So the First Lady was at Camden Yards, in partnership with Major League Baseball, to fight childhood obesity. Who thought that one up?
There are controversies: about whether obesity per se should be the focus, or health and healthy living; about how much the war on obesity is really a war on the obese, reflecting all kinds of cultural bias, prejudice, and oppressions; about how - once there is consensus on what the problems and solutions actually are - to help children in particular without destroying their joy in their own bodies, stigmatizing them, or promoting eating disorders.
I can't think of a worse place than the ballpark to act this out.
We go to baseball games to relax, to feel camaraderie and national pride and a sense of belonging, to forget our cares and channel them into root root rooting. We are all the same tribe - or at most, two tribes - and it's all usually fun and friendly and spirit building.
If you are a fat kid, you can no longer count on that. You have total strangers staring at you (maybe laughing at you?) while the First Lady speaks. And you can't eat. Because there aren't that many "healthy" foods at the ballpark. Maybe we should have national lists of "good" and "bad" foods and public places can't serve any "bad" ones. Let's think about that one. Or maybe we should have times and places where exactly what we eat doesn't matter, as long as we are trying to eat healthy most of the time and trying to be healthy all of the time. But for now, it's a moot point, because there aren't a lot of nice, healthy foods at the ballpark
And here's the hypocrisy of it all, and the finger pointing at our enduring national tolerance for weight stigma: nobody has ever gone to a baseball game and been told by a famous person to stop drinking so much or gambling or wearing that outrageous hairstyle. We don't even get mild warnings about wearing enough sunscreen or going to the ballgame instead of church on Sunday. You can talk on your cell phone. You just don't get "yelled at" at a baseball game.
So the fat kids sit frozen though the rest of the game, arms locked at sides, eyes straight ahead but not seeing, shamed, embarrassed and mortified. Nope, they don't belong at a baseball game any more.
Is this really what Major League Baseball wants for the sport that is often said in the same sentence with motherhood and apple pie? How about the Orioles? Do they need more reasons for people to stay home? Great idea.
Lizbeth Binks Carney, Towson