for being bad?
Of course not. That’d be silly. And Medieval. And we’re past that sort of thing!
We live in 2009 and we recognize that, sometimes, shit just happens. We recognize that genetics and heredity can alert us to risk factors but we can’t ever make those risks disappear.
And, hopefully, we recognize that being fat doesn’t automatically mean being saddled with certain health conditions but that those health conditions might just show up anyway and it probably has nothing to do with our fat at all.
That’s not a moral situation. It’s a biological situation.
Chronic illness is not a punishment from an all-powerful god of some sort. Diabetes isn’t either. Being out of breath at the top of a flight of stairs is not a hex cast on you for being a bad person.
And, in reverse, having perfect blood pressure and ideal cholesterol is not a sign that you are a good person, superior in every way to those who struggle with the numbers.
To assume either position is ridiculous.
Having a chronic illness is having a chronic illness. Having perfect blood pressure is having perfect blood pressure. The two are just two realities (and they can coexist!) that are possible within a scope of endless realities.
Health is a slippery concept at the best of times anyway. I mean, you don’t keep a race horse in peak condition because it’s bad for the horse (as is the institution of horse racing, by and large). That seems to have escaped people, though, some of whom really do push the idea that we should all be striving to maintain an ideal that is pretty arbitrary anyway.
That’s actually what I love about HAES (Health At Every Size, sorry, don’t want the acronym to lose anyone!) – that the definition of health is entirely personal and about achieving your own concept of health. For some people, that might be making it through the day with energy left over to clear the table after dinner. For other people, that might be a marathon. And whatever you need to make it to that goal? Is cool by me and HAES. Well, I mean, destructive behaviors like meth habits might help you clear the table but they are doing more damage than…. You know what I mean.
The point is this: health isn’t a moral issue. Having a disability doesn’t make you a bad fatty or a bad representative of fat acceptance. Taking the stairs doesn’t make you a good fatty or a good respresentative of fat acceptance. And neither make you a good or a bad person.
Using “I’m concerned about your health” as an excuse to harrangue people about their weight is bullshit. If you’re concerned about my health, ask me how I’m doing. I don’t mind telling you. I’m treating my allergies and asthma successfully, thanks. I’m overextending myself, though, and it’s taking a huge toll on my mental health.
But if what you really mean is “I think your fat is killing you,” well, you’re wrong. We might have to agree to disagree – you can think it’s killing me while I sit here alive and well all you want. It’s not my fat that is making me fatigued; it’s five or fewer hours of nightmare-interrupted sleep everynight because I’m stressing out about a million things. It’s not my fat that is making me cough and wheeze; it’s my asthma that is triggered by cold air and the way it was recently in the 30s in FLORIDA, people – it was inhuman.
Don’t believe that your fat makes you a less worthwhile human being. Don’t believe that having a disability or a chronic illness or whatever unspecified disease makes you a less worthwhile human being. It’s not a moral issue.
This entry was posted in Fatty fatty 2x4
, Fatty Politics
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