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July 22, 2009

That's Surgeon General, not Surgeon Spokesmodel

Koop reagan picture Did anyone ever suggest that C. Everett Koop was too portly to be Surgeon General?

Obama's nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, is a distinguished physician and a noted humanitarian. But she's not skinny. Random people on the internet who have never met her guess that she's a size 18. 

It's hard to imagine a more qualified Surgeon General. She has been honored with a MacArthur "Genius" grant, a Nelson Mandela Award, a Kellogg Fellowship and a Rockefeller Next Generation Leader Award. She's an expert on hot topics like rural health and telemedicine.

Benjamin was the first black woman and the first person under 40 to lead the American Medical Association. She earned an MBA on the side. She treated destitute evacuees after Hurricane Katrina and founded her own rural health clinic that serves as a model for similar facilities nationwide. She did missionary work in Honduras. She's active in the United Way, the Girl Guides the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, and other community groups. She's served select committees and blue ribbon commissions too numerous to name. In her spare time, she enjoys adventure tourism.

Healthy is as healthy does. Dr. Benjamin obviously has a lot of energy. If she's unhealthy, I want to know her secret.

Regina BenjaminBut sanctimonious twerps in the news say it would "send the wrong message" to have a Surgeon General who looks like Benjamin (read: female, black, and curvy). That's really all they're going on. Benjamin's critics have no idea whether she's healthy or what her lifestyle is like.

At first these attacks were confined to fringe outlets like Fox News, but now ostensibly serious publications are concern trolling Dr. Benjamin's BMI. The Washington Post's health blog is actually running a poll asking whether Benjamin's physique should disqualify her outright. The question mirrors the media criticism. Benjamin's fiercest detractors aren't just saying that her weight is one demerit to set against her otherwise impressive resume. They're suggesting that it should bar her from the job.

Regina Benjamin is an incredibly accomplished woman who is being slandered as fat and lazy(?!) because she doesn't fit some bigot's stereotype of what good health looks like.

Benjamin isn't the only female Obama nominee to have her fitness for office questioned because of her weight. When Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court, people said she was too fat to serve. Did we hear that about Antonin Scalia?

If Benjamin's critics cared about "sending the right message" they wouldn't degrade her. In a society where eating disorders are rampant, these meanspirited attacks send the message that no matter how much they achieve, their worth is still contigent on looking a certain way.


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To me, the cultural subtext here is race as much as gender, if not more.

She's fat? Compared to who, Ann Coulter?

I wouldn't have worn a blouse that color though.

Jimmy Dean pancake sausage and baconaisse-gobbling McBush supporters are probably behind this. Am I wrong?

Obesity of the brain - colloquially referred to as "lard brains" - is a more troublesome problem in the US. Thankfully, government has moved away from hiring cheese heads for important posts.

Also, as most Americans are carrying unhealthy fat - and when it's pointed out they have conniptions - maybe they should be thankful she's a little portly.

I'm sick of taking on the republicans' arguments like this on their merits. The principles are transient and will be abandoned as soon as they don't suit the immediate goal because they are fully subservient to the goal, which in this case is to bog down the Obama administration.

Remember the 'up or down vote' mantra they howled while they were in the majority? Well, they don't.

To the degree that Benjamin's weight is significant as a medical issue rather than evidence of some moral failing, let's assume for a moment that Benjamin's critics are correct in taking her weight as evidence of disease. Why would that affect her qualifications for serving as surgeon general? The function of doctors is not to be healthy, but to care for those who are not healthy. Would appointing a surgeon general who was a diabetic, or had a heart murmur, or suffered from myopia "send the wrong message"?

Oh wow, I had already thought this was a stupid and offensive line of criticism, but this post is the first time I've seen a photo of the nominee in question...uh, fat? Are we looking at the same picture?

What figg said, the only reasonable reaction to this is to tell the GOP to go fuck themselves.

I'm amazed the best they could come up with is her weight. The straws have been grasped apparently.

Which " Republicans " have been criticizing her for her weight?

The only comments I've seen have been on CNN, and not from Republicans either.

I hadn't seen the Cavuto comments.

This is not a plot by the evil Republicans. Its catty comments by the health Nazis who are not all Republican by any means.

It may be that "a doctor with prominent breasts" presents an intimidating visage to certain citizens... ^..^

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.

I think fat is stigmatized in contemporary America because
we associate it with lower social levels. We see blacks as lower than whites and women than men, and women as fatter than men and blacks than whites, and so we see that fat bottoms belong at the bottom. Dr. Benjamin's ambitions to be Surgeon General bespeak as uppity a Negro as Prof. Gates's insolence to a white police sergeant inside his own home; she should aspire rather to give up the practice of medicine altogether and become a nurse's aide, emptying white Republicans' bedpans and not talking back to white Republican doctors. Then perhaps they would be willing to reward her with ribs and fried chicken, and not begrudge her that she doesn't sport a proper starved
angular look.


Oh come off it

-Fat- is stigmatized because it makes you unhealthy in many ways and often look like a slob, and not be able to move around well. Plus people think that fat people have no self control which often is true but not always.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I don't think that she's fat by the way. She looks healthy, just fine. Fox ( and CNN!! )need to find something else to worry about.

Here weight is not the issue, it's her embellished career that hasn't beeen factually reported. She is not what some say she is. She drives a Lexus to work, jumps in an old pick up truck with a filming crew in tow to portray a rural doctor that makes house calls for free. She hasn't shown up for work as much as she says she has. She was never present after Hurricane Katrina, she was missing for months on end. This is all a bunch of political nonsense propping her up as an Angel in a white coat. I am not a republican nor a democrat, just a unbiased viewer that sees this for what it is. I live in Mobile and a lot of the people in the Bayou La Batre area say she is not what she is being made out to be. Don't be fooled by the Spin Doctors of Obama's Administration.

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