I am going to make some not-friends with this piece, I imagine. First of all, I’m going to be talking about that $#@%^ Marie Claire article that we have all probably heard more than enough about by now. Secondly, in the discussion, along with what troubles me within it, I am going to look at what Maura got right. Â and…finally… I’m probably going to go on far to long about it all…
Yep, I said it… what she got right.
Since that probably grabbed your attention, and many of you aren’t really going to process anything else until I do it, lets start there. What Maura Kelly got right:
- This country has a very serious and growing problem with obesity. As a nation (and I am speaking very generally here) we have eschewed the valuable lifetime essentials of fitness and nutrition. Â In gradually losing the battle against pop culture (time spent outdoors turning into time spent in front of television or a computer screen; home cooked balanced mean turning into getting the door, because its dominoes; etc. etc. etc.). Â A renewed focus on nutrition, exercise and general health is a very good idea.
- This country has a very serious and growing problem with permissiveness. Rather that stand resolute against a growing tide of bad habits, personal negligence and malaise, we have taken a position of “tolerance” more closely related to simple acceptance. Â Again, I am talking in general here. Â Look at the way people dress on airplanes, at dinner, at church. Â Look at the way people take care of their things. Â Look at the way people take on debt. Â I could go on, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea. Â The real problem though is in the reaction to these things. Â It is easier to excuse a trend than to stop it, and that is the tack it seems we take far to often in this country.
- This country has a very serious and growing problem with facing the truth. There is nothing in this article that has not been said to you, me, and the wall a hundred times in the last 10 years or so in a politically correct and responsible way. Â However, we, as a nation don’t want to hear it. Â We want to pop through the drive through to save time (or because that bacon double heart attack just tastes really good); we want to watch 6 hours of football Saturday **and** Sunday. Â Telling people we have a national obesity problem has not done a lick of good, for nearly a decade (just like telling people we have an oil problem, or a global water problem, or, or, or…). Â Mrs. Kelly, by contrast started a national dialog, with the people that really matter (the general public) in a matter of a few -Â albeitÂ irresponsible – minutes.
Having said all of that…
I, also, take exception with the article, and the way it leads the (very necessary) conversation. Â It generalizes and pontificates without knowledge or basis. Â While some people may “elect” to be overweight, many do not.
Further, if an individual opts into obesity, who are you or I to say that is not their right? Â While I acknowledge that our country faces a general health problem; and further that I think it is our own fault, I do not suggest that regulating what people eat or do with their weekends is the answer. Â I believe in peoples right to make their own choices, no matter how personally destructive they may be (although I do draw a line when their choices effect others).
By contrast, suggesting, or opening a conversation about, the unacceptability of televising two overweight people being intimate is a very short jump from suggesting the unacceptability of televising two Asain, or Mormon, or elderly people being intimate. Â It creates,Â embellishesÂ or supports bigotry and has no place in a remotely evolved society.
The “problem” of obesity that we face as a nation is a general problem not an individual issue; and should never be focused on individuals. Â In reality, obesity is not the disease, it is just a symptom of the disease. Â Just like the declining production of actual things, just like eroding moral character, just like the ability to speak or write proper English, and many other symptoms; it is a function of a fundamentally lazy society, a culture of convenience over substance.
We are not going to fix is by chiding some “fatties,” or removing the issue from our national view. Â What is going to change things is a fundamental change in the way we raise our children. Â You want to reduce the national waistline? Â Take your kids shopping with you instead of leaving them home on the couch or on the computer. Â Teach them the value of the fresh fruits and veggies you are purchasing (you are purchasing fresh food, right?); later, have them help you make a meal from scratch. Â Turn off the television, grab your kids and go for a hike, play a game of soccer, or swim in a nearby river. Â Change the environment your children are growing up in, and by doing so, you will manifest the change you want to see in the world (or in the case of Mrs Kelly, in prime time programming).
Finally… do we really want to act like positive loving interactions, by anyone regardless of appearance, are one of the hot button items we need to address while at the same time we are at war, we sell Halo, Red Dead,Â AssassinsÂ Creed, and Modern Warfare. Â Is a little affection such a bad thing? Â Modeling a loving caring relationship, that does not care about the trappings of what society thinks you should look or act like sounds pretty positive to me.
These are two people who love each other for who they are, not who a television audience thinks they should be. Â I’m not sure you can make a convincing case, to me anyway, that there is a more important or valuable lesson to be taught.