The Super Bowl, Fat People, Prioritizing Health, and Hypocrisy

Super BowlOne of the reasons most commonly given for refusing to treat fat people with basic human respect, or to represent fat people in the media as happy, or successful at anything other than weight loss, is that fat people aren’t “prioritizing our health” and thus deserve to be treated poorly and denied positive media representation.

For today I’m setting aside the fact that this is both completely untrue and that it even if it was true it would still be extremely messed up, to discuss the almost unbelievable hypocrisy that is committed anytime this argument is made and, specifically, on Super Bowl Sunday, in this annual DWF post.

Today Super Bowl LIII will be played (for those not into sportsball, it’s the annual championship game of United States Football.) It has an anticipated audience of over 100 million people. Advertisers paid $5.25 Millon for a 3o second spot.

The dudes who will play in the game – many of them meeting the (totally bullshit) definition of “obese” – will be putting their short and long term health in jeopardy in the hopes of scoring more points than some other dudes, and winning jewelry.

If we really believe that people who don’t prioritize their health should be treated poorly and denied positive media representation, then I’m pretty confused here:

First is this incredibly long list of injuries.

And what about the massive impact of concussions on players future lives (and the NFL cover-up thereof.)

Or the fact that the rate of bankruptcy means that taxpayers will likely pick up the cost of most of the future healthcare they’ll need.

Football players are given massive media exposure despite the fact that they are clearly not prioritizing their own health.

So if we think that people who don’t “prioritize their health” are poor role models and shouldn’t be represented positively in the media, what is this whole Superbowl thing about?  Where is the insistence that football players aren’t good role models because they aren’t prioritizing their health? Where are the calculations about how expensive football players (from Pop Warner to Pro) will be – not just with sports injuries while they play, but with the fallout from concussions, and the constant pounding their joints take? Where is the WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THEIR KNEES hand-wringing?

Where are the calculations of how much money could be saved if instead of playing football those who participate just walked 30 minutes a day 5 days a week?  Where’s the government-sponsored “War on Football Playing”? And all of that despite the fact that body size is complicated and not entirely within our control and we don’t have a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people were able to change their body size, but playing (or not quitting) football is absolutely a choice.

To be clear, people are allowed to play football. My point here is that this whole “It’s because of fat people’s health that we treat them badly” thing is just a crappy justification for size-based discrimination, and it’s long past time to stop using healthism and ableism to justify sizeism, and to end all of them instead.

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8 thoughts on “The Super Bowl, Fat People, Prioritizing Health, and Hypocrisy

  1. Unfortunately football players are paid to damage themselves. I did hear that it will be harder to set up school-age teams, since nobody wants to insure them anymore. All the little knocks add up to brain damage too, not just the big ones.

  2. Asked and answered. They hate us. They want to hate us. There is a multi-billion dollar industry built and sustained by hating us. Seriously, at this point I’m surprised it isn’t actually taught in schools. I mean IN the curriculum, not the semi-casual way of hatting fatties via film/tv/media/print sports themes, health scares, yearly statistical smears campaigns for the government.

    I will not get sucked into the whose bigotry is a worse form of human hatred argument, but in the U.S., Western Europe and increasingly in many other nations of our world, hating on sight based on an abundance of adipose tissue is the go-to, for off-letting the worlds uncomfortable emotion. Charged subjects like sexism, racism, fear, death, poverty, loneliness, illness, loss. Did I mention death? The “We’re not doing that anymore.” brigade of so-called political correction has informed the world that intolerance is un-acceptable. Whether it is or isn’t truly (Hint: it is still O.K. to be a bigot.) acceptable to judge-hate people who are not ME, it has become increasingly clear that one group in particular is always an acceptable target. Fat people, fat women, fat children, fat animals, fat bodies.

    Pretty much anything tainted by fat in any form became ground zero for open/profitable/unabashed hatred about twenty years ago. There is real push back and it will be interesting to see what, if anything really comes of the refusal of yet another identifiable group of people who stand up and refuse to be treated like second/third class citizens.

    If there is no one to hate/blame/fear/avoid/malign/laugh at what will the world do? Face reality head on and deal? Should be interesting. I doubt the Super Bowl is gonna be a first strike target. You’re looking at the belly of the beast there. Like Hollywood and Madison Avenue. Oh, and by the way. When people are hating on you “for your own good.” They really think they are on the side of the angels.

    I honestly don’t know which is more dangerous. Haters who hate openly and really want us to die, or haters who think their hate is love in a scratchy sweater. It always ends up in the same place. Assumptions, ill-concealed hostility, avoidance, insistence, and then the weaponized form of “concern for you hit critical mass and results in “real social change” Activism. Ideas become suggestions, become rules, become laws, or a lack of legal protections. Then the fun part: Lost wages. Housing discrimination. Denied/Substandard health care. Diminished rights. Diminished Humanity. Humanity Denied. End Game.

    See. I got it back to Sport Related Theme.

    I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I don’t care. I hope no one cheated this time. Back to real life…Keep Running, Keep Writing Ragen. The negative/hostile response you get for just living your life says all we need to know!

    1. Oh, I can tell you what the response will be to being told there’s a group of people who refuse to be treated like second class citizens. The perpetrators of hate will wind themselves into knotted pretzels to invent brand new excuses for why they will hate you.

      It is always amazing to me that on any article about fat people, people in the comments will immediately turn into Dr. Marcus Welby, citing thirty year old statistics, and claiming its because they care about someone who didn’t ask them to.

  3. My son played high school football and while he was playing, he was glorified for his size (although more as a team resource than as an actual human teenager). So it was a rude awakening for him when his size became a reason for hatred pretty much the day after he stopped playing.

  4. The excuses for fat hate and abuse are so obviously paper-thin, those hurling them so unashamedly hypocritical when it comes to thin people doing things they condemn it fat people, I wonder if they aren’t just part of that ritualization of fat abuse Judy was talking about two threads ago; if everyone knows the fat = poor health habits, thin = good health habits binary is bogus these days, so false it’s not even useful as a generalization, but it’s just *what you say* when you encounter one of those thar evil Other fat people to make them obey you and/or go away. “According to Keys’ Grimoire, I should first accuse you of greed and sloth and then call you a gendered weight-related slur. Should that fail to achieve the desired level of compliance, the next step is for me to say something about your health.” “Health” in this context has a meaning totally divorced from its actual lexical definition; it is nothing more or nothing less than the next incantation you try to bind the Evil Fatmonster into subservience after “Hie thee to the Weight Watchers, Thou Lazy and Unfeminine/Unmanly Hamplanete!” has failed.

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