Can’t I be Concerned about my Weight/Looks AND Politics?

I received this question as a comment to my “You’re so Vain” post.  I have been mulling it over and had what I thought was a good response that I wanted to elaborate upon.  Why do I personally feel that one CAN’T be as obsessed with weight and looks as the media tells us (particularly women) we should be and still remain as actively engaged in other discussions as we might be otherwise? Or, to put it more succinctly, can’t you be concerned about your weight and looks and politics all at the same time??

I must say that if you personally want to be “concerned” with your weight and looks, along with considering politics, then go ahead.  I’m not stopping you.  This is still, for the most part, a world full of free thinkers (like yourself I would hope to imagine) who have the happy choice to follow the crowds blindly or question the norm and ask about other points of view.  So far be it from me to dictate how you live your own life.  (However, foisting those fears and worries about weight and looks onto OTHERS and thinking you can judge a person’s health or habits by their appearances is NOT your own life. Don’t confuse the two.)

If you’re actually curious about my own point of view (and bear in mind that is what this is; a point of view); I think that being so concerned with one’s weight and/or looks works to our detriment when we consider other topics. How can you really discuss politics when you’re more concerned with Hillary’s hip size or make-up, rather than the issues at hand?  How can we really discuss discrimination of economic classes if you’re more worried about how “fat” those poor people get? How do we intelligently debate the war in Iraq when we’re more worried about OBESITY KILLS than about those who have given their lives in a futile battle?  How do we really discuss the concerns about the environment when the Obesity Scapegoat is getting all the flak? THIS is where I am coming from; from the idea that letting the media and those who listen without thinking for themselves guide where our attention is focused is what is REALLY causing more harm to our nation and our health.

I am NOT coming from a position of anti-fashion or anti-self awareness.  If being a fashion savvy shopper is your happiness button; go for it.  If you NEED to know your weight every morning to get through the day (not my cup of tea, but hey whatever) then by all means; hop on that bad boy scale.  When either of those take over in your life, however, I think your ability to focus on other issues seriously diminishes.  When you have become so distracted by your WEIGHT (and the illogical assumption that it pertains to your current HEALTH) and your or others’ LOOKS to the exclusion of everything else then I really DON’T think you can, or would, be as concerned about politics or other topics.  Unless that concerned was couched in terms of weight and looks. 

I worry that all of our concentration on weight (as health) and looks has lead to or at least contributed to focusing our political debate on whether or not a black or female candidate has the right “stuff” rather than concentrating on their policies.  I feel it has had an impact on how folks perceive social injustices as deserved because they are thinking only of the mental visual of the emblematic poor fatty stuffing McDonald’s down their innocent children’s throats.

This is my train of thought on the matter.  You are free to disagree and I’d love to hear some dissenting opinions.  However if all you have to say boils down to “Whatever fatty” then clearly you have no actual interest in the topic at hand and your comment will be deleted.  And I will do another little victory cheer.

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9 thoughts on “Can’t I be Concerned about my Weight/Looks AND Politics?

  1. What it boils down to is that we all have just so much time in a single day. If we spend a lot of time thinking about one subject, we have correspondingly less time to focus on another.

    Yes, you can think about looks and politics in the same day. You can also think about ponies and rainbows and serial killers all in a day. The question becomes one of how much time you choose to devote to each potential subject du jour.

    So if you spend several hours a day thinking about personal appearance, clearly you will have less time to consider the intricacies of political struggles and policies, and vice versa.

    Yes, I do think about personal appearance every day. It’s part of my job, since I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger. But I do recognize that it leaves me that much less time to consider public policy, just as my curiosity about Jack the Ripper leaves me a bit less time to think about my hobbies of baking and lace making.

    It’s a matter of finding a balance that works for you as an individual. For my part, I keep half an eye on fashion trends, but mostly I trust my own taste and spend more of my time informing myself about the world around me.

    If I’m clean and neatly dressed, then I’m happy with my appearance. That takes about ten minutes a day. That’s plenty of time for me to worry about how I look. I spend another hour or so thinking about how to help other people look good, feel good about how they look, and plan the pretty parts of their lives.

    The rest of my life is devoted to a wide variety of topics including: politics, art, literature, video games, history, food, lace, Project Runway, my husband’s rock band, grand opera…and a million other things. Which takes precedence is a matter of choice, whimsey, and proximity.

    So yes, I absolutely agree with you. You can’t concentrate on everything at once. We all have to decide our own priorities. Mine echo yours more closely than those of someone whose main priorities have to do mostly with appearance.

  2. I agree with the previous poster that it’s a matter of balance and tradeoffs. Personally, I love being a gym rat but when I started writing more, I had to make a choice. I couldn’t do hours of both every night. I didn’t want to give up the gym and I didn’t want to put my writing on the backburner so my solution was to trade off writing time and gym time. Neither gets my full attention but neither is abandoned.

    The question, I think, is what happens when you become focussed on one thing to the exclusion of others or when you give one topic so much weight that others are eclipsed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just a thing. My blog is overwhelmingly devoted to my experiences and musings as an overweight woman. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about politics or unicorns; it means that I want to blog about one main thing and – for the time being – that thing is fat.

    Similarly, I co-host a radio show which deals with movies and pop-culture because that is something I’m passionate about which lends itself well to the radio discussion format.

    I have no idea what point I just made. I think there’s one in there somewhere.

  3. I have little in the way of intelligent discourse to add to the discussion, but still felt compelled to throw in a rousing, “here, here!”

    Thank you for this! Nodding at Twistie’s comment as well.

  4. Holy crap. I cannot believe that my comment warranted it’s own post. Wow. And some of the really shitty, hateful responses to it on the other thread (I’m a troll, a bitch who wants to make fat people hate themselves, a bitch who hates herself and wants to drag others down into my cesspool of self-hatred, etc.) just blow my mind, especially coming from people who preach tolerance and acceptance. I am obviously not welcome here, and this will be my last comment. Please, all of you have a great life, fat or not.

    Oh, and I don’t spend hours and hours a day obsessing over my looks/weight, nor am I judging candidates on their hips/hair/makeup. I don’t see how having a normal level of concern over my looks and weight automatically makes me this self-hating, miserable monster that obsesses over it and cannot possibly have any other interests in life. Weight is NOT a black and white thing, there are gray areas, and it IS possible to be sane about it, and yet still care. Anyways though, best to all of you, and I hope you are happy and healthy regardless of your weight.

  5. “Oh Indeed” I did want to make a post from your response since I do feel that your point was a valid one. I don’t see how my posting this question and asking for other opinions counts as hateful and shitty so I wanted to post your comment here too. If you’re really just here trying to ask some questions, maybe tone down the “Y’all obviously don’t care if I want to feel pretty” tone and ask away. I think you CAN have a level of “concern” over your looks and weight. That’s fine. Again (pointing to my post) this is MY opinion; I don’t think that focusing on OTHER PEOPLE’S weight as though we’re really concerned about their actual health is valid, especially in view of all the medical data out there to suggest that weight is NOT linked to health.

    So by all means, WELCOME! Ask questions. That is the point. Ask questions of us, ask questions of the mainstream media. Form your OWN opinions. All of these concepts ARE very gray but here I am taking what research we have, finding more questions to ask; posing possible answers and trying to have discussions.

    Even here on the “Fat-o-Sphere” we are not all of the same mind; that would be impossible! We all come from different backgrounds, different life experiences. So assuming that what I was pondering here was some sort of “attack” is unwarranted.

    Weight IS NOT a black and white thing. You’re right. That’s why I am questioning the media’s (and those who accept the media’s spoutings unquestioningly) VERY straightforward black and white reactions to weight, health and obesity. That’s why I’m here. Like a little mini x-files of fat. Feel free to join me here in the quest for truth and understanding.

  6. Technically, I don’t think round is a shape. Round is a characteristic of some shapes. An ovoid is a round shape in three dimensions, as is a sphere.

  7. I think that people focus on ‘those fat people’ because that means that they are ok. Its like I wont get heart disease because Im not fat. Its probably very comforting and also allows the person to not have to worry about what they are doing. Even if they are wrong.

  8. I’m of the opinion that no one should be focusing on any issue to do with their weight and that their should be focusing on their “health”. I get fed up with alot of people who complain about themselves when they are of a healthy weight but i can understand how they feel when the media makes images of how we should be.

    I use to not worry about what i was eating as i had a good metabolism but i use to have salt on everything possible, after seeing a TV show about the effects of salt on the heart i practically dont watch it anymore.

    I don’t have great self esteem because i can’t shake the image out my head that women want men with huge sixpacks and muscles on top of muscles.

    I know this isn’t true because i have a lovely girlfriend who loves me for who i am but when the media portrays an image of the ideal man/woman i think some people are more susceptable to believing it.

    Most people should ideally eat healthy balanced diets and do a bit of excercise, or so that is what we are told. But i believe that human life is so short that we should live it how we want, eat what we want and be happy.

    We should not be offended by the media about image because at the end of the day the thing that is behind every slogan, every picture, every move and every game is the company behind it is out to make money by exploiting every niche market available.

    Sorry for making this so long, been reading a few different blogs on the matter and been putting it together in my head 😛

    Thanks for reading my comment 🙂

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