Fat Justice

Okay, maybe not fat so much as identifiably not exceptionally thin, but President Obama today announced his intention to nominate the relatively average sized Sonia Sotomayor to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. You may recall a couple weeks ago Judge Sotomayor, widely rumored to be up for the nomination, was smeared on the Letters page at Salon for being to fat for consideration. The notion being that nominating a fat person is a waste of a nomination since fatties are just going to die on you.

The writer was actually providing a glimpse into a short-hand attack on Sotomayor. Not content to just call her fat, the writer also calls her diabetic. I suspect her diabetes status will get brought up a lot in the coming weeks as a proxy for her weight. It'll be a useful short-hand given the way diabetes is regarded as a moral failure by much of our society. It will be used to conjure up not just the image of a fat woman, but as a reminder of Sotomayor's lower-class upbringing. Her story is genuinely inspiring, but we've already seen efforts to paint her as a stereotype. Smears are out that she isn't really very bright, even though she was a top student at Princeton and Yale Law at a time Latinos from the Bronx weren't even treated equally, much less the imagined preferential treatment that is a bogeyman for white conservative males. She gets accidentally labeled a "Latina single mother" in spite of her not having any children, a none-to-subtle effort to talk in code linking to other frequent cultural targets of the Right. Her being diabetic is already being trotted out for much the same reason. Its meant to feed into a stereotype.

The ironic thing is, she has Type I Diabetes. Which not only is nor correlated with being fat, is actually correlated with being thin. Not that you'll ever hear it called that way. If something is correlated to fat, then fat causes it. If something is correlated to thinness, then its just not correlated to being fat. Not that it should matter, mind you. What we're seeing here is an effort to concern troll about diabetes as a proxy for criticizing her for her not quite thin body. Its an effort to trade of social judgment of fat as a moral failing to make a political hit.