So She’s Overweight, Get Over It!

As the Chinese say, we live in interesting times. Our country is divided, more divided than at any time other than just prior to the oddly named “Civil” War. Virtually every national election is hotly contested and often decided by a recount. Our population is divided right down the middle on such things as abortion, war, constitutional rights, and school prayer. Now we have a new issue, Michele Obama’s weight.

Yep. There’s not enough hateful rhetoric flying back and forth between the political polarities on serious issues, we need to discuss the First Lady and her ability to fill out a pair of mom jeans. Rush Limbaugh, the formerly chubby political pundit who greatly benefited from Oxycontin Diet himself, has deigned to call Ms. Obama fat. As I can gather (since I don’t listen to the man), he was calling her a hypocrite for supporting a healthy kids initiative that included fresh fruits, veggies and exercise.

The NERVE of that woman! I mean, really! Her attempt to make produce available to inner city children–whose grocery stores don’t sell it–and suggest that all children should get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is obviously unreasonable. Isn’t that what he’s saying and his conservative listeners (many of whom are overweight themselves) are repeating?

Or is there something deeper going on here?

Perhaps this group –mostly comprised of working class people–is tired of what they perceive as a group of elitists telling them how to live their lives. Maybe they remember Obama’s discussion about how difficult it was for them to pay for violin lessons–on Three Hundred Thousand Dollars per year? Maybe they feel that these “limousine liberals” who have never done an honest day’s physical labor in their lives look down on them? That the elite are preaching to people while sacrificing their jobs on the altar of a “global economy? I could go on, but  I think you’ve gotten the idea…

Maybe the monumental hypocrisy goes a bit beyond Mrs. Obama’s waistline. Admit it folks, she definitely has one. And a rather large set of hips that swing along with it. We will never see our First Lady model swimsuits in a Victoria’s Secret catalog. This is not the problem. Many conservative women are overweight. It’s the patronizing,”I know better than you.” attitude that pervades this whole Administration that’s causing the problem. 

Had Mrs Obama climbed off her high heeled lawyer pumps long enough to notice, she could have used her own figure issues and her concern for her children to open an honest discussion of children’s weight and health in our country. Because she has a point. Type 2 diabetes is endemic in this country, puberty is beginning earlier for girls, and all of this has to do with body weight.  This is a bigger problem among the poor–who have decreased access to healthy foods and medical care– than the wealthy. So, these hardworking economically deprived people–who see their whole lives hanging by a thread– see this as just another rich b*tch calling their children fat. Except, she’s not so skinny herself.

Mrs Obama should partner up with the President and Congress to increase funding for food stamp programs. To provide travel vouchers for the working poor to travel to farmers markets where they can make healthier choices. To fully fund public schools so they’re not dependent upon the Pepsi & Coke machines they have in the halls. Then replace the sodas with healthy choices like fresh fruit, yogurt, and bottled water. 

Finally, she should discuss this issue in terms of her own weight.  Oprah Winfrey has built a career upon her challenges and people love her for her honesty. Drop the elitist crap, roll up her sleeves, and help put the infrastructure in place to make their dietary and medical opportunities available to everyone. In this way, it would truly be a dialogue and not just another salvo in America’s class war. You never know, our children might actually benefit.

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