Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh, God, Michelle's Issue is Fatness!

Oh, geez, as if it wasn't bad enough in New Orleans. You know, New Orleans? Sin City? Party Town? Let it all hang out? Where carousing revelers stumble out of the bars on Bourbon Street at all hours of the day and night along with the sounds of dixieland jazz? Where sidewalk hawkers tout the attractions of the female (or perhaps male) performers inside? Where women show their bare boobs to to score Mardi Gras beads? Where Brenda and I, in our 60's, were aggressively propositioned by a group of young men whose eyes were obviously blurred from intoxication?

And I'm fine with all of this. Do you know why? Because I'm tolerant. Tolerant of other people's forms of entertainment. I don't drink myself but I don't judge people who do. I'm not into sexual suggestiveness in public but I don't scorn people who are. My motto has always been "live and let live". I thought that was New Orleans' motto too. But it's not.

The boys who asked Brenda and I if we wanted to "go somewhere and fuck, Baby" are smiled on by New Orleans. Boys will be boys, dontcha know? Had we been offended, that would have simply been our problem but if we'd met in the same restaurant and they'd been upset about my smoking, they could have had me thrown out.  Well, I'd have been thrown out even if they hadn't been offended because some customer might be. (Even the ones who rant about second hand smoke and then say "first available" when they want quick seating in a crowded cafe.)

Because the quickest way to become a pariah in 21st century America is to be a smoker. Line me up before a firing squad with an alcoholic, a drug dealer, and rapist, then take a poll of the people to find out who should be shot first and I'd better be taking that last puff quick 'cause it's probably gonna' be me.

Beer and alcohol producers are petted and praised. They sponsor the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500. Drinking is still mucho cool. And colas? Same thing, although it is a proven fact that the carbonation in them is harmful to your health. And energy drinks that we don't even know the contents of and will probably find out someday causes birth defects....fine and dandy. But, God, not the evil cigarette manufacturers. Budweiser = good; Marlboro = bad.

(My own personal source of indignation are people who believe it is their freaking God-given right, even duty, to pop out baby after baby in an increasingly crowded world. Octo-Mom and the Duggers offend me but I don't around trying to pass laws about it).

And now, on top of the contempt in which I'm held thanks to being a smoker, the First Lady has decided her issue is obesity. Oh, great. I don't meet the official criteria for being considered obese but I can see it from where I'm at. Not that I'm worried about me. I'm old and thick-skinned  - but girls already think they are too fat even when they aren't. That's what anorexia and bulimia are all about. Young women trying to conform to an impossible standard set by society to be deemed attractive. We shout it from the rooftops. Look at the cover of any tabloid and you'll undoubtedly see a movie star being mocked for her tiny tummy or slightly too-thick thighs. She can abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in serial sex and maintain her image but gain weight and her reputation will suffer proportionately to the pounds she puts on.

It's not that, all things being equal, I don't believe that it is better not to be fat. There are things that can be done but they should be done quietly, like serving more nutritious and less caloric school lunches, including what is to be found in school vending machines. Like mandating physical education classes that stress exercise and fitness (along with fun). But we shouldn't make a big issue out of it.

There have always been fat people and there always will be. When a First Lady takes on a Cause, it becomes front and center in the media. All the plump kid will get out of it is that they are unworthy. That's the last thing they need. Lots of children have no choice anyway. They eat what is put in front of them or what the family can afford. Nothing Michelle Obama says is going to turn that macaroni and cheese into broccoli and brussel sprouts. If Mom brings home a McDonald's sack for supper, the kid is going to eat it. And chances are, that kid will be fat. Too fat to be acceptable in our society.

For God's sake though, don't resort to smoking as a weight loss technique. You'll just be looked down on from another direction. Better to go be an alcoholic. Drinking is still cool.