If you are reading this you clearly have access to the internet, and therefore you have most likely read something about Oprah Winfrey's weight gain confession. The jist is this: Oprah weighed 160 pounds two years ago, and now she weighs 200. She "confessed" to the weight gain for the January issue of O Magazine, and now the interwebs are buzzing. The real issue here though is not the weight gain, but the crazy amount of attention it has received. Check out the attention we give to the attention, after the jump.
The SF Weekly's cover story this week is quite a departure. Rather than an exposé of city government shenanigans or a look at some local phenomenon gone national, it's a personal essay about gastric bypass surgery. The Weekly trying to get into the New Year's resolution swing of things by covering weight loss? Trying to capitalize on the bodies of its female staffers (albeit in an unusual and roundabout way)? Just filling a slow news week with a non-timely story? Though it's worth questioning why this is a story in the first place, I'm gonna go in another direction.
In many ways the piece is a standard narrative of self-improvement, complete with a badly lit, messy "before" snapshot paired with a professional "after" picture including careful makeup and styled hair. It would be all too easy to simply criticize author Katy St. Clair for caving in to cultural pressure, buying into the whole thin = hot bullshit she says she wants to be free from, and playing down the risks and sideeffects of weight-loss surgery—which she dismisses as "overblown" without any further information or comment; I know it's a personal essay and not a news article, but it's still on the cover of a newsweekly, so the omission seems pretty glaring—and move on.
Quoted in the New York Times about the hateful Skinny Bitch vegan "health" book phenom. Cheers to reporter Julia Moskin for including Debbie's critical viewpoint—that skinny and healthy are not the same, and vegan junk food is still junk, that these books stop short of the challenge to our industrialized food system that a more politicized vegan analysis would provide.
BeckyAll names have been changed. has been active in the fat acceptance movement for a good half-dozen years. She attends and organizes awareness-raising events, takes part in her local fat social scene, and fights to end discrimination against fat people with a powerful combination of weary sadness and righteous anger. She wears her weight like well-adorned armor, betraying no sense of regret or shame in her 480-pound body.
“Obesity,” declares Charlotte Cooper, author of 1998’s Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size, “is just a word used by people to medicalize fat.” Extra weight, once considered a genetic short straw, is increasingly characterized as a crisis threatening the physical, political, and moral health of our nation—even as large bodies are becoming increasingly visible in popular culture.