Friday, April 11, 2014

My Response to the Black Toenails Tumblr

I was told someone had responded to my Fit Shaming article and that I should read it.   Normally, I ignore anonymous responses to anything I write but I figured I might as well give it a read. (Although the person who sent me to the article was also anonymous, kind of a jerk and very well might have been the writer him/herself.) Then, I figured I might as well respond, mostly because I was amused how someone could ask me to reply in a courteous nature while also insulting what I write, how I write and why I wrote it. Let’s see if I can show how the high road is actually taken. (Probably not.)

Dear Anonymous Tumblr Poster,

I am going to have to start this entire response off by stating that many of the questions you ask about what is fit or what is healthy or what is a variety of other things were, intentionally, left without definition.  Why?  Because ANY definition, no matter how vague or specific, will somehow be incorrect and leave one group or another out. As such, I figured that relatively reasonable people could come to an agreement on what fit or healthy or anything else you asked me to describe is. Ergo, I left its actual description blank. (Although a Fit Vs Healthy blog may be in the works.) As that seems to be the crux of many points you made, you will have to accept this as my answer to all of them. (I will add, however, that without a doubt someone could look “fit” and still be unhealthy. Many examples, recently and unfortunately punctuated by the passing of professional wrestler Ultimate Warrior, come from the world of professional sports.  Many of these men and women look to be at the pinnacle of health but inside are probably wrecking their bodies with drugs or other unhealthy items.)

Perhaps it was a poorly written sentence but when I said “And for the purposes of this article, I am focusing mostly on women and body issues for them...”  I was not stating that I knew what body issues for women feel like for women. I was stating that I was going to focus on the way that people speak about women’s bodies as they are usually the ones in question in all the instances I was referencing.  Even though many people can succinctly speak about complex issues that do not personally involve them, I was not trying to be one of those people. (This is in response to your comment of …”more importantly, he is certainly not in a position to comment on how women feel.”)

You asked if I was a medical doctor which I am guessing was rhetorical. Nevertheless, I am happy to answer in the negative there. I am still 100% certain one does not need to be a medical doctor to read what medical doctors write and understand them. And when I don’t understand them, I have a litany of medical doctor friends from all differing backgrounds and specialties whom I call upon when I have questions (which is often.) Of course, this ignores the fact that medical doctors themselves constantly disagree on a multitude of different subjects. That said, you had no problem stating what is fit and you claim not to read any actual medical journals. In fact, you stated many certainties (hedging some with “may” and “might”) without cited medical background. Why did you do that? Because your blog is not a peer-reviewed journal, you probably are not being paid to write it, or a variety of other things that allow you to have an opinion which, if stated relatively well and without ridiculousness, reasonable people will accept.

As for judging, we all judge every day every minute everywhere we go. People complain about making generalizations or stereotypes but both exist so that we can speak about broader topics without having to name Steve from Poughkepesie who I grew up with and know every single thing he has done for the past 15 years. Judgments are a part of life. I hardly think I made any unnecessarily harsh judgments in my post but perhaps I need to read it again. (OK, just did. Nope.)

You asked (adding “philosophically” as if that automatically makes it a more learned question) why we would care if everyone is fit or healthy? I honestly do not even know how to answer that question and not because it is like Plato's Cave and stumped me. Seriously? Why should we want people to try to not be ill or unhealthy? Does that not answer itself? You throw out a strawman argument about unhealthy people potentially being a"...Pulitzer Prize author, or a brilliant musician, or for christs sake, someone with a thyroid disease and no medical insurance” as if I said that we should round up the unhealthy people and throw them in an internment camp. You actually quoted me but seemed to miss what I said. I said being fit is a goal everyone should strive for. You asked me why.  If you can give me one legitimate reason why they should NOT do so, I would be amazed. Because by your logic, being fit apparently would take away their prize writing ability or musical talent.

I can think of nothing that is not improved by being fit. I am not saying that Tolstoy should have worked on his lats more or Yo-Yo Ma needed to really nail some jump shots or that Harriet Tubman was fine and all but I wish she had done some pilates. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if those who contributed so much to our society, but died because of self-afflicted health problems, were around a little while longer to make our society even better still? (Pro tip: That is rhetorical. Of course it would be.)

In your last portion you said that me stating “we definitely should hold the applause for those who actively chose not to be fit” made you sad, reverting to your original statement of what is fit, healthy, etc. If you actively chose NOT to be fit, you are hurting yourself, and, to many degrees, many others. I detailed this in greater extent in my Cost of Obesity article (which I linked to in the article you are having so much trouble with.)

The result of all of this remains exactly what it was when I first wrote my article: the world needs healthier people. If you disagree with that then you probably agree with most of what Fox News talks about as well.

Yours truly,

Self-Proclaimed “Extreme Athlete” Dane Rauschenberg

p.s.  If you truly want to have intelligent discourse about the subject, let me know who you are and perhaps we can actually, you know, discuss it.


Christy H. said...

Nicely written response.

Lila said...

Excellent read until I got to the political comment at the end....why can't someone believe that we all benefit from good health and still not uphold certain conservative/libertarian values which are far more often espoused on Fox News than any place else? Why does upholding those values and thinking everyone can benefit from healthful living mutually exclusive? Very disappointing judgment on your part, Dane.

Dane said...

Because, Lila, the vast majority of what Fox News says is so unbelievably incorrect or slanted that it is beyond ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

"I said being fit is a goal everyone should strive for. You asked me why. If you can give me one legitimate reason why they should NOT do so, I would be amazed."

Yeah, I read the Tumblr post and was so confused. The writer made a lot of assumptions that didn't make sense to me.

Why should everyone strive to be fit? I'm sorry, but this is by far the dumbest question I've heard in 2014 so far. The same could be asked about getting a better education.

Scott said...

Well written cogent response Dane. Some people just look for any reason to be offended and selectively-outraged. I would submit that most of those people tend to NOT watch FOx News. You had me until you made it about politics.
To you and those in the comments who slams Fox News so casually in this manner, I would say you are no better than the poster that was offended by Dane's article. I also suspect you have pretty much never watched Fox News. How do I know this? Their NEWS is consistently ranked the least-biased of any news program and I have never seen ANYONE, while claiming FOX News "lies" actually provide a single example of a deliberate falsehood presented on the network.

All of this, despite places like
-MSNBC, where anchors (Keith Olbermann) have been fired, but only after years of documented and deliberate slanderous lies
-MSNBC, where they have Chris Matthews, a commentator, anchor NEWS coverage of a Political convention where he sates seeing Barack Obama send a "tingle up his leg."
-NBC (Dan Rather) where people follow stories(GW Bush fake Air National Guard Letter) that fit their preconceived notions and so they suspend journalistic standards of research and validation.
-CBS who loved Cheryl Atkinson's investigative reporting surrounding the Bush admin, but stopped airing her stories once Obama got into office.
Let's not talk about Al Sharpton on CNN or Melissa Harris Perry on MSNBC. ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN all censor news stories they don't like by omission or presenting from a specific point of view. If FOX News is not news, then who hat do you think of the rest? You never make note. Is that because you are biased?

Most people fail to understand the difference between NEWS and COMMENTARY.
Is Fox News on the Right? Absolutely. Their 'commentators' such as Hannity, and 4 of the 5 hosts on "The 5" are definitely on the Right. They make no secret about that. However, O'Reilly, while traditional, slams both sides. Greta Van Sustern is largely a crime reporter and non-partisan. Bret Bair's Special Report is rated as the fairest NEWS program on TV.

I applaud your willingness to call out someone for leveling poorly thought accusations, but don't end your response by doing the same thing.