The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

How may I erase thee? Let me count the ways.

Cross posted

Bouquets and brickbats time, for the New Zealand Listener.

The cover story this week is about weight loss myths. It’s not on-line yet, but if you can buy a dead tree version, it’s worth it. The story is familiar to people who have even a passing acquaintance with the fatosphere and fat acceptance, as I do. The standard points:
– Dieting doesn’t work for the great majority of people (that would be 95% of people).
– Fat seems to be linked to poverty;
– Diabetes and heart disease don’t have a causal relationship with fat, or if there is a causal relationship, it’s a minor one, or it comes about through side effects.
– The death rate for fat people is no better and no worse than the death rate for thin people.
– Health At Every Size (HAES) is the way to go.

So far, so good. The story even ventured into some difficult territory, talking to a woman who had instigated severe diet control, and lost a huge amount of weight, going from size 22 to size 12 through dieting alone. But is she happier?

“… It’s still the same me and in some ways I am happier. There’s no doubt you have more social approval…. but there are things that I miss from when I was a larger woman. I got enormous pleasure from eating and loved to feel as though I could eat when I wanted to eat. That’s a wonderful thing and a wonderful pleasure…” She weighs herself every day and says sometimes she feels that her life is destined to be one “where I hardly eat anything”.

The story works hard against all the myths about weight and weight loss. There’s no alleged “balance” from people think that it’s just a matter of will power and diet. It’s all about debunking the myths. In the mainstream media. That’s fantastic.

But… the writer talked to four people, all of them academics: Andrew Dickson, Linda Bacon, Robyn Longhurst, and Cat Pausé. The printed article had pictures of three of them: Andrew Dickson, Linda Bacon, and Robyn Longhurst. Dr Dickson is a large man. Dr Bacon seems to be of slender to moderate size. Dr Longhurst is slim. Only one largish body in sight, and certainly not a fat body. The only person who was interviewed for the article, and who was not pictured, is a fat person, Dr Cat Pausé. Cat is fat. Not large. Not weighty. Not chunky. Fat.

So as far as the New Zealand Listener is concerned, we can talk about fat, but we can’t picture it. Erasing people who are fat, and hiding them from view, turning fat people into just words, but not whole people with bodies and faces and lives and realities, even in a sympathetic article. Erasure. So many ways to do it.

So here’s a picture of Cat. It’s her signature piece.

Dr Cat Pausé

And here’s a google image search.

Here’s her page at her place of employment.

Here’s a 20/20 segment about fat acceptance in New Zealand, featuring Cat.

And here’s Cat’s reflection on the 20/20 segment on fat acceptance in New Zealand.

3 responses to “How may I erase thee? Let me count the ways.

  1. Psycho Milt July 11, 2012 at 6:58 am

    – Diabetes and heart disease don’t have a causal relationship with fat, or if there is a causal relationship, it’s a minor one, or it comes about through side effects.

    Even a passing acquaintance with logic ought to warn us against concluding that the correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetes is causal, yet epidemiologists seem to peddle that conclusion to anyone who’ll listen. More likely is that obesity and diabetes are both effects of something, not cause and effect.

    As to diets, I eat large quantities of animal fat every day and am still buying trousers with a 30-inch waist just like I was 30 years ago when I was nearly vegetarian (through poverty rather than conviction) – diet doesn’t seem to have much to do with it. If I paid attention to the nutrition advice I get given at every checkup, I’d have had years of miserable eating and would most likely still be the same weight I am now – fuck ’em.

  2. Moz July 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I was hoping to be the first commenter so I could say “who said that? Show yourself!” Because, really, I started laughing at the name “Dr Cat Paws” and that made the whole thing a bit hard to take seriously. At least she’s not a vet or zoologist.

    But yes, a photo would have been nice.

  3. tallulahspankhead July 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

    But Deborah, no one wants to see fat people. We know this, we’re invisible. We take up too much room on the bus, and shouldn’t wear bright colours or patterns because we might stand out.

    Because, I mean, if people had to look at us, and get past ‘eeeew, fat’, they might realise we’re actual real people who are, for the most part, not deserving of their hatred.

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