There's yet another diary on the front page of this site that takes a swipe at Chris Christie. Not because he's a Republican nightmare waiting in the wings for 2016, whose horrible policies need to be exposed.
No, y'all are mocking him because he's fat. FAT! Ooga booga booga. And because this week he had the temerity to get righteously angry at a doctor who had never seen him, never read his chart, never run a test, and yet went on TV and presumed to diagnose him from a distance. Remember how riled we all are when Bill "Cat Killer" Frist presumed to diagnose Terri Schiavo from the Senate floor? Yeah, like that. When I heard he called her up and read her the riot act I cheered a little cheer.
See, anyone who has ever been fat knows why Chris Christie was mad as hell at that doctor. They know because they risk having the experience that Chris Christie just had, every time they go to see a doctor. They get blood pressure medicine prescribed to them without having had their blood pressure checked. They get told that their sinus infection would go away if they just lost weight. Or there was that guy who was in the news a couple of weeks ago who nearly died because he had a brain tumor causing his weight gain and his doctors sent him home to diet and work out.
Something over 60% of Americans now fall into the CDC's "overweight" or "obese" categories. And I'm not sure if focusing on Chris Christie's fat is going to fly, because at this point too many of us have been where he is. I'm not sure it's not going to backfire.
The problem with the "ha-ha, fatty's eating a donut" approach to Chris Christie is that Chris Christie is observably energetic, capable of working long hours, and very effective at what he does. By Republican lights he's a pretty damn good governor, getting shit done, cutting budgets, halting public works projects, riling up unions, and the like. Until he got a little too chummy with President Obama during Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie was one of the Republicans' great white hopes (Moby Dick jokes at your own peril) and it was for actual reasons.
Television can make the world seem like it belongs to the skinny and beautiful. In our real lives, though, outside the world of talking the most rude, obscene trash we can about strangers on the internet, we all know actual fat people. Some of us are fat people. Some of us love them. All the fat people in the world are not bedridden social isolates waiting for the crane to come and remove them from their beds through the window. They're our parents, spouses, neighbors and co-workers. And by and large (ha-ha, get it?) the fat people we know in daily life are just as effective as the skinny ones. They get their jobs done. We all probably know fat doctors, fat teachers, fat accountants, fat craftsmen, fat shopkeepers, fat bankers, fat chefs, fat policemen. We know that those people get their jobs done, day in and day out, while fat. Like Chris Christie.
All these people, who know that day to day they work hard and are not particularly encumbered by their fat, hear what Christie's detractors like to focus on and they're like "BITE ME" although some of them are probably more polite about it than that. Because they hear Chris Christie talk about how tough it's been for him to lose weight and they empathize. They KNOW. They have probably had the experience of putting themselves on a diet and gaining weight instead of losing. Or of successfully executing a calorie-restriction plan only to have the weight come back on when they go back to a more sustainable way of life.
Face it, for the last 30+ years, the medical establishment and the $60 billion per year weight loss industry lobbyists have been selling us a plan. That plan is calorie restriction, low fat, and shitloads of cardio exercise. During that time, Americans have exercised and dieted more than ever before. We have successfully cut back the fat in our diets (on average) by something like 10%. And also during that exact same time, by following that prescription, Americans have gotten fatter than ever before. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result; malevolence is marketing a medical intervention to the public knowing that it not only fails over 90% of the time, but may actually result in an effect opposite to what was intended. Weight loss, or more accurately, weight cycling, the vicious cycle of diet-lose-regain-diet, is an extremely profitable industry that would stand to lose if dieting was actually a successful intervention. Yet we completely fail to look at that industry and "follow the money" -- from the weight loss industry lobbyists in the room when the CDC revised its overweight threshholds down in the 90s, to the vast amount of money that is made by convincing Americans that the failure of dieting is their own personal fault rather than a systematic failure of the calorie restriction dieting intervention on a vast scale.
We fail to look at that -- and not only that, we fall into the highly socially acceptable pattern of fat shaming and concern trolling fat people, which is modeled for us by an industry that stands to make a $60 billion profit each year by keeping people scared to death about being fat.
And the thing is, people are slowly catching on that the whole thing is a scam that is unproductive for living your life. Scientists are catching on; even doctors are starting to catch on here and there. And as the counter-diet message gets stronger, there may, if we're lucky, be less and less tolerance for the type of weight-related bigotry (because admit it, you don't really care about Chris Christie's health, you just want to mock him) that I see on this site and elsewhere. People may realize that we're all being sold a bill of goods and it says "Weight Watchers" at the top.
I don't want Chris Christie to be President. Not one tiny bit. But I won't lie -- every time I come to a supposedly progressive site and I see him being bashed because he's fat (and not because he's a sucky evildoing Republican) I lose a little respect for that site, and I gain a little empathy for Chris Christie. I'm a hardcore partisan that would never vote for him in a million years, but the mushy middle -- with their mushy middles? (I'll be here all week) Aren't some of them in their heart of hearts going to be thinking "you go on with your hard-working fat self, Governor Christie"? Because I am thinking that and I don't even like the dude.
The way I figure it, one of two things is going to happen before 2016. Either Christie's going to discover Mark Sisson and become the highest-profile ever Primal Blueprint success story (or something) thereby becoming a hero and role model to millions in our culture that currently equates weight with virtue and valorizes weight loss, or he's (more likely) going to stay the way he is and he's going to have a phenomenal case of underdog syndrome heading into the race, fed by shitty people being shitty about his size while he goes on, demonstrably, competently doing his highly demanding job and demonstrably not dropping dead on a dime, just like millions of other fat people all over America. And either way, as a weight loss hero or a sympathetic everyman, he's going to be more dangerous than you think.
Edited to say: wow, rec'd, thanks and obviously this struck a nerve for others as well. I added a few links this morning but the day job calls now...