A few weeks ago we ran a series called "The Fat Wars" that looked at the way we talk about obesity in this country, and whether our current methods of fighting the war on fat were working. Within the course of the articles, we made a few unsubstantiated remarks about fat people being just as able to run or bike as thin people. (Unsubstantiated because we wrote them as fact, without citing backup evidence.) In doing so, the article generated lots of comments from people basically calling it bull. This was expected: a point we researched but didn't articulate in the article about why America is so darned angry with fat people is that the anonymity granted by the Internet tends to bring out the worst in people; the points we did articulate argued that fat people are easy targets for rage, which people like expressing, and projected self-loathing, since we all worry about weight. Still, it seemed like what President Obama refers to as "a teachable moment," an excuse to solicit reader participation, and also a chance to do a photo gallery, which are fun and pretty and get lots of clicks.
With that in mind, we solicited photos of healthy, heavy readers─an exercise that was not without its own controversies. Some fat people were energized by the chance to disprove stereotypes, while others felt like they shouldn't have to prove anything to anyone, nor should they have to strap on climbing gear or a bike helmet to "earn" a little human kindness and respect. (I believe "dancing monkey" was the term one reader of Shapely Prose used when discussing our request).
Nevertheless, we received a lot of great submissions, and picked some of the best images (and by best, we mostly mean "best photographic quality") for our Happy, Healthy, and Heavy gallery.
It's amazing, and you should all check it out. We debuted the gallery yesterday to coincide with a show segment on the Fat Acceptance movement. The bit also provided an excuse to resurrect some of the older Fat Wars content, along with two new op-eds from two sides of the obesity issue.
Kate Harding, writing on Jezebel, had a LOT to say about those op-eds. She's not the only one: there are darts and laurels coming in from all sides on this issue. I, in turn have a lot to say as well─both about Harding's points, the counterarguments I've received, and my experiences covering the Fat Acceptance movement and the medical community's response to obesity.
But─and this goes against all principals of blogging, which prizes speed and timeliness and the 24-hour news cycle─it's 9/11 and Caster Semenya is intersex and when I'm not blogging, I'm editing, and there's a lot of that backed up on my e-desk and the trains were slow and it's raining, all of which is to say that I want to think very clearly and carefully about what it is I'm writing, and to do that I need to take a little more time. (Bad blogger!)
Check back later today or Monday for my extended reflection on our Fat Wars project (and for a great reported piece on the role of intersex athletes in competitive sports).
In the meantime, scroll through our gallery Happy, Healthy, and Heavy.
Read Kate Harding's piece on Jezebel. (And feel free to Google around to see what other people are saying, if you're looking to kill a little time on a rainy Friday.)
And if you're so inclined, check out the show piece, wherein Matt Lauer exiles me from any future shows (which is apparently a very good sign).