Monday, June 29, 2009

Being Fat - my life as an outcast.

So, my life as a social pariah is now confirmed.

It's been coming for a while, with little digs here and there in the Daily Mail about the obesity crisis and how much of a healthcare time bomb we larger people are.

Today the Metro has finally gone out there and basically said that fat people, and specifically celebrities who are overweight, are bad role models. And who, exactly, is saying this? Someone called Professor Michael McMahon. A Professsor. So, he must be important then. He must know what he's talking about. Mustn't he? Especially when he's talking about all those fatties who've had to have special help from the emergency services to get them out of their homes.

Frankly, you expect this kind of shoddy, scaremongering reporting from the Daily Fail stable, but I would have thought better of the BBC. At least from them we find out more about Professor Michael McMahon. He's a weight loss surgeon who has a reasonably long standing direct financial interest in inciting enough self loathing and despair amongst fat people to make them take do something about it - perhaps booking a nice appointment at the company whose hospital he has used for his operations in the past. While the BBC directly mentions his current involvement with Nuffield, the Metro article does mention Nuffield but doesn't say McMahon is working for them. The Metro article implies that the journalist has actually looked at evidence from two different sources, McMahon and Nuffield when in fact that's not the case. In both cases, what he says goes unchallenged and the message that a certain group of people should effectively be pilloried by society is allowed to seep insidiously into the nation's consciousness.

If you take what he says to his logical conclusion, what does he want us to do as a society? Do we somehow punish those whose BMI is above the recommended 25? Do we ban Eamonn Holmes from tv, stop James Corden's scripts from being published (although on the evidence of Lesbian Vampire Killers, some of them should never see the light of day anyway), rip up Beth Ditto's recording contract?

How dare this man make weight the defining point of a person? Who does he think he is to effectively say that it doesn't matter how kind, decent, honourable, innovative, creative or otherwise exceptionally talented someone is, that it all counts for nothing if they don't meet his standards.

I've struggled with my weight for most of my life. Yes, I know I should eat less and exercise more. I'm not stupid. And do you know what? The times when I've been most successful at dealing with it are when I don't struggle, when I feel confident about myself as I am and when I'm not beating myself up about it, or, to be blunt, when nobody else is beating me up about it.

There's a huge link between self esteem and successful weight loss. Making overweight people feel bad about themselves just sets them on a destructive spiral which makes the problem worse.

Maybe that's what McMahon's game is. He's had the nerve to single out 4 people in the public eye and say that they shouldn't be accepted because of their weight. Well, if they aren't accepted, then maybe neither I should be. Maybe I should be so ashamed of myself that I'll come knocking at his door and beg him for a gastric band. At a cost of several thousand pounds, of course.

Or maybe his words will encourage well meaning families to put more well meaning pressure on their overweight mums, dads or relatives to lose weight.

What if some people use his words to put not so well meaning pressure on overweight people? What if it leads to bullying, intimidation and worse? Why should fat people be turned into scapegoats in the name of improving the Nuffield's cash flow?

When a new piece of research comes out undermining breastfeeding, my first question is which formula manufacturer sponsored this - and in virtually every case, I'm right, although you often have to delve quite deeply into the small print to find thsi out. This irresponsible, scaremongering stuff from Nuffield is just as bad as that.

So, Professor Michael McMahon, you can take a running jump. Yes, I'm fat. So what? I'm also worthwhile. There is no way I would go within a million miles of you if you can't see that. If the only way you can drum up trade is to attack people for being who they are, then it's a business that doesn't deserve to exist.

Update: Mr Quist is on McMahon's case as well so I'm in very good company.

Another Update: James turns his tactical nuclear array on the "diet" industry

LibDig This!


Costigan Quist said...

Great post - have linked to it from mine. Can understand one or two journalists printing this crap, but the whole lot? And then they go on about how superior journalism is to blogging. Grrr.

Clair said...


Right, right, right and right again.

I feel better having read this. Cheers.

Caron said...

Good - glad to hear it - have just been in and corrected some of the grammatical howlers as I was fairly enraged when I wrote it.

Isha said...

U are absolutely true..very well written...iam feeling well after reading this...thanks


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