When I was in 6th grade I did a science fair project to simulate nuclear fission. It involved a plexi-glass box, 100 mousetraps, ping pong balls with holes drilled in them, and bbs of different colors. Setting 100 moustraps and “baiting them” with bb-filled ping pong balls was becoming hard on my poor sixth grade fingers, so I devised a method that used my mother’s kitchen tongs. As I took my project and her tongs off to the science fair she said “Don’t lose my tongs!” I don’t remember exactly what I said but I’m sure it was something like “mooooooom, why don’t you trust me to be responsible, I’ll bring back your tongs!” The project was a big hit and won the the science fair (although the second place kid had set fire to bits of hair to test the flammability of various hair sprays so I didn’t so much have to clear the bar as just trip and fall over it. Also, you probably shouldn’t light a match while wearing Aquanet but that’s a different story.)
I lost the tongs.
I don’t know how I did it or wear they went. I know that my mom freaked out. She was so angry. Even when the anger died down I heard about it until I left the house and went to college. And when I went to college I started shopping for myself. And I found out that tongs cost $2. And I called my mom and she laughed and laughed. Based on her reaction I thought that tongs must be incredibly expensive, that I had caused my family financial hardship by losing them. I didn’t do my own research and so I walked around for a long time under a very misinformed assumption.
That whole story is very similar to the current obesity hysteria. It started with the idea that fat is bad, and the finding that therefore making people thin could be profitable. Then it got all blown out of proportion because people accepted the premise without really looking into it and then set forth to “prove” it with healthy doses of confirmation bias, guesses, confusing weight and health, and confusing correlation and causation, all driven by a diet industry that makes 60 Billion Dollars a year. If we don’t do our own research its easy to believe that hype, but the truth is that tongs cost $2, and there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes and no amount of hysteria will change either of those facts.
Healthy habits give us our best chance for health, although not a guaranteed chance since health is multi-dimensional and not entirely within our control. It’s pretty unlikely that healthy habits will make us thin, but if we choose health (and it is each of our choice) then we are best served if we keep our eye on the
tongs ball. One of the most damaging things about the obesity hysteria is that fat people are told that healthy habits don’t “work” unless they make us thin so when people start healthy habits and don’t lose weight they quit doing things that will make them healthier because they don’t make them thin. It also gives thin people the dangerous misinformation that their weight makes them healthy no matter what their habit are. We can pick ourselves up out of the pile BS that that the diet industry and the obesity hysteria have created. We are the only people in charge of what we believe about our health, how we feel about our bodies, how highly we prioritize our health, and what path we take to get there. You are the boss of your underpants. Occupy Your Underpants!
A couple of weeks ago we talked about putting up positive billboards to counteract the negative Strong4Life billboard campaign that shames, stigmatizes and humiliates fat kids in the name of their health. I can’t stand that kids are having to look at these billboards every day on the way to school. It’s time to do something. It’s time stand up for these kids and put up our own billboards. We are kicking it off on Thursday, February 2nd with The Big Fat Money Bomb. The goal of the Money Bomb is to get as many donations as possible on the first day of the campaign for momentum and media. We will show the kids that they are valued and supported, and we will shows the bullies that we won’t stand for this and that we are capable of doing something big. You can find out all of the information here at www.SupportAllKids.com If you want a reminder on Thursday just send me an e-mail at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and I’ll put you on the list.
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