READ: "Here's the real skinny on the first 100 days of Al Gore"SAMPLE LETTER BY THE DIVA
E-MAIL THE AUTHOR: Robert Haught
E-MAIL THE EDITORS: Your Views
CC: THE MEDIA
The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Oklahoma City OK 73125
PHONE THEM: 405-475-3311
FAX THEM: 405-475-3183
To The Editors:
Robert Haught's "Here's the real skinny on the first 100 days of Al Gore" column of April 26, 2001, the infamous "Fat Albert" column, has a great deal of resonance for me.
You see, I was once fat. VERY, VERY FAT. I am 5'5", and though I consider myself small-boned, I come from a long and distinguished line of prodigiously ample small-boned women -- particularly on my mother's side of the family.
My sister, my female cousins, my grand-matriarchs, are/were LARGE WOMEN. My own mother, when she married my father, was around 300 pounds. (Two very difficult and complicated back-to-back pregnancies later -- my sister and I are only 10 1/2 months apart -- and she was THIN, though she continues to struggle and invest a great deal of energy in staying on the "right" side of the scales.)
So I was, like my mother, fat. In my case, well over 200 pounds.
To the casual observer, I don't think I'd be considered fat anymore. I can tell you that the reason I would not, is that I care more about being treated humanely, than about my health. The manner in which I lost the weight was dangerous -- a long-term fast -- but I do not regret doing it, though I will probably suffer health consequences for the rest of my life. The manner in which I maintain my weight is probably no more healthy than the manner in which I lost it, either. I believe I have read that under the United Nations and WHO standard, my personal diet would qualify as "starvation," and that holding prisoners of war to such a diet would be considered, under the Geneva Conventions, "torture".
So, I've been fat, and I've been not-fat, and I can confidently report, to a personal moral certainty, that fat people get treated like crap in this society; and of course, in your "newspaper". Just about any other physical or emotional problem a person has is met with at least pity, if not sympathy. This is not true for having a "weight problem". The only time in my 35 years that I have experienced others -- whether they knew me personally or were complete strangers -- feeling entitled to treat me with absolute insensitivity and outright cruelty, was when I was fat.
You wouldn't BELIEVE the things people feel comfortable sharing with their overweight fellow-man/woman. I'm talking about stuff that would make your hair stand on end... and not in a good way.
So, when I read the article you chose to publish about Al Gore, and this "journalist" you chose to provide column-inches to, gleefully attacking Gore for his reported weight gain (though the "journalist" in question gives no specifics whatsoever), my emotional desire is to hop a plane to Oklahoma, and try to find this guy -- this Mr. Charming.
Perhaps he might like to know, from a fat person (which I am, make no mistake about it -- ONCE FAT, ALWAYS FAT) the impact his words have. Perhaps he might like to spend a week or a month or a year living my life, and eating what I eat. Perhaps that might open his mind a just a tad, if he didn't pass out or go nuts from starvation first.
And this brings another thought to mind.
I have always believed that sexual 'transgressions' are on a par physically and psychologically with dietary ones. What I mean by that, is that both happen when a person's 'id' chooses to satisfy its appetites, rather than to listen to the 'superego', which says, "Don't! You're not supposed to!" And in America, where everything (or darned-near everything) is either marketed using sex (A Big Pepsi "Thank You" to Bob Dole), or offered "Super-Sized", it strikes me as beyond bizarre that we have a public morality which judges so harshly and unforgivingly the person who follows that lead, and indulges his/her appetites. I am not sure if this tendency is an outgrowth of our Puritanical and Stoic history or religious traditions, or if it is just jealousy on the part of those who are DYING to indulge their appetites, but don't, and resent the hell out of those who do.
I am, after all, not a sociologist.
I am, however, someone who has lived on both sides of the "fat divide", so I feel that I can speak with some authority on the offensive nature of a public fat-bashing story, such as the one written by Haught.
Since I feel I can, I will.
People like Haught, and those that that publish his cruel and insensitive writings, share the moral low-ground with people who make fun of the disabled, those born with birth defects, and those who suffer from mental illness or genetic disease. People like Haught are one of the things that are very, very wrong with our American society. And people like Haught deserve nothing but the contempt that they so casually heap on others.