Do You Think Michelle Hears Us?

The president’s wife–she’s probably kept on a pretty tight leash when it comes to what she says publicly, right?

I mean, I doubt that she’s allowed to say: hey, you know all that shit I’ve been spewing about war on fat kids and talking on national TV about my chubby daughters spawning it? Yeah. That was wrong. I’ve seen the truth on the Interwebs and I’m sorry.

Maybe this war on childhood obesity has just become a boulder rolling down a hill that she’s incapable of stopping.

Here’s the latest in this catastrophe:

“Childhood obesity is affecting your workforces too – obese children are less healthy and miss more school on average,” leading to more parental tardiness and absenteeism at businesses in their communities, she said. “When we talk about childhood obesity we are talking about the workforce you are trying to build, businesses you are trying to attract, budgets you are trying to balance everyday,” Obama said warning that businesses may be reluctant to invest and build in communities with an unhealthy future workforce.

That’s a quote from this CNN article that covered Mrs. Obama’s speech to the National League of Cities Conference yesterday.

The First Lady of the United States is, indeed, putting at least partial blame for the state of our economy on fat kids.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

It’s the fat kids’ fault the economy is failing.

I bet W hopes that one spreads like wildfire.

Maybe she knows it’s stupid, though. Maybe she knows it’s wrong, not only intellectually but morally, too.  Only now that she’s got this ball of idiocy rolling, there isn’t a way for her to stop it. Perhaps there is some mechanism of politics that keeps pushing her forward into saying more and more ludicrous things regarding her chosen first lady crusade?

The alternative is that she really believes that it’s okay to:

A) give public, very influential voice to severe bullying. (She says: Hey, fattie mcfat kid–it’s your fault your parents are losing their jobs. Way to go, chunkalicious. Which, then might lead on the playground to: Hey, fat ass–my dad lost his job, and it’s all your fault!)

B) put a wedge between a parent and their child. (All that sick time you have to take because your fat kid can’t go to school? You’re ruining the economy, and it’s all your little fatty’s fault.)

and C) shift the blame for some really bad adult decisions that led to our current economy onto the shoulders of fat kids.

Oh, and don’t forget actually encouraging business owners to discriminate against fat people (either the employees themselves or their families.) And way to equal correlation with causation there, Mrs. First Lady. Once you get started thinking about this, there is no end to the wrongness.

This is especially heartbreaking because I wanted the Obamas in the white house so bad it hurt. I feel personally betrayed. Like my support (and let me tell you, giving your support to the Obamas when you live in rural Nevada is not as easy as it might sound) has been turned into some kind of a sick joke.

But, still I wonder. Maybe this was a war undertaken with no exit strategy. The public is eating this up, right? I mean, some of us are calling it bullshit, but many more seem to think that placing the blame for every woe of the world on fat kids is A-okay. Maybe the polls show enough people agree that fat kids deserve a war against them, that retracting now would hurt her husband’s next campaign.

Leave the fat kids alone, Michelle. Bullying isn’t okay. For any reason. Ever.

Especially not for personal gain.

Just say no.

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18 Comments

Filed under mind, spirit

18 responses to “Do You Think Michelle Hears Us?

  1. Kate

    Yes, yes, yes to everything you said.

    Her message is getting more and more hard core too, at least it seems that way to me. And honestly, even though I’m a dyed in the wool liberal, I so want to use the country’s political divide to propel HAES into the obesity panic discussion.

  2. erylin

    am i the only one that sees this fearmongering very similar to what the nazis did to the jews? (rich make bad descisions…blame it on convenient scapegoat who people already sort of fear and hate already?) how long til we are rounded up and put into weight loss concentration camps? or they take our fat kids and give them to gentile…ops i mean thin… families

  3. Sarah

    As a liberal who voted for President Obama, I am very disheartened by this “Let’s Move” campaign. I wish I could tell Mrs. Obama that I did, in fact, miss a lot of school. I was skipping class because I got picked on so bad for being fat. And my mom felt so sorry for me, she allowed it. I was a very good student too, well-behaved and considered “smart” by the others who weren’t pummeling me for my weight.

    When you are told every single day that your weight is responsible for the collapse of the world, you’ll begin to believe it – and it will effect your productivity on that world. I wish Mrs. Obama could see that.

  4. Kit

    First of all, your first sentence (“The president’s wife – she must be kept on a pretty short leash…”) is startling in its disrespectful tone. It’s something I would expect from a right wing talk radio personality. Michelle Obama is a strong, independent woman and regardless of whether or not you disagree with her, you still need to refer to her with respect.

    Second, you must be a fair weather liberal if your support dries up when the First Lady suggests that children should be educated about health and nutrition and that healthy foods should be available to all classes of society. If liberals need your help with social justice, health care, women’s rights, and the environment will you turn your back just because your feelings got hurt?

    Lastly, Erylin, NO ONE can compare ANYTHING to the Holocaust, alright? It’s never ok. Never.

    • @Kit

      1) I respectfully disagree that any part of my post is disrespectful. I’m giving Mrs. Obama the benefit of the doubt that possibly, because of her position, she’s not able to retract what she’s said even after people have pointed out that it’s hurtful.
      2) I never said my support dried up. I said that it felt like my support had been turned into a joke. And it does. That’s my experience–clearly your mileage may vary.

      Last, and most importantly: Mrs. Obama is not suggesting that children should be educated about health, nutrition. She is suggesting that fat kids should be educated about health and nutrition. She is also not supporting healthy foods being available for all classes of society, she’s suggesting they be made more available to fat poor people. This is wrong on many levels. For one thing, it assumes that thin kids don’t need to be encouraged to eat more vegetables and get out and play more. If her campaign was aimed at all children, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. She singles out fat kids. And singling out fat kids=bullying.

      And, with out commenting on whether or not I agree with Erylin, I will say I totally disagree with you on your last statement. If we don’t remember the Holocaust and sometimes check to make sure we aren’t repeating it, it could happen again.

      • Kit

        1) I object to your choice of language. Please read your first sentence again and reconsider. By giving her the indirect sobriquet of “the president’s wife” you take away her identity. By saying “kept on a short leash” you strongly imply that her actions are not in fact her own, or that she is in some way cowed and controlled. As an adult woman, we need to give Michelle Obama credit for choosing her own actions and words. To imply otherwise is disrespectful and anti-feminist.

        2) Sounds fair enough.

        3) Thank you for the thoughtful response regarding the “Let’s Move” campaign. From everything I’ve read about the “Let’s Move” campaign, I thought it appeared to be an admirably fair-minded program. I think the FA movement is right to be concerned about fat children potentially being stigmatized and singled-out, but I don’t believe stigmatization has ever been a goal or even an unintended consequence of Michelle Obama’s stated purpose. However, if the program has turned out to be different in practice than in theory, I will need to look into it further to see if I continue to support it.

        As for the Holocaust comparison, my objection still stands. I never said that we can’t talk about the Holocaust; rather, I think we should learn and educate about it as much as possible. I meant that by comparing anything – ANYTHING – to the Holocaust we trivialize the horror of that enormity. Nothing can be compared to the Holocaust because it is in a class of violence all by itself. I don’t take kindly to casual reference to genocide, and I can’t imagine you do either. Can you see my point? Unless we are going to discuss it with the gravity it requires, we shouldn’t toss the subject out on message boards for tangential purposes of argument.

      • I’m gladder than glad you’re open to examining the meat of what I had to say here.

  5. Pingback: On my mind in FA today « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

  6. schmemily

    Like Michelle Obama, I am passionate about childhood nutrition and encouraging movement. I don’t disagree with the campaign’s call to “eat healthy” and “be active.” My problem is language like this:

    “Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Sure, this is an ambitious goal. But with your help, we can do it.” (Let’s Move “About” page)

    First of all, attempts to do this on a smaller scale have resulted in healthier habits but no weight loss … BECAUSE NO PLAN OR INITIATIVE OR PROGRAM HAS EVER BEEN PROVEN TO ENSURE WEIGHT LOSS LONG TERM.

    Sorry for the caps, but sheesh. Has Obama read the research?

    Secondly, Americans are living longer, healthier lives than ever.

    Thirdly, obese adults can’t fulfill their dreams? For realsies?

    As a proud liberal (though disaffected Obama supporter), I’m horrified to see this ginormous initiative rolled out as though there’s a single scrap of evidence it will work. If you haven’t read Paul Campos’s piece in the Daily Beast, I highly recommend doing so. The header is a bit much, but the bulk of the article is excellent and makes many of these points better (and more maturely) than I have.

  7. Dee

    Hi Shaunta. I added this to the list of links on this topic that I’ve been collecting under the Paul Campos/Daily Beast post on Big Fat Blog – hope it’s okay. Great post!

  8. Judy

    Do I think Michelle Obama hears us? Well, I think that she has staff people whose job it is, every single day, to scour the media looking for anything that might mention her name… so yes, I think she hears us. Now for the truly heartbreaking part, I think she just doesn’t care.

    When the campaign was initially launched, I thought that is was well intended and unfortunately named. I also thought that the overall tone of hating on the fat kids would be rectified. I was wrong.

    I looked up the study about obese children missing more school, and there’s only been one study so it must be the same one she’s referring to. It does not cite increased sickness in obese children as the reason that they miss more school (12 days/year vs 10 days/year). Instead, the study author Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, stated that the reasons are more likely to be psychosocial than medical.

    Also: “The most immediate problem for obese children is the reduced self-image and insecurity caused by explicit teasing or implicit disapproval from peers, parents and other family members,” said Dr. Michael Dansinger, an obesity researcher at Tufts-New England Medical Center. “Obese children are often teased and bullied by other children, and this could certainly lead to extra days of missed school. Excuses for staying home from school become much easier to find if school is often unpleasant or scary,” he said.

    [I have copied parts the above from this article: http://www.drugs.com/news/obese-children-miss-more-school-days-9090.html
    (I apologize that I don’t know how to code this.)]

    So please Mrs. Obama, stop using your bully pulpit to bully the fat kids. I’m pretty sure they have enough to worry about already.

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