I am filled with nuclear waste!
Or I guess I should say WAIST! Get it? (by the way, Toxic Waist would be an awesome name for an all-fat-people rock band.)
In case you didn’t know, I’m a sexual health educator. I love my job a lot–for over a year, every time someone’s asked me what my dream job is I’ve said I’m already doing it. I also kinda love that I’m a fat person doing my job because I totally think fat acceptance is a reproductive justice issue*.
Today I went to order some supplies from a website that supplies health educators with all kinds of teaching tools. DVDs, CPR training dummies, breast/testicular self-exam models (so people can feel for themselves what a lump might feel like in themselves or a partner; also what I happened to be purchasing today), some other stuff, and THIS TOTALLY AWESOME THING:
If you can’t view the image, it’s a screencap of the product information about an “educational” display that consists of a barrel of fake fat, meant to look like a barrel of nuclear waste. “Everyone stand back! This stuff can kill you! Slimy yellow fat bubbles up over the top of this ‘hazardous materials’ barrel reminding viewers that excess body fat can be toxic to their health. Representing approximately 40 pounds of fat by volume, this unforgettable display helps people understand that diet and exercise are the best methods of disposal. Actually weighs less than 6 pounds. Comes with presentation guide.”
LOL. WTF. etc.
I’ve seen disembodied blobs of fat at countless health fairs, and I always just roll my eyes because I generally don’t have the emotional energy to actually talk to someone about it. At a local health fair a couple of months ago, there was a blob of disembodied fat AND an Herbalife (some kind of weight loss thing involving shakes or something) display! Not just a regular-sized table like everyone else had, a huge-ass ordeal (pun totally intended).**
Anyway, while I see the fat blobs at health fairs all the time, I’ve never seen this particular display. Maybe because it’s $132, or maybe because even the health educators who talk about the fat panic as part of their jobs realize that it’s dehumanizing and preposterous.
For reals, though, this kind of “educational” display is ridiculous. The disembodied blob of “slimy yellow fat,” the implication that fat people in immediate danger of death by their own bodies, the comparison of fat to toxic waste (oh, and did you notice that play on words? Hazardous WAIST! Instead of waste! Ha ha! How clever!).
It’s almost like a freakin’ parody of obesity epidemic scare tactics. In fact, it would be pretty damn hilarious if it didn’t actually exist in the world.
*Post re: FA as a RJ issue forthcoming.
**Do you ever think of the perfect comeback about two minutes too late? Well, I decided after being offered a sample of an Herbalife shake (smoothie? drink? some kind of liquid supplement) that my comeback to “[hey, try this diet thing]” will be, whenever I get an opportunity to use it, “Sorry, diet gimmicks give me the shits.”