Before I start I have to send out a thank you to my dear friend Katy who provided me with the link that led to this post. So, here we go!
The fight against nutrition continued this week. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative came under fire from a predictable place. Rush Limbaugh is now out to fight the “nanny-state.” In true Limbaugh style, he did it with mean-spirited personal attacks. Even Sarah Palin had a more nuanced view of
“Let’s Move” than Limbaugh portrayed. In essence, he said we shouldn’t listen to the information Mrs. Obama is trying to promote. Why? He says because she’s fat. He didn’t say it quite like that, but that is what he meant. Mrs. Obama doesn’t conform to the “ultra-skinny is the best” model, of a woman so she’s fat. I would be angry because attacking a woman because of her weight is childish. I would be angry because attacking a program that is trying to prevent childhood obesity is wrong. I’m not though. I expect those things out of the likes of Rush Limbaugh. I’m angry because he came out and called her fat, and he’s completely wrong. I don’t think Michelle Obama is overweight at all. Even if she was, “Let’s Move” is still a good idea.
Mrs. Obama has made a huge point that the idea behind “Let’s Move” is not about telling people what to eat. It’s about helping people live healthy lives. It’s about making sure information on nutrition is available. There are people who eat 4000 calories a day and are completely healthy. It’s all about balancing what you eat with the amount you exert yourself. Bacon, eggs and hash browns might not be such a bad breakfast if you do the work a farmer does daily. It’s also okay to eat junk food. You just can do it all the time. In an interview with NPR’s Michele Norris she talked about how her family loves to eat hamburgers and french fries. She just said that maybe after that meal you turn on the radio and dance, or play a physical game. You should do something to offset that meal. She isn’t suggesting anything outrageous, and she isn’t advocating the idea that the government should regulate what you eat. She’s advocating the idea that government spends money learning about what is nutritious and what is not, so why not also spend some money getting that information out to the public.
Sarah Palin claimed that Mrs. Obama was trying to force us to follow her idea of nutrition. She attacked the program like it was forcing something upon us. When the President signed legislation that forced new regulations about the food public schools provide, she said government would do best to leave us alone. They were leaving us alone. They were just saying if we provide the food it’s going to be healthy food. I wrote about my feelings about Palin’s comments in the first part of this series.
The most disturbing part of this event is that Sarah Palin at least had something to say. Rush Limbaugh didn’t. All he did was attack a woman over her body. That’s disgusting. There are overweight women out there. There are overweight men too. In fact, for Limbaugh to attack anyone over there weight is simply horrible because he is a man who has struggled with his weight. He of all people should understand that controlling your weight can be a very difficult condition. As I said before, it is all made worse because his attacks were not only personal and disgusting; they are wrong.
Jennifer Hudson is an Oscar-winning actress. She was phenomenal in “Dream Girls.” That film brought her stardom. She could have been a poster child for women with bodies that aren’t necessarily skinny, but are healthy. She unfortunately conformed to the Hollywood worldview. She lost weight and just doesn’t look healthy at all. She is pretty skinny though. I once saw an article with a former fashion model. This woman was 6’4″ and through her career had weighed less than 120 lbs. When she left modeling and started a healthy diet her weight rose to 160 lbs. That was a good weight for her. She was 6’4″ for crying out loud, and she looked great. Our society has tried to institute this idea that women should weigh a little as possible. The idea that any fat is bad fat. That former model proved otherwise. So does Michelle Obama. She shows that a woman can be healthy without being skin and bones. She also is trying to help all children understand that eating right and exercising are a good idea. She is trying to show kids that your life will be better if you eat some green beans and go outside and play. She’s trying to show that nutrition is about balancing your diet and exercise. She’s showing that foods don’t have to be off-limits, but some need to be limited.
Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to get that this is about education and information not government intrusion. I can at least understand that. Palin never seems to delve too deeply into policy. Policy requires real alternatives. Palin can’t defend being against more nutritious school lunches so she resorts to the “Government is bad” mentality. Rush Limbaugh has no excuse that is so easy. He didn’t attack the policy. He didn’t attack the program. He didn’t even mention childhood obesity. He just looked at a woman who he doesn’t like. A woman who has a husband he doesn’t like. He thought, “What could I say to make me a little bit of money.” So, he said, “We shouldn’t listen to her. She’s fat.” I hope and pray that Americans can take a deeper look at the issue. We need to realize that policy can be debated, but personal attacks are below us. We are debating important issues, and those who resort to these kinds of attacks should be sent to the fringe of politics.