On her interview of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as one of 2012 Most Fascinating People, Barbara Walters admitted that she was uncomfortable but went ahead and asked Chris Christie why he is fat.
Perhaps the reason that she was uncomfortable is that it’s a totally bullshit question. Why does it matter? What she implies by asking is that he better have a damn good justification for the body he lives in. I don’t think that’s how it works – I don’t think any of us owe anyone else any kind of explanation for our bodies and it doesn’t matter what we do for a living.
Christie said he didn’t know but if he could figure it out he would “fix it.”
Of course that’s his prerogative but I wonder if, given a choice, he would choose to “fix” his body or would he choose to fix a society that shames and stigmatizes him for his body size. I think it’s a shame when we encourage people to solve social stigma by changing themselves, rather than changing society.
Barbara followed that up with “There are people who say that you couldn’t be President because you’re so heavy. What do you say to that?” Christie dismissed the idea as “ridiculous.”
Thank you Governor Christie. What the hell? Do those “people” Barbara alludes to also think that during the next election cycle we should replace one of the debates with a talent and swimsuit competition? Apparently it’s not enough to find a President they want to have a beer with, now they’re looking for a candidate who can rock a marimba and a bikini. Our country doesn’t have enough problems, we want to turn the Presidency into the new Mr/Ms America competition?
Barbara then said “I think they’re worried about your health.”
Ah the last bastion of fat bigotry. When someone alludes to, or flat points out, that someone else is being a fat bigot, they can always pivot to this gem. Then we’re supposed to thank them for their concern. Here is what my friend Stan calls a “blinding flash of the obvious”: If they were concerned about his health they would be talking about his health, not his body size. Making assumptions about health that are based on size is still bigotry, plain and simple.
Christie answered “Well, I’ve done this job pretty well and I think people watched me for the last couple weeks and during Hurricane Sandy doing 18-hour days and getting right back up the next day and still being just as effective so I don’t really think that would be a problem.”
I understand that as a Presidential hopeful has to answer any number of questions that are inappropriate and I appreciate that he didn’t back down. If I were Underpants Overlord he would have mentioned that there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes and that making health assumptions based on sizes is just bigotry, but that’s just me. I was happy that he stuck up for himself.
While Chris Christie and I do not agree politically on many things, I can feel his pain for having to answer these questions. The idea that it’s ok to call fat people’s ability to do anything and everything into question because of our body size is a massive problem. Studies have already shown that hiring discrimination based on size is a serious issue. Parents ability to raise children has been called into question. I actually saw a Facebook post suggesting that Santa couldn’t possibly be fat and get around the world in one night- seriously? Someone took time to make a graphic about this? So let me say Thank you, Governor Christie, for taking this opportunity to stand up for your abilities in the body that you have now.
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