Oh, hai. Long time no write. Been busy getting ready for surgery, having surgery, and now recovering from surgery. Down to one percocet a day, so I suppose I'm alright to get some coherent thoughts down on electronic paper. NOT PROMISING ANYTHING. Ahem.
And if you think I'm about to post up pictures of my boo boos, um I mean incisions, sorry but no. Don't think I didn't consider it, but my attention-whore tendencies only go so far. Let me just say, you can't even really see the one that's inside my bellybutton. Props to whatever ob/gyn gave me this super-deep innie forty-nine years ago, thereby making my gyn's cosmetic job easier in 2012!
No, the Boo Boos I actually am here to write about is the "Honey Boo Boo" family. If you just genuinely went "wut?", my hat is off to you. I too was blissfully unaware of this little piece of pop culture effluvia until, in my convalescence, I saw someone online jokingly*** say to a friend, "You're fat, but not Honey Boo Boo fat." Having sorta kinda vaguely heard that this was some sort of reality show but unclear on the details, I was prompted by this comment (and the boredom that comes from being more or less glued to one's couch for days) to explore further. Where did I go but that bastion of nasty snark that is the TWoP reality show forums? (I know, I know.)
There I found out that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a spinoff from Toddlers and Tiaras (which, the title is self-explanatory, no?) and follows a little girl from Georgia who participates in child pageants. The "joke" that the audience is supposed to be in on is that the little girl is chubby, not particularly pretty and not particularly talented, and thus unlikely to win even the low-rent competitions she participates in. Oh, not to mention that she has an enormously redneck/white trash family, with a dad in whose face there is never not a hunk of dip, a pregnant 17 year old sister who doesn't know what the word "abdomen" means when she goes for an ultrasound, and, most prominently, a morbidly obese, very loud, crass mom, June, for whom farting on camera is the height of hilarity. Here's an unflattering and then a relatively flattering shot of June, just so you know the size of the lady in question.
I read the first twenty or thirty pages of commentary on this show (shut up, I'm practically a shut-in, yo) and then decided I had to see for myself whether this shiz was as horrifying as all the pearl-clutching internet commenters claimed. So *I paid* $1.95 for two episodes on Amazon instant watch. If only I made money from writing, I coulda claimed that ::cough:: "research" ::cough:: as a business expense on my taxes. Sigh.
Well, I gotta tell you, I was not as horrified by these people as I went in there expecting to be. First of all, it was pretty obvious to me that, as we all know, reality television is "reality" television and a lot of the crassness, etc, was playing a role for the cameras. June, in particular, may be uneducated and white trash, but the woman isn't stupid. She appears to have a good amount of self-awareness and know exactly what she's doing. Hell, she was smart enough to get her kid a TV show. (We'll leave the morality of pimping your family life out for television dollars out of this. Poor people have done worse shit for money.) And I was charmed that this family seems to actually, you know, all like and care about each other. That's as rare on TV as it is in, y'know, real life. Little Alana, if not Shirley Temple II, is actually a very sweet kid when not being prompted to act obnoxious for the cameras.
With my opinion now unbiased, I went back to read more internet commentary on these people, and what struck me the most was the judgy judging and, yeah, pearl-clutching about their weight problems and purported eating habits. People were, apparently seriously, suggesting that June have her children removed from her for eating junk food. Other people, also in apparent sincerity, suggested that all their health/weight problems would be solved if they just used their backyard to grow a vegetable garden. The silliness and self-righteousness was amazing. First of all, as someone who has occasionally tried this "gardening" business, let me say that a.) if you have a non-green thumb, it ain't as easy as the green-thumbed among us might suggest and b.) every tomato I finally managed to harvest probably ended up costing me twice what I would have paid for it in the supermarket or even the farm stand. But secondly, what I think a lot of people who actually have relatively "healthy" eating habits don't realize is that if you've grown up on a diet of nothing but processed food not only do you not see anything wrong with eating that way, but you probably don't think unprocessed healthy food tastes good. It's not as simple as "give those people some salad and lean protein" and they'll be thin, it's "salad and lean protein is gonna taste like crap to them."
I myself, living in a decidedly non-klassy area, have frequently seen such relative horrors as young (and sometimes not-so-young) moms putting soda in baby bottles or sippy cups, feeding young toddlers Cheetos and donuts to keep them quiet, and carefully tearing takeout fried chicken into pieces a 9 month old can eat without choking. I don't think this means these women don't love their children. I don't think this means these women want their kids to be part of the OMG! obesity epidemic! or to get the di-a-bee-tus. I think these moms are feeding their kids what they themselves have always eaten, what tastes good to them, what they think of as normal food. And I'm willing to bet a whole shitload of them don't know how to cook anything that doesn't come out of a box.
It's not so simple as "food deserts" or "junk food is cheaper than healthy food" though those things play a part. It's not so simple as educating people about nutrition or even teaching them how to cook good, cheap things at home. It's that we have a whole couple generations of people who've never eaten anything but processed food and to whom that's all that tastes good. I don't know what the answer to this is, though I think exposing all children to *good tasting* fruit and vegetables and real cheese and yogurt and whole grain bread and decent non-battered meat in school, starting in preschool and up, would be a start. But no one wants to pay for decent food in the public schools, do they? That costs $$$.
I do know that shaming and pearl-clutching about those fat fat poor people and their horrible eating and parenting habits doesn't do bupkis.
***joke being that the person in question isn't fat at all and both people and everyone else knows it