‘Mama Cass’ Elliot Died Almost 50 Years Ago, But Her Memory Is Still Obscured By Fatphobia

“[Elliot’s] official reason behind loss of life was labeled as ‘fatty myocardial degeneration because of weight problems’—however that might nonetheless be a surprising reason behind loss of life for such a younger girl and has largely been refuted,” Pandell tells me. “From the analysis I’ve finished and the medical doctors I spoke to, it appears the almost certainly reason behind loss of life was excessive weight-reduction plan together with long-term substance abuse.” Pandell believes that present-day fatphobia contributes to a continued lack of knowledge about how Elliot really died, partly as a result of “confronting the likelihood that Cass could have died because of excessive weight-reduction plan challenges our idealization of weight loss plan tradition.”

There’s a wealth of proof on the market about how unhealthy excessive weight-reduction plan may be, to not point out ineffective in the long run, with 97% of dieters gaining again each pound they misplaced (after which some) inside three years. Unfortunately, although, through the span of Elliot’s all-too-short life, to be skinny was broadly thought of empirically good and wholesome, whereas fatness was seen as health-compromising and morally suspect, whatever the specifics of a person’s well being standing or medical historical past. Despite all of the body-positive gains which have been made within the final half-century, far too many people are nonetheless caught in that binary, blinkered mindset.

Pandell has devoted herself to getting the true story of Elliot’s loss of life out into the general public consciousness, however she’s additionally discovered a lot to admire about Elliot’s life, picture, and profession that has nothing to do along with her weight. “The method she is remembered is deeply unjust,” says Pandell. “The extra you study Cass’s persona and her hovering expertise—and her deep-seated drive for acceptance—the extra you’ll be able to’t assist however suppose that Cass deserved much more from us. Cass Elliot was a girl far forward of her time. She expressed concepts about motherhood, intercourse, superstar, and womanhood that even right this moment can be thought of by some to be radical.”

It is perhaps tempting to level to the existence of stars like Lizzo, Beth Ditto, and Chrissy Metz and infer that we’ve grown sufficient as a society to permit fats folks to be their full, genuine selves within the public eye, however sadly, that might be a lie. Yes, there are extra fat-identifying celebrities to admire right this moment than there ever had been earlier than, however they’re nonetheless pressured to paddle upstream in opposition to a deluge of fatphobia and body-based judgment. Doesn’t it inform us one thing that so many individuals nonetheless affiliate Elliot with the phrases “ham sandwich,” regardless of her sensible profession and mold-breaking picture (to not point out the long-ago debunking of that rumor)? Hopefully, we are able to study sufficient from her tragic loss of life to at the least attempt to create a world wherein fats folks aren’t pressured to starve, drug, and in any other case contort themselves with a purpose to be seen as, nicely…folks.

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