Blogging for this class has aroused me to reflect on the many stories that I have often taken for granted. It has been a rewarding reminder that we are surrounded by stories everyday—lived and told. In most cases, the readings will incite something inside me to contemplate and then write about. However, I feel lost this week. For the most part, I willingly admit my ignorance about “fat revolution.” This has since been added as yet another lens to understand the meanings we create in the world. However, this is not the first time I have read Bordo or health related literature that has been critical of the biomedical paradigm. Heck, I am critical of the biomedical paradigm. My views about health are more on point with Lorber and Moore regarding health as a social construction.
I think Le’ a Kent’s essay was a reconstruction of experience that centered upon narratives that can be empowering versus fragmenting. Although, creating a space for counter public discourse is not a remedy in itself. Mainstream culture must also address these issues. If not, these issues are perpetuated as inferior and identities still remain fragmented. In the end, is Bordo still right that these issues are symbolically communicated in a space where no one listens because the one reinforces the other? I also found the double-bind (p. 97) intriguing as we are always constrained yet urged to consume. I thought of this when I read Tisdale who wrote, “dieters are the perfect consumers” (1994, p. 28). Sweet irony.
I guess this is where I come to interrogate myself. Whenever we introduce knowledge/anecdotal claims, we are inevitably suppressing other claims and thereby creating possible moral risks in our society. So, what are we to do? After reading the responses to the blogs for this week, it reminded me of a study I am working on with a colleague about breastfeeding blogs. These blogs like the ones for this week introduced scientific evidence, individual experience, layers of cultural conceptions, and contextualized responses to situations. We were entertaining questions that surrounded risks, in particular moral risks that arose from discourse surrounding breastfeeding. These blogs resembled some of the ways meanings were constructed in the “fat acceptance” and “but don’t you realize that fat is unhealthy?” Claims end up becoming weaponry for one to blame one another rather than for understanding the meanings we construct together surrounding our health. I guess the question that I have is where do we draw the line? Can we talk about our health stories or what it means to be healthy without stigmatizing others?
For example, in “The Storied Nature of Health Legacies in the Familial Experience of Type 2 Diabetes” Manoogian, Harter, and Denham (2010) employ narrative theory to come to understand health meanings not as individualistic but as socially constructed in the families of those who reside in Appalachia. From this analysis, they came to understand how intergenerational health information shaped the ways in which family members viewed their own health. For instance, it was not uncommon for a family member to believe they would lose a limb to diabetes because one of their family members did. Issues, other than just identity, involved class and geographical location which created local knowledges.
I guess health in a way has an underlying prescriptive quality inherent within the topic and there is no breaking loose of the discursive chains that are embedded within this topic. We may look to different ways of understanding health through social construction but even that can engender moral risks. So, I will continue to remain content in my ambiguity.