Chicago’s hilarious local WGN News aired a clip in support of this study about how fat people are destroying the environment by being all fat and gross and stuff. I really have to thank Gina Kolata and the fat blogs (is that a band? Gina and the Fat Blogs?) exposing the ridiculousness of the old “if fat people just did X, they would lose Y number of pounds every year!” trope. That was the sort of non-info that just kind of rolled right off my brain, leaving maybe an ooze of self loathing behind, but no real cognitive understanding of what it even meant to lose 13 pounds every year because I parked at the ass-end of the Shop Rite* parking lot.
Over video footage of the headless fatties (Gina and the Fat Blogs is playing a double bill at the Empty Bottle with Teh Headless Fatties next week, I hear – no cover and there will be snacks!), the WGN news anchor encouraged fat folks to get out of their cars, and stop eating hamburgers! Also, walk instead of drive. And I had to laugh into my beer at that one because this fatty walks at least a half hour every day (unless it’s one of those housework-focused days when I just putter around the casa, in which case I get all the cancer-fighting, slimming, gender-essentializing benefits of housework so I figure it evens out) and doesn’t even own a car, much less sit in one and eat hamburgers. So where is my 13 pounds of annual weight loss? Where do I write a letter of complaint? I have been walking at least a mile a day for the last three and a half years, so I should be showing a net loss of 45 pounds. I have been cheated and I demand to know who is responsible! Preferably before next Sunday when I attend a clothing swap and dump all my size 8 – 12 clothes, which, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin should fit me just fine, thanks, since I walk so fucking much.
This also made me think about the similar conundrum I faced while living in Atlanta. Against (white people’s) social custom and despite some serious inconvenience, when I lived in Atlanta, I took MARTA to work every day. At least until I joined a gym in my office building. Because, see, if I wanted to go to the gym, I had to schlep way to much stuff with me to take MARTA, since the gym had no lockers, so I had to drive. Plus, since I went at lunch, I had to shower before going back to work, which meant two showers a day. Plus I created extra laundry in the form of towels and gym clothes. I actually wrote on the blog I had at the time about how I was torn between being environmentally conscious by taking public transportation, or being environmentally conscious by exercising so I wouldn’t be such an over-consuming Fatty McFatpants. Given that Atlanta is about a week from completely drying up and blowing away, I wonder which course of action good Dr. Benjamin would advocate for me were I in the same situation now?
All of which just serves as more anecdotal evidence on how damn dumb, not to mention demonizing, that study and its attendant news coverage really is.
* What’s up, Delaware!