To start, the reason I chose this particular episode is because obesity is accepted as a medical condition.
Now whether the obesity is a symptom of an underlying disease or if it is the beginning of other diseases, it matters not. What does matter is the fact that obesity can have crippling effects on a person’s health and needs to be treated to restore the individual’s health.
In this Episode, there were two women who were suffering from Obesity: Sara and Desiree and both had different illness narratives. From what the camera showed, Sara wasn’t suffering from the Obesity at all, she was suffering more from her boyfriend’s constant hounding her about her weight. Throughout the episode, she begins to lose weight and experiences life more fully which leads me to categorize her story as a restitution narrative. She recognized that her situation with her weight was transient and could change. The camera may not have shown Sara as suffering from obesity, but there are a slew of other symptoms and or disabilities that Desiree did show.
Desiree’s illness narrative was more so that of a quest narrative. Having lost a child due to complications arising from her morbid obesity, Desiree was deeply traumatized by the loss and was fearful of having another. In the end, Desiree ended up losing enough weight to be able to carry her second baby to full term, she experienced increased energy levels, increased strength and vitality and she came off as a more mentally disciplined individual.
There is definitely a stigma attached to individuals who are considered obese. The most extreme example that comes to mind is Dante’s inferno in which Dante Alighieri reserves a circle in hell for those who are glutinous and must wallow in their own waste. Few other circles in his Divine Comedy paint such drastic juxtaposition between crime and punishment as well as powerfully polarizing society against those who may be suffering from obesity. Desiree is a perfect example of this stigma: She couldn’t even take care of herself, she was lazy by nature, ate unhealthy foods (soda, barbecue when eating out, incessantly snacking, etc.) and could barely put her shoes on. She definitely fit the glutinous stigma. Sara on the other hand didn’t necessarily fit the stigma. Sara was seemed to come off as a hardworking individual for her NPO job, she had a lot more energy (although she was much smaller than Desiree), and she seemed a lot more mentally disciplined.
Medical Professionals take obesity very seriously. As previously stated, obesity can be a symptom of an underlying disease or it can perpetuate the beginning of a new illness or disease. No matter what part is played, medical professionals cannot overlook the influence that obesity has over and individual’s health. In this episode, the doctor had to refer Desiree out to a medical professional that specialized in “High risk pregnancies.”
Sara and Desiree both acknowledged that they had a health condition that either was or could turn into a life threatening situation. Both women sought out sources to assist them in their weight loss and restoration of health, but no one really gave them an excuse from their regular responsibilities.
The illness narratives in this episode seemed to really give these women a sense of empowerment. By discussing what either they or their loved ones felt was wrong with their situation, they came to realize just how big of an influence that obesity was having on their mind, body and social interactions, very similar to how Craig Mullins’ experience with male postpartum depression was. All three recognized their situations, decided to rectify it, found support from within their social circles and made the change happen
Karim, Taz. “Lecture 4.2 Illness Narratives.” ANP 204 Course Website. East Lansing, MI, 07/25/14. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-2/
“My Boyfriend Is Fed Up With My Weight.” True Life. MTV 7/07/14
Stone, Katherine. Depression In Men: a Dad’s Story of Male postpartum Depression.http://www.postpartumprogress.com/depression-in-men-a-dads-story-of-male-postpartum-depression