Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some Things Happened

I'm almost done getting all my discs into the IPod. There are 4641 songs on it now, which thrills me. Just as I finished writing the post yesterday Big Big Love hit the shuffle. Fun. Mood shifter.

Then I watched the first half of a documentary about Ai Weiwei. He's so interesting. Sometimes his art reminds me of an American artist who I have mixed feelings about but Weiwei's art is so rooted in a political perspective. In the doc he visits the town in which he sustained a brain injury from being hit by a policeman. He goes to ask that an investigation be launched. While there he has a dinner, which moves outside in front of the restaurant where he is joined by a group of fans. It creates an image that is comically close to the last supper. The police ask if he can move back inside and he says he will when he finished eating. All he's doing is having dinner with friends but it's such a challenge to a political system in which gathering together is seditious. He uses Twitter like a weapon against tyranny.

Later I read a book review. After the first paragraph I was ready to buy the book .     
  ...he argues that, instead of feeling that we should have a better life, we should just live, as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness. What makes us think that we could have been a contender? Yet, in the dark of night, we do think this, and grieve that it wasn’t possible. “And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives,” Phillips writes. “Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live.” 

The reviewer doesn't seem to like Phillips much and after I'd read the whole review I decided to wait. I have a book he co-wrote and I think I heard him being interviewed about it. He has many interesting things to say. Many lucid things. 

So a few random and disparate things happened. And I got a bunch of salt and pepper shakers washed. By the end of the day I felt clear. Or something. Clear is not the right word. Smoothed out. But also full of thought. But also other things. Hard to quite describe. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Mean

I was dreary yesterday. I'm dreary often enough that I might not have noticed but I've been so happy to be home. I was getting used to that feeling. After awhile I realized that it was the after effects of writing my letter. I felt uncertain. Worried that I hadn't said things well enough. Imagining all manner of eye rolls and worse a passive lack of understanding. What I mean when I say that being fat is a political identity for me has to do with my experience of the polis
A friend of Mom's picked me up at the airport years ago. A few days later Mom told me that her friend had not thought much of me at first glace because of my weight. After talking with me on the way home she decided that I was a very intelligent and kind person. Mom was very happy because the friend had seen past my weight. I was pissed. I asked Mom why it was OK with her that someone (anyone) had made an assessment of me based on appearance, specifically my weight. She stuttered and stammered because she has the same assessment of fat people when she sees them. She's fat. Her mother was fat. Her mother made no apologies and thought dieting was stupid and unhealthy. She was on and off diets all her life and still thinks she's failing because she's fat. Some part of her is angry when people think anything bad about me but she believes that if I were thin it wouldn't happen. I bring it on myself.
I don't really care what people think, especially strangers. I cared more when I was younger. I know that when I was with thinner friends I harbored a thought that people would see me with them and know I wasn't like other fat people. Sigh.
Another friend told me a story about her father. He almost didn't hire the man who ultimately became his business partner and life long friend because he was fat.
Someone once told a friend of mine that she couldn't imagine having anything to talk to me about because I was fat.
In my letter I mentioned a woman on her show who seemed full of fat hatred. I didn't want to go into it too much and still don't because, honestly, I don't have the energy for people like that anymore. Sanctimonious. Full of certainty. Blind to their own bad faith. And most of all, unwilling. You can not talk about the health of fat people and hate them and think you are fair. You are not. You are not concerned with my own good. You're concerned with being right. You're a bully.
I do wish I could talk to Melissa and people like her about it all. She said she has an obsession with The Biggest Loser. Really broke my heart. And realistically, public people like that getting random e-mails. I mean. I just feel like I'm shouting into the void.
Today there is a new statue of Rosa Parks on one end of Washington and a Supreme Court talking about dismantling the voting rights act on the other end. It's all so important. When I talk about my political identity I imagine eyes glazing over.
So I was dreary. And I'm still a little dreary. But. As MHP's father used to write in her birthday cards. The struggle continues.  

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.