Thursday, October 20, 2005


Rosita Vai won NZ Idol despite Sir Howard Morrison telling her she was too fat. That doesn't really surprise me; the whole incident could have been deliberately been planned to get her sympathy (I might have voted for her as a gesture, if I knew how).

But I wanted to unpack this incident a little bit, because it really does reveal the class and race issues behind the current obsession with fat.

This is from the Sunday Star Times:

Sir Howard said the NZ Idol episode on TV last weekend which showed Vai feasting with her family was a perfect example of the problem Polynesian and Maori people faced with obesity.

"She said herself her favourite food is corned beef and rice. She doesn't have the right image at the moment but if she is a NZ Idol, she could be in a position to advocate for all of us brown people who eat too much accelerating health issues such as diabetes."

Fat (particularly as measured in a BMI, which is all Howard Morrison could know), is not a particularly good indicator of mortality or health (whehter or not it is an indicator at all depends on what you control for). Poverty is a much better indicator of mortality and health.

Treating obesity as the cause of the health problems facing Maori and Pacific Islanders enables the actual culprit off the hook. It's not eating too much, but earning too little which causes the health problems Howard Morrison is talking about.

There's something very moral panic-y about that description of her eating with her family. Food has obviously become the thing that we can be shocked about poor people consuming, have alcohol and ciagerettes become passe?

I am shocked, shocked that her favourite food is Corned Beef and Rice. That's obviously a sign that someone's diet is a disaster and they're quickly going to die of something. Everyone's favourite food should be beansprouts & wholemeal, to set a good example to the children.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:15 pm

    It was really easy to vote for her. Once because I wanted her to win, and the second time when I heard her sing her final song. - John

    PS No one reads this yet right?