Monday, 23 March 2009

The 'O' word

Thinking about the reasons I quit the obesity personae.

In order to clarify for those who think this can be turned into some emotionally loaded word that cannot be spoken in polite company. I'd like to say that I am not upset by being called obese, nor am I frightened of the sound of the word, or prone to feel insulted by it's spelling, genesis or etymology.

What I find irksome is the underlying mindset, that because a load of scientists think that a human trait should be called a disease, we all have to go along with this.

I don't and never have. I was sceptical firstly regarding religion, I wasn't going to go along with that.

Subsequently, I've become hugely sceptical about the pathologising of anything that is seen as an imperfect human state.

This includes, I'm afraid, human angst grief and pain, as an illness called depression. Anything such as shyness being called, social phobia and children who have hard to contain desires for constant physical and mental stimulation being automatically labelled ADHD.

I will qualify that by saying that emotions such as sadness, can either immediately or after the cause is unrelieved, to develop a momentum of their own, that can continue even when there is some resolution. A bit like rebound weight gain after dieting can exceed your starting weight, due to the momentum of the rebound; which is itself caused by the initial semi-starvation that is dieting.

I am always wary of calling human imperfection illness, it makes us misunderstand ourselves and I think, can cause the kind of unnecessary and peripheral pain of the kind caused by stigma.

IOW, it can aid and deepen our terror and fear around what is happening, because we feel this is beyond what should occur to any human, when sometimes it is a necesary reaction to the extreme internal and/ or external pressures we are subject to. The sense of feeling like we must have done bad, in order to be feeling this bad, is a more natural facet of feeling bad than we give credit for.

My objection to obesity is nothing to do with the word, I could care less whether it was called porcinicity or syndrome porko, it's the underlying mentality that is objectionable and calling oneself obese, validates that. It's says to the (mainly) boys.

That we will passively receive whatever labels you choose, because you choose them. If that was the way, I reckon we wouldn't have individual brains, we'd just be connected up to a giant uberbrain, via a wire. As that isn't the case, I'm going with we each have one, and it's supposed to be used, even to consider our own experiences.

I hope that's not too outlandish.


  1. I don't use "obese" to describe myself, mainly because that term is meant to imply disease or illness, and my fatness is not a disease or an illness, it's just the way I am, and have been for years (and that fatness has increased over those years because I bought the FOBT and dieted, WLSurgeried my way up to my current weight). I say I'm fat, because that's what I am, because it shocks people who are thinking it but won't say so, it shocks people who throw that term at me as an epithet, and because fat is not a disease or illness, it's a state of being. And it makes it awfully hard for people to use that word as an insult when you agree with them.

  2. This is well-timed. Yesterday I was trying to argue on Pandagon that pathologizing normal human reactions is wrong, unsuccessfully. Apparently being sad=being sick....