“do your research” – a riesling-fuelled rage against an xojane.com article

Let me preface this piece by saying that I’ve had quite a bit of wine, so if I get shouty (well, internet-shouty), forgive me. But this… this really ground my gears.

So, most of the time my 365 piece posts are poetry or prose, and I occasionally sprinkle in health or book related posts, but rarely count them towards my 365 total. Today I make an exception, because I’ve had this post simmering inside me ever since I read this particular article on xojane.com this morning.

If You Are Fat, New Zealand Doesn’t Want You.

So, I normally like a fair amount of stuff on xojane. The heavier stuff gets a bit preachy for me sometimes (I have to confess, the phrase ‘check your privilege’ sets my blood boiling, it’s just so… self-assured and indignant) – I mean, I agree with things in essence, but sometimes it’s all a bit heavy-handed. Maybe I’m speaking from my place of this privilege, which is further enhanced by living in the veritable utopia (sarcasm. Though that being said, check out some ‘livability’ lists sometime) that is NZ, as opposed to certain other countries. But overall, there are sufficient articles of moderate interest to me that I keep going back. This particular author, Rebecca, actually is one who I quite like, from time to time.

Not so much after this post.

Let’s go through the issues as they arise. I’m going to take a relative high-ground approach and not point the finger at other countries while I write this. I should also point out that I am staunchly not supportive of the current government (National is the party in power, John Key is the wet rag of a leader) – but I acknowledge that our lot is a hell of a lot better than that which many countries have. I also should point out that I am no skinny minnie. I’m probably on the heavier side of ‘average’, whatever that means – thanks in part to steroids, thanks in part to liking food and not liking running. I wear a size 12-16 (which is, according to an online convertor, US size 10-14, though I do still fit (kinda) a size 6 pair of pants I bought in Canada. But I digress). I’m not ‘fat’, necessarily, but I’m certainly overweight, and I struggle with weight and food daily.

But let’s get going.

Just when you thought America had cornered the market on outrageously bad relationships with its immigrant population (read: a certain proposed fence), New Zealand shows up and raises/lowers the bar.

No place is an open borders paradise that some wish for. Lord knows that I’d like a little more flexibility in the border concerns of some countries that I harbor longings to live in. But to claim that we might rank ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to immigrants? Girl, no.
She goes on to make some grand sweeping statements (which, granted, are somewhat reflective of the NBC article she linked to, but seriously, if you’re going to make hugely accusing statements about a whole country, do your research, and maybe check out a news source from that actual country?) with regard to overweight people being kicked out of New Zealand. Based around one South African immigrant’s experience.

Oh you wacky kiwis. I’d be more surprised, but after all, this is the land where hobbits come from.

 

Man. I didn’t realise how riled up this article was going to make me – until I got to this line. We’re ‘wacky’, huh? Because of one case that has hit the media, and because a film franchise was filmed here?* As one xojane commenter posted, by the same token, one could say that the USA is the land where Jabba the Hutt comes from. Don’t bloody paint us with one brush (your other brushes, the ‘Flight of the Conchords’, the ‘LOL Sheep’ and the ‘Rugby!’ ones are also unacceptable).

The immigration authorities argue that Albert’s size violates an “accepted level of health.” Never mind that obesity isn’t one of the illnesses currently listed as being prohibitive by immigration in a nation that offers free health care.

Emphasis is my own. You do realise that free healthcare is part of the issue here, right? Free healthcare isn’t some magical thing that our ancestors found here. It’s something that is funded by tax dollars, and, frequently, those tax dollars are not enough to keep the machine moving as it should. Don’t get me wrong. I feel for this guy, it’s an awful situation, and I admire that he’s working to lose weight and therefore get healthier (which – yes, FA movement, I know isn’t synonymous with being slender. I’m (somewhat) healthier than I was when I was 10kg lighter (pre-prednisone… thanks, UC) – but in his case, excess weight is aggravating an injury which, should it require further surgery or treatment, could run up a pretty little bill).

FREE HEALTHCARE IS NOT FREE. There, I said it. As much as I revel in ‘not paying’ for my numerous healthcare expeditions, a chunk of my salary every week is helping fund my ‘$5’ medicines, my ‘free’ colonoscopies. We complained when the prescription cost went from $3 to $5 (which, again, I acknowledge can be a serious issue for some people. That extra $2 can be a big difference to some people, and it could therefore be the difference between forking out – so to speak – for your essential medicine, or putting it off for a week or two and risking whatever consequences may arise. But compared to a lot of the world, we are still lucky.) When it comes to the healthcare system, some people are healthy – and lucky. Their tax dollars help fund the system, even if they don’t place as much of a burden on it as others.

I am a burden, of sorts, on the healthcare system – the medicine I’ve been on (until recently) was not cheap. I had special dispensation from the hospital to be on it – usually, patients with left-sided colitis don’t qualify for infliximab, but I did. I’ve also been paying tax ever since I started coaching gymnastics as a fourteen year old. I was born here, my family has been here for 160+ years (that’s a long time, in NZ European terms, FYI). I have ‘earned’ as it were, the right to my country’s benefits. It’s not necessarily fair – I just happen to have been born here – but it’s the way that it is. I would never expect to be automatically allowed to integrate into another country, because I have health issues that would ‘taint’ my application. This has actually factored heavily into my future plans, and will, most likely affect the plans of me and my boyfriend when we go overseas for him to do his PhD. 

If I were a citizen of New Zealand, I’d have to start seriously boning up on my swimming classes, because if this is a real step the authorities are taking to save costs, could my own fat ass be on the line, citizen or no?

Dude. What?

No.

New Zealand isn’t exactly a skinny country. We too, are among the ‘fattest countries’ in the world – 3rd, I believe, at least count. This statement just reeks of clickbait argument-mongering. For the love of god, nobody said we were kicking out fat people. Nobody except ill-informed media – once again pushing me in the direction of journalism instead of fiction writing because respectable news and feature writing is taking even more of a nosedive than ever.

It’s beyond shitty to me that if the government of New Zealand was going to pick a front to cover up their poor treatment of their immigrant populations

Look, sunshine, like I said, I hate John Key with the fire of a thousand suns. But ‘their poor treatment of their immigrant populations’? Pull the other one. Yes, there are things that the country – particularly our current governmental overloads (stay tuned for my GCSB bill related ‘A Whole New World’ parody in the next few days) could be doing better. I certainly don’t deny that. But to use this one South African immigrant as representation for some warped perception of how our immigrant population is treated is preposterous.

…they had to go after the fat folks in their country. It’s not that far off from going after the kid whose nose is always running on the playground in elementary school.

Look, I’m somewhat sick of pointing this out, now, but one person does not equate ‘fat folks’. The article then devolves into five reasons that the author deems more appropriate than fatness for kicking people out of a country. And still not getting the goddamn point. One case does not imply a trend. This is an unfortunate situation for this couple, but it is not in any way representative of the experience of the migrant population as a whole.

So, ‘New Zealand doesn’t want you’? No. A case worker, evaluating this particular case, has concluded that a man’s obesity is still exacerbating his condition and it is therefore not feasible to have him stay, based on the likely medical costs that may unfold. This is not necessarily the correct conclusion for the case worker to draw. It’s not a nice, thing, regardless of outcome. Nobody wants to make a new home somewhere, and be told to go back to where you came from. In this case, yes, it had something to do with weight. But that was not the only element at play – and this does not represent every fat person – not every fat immigrant, certainly not every fat Kiwi.

Don’t tell me that my country’s some hobbit-ridden backwater. I’ll fight back. And my feet sure as fuck aren’t hairy.

Here endeth the rant.

*for the record, I adore Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but the association is getting old.

2 thoughts on ““do your research” – a riesling-fuelled rage against an xojane.com article

  1. I like the irony of her article when sat side by side with the heavy-handed articles xojane likes to feature from time to time and the morals they preach. Morals breached by her article “do your research” “don’t make assumptions” “don’t lump everyone together” e.t.c e.t.c

    1. Word. It does seems to be full of conflicting standards and whatnot… at least places like Jezebel are fairly exclusively about the ‘issue’ type topics (sort of), where xo’s combo of ‘issues’, ‘humour’ and other shenanigans seems a bit problematic at times, not to mention the editing/vetting process accorded to regular writers leaves much to be desired.

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