If your internet has been down for a couple of days you may not have heard Al Roker’s Dateline interview confession that, following his stomach amputation, “I’m walking to the press room … I gotta pass a little gas here. I’m walking by myself. Who’s gonna know? Only a little something extra came out…I pooped my pants. Not horribly, but enough that I knew.”
Jezebel ran an article about it that includes the substantial list of possible complications – many of which make fecal incontinence sound like walk in the park. The article also discusses that Roker’s decision to have his stomach amputated came after his father’s dying wish was that he become thin. And his wife, who started dating him when he was fat, told Dateline “I just wanted to feel more attracted to him.”
Al Roker is the boss of his underpants. If he describes it as “not horrible” he’s the best witness to his experience. He’s allowed to not divorce someone whose marriage vows are “for better or for worse but not for fat,” and he can choose to amputate any of his organs for any reason he wants as far as I’m concerned.
I think the problem is with a world where a father’s dying wish is that his son change his body size, and a wife feels comfortable telling Dateline that her fat bigotry gets in the way of being attracted to her husband – and she feels that’s his problem to fix. It is this kind of world that makes someone think – hey, let’s just amputate fat people’s stomachs, or where people say let’s sell a diet pill that requires those who take it to carry around extra pants, and it is that kind of world where [Trigger warning: eating disorder talk] having fat people pump the contents of their stomachs into a bucket is a fabulous idea. Oh yes, a company has filed an application to sell an at home stomach pump (It’s not yet FDA approved thank all the gods.) Emptying the contents of your stomach after every meal sounds more like an old and dangerous eating disorder than a fun and exciting new health practice.
This is more of the ridiculous notion we’ve talked about before where someone tries to convince us that things considered unhealthy and dangerous in thin people are somehow medically advisable and healthy for fat people. To be clear, bulimia, like all eating disorders, is complicated and multidimensional and far more than just a behavior. What I’m saying is that if I overhear someone saying “empty the contents of the stomach after every meal” at the doctor’s office, I hope to hell it’s a patient asking for help, not a doctor giving a “treatment” protocol.
When will it end? What bridge will be a bridge too far? If it’s not at-home stomach pumping and out-patient stomach amputations then what the hell is it? When will the medical profession follow the evidence and tell people that, if health is important to them, there are no guarantees, but simple healthy habits are a much better predictor of health than body size? I suspect it will happen when doctors can’t get twenty grand to redesign someone’s digestive system in a way that causes them to poop their pants at the White House, or causes them to die.
There are options – we can focus on our actual health. we can practice Health at Every Size. We can say no to stomach pumping, stomach amputations, diet pills with warnings about wearing dark pants and all the rest of this mess.
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