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Chit Chat > op-ed colmns: a re-post from 9/15/09

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message 1: by Kim, Proud Queen of the Fat and Fabulous! (last edited Nov 01, 2011 07:51AM) (new)

Kim (mrsnesbitt) | 1031 comments Mod
I orginally posted this in my book discussion group on September 15, 2009 after an article had appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer regarding some comments from the head of the Cleveland Clinic. This posting was in response to an op-ed columnist who is featured a few days a week.-

Last Friday, we had an op-ed column in our local paper that really upset me. This is a featured column, one that appears on the front page of the Metro section and normally, if I read it, they are generally slice of life or things that make you think. I was truly disappointed in this writer as she has done much for the libraries and was even named Citizen of the Year by the local library association.

That said, Regina Brett was responding to the comments made last month by the head of the Cleveland Clinic, who in recent years has made it policy not to hire smokers for any job connected with the clinic, even going as far as to drug test potential hires for nicotine. He stated that if he could avoid hiring large or obese people he would, if he could leagally get away with it.

Brett agreed with him, and took it a step further by making the comment that since we have made it socially unacceptable to smoke, and drink and drive,that we should also do the same for overweight people. She suggested a tax on pop, candy and chips, and that larger people should have to pay more for health coverage (if we can get it, we already do). My question, again, is where does it stop?

Needless to say, I as in tears since I have always been a large sized person and have had to deal with this kind of ignorance all of my life. I emailed her to tell her, politely (Narzain can back me up) to tell her what I thought of her column and the damage she may have caused, not to mention the hurt she dealt to a lot of people.

Surprisingly, I heard back from her, and she apologized to me. I hope that she will in the next week or so, publish a public apology to all, but I may be holding my breath.

I know that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when ignorance is perpetuated by people in a position of power, they need to do their homework and make sure of all of the facts.

Do people in power have responsibility for their words? Or do we, as a whole, need some salt to stomach it?

I posted this after the columnist in question printed an apology.-

I would like to add that as of today, 9/16, Brett did apologize in to the public in her column, quoting calls and emails, letting those she hurt, have their say. (Yes, she included me too.) This does not erase all of what was done by her or the head of the Clinic (who also apologized to employees for "remarks that sounded insensitive") or what a lot of us have been through,subjects of op-ed columns, and editorial pieces.

Sometimes, great damage had been done by a half informed individual with good intentions.....maybe this was one of them?

message 2: by Kim, Proud Queen of the Fat and Fabulous! (last edited Nov 01, 2011 07:50AM) (new)

Kim (mrsnesbitt) | 1031 comments Mod
This is my letter to her before her reply:

Ms. Brett,

I have read your column off and on for the last several years. Often, I have found it thought provoking and informative, This morning, however, you caused more damage than you may imagine. Your comments, and those of the clinic director, are hurtful, discriminatory, and down right ignorant. You have helped perpetuate ignorance regarding large sized people, or obese if you want to use that word.

Your comments on making it socially unacceptable to be a big person were the most hateful thing I have ever heard. I have been big all my life, mostly due to an un-diagnosed thyroid problem, and some to genetics. I have had to struggle with ignorant people who assume that because I am big that I have no feelings and they can say what ever they like to me and I am supposed to take it. I have been treated as less than human because of my size. I am not ashamed of my size. I eat a healthy diet, am getting more moderate exercise, and have a full life.

Yet, I am still the last socially acceptable and legal discrimination. I can and may be denied a job, housing, and an education due to my size. People like me rarely finish college and if we are lucky to get a job (a lot of companies are image conscious) we are paid less even if we have more experience and years of training than others. You said that maybe we should be charged more for our health care. If we can get it, we are. I do not smoke, but I think what has been done to smokers was and is wrong. What you do in your own home has nothing to do with your job. So does being big. Yes, I admit, some jobs would be harder or impossible to do if you are very big, but it does not hinder me from typing, selling books, or making computer parts.

People of my size have a harder time going anywhere. I have been laughed at in public, pointed at and even had children comment on my size with parents who either choose to ignore their children, give me a look that says I am lower than dog feces, or apologize. (The last one is the most rare.) I get looks when I go out to eat (a rare occasion), looks that suggest "what do I need to eat for" or "why did I leave the house". It took me until 4 years ago to find some one who loves me for me and wants me for who I am, large size and all. I have worked hard to accept who I am and love myself for who I am.

You managed today to hurt a lot of people and do a lot of damage. I hope you are happy. I mean, how would you like it if it became socially unacceptable to be Catholic, a brunette, or an op-ed columnist?

Sincerely hoping I have given you food for thought,

Kim. F.

This was her personal reply before the public apology:

Kim -

Thanks for your note. You are right that I caused more damage than I imagined.
That was not my intent. I ventured into an issue more complicated than I ever imagined.

I am sorry for any pain my comments added to your life. I thank you for enlightening me and for showing me a bit of a slice of life unfamiliar to me.

Thank you for your patience with me as I learn from readers like yourself.

- Regina

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