Thursday, January 12, 2012

Georgia's Idea of Sugarcoating

The state of Georgia is currently covered with billboards and videos telling people to "stop sugarcoating it" in regards to childhood obesity.  What's next, a campaign against bipolar disorder telling people to "just get over it already!"?

Let's start with the cognitive disconnect over what constitutes "sugarcoating." 

I'm routinely bombarded with the message from the news media, my doctors, the majority of websites, and multiple ads, that I'm going to get horribly ill and die.  More subtly, I'm told that I don't deserve clothes that fit, chairs that fit, public transportation seating that fits, or human love and contact.  My friends are told that they will get fat and die just by associating with me.  I am uncomfortable exercising in public because of hate vibes, sneers and verbal attacks.  Fellow fatties are physically attacked for daring to exercise, verbally assaulted for daring to ride a bus, rejected by lovers, friends, employers and service personnel, and denied custody of their own children.  They are denied adquate medical care, pay higher insurance premiums, and have to justify any illness or injury; even those common amongst thin people.  I am told, over and over again, in subtle and overt ways, that I am a failure as a woman and a human being.  All because I am fat.

Where the fuck does the sugarcoating come in?  I must have missed that part.  Or is it considered sugarcoating if they're not actually sticking knives into us?

Fat stigma and shame has not worked in a century or more, and will continue to not work.  Anyone in the mental health field with any experience with eating disorders will tell you that shame and stigma are demotivators; they do the opposite of what they're intended to do.  If shame and stigma were successful at creating thin people, no fat people would exist. 

So, since insanity is repeating the same actions while expecting different results, how about we try something new?  How about Georgia tax payers (and all of us) demand evidence-based research behind health initiatives, instead of popular media science?  HAES and similar weight-neutral, positive approaches are the only ones that show real, long-term health results. Not necessarily weight results, but perhaps public officials need a reminder that health was their real purpose. 

In the meantime, consider signing this petition from to stop these particular fat-shaming, kid-hurting billboards in Georgia.


Clara said...

Hi! I love your snarky writing style, just had to say that. your reference to bipolar disorder really hits home for me because besides being a smaller fat (14-ish) I am also - you guessed it - bipolar. I actually have been told to just perk up and get over it. Sometimes it seems like if a person hasn't had experience with something (being overweight, mental health issues, an eating disorder, drug abuse, etc.) they can't see the difficulties of such a life. If being thin or being perky is easy for them, they don't see why it isn't for other people.

In my opinion, these billboards will give kids what they think is a free pass to bully other kids. I also agree with you, how is anyone sugarcoating it? The only way it could be more blunt is if we grabbed fat people, threw them in the back of a truck, took them out to a swamp, and beat them over the head with a baseball bat while screaming "YOU'RE A FAT, FAT FATTY FAT MCFAT FAT," which would still not make anyone thin.

Okay. End/Rant

JoGeek said...

Clara: Thank you! I know many people in the mental health system and the stigma they/you encounter is staggering and rage-inducing. It's easy for the ignorant to assume that a problem isn't real if only because it's difficult to understand. It's one of the reasons I'm studying to go into social psychology.