Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm a big advocate

I've recently become interested in autism, for reasons I haven't quite fathomed yet. My interest has led me to some fascinating books (Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet) and web sites.

An offshoot of my interest in autism has been a sea change in the way I view disability rights. Many of the blogs I read, for example, see the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon as really harmful to those rights. The argument is that it promotes a "look at the poor crippled people" model of disability. It came as quite a shock to me how many people with what I used to see as afflictions do not want to be "cured," and see what they have, be it autism, deafness, muscular dystrophy or whatever, as an integral part of who they are.

There is a way that this relates directly to me, and a blog I read links to a really emotional series of posts on the issue. You see, I'm overweight, and prejudice against fat people is perfectly acceptable in our society. I have several blogs, and it's one reason you'll never see my real picture on any of my blogs: it makes my words too easy to dismiss.

A gentleman who used to be a friend but who I now no longer know or understand started randomly posting unneccesary criticisms of people on a bulletin board he runs. When I called him on it he seemed to think it was OK to do this, then later on the board, in the same thread, posted this gem regarding people who wear Star Trek uniforms:
I can better understand it at a Star Trek convention...but it still gets me to see, oh, say, a 300-pound man wearing the uniform proudly, even at Thundercon. The one I saw was out of breath, overflowing a folding chair in the hallway. This is nothing against 300-pound men, mind you; it's just that it looks no more fitting than the same guy wearing a Speedo. It jars the senses, and it gets me that he doesn't see that. It's not his appearance that's at issue; it's his blind spot. I guess that being a tad wider myself than my height (or lack of it) should allow, I feel he should represent us chubbies a little better, by golly.

Now mind you we first met in the late 1970s and last saw each other a few months ago, so he's perfectly aware that I tip the scales at near his 300 pound (gross weight?) limit. So let's see what he's saying here: an overweight person attending a Star Trek convention with other conventioneers shouldn't be able to dress as his favorite character simply because of his weight. The options, I suppose, would be to pick a costume that hides one's weight (yeah, right) or to not attend the convention. I wouldn't have said this before, but I wonder if the latter might be my former friend's preference.

I've been fairly silent and ashamed up to now regarding my weight and the way others see it as a fair target. I'm trying to change that. The blogs I read have given me a little courage, and with some work perhaps I'll get a little more, and stand up to the idiots who think it's OK to denigrate fat people.

And perhaps I'll show up at a Thundercon, proudly wearing a Starfleet uniform. To hell with what any bulletin board moderators think.