Dear Mississippi: Kindly Keep Your Shit-Ass Laws Out of My Digestive Tract. Love, Meowser

Hi, I'm Meowser, a hetero fatass in her 40s, born in Brooklyn, New York, currently living in Portland, Oregon with a trio of fat cats and an adorable skinny boyfriend. I transcribe medical records for money, and write songs, sing and record them for an avocation. My bloghome is Fat Fu. Enjoy!

For years, I have been telling people -- only half kidding around -- that the reason I don't diet (that is, restrict food in the hope of losing weight) is because one of these days, I will not be allowed to purchase the food and drink I like because of the size of my ass, the way the worldwide nannystate is going. I actually marvel that I can go into Burgerville and order a chocolate hazelnut milkshake while they're in season, hand them money for it, and they'll actually give it to me, no questions asked, at least for now.

(And in case you must know, I've done that exactly once in the last month, and it was a small, without whipped cream because I don't like it. I am not a major fast food consumer, honest girlscout. But boy, those shakes are goooood.)

So really, I shouldn't have been as shocked to my foundations as I was to read Sandy Szwarc's article on Junkfood Science the other day about a new bill, HB 282, proposed by a trio of Mississippi legislators (two Republicans, W.T. Mayhall, Jr. and John Read, and one Democrat, Bobby Shows) that would keep "obese" people (as defined by state law) from being served food in all restaurants with five seats or more.

Yeah, that's right -- since they can't legally keep people with dark skin out of their eateries down there anymore, they'll do the next best thing, which is to keep people with a lot of skin out of them. Who often, coincidentally, have...dark skin also. Yeah. Coincidentally. Even I didn't smell that one approaching, and I have a nose like a cat. (I do not know for sure that the sponsors of this bill had racial overtones consciously in mind, but they had to expect that someone would notice them.)

This sounds like a joke, but it isn't. Someone is proposing an actual segregation law. For real. And it didn't get laughed out of committee. Because fatties are hated that much, even by themselves. (Take a look at John Read's picture, and tell me self-loathing isn't involved in this one.)

Sandy Szwarc, anxious to believe the entire thing was a hoax, called up Rep. Mayhall, the bill's lead author and asked about it, and he assured her that he was as serious as, well, diabetes (which all of us fatasses are of course guaranteed to get by age 50 if we don't change our wicked wicked ways, lack of familial diabetic history be damned). You see, all Rep. Mayhall (a retired pharmaceutical salesman) cares about is saving us from ourselves:
He said that while, regrettably, he doesn't believe his bill will pass, this is serious. He wrote it, he said, because of the "urgency of the obesity crisis and need for government action." He hopes it will "call attention to the serious problem of obesity and what it is costing the Medicare system."
Riiiiight. Because you'll "cost the Medicare system" so much less frying chicken for yourself at home in lard than you will having macrobiotic stirfries in sitdown vegan restaurants. Under the terms of this "bill," you can get Pizza Hut to deliver all the stuffed crust, quadruple-meat, 1000-calorie-per-slice pizzas you want, but enjoying a hamachi roll in a sushi place is out of the question. Buy tons of ribs and sweet potato pie from that takeout truck, no problem, that's so much better for you than moo goo gai pan. Or salad. Or tandoori. Or anything that will be consumed where (gasp) people can see you. Because that's what amps up your cholesterol count and your blood sugar and your blood pressure, being watched by elderly lipophobic white dudes while your fat ass is eating in public.

Of course it won't pass. Twenty-nine percent of Mississippi's population is "obese" according to BMI data, and that's not even counting people who visit or do business in the state. By that law, not only would restaurants have to agree to voluntarily cut their customer base by nearly a third, but someone staying at a hotel would have to agree to be weighed and measured before they could get room service from the hotel's restaurant. Fat people could not participate in business or civic luncheons or even attend weddings or rehearsal dinners unless they were privately catered by groups not affiliated with a sitdown restaurant. Thousands of restaurant and tourist workers would be unemployed.

And I'm sure I'm only skimming the surface of the potential 18-wheeler wreck here. Never mind the civil rights aspect of this, they'd be slitting their throats financially if this were allowed to pass. This is one poor state; they're not going to agree to make themselves unnecessarily poorer.

But that's not the point. The point is that someone thought it was okay to do this. It wasn't automatic career suicide for them to propose such a bill, which it would be if they wanted to restrict access to any other group of people based on their physical appearance. That means they (or someone else) can do it again on a lesser scale, and they probably will.

And that means fat people need to wake up and realize that this really is a goddamned witch hunt, and we are all witches. Yes, they mean YOU. Not that other person you think is "hugely obese," not just the people who are fat because they really do suffer from disordered eating -- they really do mean YOU. They don't give a flying fuck how "good" you think you're being. They don't care if you "intend" to get thin. They don't give a tinker's goddamn if you just bought a gym membership and you're really going to go four times a week this time like you promised. And they sure as hell don't care if Paxil put 40 pounds on you and pushed your BMI over 30 despite eating less than you did before. They. do. not. care. There are no "good fatties" in the haters' universe. They mean YOU, and you are one of US, no matter how much you protest to the contrary. If they came for all the fatasses tomorrow, you would be included, even if all you ate for the last week was celery and unsweetened soymilk. So you might as well work with those of us who are trying to make life better for fat people as they are, and not against us.

And attention all politicians (and yes, I'm including pretty much the entire crop of current presidential candidates in this): We did not "ask" to be fat. In fact, with rare exceptions, even if we DID ask to be fat permission would not be granted, if our chromosomes have made us a naturally thin person. Most of us are not fat because we don't know the "right" way to eat or exercise, or because we've never tried to "slim down." Many of us know "the rules" out the yang and have tried and tried and tried to be thinner since we were very young, but it simply has not worked. All bodies do not respond in exactly the same way to weight-reduction attempts. Some of us will ultimately get sicker than thinner people and some of us won't. But you are not going to make us healthier by shaming us and sending us to our rooms with a bagful of lettuce.

If you care about "saving the Medicare system money," ignore the scale, ignore BMI, it's just not all that relevant except at the tiniest subpercentile extremes. Know this: The more people attempt to lose weight, the fatter they get, and the worse their health tends to be. And oftentimes you can do everything "right" and get sick anyway, because there's a lot more to health than individual behavior. Clean up the environment. Help reduce people's socioeconomic stress levels so that they're manageable and reasonable. Make good quality food and safe space to move around available to absolutely everyone.

And then butt out. "Keep your laws off my body" means keeping them out of the inside of my body, too. Maybe then you won't see a nation of skinnies, but I'll bet you the fat people who do exist will be way the fuck healthier, including mentally.

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