“What’s one of the five websites you visit everyday and why?”
I think I may have heard that this question was best to ask on a blind date or in a beauty pageant; but I think it’s a good one, and it can reveal a lot about a person. For example, everyday, my boyfriend visits The Hunger Site, my brother works on his nonprofit’s site, The Acoustic Project, and my grandma, who lives alone and far away, socializes daily on facebook. As for me, my passions seem to lie not in providing free food or musical education to children, nor reconnecting with my long-lost friends and family, but to reading snarky remarks on local politics via The Nashville Scene’s “catch-all” blog, Pith in the Wind.
Among my favorite Pithers is Betsy Phillips, the only woman who posts regularly. Betsy’s perspective is very often witty, unique, and on point, like when she asked “Where are all the women writers?” just last week, which is partially the reason I decided to finally start this blog. She points out (rightly) that women often feel that they have to be twice as good as men to be taken seriously – “We’re waiting around for someone to tell us what to do so that we can excel at it, instead of knocking on every door until someone lets us in.” I made a similar argument last fall when someone asked me why more women aren’t involved in the Occupy movement – women generally just aren’t as willing to risk falling on their face and looking foolish in front of friends and family. Among my friends, it seems to hold true; my male friends take risks with their futures and feelings, like moving to China or posting their original songs online, and my female friends, by and large, use metrics such as how long they’ve been in their relationship or how recently they’ve received a promotion to measure success.
This lack of women putting their thoughts, insecurities, and successes out there on the interweb has been pretty noticeable to me lately. I’m running a few races in the upcoming months and find my favorite way to get excited about a race is reading about someone else’s experience, particularly a relatable someone. Reading re-caps written by professional runners is fun to a point, but my favorite ones are written by “run-for-fun” women in their 20’s.
So there are my two big inspirations for wanting to begin a blog – Betsy Phillips and lack of running-focused health blogs by non-health professionals. My reasoning for wanting to start a blog today is actually a fusion of the two.
Yesterday, while at a rally on Capitol Hill, I met and spoke with some people who were there as part of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce’s advocacy team. These people push for policies like getting the fines increased in school zones to make it safe for kids to walk to school, protecting mothers breastfeeding in public, and putting a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
In short, I think these people are fantastic. And if my love for health advocates weren’t already sappy enough, did I mentioned they were costumed?
And so yesterday, when I opened Pith’s page and saw Betsy’s name at the top, I was surprised at her reaction to TOT – it was mostly unfocused rhetoric; a harsh argument searching for a cause. Her main problem with them seemed to be that they were singling out fat people instead of focusing on overall health. To me, it seemed a touch defensive, and though I can understand, (believe me, Betsy – what girl who grew up playing with anatomically impossible Barbies doesn’t worry about her weight?) I really believe these people are doing a lot of good. People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but taking care of the one body you get in this life has to be a bigger priority for our state than it is now. Tennessee is the fourth fattest state and forty-fourth ranked by median household income (source: businessinsider.com, wikipedia). For an average Tennessean, being obese not only significantly increases the risks of hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and basically everything that you don’t want, but while you pile on the health problems, you also pile on the majority of the tax burden through exploitive, regressive taxation and your state healthcare services are first on the budget chopping block.
Add on the fact that the federal department of agriculture announced this week that it’s purchasing 7 million more pounds of pink slime (cow connective tissue, intestine, other mix-and-match parts, topped off with ammonium hydroxide and all smushed into regular beef to fill out your kid’s burger) for school lunches, and that advocate in the superman costume is looking pretty heroic.
Pith in the Wind’s coverage of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce (or TOT – which, we were reminded, when combined with “tater” is NOT healthy – so there!) was unfair and failed to recognize the desperate need for preventative healthcare in Tennessee and the entire United States. But out of this disappointment came thebodyandthebrain – so hello! It’s nice to be out here!