I’ll admit I’ve been a little absent from the pagan blogosphere this past week (and other blogospheres; I think my brain is still camping out in the woods). But I haven’t been oblivious, and today I actually sat down to read a few of the posts floating around about the “epidemic” of “obese pagans”.
I’m not surprised Peter Dybing, who has proved himself to be an asshole to me in the past, writes a post in which he proves he’s not a doctor that is tellingly named “normal” in the URL (EDIT as of August 14th, 2012 — Dybing has deleted his original post for some unfathomable reason; Google cache still has it up and so here is a screencap) — so wait, you’re saying that I’m not normal because I’m fat? Well thank all the gods for that! Normal is just a setting on the dryer to me.
One of the most valued principles within the Wicca community is that all bodies are sacred and beautiful. This is so engrained in our culture that that we have developed a collective amnesia concerning the health affects of obesity.
Ah, yes, those health affects! Wait, don’t you mean effects? Next time just use the word impact; it means the same thing. (I realize correcting grammar makes me look childish, but if you’re going to talk about how unhealthy I am without any proof or medical knowledge — without knowing, frankly, a godsdamned thing — then you can at least do it with proper grammar. You owe me that much.)
So. Those health effects of obesity. Well, it’s true that a lot of health problems have been connected to obesity. What’s not true is that obesity causes them. Correlation does not equal causation — come on, we learned this in elementary school. (Or, at least I did, but that was in Canada, and before No Child Left Behind.)
There’s only one health problem that obesity does indeed cause — just one. Want to know what it is?
Social ostracizing and hatred from fellow human beings, leading to depression, isolation, and self-destructive tendencies.
And even then not all obese people suffer from it. Some of us just have it on a day or two, and are fine the rest of the time. Still more of us contemplate suicide because of how badly we’re treated by the people around us — and yes, I was one of them.
Granted, I have PTSD and other mental problems, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never contemplated suicide because I was tired of being treated like dirt because of my size.
So yeah, I guess you’re right, Dybing! I should have just lost the weight and my mental health would have suddenly improved! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so simple!
He goes on to say:
Over the past ten years I have had many discussions about this issue with my partner after attending Pagan gatherings. In our private moments we have felt safe to express our concern to each other about this nearly endemic problem in our community. We have observed multiple individuals suffer from obesity and have read the statements of sympathy to their communities and families upon their passings.
Glad to know that up until now you’ve only felt safe to discuss other people’s bodies and health behind their backs, Dybing. That’s fucking classy.
Tell me, in that observation of people suffering from obesity that you mention — did you actually ask these people if obesity made them miserable? Did they actually tell you that? Or did you just come to this conclusion after staring at them for uncomfortable periods of time?
Also, how many pagans have actually died because of their obesity? In which the doctor opened up the body afterwards and said “Yep, it was the fat that killed her — see how the adipose tissue forms fingers that snake around the larynx?” I’d like a number, here, please. And proof.
Of course, I need to mention here that the reason all this fathate and fatphobia is going around the pagan blogosphere right now is because of the death of a “young elder”, whatever that means, in our ‘community’. This person was overweight, and he died of cardiac arrest.
Don’t get me wrong — my sympathies go out to this man’s family, and to everyone who was affected by him. I’m not here to speak ill of the dead.
Neither, it seems, is Dybing — but that doesn’t stop him from co-opting the tragedy to pursue his own personal vendetta against fat pagans.
Or anyone else. I know I seem like I’m singling out Dybing here, but that’s only because when I read his blog I saw red and just had to comment on his statements. Like this one:
A bright light has been extinguished in our community and I cannot help but wonder if I carry some responsibility as a result of having ignored this issue, indeed have we as a community created a situation where we all share in some small measure of culpability?
I’m going to make this really clear for you, Pete: OUR BODIES, OUR BUSINESS. This applies to us fatties, too, not just to skinny folk. And I swear to the gods if you ever come up to me and tell me I need to lose weight because you’re “concerned about my health”, no jury would convict me for what I do to you.
He then lists a bunch of DID YOU KNOW? “facts” about obesity, including this gem: “Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States.”
According to whom? I can’t find any actual proof of this outlandish statement; just its repetition on several site that are “dedicated” to “making people healthy.”
The fact is, we can’t celebrate the life of someone upon their passing without commenting on their health — if they’re obese. If they’re not obese, most people who didn’t know them will just talk about how tragic it is, how senseless, yadda yadda — never mind if they passed because they smoked too much, or drank to excess, or never had their teeth looked at because they couldn’t afford dental insurance (not sure if you know this, but bad teeth can actually lead to serious health concerns, such as cardiac arrest).
We have no idea if the cardiac arrest that killed David Grega was related to his apparent obesity or not. Maybe heart problems run in his family and this would have happened anyway. Maybe he had a cavity that had gone unchecked for long enough. We have no idea, because we’re not doctors, and more importantly we’re not David’s doctors.
But no, we have to get bogged down in his weight, and how that was a health concern, co-opting this man’s death to talk about the “epidemic” of obese pagans.
Do you have any idea what shitty human beings that makes us?
Congratulations, fat-hating Pagans: you’ve just proven to the gods that you’re not worthy.
(Oh, and by the way — this doesn’t just apply to pagans. This happens every time a fat person dies in the mainstream culture we’re all a part of, too. I just happen to be commenting on the pagan aspect of it.)
On that note, I’m heading up to visit my mom for a few days. We’re going to eat healthy, and walk the dog — EVEN THOUGH WE’RE FAT, OMGS, AND THEREFORE HORRIBLY UNHEALTHY NO MATTER WHAT WE DO.
Other posts on the subject:
- The Secret Life of the American Working Witch: Obesity: Voices from the Pagan Community
- Staff of Asclepius: A Tragedy Creates Potential for National Pagan Discussion on Health
- Pantheon: My Fat is My Business
- The Fat Pagan: Obesity! Crisis! Hits Pagan Community
- The Domestic Pagan: Weighing in on Paganism and Obesity
- Agora: Sacred Body, Sacred Earth, by T. Thorn Coyle