Cyber Crush of the Day

I have to admit that I’m a total sucker for those who recognize bigotry for what it is when they see it, and even more so for those who battle against it. It’s especially crush-worthy when it’s someone who’s trying to change a societal paradigm that is harmful to our children. Jeff Dinelli, at The Left Coaster is one such person. His sixth grade daughter’s phys ed class is involved in a class project that included counting calories and calculating “ideal” weights for these youths. I don’t know about you, but I find the concept of an “ideal weight,” especially one that doesn’t take body composition (bone size/density, muscle mass, etc.) into consideration, not only unrealistic and appalling, but unconscionable.

Given that many of these school “nutrition awareness” and anti-obesity programs do more harm than good to our children, they don’t work, and anorexia is being diagnosed in children as young as five, maybe it’s time to consider a different approach to teaching nutrition and physical fitness. It’s time to get across that “survival of the fittest” is not synonymous with “survival of the buffest.”

Now, setting aside the fact that these kids are entering puberty and need fat and sugar for their bodies to develop properly, we are setting them up for disordered relationships with food at the very least and quite possibly full-blown eating disorders as well as depression and stress diseases. Sixth graders, at the verge of adulthood but not there yet, are practically obsessed with fitting in with their peer groups. If a teacher makes obsessing about their bodies a class assignment, said teacher is throwing alcohol gel onto an inferno.

Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity recently performed a survey study to assess attitudes about the obese.

The study surveyed 4,283 individuals and discovered an alarming trend: to avoid being obese, people would be willing to give up a year of life, get divorced, be unable to have children, develop alcoholism, or become severely depressed. The survey also examined subconscious attitudes toward obesity and found that, regardless of their age or body weight, participants strongly associated fat people with negative traits, such as laziness and stupidity, while associating thin people with positive traits. Dr. Schwartz and her colleagues found that overweight participants thought poorly of themselves, making weight loss even harder to achieve and adding to a growing body of research that shows the striking prevalence and pervasiveness of weight-based stigma.

Even obesity doctors, who should know better, are likely to associate words like “lazy” “stupid,” and “worthless” to their fat patients. What chance does a sixth grader have to avoid assimilating these biases when they’re taught in grade school?

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Keisha Morgan

Army Spc. Keisha M. Morgan, 25, Washington, D.C., died [February 22] in Baghdad of a non-combat related cause; assigned to the Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Spc. Keisha Morgan

Yet again, the Army is sweeping the mysterious death of a female soldier under the rug. Keisha’s mother, Diana, (who is a friend of mine) has been told that the Army “doesn’t know” how Keisha died. Keisha’s best friend, Ruby, found her on the floor of their Baghdad barracks, having a seizure, but responsive. She died, according to WTOP news, “a short time later.”

Diana says that she spoke to Keisha less than a week before she died. Keisha was a 25-year-old in the peak of health who had just reenlisted (excited to be going “from green to gold”) and was as happy as she had ever been. She was engaged to a wonderful young man working as a civilian contractor in Iraq. He was visiting family in (IRRC) Puerto Rico when she died. He was interrogated for about four hours. I hope that was just information gathering abouther friends, routine, etc., but I’m not sanguine about that.

In spite of almost a month’s time and two autopsies, Keisha’s cause of death is still “unknown.” Her fiance and mother wanted to have an independent autopsy performed but were informed by the Army that her brain and heart had been removed because of the ongoing “investigation,” so another autopsy would be pointless. Am I the only one who finds that the teensiest bit suspect? If they suspected drugs or epilepsy or anything else innocuous, wouldn’t they just say so?

Also, Diana has been told that, in its infinite wisdom, the Army has a regulation that in the event of the death of a soldier whose parents are divorced, said soldier’s possessions go to the older of the two parents. In Keisha’s case that would be her father. The rub is that he abandoned his wife and his two children when Keisha was four. He saw her once again when she was five, at which time he dropped by his former mother-in-law’s house and asked to speak to the children on the front porch. Five minutes later, all three were gone. They were found at Mr. Morgan’s mother’s house. Had Diana pressed kidnapping charges, her ex would have been in deep kimchee. As she is an extremely kind and lovely woman, she didn’t. In the following years, he avoided paying child support to the tune of $150,000, while Diana and her family have eked by. He is suspected of having been successful in avoiding being found by stealing the identities of two men with his name who had died in childhood. His trial for those thefts is pending, and yet, the military is still determined to send all of Keisha’s personal effects (those that they haven’t lost, like two gold necklaces, that is) to him, rather than to her mother, who raised her. Fortuanately, Diana’s congressman stepped in and overruled the Army regs, but she still hasn’t seen her daughter’s things and the Army is still fighting the decision because, of course, regs are infinitely more important than the fact that Keisha was known to have hated the man who abandoned her and to adore her mother.

So, US Army WTP is going on?

UPDATE:

I spoke with Diana this morning. There is apparently still no official cause of death, but Maryland State Congressman Chris Van Holland (D) stepped in and ensured that Diana received Keisha’s personal effects. The last of them arrived this week. She will also apparently be receiving all of the back years’ child support with interest and penalties. Given that her ex has been making approximately $200k/year, it’s a shame she wasn’t able to re-negotiate the child support amount, but she’s happy to be getting anything. Not, of course, that it will make up for the loss of her daughter.