Monday, February 25, 2013

Open Letter To MHP

Dear Melissa,
It's me, Tish.
First I should let you know that this is an open letter and I should say to people who may read me but not watch MHP, Melissa writes a lot of letters to a lot of people and reads them on her show. They're smart and fun and, well, you should watch.
I watched as you wiped off your makeup in solidarity with the Barefaced and Beautiful campaign and, in some way that I'm not quite clear on, as a response to National Eating Disorders week. The connection you make is about the sense that too many young women have of not being good enough. You look fabulous with or without make up. I agree that sometimes makeup is a mask and sometimes it's a fun way to play. I'm just not sure that taking off makeup speaks to the serious issue of eating disorders.
It would be interesting to know how many of the 81% of the 10 year-olds who are afraid of being fat are boys. The same question would apply to the hospitalizations for eating disorders. Makeup may be an issue for a percentage of boys but, again, it's tangential at best.
The show you did on the politics and profits of weight loss was discouraging for me because it began with the assumption that losing weight was desirable and healthy and the only positive choice. The slight deference paid to the idea that fat people shouldn't be demonized banged against the wall of fat hatred articulated by at least one of your guests. I am in complete agreement that food is political and race and class issues are an important part of that discussion but even on the set your usually very smart show the assumptions about fat people were brain numbing. Belly fat? Really?
I have this issue with so much of the lefty media I so enjoy. I'm all for organic, local food. I'm angry about GMOs. I'm nodding and agreeing and then someone starts talking about obesity.
Let me be clear about why that bothers me. I'm fat. For me being fat is a political identity. I am generationally fat. I do not need sympathy or support for being fat. It's a body type not an illness.  
I was a fat kid. It wasn't easy being a fat kid in the fifties but I am terrified for fat kinds today. They are being told that they have a disease. And there are thin kids who eat fast food and play video games. It's just as bad for them but no one seems worried about them. 
I have as much affection for Michele Obama as I can have for someone I don't actually know. But this rise in eating disorders and her articulation of the obesity epidemic are connected. Again, love the garden. Love the dancing. But don't thin kids need those things?
Can we please do some critical thinking about fat bodies? And health. And social justice. And beauty.
I also have as much affection for you as I can have for someone I don't actually know. I love the show. I just long for some different thinking, some deep wisdom and insight. These are the things I usually get from you.
Your biggest ( not a loser) fan.

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