Friday, May 14, 2010

The Smoking Fatty (or coming out as a Bad Fat)

I was reading this post on my blog feed, and was a bit pissed off to see this comment "If you really think that being fat is just as bad as smoking or being addicted to drugs, you are just as judgmental and, well, wrong as the people who run the above site.". I was pissed off to see smokers and drug addicts portrayed as 'BAD' (ie. somehow sub-human and not deserving of rights). Explain to me exactly how this is different from judging fat people as 'BAD' (ie. somehow subhuman and not deserving of rights)?

The argument that fat shouldn't be demonised because it is not a choice seems like a valid one at first glance, but really it translates to "being fat is only acceptable because it is not a choice". Even if fatness were a choice it would still not be acceptable to discriminate against those who have "chosen" to be fat.

Unlike obesity, there is strong scientific evidence to suggest that smoking is linked to disease. The fact that I smoke (as does more than 25% of the UK population according to Cancer Research), does not give anyone on the street the right to lecture me on The Importance Of Giving Up Smoking.

Of course, being a fat smoker makes me even more of a target. Smoking fatties are increasingly portrayed as being Everything That's Wrong With The World, if being fat wasn't enough of a flashing signpost of my shocking lack of respect for my health, I also have the audacity to smoke.

I'm not going to suggest that science has it all wrong about smoking, we've all had it drilled into us that If You Smoke You Will Die - I'm aware of the risks and for now, I choose to continue to smoke.

I could bullshit you at this point with a diatribe on how Smoking is Addictive and I smoke because I can't give up. I could list the myriad times I've attempted to quit smoking, and the amount of times I've failed. I could draw a parallel between my failed dieting attempts and my failed attempts at quitting smoking, tell you the tale of my friend who was able to quit heroin but not tobacco. I could point out that tobacco should, from a scientific viewpoint, be an illegal drug, but that this can't happen due to the money smokers pour into the economy in the form of taxes.

I'm not going to do that though, because at this point in time, smoking feels like a choice to me. I don't want to quit smoking, so I don't attempt it. This does not make me a bad person.

I can't help but remember that I'm going to die regardless of whether I smoke, drink, eat McDonalds, run 10 miles a day or get my 5 a day. It's my life and my choice and no-one else gets to choose for me.

I shouldn't have to remind myself that I'm deserving of respect regardless of my lifestyle choices. I shouldn't have to agonise over whether to reveal that I smoke on my own god-damn blog.

I don't give a damn if you think I'm a bad person because I'm fat or because I smoke or because I enjoy bacon sandwiches, or because I drink. I am me, and I will continue to be me whether you like it or not.


  1. I love smoking. And miss it terribly. Have one for me next time, okay?

  2. Anonymous9:31 pm

    Oh I second what CTJen said!
    And living is a choice, too. While some may prefer I didn't, I still choose to live and breathe and enjoy this life of mine! =0)

  3. I smoked for years but I stopped...not particularly on purpose. I discovered that I could smell things better and stopped getting bronchial infections. I wouldn't smoke again because I enjoy not smoking more than I enjoy smoking.

    Lots of people do dangerous, life-threatening things because they enjoy them. They ride motorcycles, or ski, or play contact sports. The point being that their bodies are their own to treat as they see fit. Singling out one particular 'bad' behaviour as needing to be stopped is scapegoating. As long as you know the risks (which is probably important) then it's not anybody's business what you do with your body. It's not a rented tuxedo; you don't get your deposit back if you return it in pristine condition.

  4. Anonymous12:51 am

    Smoking is your choice, and since you're having one for others, please have one for me too.

    I'm going to tell my quitting smoking story, not to inspire or lecture in any way, but when I think about how I quit, which was in Jan. 2007, a serious of incidents had to line up just so for all the pieces to fall into place that allowed me to quit. They were all random and I don't think I could ever replicate the situation. I think it's as likely I would win the lottery as it is I could quit smoking again.

    I also happen to think that some people are just more addicted to certain things than others. I'm sure we all know people who can smoke every once and a while not think twice about it otherwise. I was never, ever, ever that person and I envied/hated those people. But I know other people who can't get through the day without soda, which I don't care about at all. So there you go.

  5. Yeah, the whole Healthist moral crusade (including demonizing eating 'too much bad,' 'too little good,' smoking, not engaging in healthy behavior X, being perceived as engaging in healthy behavior Y, etc etc) is getting old.

    Healthism --- this obsession with some kind of prescription for what seems to be a fountain of youth --- just oppresses us all. Because NO ONE is going to be healthy forever (there's that mortality thing).

    But I think some people truly believe they can assuage their fear of the Reaper by ingesting certain formulaic foods or engaging in some kind of exercise regimen. It's fear-based and irrational, for the most part (though Denial is the longest river in that community, to be sure).

  6. I don't personally think smokers and drug users are "BAD", but there is quite a difference there than being fat. Smokers affect everyone around them that have no choice but to breathe in their smoke; being fat affects no one but ourselves. To put it another way, your right to smoke ends where my mother's emphysema begins. And as far as being a drug addict, well, drugs are illegal - some of them - but food is not. I just think there can be no comparison between fat people and smokers, drinkers, or drug abusers.


  7. Anonymous5:18 am

    You may already know this, but Kate Harding has posted about how she hasn't stopped smoking. So you are certainly not the only fat smoker who admits it.

  8. Anonymous6:01 am

    To be fair, she said smoking was bad, not smokers. Smokers are neutral, smokers who carry their lit cigarettes through non-smoking buildings are "bad" for some definitions of "bad."

  9. Anonymous11:19 am

    Smoking is a behavior. Fatness isn't. There lies the difference.

  10. Smokers affect everyone around them that have no choice but to breathe in their smoke;

    Ditto car exhaust fumes etc etc. We need stop behaving as if a construct that seeks to simplify our ideals of individualism are the absolute truth.

    All behaviour affects and costs others to a certain extent, many can harm others far more than passive smoking.

    Pepole adept at spreading misery often distort, sometimes destroy the health of others.

    How we balance individual actions and minimize the cost to others (and the person concerned) is the trickier than we like to admit.

  11. Everyone will die someday... but it seems that people who never leave home have less risk factors (you know lightening strikes, getting run over by a truck, mugged, etc.) but for now I will still be going to work everyday.

    It's a choice and I can respect that as long as you don't blow the smoke in my face. Like eating liver and onions, my parents swore it was good for me but I never could develop a taste for that.

    I don't think being fat is a choice. Some people want to gain weight and can't. Others want to lose and can't. It's the lucky ones who learn to be happy at whatever size they are.


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