Fat and Literature

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 4 03:20:09 EST 2003

Denise wrote:
>Another thing that should be realized is that some "fat" people are 
>actually critically ill and only "fat" because they're stuck on high doses 
>of steroids to keep them alive.

This is completely off topic, but what you just wrote and a sentence of 
Deborah's: "medicine is a culturally influenced
institution like any other"

Reminded me of my scary experience giving birth last year. I won't bore you 
with the whole birth story, though it is high drama with many twists and 
developments (and thankfully a happy end), but the anaestheologist who gave 
me my first epidural basically said to me, "You're fat. How can I see where 
I'm supposed to stick the needle in?" After which she proceeded, indeed, to 
stick the needle in the wrong place, causing me additional pain and giving 
me absolutely no relief. I admit I was overweight, and was also swollen with 
terrible edema - but those epidural needles can kill if incorrectly 
administered. Also, what was I supposed to do? Shed weight? Since the 
anaestheologist who came two hours later after I had convinced the staff 
that something had gone wrong, had no problem administering the second 
epidural without causing me any pain (and also muttered under his breath at 
the incompetence of his colleague), I rather think claiming that I was fat 
was just her way of excusing herself for a job about to be done badly.

Back to semi-on-topic:

>Anyway, regardless of good or bad writing style, I still resent the HP 
>books for portraying it as cool/OK for Harry and Ron to mistreat Hermione. 
>... It's especially not cool that they only decide she's OK once she 
>becomes physically attractive, as if girls these days don't have enough 
>anti-intellectual pro-beauty messages as it is...

I still disagree with this reading of the Harry Potter books. Harry and Ron 
decide that Hermione "is OK" well back in the first book in the series. Yes, 
Ron is impressed by Hermione's physical transformation, but other than that 
one evening of the dance - and possibly, some heightened romantic tension 
afterwards - he treats her no differently than he had before, which was with 
a great deal of teasing, but also a great deal of loyalty, respect and 
reliance. I don't think that all teasing is necessarily abuse, not when it 
is part of a close and complex friendship. And Hermione does her fair share 
of looking down her nose at Harry and Ron for their ignorance, too. In the 
end they are all still friends.

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