Fat Studies

For those of you who aren’t literature people this may seem like an odd post, but I am going to post about it anyway. Some friends of mine and I are going to try to get a panel accepted at a conference in San Francisco in March. (1) The panel would be about the depiction/role/harassment/exploitation of fat people in popular culture. (2) I would be going with some of my best friends in the program. (3) I may or may not have enough money to go because of the lovely property tax increase. I think it would be fun. I want to write a paper on the show that is on the Discovery Channel (actually there are several on various channels), but the one that irks me the most is “Inside Brookeville.”

“Inside Brookeville” pisses me off because the hospital is doing a really good thing–trying to help morbidly obese people get healthy–but the media exploits the fat bodies by creating a freak show out of them. What I love about the hospital is that it doesn’t advocate bariatric surgery! Brookeville advocates health, whether or not it comes at a large size. As my professor says: “Fit and fat,” which who I am, and for the most part I am quite happy in my body. Occasionally, I think I’d be quite sexy thinner, but I settle for who I am. I’ve been a fat kid all my life, and I suppose it won’t change anytime soon. I like to eat too much, and since most of my favorite foods are laden with fat, I don’t suppose I’ll get skinny overnight. I digress, back to the freak show.

Last night “Inside Brookeville” focused on three different cases, which they usually do. One case was an African-American man who had fatty tumors growing on his legs. They explored the tumors medically, but they also showed close-ups of them with sores and ooze, and they showed the man walking down the hall with no shoes on (his feet were too swollen) and his leg that was effected the most was bare up to the mid-thigh. The tumor flailed around and seemed to take on a life of its own, all the while the camera focused only on the tumor, not on the man. Basically, the media fetishized the tumor. Is that all fat people are to the world, a collection of tumors and yeast infections? I wondered as I watched why the hospital let them exploit the patients in such a way. For money, no doubt.

On a happier note, my friend Amy is here from California, and we are meeting in Richmond on Wednesday night to celebrate her birthday, which I entirely forgot. I am such a slacker about her birthday and I am not sure why. I just totally spaces it, but she is here, so I will treat her with great admiration while she is here. I know it won’t make up for it, but I can try. I really miss her. When she is around I get to think theologically in a way that I don’t get to much. Aside from Becky and Dave (AND AUGH! HOW COULD I LEAVE OUT SARAH!), I have a hard time knocking around some difficult theological concepts that I wrestle with. I just feel sometimes as an adult many of the same ways I felt as a child—does anyone get what I am saying? If so, please say so. Is there anyone whose faith won’t be shaken by my questions, my assumptions, my heresies? I think if I were Catholic, I would be branded a heretic for sure!

My mom’s cousin, Jane, was here for the weekend and it was wonderful as always to see her. I don’t see her much, but when I do, it makes me long for California in a new way each time. I need to live in a place where people think about things. Perhaps that is why I can’t seem to get away from school. It seems like academia is the only place in Indiana where people wrestle in a real way with tough issues. Basically, I need more PROGRESSIVES in my life. I would say bleeding heart liberals, but the more I know about the liberal/conservative dichotomy, the more I want nothing to do with it. I want to SEE PROGRESS, in my lifetime. I want things to change. The environment, human rights, workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, stem cell research, and all those other hot button issues. Let’s stop talking about them and do something about them—that would be a novel concept!

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