There has been lot of concern trolling of Chris Christie lately along those very lines. People are gravely concerned about the prospects of him running for President. Not for his politics, mind you, but for his health. He obviously is much too unhealthy to consider higher office. This concern trolling has now reached the editorial pages of the Washington Post thanks to a supremely self-righteous bit of concern trolling from Eugene Robinson. He acknowledges that Christie feels ashamed of his size, but this merely justifies his paternalistic lecture about how Christie needs to lose weight if he plans to run for President. It is a shameful hit-piece and has no place in our political discussion. It builds on all sorts of tired and clichéd attacks on fat people.
Perhaps the most fundamental being the notion that this needs to be said. It is always preposterous when you see people so proud of themselves for stepping up and telling a fat person to stop being so fat. Already, we're seeing other pundits contribute to this by congratulating Robinson for saying the things that needed to be said. Why does everyone person who tries to put fatties in their place think they are the first person to do so? Heck, Robinson even quotes Christie saying he knows all of this. Christie AGREES, but that's still not enough to prevent the smug satisfaction over "telling it like it is".
Robinson also asserts that Christie is obviously too unhealthy to run for President. His proof? Well, just look at him being all fat and stuff. It takes him a while to offer anything more than his obvious fatness to justify his obvious lack of health, and even then the evidence is weaker than he'd like us to believe. Christie has had problems with asthma and was hospitalized for it briefly over the summer. When this happened, Christie obviously takes responsibility for his fatness, but also noted that he's relatively healthy by objective indicators. That doesn't slow Robinson down who proceeds to threaten Christie with the usual litany of fat diseases he's obviously going to fat himself with any day now.
Robinson continues by trotting out some dubious statistics about how fat people are causing the national health crisis. He tries to be clear that he's not blaming Christie for the National Debt crisis, shortly after blaming all fat people for the National Debt crisis. Easier to blame us collectively than individually, but don't forget that you can't do one without the other. We can't all be responsible for something without being responsible as individuals. Fat people having higher health care costs is something oft asserted, but with little discussion of what goes into that. Reading through Robinson's evidence, at least part of the increase is just based on costs associated with trying to make fat patients into not-fat patients. We'll never know much of the increase is due to fat people not receiving adequate preventive care due to stigmas involving seeking medical treatment while fat nor how much may be attributable to the life-time of weight cycling seen in virtually all fat patients who have made countless attempts to lose weight.
Robinson concludes by giving false lip-service to the notion that Christie isn't at fault for his weight. Sadly, this kind of tone is used by a lot of liberals eager to shame fat people collectively but rightfully squeamish about doing it individually. They like to talk about how they understand genetic factors, or they may try to blame evil corporations. Anything to comfort themselves with the notion that they aren't bullying fat people even while they are talking about how we need to eliminate fat people. Its an extremely hollow bit of pandering that I'm getting quite sick of. You can't write a whole column about how Christie needs to stop being so fat already and just assert that you aren't blaming him so you are somehow so terribly mature. Its a charade and one fat people aren't falling for. When you fixated on shaming and stigmatizing fatness, you are shaming and stigmatizing fat people. I don't care if you want to think you're better than that, but you aren't. You aren't saying anything different than all of the other people who tell us every day that our bodies are unacceptable. Your message is substantively NO different, no matter how you want to excuse it to yourselves.
Again, though, the tragedy of all of this is like with most fat shaming, its directed at someone who agrees with it. Maybe Christie will object to the the tone or venue, but he's repeatedly endorsed the substance. Yet people will still make a point to shame him over and over and over again. Christie will win himself no reprieve for his own acceptance of shame for his weight. It simply doesn't matter to the people doing the shaming. To them, if he didn't want to be shamed for his body, he should just stop being so fat at them.
What bothers me the most with Robinson's article, though, is his self-justification where he explains why this is his business. Christie's weight isn't a private matter, you see, because he has chosen to enter the public arena. Much like the "hasn't anyone told you to stop being fat" sentiment, this is the sort of wildly divorced from reality assertion that any fat person should just laugh at it. Really, his body is a public concern just because he's a public figure? Funny, because to most fat people, it seems like people are always making our bodies their business. No special justification needed, this is just another day in the life for a fat person. Our bodies are always treated like public property and we are subjected to repeated shaming and belittling for our transgressive size. Robinson may want to act like he's just making a special allowance for himself, but this is no special risk Christie faces for being in the public eye. Going out in public while fat is enough to make it a public issue for most people. What is happening to Christie is happening to fat people every day. Don't think for a second that he's some kind of special victim for being a fat politician, nor that he faces some sort of special responsibility for it, either. This is positively mundane.
I'm no fan of Christie politically. I think he'd make an awful President. There are lots of ways to make that case without concern trolling him for being fat. That is unequivocally wrong and I demand better. There is nothing mature about fixating on his weight instead of his policies. Christie gives people ample reason to oppose him based on his ideology. That has far more to do with how he'll govern than his pants size.