Many years ago, there was a bookmaker and sports commentator named Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder. In January, 1988, he was fired by CBS Sports for making an observation about black athletes’ physical advantages. The remark drew attention to the fact that there is a genetic trait that is visible in some black football players because of the tight uniform. It is a long muscle connection between the back of the thighs and the lower back and provides a certain degree of advantage when running. It’s something you can actually see in some black football players. The remark was deemed racist and Jimmy was fired.
With all due respect, there are genetic traits in all of us that relate to our ancestors – whether it’s the color of our hair or the shape of our bodies. It’s just part of the genetic crap shoot. In all the conversations and debates about the late Karen Carpenter’s anorexia, one factor kept being overlooked. Her genes made her very bottom heavy. It was like she had two bodies spliced together – the top half was a size 1 and the bottom half was a size 16. I have never doubted that trying to cope with that imbalance was responsible in part for her obsession with dieting that morphed into anorexia.
Michelle Obama also inherited a tendency to have a disproportionate body, though more localized than Carpenter’s. She’s got a big ass. Though it’s a genetic tendency that shows up more in black women than white, it’s not exclusive to black women. Jennifer Lopez has the same problem. There are just some women who are condemned to have broad beams. They can starve themselves, and the imbalance will still exist.
But, Michelle Obama is the First Lady, and in the tradition of First Ladies, at least since Jackie Kennedy, Mrs. Obama has chosen a personal campaign. It’s not planting wildflowers on highway medians, it’s the American diet. She wants to see our children eating more healthy foods. It is a campaign that hits at more than just the issue of the fat level at McDonalds, but also at the issues of poverty and culture. Poor people do tend to be fat, not because food stamps buy too much food, but because starches are cheaper than fresh vegetables and processed foods are easier for working poor mothers to throw together.
Well, Mrs. Obama’s wide load is a target of insults from the right. Rush Limbaugh, who is the last person on earth who should criticize someone else’s size, loves to attack Mrs. Obama’s bottom, calling it a matter of enlightening the public to the absurdity of a woman with a large bottom advocating healthy eating. The right wing still rants about a single incident a couple of years ago when Mrs. Obama ordered ribs in a restaurant, though any diet expert can tell you that an occasional indulgence keeps people on their diets. Limbaugh’s latest was a fake introduction of the First Lady – “here at our microphone” – followed by the playing of a rap song praising black women’s big asses.
That’s Limbaugh, the man who should never, ever bounce up and down in time with his applause. That clip from his appearance at a Republican Party event was the best human representation of a bowl of jell-o in history. We can ignore Limbaugh.
But a member of the House of Representatives should have more respect for the First Lady. One of Wisconsin’s finest, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, was overheard in Reagan National Airport telling someone about an incident that took place at an Episcopal church auction three weeks ago. A woman came up to him at the action and was praising Mrs. Obama. He told the woman that Michelle “…lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.” He was supposedly talking to a staff member about requests for a comment about the incident, but he characterized the criticism as “liberal media bias” and “stands by his remarks.” This is another man who is pulling a “pot calling the kettle black” over body size. The man is a self-confessed Cheetos addict.
Rep. Sensenbrenner has issued an apology, sort of. He doesn’t approve of the First Lady’s healthy food initiative. He probably prefers First Lady’s to stick to wildflower planting and redecorating the White House and telling people to “just say no” to drugs. God forbid a First Lady should take an interest in the welfare of our children in the fattest nation on earth. God forbid that a First Lady should address the explosion in cases of diabetes and other obesity-related diseases, when they have been shown to be precipitated in childhood. Schools all over the country have cut out recess and cut back on phys ed because of budget cuts. Our kids can’t safely play out-of-doors in too many communities. Gone are the days when kids could start a game of stickball in the street and spend an hour running around the “bases.” Mrs. Obama’s initiative includes cheap ways for kids to get up off the couch, put down the game controller and move their bodies.
The First Lady’s initiative is not dissimilar to one started years ago by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s okay for a Republican governor to do this, but not a Democratic First Lady. That’s been the bitch ever since Barack Obama was elected. No matter what he or his family do, it will be wrong in the eyes of Republicans. I’m still waiting for a single one of these bigots to cite just one thing the President has done that is Marxist, socialist, communist or fascist. The last time we had a President who was blindly hated this much, Tim McVeigh blew up the Murrah building. The scary part is, it doesn’t matter how many people die, the right wing will not stop spreading the hate.