News Attention Fat Activists
posted by December 8 at 11:29 AMon
The great “Dan Savage is an asshole—but just how big an asshole?” debate on fat-acceptance blogs appears to be winding down. (I am an asshole, you see, for suggesting that weight has any relationship to diet or lifestyle.) And not a moment too soon—because the fat-acceptance crowd has a new arch enemy: New York Times television critic Ginia Bellafante.
Bellafante wrote up a BBC documentary about obesity in today’s NYT. It would appear that Ms. Bellafante is ignorant of “natural setpoint weight ranges,” and labors under the mistaken belief that a given person’s diet—that’s diet, not dieting—somehow correlates with the size of a given person’s ass.
The film to be shown this weekend, “476-Lb. Teenager,” illustrates life on the other extreme of the scale. A portrait of a young woman named Bethany, it depicts her fight to lose what is, in essence, her title as Britain’s fattest teenager. “Every day is a struggle,” she says. “Every day you wish you could just stay in bed and press the pause button.”
Bethany started her descent into obesity at about 8, when she began overeating to squelch psychological discomfort—discomfort the film does a subtle job of attributing to a mother who appears as removed and unfeeling as any imagined by the Brothers Grimm.
The documentary accords Bethany, who ultimately loses about 100 pounds with the help of stomach-reducing surgery, a dignity that is commendable but vaguely obstructionist. It rises above the one question the viewer most wants answered: How does anyone wind up at 476 pounds? Literally, how—in numbers of pizzas and Snickers bars and shell steaks and pints of pistachio ice cream. Deeply invested in the emotional repercussions of Bethany’s condition, the filmmakers show little interest in her complicity in developing it.
Oooooo… surgery and Snickers bars and complicity. Complicity! As if being fat is a crime! Those are fighting words! Go get her, fat activists.