Monday, August 18, 2008

On Obama

*My dear friend Kristin and I had a conversation yesterday that I told her I'd follow up with a post on her blog. I went to her blog and decided that a 4 page rant-style post probably wasn't what she was looking for, and since that's basically all this blog really is, I figured it was probably more suited for a page that starts with the word "bitch".

We were talking yesterday about this Obama craze and how much it bugs Kristin that people have jumped onto the Obama bandwagon willy nilly, knowing nothing of his policies, knowing nothing of his stance on issues that matter, walking around like they're the big stuff spouting "yes we can" at every opportune moment. It's a national excitement that's hard to overlook, even if Obama support has been a little less glassy eyed as of late. Since Utah takes, in my estimate, at least twice as long to catch up to national trends, it's not surprising that we haven't hit backlash yet in good ol' SLC. People are still singing praises to the skinny black senator, savior of mankind, beautiful orator, hope-filler, wunderkind, with as much enthusiasm as the rest of the nation emitted back in February.

In some ways, I'm happy for them. I find that so few people are interested in politics that even the slightest amount of intelligence or enthusiasm on the subject is sort of encouraging. And, you know, after 8 years of misery spent in a hell of our own making (yes, WE elected that man America...TWICE), I think the concept of a savior has its own appeal. He certainly looks like a savior. Talks like one too. The concept of a presidential figure who was a well-published author before he even had a shot at the presidency is, to me at least, very sexy.

However, a degree in this political stuff, while not giving me a shot at a well-paying job or any sort of scholastic legitimacy in the eyes of my peers (no one respects a political science major, trust me), has taught me one lesson: We all shall fall.

I am voting for Barack. I am excited to vote for Barack. I think he has the potential to be one of the greatest presidents in American history. But he is, at the end of the day, a politician. In deciding to run for the president of the United States, he has ceased to be a man and has become a politician. It is inevitable. He has to do that in order to win. This decision has placed him in a precarious position that in the end, may prove to be his ultimate downfall.

To become a politician instead of a man means that Obama ceases to hold personal opinions. Each opinion he states now has been analyzed for political effectiveness, white-washed to remove potential offensiveness, and processed to be as vague as possible. To become a politician instead of a man means that Obama compromises his personal integrity for the "greater good," the greater good being a shorter term for "whateverisgoingtowintheelection." This means he will back bills and propositions that he would not have backed in the past (the FISA bill being a great example of this). This means he reverses or changes positions he has long held (abortion rights, Iraq war, Afghani war, the decision to not accept public funding for the election) in order to appeal to greater numbers of voters. This means he shills for people who are giving him money to win this campaign (backing "clean coal" is a great example of this...seriously....clean coal!). In order to reach this almost unreachable goal, Obama has turned into a well-oiled political machine, dictated by the most Machiavellian of ideologies: the ends justify the means.

We can't really blame him for this, because we created and supported this system. He is a product of our flaws and failures. The fact that he has to compromise himself to even get to a position where he can do potential good says much about the failure of our system to produce effective government.

The problem is that, by declaring him savior, we are essentially condoning this compromise for the long-term. We expect him to save us from ourselves, not acknowledging that we are creating a monster as he strives to attain that position. A mere man cannot be president. Barack Obama would never be president of the United States. He has to become an aggregate of the masses (the companies, the individuals, the 'demographics') in order to reach that spot and by the time he does it, he will have acquired all our worst characteristics in the process.

We can't give him a green light because without our voices, he will fail. Without our protests and our criticisms and our caution and our policing, he will become just another politician who got to the white house and proceeded to do a little good and a lot of harm. We can't go starry eyed on Obama because he needs us to save him from what he is becoming for our sakes.

He will disappoint. They all do. But, while he still has the capacity to listen (and I believe he does), it's important that we continue to remind him why we are voting for him, and why he has to reach a little farther and become a man again, in the most difficult job in the world.

I hope he can do it. For all our sakes.

Posting, yet again, on something I know very little about

I've been reading a lot of blogs in the so-called "fatosphere" lately, and I wanted to make a small, uninformed documentation of my thoughts over here.

Having dealt with an eating disorder for most of my life, I live in constant fear of being or becoming fat. It is not something I am proud of. It has made my life miserable in many many respects. It is something that I will always struggle to overcome. I think it's somewhat like being an alcoholic. Alcoholics Anonymous shows people that, though they might not have had a drink in 25 years, they are, in fact, still alcoholics. They will ALWAYS be alcoholics. Having an eating disorder means realizing that I might not have starved myself or thrown up in years or months or weeks, but I still have an eating disorder. I will ALWAYS have an eating disorder. It's something to do with the interior workings of the mind. Something inside me that craves control patterns (or for alcoholics, the lack of control, or the lack of caring), will always want to return to eating as a way to manifest anxiety, stress, and pain. I have to accept it. The strength to accept the things I cannot change....

To come from this background where fat = fear/loathing/bad, delving into the fatosphere has been a very unique experience. I have long felt/known that fat people are society's whipping boys. It's acceptable to hate, demean, berate, judge, discriminate against, and blame fat people in ways that would never be acceptable to any other demographic. Even sitting in a puddle of my disordered hypocrisy, this has always bothered and offended me. Being a close scrutinizer of people's bodies, I have noticed time and time again that there are plenty of "fat" people out there, who are healthier and fitter than myself. I never believed the BMI bullshit, and talk of the "obesity" epidemic has always made me sneer.

Anyway, reading the blogs in the fatosphere has been an extremely empowering experience. I love hearing these (mostly women) people talk about their struggles to remain healthy and body-positive in a world that reviles them. As someone who struggles to remain healthy and body-positive with a mind that reviles me, I have found a lot of inspiration in their messages.

When I was taking a 40-hour training course on crisis counseling, we had a chapter on bias. Representative David Litvack, (one of my personal heroes) then the Volunteer Coordinator for the Rape Recovery Center, said something to us that I will never forget. We did an exercise regarding racism which was supposed to show some of our racial biases. At the end of the exercise, he got up and said, "Some of you are probably congratulating yourselves for coming through this test with few or no biases. I want to tell you that your work is not over. If you cannot find an immediate prejudice or bias, then your job only becomes more difficult because it means that your darkness is more hidden, more nuanced. I challenge you all to keep constant vigilance on your thoughts and to find the places inside yourself that are bigoted and racist and ugly. You have them. We all do." Obviously, this probably isn't a verbatim quote, but I remember it quite distinctly.

I think it will ultimately be up to individuals to challenge the greater society bias on "fat." To do this, we'll not only need a body of evidence that contradicts all the research being produced by diet companies, we'll need to challenge the idea that a person or a society can judge someone simply by their immediate appearance. We will need to get past our idea that nutrition is something that we should leave to scientists and that exercise is something that should be done at a gym and that if you don't follow those guidelines, you are wrong and bad and other.

I'm not perfect at this. I read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" and I agree with his observations about our cultural food famine. And then I go buy "lite" butter and throw up my lunch. But I think the main point is to keep trying and keep asking questions, especially of ourselves and our perceptions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


The Salt Lake Tribune interviewed me yesterday for an article on Salt Lake Saves Darfur. The article was published today and I just finished reading it. And, you know, beggars can't be choosers. I feel very grateful that our organization is getting some press and some attention, grateful that people are taking interest and wanting to know more, hopeful that this article will bring a better turn out to our events. But damn. It was NOT a very good article. The facts were wrong, the misquotes were legion and the writing was subpar at best.

It's left me to think a little bit about miscommunication. There seems to be no escaping the fact that, more often than not, when two people are communicating, different things are being conveyed than either side means. In my case, it means that I was involved with the Darfur conflict before it even began (begging the question of whether or not my role has been entirely "on the level"), that I help these people to assuage previously dashed hopes of Peace Corps involvement, and that Salt Lake Saves Darfur began a full year earlier than our organizational records show. Since the news must be fact, I find myself questioning my formerly firm grasp on personal history. Maybe I did know about the conflict in 2003- which would make me some sort of international genocide psychic! How cool is that?!

Oh 2003 self, if only your psychic powers would have been used things other than predicting a genocide you could not prevent.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

For people who believe that misogny doesn't exist

Jezebel is reporting on the Del Mar Medical Spa's recent advertisement campaign.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Get it?!! Because if you don't get plastic surgery, you're a fat ugly cow! If you don't have Playboy Bunny boobs and a tight ass, you're "less evolved" than the rest of us.