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Mind Your Business

October 21, 2013

Fat PoliticsFat Health

Libertarianism is very hard to nail down.  The old tagline used to be “socially liberal and fiscally conservative,” but it’s inaccurate when translated to the two-party system. There are libertarians who hold social stances contradictory to Democrats and those who think Republicans are anything but fiscally conservative.  Julie Borowski posted “7 Popular Misconceptions About Libertarians” to Buzzfeed recently, a humorous look at what people think libertarians are and what the actual philosophy is. Despite the wide variety of viewpoints, there are two unifying factors among libertarians. The first is the non-aggression principle, the second is the belief that government is force. Thomas Jefferson summed it up by saying, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” So why ramble about libertarianism on a fat blog?

The Libertarian Republic published an article called, “Should fat people feel ashamed?  Because I live under a rock, I’d never heard of Maria Kang. The first time I saw her photo in workout gear (or is that her usual clothing?), surrounded by her three young children, captioned, “What’s Your Excuse?” was in that article. Needless to say, I also missed the subsequent outrage. I’ll let y’all Kangcover that while I comment on Tiffany Madison’s editorial.

Most of the photo’s 12,000 comments were supportive. Kang’s direct challenge succeeded in motivating some to examine their justifications for poor fitness and diet. She was praised for her dedication and self-ownership.

What’s more libertarian than self-ownership? Your body, your choice and all that jazz with the understanding that the consequences of your choices are on you. If I choose to eat nothing but pizzas and milkshakes, my consequence is a lot of time in the bathroom. Forget fatness potential, I just want to enjoy the other rooms of my home. Still, it’s a choice that hurts nobody but myself and it doesn’t require a justification. Bodybuilding appears to be her thing and to that I say more power to her. Bodybuilding is not my thing, no justification required.

The backlash was so intensive, she had to release a FAQ on her site to explain her life story. The presumption of her critics is shocking. Maria owes the world an explanation for her fitness.

I visited her FAQ and saw nothing referencing the image. And you know what? She doesn’t have to. No justification required is a two-way street. “Good” behavior doesn’t require justification any more than “bad” behavior. Accept the consequences of each and don’t harm other people in the process. Were I not writing this, I wouldn’t have cared about her life story. Still don’t, actually.

Selecting healthier fare over tasty, unhealthy options requires daily motivation, self-control and dedication (all generally positive attributes). Opting for protein shakes (150 cal, 3 carbs) instead of an Egg McMuffin for breakfast (290 cal, 31 carbs) helps carve those chiseled abs. Trading a Quarter-pounder meal (520 cal., 41 carbs) or delicious, greasy pizza (680 cal., 64 carbs) for homemade chicken and vegetables (200-450 cal, 20-30 carbs) is a willful choice.

Here I thought an Egg McMuffin was a relatively healthy breakfast option. I eat mine open faced because my ability to metabolize carbohydrates is impaired, but even with the muffin’s top it’s just a gram over my recommended intake per meal. There’s also a real egg, plenty of protein, and it’s tasty. What are my reasons for eating paleo instead of some other flavor of low-carb or the supposed fat person’s diet described above? It tastes good, it doesn’t make me sick, and I like whole foods. If you don’t, more for me. But I can say with certainty it doesn’t bring me chiseled abs and I’m pretty sure the occasional Egg McMuffin isn’t to blame for that.

Critics weren’t really reacting to her message, though. Perhaps the question, “what is my excuse” produced answers they did not like. Like bullies, they then shamed her to feel better about themselves.

What is my excuse? I don’t need no stinkin’ excuse! Kang lives her life, I live mine, and it’s very unlikely our paths will ever cross.

Disappointed with the article, I started reading the comments on Facebook. Every once in awhile someone says they don’t want to pay for the consequences of fatness. Maybe it doesn’t break your leg, but does it pick your pocket? First off, we know that skinny people get type 2 diabetes, have heart attacks, etc. Secondly, I don’t want to pay for the consequences of smoking, base jumping, etc. Of course, I’ve already covered some of my views on healthcare previously.

Here’s another solution: allow a person to choose coverage levels of individual components as we do with auto insurance. Some places I lived, I wanted a lot of coverage for under- and uninsured motorists. Other places, it’s a given that wildlife doesn’t carry insurance and I wanted more collision coverage and less uninsured/underinsured coverage. Maybe you want a lot of prescription drug coverage, few hospitalization benefits, and a high deductible while someone else wants midrange prescription coverage, high hospitalization benefits, and a low deductible.  There are also the obligatory comments pertaining to the ELMM philosophy. However, the overwhelming majority of comments suggest that Kang follows in the footsteps of our original currency’s motto and minds her business.

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2013 10:55 am

    I’m fat, but I eat relatively healthy foods, 99% of the time. I exercise – when I can, however I can. (I have physical limitations; arthritic knees). My cholesterol is better than average, (always between 165-169), my heart is strong and regular, my lungs are clear and working well, my blood work (3-4 times a year) always comes back surprisingly good!
    So, What’s MY excuse? Ready for it? Here it comes…….

    “I wasn’t born that way.”

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 12:01 pm

      I could cite a number of “excuses”, but why should I have to? My inner wacko bird sees her question and wants to shout, “None of your concern!”

  2. October 21, 2013 11:10 am

    Kang chose to post a message on her picture that was more about lording it over her supposed lessors than about glorying in either the look of her body or what it could do for her. If she’d posted something along the lines of, “I Love My Life And My Family!” Or “I Feel Great!” I can’t imagine that so many people would have been rubbed the wrong way.

    Since the internet is not a one-way bully pulpit, she got to experience the consequences of choosing such a crummy, condescending message. Maybe next time she’ll opt to choose her words more carefully.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 11:59 am

      Choices have consequences. People are free to run around with tea bags on their hat brims or tampons in their ears, but a consequence is that I have a hard time taking them seriously.

      “I Love My Life And My Family!” is unlikely to generate the attention of her chosen caption. What sort of attention she was seeking, I can’t say. Your captions sound like a great social media campaign though. Wardrobe choices not restricted to activewear and family left open to the photo subject’s definition.

      • October 21, 2013 12:15 pm

        :D You have no idea how tempted I am now to try the tampon-in-ear trick.

    • October 27, 2013 11:17 am

      We should ask ourselves why is she so proud to have a thin and healthy body? A body 100 years ago would have just been another body on the thin side.

      And in our society aren’t bodies like that now rarer?

      And why are they rare?

      And why has this given people like her the ability to scream “LOOK AT ME!”

      • gingeroid permalink
        October 27, 2013 12:48 pm

        While this site focuses on fat acceptance, I believe body acceptance is at its foundation. Thin shaming is not necessary for fat acceptance, and generally I find it counterproductive because it puts everyone on the defensive. Why shouldn’t all people be proud of whatever body they have?

  3. vesta44 permalink
    October 21, 2013 12:01 pm

    What I got out of her picture and her message wasn’t inspiring at all. What it seemed like to me was that she was bragging – “Look at what I did, and with three kids! Aren’t I just the special little snowflake. And you can be one too if you just do what I did. Aren’t I just so inspiring? ” The “What’s your excuse?” seemed like it was blaming people if they didn’t do something to change their lives/bodies for the “better”, whatever that “better” might be – in her case, probably a body like hers (sorry, ain’t happening no matter what I eat/don’t eat or how I exercise).
    Her post would have been okay if she hadn’t added that “What’s your excuse?” to it. If she’s happy with what she did and what it took for her to obtain that body, fine.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 2:13 pm

      . What it seemed like to me was that she was bragging – “Look at what I did, and with three kids! Aren’t I just the special little snowflake.
      At the risk of offending a larger population than usual, I call that the mommy martyrdom phenomenon. It drives me nuts when women expect extra snaps because they had children, especially when they have no idea what’s going on in the life of the person they’re preaching to. She chose to have children, and that’s a choice with consequences. It doesn’t make her any more special than a person with cerebral palsy, a dog owner, or a women with 3 children who doesn’t feel the need to invoke them for back pats.

  4. Trates permalink
    October 21, 2013 1:12 pm

    The problem is that many Libertarians in my experience are pretty…random with how they define force.

    For example:

    If you refuse to pay taxes government agents will come to your house, initiate force, and throw you in jail.

    Heard many statements like this from Libertarians.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 2:07 pm

      It’s a very literal interpretation. I like this paragraph from John Stossel’s No They Can’t, “But government has a power no business has: force. If we refuse to do “business” with government, government will fine us – jail us. I can rudely tell Microsoft that I refuse to buy its products – but I can’t tell the Internal Revenue Service to take a hike when it orders me to pay for the Department of Energy, foreign wars, monuments, bailouts, and everything else the government does, no matter how dissatisfied I am with its results.”

      • Trates permalink
        October 21, 2013 2:22 pm

        Except that a government is not really a business granting a service. Taxes are a part of the social contract of this country.

        That’s not to say we cannot dispute what the contract contains…to point. But if you refuse to pay taxes that are a part of the contract You are breaking the social contract and will suffer backlash.

        • gingeroid permalink
          October 21, 2013 9:46 pm

          Are you aware that our country managed to get by for nearly 100 years without an IRS? An income tax wasn’t even written into the Constitution until 1913, though it was temporarily collected in prior years.

          For other examples of government force, try not filling out your Selective Service card, buying raw milk, operating a food stand, driving people around in exchange for money, etc.

  5. October 21, 2013 1:14 pm

    If the issue here is the libertarian lens on this, do you not think part of the backlash stems precisely because to ask for someone else’s excuse is a venture into interrogation, either by nominating oneself as a governing agent over others or, even more sickeningly, seeking the teliological plausible deniability of nominating some other unnamed entity which is entitled to command such interrogation, for whom the querier is to be somehow elevated by acting as, in the words of one rap song, “Officer, officer, overseer?” (That’s the sound of the beast!)

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 2:21 pm

      There are two (contradictory) ways to answer this.

      1) Because she doesn’t have any force behind her, she’s free to ask the question and I’m free to slam the (figurative) door in her face. I had no clue who she was until that article ran, I’m not going to follow her online, and nobody’s forcing me to.

      2) A very basic tenet is that the individual knows what’s best for themselves. Her, “What’s your excuse?” comes across as a, “Will you be kind enough to justify your existence?” question. Nobody needs to justify themselves to anyone, neither her for looking the way she does nor me for looking the way I do. I’m neither picking her pocket nor breaking her leg, and as such I expect to be left alone.

      I’ve never listened to KRS-One prior to the quick clip I pulled in reference to your line. Got any recommendations? Also, have you read Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces?

  6. Dizzyd permalink
    October 21, 2013 4:04 pm

    ‘Should Fat People Feel Ashamed?’ No! Should fat haters? Yes! Do I need to excuse myself to that sanctimonious little beeyotch? If I came up with an excuse, it’d be ‘So I don’t end up a pompous ass like you!’

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 9:49 pm

      The “excuses” are numerous. If I had to guess, I’d say fat haters are feeling no shame.

  7. October 21, 2013 10:25 pm

    There are times when I’m kinda ashamed to be thin. But I just can’t help it, any more than I could help being fat when I was. Sure hope I don’t unwittingly anger anyone. We’re all in this together, after all.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 21, 2013 10:47 pm

      We’re all in this together, after all.
      Exactly! As I wrote in my introductory post, everybody has a body. It doesn’t get more big-tent than that. Obviously I can’t alter feelings, but I don’t think a thin person should have to justify their body any more than a fat person should.

  8. Trates permalink
    October 22, 2013 12:17 am

    I am quite aware that Libertarians like to mention such things and it *is* true…kinda.

    However there is a problem. While it *is* true that government had a lighter hand back then the states easily took up the slack. Property taxes on all possessions (instead of income taxes), involuntary conscription, and the ability to take your land for nearly any reason were biggies.

    When the government stepped in many of these were done away with or refined in such a way as to require a lot of loops to be jumped before it can happen.

    I am required to fill out my Selective Services Card. That’s a social contract item.

    The rest can be deemed oversteps depending on what the details surrounding legislation was.

    However keep in mind. In breaking the social contract You Are The Problem. They are not initiating force at that point. That’s all you.

    • gingeroid permalink
      October 22, 2013 9:56 am

      Personally, I think our tax system is inverted. We should be paying more to our states and less to the federal government.

      It’s my understanding is a contract voluntarily entered into by both parties. If memory serves, government is defined in the Declaration of Independence as an institution to secure rights with powers derived from the consent of the governed. There is a whole lot I never had the chance to consent to. Hence our objections. Let me ask you, if you choose to host a farm-to-table dinner with produce that hasn’t been inspected or certified by a government body, is it your fault that your dinner party is raided and your food confiscated?

      • Trates permalink
        October 22, 2013 12:18 pm

        I assume you live in the US. In the US at your birth your parents chose your residency and/or citizenship. At that point no further action is required on your part except to follow the laws of nation.

        You can end said contract at any time by renouncing your citizenship or simply leaving the country.

        It is truly unlike any other.

        Now in terms of voluntary entry consider this. You are a citizen of this country. You are not forced to stay and can leave at any time you desire. You can renounce your citizenship if you so choose.

        At this point your presence implies agreement to uphold the laws as you have not taken any steps to end the contract. The contract once entered into continues unless explicitly revoked.

        “Let me ask you, if you choose to host a farm-to-table dinner with produce that hasn’t been inspected or certified by a government body, is it your fault that your dinner party is raided and your food confiscated?”

        Depends on if the law forbids it. If it does so then YES it is my fault as it was my actions that set things into motion.

        • gingeroid permalink
          October 22, 2013 12:42 pm

          What I’m getting from you is that all laws are to be obeyed always without question or challenge. Is there any level of enforcement you’re not ok with?

        • October 23, 2013 10:45 am

          Though I’m not a Libertarian, I don’t feel really good about “Love It Or Leave It” as a counterpoint to somebody else’s political views. I’ve certainly never enjoyed it or found it legitimate when it’s been directed towards me as an anti-war Lefty, for instance.

          Your idea of the law’s unassailable sanctity leaves little or no room for defending acts of civil disobedience, either. Such as peaceful picketers, strikers, or War Tax Resisters. One more reason that it doesn’t sit well with me. If nobody in American history had been able to think beyond, “The Law Is The Law. Period.” I’m pretty sure that a lot of my rights now codified into law wouldn’t actually exist. :/

  9. Trates permalink
    October 22, 2013 1:37 pm

    Laws are to be obeyed. That is a part of the social contract. Living here means obeying the laws.

    You have some options however.

    1: Tolerate the social contract as it stands and attempt to change it while obeying the existing laws.

    2: Emigrate (leave the country).

    3: Violate it (break the law).

    4: Revolt.

    Now Options 1 and 2 have no real issues legally. You are free to stay and change the laws and are equally free to emigrate in the US.

    Options 3 and 4 are not legal (as irrelevant as that is) but will be seen (rightly) as initiation of force requiring the government to preserve its contract and enforce laws.

    In short we have means of changing laws or making them not apply to us but there is no way to violate the social contract or revolt against it and be safe. This is a good thing.

  10. October 27, 2013 11:11 am

    I hate both of the main parties, and while libertarians are good on civil liberties, they have been fooled by the globalist “free trade” lie. Seems this one has jumped on the hyper-personal responsibility bandwagon Ayn Rand style. One thing about ole Ayn Rand, she extolled the virtues of selfishness openly so ponder that one a bit. I am a bit wary of the people who claim that the words and actions of others should be of no effect.

    People used to be ashamed of narcissistic behavior but I digress. The skinny woman with her children [cough] breeding trophies in front of her, celebrates herself in a nauseating fashion. I have been thinking about a certain concept lately how the powers that be seem to be molding everyone and defining a “self improvement” program that is all about appearances and wealth. Some are the stars of this society and so eager to start bragging. I find it all so dull more day by day.

  11. Trates permalink
    October 27, 2013 4:22 pm

    Selfishness is interesting to me. Always has been. On one hand people are so damn fast to accuse others of selfishness.

    But then they turn around and act as if their drive for money is noble.

    Me I don’t care. If it’s yours then give and take as you see fit.

    Aside from taxes.

  12. Trates permalink
    October 27, 2013 5:10 pm

    Miss Xeno It’s not love it or leave it. There is a subtle difference.

    It’s called choice. You have options to change the system. You do not have to love the system. You can adhere to the laws and attempt to change them through the democratic process. In the US you are within your rights to do this for any law you desire.

    You can also emigrate. Violate it. Or Revolt against it.

    “Your idea of the law’s unassailable sanctity”

    In light of my previous comments this is flat out wrong.

    ” defending acts of civil disobedience, either.”

    Do people who want to legalize Cannabis need to smoke pot in order to change the law? No they do not.

    The fact is that every single law in the US is able to be changed via legal means.

    Even protests are allowed if certain protocols are followed.

    “If nobody in American history had been able to think beyond, “The Law Is The Law. Period.” I’m pretty sure that a lot of my rights now codified into law wouldn’t actually exist. :/”

    Like?

    • October 28, 2013 12:04 pm

      “ms.,” if you please. Not “Miss.”

      I don’t know what context you’re using when discussing pot laws. National vs. state laws are often a contradictory mishmash. Some smoke for pleasure, others for medicinal benefits. Maybe you could clarify a little here, because without a specific scenario, I’m not sure where you’re going with pot as an example.

      In the histories of suffrage, labor rights, and reproductive rights in the U.S., civil disobedience and law-breaking were integral parts of the struggle. People committed acts of vandalism, they deliberately and calculatedly flouted authority, went to jail, went on hunger strikes, etc. (Not all, of course. But enough.) It’s easy now to sit in a cozy (metaphoric) armchair where we have these rights codified into law and proclaim that they “went too far.” But the truth is that the powerful seldom share power solely out of the goodness of their hearts. Sometimes they need to be pushed and pushed hard. Especially in situations where they and they alone control what laws get passed and how they are enforced.

  13. Trates permalink
    October 28, 2013 11:07 pm

    Ms. Xeno:

    Pot is illegal. Pot is being debated, researched, and legalized (on some levels) in many states. Federally advocates are still working and within the next few years will likely see some payoff.

    This was accomplished via discussion. Not breaking laws.

    Many of the movements associated with these rights you claim were backed by fairly large chunks of people. It is not unthinkable that their goals would have been realized without law breaking.

    Indeed one could argue that even if the law breaking was a factor that protections would have declawed it. If there is no risk to the law breaking then ones willingness to break laws is insignificant.

    Keep in mind also that breaking the law is not the end. You still have courtrooms and juries. All of which provide captive ears for your cause.

    Power is a multi-faceted thing. Once could argue that raw numbers can force a politician’s hand.

    Because they are nothing if not eager to be popular.

    • October 29, 2013 10:12 am

      “This was accomplished via discussion. Not breaking laws.”

      This is still rather vague on your part, but I’ll bite.

      Pot laws are routinely broken, at great expense to law enforcement. Thus it’s often argued that law-breaking itself is an impetus to changing laws that are regressive and outmoded. A law may be so widely disregarded and unpopular with the public that it costs society more time, money, and resources to keep it on the books than scuttle it. So, no. I can’t agree with you. Law breakers do indeed influence changes in law.

      “Many of the movements associated with these rights you claim were backed by fairly large chunks of people.”

      That still does not mean that legal actions and political maneuvers happen in a vacuum. Politicians and justices are influenced by citizens. But not every citizen has the means to get into a courtroom or public office. Not every citizen can vote, and many don’t believe in votes as an effective means of social change. It makes no sense to argue that one’s only venue for voicing unhappiness is that which is most inaccessible and least effective.

      “Indeed one could argue that even if the law breaking was a factor that protections would have declawed it. If there is no risk to the law breaking then ones willingness to break laws is insignificant.”

      I know it’s early and I’m still on my first cup of coffee, but I honestly have no idea what the above means. Unless you’re saying that everyone who breaks the law (say, by smoking pot in a state where it’s not legal) for shits and giggles. And honestly, I can’t agree with that, either.

    • October 29, 2013 10:14 am

      Sorry. That last paragraph should read: Unless you’re saying that everyone who breaks the law (say, by smoking pot in a state where it’s not legal) is doing so only for shits and giggles. And honestly, I can’t agree with that, either. :/

  14. Trates permalink
    October 29, 2013 3:38 pm

    “Thus it’s often argued that law-breaking itself is an impetus to changing laws that are regressive and outmoded.”

    Often argued but ineffective in general.

    “But not every citizen has the means to get into a courtroom or public office.”

    No but every citizen can influence on some level.

    “Not every citizen can vote, and many don’t believe in votes as an effective means of social change.”

    No but there are many means of changing laws while still obeying them. That’s reality. Their beliefs do not make it so.

    “Indeed one could argue that even if the law breaking was a factor that protections would have declawed it. If there is no risk to the law breaking then ones willingness to break laws is insignificant.”

    What the above means is that law breaking carries a risk to it. You are risking a lot in breaking the law and this willingness would mean something.

    Think about the Tibetan Buddhist monks in China who self-immolated. They were protesting something and caused a great deal of pain to themselves to do so. Some even died.

    What if we looked back and saw that they felt no pain during these events? Or that they suffered no disfigurement? Indeed what if we saw that they risk nothing in their immolation?

    Well the answer is we’d think less of the event.

    By pushing protections like what you are talking about you lower the risk making those taking that take the risk less impressive.

    Sorry for being brief. I’m not feeling up to snuff today :/

  15. LittleBigGirl permalink
    November 10, 2013 10:52 pm

    I never realized my personal beliefs aligned with Libertarianism. Huh. Cool. I have a title now. ;)
    Thanks for opening up my world another level gingeroid! :)

    • gingeroid permalink
      November 13, 2013 10:12 pm

      I think that’s true for a lot of people. Most of us grow up looking forward to being in charge of ourselves. Thanks for reading!

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