Comment Fail: Curvy Nerd + Gawker = FAIL - The Curvy Nerd

Categorized | Comment Fail, Fat Shaming

Comment Fail: Curvy Nerd + Gawker = FAIL

Comment Fail: Curvy Nerd + Gawker = FAIL

I usually don’t comment on Gawker (or even Jezebel), as I don’t like getting drawn into fights. Instead, one of my favorite past times is watching OTHER people getting drawn into fights. There are some epic threads that make for good reading.

But yesterday, on a post about a man who opened up a plus-size hair salon (really), someone begged the annoying question: why is it ok to harass smokers about their health, but not fat people.

I had to comment, God help my soul. This was my response:

Smoking and obesity are NOT COMPARABLE. You don’t need nicotine to live. We have to eat. (obesity and food addiction, at least insomuch as treatment is concerned, are also not comparable with alcoholism and drug addiction, IMO, even if there are some commonalities when it comes to brain chemistry…)

People may lambast smokers, primarily because, I don’t know, their smoking can have a profound adverse health effect on bystanders. (I speak as someone who grew up with a smoking parent, too) You can’t “catch” obesity, and standing next to an obese person can’t give YOU cancer. Moreover, it’s generally accepted that a huge part of the problem with smoking is insidious advertising and marketing from the smoking industry… which is now heavily restricted. Yet people refuse to take the same stance when it comes to food advertising (and truth in “food” advertising — a lot of processed junk is NOT food). Food, and junk food, is ALSO highly addictive, but we don’t talk about that (we really need to start talking about that!). We talk about willpower and choices. It’s a MYTH that by SHEER WILLPOWER obese people can overcome food, fitness, health, nutrition and behavior problems. Willpower and choices are a part of it. But not all. (and, honestly, the few people I know who succeeded on the sheer willpower diet are now thin but hate themselves, and hate fat people — so much internalized self-hate!)

Also, being a smoker is not an “obvious” physical characteristic, so you won’t see a smoker discriminated against or publicly humiliated and tormented as you would an obese person. Not saying smokers don’t take a lot of flack — they do! And a lot of it is unwarranted, because others health-policing strangers is douchey (fat or smoking! Or both!). There’s just SO MUCH unspoken (and spoken) fat stigma already. That’s why it’s really not necessary to make it “OK” to health police fat people.


I got one OMG BUTTHURT response from someone who, naturally, DID employ SHEER WILLPOWER to lose weight and they OMG DON’T HATE THEMSELVES. Quote:

I got thin on sheer willpower, and I don’t hate myself. I don’t hate fat people, either, but I do hate it when a fat person claims he or she can’t get thin no matter what they do. Especially if they say it as they’re scarfing down a Big Mac, which I have actually seen somebody do.

We all pay for obesity-related health problems (whether a person has insurance or not), so it really is everybody’s business.

Thanks for illustrating my point there, sparky! The one where I said that formerly fat people are the hardest on still-fat people (aka: fat hate, fat shaming). Because, in my experience (which I noted! I said PERSONALLY!), those who succeeded & live on an *extremely* restrictive “willpower” diet are patently miserable and super duper into body snarking and body/food policing. Everything in moderation, my friends.

And, for the record, the SHEER WILLPOWER diet of which I speak is the imaginary one that Not Fat People tell us about: “Oh, don’t you know that all you have to do is eat less and exercise more? Put down the Big Mac!” Oh, jeeze, I didn’t know it was that simple! I just have to subsist off lettuce and lentils for the rest of my life and everything will be PERFECT! As I said *in my comment* (people don’t read), willpower and choices are part of making a lifestyle change. But the idea that all you need is SHEER WILLPOWER to overcome obesity is silly.

But the comment that TAKES THE CAKE is this one:

Actually there have been studies showing that you can essentially catch obesity by normalization. Good friends and family members being the highest risk.

That’s right, folks. This guy thinks you can CATCH obesity. Like a communicable disease! Bear in mind that what he *means* is studies that show that if your friends and family are obese, you are statistically more likely to be obese yourself. DUH. But FFS, we just can’t win. People think you can catch obesity. The Internet fails at life.

Maybe I’m a coward, but I didn’t respond to any of the responses to me, as I found them silly, reductive and knew that to “argue” would be pointless. Once someone has succeeded on the SHEER WILLPOWER diet, there’s no telling them that it’s just not that easy for other people, and that to suggest so is patronizing. Don’t get me started on “catching” obesity guy.

And, frankly, my comment was in response to someone who compared health policing smokers with health policing obese people. I made my point, and the original commenter agreed with me. (the point: we shouldn’t police anyone… but smoking and obesity are certainly two very different things) I’m proud of my comment, and because I’m a narcissist, I’m posting it. :)

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30 Responses to “Comment Fail: Curvy Nerd + Gawker = FAIL”

  1. alisonofagun says:

    OMFG. FIRST OF ALL (I need to lay off the caps now because this could be in all caps, really)–just because YOU were able to lose the weight doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Just because YOU were able to eat less & move more doesn’t mean you know more than someone who has tried that, and pills, and starvation diets, and restriction diets. For some people weight can be really, really hard to take off. Some people (like me) don’t WANT to take it off.

    And tell me HOW is someone costing you sooo muuuuch money by being fat? If you’ll do the research, obesity does not CAUSE any illnesses. Sure, there can be correlation but that is probably because being unhealthy is bad for you, not because being FAT is bad for you. The two are NOT synonymous. If you eat a poor diet, regardless of your weight, you will be unhealthy. Skinny people cost money too, it’s not like skinny people never see doctors or get diseases! And HEY smokers cost us all money too, since THEY ARE LEGITIMATELY DOING SOMETHING UNHEALTHY.

    I’m just…wow. Jesus. And sorry, the “you” isn’t you, but that person, of course.

    • curvynerd says:

      I know! That’s why I had to refrain from responding! Plus, the first part of their comment was about my bit on regulation of food advertising and she had some random comment about the FDA and Republicans… once someone brings up politics, I KNOW I don’t want to get into it.

      People actually responded to her with a “good job! I also lost weight by sheer willpower!” stuff. That’s when I knew I wasn’t on Jezebel and replying to any of these comments on Gawker was just a shit idea.

      And YES on the health care cost thing. You know what drives up healthcare costs? Private corporations having monopolies on drug/gene/life patents, which they use to drive up the (often imaginary) cost of R&D which is then passed on to the consumer. Yes, that drug/whatever that an obese person needs is expensive… because DRUG COMPANIES ARE ASSHOLES. Same goes for diseases thin people have (you don’t want to know why breast cancer tests/treatments are so expensive). But it’s easier to reiterate the same concern troll “obesity epidemic” bullshit you see trotted out in the media. (why, yes, I did just read an AWESOME BOOK about drug monopolies!)

      • alisonofagun says:

        THAAAANK YOUUUU. I happen to have some friends who lean differently from me politically and when it comes to healthcare costs I just want to scream at them instead of calmly debating. It’s fine if you (they) think the Canadian healthcare system isn’t the one we should lust after, but can you (they) honestly say what we’re doing now is working?!!? When your coverage is tied to your job and people are losing jobs left and right?! SERIOUSLYYYY?!?!

  2. Kris says:

    Oh my…where do I start??

    I lost my weight, by choice, by eating differently and learning to love exercise. Do I still indulge? Yep. Do I judge others for their choices? No – I respect your right to eat what you want, please respect my right to do the same. :)

    And when a larger person says they can’t lose weight? Well, you know what? Maybe they can’t, for one reason or another. I’ll be honest – I have dieted since I was 9… 30 years. I have lost, and I have gained, and while I have maintained now for a year, I have to consciously choose EVERY DAY to work on this. It is HARD. So instead of judging a person, I wonder instead what is happening in their life that makes it not the right time for them. Perhaps they have work issues, or family issues, or money issues. I assume, since they talk about it, that they WANT to lose the weight – but maybe they don’t, and that’s OK too.

    I have found that the internet is full of wonderful, supportive people… and some complete, awful jerks. I try to be one of the former. ;)

    • curvynerd says:

      Exactly! I think it’s always best to be part of the former. One can relate one’s experiences, and even advice, but there’s a thin line between that and being preachy and toeing a hard line. There’s just something about a) the Internet and b) people talking about weight that brings out preachiness and this bizarre assumption that we’re all the same, and that overweight people are willfully “unhealthy.” As if we exist in a cultural vacuum.

  3. Robin says:

    One thing I think a lot of people don’t understand is that no matter what size you are, it takes a lot more willpower to accept yourself than it does to starve yourself. Denying onself food is easy, learning to have a healthy relationship with it is much, much harder.

  4. Tori says:

    I sense a blog post in my future titled “The SHEER WILLPOWER Diet.” :P

  5. Allyson says:

    > Oh, jeeze, I didn’t know it was that simple! I just have to subsist off lettuce and lentils for the rest of my life and everything will be PERFECT!

    Uh, no. No one said that, nice strawman though. Actually, you’re likely to be pretty unhealthy eating nothing but lettuce and lentils all the time. Most nutritionists will be happy to tell you this. That said, IF you’re scarfing down McDonald’s for lunch every day, for whatever reason, then yes! You are likely to get fat! Eat a reasonable balance of minimally processed fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and remain below your Basal Metabolic Rate in calorie intake, and you will lose weight. This isn’t complicated. It might happen slowly, and it might be difficult to do, but rest assured plenty of people have done it successfully. More importantly, don’t do this to fit some arbitrary body ideal; do it for your health. Obesity may not CAUSE disease, but it leaves you much more susceptible to all kinds of diseases including heart failures of all sorts and diabetes. This has been expounded upon in scientific study after scientific study. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you, probably with some sort of agenda (or because they want to validate their lazy life choices).

    As for those who are claiming that it takes more willpower or courage to accept one’s body as it is than to improve it? Those people are also full of crap – I see those same people trying again and again to validate their lazy choices all over the place. If you were so accepting of your mediocre choices, why do you need to keep explaining them? Meanwhile, I (and many others) are putting the effort and discipline into making our bodies the best they can be – not for any arbitrary ideal but so that we can be healthy and fit as long as we live. If you want to be decrepit, ill, and weak at 60, I guess that’s fine. I don’t plan to be.

    > That’s right, folks. This guy thinks you can CATCH obesity. Like a communicable disease! Bear in mind that what he *means* is studies that show that if your friends and family are obese, you are statistically more likely to be obese yourself.

    Another nice strawman. Literally no one is claiming you can ‘catch’ obesity by standing next to an obese person. However, it’s just basic cause and effect that if you spend a lot of time with people who eat massive amounts of pizza and McDonalds all the time, you are likely to eat the same things they do, and therefore more likely to get fat because of it. Likewise, if you spend a lot of time with people who eat healthy food, you are more likely to eat healthily and thus not be fat. Not difficult, folks.

    • curvynerd says:

      You’ve not read this blog before, have you? This blog actively engages in media criticism and debunking common stereotypes and myths, and it is not the work of someone who is morbidly obese person who shovels processed junk down her throat. (I’ve never been a processed food junkie, in fact, which is the result of some level of middle class, urban privilege, for which I am thankful) I don’t need a lecture on nutrition, nor do any of the readers of this blog — we’re all sensible individuals with health as a goal. But we also recognize, as you are negating, that pressure from external sources — ie: society — does place unrealistic expectations on our bodies, and can lead to issues with food and exercise. That is just as important as the food stuff, or the exercise stuff.

      Of course obesity causes disease. So does anorexia. I believe in compassionately addressing eating disorders, period. What bothers me is people who cry OMG OBESITY and concern-troll, thinly veiling what is actually fat stigma.

      Specifically, the person whose comment you’re deriding is not delusional. She doesn’t make bad choices, nor even mediocre ones. In fact, if you saw her on the street, you wouldn’t give her a second thought, because she is thin and fit (and if you followed her home, you’d see her eating ridiculously well). I enjoyed your assumption that she is lazy and makes poor choices. She is a “real life friend” who is anything but.

      There is no “meanwhile.” You can work damn hard on learning to accept and love your body — as YOU like it, and not as some arbitrary body/beauty ideal declares you should be — AND put a large amount of effort into taking care of your body and health. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue the two go hand in hand. If you’re focusing on weight loss/fitness solely to fit a body ideal, it’s not going to stick. A lot of people can lose a bunch of weight, or “get skinny.” It’s a lot more difficult to make a true lifestyle change (or modification) and live healthily and happily. That’s the point of this blog.

      • Caitlyn says:

        Yeah, there are multiple posts on Curvy Nerd saying pretty much what you just said, lose weight for your health, not to fit an ideal.

      • Robin says:

        Your concern trolls love me. This is at least the second one that’s said I’m just trying to justify my lazy choices. I honestly don’t think that statements should need to come footnoted with “by the way, I’m actually pretty thin and exercise/eat vegetables daily so therefore this is a more valid statement.” Because, really, the fact that self-acceptance is harder than discipline and more important to lifelong health is not only true when thin people say it.

        Why must treating yourself well in the ways that doesn’t necessarily make you thin be such a radical, challenging concept?

    • Tori says:

      If you want to be decrepit, ill, and weak at 60, I guess that’s fine. I don’t plan to be.

      Me neither! Well, if I end up decrepit, ill, and weak at 60, it will be because the endometriosis-induced damage has spread from now until then. But the plan is for my fat ass to be powering me through marathons by then.

  6. Lyssa says:

    Wait… you mean I’m NOT fat because I caught it from my parents? All my life, I’ve been thinking obesity is like toe nail fungus, something caught from moist, damp environments, easily spread through high-trafficked environments…. *smh*

  7. Jessie says:

    Saying that someone maintaining weight loss is getting by on severe restriction is making the same assumptions about them that you’re accusing them of making about you.

    I am at the middle of the healthy range for my height and have been maintaining, after a loss of a little under 100ibs, for almost 5 years now. I don’t have some ‘severely restricting’ diet. I exercise nearly every day (5 days are higher intensity, the other two are easy stuff like yoga or a light bike ride), and I eat very healthy, while allowing indulgences in moderation.

    Eating healthy doesn’t even have to be restrictive. You can eat great-tasting foods and never touch another processed, high-fat and/or high-sugar food again. Or you can take the sane approach and have it every now and then.

    I suppose it’s easy to tell yourself that people maintaining are living some restrictive life of pain. Well, whatever helps you sleep at night. *shrug*

    Oh, and:

    Before anyone decides to rant about how it’s nearly impossible to maintain weight loss. :) You can find the full study on the national weight control registry’s website, in the journal articles.

  8. Caitlyn says:

    I think you may need a disclaimer on this entry, because everyone seems to be simultaneously arguing with you while agreeing with you.

  9. Amanda says:

    Actually, um, studies have shown that the size of your friends influences the size of yourself:

    Also more recent studies have shown that even simply tweeting about going to the gym or eating a healthy meal can have a positive impact on your followers. (I can’t find the studies currently, but I’ve seen them in print journals at my hospital).

    Point being: behavior is more contagious than we think. When we have active, healthy-eating friends, we’re more likely to do that ourselves purely out of peer pressure.

    I’m honestly glad that when I was severely overweight my doctor chewed me out for it. Everyone else was so “body acceptance” that I would have continued killing my health otherwise. Yes, I came home from the appointment and cried. But the next week I joined a gym.

    • Robin says:

      Actually, that study (along with a number of studies using similar methodology) has been pretty widely debunked:

      While it’s great that you got motivation to exercise and take up some healthy habits, I’m not sure that making people cry is going to cause healthy habits in the long run. Nothing anyone is doing out of fear or self-hatred is going to remain healthy and well-integrated into his or her life in the long run unless that person’s life is all about fear and self-hatred.

  10. Razwell says:

    Obesity is as genetic as HEIGHT.

    Obesity is hellishly complex and there is NO CURE. There is NO EVIDENCE in the literature that dieting and execise have much impact on body weight in the LONG TERM, as DR. JEFFREY FRIEDMAN has noted correctly.

    Fat cell regulation is NOT well understood. The molecular mechanisms behind weight gain are very poorly understood.

  11. Becca says:

    Thin is definitely not always healthy. As a formerly rounded woman I am now on the thin side due to long term health issues. Healthy eating (although I do try to eat a nutritious diet) and exercise played no part in losing weight. Feeling too ill to eat, too fatigued to eat and strong pain killers might have had something to do with it though.

    Although I lost weight it was no indication of increased health and wellbeing. However, other women still congratulated me on my weight loss. Oh dear!


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