Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A point for Miss Conduct

Still hacking up bits of alveoli this morning, so I was happy to find a positive note for my post today in catching up on the weekend's media. As someone who generally doesn't follow advice columns, I find myself an increasingly loyal fan of the Boston Globe's "Miss Conduct". The advice in the column has found a stronger voice in the most recent writer and most advice boils down to the ever-essential but often-forgotten "Don't be an AssHat" as a solution for most social quandaries. Of course, she puts it more politely. She also, as a rarity amongst any media reps these days, extends the "Don't be an AssHat" policy to fat people.

For instance, in this week's column she addresses a letter from a woman who writes with great concern that her son has put on weight since meeting his girlfriend four years ago, despite everything she (the mother) has done to pressure him into staying thin. Miss Conduct's response?

"You can either have a fat son who loves and trusts you, or a fat son who
sees you as the enemy. Your choice."

In other words....another adult human being's body is none of your business, even if you happen to share some genetic coding with it. You have no control over it, so you can either accept that person's body or remove yourself from the equation. That's it. Your actions and your words are the only thing you can control in life, and you have complete and total responsibility for them. Hence, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" (-Eleanor Roosevelt) but any inferiority you try to thrust upon others is yours to own as well.

Essentially? "Don't be an AssHat".

The son and his girlfriend certainly sound like they're in FA...anybody recognize the mom?


CJ_in_VA said...

Heh! I know it's not my mother but perhaps modeled after her?

After I got married she took my husband on the side and told him, "You simply have to get her to stop putting on weight!" as though he had some kind of magic control over me. He politely thanked her for her concern but reinforced that my body size was MY body size and he would do no such thing.

Oh, I love my husband.

Becky said...

Oooh, I really like this line: "If he'd done something that was deliberately hurtful to you - lied, stolen, abused you - then the responsibility would be on him to start the reconciliation process. But all he did was gain weight. That's hardly the kind of attack on you that requires him to make the first move."

Fillyjonk said...

Miss Conduct is unmitigatedly awesome. She is also, as far as I've seen, always on the side of right when it comes to fat, even though she reports that she gets lots of nasty letters when she advocates treating fat people like people. Plus, she's an SP reader! (The son and the girlfriend may well be in FA, but the columnist? Totally is!)

Men said...

That's a wonderful article; thanks for posting. Nice to read something positive in the media once in awhile.

Cty said...

The only thing that makes me think the letter writer isn't my guy's mother is that she doesn't use a computer well and I can't picture her emailing Miss Conduct. Otherwise: we've been dating for 5 years but I've only known his mom for 4; he and I are both fat and happy; his mama is very much not into the concept of HAES or FA - a lifelong Weight Watcher, in fact. Of course, the sad thing is there are probably a million and a half readers thinking the exact same thing: "Well, it definitely *could* be her..."