Friday, 20 March 2009

"Collateral damage"

Interesting post over at shapely prose, regarding the results of a study suggesting that slim girls who believe they are fat, but aren't, are more likely to have suicidal ideation and more likely to actually commit suicide than those who actually are fat.

The tenor of the post was that this was a side effect of the obesity crisis directed at attacking fat people, yes, but the aim of the crisis has always pointed at this particular target, those who are worried about becoming fat.

Without their engagement in the crisis stigmatizing fat people could not or would not have reached it's current peak. It is they who have to be scared and angry for it to have taken off. This is a lesson that has been learned by those who wish to advance themselves on the back of obesity know. From numerous attempts to engage others in fatness. Before this, obesity was a decidedly Cinderella subject and liable to remain so.

And the end of the day, who cares if fat people are fat? How does that affect anyone else? It doesn't, unless you make it so using that which people have invested a huge amount of belief and trust in the science of health and manipulate information to make fatness intimately to do with the non-fat.

As it is clear that no-one is interested in people merely because they are fat-it's kind of meaningless really, they attacked what people are interested in, their money and themselves. Stoking up fears such as the prospect of health rationing, which was on the table before fat people were in the frame for it. Something is always about to "Bring down the healthcare system."

More than that, it's those who have kudos and privilege tend to fear stigma and loss of status the most. Thinking about what you can lose tends to concentrate the mind more than some barely perceptible gain.

Without their direct and intimate input, there is no crisis, or at least, no-one would take it seriously.
That's one thing I remember recognising as a teenager was that it was an advantage to be fat in that I could not fear what had already occurred. I was living proof that the idea of fat as a fate worse than death is false.

It also had to take it's place alongside other status zapping stigmas and -isms.

So relative to them, fatness was a bit crowded out.

If you are thin in addition  to being middle class, you have the double effect of not having other things get in the way of the fear of fatness. A fear that goes unchecked can reach epic proportions, the fear of stigma is the fear of loss. If you are stigmatized within your class milieu, you are acutely aware of how bad it is.

So the question is, just how much can be gained from the privileging of thinness, if it leaves you suicidal?

That kind of thing is what is giving me pause for thought.

It's impacting on these young girls, because it is aimed at them and their kind, even though it attacks them less directly than fat people.

I've always been under the impression that fat people, youngsters as well, are less likely to commit suicide than those of lesser weights. Though I've not managed to find anything that addresses this directly, I've heard it consistently at about a 5% advantage, for fat people on that score.

I heard a couple of years ago that this advantage was lessening, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm unsure whether that is the case or not, because there is a concerted desire amongst obesity wallahs to claim obesity is linked to depression. If it is, it is because the pressure of the 'crisis' is wiping out fat people's advantage and this may well be showing up first in the very young.

Certainly in the case of young people, whenever teens and pre-teens that have committed suicide hit the news, its striking is how rare it is for them to be fat.

This may well be changing at this moment, but it is important that we monitor changes rather than just blithely obscure them through anticipation. Those who wish to shape how fat people feel are getting their way. They are changing what it means to be fat into being as pathological as they want it to be.

This is one of the things that has possibly lead me to have such an overwhelming sense of urgency (misplaced?), feeling that if this juggernaut could not be derailed, at least some of us could bear witness to any of it's costs.

* Edited to remove the more egregious errors.

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