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Tag Archive | "fat stigma"

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. :)

Posted in Comment Fail, Fat ShamingComments (30)

How do you talk to your kids about weight?

How do you talk to your kids about weight?

The Today Show did a segment on how parents should talk to their children about their weight. In all, it’s not a bad segment, with the chief recommendations being:

  • frame discussions of health/weight in terms of fueling the body & the child feeling good
  • show your kids good eating habits, from the top down (ie: parents have to buy in)
  • don’t single out a single child for a weight problem
  • understand that it may not be the foods your child eats but a number of factors (ie: may not be worth talking about)

Here is the segment:

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Personally, while I agree with the sentiments, I know that the above clip and its recommendations aren’t a fix-all solution. I grew up in a home with good, home-cooked food; we ate together as a family and junk food was limited. My mother never told me I was fat, though I know that, regardless, I got that message — from school, TV, and even just from hearing my mom’s stories of her own weight struggles as a child. All the good examples and positive reinforcement didn’t stop me from developing odd food behaviors and a skewed self-image — what great society says to our kids about weight (directly and indirectly) matters, too.

What do you think? Do you remember The Talk? Are you a parent afraid of giving The Talk?

Posted in Fat Identity, Fat in the MediaComments (2)

Even your dishware can fat shame you now

Even your dishware can fat shame you now

You know where fat shaming and food guilt are absent? On my dishware! Luckily, Fishs Eddy is there for me — now I can have demotivational messages that remind me I shouldn’t have eaten that, fatty, right on my dishware!

No, really. Called “Intervention-Ware,” these meet-cute plates don messages such as:

  • “It’s hard to be around you when you eat like this.”
  • “Do you really need that second helping?”
  • “For the love of God stop eating.”
  • “Please stop eating. We’re worried about you.”

A second piece features the message “Big Mistake” in the center of the side plate.

Who on EARTH would you buy this for? If someone bought me a plate that said “For the love of God, stop eating,” I would DECK THEM.

In lieu of further angry commenting, I will show you the dishware in question and open things up for discussion. Fishs Eddy says LOL IT’S FUNNY. I say LOL ITS OFFENSIVE. Rock on, culture of fat shaming & social stigma!

What do you think?

Source: thanks to Jezebel for the tip-off

Posted in Fat in the Media, Featured, FoodComments (3)

Fat hate & body image – get ‘em young!

Fat hate & body image – get ‘em young!

In my guest post on All The Weigh last week (The Invisible [Horrible, Lazy, Unattractive] Fat Person), I talked about how pervasive fat hate — and self hate — is, and that it starts young. In one study, 9-year-old girls ascribed patently negative words to pictures of fat people, and positive words to pictures of thin people.

Now, go younger. Good Morning America featured the story of a six-year-old girl who thinks she is fat. They also assembled a group of young girls to talk about fat, diets and then evaluate pictures of children — thin and chubby. The results? Terrible:

I had a major flashback watching that panel. Some of those girls literally look just like girls I went to elementary school with. I *am* the “chubby wubby” in the blue shirt (omgggggg puberty hitting at 8 and my “tater tots” coming in).

Children get self-hating/fat hating messages everywhere — on TV, in movies, magazines, adverts and their own parents and teachers. They internalize these messages, and turn around and bully each other — a girl in the bathroom asked this six-year-old why she had a fat tummy! What does this say about the adults in these girls’ lives? One girl observes that her mom goes to the gym because she thinks she is overweight — but the daughter doesn’t think so. Another says their teacher is on a diet and “can’t eat cake,” and they ask her when she will be done and she says “not yet.” (even six-year-olds know you can’t keep up a restriction diet, eh?) Can I just say: why the HELL did a teacher tell her students that she’s on a diet? Totally inappropriate.

Listen to these girls and what they’re saying — “my teacher told me,” “my mommy told me”… that I need to be healthy so I don’t get fat.

This is what the health-obsessive awareness campaigns & culture are getting us: not children who are properly healthy minded, but those who fear and stigmatize fat & obesity, and believe you can’t be healthy and “fat.” Problem is, their concept of “fat” is ridiculously skewed, as well.

If the children are our future… the future is bleak.

Posted in Body Issues, Fat Identity, Fat in the Media, Fat Shaming, Featured, Gender Politics & Feminism, In the NewsComments (9)

In the news: fat stigma spreading worldwide

In the news: fat stigma spreading worldwide

Oh dear. According to a study from the University of Arizona, as detailed in the New York Times, negative attitudes towards fat people are spreading — including to nations that traditionally have celebrated a more rotund stature. On the one hand, of course, I must point out that in many nations, studies of this kind (1st person interviews supplemented by a test wherein respondants answered true/false questions such as “People are overweight because they are lazy”) haven’t been conducted before, so there’s nothing to compare to. The sample is also small — only 700 people. However, cultures that are renowned for celebrating larger bodies scoring high on fat hate is, regardless, of note.

The New York Times, apparently going to the nearest foreign country they could find, ie: Mexico, features a gem of a first person interview with this lovely quote:

Mr. Miranda said he did not really notice whether his clients were fat or not. But he does when he is wedged in a crowded city bus.

“The fatties take up a lot of space,” he said. “People are annoyed. It’s uncomfortable.”

Ah, yes, those darn fatties. And then the analytical kicker:

To be sure, jokes and negative perceptions about weight have been around for ages. In Mexico, for instance, a nickname like “gordo” which translates as “fatty,” raises no eyebrows.

But what appears to have changed is the level of criticism and blame leveled at people who are overweight. One reason may be that public health campaigns branding obesity as a disease are sometimes perceived as being critical of individuals rather than the environmental and social factors that lead to weight gain.


Stephen McGarvey, a professor of community health at Brown University who studies Samoan health issues.. [snip] said: “A public health focus on ‘You can change,’ or ‘This is your fault,’ can be very counterproductive,” he said. “Stigma is serious.”

To wit: depictions of svelte figures in American/Western media & advertisements, going global has contributed significantly to this shift, as have “health conscious” “fat is a disease” and “you have the power to solve it” campaigns.
Now *this* is where I have a serious problem with transformational/inspiration shows such as The Biggest Loser, the plots of many a book/TV show/film and advertising campaigns for weight loss products – often times when you stress the “you’re unhealthy!” aspect of being big, it comes part and parcel with “only you can change this, by using sheer willpower and simplistic formula of eating less and exercising more!” It puts both the triumph of “success” AND the blame of “failure” onto the fat person, completely ignoring elements that are out of your control, or that are so complex, they require years of work. I’m not advocating the fat person as a victim, with no agency or personal responsibility, but this simplistic message, as the study and anecdotal thoughts from experts show, encourages the negative stigma against fat people.

It’s sad to hear that the American/Western brand of body politics is spreading across the world. Not that we shouldn’t encourage healthy body weights and fitness, but there’s a negative backend that comes from sloppy messaging that we don’t think about.

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Posted in Fat in the Media, In the NewsComments (0)

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