Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#106 Yesterday and Today

My brother sent me a response to the question at the end of Babble #104, "No Tattoos Allowed". The question I posed was, "How do you feel about tattoos and piercings?" His response [photo - baby bro and me, 2010]:

"Maybe the question below, since it's on your blog, can ask the question ... by expanding the waist line and putting on the pounds, are we defacing the body? It seems that any generation, other than our parent's generation, don't place a negative, or as negative, a stigma on tattoos and piercings ... have we become just as tolerant of gaining weight? Obesity? Can we put "how our bodies look" in the same category as "tattoos" and "body piercing". Why or why not?

Hmmm.... Well, if tattooing and piercings are being added to your body, then added weight could be put into that same category. And, if tattooing and piercings make people look at you differently and/or potentially make people treat you differently, then added weight could also be put into that same category.

On the other hand, I'm assuming that most people make the choice to get tattooed and/or pierced. Most people don't choose to gain weight. Also, when you get a tattoo or a piercing, someone else is doing this to you. The majority of people who are 20+ pounds overweight did not choose to do this, and unlike the tattooing and piercing, they did it to themselves.

Tattooing and piercings are statements. A tattoo is chosen to represent a time, a feeling, a love, an occurrence. A tattoo is a decoration, something to make you more distinctive, perhaps to make you stand out or make you feel powerful. A piercing would probably also fall into this category. A friend of mine and her good friend both got belly button rings for their 40th birthdays. A blogger I follow just got a nose piercing at the age of 42. These were all "active" decisions made by those people. A person who actively eats foods that cause them to gain weight is not really actively making this decision. They are actively choosing those foods, but it's almost as if they are the passive recipients. Almost as if they are "out of control" and can't make a decision. From what I believe, most people don't really want to memorialize a birthday or time in their life with a gift to themselves of 20, 30, 40 or 50 pounds. Also, I don't believe "saddle bags" or a "basketball belly" would be considered "body decoration".

Additionally, a tattoo or piercing can make a person feel better, prouder, stronger and attractive. Added weight usually makes a person feel bad, insecure, weak and unattractive.

I recently read that if you went to a county fair in the 1950's and saw the "fat lady", you would be seeing a woman who topped the scale at 300 pounds. Today, the "fat lady" nears 800 pounds. Back in the 50's, face and body piercings were not that commonplace. Neither were tattoos, although men in the military wore them as badges of masculinity.

So, has obesity become as accepted as other additions to the body? Let me pose these questions with my answers from today and the 1950's ...

1. If you are sitting in the coach section of a commercial airplane, would you rather sit next to an obese person, a person with multiple piercings or a person with 50% of his/her body covered in tattoos? [just in case you ask, none of them have body odor, bad breath, lice, scabies, dandruff, etc.]

2. Three weeks into the new school year, you go to a program at your child's school and meet her third grade teacher. You see that she has earrings in her eyebrow, lip and nose. This surprises you because your child never mentioned this. Then you realize that to your child, this may be "normal". How does that make you feel?

3. Since we are a society that shares the cost of healthcare, do you think that the cost of obesity and its medical problems outweigh the potential problems [infection/tearing] that may come with getting tattooed or pierced?

My answers:

1. I would rather sit next to the tattooed person. The obese person could potentially overlap their seat into my space, and the pierced person could potentially catch one of her/his piercings and bleed on me. 1950: the obese person

2. I would probably be a little shocked, but would get over it as quickly as if she had green hair or black fingernail polish. 1950: I would make a complaint to the school and have my child transferred to another teacher or another school.

3. Yes. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. The medical problems and diseases that come with obesity [diabetes, heart disease, circulatory problems, joint problems] are long-term chronic problems. To keep the cost of health insurance down, employers should be motivated to establish programs to help [not punish] their overweight employees lose and maintain a healthy weight. More restaurants and more states should mandate that nutritional information be shown so that the client can make informed decisions. Also, healthy and satisfying alternatives to the high fat, high calorie foods should also be made available. Schools should serve healthy food, get rid of soda machines, make exercise/gym classes fun and mandatory, and establish programs in primary schools to teach kids about health, wellness, eating well and exercising. The cost of getting an infection from a tattoo or piercing doesn't come close to the cost of obesity. 1950: I don't know what you are talking about.

Quote of the day: "I want to show the world that disability does not mean inability" Prudence Mabhena, singer from Zimbabwe [Born with Arthrogryposis, double leg amputee, abandoned by and abused by her family because of her disability, today - most famous person in Zimbabwe]


Michael Rivers said...

Very good post. The facts about the the "fat lady" at the fair are almost hard to believe. But as I think about it, it's true.

Jeanie said...

Lots to think about here, as usual. I pretty musch agree with what you had to say and would probably answer the questions the way you did. I mostly have sympathy for someone who is significantly overweight. I just see tattoos and piercings as a personal choice.

Teresa Shields said...

"A person who actively eats foods that cause them to gain weight is not really actively making this decision. They are actively choosing those foods, but it's almost as if they are the passive recipients. Almost as if they are "out of control" and can't make a decision."

I think these people ARE actively making the decision to gain weight. People always have a choice when it comes to being thin or fat, healthy or not. AND I think it's easier to reverse bad health conditions related to overeating than it is to reverse a tattoo.
Just an opinion... : )

Chris H said...

Very thought provoking post Bobbie!

Anonymous said...

Since I tend to live in hipster 'hoods, I'm in the minority not having tattoos, or piercings in places besides my ears (7 in ears). I don't even blink twice, unless a person has tattoos all over their face, or someone is showing their friend their new genital piercing as I am passing by. Very obese people do make me look twice, as they are uncommon here. I'm thinking of getting a tramp stamp, to celebrate my 40s.

Alix said...

Wow Bobbie.... what a thought provoking post.

Having two kids (22 year old son, 19 year old daughter) it's just this side of a miracle that neither of them are tattooed yet. Pierced yes. My son went a bit wild, ears gauged, lip piercing, then snake bites (piercing on both sides of lips), probably eyebrows too - I lost count. My daughter has traditionally pierced ears, did her nose and belly button, but let the nose piercing go and finally the naval. I think holes are much more forgiving than tats. I personally would never have one. I can't even pick out wallpaper I want to look at long enough to have slapped up on my walls, you know? But the whole fat/obesity question. Gosh... I never thought about it quite in that way. Very interesting "food" for thought.

Love you Bobbie girl!