In the fight against fat discrimination, information is everything. The more informed and better educated on the issue that the public are, the more likely you will have people who can understand the issue and make an informed and considered decision. Sadly, I don’t believe that this is in the interest of government, most medical researchers or business.
Think about it. The more people that think that fat means bad, ugly, defective and wrong the more products and services can be sold to make the fat people good, pretty, working and right again. Medical research companies who are putting money into researching how to make fat people not fat need funding. Funding comes through research which shows that the obesity epidemic is getting worse and that the only way to treat it is with their miracle cure. I have read articles promoting the wonders of gastric banding surgery to find out that the people who make the gastric bands are either providing funding for the research or the doctor being reported on is part of the group.
Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Lite’n'Easy and all those sorts of companies want people to fear being fat. If I am happy being fat, I won’t seek out their services. I need to hate myself and loath who I am so I can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars trying to fix myself.
What I find annoying is when I read another news article about how the obese of the world are ruining the hospital system or putting a strain on services. Like this one. When you read the headline, you find this lovely statement of “fact”.
Holy smokes Batman! That means almost two thirds of Australians in hospital emergency wards are fat? Err, no. Actually the study focused on a six month period between October 2008 and March 2009 at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital emergency department. Not particularly a large enough or wide enough sample to say “IN AUSTRALIA”. More like “IN MELBOURNE’S AUSTIN HOSPITAL”. Sadly it doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I do wonder why they were doing a research paper into the numbers of fat people attending hospital. Surely they could have just done a quick check of some database somewhere that has all of our information in it (Australia Card anyone?) and just calculate the numbers. Oh no, that’s right. This wasn’t the focus of the study. Or at least the press release, which is all I can access.
The study was about the management and treatment of obese people in society. Now obviously the AAP have access to the article in order to get the percentages of fat people in the study. The press release does say though that it was a study of 750 people. 750 people in a hospital in Melbourne is indicative of the fatness of people RIGHT AROUND AUSTRALIA? Get a grip. Even I’m not going to fall for that one.
What gets my goat is that because I’m not part of the establishment, I can’t read the article. I could go to a library to access their online journal catalogue, but then I have to hope that they have access to the Emergency Medicine Australasia journal. I also would need to find some time in my day, when I’m already working, to sneak to the library to check this stuff out. It doesn’t quite work like that for me.
The institutions that want us to discriminate against fat have the tools and resources to tell other people that fat is the evil that needs to be stamped out. They have control of the information. What I want to see is more Australians in a position of power to fight this. This requires people with access to the information to disseminate across Australia and the world.
Why is there not a large group channelling millions and millions of dollars into independent research on this subject? Where are the reports on the independent research I hear about through other channels that shows that obesity is not about the fact that I had too many cheeseburgers this week, but probably the fact that my body was built this way, or through trauma and being forced on to diets as a 12 year old?
I am sick and tired of reading this claptrap day in and day out. There has to be positive stories of fat people and they need to be told. There is a tide of people out there who will happily deride me and put me down because I am fat. I want to fight this and I need the tools. Somebody give me the Rod-damned tools!
The tool is information. It is access to research to analyse it and critique it. It is time to review and understand this stuff. It is the ability to critically assess information and then teach others how to use critical assessment to come to their own conclusions, not just be force fed those of giant corporations or research bodies. In fact, I don’t want you to take my conclusions as “The Final Word”. You should review what I say critically and tell me when I am wrong. Heck, we all learn when society works this way.
Instead of a one way conversation which goes “Hey fat people, you are a drain and are evil and are ugly. Stop eating cheeseburgers!”, what about a two-way dialogue where we all understand why are bodies are the way they are and then come to work out how we get the best of out them no matter what shape and size they are.
Oh, you can’t market that, can you?