Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page
So I just read something I got through a colleague: it’s an update on the US’s H1N1 status (pandemic flu and all that). In the summary it mentions, “There also is growing evidence to support early concerns that people who are morbidly obese are at greater risk of serious 2009 H1N1 complications.” O rly! Soooooo… I click on the link for the evidence to support this claim. I get sent to the CDC website, where I read:
“In a subset of 268 patients hospitalized with novel H1N1 early on during the outbreak, the body mass index (BMI)* of 227 patients** was calculated. Obesity (defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30-39.9) was noted in about 15% of these patients and morbid obesity (defined as BMI greater than or equal to 40) was noted in about 8% of these patients.”
Okay, so in total, 23% of the patients in the hospital with H1N1 are classified as obese or morbidly obese. Apparently… that shows that fatties die from H1N1? Zuh? It’s even better when you mosey on over to another part of the CDC website that says 32% of Americans 20 years and older are classified as obese or morbidly obese. Soooooo… just to clarify, the percent of patients in the hospital with H1N1 that are obese IS LESS THAN THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF FATTIES IN THE GENERAL POPULATION. Therefore, fatties die from the flu.
The best is what the CDC follows up with:
“Although the importance of obesity as a contributing factor to novel H1N1 complications is currently unknown, many obese persons have other known underlying diseases that put them at risk for flu complications.”
So this is the breakdown. CDC: “ZOMG fatties die from flu complications more than everyone else!” […] “Actually, we don’t know if fat has any effect on flu! But we do know that other people say being fat is bad, so we will state it as fact!”
Back in January, Courtney wrote a great post about externalizing internal milestones: in her case, it was chopping off 10 inches of hair.
Sadly, I think hair has become one of the most powerful tools in a misogynist culture, in a few different ways:
- Women use critiques of other women’s hair as a policing mechanism: “Did you see [so-and-so]’s new haircut? It looks awful. I can’t believe she did that.”
- Men disparage women for spending so much time on their hair, using it as evidence of how women are vapid, self-obsessed and shallow.
- The expectation of “looking presentable” is disproportionately levied on women, because grooming (hair & makeup) takes much longer. Elaborate hair processes are almost a requirement if you’re a professional, because to do otherwise is sloppy and a poor reflection on your ability to do your job well.
- Numbers 2 & 3 combine into a perfect double standard: our culture requires women to always be beautiful, but they are condemned for the amount of time it takes to create that image.
So all of that sucks, because hair is fun. It’s a great tool for making a statement, or not, to rebel or conform, to play make-believe and to celebrate yourself.
It’s also a great distraction: since I started my career of sitting through things that are boring, I’ve twirled my hair between my fingers. So far, I haven’t been officially accused of not paying attention, but I live for the day I get called out and reply with such a witty retort that my accuser is stunned into silence. (I have a bank of imaginary interactions in which I impress people, which is another post.)
Courtney says her hair was a security blanket of sorts, and that was true for me as well, but for different reasons.
For a long time, the primary purpose of my hair was to be a personal characteristic that people could use to describe me other than “fat.” I thought that if I had really long hair, when people would think of me or refer to me, they might say “the girl with the long hair” instead of “the fat girl.” (That these 2 options weren’t the only ones available did not occur to me at the time.)
I was also hook line and sinker for the fantasy of being thin, and thought that a sweet hairstyle would have to wait until I actually started living my life (i.e., got thin). Not unrelated, I self-deprecatingly thought that styled hair on fat women looked ridiculous: Why don’t you go to the gym instead of the salon, fatty?
In my sophomore year of college I chopped my hair off, from halfway down my back to above my shoulders. The picture I have from that day is the first one since I’d turned twelve that I was beaming.
Obviously the journey to self-acceptance took more than just a haircut, but it was my way of trying to kick myself in the ass and stop waiting around for my life to start. It was the first act of many, many acts, done on a daily basis with varying levels of success, designed to convince myself that I was capable of being and doing more: not after school, not after I get a boyfriend, not after I lose 50 pounds, today. Right now.
And 6 years later, as I sit here twirling my hair between my fingers, I realize that those daily reminders have become weekly, monthly. They’ve given me the glorious power to try, and if I fuck up royally, either get over it or blame it on someone else.
I just had a realization: this is my blog, so I can do anything I want with it. Awwwwww shit.
Even though I’ve read the 3 novels twice over, and watched the extended editions through more than once, every time I watch the damn end to The Fellowship of the Ring, I sob like a baby.
This is cool:
And this is cool:
And this is cool:
And this is cool:
Zhaan from Farscape
And this is tasty:
That is nowhere near exhaustive, but it’s a good start. I am a huge damn geek.
Last night I suddenly found myself with an extra 2 hours of unscheduled time on my hands. My mind jumped from unfinished project to unfinished project: “I could sort out the clothes that are going to Goodwill, I could get a house plant, I could drop off the recycling and finally pick up an extension cord at the store, because god that black cord stretching along my dining room wall is so damn ugly. Speaking of the dining room, I could go grab paint supplies and paint the chair rail, and while I’m there I can get stuff to make a giant D’ni clock on my living room wall (which, by the way, I’ve wanted to do forever and will be indescribably amazing if I ever get it done.)”
So, what did I actually do?
I drove home, changed into my sweaties, and watched 2 hours of Stargate: SG1 on Hulu. (To my credit, I did sort socks too.)
I was going to write a diatribe about the conundrum of working enough to afford my own place, and not having enough time to enjoy it. But, really, I think my point here is that I am a slacker, and so can you.
Plus, I can always tell myself I’m just doing research for an asskicking and insightful post about the fact that I made it all the way to Season 4 before seeing a POC that wasn’t an alien or a member of a “primitive” race.
The latest theory in DEATHFAT science:
Australian scientists have shown that humans can detect a sixth taste: fat. And it appears that those people who are highly sensitive to the taste of fat tend to eat less of it, and have significantly lower body mass indexes.
In other words, fatties are fat because they can’t taste it, and subsequently gorge themselves on guacamole and handfuls of Crisco. I love these theories, because of all of the assumptions they operate on:
- All fat people are sedentary.
- All fat people eat nothing but Doritos and pizza, in large quantities.
- No fat people are vegan, or raw foodies, or athletes.
- All fat people are oblivious to the fact that they’re fat.
- All fat people are idiots.
My favorite line from the article:
“[People not sensitive to the taste of fat] are over-consuming and this is creating an energy imbalance, which is leading to higher BMI or development of overweight or obesity.”
Is developing overweight like growing sea-monkeys?
One of the key components of oppression is marginalization: the dominant culture making entire groups of people feel like their experiences are less than, abnormal, hysterical, or imaginary.
This is illustrated with women all the time: that guy at the cocktail party couldn’t possibly have treated you differently than your male friend, you’re reading into it/looking for things to be angry about/not in control of your own senses.
It happens with racism, too. And this time, it’s the National Institute of Health.
But March, it’s just milk. It could apply to anyone who’s lactose intolerant! How is this possibly racist?
Becaaaaaaause, white people in the United States have a history of violence, theft and genocide against Native Americans, that’s why. And we’ve found a new way to deny their experiences by proclaiming that those with a lactose intolerance are actually just deluding themselves, because apparently they don’t want to get all the nutrients their body needs.
The money quote:
"The majority of the world’s population, after weaning and gradually over childhood, lose lactose activity," [Dr. Frederick J.] Suchy said. "It’s a normal state. Only those people that are largely from northern European descent have retained lactase and have the ability to ingest and process lactose later in life."
Oh, only the northern European white people can still tolerate dairy when they’re adults! And since they can, the rest of the world’s population are absolute fucking idiots and hurting themselves on purpose, because they experience very nasty side effects when they try to eat things with lactose in them! I get it now.
But, y’know, we’re totally not racist. We’re scientists.
In starting to blog in earnest, I’m overwhelmed (and stifled) by the number of topics I could address. (Also by the fact that I’ll actually have to start writing again in order to have a sweet-ass blog.) There are so many great feminist, anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-fat-shaming (and generally awesome) blogs out there that I think maybe my nebulous, undisciplined, novice contribution is… well, nebulous and undisciplined. And n00b-ish.
But, fuck that! Every story is powerful, and the best place to start is with what you know. And right now, what I know is:
- I like to critique things;
- Consuming geek culture as a feminist is difficult sometimes;
- Being an active feminist is socially unwise,
- Because other folks blame you for being hysterical, instead of culture for being fucking oppressive and ridiculous.
So before I start, I’ll use this post to lay down a bit of background as to why I’m blogging at this moment in my life. In one phrase: I finally (FINALLY) have “a room of my own,” and I’ve just been rejected from four graduate schools.
As good a place to start as any.