Ana's Note: This is a Fat Acceptance 202 post, not a 101 post. If you need a 101 course on Fat Acceptance, please refer to Kate Harding's excellent archive; there are about 10 linked posts in that archive and they are all awesome and admirably cover most FA 101.
On May 29th, the day immediately following this year's U.S. Memorial Day holiday, I will be hospitalized. At 7:30 a.m. in Central Standard Time, I will be wheeled on a stretcher into an operating room. I will probably be naked except for a thin hospital gown tied at the neck. I will at that point also most likely have a sedative, most likely Valium, in my system. I will be given a deeper sedative to force my body into unconsciousness, at which point a surgeon will cut open my back and operate directly on my spine.
Because I am fortunate enough to have health care that covers this surgery and my extended hospital stay, I will be staying at least five nights in a hospital room. I will be sleeping alone, for the first time since I moved in with my Husband, not counting his occasional trips for work or to visit his children. During visiting hours, my Husband will be in my room, by my side, reading books, watching movies, and trying to help me remember that everything will be normal again, eventually.
He will also, sometimes, eat food during his visits.
We're not yet sure how he's going to do this, but we're fairly confident that he will in fact have to. He has, after all, been eating three square meals a day for many years now, and we don't think his body or mind or attitude would adjust well to an extended 5-day fast. Nor do we think that an early-morning + late-night eating regimen will be good for him -- he tends to need food around the midday, you see.
We're hopeful that the hospital will have food for him to order and eat. He doesn't know his way around the town where my hospital in located -- it's over an hour's drive from our house and it will be a struggle for him to find both food and parking. And every hour that he spends searching for food is an hour that I'm left alone, and frankly "alone and in pain" isn't something I personally enjoy. If I must be in pain, I'm selfish enough to need him at hand.
The hospital website tells us that there is a "cafe" with "light snacks" that visitors can buy and consume. But there is no menu included to tell us what kinds of "light snacks" are available or whether or not the ingredients are things he can even safely consume, let alone will enjoy. In fact, the most specific detail about the cafe contents is that it "proudly brews Starbucks coffee", which sounds very nice to some, I'm sure, but less so to Husband. There are also, apparently, vending machines scattered throughout the hospital, which is again very convenient, but I don't think Husband can live for 5 days straight on vending machine food.
So when I saw this tweet this week, my first thought was "fuck, yeah, that sounds awesome". And that's a pretty direct quote from my brain.
But to my utter disappointment, the included link was not a poll about food accessibility to hospital visitors. It was not a post about the comfort of having a food "baseline" in unfamiliar areas and how familiar things like fast food grilled chicken sandwiches or parfaits or those little pre-packaged cereal bowls can be a boon to people seeking food in unfamiliar surroundings and in emotionally vulnerable circumstances where they just want to satisfy their hunger quickly, easily, safely, and familiarly before returning to care for their loved ones. And it was not a post about the healing power of scent and food memory when a patient needs a small reminder of their "normal" life and what they may again soon return to.
No, this was a post about an "advocacy" group who is spending time "advocating" that 27 hospitals out of 5,754 hospitals in the U.S. should drop whatever they're doing and remodel the McDonald's kiosk out of their cafeterias. Why? I'm so glad you asked!
- Because Fat People are stupid! The group claims that "featuring McDonald's in hospitals "unintentionally [boosts]" the perception that the food is healthy". Which is totally what I think when I hear there might be a McDonald's for my Husband to eat in! I think, "Oh, good! Healthy food endorsed by the hospital!"
- Because Fat People are expensive! Some "government studies have found that health care spending is dramatically higher for obese adults than normal-weight adults"! Which is totally not because Fat People are regularly denied valuable preventative treatment by fat-phobic doctors who blame warning signs on Teh Fats!
- Because Fat People are outnumbering Thin People! "A report released earlier this year predicted that 75 percent of Americans would be overweight by 2020"! And this is Obviously A Very Bad Thing! Because having more people who dare to be Fat In Public is Obviously Bad! Haven't they gotten the memo that they are ugly and disgusting and horrible?!
Well, I don't know about you folks, but I am convinced! Clearly, the 0.4% of hospitals in the U.S. that have a McDonald's kiosk for the comfort and convenience of their patients' guests should make this a Very High Priority! And now I am going to say something that is probably going to sound a little harsh, but I'm not feeling so fluffy-bunny today so them's the breaks, and that something is:
If you are a so-called "advocacy" group who deliberately blows out of proportion a non-story factoid about 0.4% of hospitals in the U.S. having McDonald's kiosks in their cafeterias in order to spread propaganda about fat people being stupid, ugly, expensive, disgusting drains on society, then you are a goddamn hate group. You are a goddamn hate group because oh my god could you be any more obvious in your hatred of fat people but you are also a goddamn hate group because your "primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice" against me, people who look like me, and people who have a genetic predisposition to look like me.
I say that is your primary purpose because I do not believe you care about education, because if you cared about education you would spend less time claiming that people think that consumption of anything on hospital grounds, including used coffee grounds and wallpaper paste is endorsed by the Surgeon General, and would instead spend more time on advocacy for meaningful food content labeling in restaurants which would not only educate The Fat People but would also be a boon for people who believe that food allergies, food intolerances, and hell food preferences, matter.
I say that is your primary purpose because I do not believe you care about health, because if you cared about health you would spend less time complaining about how The Fat People are a drain on the health care system (while conveniently ignoring many, many other high-risk and high-cost health behaviors which are in most cases arguably more of a 'choice' than one's weight and body type), and would instead spend more time on advocacy for a non-fat-phobic medical system in our country that provided comprehensive health care for all people regardless of body type and which embraced the understanding that health and body size are not closely correlated and that fat people can be healthy and thin people can be unhealthy and vice versa.
I say that is your primary purpose because I do believe anyone who says they fear the day when the Thin People are outnumbered by the Fat People. I believe you when you say that, because I'm exceedingly familiar with that same argument being used about the Dark People outnumbering the White People. But you know what? The people who worry about that are also goddamn hate groups. So well done, you, if you are a member of a group who says that sort of thing: You're not just a hate group, you're a plagiarizing, uncreative hate group. Way to set the standard!
I say to any such group here and now as a fat woman with a thin husband, a proudly fat woman who is about to be hospitalized as a result of a disability that is tied as deeply into my genes as my fatness is, a fat woman who was dismissed and misdiagnosed by dozens of medical doctors for years because obviously the only problem that a fat woman can have is that she's FAT NO DOY, as a fat woman whose thin husband will be forced to choose between leaving my side in the hospital and living on vending machine chips and soda because there's not a self-subsidized fast food restaurant downstairs selling grilled chicken sandwiches to the general public, I say to you this:
Quit draping your fat hatred in bullshit advocacy terms. You are not my advocate. Fuck you very much.