YOU don’t want to pay for the health of a “morbidly obese” person? and how to talk about being fat

I was discussing national health care with my cousin, and both of us were pretty much saying that we don’t know enough about how these things (the economy, government, etc.) work to be able to say what the best type of health care for our country would be.  I was sort of suggesting that maybe it needs to be an all-or-nothing thing, where either we all get full coverage (a la Canada) or it remains mostly market-based.  (Looking back, who knows where this comment came from, since I’d already admitted I don’t know how these things work, and I’m sure there are reasons for more of a compromised system, but anyway…).  My cousin’s response was “I’d be happy for everyone to get health coverage, but then again, I work hard for my health insurance, and I don’t want to pay for some morbidly obese person”.  At the time, I just thought “oh, typical American response”, but reflecting on it later…MY COUSIN IS A SMOKER!  She thinks that a random morbidly obese person would have worse health than her?  I’m not saying they necessarily wouldn’t, because obviously health is a complicated thing, but it’s just crazy to me that even someone who enjoys one of society’s vices would look down on a different supposed vice.  At the time, I wished she had said “obese” instead of “morbidly obese” so that I could have come back with “I’M obese.  You don’t want to pay for my health care?  And did you know I’ve had very few health issues in my life thus far?”.  I realize I could have confronted her about her statement anyway, but at the time I couldn’t think of a way to call her out.

This instance happened during a weekend spent with a group of cousins, and at some point I thought I’d try to count the number of times something about dieting/fat-being-bad came up, but then I decided that that would just upset me more.  No one said anything bad about fat people, exactly, but there was a lot of self-deprecating talk, a little fat pity, and a lot of food-as-sin comments.  I’m noticeably fatter than the last time they saw me, and I wondered if I was being pitied against my will.  At one point in the weekend I said “it’s because she’s fat” in response to a question about why someone was getting treated unfairly, and honestly, I’m worried that my response came across as fat-hating, since my cousins aren’t aware of me and FA, and using the word “fat” is not something people in general society do unless they are using it negatively.  I felt awkward after that and tried to say something else to explain that I wasn’t meaning it negatively, but I’m not sure it worked.  I’d love to say something to my cousins about my beliefs, but I don’t know how to bring it up.  I’m not good at talking about something unless it comes up directly.  Like if one of them said “how do you feel about being fat?”, I could totally answer that question.  I could also answer “what is your stance on dieting?” and “do you feel guilty for eating even when you’re not hungry?”, but no one asks me these things.  They just make comments that are culturally-sound assumptions, but that I have no idea how to oppose.

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2 Responses to YOU don’t want to pay for the health of a “morbidly obese” person? and how to talk about being fat

  1. Samantha C says:

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about not saying anything. The goalposts always change in those conversations. “Oh, I didn’t mean YOU, just those people I DO think it’s okay to shame.”
    The beauty of the internet is being able to format your responses as long as you need – to be able to not respond immediately without it being weird, and the ability to revise your words before they come out. Never feel bad about not having that eloquence in real life. I sure don’t.

  2. fattery says:

    Thanks for the kind words–it’s helpful to know that other people don’t always have the right words at the right time in real life either : )

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