The Federalist has come up with a new scapegoat for the COVID pandemic: Lizzo.
Yes, that Lizzo, the multitalented singer, dancer and flautist who also happens to be an unapologetically fat person who regularly speaks out against anti-fat bigotry.
Lizzo’s latest crime, as the Federalist sees it? Last Sunday she posted a video of herself dancing-while-fat, declaring that she — famous for losing something like 50 pounds back in 2020 — had gained some weight over the holidays, like a lot of us. But instead of apologizing for this crime against humanity, she celebrated herself. “I gained weight,” she posted. “I look TF GOODT.”
The Federalist’s improbably named fat people correspondent Tristan Justice suggested that such an unphobic reaction to her own fatness could kill people. in an article with the clickbaity title “Lizzo Celebrates Weight Gain As COVID Kills Obese People,” Justice declared that the singer’s “promotion of obesity … is tragic for the millions she serves.”
The millions she … serves? Is she a cultural McDoanld’s?
Justice pointed out that obesity can exacerbate COVID — and it can.
The CDC [has] released data … showing nearly 80 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or obese.
But given that 74 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, according to the CDC’s own data — which Justice himself cites — this 80 percent figure is a little less alarming than he clearly intended it to be.
But he was off and running.
Cultural currents glorifying obesity under the guise of body positivity have played no small part in the American acceleration of weight gain.
Justice, always quick to mention a study when it seems to back up one of his points, offered zero evidence that the body positivity movement has contributed to America’s collective weight gain in recent years.
Warming to his task, Justice complained that
Cultural icons have normalized the deadly disease that disproportionately impacts African-Americans and the working class, with Lizzo serving as the movement’s mascot. According to the CDC, non-Hispan ic black adults “had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity” with 50 percent, or half, considered medically obese.
Lizzo might feel good. Her fans might even claim the same. But on screen is a pop star at severely higher risk of premature death than she would be at a healthy weight. She won’t feel good if she’s dead by 50, and neither will her fans.
Well, to be fair, she won’t feel anything at all if she’s dead.
Justice wasn’t the only right-wing media hack taking Lizzo to task for her body positivity; other right-wing rags, like the Gateway Pundit and Infowars, alto took potshots at the singer. But Justice’s post was the nastiest, and the most ironic, of the bunch, because the Federalist has itself been altogether shitty about the pandemic, publishing endless articles “skeptical” about vaccines and celebrating celebrity figures spreading misinformation about COVID. Hell, the Federalist once ran a post suggesting that dying of COVID was actually sort of good.
The Federalist’s tendentious coverage of COVID has almost certainly made the pandemic just a little bit worse. If anyone in this “debate” is killing people, it’s not Lizzo but the Federalist itself.
But in some ways Lizzo got off easily. In a mpre recent Federalist post targeting Self magazine for running a package of stories making clear that one can in fact be both fit and fat, simultaneously, Justice described celebrity yoga teacher and body positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley as a “visibly obese anti-health activist.”
Later in that post, Justice bravely called for people to pick on fat people even more than they already do.
If a crusade against obesity is recognized as “fat-phobic,” then maybe a nation where only a minority of the population is at a healthy weight could use a little more fat-phobia.
As Justice — the Federalist’s go-to guy for yelling at fat people — no doubt knows, this is complete bullshit. Fat people know they’re fat, and they know that fatness can have adverse health effects. Making them feel worse about themselves by pestering them about their weight at the gym or in the virtual pages of the Federalist isn’t going to cause anyone to lose weight, In fact, studies suggest the opposite: castigating people about their fatness is actually more likely to cause them to gain weight.
Justice, who fancies himself as something of an expert on obesity, is certainly aware of this. But he evidently doesn’t care. I can only conclude that he is what he accuses Jessamyn Stanley of being: an “anti-health activist.”
In the age of COVID, we already have way too many of these.
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