This little rant was the product of me blowing up on facebook about a Courier Mail article on a proposed "fat tax" to be levied in our income tax. I commented "Why do I have to pay for fat @*!@^$? Just stop smashing everything with hollandaise sauce and drinking frozen Coke!"
Well didn't I cop it - 27 facebook comments in 45 minutes (I'm sure it would have broken a record if I hadn't taken it off). If I had have posted "I'm pregnant with quads!" I would be lucky to get 5 comments in 5 days. Granted.... I should not have sworn. But I was talking about the politicians being fat cats... and we already pay for obesity everyday through Medicare on obesity dental plans, podiatry, nutritionists and the big stuff like coronary and diabetic care. But apparently women shouldn't have an opinion if it isn't wrapped in rainbows, cup cakes and kittens. And I guess that is my point... If I have worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years, aren't I entitled to an opinion?
I'm annoyed... annoyed that people personally attacked me (and my family) and my clients, when I didn't single out any one person - but the flawed rational of a government proposal... So this is my rant.
It's official. The most offensive word for a middle age white woman to use isn't For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge or even the use of a common pre-industrial term to describe the female genitalia... No, it's the noun and the verb "fat". Even children's books now describe people as skinny or "wide". Gay, bi-atch, mole.... that's cool, even jovial. Fat... no. That is down right despicable. And it's completely subjective..... and here begins my epic tale.
Here are the undisputed facts of Australia (a proud sporting country built on the greatest show of military courage and resilience in the World Wars) being the fattest nation in the world:
We are the first generations to:
1. defy the 'survival of the fittest' continuum that Darwinism is based on (due to advancements in resuscitation, antibiotics, organ transplants and fertility treatments).
2. have difficulty grasping the concept that something taken directly from the ground has more nutritional value than from a supermarket aisle (and it is unequivocally affordable if you cut it and cook it yourself).
3. personally consume the equivalent of a small room of sugar in a year.
4. have the fattest lower socioeconomic population in the history of the world (poverty once meant a reduction in calories).
5. most disturbingly.... bury 1 in 8 of our children in our lifetime due to obesity related illnesses.
Is it the job of our bureaucrats to solve this problem? And it is truly enormous, because it means that we will in effect have no youth left to entrust our nation. Who will run those Jenny Craig workshops and manufacture and sell Terry White meal replacements? Worse still, when we are dribbling on ourselves in a nursing home who will wipe our bottoms? Or fork lift us out of our homes?
Do we want politicians and public servants dictating how we should monitor our weight? And when does it become a matter of self responsibility and teaching our kids that life's not always going to be easy and someone will not always be there to pick up the pieces?
But wait..... there's more to this epic tail of the continuous line of people driving into McDonalds and KFC with their kids are in the back playing DS and them dragging on a cigarette (recession? what recession?)....
It seems it's ok for parents to set these sort of examples to their children, but for me to use the word FAT? This has just set off a maelstrom of responses. I am completely surprised that a handful of retorts have been from people that either consciously or subconsciously labelled themselves as "FAT" and then said I should be a better role model. hmmmmmmmmm.
I can't resist quoting the angsty pop mistress Alanis Morissette:
I don't want to be the light from the fridge on your face at midnight. Hey! What are you hungry for?
(I'm not the Doctor)
This is a great car song when you get exhausted and feel like people are using you as an emotional crutch or as a verbal vomit bag as the case may be.
Which brings me to my next point. When did "leading by example" become someone else's problem? And has this resulted in the raising and nurturing of a population devoid of coping skills, pain tolerance, resilience and common sense? This was the very basis of our species becoming the ultimate rulers of this planet. So what will be our fate if we can no longer care for ourselves as individuals?
Arggggghhhhhh. That story never gets easy to tell. But the lesson resonates - parents are the primary educators for their children on strength and self sufficiency.
But let me pop a feminist spin on this. For fear of sounding like Carrie from Sex in the City, I can't help wondering... if I were a 7 foot man with the nickname "Commando" would people be so quick to jump down my over-opinionated neck when I use the word 'fat'? And what sort of values are we teaching our girls if we punish them if their opinions stray from the literary prose of a Hallmark card and a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" sermon?
Do we provide a safe haven for our children to test their opinions?
Do we provide a safe haven for our children to test their opinions?
I am lucky to have a political science background. When I've previously made comment on the flawed logic of research suggesting that society pay a "fat tax" for people that can safely starve themselves for a year and save a truck load of money on takeaway, I don't hold a picture of a person in my head and imagine pointing at them and calling them names. It may surprise a few to know that most people are too busy to think of them every minute of the day. Or at all.... To assume this would be to say that I can't possibly be intelligent enough to think about the societal implications of fiscal policy and health. And a very few women, unfortunately, have been the worst offenders in reminding me that my opinion should only be shared if it leaves them feeling all warm and fuzzy. Some men (not all!!!! definitely not the more secure one's) have beaten their little chests to the tune of a drum that would leave Germaine Greer speechless.
And no... it's not LUCK and GENETICS and a 'free and easy' life that have saved me from obesity and poor health. It's because there is only one person putting food in my mouth and finding time to run a family, three businesses and exercise.... yes, that's ME.
This is forcing me to quote the Dixie Chicks...
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter sayin' that I better
Shut up and sing or my life will be over...
I'll interject some words from the Big Marn, a current serving Paramedic for the ADF, delicious Dad and awesome instructor.....
It's unfortunate that taking responsibility for our own health and our families health has to be taught to us. We are quick to get the flu jab or antibiotics at the first hint of the flu at work yet not enough of us consider what we mechanically put in our mouths at least 3 times a day. So much of what we eat (and drink) is PACKED with simple sugars. The convenient option is generally not the best one. it takes planning to eat healthy. PLEASE take it from someone who has treated too many heart attack and stroke and diabetes patients to keep track of, that you only need to witness the suffering they endure once to know you never want to be in their shoes. Maybe we all need to visit a stroke or coronary care ward or diabetes clinic to see this for ourselves and do something life changing like high intensity fitness. Watch out white overweight 40 something males with family history of heart disease cos if you don't change something statistically you are heading under lights and sirens to an emergency dept near you! Side note: Gotta love the motivation and energy of the SD client..... BM
I'll finish with this. I see my clients (past, present and future) as choosing a lifestyle that recognizes the avoidance of pain and hard work isn't the path to really living. They seem to embrace pain... and thrive on it. And in effect, their lives do become less painful because they are flexing a strong body and strong mind and reaping the rewards. With this we are all elevated to be better and want more. Is it because they have a mental disposition that our society needs to tap into? And when do we stop actively pandering to the squeaky wheel of the victim mentality?
I'd love to hear your comments..... after all, this entire rant is about self reflection and freedom of speech!