Is Regina Benjamin Too Fat?

ReginaBenjamin.jpgI’m trying very hard to give a good chicken butt who the Surgeon General is, though it may wind up being a futile battle. Yes, the SG is technically in charge of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and has some vaguely defined duties in the event of a health emergency, and they can put warning labels on your smoke and your booze. But they never really seem to do very much.

Still the office exists, and as with any good governmental function, it needs to be filled, I suppose. So now Regina Benjamin has been nominated for the post and people are asking if she’s too fat.

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Obama’s pick for the next surgeon general, was hailed as a MacArthur Grant genius who had championed the poor at a medical clinic she set up in Katrina-ravaged Alabama.

But the full-figured African-American nominee is also under fire for being overweight in a nation where 34 percent of all Americans aged 20 and over are obese.

Dr. Benjamin appears to be what my wife often refers to as “a juicy girl.” (Sorry, I don’t actually know the origins of the phrase off hand.) She does not, however, appear to be “morbidly obese,” though I have no idea where we draw the lines on that anymore. Perhaps we could just say she’s “big boned.”

Dear America. Please go worry about something important, rather than whether or not the new Surgeon General looks hawt in a bikini. Trust me, there’s lots of things going on in Washington right now which are worthy of a full blown panic. This isn’t going to impact your life. The only former Surgeon General I can name off the top of my head is C. Everet Coop, and that’s only because he does those Life Alert advertisements now. Leave the woman alone.

  

20 Comments

  1. C. Everet Coop was great. He used to pissoff the President.

  2. C. Everet Coop was “big boned” too…

  3. Yes, T-Steel, but men are allowed to be a bit “big-boned” in our society, while women — particularly women of color — are not.

    “rather than whether or not the new Surgeon General looks hawt in a bikini”

    It's all this, Jazz, 100%. It might be disguised as concern for “health”, but really, it's just another way to shame women who don't live up to our societal beauty standards.

  4. Hey, if I have to work to maintain the body of a Greek god, she should shape up too.

  5. Jazz had no basis to turn the ABC quote into a cosmetic/sexual thing. The original quote went to.. if the preacher doesn't practice what they preach (diet and exercise to maintain BM under 25 or so), how really good is the preacher at understanding the subject (health).

    You guys want to cut health care costs in America? Cut out the overweight people until they work themselves back into shape. I guarantee a permanent decline in annual health care costs.

    No excuse……..if I do it, so can everyone else.

  6. Please go worry about something important, rather than whether or not the new Surgeon General looks hawt in a bikini.

    This has nothing to do with looking good in a bikini. If you listened to Benjamin's speech when she was sworn in she's had several family members who died young with diabetes, heart disease, etc. Benjamin is not someone who should be overweight, and she is not taking the advice she would give her own patients. In addition to that she is touted as a doctor highly committed to preventive medicine, of which weight control is an important element.

    Does this make her a bad candidate – of course not, her qualifications seem very good. But on this aspect she is open to some criticism.

  7. I'm a big stickler for preventative medicine aka eating well and exercising. I gained 125 pounds at one point in my life and have lost it all (plus a little more). So I can't lie that when I saw Dr. Benjamin, it crossed my mind: she isn't practicing what she preaches. That being said, the aforementioned C. Everett Koop didn't either.

    So yes, I believe the Surgeon General should set a health standard (I though Dr. Sanjay Gupta wasn't a bad choice, he's a board certified neurosurgeon to boot). And with the current health care debate, I feel the Surgeon General's role will be more visible.

  8. Again, a man with her exact BMI would be getting no criticism on his weight. We have become obsessed with weight, as a culture, and it's not making things better, it's making them worse. It's obvious that people don't even know what is or is not a healthy weight. Benjamin does not look like she has to go to special stores to buy clothing. She looks like a normal middle-aged woman.

    We're so unaccustomed to seeing women in the public sphere that just look like women that when one comes along, everyone cries “fat!”.

    In fact, her weight may be an actual advantage when it comes to curbing the obesity problems in this country. The overweight people I know refuse to go to the gym because it's full of skinny people that look at them like they're gross or subhuman. Thin people feel like they can judge fat people, make snide remarks *to their face*, assume they cannot do their jobs correctly (ahem, see this thread), and can in some way feel superior to their big-boned brethren. If a group of people regularly treat you like you're less-than and disgusting, what are the chances you'll take their advice?

  9. I actually saw someone comment on the ABC site that when teenagers look at her, they're not going to listen, because she's carrying extra weight. News flash, morons – teenagers do not, have not ever, and never will listen to the surgeon general. Really.

    I remember C. Everett Coop because of the beard, and that's it. Did he do something with cigarette pack warnings?

  10. DaGoat, “Benjamin is not someone who should be overweight, and she is not taking the advice she would give her own patients.”

    To make such a comment I would presume you know Benjamin personally as well as her genetics, her exercise regime, eating habits, etc.

    She may be following an exercise program and eating healthfully…. but due to her genetics it may be next to impossible for her to have a trimmer figure. If she did eat like many Americans she may be twice as big as she is now…. Of course I don't personally know her. Just making the point that she may practice what she preaches and is still on the large side due to genetics.

  11. tryaches, “I actually saw someone comment on the ABC site that when teenagers look at her, they're not going to listen, because she's carrying extra weight.”

    Well, I remember when I was a teenager I didn't care what “old” people looked like or how much weight they had. They were “old” after all and I didn't judge the intellect of old people based on what they looked like. I had some overweight teachers and some thin teachers. I knew I had to listen to them, and that they were smart, regardless of what they looked like. I doubt that teenagers care what an “old” person looks like. Especially if teenagers have overweight parents and see other “older” people in their daily lives who are overweight.

    It would be different if teenagers were surrounded by bird-thin models and Benjamin was one of the few “overweight” people they saw…..

    BTW: I know you only made the observation, and made a different point. I only used your quote of someone else to get across the fact that we're surrounded by overweight people in everyday life, many of whom we respect. Even teenagers. Though I don't think teenagers take their overweight peers as seriously as they should, and they poke fun at them. But those attitudes don't carry over to adults, for the most part anyway.

  12. My point was that teenagers couldn't give a damn what the surgeon general says, perhaps, in fact because that's an “old person”.

    No, teens are not kind to overweight peers, but hey, aren't half the teens in this country overweight, now? I'd think that would cut down on the teasing… not at all, yeah, zero percent.

  13. He may have done warnings on packs of smokes, but he definitely does those life alert ads. Keeps his hand in the game and a few bucks coming in I guess.

  14. OMG!!

    Complaining about this woman's weight is what conservatism has come to!!

    Role models indeed.

  15. Well I'm not complaining. The good doctor has a helluva resume. So she gets my vote. And as you mentioned StockBoySF, genes play a role in everything.

  16. I agree with T-Steels last comment. I do think though, that it would be a great added plus if she decided to use her post as a bully pulpit, and publicly discuss her own efforts to deal with weight, fitness, and her apparent genetic health risks. I don't think it should be required (just as, for instance, I might still choose a personal physician who didn't practice what he/she preached, though I'd prefer they did)- it would just be an added bonus if she decided to bring that to the forefront since it is so obviously a problem in the health of US citizens.

  17. CStanley: “I do think though, that it would be a great added plus if she decided to use her post as a bully pulpit, and publicly discuss her own efforts to deal with weight, fitness, and her apparent genetic health risks.”

    Great point! I couldn't agree more.

  18. “but due to her genetics it may be next to impossible for her to have a trimmer figure.”

    give me a break. for god's sake – its no sin to be fat, but assign responsibility where it belongs – on the eater. If you can't practice what you preach, you shouldn't be surgeon general. there are plenty of other qualified candidates who are successful at taking care of themselves.

  19. Dr. Benjamin is beloved by her food-as-payment patients she good-humoredly credits for her extra weight. The New York Times dubbed this renowned and respected doctor an “angel in a white coat.” And among her many distinguishing honors, commendations have been bestowed upon her in the name of the pope and Mother Theresa. As a devout Catholic, Regina Benjamin might be better suited for sainthood than Surgeon General. In the midst of one of the greatest public health challenges our nation has faced, a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do doc is unfit to serve.

  20. As they say, fat is the new black. You get to air your bigoted views with a minimum of public outrage.

    And the douchebag that Fox trotted out as their health & fitness expert is a perfect example

    And the commercials he filmed for his gym….classy

    link to douchebag commercials

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