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fat hate is ugly
May 16, 2009 3:23 AM   Subscribe

The overwhelming majority of fat people have made the choice to not do what is necessary to change a situation which is hazardous to their health, wasteful of resources, and visually repellent.

The idea of "fat pride" is ludicrous. It's like being proud of drinking until you get cirrhosis of the liver, or smoking until you get emphysema, or whoremongering until your brain rots from syphilis. It's like "meth addict pride".

People who are discriminated against for their weight are obese. Obesity is a medical condition, and while no one should be discriminated against for it, it's ludicrous in the extreme to want to form a pride movement to honor that obesity. This is a medical condition that should be avoided and fought against

i stand amazed at (some members of) metafilter's ugly ignorance. i have noticed this undercurrent before of self-righteous nastiness toward fat people. never have i seen it so blatantly expressed in one thread. PEOPLE: IT IS NOT OKAY TO HATE ON FAT PEOPLE. if you think people choose to be fat, if you think fat people need to hear your disgust at their fatness, if you feel superior to fat people because you are not fat, if you think fat people are fat because they are lazy, immoral pigs, YOU ARE COMPLETELY FUCKING WRONG. sorry for yelling... it's just, damn, that is some ugly shit in that thread. those of you that expressed disdainful sentiments about the fat -- i encourage you to say that stuff out loud, even to yourself, or go ahead, say it to an overweight loved one. do you hear yourself?
posted by Hat Maui to Etiquette/Policy at 3:23 AM (836 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

That thread has become extremely uncomfortable for people of all sizes. Common ground!
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 3:35 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


as someone who is overweight, I'm making a choice to... make some popcorn and settle in.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:36 AM on May 16, 2009


As a fat person, I always flag offensive comments and move on to the buffet table.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:42 AM on May 16, 2009 [18 favorites]


I think I've said this on MeFi before, but I'll say it again:

All other things being equal, fat people use more soap.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:47 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


and i've noticed this undercurrent before of self-righteous nastiness toward drinking until you get cirrhosis of the liver, or smoking until you get emphysema, or whoremongering until your brain rots from syphilis. can we cut that shit out as well, please?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:47 AM on May 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Everything in moderation. We cannot deassholize MetaFilter at the breakneck pace currently being set.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:53 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


What I find amusing about the thread is the people who come in to attack the views of those who have expressed negative views on the obese, and in doing so make discriminatory comments about the obese to prove their point. This comment is a good example of what I'm talking about. Kind of like the ad that prompted the whole discussion. I'm not sure if they get it or not.

As the author of said-thread, I agree that the whole thing veered pretty quick towards a discussion of how disgusting fat people are as compared to discussion of the advertisement itself. That's disappointing, but I don't think this MeTa thread will do much to help that. If anything it'll only provide another venue for people to hate on the obese. As always, I advocate the FIAMO method as the best option.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Effigy2000: My aim with that comment was to mock DecemberBoy's comparison of heavy people with presumed degenerates and the implication that they're less human than everyone else, not to mock the heavy themselves. I was trying to make it over-the-top and absurd to the point it would be clear that I was doing an impression of what I view as a ridiculous mindset. In a way, I guess that is kind of like the ad. Maybe that was your point. I just wanted to say over here that I wasn't trying to offend anyone (except DecemberBoy, but he really pissed me off).
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 4:23 AM on May 16, 2009


(Also sorry I kinda shit in your thread.)
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 4:25 AM on May 16, 2009


Fi amo
Wasn't I good to you?
I did all that I could do
To make you want to be here with me
I thought you loved me
I can't believe you could just turn and leave
Did it so easily
You pulled my post out from under me
Look what you've done to me
How could you end it this way
After the post that I made?
God, how I wish you had stayed
Can't you see that I just want you back?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


and i've noticed this undercurrent before of self-righteous nastiness toward drinking until you get cirrhosis of the liver, or smoking until you get emphysema, or whoremongering until your brain rots from syphilis. can we cut that shit out as well, please?

so these are, in your view, valid bases for comparison to being overweight or obese?

while i'm asking, do you think alcoholism is a moral failing? do you think someone who becomes addicted to cigarettes is a bad person? is a sex addict someone you sneer at?

why is it that you want to look down your nose so much? why do you take such joy in sneering?
posted by Hat Maui at 4:32 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


sorry, i have no idea what you're on about now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:40 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


what did you mean by your comment? i must have misread you if you're not following my response to it.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:43 AM on May 16, 2009


What? Just...what? It's not insane to be proud of being morbidly obese? Because to be clear, the comments you're specifically highlighting are not saying it's ok to descriminate against people based on weight, they're saying it's ludicrous to be proud of it. You disagree? No one goes around saying "Fuck yeah, I have a brain tumor!" Why would you want people to celebrate having a debilitating weight problem? They should celebrate themselves as individuals in the face of being discriminated against, not the fact that there might be a heart attack around the corner.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:45 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


If fat hate were the worst form of douchbaggery to be found on the internet, then it would probably be a little nicer place.

I'm not defending it, mind you. I'm kinda fat myself. Any nastiness of that sort is distasteful, but there are plenty of examples in the real world as well. It may be part of the human condition.

For your average internet jerk, who maybe feels a little bad about being an ass, it might be easier to focus that disdain on someone who "made a choice" to be the way they are. It softens the edges a little bit.

Now who's supposed to bring the doughnuts?
posted by Shohn at 4:45 AM on May 16, 2009


Pie. We need pie for this. And maybe ice cream.
posted by RussHy at 5:07 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you feel superior to fat people because you are not fat, if you think fat people are fat because they are lazy, immoral pigs

I feel superior to fat people because when the zombie apocalypse comes, I'll be able to run faster than them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Because to be clear, the comments you're specifically highlighting are not saying it's ok to descriminate against people based on weight, they're saying it's ludicrous to be proud of it.

first of all, that is a mischaracterization of those comments, and if you don't see how they're ugly, you are being willfully blind to it or are somehow persuaded by some pretty threadbare justifications for that rhetoric.

"fat pride" is a strawman. the 'movement,' such as it is, is fat acceptance. specious arguments that express concern about the obesity of others and shit like 'wasting resources' or 'driving my health insurance rates up!' is mere justification for an attitude that is deeply disdainful of fat people simply because they're fat. many many people clearly have this bias towards fat people and don't realize that what they're doing is the cousin of expressing similar sentiments about gay people or black people. in fact, quite recently (and still to this day to a lesser extent), openly hateful attitudes toward gays were accepted in polite society. that has changed a great deal in the last 20 years. hopefully the same will be true of fat hate, although i'm not encouraged by the fact that metafilter, which tends toward being one of the more enlightened places on the internet, seems so replete with such backwards attitudes toward fat people (especially considering that the average BMI of the heavy internet user is certainly a good deal higher than the population at large).
posted by Hat Maui at 5:10 AM on May 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


What? Just...what? It's not insane to be proud of being morbidly obese? Because to be clear, the comments you're specifically highlighting are not saying it's ok to descriminate against people based on weight, they're saying it's ludicrous to be proud of it.

The first comment is, in fact, saying it's OK to discriminate against fat people. In a thread where an ad is saying that mocking and belittling people based on their body shape is just as wrong as doing so based on race, sexual preference or religion, Ryvar replies with the bon mots:

There is a fundamental difference.

People don't get to choose whether they're white, black, Jewish, male, female, straight, or gay.

The overwhelming majority of fat people have made the choice to not do what is necessary to change a situation which is hazardous to their health, wasteful of resources, and visually repellent. ... It is wholly wrong and unfair to judge or discriminate against people for things they had no say in, such as their gender, race, or orientation. Similarly, it is important to hold people to account for the choices they made and actions they did or did not take.


In other words, the fat are there to mock, because they made a poor lifestyle choice. I'm not sure how else this comment can be read. He later back-pedals in the thread but never actually comes right out and says how we're to hold the overweight "accountable" for being overweight. He said something ridiculous, got taken to task for it, and then spends much of the thread skating around what he "really meant to say" without saying it. It's sort of ridiculous to witness.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


i have noticed this undercurrent before of self-righteous nastiness toward fat people. never have i seen it so blatantly expressed in one thread.

So? It's a new low. Whoopty-fucking-doo. Doesn't warrant a meta that is pretty much guaranteed to hit an even lower point.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


also, at the risk of being accused of moderating my own thread, let me make this last point before retiring -- would it make sense to have a similar attitude towards tall people? do people make many tall jokes? do tall people get passed over for jobs in favor of "normal" people? is anyone clamoring for the tall to buy two plane tickets? do the jokes ever go "your mama's so tall that..."? anyone talk about the health risks of being tall (there are indeed some)?

what's the difference? apparently some of you think that since fat people "choose" to be fat, they deserve every bit of contempt sent their way. without addressing the problematic notion that someone's "choice" gives you the right to moralize to them, i would point out that many recent studies and studies-of-studies point to the conclusion that, in the long run, people "choose" to be fat to about the same degree that they choose their height, and that only a tiny fraction of people who are overweight ever manage to lose weight and keep it off for an extended period.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hat Maui, I think that Metafilter ends up getting negative attitudes towards fat people as a package deal with its general political leanings -- fatness is seen as over-consumption, and it gets linked with over-consumption of plastic junk from China and over-consumption of natural resources; at the same time it's linked with being lower-middle-class, people not poor enough to feel sorry for, but people who shop at Wal-Mart and eat fast food, or macaroni and cheese when they eat in.

I think the people who made WALL-E, for example, were drawing on the same image that a lot of NPR liberals have in their heads, the fat person who carelessly overconsumes everything and is emblematic of carelessly overconsuming everything.

But to the (partial) extent that that's true, it's our disastrous agriculture and transportation policies that should be getting the blame.

(To be clear, I do believe that a lot of people have a healthy set point that's considerably higher than what the cover models on Shape weigh; I do believe there's a lot we don't know about nutrition and metabolism and the roles that various hormones play; but I can only think that disastrous agriculture and transportation policies are playing a role too.)
posted by Jeanne at 5:30 AM on May 16, 2009 [33 favorites]


Doesn't warrant a meta that is pretty much guaranteed to hit an even lower point.

that is your opinion. i posted this because i am surprised at the shit people are saying and i'd like to strongly express my opinion that it is wrong. i also post in the sincere hope that maybe some of those that harbor these attitudes will examine them more closely. the point of meta is to hash stuff like this out. so what is your point? can i sum it up thusly: "shut up, you"? that's about right, innit? thanks for the contribution.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:31 AM on May 16, 2009


can i sum it up thusly: "shut up, you"? that's about right, innit? thanks for the contribution.


You're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

BTW, you shouldn't say "some of you" when talking about a community you belong to. The correct phrase is "some of us". "Some of you" is divisive and exclusionary.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:38 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jeanne, agreed. i was very annoyed by WALL-E and thought the fat hate in that movie ruined an otherwise adorable little love story.

but the whole narrative about the obesity "epidemic" is quite clearly a case of moral panic. the "over-consumption" disdain, though, is a rubric, because surely there are far more extreme examples of over-consumption that don't involve food that you don't hear people saying boo about -- like, say, people that fly every day for their jobs or people with large homes who use a lot of air-conditioning, or people that have pools, or people that eat lots of meat (but aren't overweight).
posted by Hat Maui at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2009


Oh, I agree, Hat Maui. I just think that the Metafilterian disdain towards blue-collar rural/suburban people (as much for their politics and religion as for anything else) plays into the moral panic about obesity in a particularly toxic way.
posted by Jeanne at 5:45 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


BTW, you shouldn't say "some of you" when talking about a community you belong to. The correct phrase is "some of us". "Some of you" is divisive and exclusionary.

you are correct, i shouldn't have phrased it that way. you still want me to just shut up, though? i don't really get that. i mean, if you just left the thread, that'd shut me up good as far as you're concerned.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:49 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know why you're taking this so personally. All I did was brusquely express an opinion on the value of this thread, not you as a person. Do you consider the two the same?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:54 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Reading that thread, I was tempted to pull out something I keep on a card in my brain:
I think, after decades of rigorous scientific investigation, I think we'll come to find that a certain portion can be attributed to genetics, some to maternal effect, some to the way you were raised, some to your current environment, and the remaining vanishing fraction we can wave our hand over and call it "free will." It's a shame that people assume that this is a problem, and then attribute all of this "problem" to that catchall category of choice at the very end. Yes, some times there can be negative consequences associated with it, as with many other things, but it's generally not hurting you, and if it really is so much of a problem, as you put it, then being nasty to people is rarely an excellent solution to it.
Try it: it is applicable to obesity, sexual orientation, and a number of other things people like to shout about.

I don't use it much anymore, since people cannot be reasoned with, for the most part.
posted by adipocere at 5:56 AM on May 16, 2009 [53 favorites]


Metafilter certainly hasn't discussed people that fly every day for their jobs or people with large homes who use a lot of air-conditioning, or people that have pools, or people that eat lots of meat (but aren't overweight).

Not perfect 1:1 matches to be sure but it's disingenuous to say there's no boo-saying regarding other over consumption examples.

And the obvious point is that like people who drive large vehicles, people of greater stature are more visible and so garner more attention. Some may be large because of medical issues while some may just be lazy, some may genuinely need to transport 9 people and some may be compensating but there's no way to draw that distinction visually.
posted by Skorgu at 5:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


If fat people remain jolly- what's to hate?
posted by mattoxic at 6:01 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


i'm not taking it personally at all. i am just wondering why you were motivated to post something so devoid of value. it really is a tendency i find puzzling, and can best be summarized by the aphorism "the food here is terrible -- and such small portions!"

btw, i feel this way any time someone expresses something similar in a thread that they're voluntarily reading and posting in, and i normally ignore it, but i got caught up in responding to you about it, and now here we are. but we don't have to keep talking about it -- i think we know where each other stands on the issue of the worth of this post, so let's just let it go, how 'bout?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:01 AM on May 16, 2009


HURF DURF! Flag and move on, BUTTEREATER!
posted by fatllama at 6:03 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


And the obvious point is that like people who drive large vehicles, people of greater stature are more visible and so garner more attention

these two things are very different. the obvious point is that fat people are fat people every single place they go and to everyone they meet.

i should have been more clear in my phrasing -- there is no discrimination or hatred directed at non-food overconsumers as a class because they can't be identified as such by looking at them. sure, you can know someone that massively overconsumes something and have an opinion, but do you really think that the disdain, the stares, the under-the-breath jokes that a 500-lb person is subjected to is even remotely comparable to whatever it is that mcmansion owners would be subjected to, as per your example?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:09 AM on May 16, 2009


It's wrong to comment when I disagree with the utility or value of a thread? Is that what you're saying? I can't agree. I was presenting the view that this thread is not likely to go well, and do more harm than good. Maybe someone else reads that comment and thinks twice about wading into the fray. Maybe a lot of people do. In my opinion that's a valuable contribution, not just being a whiny thread-crapping naysayer, as your caricature suggests.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


really done moderating the thread, now. sorry. i know it's bad form. i'm going to sleep for about the next 8 hours. but in the immortal words of terminator macarthur, "i'll shall be return back."
posted by Hat Maui at 6:14 AM on May 16, 2009


Pardon, I didn't mean that they're more visible because they're large, I meant that they're more visible because, as you say, stature is impossible to hide (hence my analogy with large vehicles). I believe we're making the same point here.

I don't know what you're arguing against in your second paragraph.
posted by Skorgu at 6:15 AM on May 16, 2009


Doesn't warrant a meta that is pretty much guaranteed to hit an even lower point.

But this is one of the purposes of MetaTalk, if I'm understanding the policy correctly - hashing out more contentious issues about commenting behavior in a place other than the original thread. There are numerous examples of this all over MeTa. I get that you don't like the thread here. Fortunately, there's a solution to that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I feel superior to fat people because when the zombie apocalypse comes, I'll be able to run faster than them.

Hah! Ya can't run if some lard ass cuts your Achilles tendon. *gets back to sharpening the Arkansas-Toothpick-Onna-Stick and being winded*
posted by crataegus at 6:31 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter likes to thinks it is all progressive and stuff and then we show our true colors. I like how in the post there is a link to debate raging online about whether the ad is offensive etc. We never got to that debate here because some bozos derailed the thread with their fat hate. Nice.
posted by caddis at 6:32 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


We shouldn't be mean to people, for any reason.

But that doesn't mean we should give everyone a pass for distorting facts and reality. Fat acceptance is fine- everyone should be able to live their lives as they are without being harassed. But that doesn't change that fatness does have an element of choice involved. That's none of our business, but being none of our business doesn't change that reality.
posted by gjc at 6:35 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I live in a country with one of (if not the) lowest obesity rates in the world. The diet is responsible for this--despite the heavy alcohol consumption--as is the (neurotic) attention to weight, as are many other factors. Personal choice clearly factors into it. Obesity shouldn't be a cause for ill-treatment, but I agree with the original post that it shouldn't be a source of pride, either--all of this seems obvious to me. Is any of this actually controversial?
posted by smorange at 6:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Captain Cardanthian!: " My aim with that comment was to mock DecemberBoy's comparison of heavy people with presumed degenerates and the implication that they're less human than everyone else, not to mock the heavy themselves. I was trying to make it over-the-top and absurd to the point it would be clear that I was doing an impression of what I view as a ridiculous mindset. In a way, I guess that is kind of like the ad. Maybe that was your point. I just wanted to say over here that I wasn't trying to offend anyone (except DecemberBoy, but he really pissed me off)."

I totally get that Captain. To clarify, I wasn't saying you were an arsehole or anything. Far from it. My point was more that I found it amusing a lot of people were doing exactly what you were doing in that thread (defending the obese by ironically mocking them), which was a thread about an ad defending the obese by ironically mocking them and others.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:02 AM on May 16, 2009


If you grow up fat, the vast majority of grief you get will not be from people with well-formed philosophies about personal merit and character, it will be from the casual lookism of people who just don't think twice about sidelining and mocking you. It starts with kids, who are not known for merit-based descrimination. Kids are evil little fuckers, and if you're fat you might try to shift fire to some other target, but sooner or later they'll catch you alone and drop a little slice of the Lord of the Flies into your life, too. It doesn't end with kids, though.

Nobody, nobody wants to see fat people; there are no token fatties.

Anyway, Ryvar let slip the visually repellant bit, and that's the core of what this is about. If fat people looked normal but still had all the health problems, 99.99% of the hate they endure (internalized or not) would be gone. Maybe some of the preachy motherfuckers here at MeFi would care, but the problem would probably not exist to any meaningful degree because the lifelong constant humiliation would be out of the equation. (OTOH maybe it would be worse as the people who terrorize themselves into eating less by not wanting to be fat wouldn't have as effective a goad.)

This bullshit about personal choice is merely the justification of a shallow prejudice.

So I think the issue boils down to: is it okay to be disgusted with the way fat people look? If so, since it's by choice in some way, is it okay to treat them accordingly, i.e. stigmatize them until they change their ways?
posted by fleacircus at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2009 [46 favorites]


Unlike adipocere I do think people can be reasonable - it just takes time and often repetition. People just need to learn and internalize and then progress can be made. Once more with emphasis, our lizard brains need all the help they can get:
I think, after decades of rigorous scientific investigation, I think we'll come to find that a certain portion can be attributed to genetics, some to maternal effect, some to the way you were raised, some to your current environment, and the remaining vanishing fraction we can wave our hand over and call it "free will." It's a shame that people assume that this is a problem, and then attribute all of this "problem" to that catchall category of choice at the very end. Yes, some times there can be negative consequences associated with it, as with many other things, but it's generally not hurting you, and if it really is so much of a problem, as you put it, then being nasty to people is rarely an excellent solution to it.
posted by zenon at 7:12 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


> I was presenting the view that this thread is not likely to go well, and do more harm than good.

The mods have said more than once that that is a bad idea. Why would you feel the need to make what is often a self-fulfilling prediction? Make a useful contribution or stay out of the thread.
posted by languagehat at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


fleacircus: Hurley on Lost could be considered a "token fattie", couldn't he?
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2009


We'll never be able to justify our bacon love with fat hate.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2009


This is not the first time this has come up and won't be the last.

As a productive step, I'd suggest people put together a list of the reasons for obesity, and how and why it's hard to lose weight. This list should look at what fat-haters say about obesity and then offer thoughts or studies as why they're wrong, if they are indeed wrong.

Then put the list on the Wiki and keep it reasonably updated. When the discuss comes up again, the list can be used as point of reference for those future discussions.

I'd help, but there's several palm trees that have me pinned down on the east and west portions of the lawn and I'm planning counter tactics to finish them off. Oh yes, they're going down.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2009


If so, since it's by choice in some way, is it okay to treat them accordingly, i.e. stigmatize them until they change their ways?

Do you really think that every single instance of this is bad? I mean, look, moralizing to any old obese person isn't a good thing. You can't know why any particular person is obese. And it's not a terribly nice thing to do. But sustaining a cultural notion that obesity is bad is socially beneficial, I think, just as sustaining a notion that smoking is bad is socially beneficial. (I don't look down on smokers, but I routinely tell them that cigarette smoke is disgusting) I'm not sure what those two lines of thought come to, though.
posted by smorange at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd help, but there's several palm trees that have me pinned down on the east and west portions of the lawn and I'm planning counter tactics to finish them off.

You really need to rub our noses in the fact that you live in a sub-tropical zone, don't you? "Oh, I'd comment further, but the glare from the endlessly clear sunshine and perfect blue sky is putting a glare on my monitor, and besides I need to rotate the whole suckling lamb I have roasting over the open fire pit out back, AND make another blenderful of pina coladas."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:23 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


fatness does have an element of choice involved

Personal choice clearly factors into it.


Fuck that. I've been fat for, essentially, my whole life. I have chosen, many times, to change that, with the help of doctors, nutritionists, and trainers. I eat much less, and better foods, and exercise way more (which is not to say that I don't normally watch what I eat and exercise, it's just that I have to kick everything into overdrive to lose weight). And whatever weight I lose comes back, ALWAYS, because the cumulative level of effort that is required to maintain that weight loss is unsustainable in the long run.

Sure, I choose how much I exercise and how much I eat every day, but so do thin people, and their choices aren't necessarily much different than mine. What pisses me off about statements like this is that they seem to assume that our bodies all process food and exercise in the same way; that if we all do X we will all weigh a certain amount. And that's patently false.

I guarantee that people who are fat—even those on the "fat acceptance" bandwagon—are constantly thinking about their weight and how their daily choices affect it. And, generally, they're making the choices that are beneficial to their health, not the ones that are detrimental to it. Chances are, they think about these things much more than the average person, in fact.

Am I proud of being fat? No. Am I ashamed of it? No, I'm not. Both positions would be absurd, as I didn't choose for my body to process food and exercise the way it does, which makes fat my default state in the society in which I live.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [45 favorites]


I guess I feel that fat people already have to deal with a lot. There's a lot of shame, a lot of self-loathing. I'm not out to create just one more environment where waves of disgust and mockery pour forth, which is what that thread is -- even from people who I think are making fat people jokes in a manner they consider ironic. It's just a hostile, toxic atmosphere, and, as I said in the thread, I think people use the fact that being overweight is bad for you and that fat people are, to some extent, responsible for their weight, as an excuse for meanness at worse, lack of compassion at best. It's not us at our best.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:32 AM on May 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


As the author of said-thread, I agree that the whole thing veered pretty quick towards a discussion of how disgusting fat people are as compared to discussion of the advertisement itself.

And this ..... surprised you?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:32 AM on May 16, 2009


What about something as simple as choosing to work in an office rather than, say, a construction site? When people talk about choices, what they should be talking about are big choices, the ones that people don't even think they've made, because these are the kinds of choices that radically change the kind of life you lead. These are the kinds of choices that people rarely reconsider. Now, I'm not saying that any particular person should've made different choices, or even that choices are the primary culprit, but choices do matter. Of course they do. It doesn't justify giving people a hard time, but denying this is crazy.
posted by smorange at 7:36 AM on May 16, 2009


If you are gay, do you bristle when someone says that your homosexuality is a choice that you made? You know that it wasn't a choice. You were made that way.

I'm fat and I bristle when someone tells me that it is a choice that I made. I know that I didn't choose to be fat. I was made that way.

But wait, you might say, the two things are different! Are they really that different? Your brain is predisposed to like people of the same sex. My brain and body predispose me to be fat. Through dieting and grueling exercise, I could lose some weight but I would be miserably unhappy, would never be thin and would gain all or even more weight back if I stopped. Similarly, you could physically force yourself to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. You would miserably unhappy, would never really be straight and would probably end that relationship ASAP and go back to being just as gay as you were when you started.

Just like gay people can't be cured of teh gay, I can't be cured of teh fat. We could both change our behaviors on a temporary basis to get temporary results, but we are what we are.

I don't look down on gay people. There is nothing wrong or bad about being gay and I openly accept your right to be who you are. I think that people who discriminate against gay people are small-minded bigots.

Why is it OK to discriminate against me? I think a lot of people need to reexamine their bigoted conceptions about obesity and ask themselves if they are comfortable with being a bigot.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:40 AM on May 16, 2009 [24 favorites]


Apart from it being a canard that people "choose" to be overweight, and are either lazy or careless, and apart from the other points brought up - the overweight "waste resources" and are "visually repellent" - if personal choice doesn't matter in the context of whether or not it's OK to ridicule and belittle others, then why does it even need to be brought up? Why does the distinction need to be made that "people can't choose their race, gender or sexual orientation - that's the difference between them and the overweight"? It just sounds like a set-up for justifying jerkish behavior towards others.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:44 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I can't be cured of teh fat.

Oh come on. Are you trolling? You are way off base there. If people want to say "Hey, that's the way I am", fine. Fantastic! Live with that. Do not sit there and say ridiculous things like what you wrote. "I can't change" bullshit is what makes a lot of people grate their teeth or roll their eyes when they hear it.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:51 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


As the author of said-thread, I agree that the whole thing veered pretty quick towards a discussion of how disgusting fat people are as compared to discussion of the advertisement itself.

I'm a little surprised that you thought the thread would go anything like exactly how it did.

I was presenting the view that this thread is not likely to go well, and do more harm than good.

The mods have said more than once that that is a bad idea. Why would you feel the need to make what is often a self-fulfilling prediction? Make a useful contribution or stay out of the thread.


Also, sorry about being asleep at the wheel, I was actually IRL asleep. Late night threads on touchy topics sometimes don't get the early "this thread sucks/this topic sucks/you suck/gets popcorn" pruning that other threads do, but I'll say it here for the record: please do not comment really early in a touchy thread that the thread is going to go badly. I know you think you're just reporting but the nature of observing disturbs the observed which is to say, you're making it go badly by doing that, please don't do that. People don't get or appreciate zingy irony on topics that are really close to the bone for them (in whatever fashion) and these threads quickly become messy beyond our ability to clean them up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


And now, a beautiful photo of fat ladies (NSFW, but then, neither are the Three Graces).
posted by ocherdraco at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2009


What pisses me off about statements like this is that they seem to assume that our bodies all process food and exercise in the same way

I don't think that is exactly right. I think most people recognize that different bodies process food and exercise differently. I think your next statement is probably a more accurate description of what's behind those statements: "if we all do X we will all weigh a certain amount"—where X=1 for Joe, X=3 for Lisa, X=5 for Dave, etc.

In other words, I don't think it's a belief that, "If you just did exactly what I do, then you wouldn't be fat." People know that body chemistry varies. But what I think is the underlying belief, is that while there might be a very small number of people who will be naturally, unavoidably obese despite eating small, healthy meals, such conditions are rare compared to the number of obese people in the world, meaning that most obese people could do something, somehow about it.
posted by cribcage at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why does the distinction need to be made that "people can't choose their race, gender or sexual orientation - that's the difference between them and the overweight"?

A slight derail here, but - the anti-fat brigade isn't keeping up with modern science if they haven't heard yet that people can and do choose their gender. Perhaps someone should found an activist group - possibly called 'TransFats' - to campaign for the rights of fatties, trannies, and fat trannies.

People don't get or appreciate zingy irony on topics that are really close to the bone for them

And we all know how deep you have to cut to get close to the bone on a fat person.

(You're probably all shocked I wrote that. I am really fat though, so I'm allowed).
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I moved here to Africa to get into humanitarian work. I remember the first time I was able to fly home to see my family in the US, probably about a year in. I had a 18-hour flight from Johannesburg via Dakar to Washington DC. After about 5 hours in the airport waiting for my connection (having been awake for about 30 hours at that point) we started boarding for the cross-country flight to California. I had been forward thinking enough to grab one of aisle seats near the boarding door, and so I had a pretty good view of the line of passengers as they boarded behind me.

The plane filled up for the most part, yet the middle seat next to me was still open. There was a small girl in the window seat. And then I looked up and saw a man who must have weighed close to 350lbs, carrying a bag of McDonald's cheeseburgers.

After he wedged himself in, somehow, I wedged myself in, but his stomach was literally pouring over onto, and resting on, my lap. The armrest was down, clearly to his discomfort, but I literally could not see it. Even with myself leaning well into the aisle, his arms held up and in front of him, his torso was still pressing on my shoulder, literally pushing me out into the aisle.

Now, there's certainly the possibility that this man had a disease that made him this way, that he was completely at a loss to control in any sense. I can grant that. But as I sat there, preparing to be sat on by a stranger, for 6+ hours, something hit me: I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a truly "fat" person. For the most part, they simply don't exist where I now live. The way the majority of society is forced to live over here means that they very often have the opposite problem - most Africans are exceedingly slim.

I don't hate fat people, I don't feel superior to them - although sometimes I feel bad for them, but not in a looking-down-your-nose type of pity. But at the same time I refuse to buy into the notion that every overweight person that I see is a victim of a disease they have no control over. You can call it ugly ignorance, but frankly I'd offer that you have the same problem if you think that's the case.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:06 AM on May 16, 2009 [31 favorites]


I think stigmatizing fat people is just as bad as stigmatizing anyone for being anything.

We've all known fat people who eat way too much and make pathetic excuses for their weight problem. So fat people, for many people, have come to personify qualities like "lack of self-control," "self-deluding," "undisciplined," "unhealthy," etc.

It's not right that being fat is associated with those qualities, but those qualities accompany fatness often enough that it shouldn't be a surprise that some people persist in criticizing fat people along these lines.
posted by jayder at 8:10 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't hate fat people, I don't feel superior to them - although sometimes I feel bad for them, but not in a looking-down-your-nose type of pity. But at the same time I refuse to buy into the notion that every overweight person that I see is a victim of a disease they have no control over. You can call it ugly ignorance, but frankly I'd offer that you have the same problem if you think that's the case.

I think the problem is that it's impossible to tell. We can assume that we know why people are fat (the bag of McDonald's cheeseburgers), but sometimes those assumptions are wrong and it is unfair and prejudiced to make those assumptions about people you know little to nothing about.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


But at the same time I refuse to buy into the notion that every overweight person that I see is a victim of a disease they have no control over.

Here's what seems to be the case: Most fat people's condition is the result of some choice to eat too much at some point in their lives, but once they became that fat, the element of choice essentially vanishes and --- for many of them --- no amount of reasonable effort will permanently reverse the obesity. Perhaps it is that overeating has become too much of a psychological crutch, or perhaps it is that, at some more primitive level the body drives the person to eat and maintain an obese weight because of some kind of metabolic momentum ... But it does seem that once someone becomes really fat, the body "prefers" that weight and in the struggle between the person's desire to be thin, and the body's preference for obesity, the body almost always wins.
posted by jayder at 8:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait -- he was 20 lbs overweight, and he lost 30? I think the poster just sounds jealous. I suspect that he can't gain back that extra 10, and it's bugging the shit out of him.

Nya nya nya nya nyaaaaaa nya! I've got an extra 10, and you don't even have it if you neeeeeed iiiiit!!
posted by heyho at 8:19 AM on May 16, 2009


I think the problem is that it's impossible to tell.

Well as cribcage said earlier:

is that while there might be a very small number of people who will be naturally, unavoidably obese despite eating small, healthy meals, such conditions are rare compared to the number of obese people in the world, meaning that most obese people could do something, somehow about it.

So unless people actually do have real genetic/medical condition since a young age or before they became obese then at best they are guessing and/or assuming for themselves. So in that light, is it fair game to assume all around?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2009


Before I begin, I have been obese nearly my entire life. Last summer I made a choice to fix the habits I could control in an effort to do something about it (i.e. the food I eat, exercise, etc.). Being indolent by nature this has been long, painful and frustrating. I am making progress but its slow. I was teased incessantly for my weight growing up and I am acutely aware of the pain that people who are overweight are forced to endure every day. It's not pleasant. So, since I have been painfully obese and have also worked hard to do something about it I can kind of see both sides of this problem.

Now, I think the problem with this whole debate is that people are just blindly shouting about one point of view or the other and the bottom line is that like all things in life this requires nuance.

Yes, there are without question a group of people in the world who have health issues that cause them to gain and hang on to fat in such a way that no matter how hard they work they might never approach a healthy weight in any sustainable fashion and will fight it their whole lives. While negative choices can amplify these underlying health issues, at the end of the day even making the right ones it could be a losing battle.

As someone upstream pointed out there are a number of other factors like socioeconomics, the availability of quality food to people in inner cities and other lower income areas, our societies bizarre insistence that we drive everywhere, urban planning that is hostile to cyclists and pedestrians, etc. All of these factors affect obesity and a person's likelihood to become/stay obese.

We also have to accept that there are also a group of people in the world who are obese by choice. They choose what they eat, how much they eat, the level of physical exercise they engage in, how much AC to use and the thousand other little things that can contribute to obesity. People are free to make choices. If those choices include ones that dramatically shorten their lifespan and create a panoply of health issues that will significantly hinder the time they do have on Earth, that is still their choice to make.

I think where there is a parting of ways here in this thread is at this critical juncture; there are people who hate the choices that some people make that lead to obesity or a continuation of obesity. Maybe they aren't articulating this. I think its completely possible to say "hey, you are deserving of all the respect that every human deserves simply due to the fact that you, like me, are human and exist." What this doesn't mean however is that I have to respect your choices. People are allowed to make this distinction, and should.

So, here's the tl;dr- This is a vastly complicated issue. There are aspects that people can and cannot control. Without question all people regardless of ANY factor deserve respect as fellow human beings and we are obligated (if we want to be decent humans anyway) to show that respect. This doesn't mean we have to respect their choices. These things are not one and the same.

I don't support hate or discrimination of any kind, but I think it's important here to recognize that there is a distinction between not respecting a person and not respecting their choices.

Obviously the O-OP (original original poster) who started this firestorm made a value judgement about the person (visually repellent) that deviates from a disrespect for choice into a disrespect for the person that is unacceptable. This we can all agree on. The rest however, is a valid debate that should be had.
posted by zennoshinjou at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


So unless people actually do have real genetic/medical condition since a young age or before they became obese then at best they are guessing and/or assuming for themselves. So in that light, is it fair game to assume all around

I don't think so. What good does it do?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2009


So, here's the tl;dr- This is a vastly complicated issue. There are aspects that people can and cannot control. Without question all people regardless of ANY factor deserve respect as fellow human beings and we are obligated (if we want to be decent humans anyway) to show that respect. This doesn't mean we have to respect their choices. These things are not one and the same.

This doesn't make it sound complicated at all, really. Whatever degree or nuance or clarification with regards to how personal choices have or have not affected someone's body shape, that entire argument is completely irrelevant to whether or not discrimination and ridicule towards the overweight is OK. So while that whole discussion of what makes people overweight might be interesting, it seems Hat Maui isn't addressing that - he's addressing some of the uglier comments that came up in the Mefi thread.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:34 AM on May 16, 2009


Every time there is a thread about fat, I bring up the same question and no one has an answer (and I look and can't find one either): Take selected groups of fat people and thin people. Feed them the exact same meals. Ensure they exercise the same amount. Find out the caloric content or their feces and urine. Is there a difference?

Seems so basic to me.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:35 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't think so. What good does it do?

Then why is an assumed condition used as a line of reasoning?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:39 AM on May 16, 2009


My 350 lb, "morbidly obese" husband is the sexiest, most bangin'-est man I know.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 8:44 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This doesn't make it sound complicated at all, really. Whatever degree or nuance or clarification with regards to how personal choices have or have not affected someone's body shape, that entire argument is completely irrelevant to whether or not discrimination and ridicule towards the overweight is OK. So while that whole discussion of what makes people overweight might be interesting, it seems Hat Maui isn't addressing that - he's addressing some of the uglier comments that came up in the Mefi thread.


Well, why people are obese is admittedly not relevant but I was trying illustrate that there is a difference between ridiculing a choice and ridiculing a person who makes a choice and that since there is no clear answer for why people are obese its difficult issue to discuss sanely since people rarely pick apart the distinction I was illustrating.
posted by zennoshinjou at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2009


Then why is an assumed condition used as a line of reasoning?

I'm not assuming a condition. I'm saying that I don't know (and this includes not only medical conditions but socioeconomic details and other issues that make people's body shapes beyond their control as well), and therefore have no right to judge, if choice is relevant in the debate about judging people at all. Which I'm not sure if it is. I'm not entirely sure why so many people want some sort of justification for judgmental behavior, particularly if their goal is affecting positive change. I think anyone who's watched chubby kids get picked on during gym class can see how this sort of judgment only makes people feel less comfortable using their bodies. So that's what i meant by "What good does it do?"

But honestly, I don't think people are looking for was to affect positive change. I think they're looking for justifications of cruelty.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


DecemberBoy's comparison of heavy people with presumed degenerates and the implication that they're less human than everyone else

What the fuck? Dude, if you think smokers and alcoholics and addicts are "degenerates" and "less human", that's your own weird crazy-ass prejudice speaking. Seriously, what the fuck? The point of the comparison was that smokers and alcoholics and addicts are other groups, like the obese, that have health problems that they at least in part inflicted on themselves through poor choices, and that to be proud of a self-inflicted serious medical condition is misguided to say the least. That should be completely obvious to anyone who isn't a complete lunatic.

Maybe the syphilitic whoremonger could qualify as a degenerate, but really he was just in there for comic relief. Really, the analogy should be totally obvious.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:06 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Kids are evil little fuckers

In a comment, and in a thread, about unfair generalizing, could we dispense with this, please? I know kind, empathetic children. I agree that they tend to have fewer inhibitions about saying what they think, but what they think tends to be not more evil than what adults think, and a lot less hardened into permanency. In other words, they can be reasoned with (unlike many of the commenters on that other thread).
posted by palliser at 9:07 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The point of the comparison was that smokers and alcoholics and addicts are other groups, like the obese, that have health problems that they at least in part inflicted on themselves through poor choices, and that to be proud of a self-inflicted serious medical condition is misguided to say the least.

I think the idea, as others have pointed out elsewhere, is that it's about having self-esteem despite your medical condition; not necessarily being proud of it per se (although if someone likes their body shape, it really shouldn't be of any concern to anybody). I can't really see the harm in that, nor do I think the opposite - openly belittling the overweight - is going to help, either.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2009


What I'm saying is there is a few lines of reasoning that seems to come up when people talk about obesity. One of them is the genetic or medical condition, which would clearly puts this whole matter out of the hands of the person and not give them a choice (or a severely limited one) at all. Okay, well if we had stats on hand, what percentage of obese people do you think are actually affected by these conditions? Honestly, I would be REALLY surprised if it was over 10%. If my estimation has any merit, and I don't think I'm wrong in my assumptions, why is this idea that "it's all in the genetics" touted so often? AND if it is, then what makes your body so different from mine? What are these conditions?

Cruelty? If anyone missed the part of elementary school where they taught that teasing is not nice, then maybe they need to go back and learn it.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:14 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't care that an individual person is fat or thin. I'm married, so the physical attractiveness of that individual person is a moot point. However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating. I see this ALL THE TIME when I go to lunch with heavyset coworkers, or have dinner with obese friends - they order heart-attacks-on-a-plate and then complain about not being able to lose weight. Jesus, just admit that you're not trying, would you? The hypocrisy is what gets under my skin. Just admit that you like ice cream and bacon and you're not going to give them up. I really don't care, but don't whine to me about how it's not a choice when you're sitting in front of me stuffing your face.
posted by desjardins at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


I think they're looking for justifications of cruelty.

First, making judgments and being cruel are two different things. Judgment is good. Cruelty is bad. And if we're going to talk about not assuming the worst about [X] people, then let's not assume that [Y] people are looking to justify cruel behavior.

The more interesting aspect of the conversation to me is, what should we do about obesity. Assuming we agree that it's a societal problem, then to the extent "choice" is relevant, at least two solutions arise: Educate people to make better choices, and/or legislate their choices. That's a really complex discussion, legally and philosophically, and to answer your point, many people who engage that discussion out of sincere desire to effect "positive change" tend to think that a problem's causes should factor into its solutions.
posted by cribcage at 9:19 AM on May 16, 2009


Speaking of "justifications", I'm pretty sure that when certain people saw that thread, they were just waiting to be offended, ready with the MeTa callout at the first hint of a fat joke. When that didn't happen, and no one said anything particularly bad about fat people, option B was to resort to crazy fucking moon logic ("degenerate subhumans") to read something offensive into something that really wasn't. And here we are.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I would be REALLY surprised if it was over 10%. If my estimation has any merit, and I don't think I'm wrong in my assumptions, why is this idea that "it's all in the genetics" touted so often? AND if it is, then what makes your body so different from mine? What are these conditions?

Well, thyroid conditions are one. My mother had her thyroid taken out two years ago and, despite exercising more now than she ever has before in her sixty-one years, she's also overweight for the first time in her life.

And, really, just pulling out 10% from thin air seems pretty unscientific. I don't know how many overweight people are impacted by conditions that they have no control over. But honestly, the percentage isn't relevant. Some people are and, again, if we're justified about making judgments about strangers based on whether or not they're "choosing" to be overweight (which again, I don't think that doing so does anyone any good), the vast majority of time, when people are making these judgments, they're doing so with insufficient information as to whether or not that person is actually making a choice.

First, making judgments and being cruel are two different things. Judgment is good. Cruelty is bad. And if we're going to talk about not assuming the worst about [X] people, then let's not assume that [Y] people are looking to justify cruel behavior.

I really have trouble seeing how judgment is good in this case. Can you explain that to me?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:28 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, why people are obese is admittedly not relevant but I was trying illustrate that there is a difference between ridiculing a choice and ridiculing a person who makes a choice and that since there is no clear answer for why people are obese its difficult issue to discuss sanely since people rarely pick apart the distinction I was illustrating.

Choice or not, it's still ridiculing another human being because of the shape of their body. That's why all this hair-splitting and conjecture is meaningless - even the people who are saying that most overweight people are that way as a result of their choices qualify this remark by adding "but I don't think it's OK to be cruel to people". So there's no point in belaboring the distinction anyway.

The more interesting aspect of the conversation to me is, what should we do about obesity. Assuming we agree that it's a societal problem, then to the extent "choice" is relevant, at least two solutions arise: Educate people to make better choices, and/or legislate their choices. That's a really complex discussion, legally and philosophically, and to answer your point, many people who engage that discussion out of sincere desire to effect "positive change" tend to think that a problem's causes should factor into its solutions.

As I think most, if not all, overweight people are aware they're overweight and aware it's unhealthy, as well as what healthy eating entails, I think the education end would need to focus on what healthy ways exist to bring weight off and keep it off. There's an entire industry built on shaming people about their body image, or providing false hope for reversing their condition.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:33 AM on May 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Speaking of "justifications", I'm pretty sure that when certain people saw that thread, they were just waiting to be offended, ready with the MeTa callout at the first hint of a fat joke.

Remarks about how overweight people are "visually repellent", and comments that imply they bring the cruelty on themselves did more than enough of the heavy work in helping people be offended.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:35 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher writes "I feel superior to fat people because when the zombie apocalypse comes, I'll be able to run faster than them."

That feeling is probably unjustified considering the relative risks of a zombie apocalypse and say a repeat of 1816.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 AM on May 16, 2009


You can't tell by looking if a fat person is on a diet and exercising, and you can't tell by looking if a thin person is getting that way by binging, purging, or by a very high metabolism while scarfing down everything not nailed down.

Therefore I think judging a person by looking at them is a little disingenuous.

(btw I am overweight, and I have been exercising heavily for five years now. I can probably kick your butt in spin class right now. So I really don't give a rat's hiney about anyone's opinion of my size. My husband likes me just as I am and he is the only one in my life that gets a vote.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remarks about how overweight people are "visually repellent", and comments that imply they bring the cruelty on themselves did more than enough of the heavy work in helping people be offended.

I can't speak for whoever wrote that one. Yeah, "visually repellent" is probably out of line, but I'll let whoever's responsible for that one defend themselves.

You know what? Indirectly but clearly stating that smokers and alcoholics and addicts are degenerate subhumans, given that I stated in the thread that I myself am a smoker and at times could probably have been described as an addict, is a hell of a lot more offensive and insulting than whatever absoludicrous logical gymnastics are required to parse my comment as somehow ridiculing the obese. If I was the type of person who interpreted things like that as a personal attack, I'd have a lot more right to be offended than the guy who said it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2009


What about fatheads? Can we still make fun of fatheads who post stupid comments? If not, we may as well close up MetaTalk now. Fuck it, shut down the whole site.

Please note that fatheads are not to be confused with mattheads. The Matthead masks will be arriving from the printers shortly along with the map-of-the-Cortex baseball caps, Jessamyn "Deletion Reason" T-Shirts, pb giant foam hands, and vacapinta Alarm Clock. All will be available for sale in time for the big 10 celebrations.
posted by Elmore at 9:50 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know of conditions like hypothyroidism and Type 1 Diabetes can make weight gain a problem. People are not claiming that, it's "I'm obese and it's a condition". Though, I did say if the condition directly related to obesity and if it was pre-existing.
Also, I just like to say there seems to be a certain amount of dismissiveness to any of these arguments. It does matter if it was a choice or a condition. Especially if people are going too make claims for or to the contrary.

Pulling 10% out of the air is unscientific as claiming you have an undiagnosed medical condition causing your obesity.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:51 AM on May 16, 2009


It just amazes me that fat human beings can be seen as so repellent when fat animals are almost universally cute. What the hell's the difference?

Over my lifetime, fat has become uglier and uglier in the eyes of the general public-- and it's really strange!

I'm tempted to blame it on sex, the sexualization of everything, where everyone at all times of the day or night has to present themselves in the best possible light as a potential sex partner to the entire world.
posted by jamjam at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yet, I would still be really surprised if that number climbed over 10%.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2009


You can't tell by looking if a fat person is on a diet and exercising

See, that's a good point. We don't know if any of these people we pass silent judgements on are struggling with their weight, if they're currently dieting and working out (it's actually really unhealthy and potentially dangerous to try and lose weight too quickly; it needs to be gradually taken off). And even if they're not, well, that still doesn't open license for abuse - it seems everyone's on board with that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, I just like to say there seems to be a certain amount of dismissiveness to any of these arguments. It does matter if it was a choice or a condition.

Within the context of whether or not it's cool to be ridiculing people on their body shape, why? Why does it matter?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:56 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pulling 10% out of the air is unscientific as claiming you have an undiagnosed medical condition causing your obesity.

I didn't make any of those sorts of claims (in fact, I'm within the normal weight range for my height).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:01 AM on May 16, 2009


Within the context of whether or not it's cool to be ridiculing people on their body shape, why? Why does it matter?

No, within the context of stating "I don' have a choice, it's a medical condition."

I didn't make any of those sorts of claims (in fact, I'm within the normal weight range for my height).

And I never said I was talking about you.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2009


No, within the context of stating "I don' have a choice, it's a medical condition."

Well, obesity is a medical condition. One that can be caused or exacerbated by other medical conditions, and also cause other medical problems. It seems bizarre to argue otherwise when it's defined as a medical condition. Again, there's no way to know what instances of obesity are caused by external factors. That you feel instinctively that there can't be many causes of medically caused obesity isn't really a sound argument, and more importantly, (again) is irrelevant when it comes to justifying making judgments about strangers.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: ... if personal choice doesn't matter in the context of whether or not it's OK to ridicule and belittle others, then why does it even need to be brought up? Why does the distinction need to be made that "people can't choose their race, gender or sexual orientation - that's the difference between them and the overweight"?

This is a good point—and the answer to your question, I think, is: because, as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out, Americans (and most democratically-minded people the world over today) believe that justice has two dimensions, freedom and equality, and, since this is not an issue of freedom, we think about this in terms of equal treatment. Therefore, when we try to argue against the sort of behavior that this callout regards, we couch our arguments in the terms of our ideas of equal treatment; we say that the overweight are being 'discriminated against' or that they are subject to 'unfair bias' or that this hatred is 'bigotry.' But 'discrimination' is of course shorthand for 'unfair discrimination,' that is to say the singling out of people based not upon their actual virtues and vices and their actual worth as human beings but on arbitrary distinctions which they could not have chosen. So the discussion often tends toward the question of whether the overweight can have chosen their status; and, as there are arguments on either side, this discussion can be derailed for a long, long time.

The point, I think, is that there are moral considerations beyond the equality of the situation, and I believe everyone knows this. As Hat Maui pointed out up above, even if you believe that obesity is on the moral level of alcoholism or heroin addiction, it is wrong to be mean-spirited in all cases. And, while mean-spiritedness toward the latter two groups might actually be relatively common, that doesn't make it morally worthwhile.

I'll go further: I'd say that even if you believe that obesity is worse than alcoholism or heroin addiction—even if you believe that it's on the moral level of, say, environmental destruction or theft or abusiveness toward family or friends—mean-spirited behavior is still wrong. It serves no good purpose. No amount of mean-spirited cruelty will ever help a person who is overweight; nor will it help the thief, the abuser, or the polluter. And nor will it help the person who is being mean-spirited.

To put it bluntly, it's simply wrong to indulge in cruelty toward others. There is no case I can come up with in which it's good to be cruel to another human being; if it were good, then it wouldn't be cruel. So, as Marisa points out, the question of whether people choose to be fat is not really important here; the case is a lot simpler than people think.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2009 [45 favorites]


The approach advocated and perpetrated by the intolerant may not help the obese become healthier and mostly makes the hideous trap of self-loathing and negative compulsion more difficult to navigate, but at least we learn how little we can interact with the world before isolation madness sets in.
posted by batmonkey at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2009


No, within the context of stating "I don' have a choice, it's a medical condition."

This thread was started to address some of the uglier comments made about the overweight. This is what I meant by saying the choice/condition argument "makes no difference" in this context. If you felt there was a dismissive tone, that's because I can't help wondering why this argument keeps popping up, framed in such a way as to give the impression that it does make a difference within this context.

The whole choice/condition argument is a whole other ball of wax, and one that could make for an interesting discussion. It's just, it cropping up here, it gives the impression that it somehow changes whether or not it's alright to say cruel things about them. But giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe it's just one of those contextual distortion sort of things.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: Within the context of whether or not it's cool to be ridiculing people on their body shape, why? Why does it matter?

P.o.B.: No, within the context of stating "I don' have a choice, it's a medical condition."

But that's the point—whence that context? People who are overweight adduce the argument that they 'don't have a choice' because they seek to justify the claim that cruelty toward them is a kind of bigotry or a kind of discrimination on the basis of arbitrary, unchosen attributes. They try to justify that claim in turn because they're trying to answer those who argue that it is morally correct to be cruel toward the overweight simply because they have some notion that cruelty can change people for the better.

The only reason the issue of choices versus medical conditions ever came up is because there is cruelty toward fat people. Marisa's point stands; the discussion of whether obesity is a condition which can be chosen isn't really pertinent in any way unless you can argue that cruelty toward people with regard to their attributes can be justified as long as those attributes are chosen.
posted by koeselitz at 10:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well, obesity is a medical condition.

Obesity is it's own cause??? Otherwise you're being willfully ignorant towards my statements and dismissve towards the whole conversation.

(again) is irrelevant when it comes to justifying making judgments about strangers.

Unless you're the Dali Lama (and you start telling me about everlasting life on my deathbed), then it's safe to assume you also judge strangers irregardless of size.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:24 AM on May 16, 2009


The thing that annoys me about this discussion (every time we have it) is how it always descends into a black-or-white, all-or-nothing arguefest.

Look, some people are genetically predisposed to being fat. That's just how they're made. You didn't choose your eye color, did you?

On the other hand, predisposition does not equal causation. I've got a number of nasty genetic predispositions -- everything from OCD to heart disease to psoriasis. Does this mean that I sit around all day having heart attacks, scratching my scalp, and worrying that I haven't checked the door enough times to make sure that it's locked? No! I do things to try and mitigate my genetic nasties. Otherwise my life would be hell.

And believe me -- if I had the chance to live my life again 30 pounds overweight but without the mental anguish of OCD, I'm not saying that I would do it, but I would definitely have to give it some thought.
posted by Sloop John B at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


even if you believe that obesity is on the moral level of alcoholism or heroin addiction

Again, if you think alcoholism and addiction are "morally wrong", that's your own fucked up puritanism and prejudices speaking. Any perceived implication that the obese are terrible people because my comment equated them with addicts and alcoholics, who are obviously terrible people, is in your own mind, Carrie Nation.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Judging and making assumptions about other people is generally a lousy thing to do.

The science of mind has been discovering repeatedly that, as a few people have said, very few things human beings do boil down to "choice" or "genetics." We are complex beings balancing on an intersection point between genetic predisposition, social context, and personal identity. Some people's body type may be caused by only a single one of those three factors - but I doubt it. All of us have a physical body that reflects a constant, and constantly changing, interaction between those three spheres.

To address obesity as a public and individual health concern is one thing. Like smoking, of course it is. But to imagine that a body type is wholly the result of a "choice" is to be wilfully ignorant of the way human beings actually function in the world. Choice is, at best, a third or so of the factors that combine to create obesity, excessive thinness, poor physical conditioning, great physical conditioning, flexibility, endurance, or whatever other characteristic you want to measure. The "choices" that appear to result in obesity - bags of McDonalds, not exercising, whatever it is you think is the simple cause - may be a result of (a) depression or mental illess, a mind-caused issue with a genetic component; (b) physical pain in joints or spine or motility limitations or low energy state, an ailment that causes poor digestive function, or other physically caused issues; (c) lack of familiarity with healthy eating practices, being poorly acculturated to, uninterested in, and/or uncomfortable with the body or physical exercise, or lacking information about healthy eating, or other socially caused issues which then impact the brain's habits and decision-making; (d) attention being devoted to some other vital area of life (caregiving for ill parent, challenging stages of graduate degree or deadline pressures at work) that makes much less attention available for management of the body, a mental and social issue; (e) a need for comfort-seeking or a need to remove oneself from viewing as a sexual object, an emotional-health issue; (f) I could go on. The thing is, like most things about humans, obesity does not have one simple cause.

And you, the ignorant observer, don't have the knowledge it takes to enumerate or understand the causes.

So judging people for how they look, and assuming you know why and how to solve it. isn't really just bad form. It's totally ignorant. We won't be having a meaningful discussion about living in our bodies until we're able to fully comprehend that mind and body are complex and dynamic and exist in tension with forces both within and outside of us.

For those who want their bodies to change, we do have a fair degree of information about how that can be done, but we also know that for many people, the particular makeup of the unique set of conditions in their lives that are causing obesity will be harder to overcome than for others. And we have legitimate reason to question our purely aesthetic objections to the way other people look. And finally, we really have no right at all to insist that other people live by our standards. We can work as a community to promote the values and ideas we'd rather see, we can tweak public policy to enhance public health, and we can respectfully support ourselves and others in our work to understand how to have optimum health, if we want it. Those might provide solutions.

But in the end, judging and sneering and presuming about things you really don't comprehend just makes a person look like a prissy asshole, and will never provide solutions.

I also think it would be helpful to think of "pride" not as the statement "this is a condition to be aspired to" but as "the opposite of shame." Saying "I'm proud of myself" is saying "I love myself, I'm not ashamed of myself, I don't accept the idea that I should feel shame." Being willing to shame others for what they are is rarely the hallmark of a well-adjusted person enjoying good mental health.
posted by Miko at 10:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [103 favorites]


discrimination on the basis of arbitrary, unchosen attributes.

I'll say it again. If we are going to make declarations as such as this then it opens the conversation to it. Perhaps it is a defensive posture, but even if the conversation is opened in a reasonable manner then we get reasoning along these lines. Thus, they are important to at least discuss.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:28 AM on May 16, 2009


do people make many tall jokes? do tall people get passed over for jobs in favor of "normal" people? is anyone clamoring for the tall to buy two plane tickets?

Oh god yes; well, actually, we get better-paying jobs and are promoted faster, sucks to be us; no, but they sure don't care about ramming their seat back into your knees.

Kickstart70: This isn't quite what you're looking for, but the BBC took a sample of people and tried to feed them up, monitoring their calorie intakes and exercise levels to ensure parity. After a few months, a certain group of people who were thin to begin with remained pretty much as thin as they'd always been, while others had piled on the weight. It doesn't seem much of a stretch to think it could work the other way.

That's not to say, though, that there isn't a range of "normal" weight, and that lifestyle choices can easily take you careening over or under that weight. There's a difference between being doughy by nature and a three-seater by choice. This is too often conflated, I think.
posted by fightorflight at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, obesity is a medical condition.

Obesity is it's own cause??? Otherwise you're being willfully ignorant towards my statements and dismissve towards the whole conversation.

(again) is irrelevant when it comes to justifying making judgments about strangers.

Unless you're the Dali Lama (and you start telling me about everlasting life on my deathbed), then it's safe to assume you also judge strangers irregardless of size.


Obesity is defined as a medical condition; people who say that it's a medical condition are saying something that's factually true. That doesn't mean that obesity causes itself (though, certainly, a genetic predisposition toward obesity can have a mighty role in whether or not someone is obese).

And "well, I bet you've judged people too" is a pretty cruddy argument. The fact that people--anyone!--make unkind judgments against other people doesn't excuse it, and it definitely doesn't mean that we should go looking for arguments that justify unkind judgments.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we start hugging yet?
posted by clockzero at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2009


"would it make sense to have a similar attitude towards tall people? "

I've known some angry, bitter short people in my day, and at least one college girl who wouldn't date me primarily because of the height difference. That, and she didn't like me.
posted by mecran01 at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2009


if you think people choose to be fat, if you think fat people need to hear your disgust at their fatness, if you feel superior to fat people because you are not fat, if you think fat people are fat because they are lazy, immoral pigs, YOU ARE COMPLETELY FUCKING WRONG.

Bigguts.com — a forum for people who want a bigger gut.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Judging and making assumptions about other people is generally a lousy thing to do.

That's a pretty lofty ideal to seat your argument on.

The fact that people--anyone!--make unkind judgments against other people doesn't excuse it, and it definitely doesn't mean that we should go looking for arguments that justify unkind judgments.

To answer both you and Miko: stating unreservedly your judgments about other people is unkind. I don't think I'm to far off thinking that everybody here, except the enlightened ones, make judgments about other people. But if you guys want to play that game have fun.

Obesity is defined as a medical condition;

I can safely assume you are ignoring everything else I said
posted by P.o.B. at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2009


To put it bluntly, it's simply wrong to indulge in cruelty toward others.

Fortunately, snarking is still 100% ok!
posted by mecran01 at 10:44 AM on May 16, 2009


My brain and body predispose me to be fat. Through dieting and grueling exercise, I could lose some weight but I would be miserably unhappy, would never be thin and would gain all or even more weight back if I stopped.

Personal anecdote time: I've lost twelve pounds this past few months and I'm aiming to lose another ten. I have accomplished this by strict portion control, eliminating snacking, and busting my ass humping bricks up my steep yard for a retaining wall project and shovelling dirt.

I'm always fucking hungry and there are days I hurt like a mofo from the gruntwork. If I relax my eating rules I put on four pounds without effort and it takes over a week to lose it again. I'm a weak-willed lazy sonofabitch and this is turning out to be real hard work, both physically and mentally.

Now I suppose from your point of view "miserably unhappy" is probably accurate.

On the other hand, I also feel better about myself, have far less fear of dropping dead of a heart attack like my grandfather did a few years older than I am now, and the improvement to my sex life is, wow, astounding. I seem to be getting more energy, I am certainly building up a nice bit of muscle under my inches of stomach flab, and I'm doing something productive instead of watching tv.

All anecdotal, true.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm confused, I thought I was supposed to be concerned that "During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States" and that the heart disease is the number one cause of death, and rising. But it's all just genetics, what? That's a pretty bold claim, since the CDC seems to think it's a combination of overeating and sedentary lifestyle.

I don't ridicule fat people nor make the assumption that every single obese person is that way by "choice". I have not seen anyone make the claim that fat people should be denied the right to vote, or any of the bullshit strawmen that are being routinely erected in this thread. But I am of the opinion that those lifestyle choices which are causing obesity and heart disease to increase are worthy of judgement, yes. I am pretty thin, but I also make the choice to exercise daily, eat healthy and drive less.

I am sorry people are mean, there's no excuse for that anywhere, but that doesn't change the facts. I do not think "fat acceptance" is a good thing any more than I would support "smokers acceptance" (I am a smoker). And for the record, I think comparing obesity to homosexuality is fucking ridiculous. Please stop that.
posted by cj_ at 11:00 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I find it telling in the first comment linked that Ryvar cites both "hazardous to their health" and "visually repellent" as effects of obesity. He'd have a better point if he left it to the former alone. "Hazardous to their health" reminds me that I ought to eat less and exercise more. "Visually repellent" makes me want to eat until I'm 600 pounds and move in next door to Ryvar out of spite.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:05 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think it's very odd that Americans don't have a choice about their weight. What makes the USA such a special exception in this world? Are you sure it's not about choice of lifestyle?

United States: 30.6% obese
Greece: 21.9%
Canada: 14.3%
Netherlands: 10%
France: 9.4%
Japan: 3.2%
Average: 14.1%

Seriously, you can't look at those statistics, and the stats that show American obesity rates have skyrocketed (nice animated map) over recent years, and claim that this is all down to "genetics" and "born with it" and stuff like that.

The genetic makeup of Americans has not radically changed over the past two decades.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Can we start hugging yet?

no, some of us are too big
posted by pyramid termite at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2009


I don't look down on smokers, but I routinely tell them that cigarette smoke is disgusting

God I hate when people do that. You know what else is disgusting? You and your B.O.-stinky, sweaty bare chest and your nuts hanging out of your running shorts when you stretch, you loud-mouth jogging douchebags of Vancouver! You'll be surprised to know I can move pretty quick over long distances, too, and I'm a big angry son-of-a-bitch you do not want to catch you! Also, cycling shorts.

I'm going to take a nice walk around the block now and calm down.
posted by Hoopo at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Too much fat on our bodies is bad for us. That is a true statement.

Judging, making fun of someone who is overweight, just because of the above statement, is still a bad thing.

Because?

My health is NOT your business. My body shape is NOT your concern. And even if it was, YOUR snark would be counterproductive to fixing the problem.

I do not exist to please your eyes. I am not interested in becoming sexually appealing to you. You are free to place your eyeballs elsewhere.

And, ps.

I would rather be fat than an a**hole who makes fun of people for whatever reason.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


and it definitely doesn't mean that we should go looking for arguments that justify unkind judgments.

By the way, knock it off. Stating that is Implying a lot more than what is there, and is an unkind judgment in itself.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2009


Fuck the bald.

No, seriously, fuck us. We need the attention.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


The less hair you have, the more head you get.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:15 AM on May 16, 2009


Oh, c'mon, we all know that the number one cause of obesity is insufficient hate of fat people.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


By the way, knock it off. Stating that is Implying a lot more than what is there, and is an unkind judgment in itself.

Well, since the original commercial and thread were all about mocking people for their weight, and this MeTa was opened up because people were saying some pretty ugly things about the overweight, it seems like it's a pretty safe assumption here.

So, no, I don't feel like knocking it off. And I'm still going to play that game with my lofty ideals and stuff.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm married, so the physical attractiveness of that individual person is a moot point.

heh.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm fat. And I can totally kick your ass.

I can also skateboard a half-pipe, hike mountains, move a houseful of shit, and walk 20 miles or bike 100. Hell, if I wasn't a fat kid growing up I probably would have drowned one of the dozens and dozens of times I body surfed the Wedge growing up. Fat+wetsuit means more floatin' in the ocean.

Bonus - I eat whatever the hell I want. Ice cream? Yes please, three scoops! With bacon! Sure I'll eat two steaks. Hell, I could probably actually eat 50 eggs. I almost drank an entire gallon of whole milk once. Almost.

Ok, I'm not as fat as I used to be but I'll always be pudgy. And anyone fat (who doesn't want to be) who eats fast food or eats out more than twice a month should knock that shit off.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2009


So, no, I don't feel like knocking it off. And I'm still going to play that game with my lofty ideals and stuff.

Playing games is right, since you didn't want to have a conversation. It would also make you full of - OOPS! there goes my unkind judement.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:29 AM on May 16, 2009


I think it's sad that now we'll have people who not only think they're not hip enough to go to meetups, they'll think they're not thin enough, either.
posted by ersatzkat at 11:31 AM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I don't think the issues in this country that have created this epidemic of obesity can be boiled down to "people need to just work harder to drop the weight" in most cases. I think the media has a certain amount of culpability in this, among other sources. Regardless, I think everyone is affected by it (by virtue of higher health-care costs, etc).

Having said that, I'm pretty sure that judging people for being overweight doesn't really accomplish anything that could be regarded as having value to the community (individuals might get more or less value out of feeling superior, indulging in hate, and things like that).
posted by Nabubrush at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2009


All the too much activities are odious. Too much eating, too much drinking, too much minding other people's business, too much commenting in MetaFilter, oh, um yes, end.
posted by Cranberry at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2009


Playing games is right, since you didn't want to have a conversation. It would also make you full of - OOPS! there goes my unkind judement.

P.o.B., I'm all for someone explaining to me why judging is a good thing, or why it's a good idea to assume all sorts of things about people I don't know. If someone can tell me how that will help society, great (or even the individuals involved), I'll hear them out. But Miko stated really beautifully my objections to this sort of thing--that obesity is a complex issue, that regardless of the complex sources of obesity, it's never a nice, kind, or productive thing to do to judge other people. I actually am interested in having a conversation about this. I don't understand how saying things like "obese people use poor logic when they say obesity is a medical condition, so it's okay to use poor logic and assume very few people have medical reasons for their obesity" contributes to a productive or enlightening conversation. Maybe that's because I'm naively idealistic and do my best to not assume the worst or the ugliest about a person. Does that mean I never make judgments? Of course not, but that doesn't mean I'm playing a game when I say that I aspire to that, because I do.

What it boils down to, for me, is that people can say that their judgments about the overweight and obese are divorced from cruel comments or more meaningful discrimination, but these sorts of comments are made all the time in our society, by people who would otherwise never make cruel or cutting comments about others--it's on TV (anyone else still mad at how London got kicked off of ANTM for being "fat"?) and in magazines and in the media and lots of people feel all sorts of justified in making comments about the "health" of others when they really have no right to, when it's none of their business, whether they're using inflammatory language or not. It's one of the last acceptable prejudices--and the fact that overweight people are often assumed to be poor (another lingering acceptable prejudice) just makes all of it worse. I really genuinely think that the one people whose business someone's medical history is is their families and their doctors. Maybe people aren't explaining the medical source for their obesity because it's painful (as in the case of eating disorders) or personal or because they don't feel like they need to, or have to, explain themselves to other people. And I think that's fine. I still don't know why they should have to.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:46 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the media has a certain amount of culpability in this, among other sources.

Add to the list the food companies and government. Check out the new book Stuffed -- "An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat."
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Judging and making assumptions about other people is generally a lousy thing to do.

P.o.B.: That's a pretty lofty ideal to seat your argument on.


Wait, being nice to people - or, failing that, keeping opinions you know to be hurtful to yourself - is lofty?

Do you really think there's a fat person in this thread (or anywhere, for that matter) who hasn't heard and been told a million times, in ways both subtle and explicit, that they are gross and disgusting? That they should be ashamed of themselves? That if they just had a little willpower they wouldn't have to be gross and fat anymore? Do you really think that any of this is news?

And exactly how many fat people has this attitude helped? It's true that everyone makes judgements and assumptions about people they don't know. But if you've got two brain cells to synapse, then it's also incumbent upon you to actually think about the judgements and assumptions you make. Where do they come from? Are you parroting what you've been accultured to parrot? What if, everytime you made an assumption about someone, you had to say it to their face, and you'd have to back it up, cites and all? Would you think a little more carefully about why you assume this person is/looks the way they do?

Furthermore, what good do those assumptions and judgements do? Do they serve a positive purpose, to you, or to the person you're judging, or to your community? Or do they only color how you see the world, perhaps even narrow it?

Looking at your judgements and assumptions about people is your responsibility. You have a brain. Use it wisely.
posted by rtha at 12:04 PM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


P.o.B.: Unless you're the Dali Lama (and you start telling me about everlasting life on my deathbed), then it's safe to assume you also judge strangers irregardless of size.

This is a pure example of an ad hominem argument. If Adolf Hitler walked up to you and told you that 2 + 2 = 4, would it be a rationally legitimate response to say, “of course not—you killed the Jews, so you must be wrong.” Even if Marisa is a hypocrite (and I'm not counting on it) hypocrites can very easily be correct.

[me]: discrimination on the basis of arbitrary, unchosen attributes.

P.o.B.: I'll say it again. If we are going to make declarations as such as this then it opens the conversation to it. Perhaps it is a defensive posture, but even if the conversation is opened in a reasonable manner then we get reasoning along these lines. Thus, they are important to at least discuss.


I think you miss the point of my comment, which argued that the argument that fat isn't a choice is part of a larger distraction from the core issue. In other words, I was arguing that if the conversation were opened in a reasonable manner, we wouldn't get reasoning along these lines. It works like this:

A. [cruel joke or hurtful statement about fat people]
B. You're being discriminatory—this cruelty or hurtfulness is just like racism or sexism.
A. “No it's not. Sex and race are characteristics you can't change; but fat people choose to be fat.”
B. No they don't; obesity is a medical condition.

[&c]

See, the point is, the above argument got derailed on first B. point; cruelty or hurtfulness toward fat people isn't just like racism or sexism. It doesn't have to be just like sexism or racism to be wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 12:09 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thanks, ericb.
posted by Nabubrush at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2009


For Ryvar and five_fresh_fish who have lost a lot of weight recently: congratulations! This is not snark, but true appreciation because I found out earlier this week at the doctor's office that I have also lost 30 pounds and I know this is not easy.

However, I have 100 pounds more to go. I am still obese and visually repulsive. But most people couldn't possibly know if I walked 2 kilometers on a treadmill before a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, or dragged my monstrously large behind from my bed to my car and detoured to a drive-through for a couple of egg and bacon sandwiches and a six-pack of doughnuts.

I agree that obesity is most often caused by an appalling combination of greed and sloth, but we all know that's not true in every case and casual observers cannot tell the difference. The casual observer also can't possibly know if the ice cream I'm eating is one of two I allow myself a year, or if it's my seventh that day.

The fact is that many people feel free to hold me in contempt and make the most egregious judgements, not based on the "content of my character" but on the way I look.

And even though my own obesity is caused by greed and sloth, I am neither greedy nor slothful in all aspects of my life, and you can't tell from looking at me exactly where I am selfless and hardworking. Nor can anyone else know why I chose those two particular, and particularly deadly, sins and not others. When people look at me and make vast assumptions about who I am based entirely on my appearance, I find that discriminatory. And even if there were agreement that the overwhelming majority of obese people deserve contempt, there are individuals among us who do not. And when one judges all individuals by the stereotypes of a group, that is bigotry.

Now we are left with the debate of whether someone's greed and sloth are more contemptible than someone else's bigotry and meanness. I'd like to call it a draw. If you ignore the way I look, I'll ignore your derision.
posted by angiep at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2009 [53 favorites]


See, the point is, the above argument got derailed on first B. point; cruelty or hurtfulness toward fat people isn't just like racism or sexism. It doesn't have to be just like sexism or racism to be wrong.

Repeated for emphasis. Not that it'll stop what's shaping up to be an endless re-assertion of choice/condition that, true or not, has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the whole reason why this thread was started. Ah well.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:17 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm all for someone explaining to me why judging is a good thing, or why it's a good idea to assume all sorts of things about people I don't know.

To put this simply, judgment is what you do in your head all the time. I'm ascribing to this idea in it's most basic form. So if someone is going to sit there and assert a whole line of reasoning where judgments are bad, then yeah I'm going to think there is a bit of game playing there. Not to mention dumping a weighted moral attitude in the conversation. Which I wasn't specifically speaking to and I don't want that ascribed to me since it wasn't what I was doing. Hence the "knock it off."

I don't understand how saying things like "obese people use poor logic when they say obesity is a medical condition, so it's okay to use poor logic and assume very few people have medical reasons for their obesity" contributes to a productive or enlightening conversation.

I'm not sure where you got this from. Obesity is a medical condition. Okay, great. How does this address anything I've said? It doesn't. So I don't know how you are connecting that to me assuming the lack of real data (or even an onslaught of diagnosis) connecting people with genetic inducing obesity. I believe I stated a couple of times about you ignoring my actual points when you where stating this, so my assumptions where that you were making a straw man argument. You were off shadow boxing in the corner while fight was the middle of the ring.

Setting aside the whole "stop judging overweight people" for a second. How do we have a conversation about this? There has been more than a few comments that seem to dispel any idea of looking closer at the cause of obesity in America. There is a large percent of the population that is overweight compared to other nations, and sitting back and saying it's complicated just doesn't really solve much does it? What I think is even worse is trying to shame other people out of the conversation by framing the whole conversation in a morass of "you are bad if you talk about it."

Wait, being nice to people - or, failing that, keeping opinions you know to be hurtful to yourself - is lofty?

No.

This is a pure example of an ad hominem argument

No, it really isn't.

I think you miss the point of my comment, which argued that the argument that fat isn't a choice is part of a larger distraction from the core issue. In other words, I was arguing that if the conversation were opened in a reasonable manner,

No, I understood. And no I disagree we will get other reasoning if the conversation were opened in a reasonable manner, but in the same sense I do recognize it is a defensive response (which I already stated). I get it.

B. No they don't; obesity is a medical condition.

Am I wrong here in understanding this as circular reasoning? It has nothing to do with the cause. Whatever, no time for this.
And:

Not that it'll stop what's shaping up to be an endless re-assertion of choice/condition that, true or not, has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the whole reason why this thread was started. Ah well.

Agreed. On that note, I gotta go (workout)! Seriously, it's to nice out for me to sit around on the computer.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:31 PM on May 16, 2009


For Ryvar and five_fresh_fish who have lost a lot of weight recently: congratulations! This is not snark, but true appreciation because I found out earlier this week at the doctor's office that I have also lost 30 pounds and I know this is not easy.

Holy crap. Hats off to you. My first ten pounds weren't unreasonably difficult, but this next ten is proving to be really difficult: my body doesn't want to give it up. I can't imagine trying for another ten after that.

I just humped 18 45lb cinder blocks 100 yards horizontal, 20 feet vertical. I sure as hell have better lost a pound today. Gah.

I think if I didn't have a back yard to build, I'd have to go volunteer to rehabilitate one of the local hiking/walking trails, or go get a part time job at a furniture store doing deliveries. I hate going to the gym: it's not productive.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2009


It's killing me that I'm denying myself a beer. I so desperately want those empty calories. Yesterday 10 blocks, no beer. Today 18 blocks, no beer. Tomorrow another 18 blocks... goddamn, I'm rewarding myself with a beer tomorrow.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:44 PM on May 16, 2009


However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating. I see this ALL THE TIME when I go to lunch with heavyset coworkers, or have dinner with obese friends - they order heart-attacks-on-a-plate and then complain about not being able to lose weight. Jesus, just admit that you're not trying, would you? The hypocrisy is what gets under my skin.

Judgey McJudgerson.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:47 PM on May 16, 2009


P.o.B.: Setting aside the whole "stop judging overweight people" for a second...

...which you're free to go ahead and do. But please realize—and this is all I've been saying—that, if you do it here, you're derailing a thread that's actually about “the whole 'stop judging overweight people'” thing. Look back at the top of this thread; that's what it's about.

You're free to go into a thread on racism and talk about how much your black friends like watermelon and fried chicken; you may be correct, and there might be some interesting discussion, but you can see, can't you, how that might be offensive to some people? It wouldn't be offensive because fried chicken and watermelon are racist; it'd be offensive because the association implied is one which (intentionally or unintentionally) calls to mind the racist actions and attitudes of the past.

So: if you'd like to talk about the extent to which obesity can be chosen, if you'd like to talk about the health problems that it's causing in the USA, you are free to. I'd say that you're likely to get a lot more traction (and probably avoid this whole sidebar to boot) if you didn't do it in a thread that's supposed to be about why cruelty toward fat people is wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 12:48 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I seem to post this in every obesity thread, but people really should bone up on the extensive studies done with the Pima aboriginal people of SW North America, a group who were arbitrarily split by the Mexican-USian border. On the Mexican side, they trend towards normal weight and on the USian they trend towards obesity. This is the "experiment" of differential feeding and lifestyle that was being asked for upthread. Plenty of excellent peer-reviewed material is readily available on the interplay of genes and environment.

Also, P.o.B, you are getting soundly thrashed by koeselitz, so just as well you are going to "work out" (read: surrender).
posted by Rumple at 12:53 PM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


fff - you are probably gaining a lot of muscle and losing fat beyond what your scales tell you. Way to go
posted by Rumple at 12:55 PM on May 16, 2009


you're derailing a thread that's actually about “the whole 'stop judging overweight people'” thing.

Is it? Because maybe that's the key distinction. Cruelty and nastiness is not okay, and if we can stick with, "It's not cool to call people names," then we're all good. But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people." And it seems to me that's where you get a lot of people talking across each other in threads like this.
posted by cribcage at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people."

A more obnoxious step farther, in my view. Because the judgements that are being made here aren't health judgements, they're moral judgements. They boil down to saying you, fat person, are a less worthy person than the rest of us, because your weight is indicative of your greed and sloth, and is therefore a signifier of your lack of self control. Given this, it's perfectly justifiable to mock you and discriminate against you and we'll continue to do so regardless.

Personally, I prefer for people to get this shit out in the open though. Because I tend to judge self righteous, moralistic hypocrites and choose to avoid being around them whenever possible.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


I seem to post this in every obesity thread, but people really should bone up on the extensive studies done with the Pima aboriginal people of SW North America

Very good stuff in that PBS piece ... thanks.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:50 PM on May 16, 2009


Now, there's certainly the possibility that this man had a disease that made him this way, that he was completely at a loss to control in any sense. I can grant that. But as I sat there, preparing to be sat on by a stranger, for 6+ hours, something hit me: I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a truly "fat" person. For the most part, they simply don't exist where I now live. The way the majority of society is forced to live over here means that they very often have the opposite problem - most Africans are exceedingly slim.

Yes, and if Africa had our standard of living, and our money, and our infrastructure, a lot of them would be fat, too. But note the verb you used: "the way the majority of society is forced to live over here means that they very often have the opposite problem."

Yeah, okay, great: we could get everyone to slim down if we were broke and there wasn't anything to eat. Brilliant analysis, and certainly something we as a nation should strive for.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cruelty and nastiness is not okay, and if we can stick with, "It's not cool to call people names," then we're all good. But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people."

You can judge people. But when you open your mouth and express it, you run a real risk of sounding like a dick. And I know I am as guilty of it an anybody; I also know I should probably cut that shit out unless I really, really feel expressing my judgment is necessary and will do good.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:07 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it? Because maybe that's the key distinction. Cruelty and nastiness is not okay, and if we can stick with, "It's not cool to call people names," then we're all good. But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people." And it seems to me that's where you get a lot of people talking across each other in threads like this.

See, to me, it's not about people saying "you can't judge people" but rather "whether or not you instinctively make judgments about other people's experiences, you should realize that these judgments, and how you choose to express them, impact others, are often the result of implicit biases, and may have no basis in reality." To me, all of those people here who are insisting that they can judge without being cruel are sort of missing something--that these judgments often expose themselves in sinister and understated ways that impact real people. So, er, sure, judge away if you can't help it, but maybe you should try not to but to have some empathy and understanding for people instead?

How does this address anything I've said? It doesn't. So I don't know how you are connecting that to me assuming the lack of real data (or even an onslaught of diagnosis) connecting people with genetic inducing obesity.

P.o.B., you made that connection, here: Pulling 10% out of the air is unscientific as claiming you have an undiagnosed medical condition causing your obesity. I was questioning your statement about medically-caused obesity not only because it was unsupported, but because it really isn't relevant to this conversation, which is about saying mean and nasty things about fat people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Check out the new book Stuffed -- "An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat."

I should also mention former FDA commissioner, David Kessler and his new book The End of Overeating.
“....Kessler was on a mission to understand a problem that has vexed him since childhood: why he can't resist certain foods.

His resulting theory, described in his new book, ‘The End of Overeating,’ is startling. Foods high in fat, salt and sugar alter the brain's chemistry in ways that compel people to overeat. ‘Much of the scientific research around overeating has been physiology -- what's going on in our body,’ he said. ‘The real question is what's going on in our brain.’

The ingredient labels gave Kessler information the restaurant chain declined to provide when he asked for it. At the FDA, Kessler pushed through nutritional labels on foods sold through retail outlets but stopped short of requiring the same for restaurants. Yet if suppliers ship across state lines, as suppliers for Chili's do, the ingredients must be printed on the box. That is what led Kessler, one of the nation's leading public health figures, to hang around dumpsters across California.

The labels showed the foods were bathed in salt, fat and sugars, beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Eggrolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times. The ‘egg rolls,’ which are deep-fried in fat, contain chicken that has been chopped up like meatloaf to give it a ‘melt in the mouth’ quality that also makes it faster to eat. By the time a diner has finished this appetizer, she has consumed 910 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1,960 milligrams of sodium.

Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner's brain to crave more, Kessler said. For many, the come-on offered by Lay's Potato Chips -- ‘Betcha can't eat just one’ -- is scientifically accurate. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want, Kessler found.

His theory, born out in a growing body of scientific research, has implications not just for the increasing number of Americans struggling with obesity but for health providers and policymakers.

‘The challenge is how do we explain to America what's going on -- how do we break through and help people understand how their brains have been captured?’ he said.

....Kessler, 57, sees parallels between the tobacco and food industries. Both are manipulating consumer behavior to sell products that can harm health, he said.

Whether government ought to exercise tougher controls over the food industry is going to be the next great debate, especially since much of the advertising is aimed at children, Kessler said.

‘The food the industry is selling is much more powerful than we realized,’ he said. ‘I used to think I ate to feel full. Now I know, we have the science that shows, we're eating to stimulate ourselves. And so the question is what are we going to do about it?’”
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on May 16, 2009 [22 favorites]


Kessler was recently interviewed on a couple of NPR programmes, this blog has links to them as well as a video clip.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:35 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's ugly in here, and I may well regret posting this. But can anyone here give me a good reason why the hell somebody else's fat ass is any of their damn business? Visually repellent? People aren't being fat AT others, they're just going about their lives. The self righteous judgmental sneering in here is uglier than all the cellulite in the world put together.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:43 PM on May 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


I just want to say I am fat because I am a lazy, immoral pig. I'm on the record as having said it now, so if you think that about me YOU ARE COMPLETELY FUCKING RIGHT!
posted by cjorgensen at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2009


I'm overweight. You can judge me, I don't care. I don't have any really great excuse like a thyroid condition or genetics. I need to watch what I eat more and exercise. I don't. Some times I do, and I lose weight, and then I gain it back, and then I lose it. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to constantly remain physically healthy.

But seriously, people who are overweight deal with enough issues around this never mind having to deal with a metafilter thread bashing them. C'mon. It's so not worth it.

I'm not all up in arms over the thread, but so of the comments made are pretty ignorant. One thing I will say is that I work a lot. Like I pretty consistently have worked 60-80 hours a week for long periods of time. I travel a lot for work. This my downfall ultimately. And, I wish that everywhere I went, it was easy to access healthy, good food (the good part is key). But it takes a lot of work to do this. I have done it, but it's time consuming.
posted by hazyspring at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2009


what did you mean by your comment? i must have misread you if you're not following my response to it.

a sleep & 150 comments later...

i assume you thought i was being sarcastic, but i was deadly earnest. if somebody wants to drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, and bang like a dunny door in a thunderstorm, more power to 'em.

as some famous guy once said, "my doctor told me to give up hard liquor, strong cigars and fast women. and in two weeks i lost two weeks of my life"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm coming to this very late, but just wanted to add a comment that I didn't see anywhere else, either in the thread on the blue or here: in the commercial which started off this whole thing (remember the commerical?) the joke ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat chicks could get a root [fuck]') is not just a fat joke; it's primarily a misogynist joke. Try it with the sexes reversed ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat guys could get laid') and it makes much less sense. So don't forget that in all the fat-bashing there's a good amount of anxiety/judgement/moral panic about the control of women's bodies, as well. And women's bodies are more malleable than men's; I put on a good sixty pounds when I was pregnant-- not to mention the other huge changes such as permanent differences in the shape of my breasts, stretch marks, etc.-- and I know I'll never get rid of the extra weight entirely. Short of a major illness, I'll never weigh again what I did when I conceived, because a body after pregnancy is never going to be the same. And that's all fine and natural and just the way things are.

I've gained weight, and lost it, and on and on. I'm back on the gym/tracking every calorie I eat thing again, and I lose weight steadily if I work out and eat about 1800 calories a day (less than that I get dizzy spells) and I also gain it steadily when I stop. But I've wasted enough energy stressing about it for one lifetime. I've got good solid OMG POTATO FAMINE MUST STORE FAT Irish genes, a grandmother who by pictures weighed something close to 300 pounds, and a father who struggled with fat all his life. (The best weight loss method I've experienced is heartbreak; after a bad breakup ten or so years ago I dropped around 35 pounds almost overnight, but I don't recommend it.)
posted by jokeefe at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


Look, I pretty much eat whatever I want whenever I want, and I very rarely deny myself things I like because of their effect on my health (with the exception of trying to avoid trans-fats, but I think the general point stands.) And I eat as much of it as I want, too; I never make myself stop eating before I'm full. I go through long stretches of getting almost no exercise. I have little stamina, I get winded after a few seconds jogging. It is perfectly fair to say that I am lazy and self-indulgent. My willpower is not as good as it should be, and my health suffers, and that sucks. But I weigh 100 pounds, so nobody is disgusted by me. Nobody thinks of me as a lazy pig with no self-control (at least, I've never seen any evidence of that), even when I talk openly about not exercising, even when they see me go back for extra dessert. Because reactions to obesity aren't about people's actions, they're about people's bodies.

Not only do I unfairly get treated better than heavier people who have the same lifestyle patterns as I do and put the same minimal effort into their diet and exercise, but there are so many heavier people who work so much harder than me, who put so much time and effort into their health, who I'm sure are much healthier than I am. (Many, many of them are in this thread and elsewhere on MetaFilter.) Yet because I have the luck-- the privilege-- of having a metabolism that keeps me thin, those people get judged as being lazy and pathetic and I don't. They are stereotyped, pre-judged in a prejudiced way, based on the way their bodies look and the generalizations that people make based on other people who look similar to them. The fact that there are strong connections between health and weight does not make that okay. If we were talking about anything other than obesity it would be pretty obvious how offensive that is.

And then-- in the face of constantly being judged based on their appearance and told that their bodies are disgusting and unacceptable and they should be ashamed of looking how they do-- you assert they're not allowed to say "Despite what society tells me, I'm not going to hate myself for my weight, I'm not going to hate my body. I don't deserve to be treated as inferior to thinner people or judged based on my weight. I am proud of who I am, and that includes my body"? Seriously? And unless I'm really missing something, it seems extremely disingenuous to suggest that your objections are because they are promoting bad health. I may not know everything about fat acceptance/fat pride movements and communities, but what I've heard/read includes a lot about "healthy at any size" and nothing at all about glorifying being unhealthy.

Yes, obesity is increasing, along with a number of health problems related in varying degrees to obesity. Yes, it's a problem. But the problem-- what we need to fix-- is in people's actions and in the various societal factors that contribute (cost and convenience of healthy food vs unhealthy food, etc, etc.) If you care about improving health, focus on those things. What people's bodies look like is not a health problem. Acting like it is is at best lazy and ignorant and hurtful-- at worst, a smokescreen to make you feel like it's okay to judge people because you don't like the way their bodies look.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:06 PM on May 16, 2009 [73 favorites]


what i have learned from this thread:

1) some people think that it is their birthright to be sneering, judgmental assholes to people for being fat, and god forbid you point out that being a sneering, judgmental asshole about that is similar (though not exactly the same) as other forms of bigotry

2) some people are so desperate to hang on to this "justifiable", "choice-based" bigotry that they'll flood the thread with so many logical fallacies that it becomes impossible to respond to them

3) some of the worst offenders have admitted that they themselves struggle with their weight. it would seem to be strong evidence of how this kind of bigotry gets internalized due to the overwhelmingly prevalent societal attitude that reviling fat people is acceptable

4) everyone that still doesn't get it should go reread Miko's comment upthread
posted by Hat Maui at 3:07 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


i assume you thought i was being sarcastic, but i was deadly earnest. if somebody wants to drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, and bang like a dunny door in a thunderstorm, more power to 'em.

UbuRoivas, thanks for the clarification. sorry i jumped to the conclusion that your comment was sarcastic. and finally, word 'em up to that sentiment. we all could use a little "more power to ya."
posted by Hat Maui at 3:11 PM on May 16, 2009


Yet because I have the luck-- the privilege-- of having a metabolism that keeps me thin

Invisible donut of privilege!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:16 PM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Oh, and:

But sustaining a cultural notion that obesity is bad is socially beneficial, I think, just as sustaining a notion that smoking is bad is socially beneficial. (I don't look down on smokers, but I routinely tell them that cigarette smoke is disgusting)

I don't know whether shaming is effective in general to modify behavior. But regardless, surely you can see the difference between "That thing you do, it smells disgusting" and "Your body is disgusting"?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:27 PM on May 16, 2009


Another fat post,
and MeFi loses it's mind.
Like cherry blossoms in wind.


-or-

Goddamn it people
everyone is an asshole
Y'all stink, and I'm tired.
posted by edgeways at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Invisible donut of privilege!

that's now going to be my default answer to "what superpower do you wish you had?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that because I acknowledge that choice is a factor in obesity that I'm a bigot. That is reductive and unhelpful to having a rational conversation about this topic.

I can't speak for everyone who is in the dissenting camp in this thread, but I feel strongly that people are fully capable of taking a critical view of this subject without necessarily having to be hateful/bigoted towards people who are obese. Why does acknowledging and questioning one aspect of the situation mean that we must find obese people disgusting and worthless? Does no one else see this happening in this thread?
posted by zennoshinjou at 3:39 PM on May 16, 2009


I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that because I acknowledge that choice is a factor in obesity that I'm a bigot. That is reductive and unhelpful to having a rational conversation about this topic.

I don't think the purpose of this thread was to have a conversation about factors of obesity in this thread. Thus, no one is really interested in it.

Why does acknowledging and questioning one aspect of the situation mean that we must find obese people disgusting and worthless?

Because if a person's response to "Stop calling me disgusting." is "Let's examine the underlying factors of obesity to see if it really is your choice." then it seems as though that person is looking to justify calling the obese disgusting. It's that simple.

I understand posting "Hey, let's talk about this aspect instead..." because I do it all the time. Just be aware that the context can make your comment read a lot differently.
posted by ODiV at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


in this thread

no edit window yet?
posted by ODiV at 3:50 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why does acknowledging and questioning one aspect of the situation mean that we must find obese people disgusting and worthless?

Or on the contrary - I'm green with envy over these people:

Greece: 21.9% obese

Can you even begin to imagine what an awesome lifestyle those guys must have? This might help:

PORK BELLY BAKLAVA 17.80
Layers of flaky filo pastry, pork belly meat, date and pistachios,
topped with crispy crackling and served with a date and mastic sauce.
Recommended wine - Ishtar GSM 2005

LAMB SKARAS ent 17.70 main 28.50
Slow braised shoulder lean lamb with oregano, olive oil, wine and garlic, then char grilled with a lemon, olive oil baste and served with baked oregano lemon potatoes and string beans.
Recommended wine - Bloodwood Rose 2006

OLIVE OIL ICE CREAM 8.50
Two scoops of Olympia extra virgin olive oil, pistachio and dried fig ice cream.

KALAMATA BAKLAVA 12.50
Chopped almonds with sugared kalamata olives and shredded mixed citrus peels.
Served with a kalamata and mascarpone ice cream.

posted by UbuRoivas at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why does acknowledging and questioning one aspect of the situation mean that we must find obese people disgusting and worthless? Does no one else see this happening in this thread?

Personally, no, I don't see it. No one is calling you a bigot for acknowledging that choice can be a factor in obesity. The repulsion arises, for me anyway, when flogging the argument "being overweight is a choice" is used as a response to "it is cruel to ridicule people about body shape". The choice vs. condition argument is irrelevant to any discussion on whether or not it's alright to belittle the overweight, so it's either a painfully bad defense of cruelty or is just a clumsily-inserted side discussion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. I guess if no one wanted to talk about anything I'm not sure why we didn't all just say "hear hear!" and call it a day.
posted by zennoshinjou at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2009


we could all just go out & get some pork belly baklava & call it a day...?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2009


Sounds like a plan to me.
posted by zennoshinjou at 3:58 PM on May 16, 2009


Just goes to show how tone-deaf I am on these things - I thought the take-away on the original thread was that Faint of Butt outed himself as a convention-attending Trekkie.

Us trekkies get a lot of moralistic hating, too -- as if loving Star Trek was some sort of choice.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Invisible donut of privilege!

Invisible nap+snack.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's safe to assume you also judge strangers irregardless of size

I judge strangers, intimates, and enemies who use "irregardless," which is not really a word.
posted by liketitanic at 4:22 PM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Fair enough. I guess if no one wanted to talk about anything I'm not sure why we didn't all just say "hear hear!" and call it a day.

I was kind of hoping some of the people quoted in the OP would stroll in here to explain themselves further. DecemberBoy did, and I think his comments might have arisen from a misunderstanding of "fat pride", and this sort of triggered a whole other string of responses. But at least it got hashed out and he was willing to talk on the subject further. Also, cribcage brought up an interesting point about how the disease obesity could be best dealt with.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for these side discussions. But here we have, at the beginning of the thread, a quote from a poster on the blue who downplayed the comparison between discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and weight by saying "the difference is people can't choose their race or sexual orientation". So when people began popping up in here repeating the "being overweight is a choice" argument, it set people off the same way it did on the blue, and the same thing was repeated here that was said in the refered thread - if it doesn't make belittling the overweight less cruel, why even bring it up?

I think cribcage's questions were interesting, and the ways in which people lost weight showed some promise as well. It's a shame a lot of this thread got bogged down the way it did. As a really skinny person who eats atrociously, I'd be interested in hearing from those who've had to watch their calories how they were able to strike a balance between eating well and eating good.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:30 PM on May 16, 2009


"irregardless," which is not really a word.

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose.

It's in every dictionary I have, including the OED. But perhaps you're better qualified to determine what is and isn't a word than lexicographers.
posted by languagehat at 4:30 PM on May 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


"There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose."

Heyheyhey, why stop there?

"Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead."

And NOW you know... the REST of the usage entry.

I keed, I loves me some irregardless, irregardless of its legitimacy or lack thereof.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:43 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Bah, I could care less either way.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:53 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The place to eat when you're in Raleigh.
posted by netbros at 4:55 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


After working my way through this whole thread, I have to comment, but I have no words of wisdom.

Be kind, good people. Just that. No more is required of you.
posted by reflecked at 5:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


the joke ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat chicks could get a root [fuck]') is not just a fat joke; it's primarily a misogynist joke. Try it with the sexes reversed ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat guys could get laid') and it makes much less sense

It doesn't work with the sexes reversed because the premise of the joke is that only men are shallow enough to reject a sexual partner because they're overweight. Clearly this is extremely sexist and men should be deeply offended.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:03 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why did God invent alcohol? So that lesbians could get a root.

Nope, that doesn't really work either. Maybe if you work on it, you could do something with the root=dick thing, though.
posted by box at 5:23 PM on May 16, 2009


It doesn't work with the sexes reversed because the premise of the joke is that only men are shallow enough to reject a sexual partner because they're overweight.

The premise of the joke is that you would have to be drunk to sleep with an overweight woman. A man telling the joke proves he's shallow enough to reject a sexual partner because they're overweight.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:23 PM on May 16, 2009


You really need to rub our noses in the fact that you live in a sub-tropical zone, don't you?

*makes note to renew flood insurance before taking second shower of the day*

Just admit that you like ice cream and bacon and you're not going to give them up. I really don't care, but don't whine to me about how it's not a choice when you're sitting in front of me stuffing your face.

Hush your 100lbs when soaking wet self up. Don't piss off the fat people, no matter how right you are (and you aren't), we just throw you between two buns and call you a snack while on the way to the buffet.

"Mmm, that skinny girl sure was right 'bout somthin', but damn if she don't go good with this potato salad, mmmMMMM!"

"Pass me some more diet coke, I'm trying to drop a few."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:24 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating. I see this ALL THE TIME when I go to lunch with heavyset coworkers, or have dinner with obese friends - they order heart-attacks-on-a-plate and then complain about not being able to lose weight. Jesus, just admit that you're not trying, would you? The hypocrisy is what gets under my skin.
Judgey McJudgerson.


If "all the time" is more or less true, it sounds more like Factsy McFacterson. You can't rightly complain about being overweight and eat heart-attack-on-a-plate foods. There is a cognitive dissonance to that mindset. It is, in a word, wrong.


Are we allowed to mock the maroons we see plastered on The Smoking Gun? A lot of them have visible life-impairing choices written large upon their bodies. Or did they just make poor life decisions, and the swastika tattoos are really a sign we should be sympathetic?

Are we allowed to mock HIV bug-hunters? That's a set of people who are engaged in an unhealthy lifestyle.

How about furries? We've gotta be allowed to mock furries.

I agree: the hateful words in fat threads are too much. But I can not for a moment agree that society should not take a dim view of obesity. It is has a destructive effect on our society: it hurts families, ruins lives, reduces productivity, is bad for health, and is ultimately damn expensive by every metric. A society that embraces obesity is a society that will ultimately fail.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:29 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


A man telling the joke proves he's shallow enough to reject a sexual partner because they're overweight.

A woman told the anti-gay joke. What conclusions should we draw from that?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:35 PM on May 16, 2009


I better repeat, because sure as shooting someone is going to freak out: the hateful words in fat threads are too much. There is a difference between social disapproval of unhealthy/unsustainable/anti-social behaviours, and being cruel to people.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:36 PM on May 16, 2009


Uh, you guys haven't heard the joke phrased as alcohol existing so ugly guys can get laid? Sure, there's weirdness with "fat" being the "ugly" for women, but it's a classic joke that makes sense in a lot of different phrasings (I like the t-shirt that reads "Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 4000 BC").
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on May 16, 2009


I missed the fat thread and this thread because I was too busy eating bacon.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:53 PM on May 16, 2009


Or did they just make poor life decisions, and the swastika tattoos are really a sign we should be sympathetic?

Did you really just compare fat people neo nazis as a way to justify making fun of them?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 PM on May 16, 2009


"Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 4000 BC"

Yes - it tastes great, makes women appear more attractive, and makes a person virtually invulnerable to criticism
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:59 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I can not for a moment agree that society should not take a dim view of obesity. It is has a destructive effect on our society: it hurts families, ruins lives, reduces productivity, is bad for health, and is ultimately damn expensive by every metric. A society that embraces obesity is a society that will ultimately fail.

you still don't seem to get that this discussion is not about society wanting to "embrac(e) obesity," whatever the hell that means. you can consider obesity to be a societal problem that needs to be addressed (personally i'd put it way the hell down the list from some other stuff) but that does not give one license to demonize those that are obese, and in fact, doing so is bigotry, plain and simple.

furthermore, all the hand-wringing about obesity as a societal issue is, in my view, a pretty clear-cut case of moral panic.

Judging is good

But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people."

you seem to want to reserve the right to be judgmental about others. why? don't you put any stock in "judge not lest ye be judged" which is a pretty universally applicable moral tenet? what about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "he who is without sin should cast the first stone"? are you so squeaky clean that there is no judgment to which you could be subjected? and how would or do you like it when it happens, big ears?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


People should take themselves way less seriously.
posted by smorange at 6:07 PM on May 16, 2009


is that directed at me, smorange?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:12 PM on May 16, 2009


A woman told the anti-gay joke. What conclusions should we draw from that?

That homophobia isn't gender specific? Not that I see what that has to do with the premise of the "overweight women can thank alcohol for getting laid" joke.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:14 PM on May 16, 2009


cribcage: Is it? Because maybe that's the key distinction. Cruelty and nastiness is not okay, and if we can stick with, "It's not cool to call people names," then we're all good. But it carries a step farther to say, "You can't judge people." And it seems to me that's where you get a lot of people talking across each other in threads like this.

There is an auxiliary meaning of judge; it can mean “to judge [as in, assess] a person and to do so unfairly.” We don't criticize a person by saying that they are 'judgemental' when they carefully and insightfully assess every person they meet; we call them judgemental when they do so unfairly or on the basis of incomplete evidence. This is one of those weird examples of a word whose meaning gradually morphs into the opposite meaning (I forget what they're called)—now, we call a person 'judgemental' precisely when they're not judging correctly or fairly.
posted by koeselitz at 6:32 PM on May 16, 2009


Try it with the sexes reversed ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat guys could get laid') and it makes much less sense.

You guys are weird. What doesn't make sense about that version of the joke?
posted by jacalata at 7:24 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


In a general sense, I guess so, but it wasn't aimed at you, specifically. Ultimately, what strangers or mild acquaintances think of us isn't, or shouldn't be, a big deal. I realize that it is to many, many people, particularly where I currently live, but it shouldn't be.
posted by smorange at 7:25 PM on May 16, 2009


'Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat guys could get laid'

That joke isn't funny. Have some sensitivity. My father died when a fat drunk guy laid on him.
posted by found missing at 7:32 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the past two and a half years, I have gained 80 pounds. Yeah, I know. So far as my feeling of self-worth is concerned, it's been a really horrible time. However, I have most recently learned quite a bit about what it means to have a weight problem like I do. And I want to share what I've learned, by attacking some of the assumptions that've been made in here:

Being obese means you're unhealthy.

This is probably the assumption that is the most commonly refuted, but I'm just going to talk about myself. For those two and a half years, I thought I was a horrible, horrible person. I felt pretty awful, physically, too, and I assumed it was because I was fat. I couldn't exercise much without getting almost immediately exhausted -- I figured it just meant I was too lazy to take care of myself, morally blameworthy for feeling awful.

So, I finally hauled myself to a doctor and he ran some tests. It turns out, I don't have a thyroid condition -- I can't blame the weight on some medical problem. But it also turns out, I'm also INSANELY healthy. Oh, you cannot imagine! Cholesterol? Beautiful. Blood pressure? Worthy of your envy. Diabetes? Not on your life. Every type of blood test could be done showed that I am an incredibly, wonderfully, delightfully healthy human being.

..Almost. Turns out, I have asthma. That's what I couldn't exercise -- it wasn't that I was just too much of a fatass to get off my lazy back-end for my own good, it's that I just couldn't actually breathe. Now that I'm on asthma medication? Oh, I can run! I can exercise as much as I darn well want.

So, yeah. 80 pounds overweight isn't somewhere I want to be, at all. I'm sure plenty of people who see me assume that I have a duty to myself to lose weight in order to ensure my own health -- but those people are damn wrong. I want to lose weight, but I have come to realize that this is something I should want solely for aesthetic reasons. I have not a single damn reason to lose weight for the sake of my health.

Let's move on.

If there's not a medical condition behind it, then being fat is just being a lazy fatass.

So, here's the thing: I love chocolate. I love desserts. I love the way that chocolate fudge feels as it melts in your mouth, I love the way that key lime pie's tartness bites when you first taste it, and I love the way ice cream is so, so creamy.... And I'm fat.

For a long time, I could not separate the one from the other. "The reason I am fatass is because I love chocolate" and "The reason I love chocolate is that I am a fatass." Every time I wanted to taste chocolate, I felt guilty -- horribly, soul-crushingly guilty. Everything in our society says that losing weight is the easy and right thing to do. Just don't eat so much, and you'd be a Good, Righteous Person! But you have that brownie? And you might as well be Satan, you lazy bastard.

So I wanted the sugary food, but I "knew" it was "wrong" of me to want it. I wanted to lose weight, but I knew that this process required denying myself something that made me feel good, made me a wee bit happier. It was a matter of moral imperative that I deny myself that which I dearly wanted.

Anytime you get in a position such as that, "I should avoid X, even though X makes me happy, because X is bad bad bad" that you just end up much worse off. I would buy a tub of ice cream, but even on the first bite, I would be thinking to myself, "anyone who saw me do this would know that I am a horrible human being -- they would know that I have no self-control, that I deserve to be fat and undesirable, that I am less worthy than people who don't like ice cream." The guilt set in, before I ate a single bite. And if I am a unworthy and horrible and morally blameworthy for eating one bite, then I may as well say screw it all and eat the entire tub -- I felt horrible the entire time, I wanted to kill myself a lot of the time, but what was I to do? I was a fatass, I liked chocolate, and that clearly meant I might as well eat whatever I wanted because I clearly didn't deserve to look good.

So then I hauled myself to a nutritionist. And one of the most important lessons she taught me is that it's okay for me to like sugary foods. I am not a bad person because chocolate tastes good -- it's not wrong of me to want to taste things that are delicious. After all, they're delicious! The real issue, she taught me, was how I felt about how much I liked sugary foods. Clearly, I felt awful about it. So, clearly, I behaved in a completely horrible, irrational, unhealthy way when it came to eating sugary foods. That's what I needed to stop. I needed to look at the tub of ice cream, say, "It's perfectly okay for me to want and enjoy this," and then I needed to enjoy the hell out of it.

I started following her advice. Fuck you if I think what i need to do, with all my extra 80 pounds, is never look at a piece of chocolate again -- I am going to savor it, and I deserve to be able to. Fuck you if you think it's a moral failing on my part that I like ice cream -- you like ice cream too, and I'm not doing anything you're not. And then, instead of eating the sugary foods while riddled with so much guilt that I couldn't even taste them, I made sure that I focused only, solely, on how good it tasted. I savored. It was morally acceptable for me to enjoy it, so I enjoyed the hell out of it.

The effect was immediate and amazing: since it was okay for me to eat sugary foods, and since I was consciously allowing myself to enjoy them, I didn't eat nearly as much. I have a pint of ice cream in the freezer, and it's been there for over two weeks now! I have some little peanut candies that need to be thrown away, because I've had them for so long! Because it's acceptable for me to eat them, becuase I don't have to feel guilty about it, I eat them far less. I can have a few bites and move on with life. I don't have to let the guilt and self-hate consume me, and I can love, love, LOVE chocolate.

I had a problem, when it came to sugary foods. Sure, you can see it as a matter of "choice" that I would eat a container of brownies in one night. But it sure as heck wasn't a choice I controlled--it wasn't a choice I really wanted to make, it wasn't a choice I knew how to not make, and it wasn't a choice I fully understood. All of the rhetoric about how fat people are just such horrible people because they eat so much damn food made it psychologically painful for me to admit that I like food, and this in turn made me become completely consumed by it. Yeah, I really shouldn't have eaten so much, and I have learned how to control my eating (instead of letting it control me). But if you think that was easy, and if you think that telling someone who is overweight that they have the choice to stop eating is in any way helpful, you are wrong. You're doing far more damage than anything else.

One more, then I'll shut up:

The only type of medical conditions are long-term problems like genetic predisposition or thyroid problems.

The main reasons I gained so much weight in such a short period of time (other than the guilt-cycle I just expressed), was that I felt absolutely horrible when I didn't eat enough. In order to diet, you have to cut down on food, you need to allow yourself to feel hunger pains and the like... Yeah, right.

If I go too long without eating, I get shaky, horribly irritable, lightheaded, and all around miserable. If I don't eat enough within a day, I wake up the next day with a debilitating migraine. You try controlling your food intake when you know if you eat too little, you'll spend the next day near screaming in pain and vomiting. Add in the asthma and the all-too-common weight gain associated with birth control pills, and you've got a recipe for weight-gain.

Again, the nutritionist was able to help me figure out how to eat enough but not too much. But it wasn't something I ever would have been able to figure out on my own, and I am eternally grateful to her (and the fact that I have health insurance) for helping me.

This really has all been said for my own benefit. I have really learned a lot about myself and what it means to be fat in the past few months, as I have been struggling to get my body and weight under control. I'm going to lose this weight, and I'm going to feel damn good about it! But it's only because I want to look thin that I'm even trying -- I have no reason other than aesthetic desire to lose weight. Even though I'm fat, I am healthy, I deserve to enjoy food, and I am a good person.

Yeah, so there.
posted by Ms. Saint at 7:45 PM on May 16, 2009 [64 favorites]


reflecked: Be kind, good people. Just that. No more is required of you.

Exactly. As Vonnnegut said it:
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:50 PM on May 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


drunk until you want me seems to have as many males as females. Not sexist.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on May 16, 2009


God definitely made alcohol so I could get laid. If I'm not drunk, I'm just too nervous.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 PM on May 16, 2009


Hey, what's going on in here? Just got back from a workout, a long lunch, and enjoyed the sun. So anything happen?

Also, P.o.B, you are getting soundly thrashed by koeselitz, so just as well you are going to "work out" (read: surrender).

Are you saying I surrendered before he dropped the turd in this thread announcing me as the purveyor of all ills in this world? The one where if he had just read to the end of my post he wouldn't have needed to waste his breath? The one where he specifically targets me as if no one else in this thread deviated from topic? That one? Yeah...he not only soundly trounced me I can now see into the future...*eye roll*

My only response: koeselitz, would you like more cheese with that whine?

P.S. rtha, sorry for being short with my non-answer. I really did have to leave and, well, it should have read something like "No, that's not what I meant. Blabity blah..." Sorry!
posted by P.o.B. at 8:30 PM on May 16, 2009


I think I am in the wrong thread, I am looking for the Whoremongering Pride rally?
posted by little e at 8:33 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's back in town, twenty buck entry fee.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:48 PM on May 16, 2009


There is a difference between social disapproval of unhealthy/unsustainable/anti-social behaviours, and being cruel to people.

I don't understand looking at an overweight person and saying, "That there's evidence of unhealthy/unsustainable/anti-social behaviors." What do you know about this person? That they take in more calories than they burn. Personally, when I'm in shape, it's because I'm swimming regularly at a swimming pool that I drive to. To burn off all the extra calories I'm eating anyway. I don't think that's unusual; people drive to work out in gyms that have to be heated/cooled on machines that run on electricity. Wouldn't it be more sustainable and socially beneficial to just convert all those calories to fat?

Really, you don't know anything about a person when you see that they're fat. It's just not something that should be subject to "social disapproval," because it doesn't imply "unhealthy/unsustainable/anti-social behaviors" any more than being thin does.

This thread is frustrating because I keep asking myself, Where does all this moral judgment come from? What is the moral value in maintaining a normal weight? And I see nothing here to explain that. So I think this is not truly moral outrage; it's aesthetic disgust in search of moral justification.
posted by palliser at 9:05 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry, can't talk about this anymore. I'm moving to Greece.
posted by hazyspring at 9:10 PM on May 16, 2009


I know this is a trivial derail, and doesn't really change my point (that the fat/alcohol joke is also a sexist one) but try this. The original way it's phrased, the joke is that the only way a fat woman can get sex is if a man is drunk enough to lose his normal repugnance for her body and, likewise, his self-respect. If you reverse the sexes, you get this: The only way a fat man could get sex is if a woman drinks enough to lose her normal repugnance for his body and also her self-respect. Does it really work in the same way? Really? I think the way the joke could be made as contempuous of men as it is originally for women is if the punchline was the answer to the question 'Why did God make money'.
posted by jokeefe at 10:03 PM on May 16, 2009


As the person who ranted about this same topic a year and a half ago, let me tell you that it is true to an extent that remaining obese is something of a choice, but getting that way is not.

You develop habits when you are young, and those habits persist despite changes in your life. The high school athlete who eats 3500 calories a day and is still ripped like Rambo is in for a rude awakening when he finds himself parked behind a desk 8 hours a day and still craving 3500 calories.

Secondly, the notion that the only medical excuses for obesity are genetics and thyroid problems is laughable. Whats the excuse for alcoholism, besides being a weak-willed escapist worm? Oh, right, alcohol is addictive. No it isn't. Billions of people have drank alcohol without becoming addicted to it. The reason people are alcoholics is because they are medicating a psychological problem.

Which is the exact same reason some people overeat. Food addiction is a very real problem, and it is more difficult to control than alcohol or drug addiction because cold turkey is not an option - you have to eat. People don't overeat to get high, they overeat to get numb. To change that requires a massive amount of concerted effort and focus on your behavior, much more than going to the gym. You basically have to retrain your body to demand food differently.

Finally, the notion that going from, say 250 lbs to 180 is a matter of some time in a gym is moronic. There are roughly 3500 calories per pound of fat. To burn 70 lbs (assuming its all fat) requires burning an extra 245,000 calories. For most people, obesity isn't a result of eating 2000 calories too many per day, it's the result of eating 300-400 too many over a period of decades. Do you really think that can be reversed permanently even in a year?

And let's say your decided to try. You might go to the gym, but what are you going to do when you get there? In case you haven't noticed, the quality of fitness information available even in books rivals that of JFK and 9-11 conspiracy theories. Everyone is an expert, everyone has a plan, but no two plans are alike and when you dig a bit you discover no one has any clue what they are talking about. It's all fad programs based not on any science, but rather on what the author's football coach once told them 2 years ago. It is extremely difficult to figure out what program to follow, let alone stick with it. And the program isn't going to be half an hour on the treadmill or spinning class type bullshit. It is going to be frequent and protracted encounters with muscular agony so severe that you'll wish you could develop a vicodin habit just to numb it. And you'll have to track not only what you eat, but exactly what you do in the gym with the precision of the Nasa sapce program. This is because your body is genetically programmed to not want to lose weight under any circumstances. In fact, your body is so determined to keep the fat stores that if you cut out carbohydrates from your diet completely, your body will simply consume the protein in your muscle tissue to produce glucose rather than pulling it completely from the fat.

If you want to appreciate how hard is losing that amount of weight in any reasonable amount of time, and if you're one of those people who's been relatively slim most of their life without really having to work at it, here's a thought-exercise for you. Try to put on 70 lbs of muscle in 245 days. Bet you can't do it. I bet you can't even put on half that. Not that it can't be done, I can tell you exactly how to do it. But unless you've actually tried it, you have no idea the mental and physical discipline it requires, and most people, including most thin people, don't have the discipline for it.

None of this is an excuse for not trying, but I just wanted to make it clear to the fat critics that cavalierly telling people to lose weight amounts to requiring them to have mental and physical discipline than the critics themselves do.

But fair is fair. If you weigh 220-230, it isn't a matter of just dropping 20 lbs to look good. Carrying that much excess weight is a very real health problem, like smoking or chronic drinking. 230 lbs is not a little heavy, it is dangerously heavy.

In his prime as a competitive bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger was massive. He made the guy who went on the ply the Incredible Hulk look small. Arnold stood 6'2", had 22" arms, 29" thighs and a 52" inch chest. This is what 235 lbs looks like.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:04 PM on May 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


And this is what 180 lbs looks like.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:11 PM on May 16, 2009


It's in every dictionary I have, including the OED. But perhaps you're better qualified to determine what is and isn't a word than lexicographers.

Excuse me, I meant "woefully ungrammatical and a poor choice of words." If you wanna get metaphysical about it, I guess it's a word if we can say it. That doesn't make it an educated choice. Irregardless of its "existence."

Also, I play a lexicographer on TV.

bada-BING!
posted by liketitanic at 10:40 PM on May 16, 2009


Oh, and the OED describes it this way: " In non-standard or humorous use: regardless. "

Listen, if it's ok to judge people for being fat, we might as well all be clear about our metrics.
posted by liketitanic at 10:42 PM on May 16, 2009


I meant "woefully ungrammatical and a poor choice of words."

Hell, I'll even admit to that. Pull from any my posts and have a field day. But just to be clear I never even tried to imply this bullshit you just stated:

Listen, if it's ok to judge people for being fat, we might as well all be clear about our metrics.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:55 PM on May 16, 2009


ICE CREAM FOR EVERYONE! HURRAY!
posted by loquacious at 11:14 PM on May 16, 2009


I don't understand looking at an overweight person and saying, "That there's evidence of unhealthy/unsustainable/anti-social behaviors." What do you know about this person?

I know that in the USA, that person is very likely to belong to an outlier group when compared against the obesity rates of not only other countries, but the USA itself not many years ago.

Either one must posit that American's DNA has changed at a remarkably rapid pace, or Americans are choosing to eat and exercise in a manner that is significantly different than it once was.

There is a root cause to most of America's obesity, and it must certainly come down to personal decisions about food and exercise.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: I agree: the hateful words in fat threads are too much. But I can not for a moment agree that society should not take a dim view of obesity. It is has a destructive effect on our society: it hurts families, ruins lives, reduces productivity, is bad for health, and is ultimately damn expensive by every metric. A society that embraces obesity is a society that will ultimately fail.

Funny thing about that.. In one way of looking at it, I had to drop out of the economically productive society in order to reverse my ever increasing obesity.

Pastabagel: But unless you've actually tried it, you have no idea the mental and physical discipline it requires, and most people, including most thin people, don't have the discipline for it.

No question, it takes a lot of dedicated effort to reverse a weight problem. However, almost everyone has the discipline it requires. It just so happens that most people are spending their discipline allotment elsewhere. Mostly elsewhere means work, sometimes it means kids, etc.

Just one example.. Consider how incredibly well disciplined parents are when it comes to fear of sexual predators. Hell, they make time to drive their kids to and from school every single day! Ooopss...
posted by Chuckles at 11:24 PM on May 16, 2009


For most people, obesity isn't a result of eating 2000 calories too many per day, it's the result of eating 300-400 too many over a period of decades. Do you really think that can be reversed permanently even in a year?

I shed 7% of my body weight rather easily. More than that is proving challenging, but I do have to admit I very frequently fail to restrict my caloric intake. Hunger and munchy cravings suck and I am weak-willed. OTOH, I'm getting better; perhaps that next ten is about to disappear.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:29 PM on May 16, 2009


liketitanic: Excuse me, I meant "woefully ungrammatical and a poor choice of words." If you wanna get metaphysical about it, I guess it's a word if we can say it. That doesn't make it an educated choice. Irregardless of its "existence."

Also, I play a lexicographer on TV.

bada-BING!


Wait—did you just… ?

Note to liketitanic: criticizing languagehat, the guy who writes this excellent and expert blog about language, concerning linguistic usage is a particularly bad idea. Irregardless of the fact that you don't seem to know the distinction between "percriptivist" and "descriptivist;" or even that there is such a distinction.

I suggest you look those two words up before you keep on with this tack.
posted by koeselitz at 12:06 AM on May 17, 2009


arg, prescriptivist
posted by koeselitz at 12:07 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel: And the program isn't going to be half an hour on the treadmill or spinning class type bullshit. It is going to be frequent and protracted encounters with muscular agony so severe that you'll wish you could develop a vicodin habit just to numb it.

Or you might discover that you really enjoy the feeling of pushing yourself to your limits, and the feeling of accomplishment you get when you lift more weight this week than you thought you could the week before.

And you'll have to track not only what you eat, but exactly what you do in the gym with the precision of the Nasa sapce program. This is because your body is genetically programmed to not want to lose weight under any circumstances.

Or you might discover that your body responds really really well to being treated that way, and the weight starts melting off.

I get where you're coming from. But honestly, if I were still (according to the BMI) obese and had never worked out, your comment would have scared the shit out of me, and I'd probably have decided I didn't have what it took to do that kind of work.

(And yes, I realize that I'm tremendously fortunate to have a body that responds as well as it does to exercise.)
posted by asterix at 12:16 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I shed 7% of my body weight rather easily.

Yeah, me too. I lost 20-30 lbs. just by cutting sugar out of my diet, and stayed at the lower weight for about 5 years. In the past couple of months I've started working out regularly (putting in 45-90 minutes at the gym 4 or 5 times a week) and dropped another 20, and the weight loss doesn't seem to be slowing...
posted by asterix at 12:20 AM on May 17, 2009


Lolkitten!

Snoring duck!

A duck and a puppy!

Creepy lady with a baby pig!

Monkey protecting a cat from... what is that, a giant chicken... bird... thing?!

Otters holding hands! With free cooing soccer moms!
posted by dirigibleman at 12:24 AM on May 17, 2009


Wait—did you just… ?

Note to liketitanic: criticizing languagehat, the guy who writes this excellent and expert blog about language, concerning linguistic usage is a particularly bad idea. Irregardless of the fact that you don't seem to know the distinction between "percriptivist" and "descriptivist;" or even that there is such a distinction.


Wait did he just... dare to express an opinion? If someone here is such an expert on a given subject, let him prove it by his arguments, not by having his little proxies prop up and recite his resume.

In this case, by the way, he's pretty clearly wrong. The word may be in the dictionary, but the dictionary notes it as non-standard. And using a word that is two letters longer than another word that means that exact same thing, simply because it's a mistake that eventually got in the dictionary, meets any reasonable definition of "Wrong."
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:30 AM on May 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


this is perfectly representative of the heat death of the meta thread: starting out with high-energy arguments about lolfattyism & the like, but eventually entropyifing into niggles over spelling & grammar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:36 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


drjimmy11: If someone here is such an expert on a given subject, let him prove it by his arguments, not by having his little proxies prop up and recite his resume.

Oh, good lord—I was mostly joking.

But for you youngsters (all of whom don't seem to have been around for the halcyon days) l-hat used to be a glorious fury when people pretentiously announced that some 'nonstandard' usage was "wrong;" I can remember a number of righteous flameouts on that count.

And I'm no proxy; I'm more of a…minion. Maybe a goon.

In this case, by the way, he's pretty clearly wrong. The word may be in the dictionary, but the dictionary notes it as non-standard. And using a word that is two letters longer than another word that means that exact same thing, simply because it's a mistake that eventually got in the dictionary, meets any reasonable definition of "Wrong."

In this case, you are clearly wrong—and I don't need him to argue it. 'Nonstandard' is indeed very different from 'any reasonable definition of "wrong."' See, on this point, descriptive linguistics. At this point (while my view of the field is from across the campus in the philosophy department) I would say that most linguists would disagree with you and tell you things like 'this is how languages evolve' and 'there isn't really such a thing as correct or incorrect when it comes to language.' They are the reason that dictionary says nonstandard rather than correct like it did half a century ago.

What you are attempting to do is this: you are attempting to prescribe what people can and can't say; you're attempting to tell them what words are allowed and what words aren't. I don't think that's a great idea; in fact, I think it's based on some faulty assumptions about the applicability of rules to language. But you're free to do what you like, I suppose.
posted by koeselitz at 12:55 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Truly awesome, asterix. I'm lucky that I've caught myself early: forty pounds over my weight when I was quite physically active. I hope to get myself back in the ballpark of healthy muscle and fat ratios, but I've no expectation of losing more than another ten pounds. I won't be perfect, but I expect it'll be fit enough to last another forty-odd years. Sounds good to me; I like life more than the alternative. Congrats.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:56 AM on May 17, 2009


…in other words, drjimmy11, and with a bit more brevity: picking on someone because they use a nonstandard word or phrase is petty and pretentious; and, furthermore, it's not correct.
posted by koeselitz at 1:01 AM on May 17, 2009


And we're against prescriptive linguistics why?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:04 AM on May 17, 2009


....Can I just shout "HITLER!" right now and table the entire discussion right now due to an invocation of Godwin's?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:21 AM on May 17, 2009


you misunderstand Godwin's law at the same time as you demonstrate it. well done!
posted by Hat Maui at 1:48 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Observation that should be treated as perhaps nothing but an anecdotal data point:

Most of the people I know who are or were obese that said they "tried everything" really only meant "lots of things of medium difficulty". The people that got very serious about going to the gym and working out for real lost their weight quickly.

That said, being cruel to anybody for any reason is Bad. The cause is only interesting in a discussion about obesity in general, and perhaps the "fat pride" phenomenon. And I don't really understand the "fat pride" stuff. I see no reason to be proud of being overweight specifically, or letting everybody know that just because you're overweight you're not going to let it keep you from being proud of yourself. Why not just wear a shirt that says "pride"? It'd have a more honest impact on people anyways if they see you're overweight and proud of yourself, instead of what appears to be a coping strategy.

I should also note I've never had to struggle with weight and could (and have) scarf more down than anybody overweight I know and stay at my constant annoyingly-skinny 6'1 145lbs. My ability to fully empathize is probably limited.
posted by floam at 1:54 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apropos the moralistic tale about the skinny Africans and the fat bastard with the bag of cheeseburgers...

Look, most of the skinny Africans would also be fat bastards with cheeseburgers if they could possibly afford it. The fat bastard with a cheeseburger is doing what every sensible mammal with unlimited access to food would do. Ascribing moral weight to following an urge (eating) even more primal fucking is just stupid... oh wait, you're Americans.

Fat people who have the ill grace to eat publicly are literally deviant. They ignore society's norms in favour of doing something very satisfying. They incur the ire of moralists because they bear the sign of their gluttonous shame in their flesh. They are ciphers and symbols. But it has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with people who will not be told.

Hence why fat people who never eat bags of cheeseburgers are suspected of snarfing in private. Their flesh betrays their secret sin, you see.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:43 AM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


that should read "even more primal THAN fucking". Sorry.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:44 AM on May 17, 2009


you misunderstand Godwin's law at the same time as you demonstrate it. well done!

You misunderestimated my knowledge of Godwin's at the same time as you demonstrated your lack of ability to recognize I was making a joke. Bravo!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 AM on May 17, 2009


Either one must posit that American's DNA has changed at a remarkably rapid pace, or Americans are choosing to eat and exercise in a manner that is significantly different than it once was.

No, I agree that when you are heavy, you are taking in more than you burn; I said that. I don't think most large people have genetic conditions that prevent weight maintenance, and I think that's proven by the very reason you say: historically, Americans have been thinner.

I just don't see it as morally valent.
posted by palliser at 6:15 AM on May 17, 2009


Morally, it's ok to hate Americans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:37 AM on May 17, 2009


The people that got very serious about going to the gym and working out for real lost their weight quickly.

And research shows that an extremely small percentage of them - only about 3-5% - are able to maintain that loss after five years.

No, I agree that when you are heavy, you are taking in more than you burn; I said that. I don't think most large people have genetic conditions that prevent weight maintenance, and I think that's proven by the very reason you say: historically, Americans have been thinner.


Read my comment again. Some Americans have genetic predispositions to like food more, eat food more, gain weight more easily, and tend toward a slower metabolism. Some Americans have grown up with emotional and cultural experiences that predispose them to thinking about and eating food differently, or putting a low priority on thinking about food. Some Americans are struggling with short- or long-term issues like grief, disability, depression, childbirth, family or job stress for which they find some relief in food. All Americans, like all humans, have an inborn preference for sweet and fatty foods, and current science is showing, very interestingly, that many people are struggling against an addictive feedback loop that may result from deficient dopamine levels in the brain. Also, all Americans live in a society in which the social design, urban planning, and public policy values are to minimize effort, maximize available calories, advertise and promote food relentlessly, celebrate food as reward and necessary element of every event, drive down the price of food, and replace calories available from whole foods such as produce with calories from processed and packaged foods developed by proprietary companies.

Saying that "You won't get fat if you burn more calories than you take in" is certainly true, but it minimizes the issue to a ridiculous and useless degree. Most individuals without medical restrictions of one sort of another can change their behavior and restrict their eating and increase their exercise and produce a weight loss, yes. Whether they are able to sustain that effort and attention over time, against the other challenges of their individual lives, and in the midst of a society that undermines that effort at every turn, is nowhere near as sure a guarantee. Some people are able to focus on and maintain this sustained effort, but they are in the minority. And those of you who have never struggled with weight are simply lucky. This whole process is obviously easier for you than for people for whom the genetic, social, and personal factors are different. It's as useful to ask overweight people why they don't do better at losing weight as it is to ask you "Why didn't you do better in college? Why didn't you go to a better college? Why aren't you getting promoted at your job? Why haven't you gotten a raise? Why do you procrastinate so much? How come you make so little money? Why aren't you better looking? Why don't you have a better girlfriend? Why is your family so fucked up? Why are your personality traits so irrritating? How come you don't get a better haircut? Why do you dress so badly?"

There are superficial solutions to all these problems, but I doubt that just hearing someone say "Work harder, lazy butt! You look ugly, dress better! You're just too dumb - lower your expectations!" is enough to solve your problem.

In short, YES, taking in fewer calories than one burns will result in a weight loss. However, that is one piece of a large, interconnected, and complex puzzle. To jump around excitedly brandishing this one piece of information and considering that you have found a solution is as silly as saying subprime mortgages were the cause the financial crisis. You've got one proximal piece of a much, much bigger picture whose roots and underlying causes are much deeper and more widespread, located both in the individual and in society.

And if solving the overweight epidemic were as easy as you imagine, it would have long ago been solved.
posted by Miko at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2009 [40 favorites]


I am getting pretty sick of that old saw about fat people trotting out "I have a glandular problem" or similar as a way to deny any responsibility for their condition. People really just do not do this. Stop attacking overweight people for something they're not doing! You are attacking an effigy, a construct, a dream, a scarecrow. It doesn't go like this.

The only people I hear talking about fat people using "glandular condition/other medical condition" as an "excuse" are those who are trying to label obese people as immoral and lazy.
posted by Mister_A at 7:26 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Miko: Some Americans have grown up with emotional and cultural experiences that predispose them to thinking about and eating food differently, or putting a low priority on thinking about food.

This is true, I think. Something along these lines came to mind when I read Ms. Saint's lengthy comment, describing her struggles with weight gain, and she repeatedly says she "deserves" to savor sweets and other food ... which is a common, food-centric mindset among those who struggle with weight problems. I have never struggled with weight gain, and I think it has to do with the fact that food was never emphasized in my house when I was growing up. We ate meals, of course, and we even had ice cream and snacks, but food was devoid of any moralistic concepts of "you deserve this" or "you have earned the right to savor this dessert." Food was simply not given high, ritual importance in my childhood home. Often my mom cooked. Sometimes we ate a small frozen entree. Other times it was Burger King. But food and eating didn't seem to have the importance that it has in many households. If I miss a meal, I may be hungry, but I do not have an emotional meltdown the way people brought up in food-centric households seem to do.
posted by jayder at 7:33 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can we all just compromise, meet somewhere in the middle and agree that linguists are visually repellent?
posted by milarepa at 7:50 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


> In this case, by the way, he's pretty clearly wrong. The word may be in the dictionary, but the dictionary notes it as non-standard. And using a word that is two letters longer than another word that means that exact same thing, simply because it's a mistake that eventually got in the dictionary, meets any reasonable definition of "Wrong."

You don't know the first thing about words or language, do you?

> Can we all just compromise, meet somewhere in the middle and agree that linguists are visually repellent?

You haven't seen the new Star Trek movie, have you?
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on May 17, 2009


Hey, spoiler warning woulda been nice there l'hat! Now I know that there are visually repellent linguists! YOU HAVE RUINED MY SPACE COWBOY FUN!!!
posted by Mister_A at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2009


Or, possibly non-repellent linguists. Either way, man, come on! Just knowing that there are linguists pretty much wrecks the movie.
posted by Mister_A at 8:05 AM on May 17, 2009


The best part is that there are no linguists*, but now you'll** spend the whole movie waiting for them anyway.

*Haven't seen it, don't know if this is true.
**By this I mean "I'll".

posted by cortex (staff) at 8:16 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


You don't know the first thing about words or language, do you?

Irregardless is a word, Manos, The Hands of Fate is a film and Scientology is a religion.
posted by ODiV at 8:18 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is a root cause to most of America's obesity, and it must certainly come down to personal decisions about food and exercise.

I think that this puts things ass-backwards. I think it's really the reverse -- where we have a society that is structured (physically, economically, and socially) in ways that, for perhaps the majority of people, produce very predictable effects, including weight gain.

Yes, everyone makes choices, and we have responsibility for those choices. But we make those choices within a social context that mediates, limits, and structures those choices.

It's like the research on portion sizes -- large plates and large bowls mean that people will eat more, period. You can call that a "choice" -- but it's not a choice in that the person with the large plate is a lazy glutton and the person with the small plate is a self-aware ascetic. The choice, such as it is, happens before the person sits down at the table -- the important choices have to do with sidewalks, national economic priorities, safe streets, agricultural subsidies, child-care alternatives, and so on.

Given that we have (collectively and historically) chosen to organize our society in a way that is producing weight gain, putting the blame for that weight gain on the individuals most effected seems to be counterproductive and simply wrong. The solution isn't going to be found individually, any more than the situation was created individually.
posted by Forktine at 8:45 AM on May 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


This:

"I'm coming to this very late, but just wanted to add a comment that I didn't see anywhere else, either in the thread on the blue or here: in the commercial which started off this whole thing (remember the commerical?) the joke ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat chicks could get a root [fuck]') is not just a fat joke; it's primarily a misogynist joke. Try it with the sexes reversed ('Why did God invent alcohol? So that fat guys could get laid') and it makes much less sense. So don't forget that in all the fat-bashing there's a good amount of anxiety/judgement/moral panic about the control of women's bodies, as well. And women's bodies are more malleable than men's; I put on a good sixty pounds when I was pregnant-- not to mention the other huge changes such as permanent differences in the shape of my breasts, stretch marks, etc.-- and I know I'll never get rid of the extra weight entirely. Short of a major illness, I'll never weigh again what I did when I conceived, because a body after pregnancy is never going to be the same. And that's all fine and natural and just the way things are."

Is what's wrong with this discussion and world. A reason is not an excuse. I assure you; mens bodies are pretty much the same as womens. Make us capable of becoming pregnant, and our breasts will change shape too.

And quite frankly, the joke isn't as funny when you make it about fat men simply because it's more true.
posted by gjc at 9:03 AM on May 17, 2009


...which is a common, food-centric mindset among those who struggle with weight problems. I have never struggled with weight gain, and I think it has to do with the fact that food was never emphasized in my house when I was growing up.

I'm afraid you've misunderstood my point, jayder, and that's probably my fault. Let me try to explain it again.

The idea that one 'deserves' to enjoy food does not lead to one growing overweight. It is, instead, the idea that one does NOT deserve to enjoy food that can, and often does, lead to weight gain. I have been able to get control over my weight by realizing that I deserve to enjoy food. One of the leading causes to my weigh gain was my belief that I did not deserve it, that, if I were a good person, I would be able to see food solely as a means of gaining energy and cast off my desire for taste.

You cannot ignore the fact that food tastes good. Sure, there are some very few individuals who can't taste food at all, but for the vast majority of us, food tastes good. Even you. Probably, some people like how food tastes more than other, and that may lead to a difference in what types of foods they seek out. But there's nothing "food-centric" about accepting the fact that food tastes good.

I used to feel bad, constantly, about every single decision I made that involved food. "Should I buy some brownies?" "Should I go to the store to buy some brownies?" "If I go to the store and buy some brownies, should I go to the store tomorrow to buy some ice cream?" "Should I eat just half a brownie, or a whole brownie?" "If I end up eating more than one brownie, what should I do tomorrow to make up for it?" Over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER until I wanted to scream. I was doing something that I believed was wrong, and so it was something I obsessed over. I tried my hardest, every single day, to stop caring about food, to stop living a "food-centric" life, as you called it, and I knew that my whole attitude towards food was completely messed up. "If only I could stop liking sweets, I would be such a better person!" I thought that, all that time. And those thoughts were directly related to me caring about sweets all the more.

It is by owning the fact that I like sweet foods that I have started to live a far less food-centric life. It's okay for me to like chocolate. That doesn't make me a bad person. That doesn't mean I have a disgusting, warped, "Food-centric" view of the world. It just means that I respond in the physiologically-appropriate way to sweet foods--I enjoy them, as one bloody well should.

It's not a matter of "Earning" the chance to have sweets. In fact, I am going to as much as I can to never think in that way. I don't do anything to "earn" a sweet food. When I say that I deserve to enjoy sweet foods, I mean that I deserve to enjoy them just as much as you do -- you, jayder, someone who admits to being able to like them but who doesn't seem to have a weight problem. So far as enjoying sugary foods is involved, there is no difference between us. I can enjoy them as much as you can.

So all this is to say, no, the idea that I can be a good person and still enjoy sweets is what has saved me from a horribly food-centric worldview, an obsession that I always knew was unhealthy and terrible for me but could not figure out how to control. The idea that I can be a good person and enjoy sweets is what saved me, is what has gotten to me to stop caring about them.

I think one reason you didn't understand my point originally is that you sound like you've never had an unhealthy attitude about food. You sound like you have never looked at a piece of chocolate and wanted to cry because of how horrible a person it made you feel like to want to eat it. I can completely understand that it's probably a really hard viewpoint to take up, if you've never experienced it. There is so much shame and guilt and pain in our society associated with being unable to "control" one's body, and it is really hard to imagine that something as stupid and tiny and useless as a square of chocolate could have that much potent bad feeling associated with it. But it can, it does, and it is that bad-feeling that makes one live a warped, food-centric life. And it is coming to cast off those bad feelings, to be able to see a square of chocolate just as something that one has every right to eat if one wants, that can allow one to have the same sort of attitude towards food you seem to have.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:38 AM on May 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


Irregardless is a word—a bad word that makes people sound both pretentious and stupid. Just like how "ain't" makes people seem emphatic and casual.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's as useful to ask overweight people why they don't do better at losing weight as it is to ask you "Why didn't you do better in college? Why didn't you go to a better college? Why aren't you getting promoted at your job? Why haven't you gotten a raise? Why do you procrastinate so much? How come you make so little money? Why aren't you better looking? Why don't you have a better girlfriend? Why is your family so fucked up? Why are your personality traits so irritating? How come you don't get a better haircut? Why do you dress so badly?"

Because I was a lazy dumbfuck who failed to recognize how it would affect my future. Because I don't care to take on any more responsibilities than I already have. Because in this economic downturn, it would be stupid to even ask. Because I'm a lazy dumbfuck, really; you have no idea the lengths I'll normally go to to avoid work. Because I was a lazy dumbfuck in college who failed to recognize that a few years of really hard work would have a lifetime payout. Because it's literally impossible to look better, ha. Also impossible. Because my father was abused as a child and my mother is a basket case, same as every other family. Because I'm an arrogant asshole who thinks the world of himself. Because I'm a lazy dumbfuck who has for the past two weeks couldn't be bothered to get off his arse and drop in at the stylist, just like every damn time my hair gets longer than I like. Because I'm a lazy slob who doesn't need to wear anything more than faded blue jeans and a clean t-shirt to work.

I have no qualms admitting my faults, and readily admit that my natural state of lazy dumbfuck is largely what holds me back in life.

And you know what? It's by admitting it that I've been able to make a little progress toward being less of a lazy dumbfuck. I fail to control my diet as much as I should and if the weather is the least cold or grey I'll probably hole up in a dark room and blab on MetaFilter. But awareness of these health-damaging, happiness-damaging, self-destructive tendencies is the first step in changing myself.

How about you?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 AM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


You haven't seen the new Star Trek movie, have you?

Was that a real linguist?! I thought that was an actor. Silly me.
posted by milarepa at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2009


There are overweight people everywhere (even in Africa!). But. The first time I went to the USA (that was Chicago, btw) I realized I had never seen so many over-overweight people in my life. Then I went to a restaurant where the portion I was given could have fed me for 3 days. All the bottled drinks tasted like children's cough syrup. There wasn't such a thing as a one scoop (as in on little ball on top of a cone) ice cream. In another place I ordered a club sandwich - thinking naively this would be a nice little loaf with some sliced stuffed inside - and I got half the contents of a bag of sliced bread filled with 10 different ingredients. The smallest bottled drink was twice the size of the smallest one in my country and probably half the price. A pizza slice was the size of a pizza. There were little carts in the streets and inside malls, which before I only had seen being used by handicapped people, carrying people with perfectly functioning limbs who for some unknown reason to me wouldn't walk (so when I saw Wall-E I didn't think of it as fat hate but as a probably truthful prediction). At that moment the in-flight magazine where I had seen a ridiculous contraption consisting of a ramp to assist dogs climb into the trunks of cars suddenly made sense. It still didn't explain why would you want a cat litter container disguised as a bookshelf on your living room though.

There are all kinds of little things that I notice when I go over there, mostly gadgets to allow you to make the least effort possible that completely puzzle me because some of those efforts are actually enjoyable. Like those weird sticks with velcro to pick up and throw balls to play with dogs. What the hell is that!?
posted by lucia__is__dada at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Tafas: Is [Britain] a desert country?

Lawrence: No. A fat country. Fat people.

Tafas: You are not fat?

Lawrence: No. I'm different.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:42 AM on May 17, 2009


I just ran 8.5 miles and now I hate fat people. WTF EXERCISE???
posted by Mister_A at 10:42 AM on May 17, 2009


Personally, I only find fat people contemptible when it's their fault and not a medical condition.

Unless you've got glandular issues that make you fat, shape the fuck up and stop being a fatass.
posted by kldickson at 10:55 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good on ya, kldickson - hey, if you're free this afternoon, I'm going to be going to the cancer ward to spit on the former smokers, wanna come with?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:03 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Building off of lucia__is__dada's comment, I've been to Europe and it's the only place where I can reliably find clothes that fit me well, because the average American woman has gotten so big. In the US, sizes have become so inflated that while I could wear size 6 jeans in high school (1992), now they'd fall off of me. But my weight hasn't changed.
posted by desjardins at 11:36 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Skinny pinko socialist.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:42 AM on May 17, 2009


Fat, at least in the aggregate, isn't an individual thing but an environmental thing. This is demonstrated by the 'fewer fat people in Africa/the past/the other side of the border' examples.

That doesn't tell you anything about whether fat is good or bad. It may tell you that higher incidence of fat tends to correlate to things we generally consider good - higher standards of living, better nutrition, less hunger, less disease, greater wealth, etc.

But the truth is that we haven't scientifically established *even for the aggregate* that fatter people have poorer health outcomes. Longitudinal studies show that overweight women tend to have better health outcomes than normal weight women (BMI 'normalcy').

And health outcome is a thing that you can sort of objectively measure, as opposed to things like quality of life, which is so subjective. One person might find that the deprivation and exercise required (in his personal circumstances) to lose weight unpleasant in themselves, but overall a benefit to his quality of life. Another person might not.

On an individual basis, the correlation between general well being and weight is... individual. I know someone who had been 'normal' weight most of her life, gained weight, gained a bunch of health and chronic pain problems, went to a chronic pain clinic where everybody else was overweight, lost weight, and feels much better. She's now convinced that fat is inherently unhealthy for everybody. But the truth is that she had the privilege of listening to her own body. Her weight gain brought her concrete and apparent decreases in quality of life, and so she lost weight and her life improved. What standing does she have to tell someone else who's body feels fine that they'll feel better if they lost weight?

And what standing does anybody have to look at someone else's life and say, "I know that losing weight will be a source of stress for you - financially, emotionally, physically, etc, but I know for sure that in the end you will be happier and healthier if you lose weight?" Who can know? We *know* that stress plays a huge role in health. If losing weight requires you to cut down on sleep or social time (to get to the gym, or to stay away from food-centered environments), but we know that sufficient sleep and strong emotional bonds and social connections are beneficial for health, can you really promise someone that your agenda for their lifestyle will in the long term be better than theirs? Even physically? Let alone emotionally?

Despising or shaming fat people is not only mean, it's also dumb. The very examples that people use to blame fat people (like fewer fat people in Africa/the past/etc) actually show that shaming individuals is a less effective way to promote thinness than working to change the environment (I recommend against encouraging famine and spreading malaria, and for lobbying for walking and public transit based urban planning, better day care and social benefits, etc). But really, in my opinion, those things are good in their own right, and I would want them even if they didn't result in a single thinner person. Because who really cares.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:46 AM on May 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Miko, I really appreciate your comments in this thread, but I'm a little bewildered to find a pull-quote of mine used as a counterpoint to your second comment. My point was consistent with yours: it's simple enough to say that heavy people eat more than they burn, but that's all you can say. There's nothing upon which you can make a moral judgment. I think that was clear from the next sentence in my comment, as well as the other comment I made here.
posted by palliser at 11:50 AM on May 17, 2009


If you reverse the sexes, you get this: The only way a fat man could get sex is if a woman drinks enough to lose her normal repugnance for his body and also her self-respect. Does it really work in the same way? Really? I think the way the joke could be made as contempuous of men as it is originally for women is if the punchline was the answer to the question 'Why did God make money'.

Yes it does work in the same way, and therefore I think your point about the joke being sexist is wrong. I absolutely cannot understand why it doesn't make sense to you, are you imagining that women don't feel any natural repugnance for fat guys? Or that getting drunk doesn't encourage them to lower their standards?

And for extra confusion, your proposed 'contempuous for men' version sounds to me like it's expressing more contempt for women. chicks will sleep with anyone for money, lol! Reminds me of that single mother MeTa a few days ago.
posted by jacalata at 12:16 PM on May 17, 2009


Total tangent here, but my immediate response to allkindsoftime's story is: Hell yeah, he's got McDonald's! He's on a plane! If you can point me to a place in an airport wherein to buy something decently tasty that costs less than $10 that ISN'T McDonald's... well, then you and I have been hanging out in different airports.

I judge not how people behave on planes because really, I think airports are purgatory on Earth and no one is at their best when packed into a cramped metal tube with hundreds of irritated strangers. Even the Dalai Lama has admitted to getting pissed off in airports! (Really. I saw him talk a few weeks ago. True story.)

Last time I flew, I had popcorn for lunch and gummi bears for dinner. I'm with the McDonald's dude all the way.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


But the truth is that we haven't scientifically established *even for the aggregate* that fatter people have poorer health outcomes. Longitudinal studies show that overweight women tend to have better health outcomes than normal weight women (BMI 'normalcy').

Genuinely interested here: do you have a cite?
posted by ssg at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless you've got glandular issues that make you fat, shape the fuck up and stop being a fatass.

It's clear that this response is not part of the site policy, correct?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hating people because of their weight is obnoxious. You should get to know people before you hate them.
posted by theora55 at 12:49 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry to come so late to the thread, but I got curious, and went about addressing the question of medical problems, as opposed to choice, being the cause of some weight issues, and the idea that 10% is a high estimation:

In 2008, there were a little over 304 million people in the US.

That year, it was estimated that at least 6 to 7 million people (at a rate of 4 times more women than men) suffered from hypothyroidism, which leads to weight gain (hence, not "weight gain by choice" or simply eating too much).

If my math is correct, 7 out of 304 million = 2 percent (roughly) of all Americans.

Almost forty percent of Americans are considered overweight.

Forty percent of 304 million = 122 milion (roughly).

7 out of 122 million (the number of those with hypothyroidism vs the number of those who are overweight overall) = about 6%.

So, by those calculations, 6% of overweight people are overweight due to just that one medical issue, hyphothroidism. And of course there are others, as evidenced by my last link. I don't know the incidence of Cushing's syndrome, for example, or edema.

So, 10% is beginning to look more reasonable to me.
posted by misha at 12:55 PM on May 17, 2009


what is reasonable about the point you're making?

and for clarity's sake, are you saying that if it's not a readily identifiable medical issue, then being obese is a "choice"?

furthermore, did you miss the whole discussion about why justifying fat hate with some confused notion that fat people "choose" to be fat is quite wrong and in fact bigoted?
posted by Hat Maui at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2009


If you can point me to a place in an airport wherein to buy something decently tasty that costs less than $10 that ISN'T McDonald's... well, then you and I have been hanging out in different airports.

Do Vancouver International, Seattle-Tacoma, San Bernadino, San Francisco, and Toronto airports count? Because I promise, I've eaten tasty meals (sandwiches, soups, and sometimes fish) for less than ten bucks at all of them. Most of them have even been reasonably healthy.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:20 PM on May 17, 2009


I just chose to bust my ass for another hour and a half on this fine weekend, when I'd really rather be slumming at the beach. I dug a trench, hauled a wheelbarrow load of fill, grunted big-ass rocks and bricks, and compacted soil using a heavy tamper. I broke a sweat and got my heart rate up, plus I added value to my home.

Alas, I weigh as much today as I did yesterday, and a pound more than I did the day before.

Nonetheless, I believe I am making a healthy choice.

And if I don't make that choice for myself, no one else is going to.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:25 PM on May 17, 2009


You want a cookie, fff? They're sugar free.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:30 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Being fat is the greatest of my problems. That's really quite comforting.

I'm choosing to be fat insofar as it is an option among such others as being a self-hating neurotic bigot.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:39 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, ffs, Hat Maui, I agree that judging people for their weight is offensive, and that it doesn't matter what causes the weight gain.

But from comments like this occurring in this thread:

Personally, I only find fat people contemptible when it's their fault and not a medical condition.
Unless you've got glandular issues that make you fat, shape the fuck up and stop being a fatass.


It's clear that the debate about it is far from over (that was comment 261, mine was
272), and that some people seem to think that it matters. And as upthread there was also a debate about this side issue:

Honestly, I would be REALLY surprised if it was over 10%. POB (comment 80)

I decided to address that percentage.

Chill out already, you are looking for prejudice where none exists. I find hate unacceptable at any level.
posted by misha at 1:42 PM on May 17, 2009


I hate eggplant.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2009


Do Vancouver International, Seattle-Tacoma, San Bernadino, San Francisco, and Toronto airports count?

Yeah, they all count as I haven't been hanging out in any of them. All of the airports I find myself in are on the other side of the continent.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:54 PM on May 17, 2009


> Irregardless is a word—a bad word that makes people sound both pretentious and stupid.

I know I'm never going to change your mind, any more than I'm going to change the mind of the next Jehovah's Witness who knocks at the door, but it's genuinely amusing to me that none of you irregardless-haters seem able to grasp that your hatred is a pure social construction, as learned as any other form of bigotry. Someone told you in elementary school that it was a bad, bad word, and being too young to think rationally about it, you absorbed that dogma and then (when you got old enough to have to try to justify it "rationally") started claiming it was because of the logic of prefixes and semantic consistency, or some such balderdash—as though otherwise, English was a showpiece of logic and consistency! It's OK for inflammable to mean 'flammable,' because... well, because you were never taught to hate it, I guess. But that irregardless should mean 'regardless,' why, that's Satan's work!

As I said here: When television first started being used (a century ago), some people objected to it because it was a bastard word formation, half Latin and half Greek. If their objections had been taken more seriously and the language mavens had jumped on the bandwagon, all of you who hate irregardless would hate it just as much. Think about it.
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


misha, read jessamyn's comment about that hateful piece of shit of a comment. what you are doing isn't helping matters any. the "debate about the side issue" is actually the issue!
posted by Hat Maui at 1:58 PM on May 17, 2009


I find your comments hard to read because you don't use caps.
posted by found missing at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2009


I have been able to get control over my weight by realizing that I deserve to enjoy food.

Maybe I am quibbling over language unnecessarily, but I don't understand this talk of "I deserve this." What in the world does that mean? I associate the concept of "desert" with something you get as a result of some good (or bad) deed. Are you saying you deserve a treat because you are a good person, because you did a good deed, because you studied hard or put in overtime at work? If it's not related to some specific achievement or quality, then the way you are using the phrase "I deserve," in relation to food, seems infantile to me.

I agree that food tastes good --- I love food and sweets --- but to cheerlead yourself with "you deserve this" and other affirmations seems pointless, and actually counterproductive, but I will take your word that it has worked for you.

I think one reason you didn't understand my point originally is that you sound like you've never had an unhealthy attitude about food.

I don't know whether I have or not. I'm not sure what an unhealthy attitude about food is. I am certainly prone to bingeing on candy when it's available.
posted by jayder at 2:04 PM on May 17, 2009


I have been able to get control over my weight by realizing that I deserve to enjoy food.

I would interpret this comment differently than jayder did - to me it reads "I deserve to like eating food, rather than making myself miserable by thinking that I'm a horrible person who shouldn't be eating at all."

I went through a lot of self-hatred issues when I was younger, and even though I've never been more than 20lbs. overweight in my life, I definitely went through a period where I felt like as a human being, I didn't deserve to eat - and if I did, it should only be for survival and not enjoyment. I think that this comment is coming more from a place of getting beyond that kind of self-hatred and not from a place of "I have earned ice cream!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:07 PM on May 17, 2009


How the fuck is this a controversy?

Fat people are human beings who deserve not to be treated like shit and whether anyone thinks they've 'brought it on themselves' is neither here nor there. I know damn well Metafilter doesn't do fat well, but this is supposed to be a community. Do you talk to people like that in person?

What the hell is wrong with some of you?
posted by Space Kitty at 2:14 PM on May 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Longitudinal studies show that overweight women tend to have better health outcomes than normal weight women (BMI 'normalcy').

I've heard that people live longer if they spend most of their lives at normal weight, and then become overweight in old age. What you are saying though.. That is some claim..
posted by Chuckles at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2009


Someone told you in elementary school that it was a bad, bad word, and being too young to think rationally about it, you absorbed that dogma...

That's just like the time a mean, mean man said that twyndyllyng wasn't a word.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2009


I know I'm never going to change your mind, any more than I'm going to change the mind of the next Jehovah's Witness who knocks at the door, but it's genuinely amusing to me that none of you irregardless-haters seem able to grasp that your hatred is a pure social construction, as learned as any other form of bigotry.

I don't scratch my balls at work, either. The next time I tell Henry from accounting that he might want to take his hand out of his pants, should I maybe think twice because it's probably "pure social construction" that's driving my irritation?

If I tell him "You can't do that at work!" are you going to say, "Yes, he can, obviously."
posted by ODiV at 2:26 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Fat people are human beings who deserve not to be treated like shit and whether anyone thinks they've 'brought it on themselves' is neither here nor there.

This, by contrast, pretty much is site policy. Creepy venal spleen-venting hate of anyone doesn't belong here and we do what we can to reign it in short of turning into over-the-top delete-crazy touchy defensive mods. This isn't particularly easy and we're not terrific at it, but we do try pretty hard.

That said, it's a nerdy thinky community so there are always going to be people who want to talk about larger general medical issues and whatever (a la misha), so there is going to have to be a little give as far as what we're willing to accept in terms of acceptable topics for discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:31 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, grapefruitmoon has it. It's not "I deserve to enjoy food because I did something good." It is, instead, "I deserve to enjoy food, just the same way that even people who aren't 80 pounds overweight do." It's not the matter of seeing oneself on a higher moral plane than everyone else, but instead seeing oneself on the same moral plane as everyone else. I'm also willing to accept that maybe 'deserve' isn't the best word, but the idea is still valuable and worth understanding.

Let me try to express the point through an example. Consider going to the store to buy a carton of milk. Milk is kept by the pastry counter, and the boston cream pie is on sale.

Unhealthy, I-don't-deserve-it mindset would have me thinking the following: "I shouldn't want that. I really, really shouldn't want that. I'm a horrible human being for wanting it. If I were a good person, I wouldn't want it. But I do want it, and that makes me scum. I'm scum. I don't deserve to enjoy it, because I am scum and I am fat and I am horrible. I hate myself. I hate myself for wanting it so much... I want it so much. I shouldn't, but I do. I can't change it -- why can't I get myself to not want it? Why am I such a weak fatass that I can't pass it up? I hate myself." And then I buy it and eat way too much of it, without even being able to enjoy it because I feel guilty about it.

Here's the healthy, I-deserve-to-enjoy-it mindset: "Huh, Boston cream pie's on sale! Boston cream pie really is pretty delicious. And, if I really want it, I am more than free to get it and enjoy it. But do I really want it? Hm... Nah." No boston cream pie, no binge eating, no guilt trip, no obsession.

Before, it was very, very difficult for me to go to the store without getting some sort of sugary food. Every single sugary item was a reminder of how "bad" a human being I was, given that I couldn't stop thinking they were all delicious. But, now? I can pass up sweet things all the time. I can walk right by a display of chocolate without even caring, because I am thinking to myself, "Yeah, if I really wanted it, I would be perfectly justified in getting it."

I don't want to get too far away from the original reason why I brought up this little fact about my psychology. People bring up the idea of "you can choose to eat less," without being willing or able to really understand the psychology that goes into choosing not to eat less when you know you need to lose weight. For the vast majority of fat people, it's not a matter of just choosing to make healthy decisions. Before the nutritionist helped me understand that it is perfectly acceptable and normal for me to like the taste of sugary foods, I hated myself. And it is very, very hard to make "good" choices when you hate yourself. So much emphasis on the choices behind fat is psychologically blind and downright counter-productive.

If you really want someone you love lose weight, stop telling them to stop eating ice cream and start helping them love and appreciate themselves, their love of ice cream and all. If you really want to judge someone for being fat, take some classes in psychology, read some first-person accounts from people who have struggled with weight, and/or do what you can to truly empathize. Only at that point is one in a position to judge.
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I still don't like irregardless, but I am OK with overweight people.

grapefruitmoon said something that rings true for me–I have never been, like, THE FAT GUY, but I can definitely pack on some pounds if I stop exercising. I've been over 210 at 5'8" (that's twelve hands in metric), and even then I pretty much look "chubby", broad shoulders and all that makes it easier to carry the weight–but at that weight I was obese, no doubt. I didn't feel good. Not just psychosocially, but physically. I had more joint pain, more back pain, than I do now (this was many years ago now), and it was really hard to get going, to get to the point where I could exercise at a good intensity several times a week. Bicycling was an enormous help–gentler on the joints than running, for me, and even in poor shape I could ride a bike for 45 mins. at a pop.

The thing is, after my initial getting-in-shape experience, I went through a couple of periods where I slacked off and got heavy again, but it was much easier to get back into shape–I knew what to expect, body and mind, and I knew better how to avoid injuries. But I will always remember what a struggle it was for me to get into shape that first time, and I applaud anyone trying to do this for the first time, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose - 50 pounds was hard, but there are people out there trying to lose a few times that much. All I can say is, "Pace yourself, and trust your body."
posted by Mister_A at 2:35 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet potato pie is a poor substitute for pumpkin pie, even if baked with a thick layer of Froster Flakes on top, and as such, is an abomination.

Discuss.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:40 PM on May 17, 2009


That's just like the time a mean, mean man said that twyndyllyng wasn't a word.

it's the welsh word for waterboarding
posted by pyramid termite at 2:43 PM on May 17, 2009


Sweet potato pie is a poor substitute for pumpkin pie, even if baked with a thick layer of Froster Flakes on top, and as such, is an abomination.

i absolutely agree - apple, peaches, sweet potato pie would have never worked for jay and the techniques
posted by pyramid termite at 2:44 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's hard to describe how creepy it is to have to constantly wonder whether you're pudgy enough to be contemptible in the sight of others, to wonder if one more pound will mean people will start hating you without even knowing you.

It's... very... fucking creepy, disturbing - broken culture. And it's not like it's exactly easy to escape constant reminders of the ideal and just shut out the monoculture that gives rise to this problem, both the unhealthful side and the appearance-judging side. It's a diet industrial complex. So, listening to people's disgust about fat people isn't just sad and scary, it's also depressing - can't you be more creative with your hobby judgmentalism?? SheEpLe!!1!

Right. So, know what I blame this on the downfall of, etc.

And then there's the mind your own shit angle. You don't like how I look? Put out thine eyes, then, fuckers. Shut yourself up inside your house - we'll call it morbid inanity - because this fat chick likes to go to the beach.

The resource angle, that fat people are bad comrades, well... there's a lot of metrics by which to judge ecological impact and economic productivity, and it's pretty much a vanity project to imaginitively measure yours up against someone else's.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'd rather be fat than verbose.
posted by dawson at 3:05 PM on May 17, 2009


I'm both.

:-(
posted by Ms. Saint at 3:07 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eat your words!
posted by found missing at 3:08 PM on May 17, 2009


Thanks, jessamyn. I was definitely in the "nerdy, thinky community" and not the haters club.
posted by misha at 3:13 PM on May 17, 2009


Personally, I only find people who use the word "irregardless" contemptible when it's their fault and not a medical condition.

Unless you've got issues that make you fail to realise the word is illogical, shape the fuck up and stop being a prescriptivist.

Wait, what?
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:23 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sweet potato pie is a poor substitute for pumpkin pie

Sweet potato pie is NOT a substitute for pumpkin pie. It is a wonderful (and dare I say, superior) dessert in its own right. My GAWD, what's WRONG with you?!?!?!
posted by amyms at 3:28 PM on May 17, 2009


misha: I pulled 10% out of the air as a reference point of my thoughts on that. I would still be surprised, even after looking at your links, that these conditions are the cause of over 10% of obesity. For clarification, the cause is the point on which that statement hinges. As a personal anecdote, a friend of mine had his Thyroid totally shut down while in college. It was years before he went to a doctor and found out. He looked like a well built athlete before during and after his diagnosis. You can take that for what's it worth.

And research shows that an extremely small percentage of them - only about 3-5% - are able to maintain that loss after five years.

I'm curious to see the studies on this. I've only found articles relating to this that are at least nine years old. The idea that a lifestyle change, instead of a diet, is needed only became popular about fifteen years ago. So if we are talking about weight loss, I think there needs to be more specifics than some people went on a diet and it didn't work.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2009


I'm curious to see the studies on this.

There were references to this, and an explanation of the phenomenon, in the recent BBC Horizon series 'Why Are Thin People Not Fat?'

It's available on BBC iPlayer and YouTube. It's worth watching
posted by dydecker at 4:05 PM on May 17, 2009


Thanks dydecker, I'll give it a watch.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2009


Why did God invent the word irregardless? So that prescriptivists could get drunk.
posted by Sailormom at 4:39 PM on May 17, 2009


I so want a cookie. Many cookies. Many chocolate chip cookies. Made with butter. Oh, gods, yes.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:50 PM on May 17, 2009


Thanks, jessamyn. I was definitely in the "nerdy, thinky community" and not the haters club.

misha, i wasn't suggesting you're part of the hater's club. what i was objecting to was to take P.o.B's framing (that less than 10% of obesity is "medical") as part of his argument that the rest of fat people didn't have legitimate, understandable and difficult-to-overcome reasons for being fat is sort of missing the forest for the tree.

in other words, his entire line of thinking here is but another justification that others use for their anti-fat bias -- that if it's not "medical" it's therefore a choice for which fat people can be criticized, dismissed, and scoffed-at for making (like the poster above who hates all the fatties who constantly lie about how they try to diet and then order a "heart attack on a plate").

so just in indulging that formulation by analyzing the numbers of it, you're giving support to the idea of it, and that i have i problem with.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:54 PM on May 17, 2009


P.o.B. and others, you'll want to look away at 8:48 if you plan on eating in the next 24 hours.
posted by desjardins at 4:54 PM on May 17, 2009


(like the poster above who hates all the fatties who constantly lie about how they try to diet and then order a "heart attack on a plate")

Well, that would be me, albeit grossly mischaracterized. I do not hate people. As I said in the original comment, the dishonesty amongst some people is what irritates me. I'm also annoyed by the person who says they're quitting smoking whilst lighting up in front of me. I'm annoyed by the person who says he's broke but spends $100s on shoes. I'm annoyed by my husband some random theoretical person when he they say they're going to clean out the garage but watches TV all afternoon and then claims they "didn't have time." Just be honest! Just say, "fuck dieting, I like pizza!" Or better yet, don't say anything at all about whether you're dieting or not, because I. don't. care.
posted by desjardins at 5:12 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


That last line sounded snarkier than I intended. I had some flashbacks to friends who felt the need to constantly discuss their weight and eating habits.
posted by desjardins at 5:16 PM on May 17, 2009


I'm curious to see the studies on this.

UCLA long-term diet study findings: very small minority of people successfully keep weight off long-term. diets do not work.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:23 PM on May 17, 2009


I. don't. care.

then keep your fat-hate to yourself.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:24 PM on May 17, 2009


However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating. I see this ALL THE TIME when I go to lunch with heavyset coworkers, or have dinner with obese friends - they order heart-attacks-on-a-plate and then complain about not being able to lose weight. Jesus, just admit that you're not trying, would you? The hypocrisy is what gets under my skin. Just admit that you like ice cream and bacon and you're not going to give them up. I really don't care, but don't whine to me about how it's not a choice when you're sitting in front of me stuffing your face.

just in case anyone's forgotten the tenor of this comment.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:26 PM on May 17, 2009


As I said in the original comment, the dishonesty amongst some people is what irritates me.

The use of the word dishonesty is odd, to me. The implication is that they know exactly what they're doing, but lying either to themselves or you. I don't think that's the case.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 PM on May 17, 2009


I didn't forget it, Hat Maui, and while I agree with you in the broader principles you've been arguing here I think you may be lapsing into misdirected and kind of quixotic territory if you're going to go after desjardins for being annoyed at her friends and acquaintances personal foibles. I can think of a dozen analogous things that piss me off, too, half of which are stupid self-delusional, hypocritical social stunts I pulled myself.

Being annoyed at specific instances of genuine personal hypocrisy is so far from the problematic notion of casual fat-hate that I think you're doing your own argument harm by focusing on it like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:49 PM on May 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


diets do not work.

What a weird article.

"Eating in moderation is a good idea for everybody, and so is regular exercise," Mann said. "That is not what we looked at in this study. Exercise may well be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who reported the most exercise also had the most weight loss." (emphasis mine)
posted by ODiV at 5:53 PM on May 17, 2009


The use of the word dishonesty is odd, to me. The implication is that they know exactly what they're doing, but lying either to themselves or you. I don't think that's the case.

I don't buy that idea.

I do things that I know I should not be doing. And when I do, I can see them for the self-destructive things that they are. Some of them are habitual and possibly addictive actions. Still, I am aware that even though I lack the willpower to change my behaviour, I remain responsible for it and must admit my culpability in not working up the self-awareness and self-control to do better.

To do otherwise would be to lie about what I know to be true: I am responsible for me.

If drug addicts can rehabilitate, sure as hell obese people who complain about it and then eat a gigantic unhealthy meal are being dishonest with themselves.

This does not, of course, speak to those who are obese and not complaining; are obese and eat healthy; or are obese and unaware of their self-harming behaviours. But none of those people are like those described in the contended post.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:58 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


P.o.B's framing (that less than 10% of obesity is "medical") as part of his argument that the rest of fat people didn't have legitimate, understandable and difficult-to-overcome reasons for being fat is sort of missing the forest for the tree.
in other words, his entire line of thinking here is but another justification that others use for their anti-fat bias -- that if it's not "medical" it's therefore a choice for which fat people can be criticized, dismissed, and scoffed-at for making (like the poster above who hates all the fatties who constantly lie about how they try to diet and then order a "heart attack on a plate").


Well, you could have just asked. No, I don't think that. The one point you have partially right is the justification idea. I think there are ideas that tend to lend credence obesity or the inabilities people feel about it. Pastabagel made a post that was good and factaully correct (although not all the way through), I don't think that is really constructive to bring to the table for a lot of people. I'm fully aware there is a kind of escape velocity to doing something about your weight, whether trying to gain muscle or lose fat. It's hard. It's very hard. Perhaps even sisyphusian as some studies point out. I know. You can see it and hear it if you've talked with people about this, but I would much rather sit back and read fff's post about overcoming it. I think ultimately that's where people should concentrate. With a third of the U.S. nation overweight, with no sign of awareness that this is even debilitating, perhaps the hand-holding techniques should be relegated to more extreme cases. I know everyone won't agree, but I think this is a great article that may help some people decide to change. Or we can sit around and post pictures of juiced out bodybuilders in their prime and say "Meh, look at this, you're SOL."

you'll want to look away at 8:48 if you plan on eating in the next 24 hours.

Funny thing is, I was eating a sandwich when he pulled out that bowl of fat. I kept on eating without a hitch. I'm not sure what that says about me.

diets do not work.

...No, not for everyone. Often people should look to bigger changes, such as in their overall lifestyle.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:59 PM on May 17, 2009


salamandrous: shaming individuals is a less effective way to promote thinness than working to change the environment

Ms. Saint: it is very, very hard to make "good" choices when you hate yourself.

Your words put me in mind of this article on chemical dependency recidivism, which I know nothing about, but the article's conclusions struck me as an "I never thought about it that way but of course, it makes sense!" moment:
The underlying mental model for confrontation seems to be that “if you can just make people feel bad enough, they will change.” Confrontational strategies have been designed to make clients feel scared, ashamed, or humiliated, with the assumption that such experiences are curative. In the Woodall study, exit interviews with offenders leaving the MADD-VIP experience confirmed that in general they felt terrible about themselves: embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated, guilty. The result was not less, but more drunk driving.
Thanks for spelling out the emotional complexities around self-hatred and obsessive eating.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:00 PM on May 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


cortex, she begins by saying "the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating." she then describes interactions with her friends as a way, i believe, of making a larger point that fat people, in her experience, do this all the time. i am a bit surprised you don't see the problem with such commentary. also why is her criticism of her friends ("whin(ing) to me about it's not a choice when you're sitting in front of me stuffing your face") appropriate to this discussion unless she means that it's a phenomenon she believes applies to other fat people than her friends? it's obviously an argument by anecdote.

we could just ask her -- desjardins, do you believe most fat people tend to be the way you describe your friends that sit around whining to you as they "stuff their faces"?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:01 PM on May 17, 2009


Total tangent here, but my immediate response to allkindsoftime's story is: Hell yeah, he's got McDonald's! He's on a plane! If you can point me to a place in an airport wherein to buy something decently tasty that costs less than $10 that ISN'T McDonald's... well, then you and I have been hanging out in different airports.

How about managing to sit for a few hours without cramming food down your mouth?
posted by gjc at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2009


I don't buy that idea.

Have you ever taken nutrition classes with other adults?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2009


One of the things that's always mentioned in fat threads is (a) the importance of eating a healthy diet and (b) the difficulty of obtaining a healthy diet.

And that's a catch-22 situation, because if people don't make the effort to seek a healthy diet, retailers aren't going to see a market for healthy diets, which makes it hard to seek a healthy diet.

Certainly a lot of change could be accomplished if people did take the opportunity to choose healthy foods as much as possible. Ordering the low-calorie, fresher foods instead of greasy fast food; drinking an ordinary coffee instead of a hypersweetened overfat grande specialty "treat" drink; saying no to that bag of potato chips and bringing a bananna to work instead. Easy things.

It'd start us down the right path at least. I'm really glad to see that schools are beginning to reduce the unhealthy choices made available to their captive population. Good habits developed early are habits for life.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2009


"I know I'm never going to change your mind, any more than I'm going to change the mind of the next Jehovah's Witness who knocks at the door, but it's genuinely amusing to me that none of you irregardless-haters seem able to grasp that your hatred is a pure social construction, as learned as any other form of bigotry."

I've got my fine afternoon drunk on (due to Tortilla Flats-style employment, where I traded watching cats for wine), so lemme say, That's Racist.

Social constructions are real; that something is socially constructed does not make it bad; opprobrium aimed at "irregardless" is as valid as believing that liqueur and jiggery-pokery are funny words and that CaMeL cAsE is obnoxious.

So yes, I grasp that it's a social construction, and the minimal pain suffered by those "corrected" is outweighed by keeping a dumb word out of common circulation and denying the dull another blind to hide behind.
posted by klangklangston at 6:05 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


P.o.B., did you read the synopsis of that study i linked to?

perhaps the hand-holding techniques should be relegated to more extreme cases.

so you're saying that pointing out that there are many reasons why people become fat, and that it's sisyphean to overcome it, but recognizing those facts and making a conscious choice not to judge people for their weight is a "hand-holding technique"?

or do i have that wrong? what is meant by "hand-holding technique"? what do you mean by that entire statement?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:07 PM on May 17, 2009


Confrontational strategies have been designed to make clients feel scared, ashamed, or humiliated, with the assumption that such experiences are curative.

Hey, it's shades of that study showing those who are hardcore religious are way more likely to support torture. "Made in God's image" thinking, I guess.


she then describes interactions with her friends as a way, i believe, of making a larger point that fat people, in her experience, do this all the time.

She did not. You're making an ass of yourself.

we could just ask her

That's shutting the door after the horse has left the barn. What are you going to do when she says your uncharitable, hypersensitive misinterpretation was asinine?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on May 17, 2009


Three times when I care about others' obesity:

When they are lodged next to me on a long flight, covering the side of my body with their (our?) sweat.

When they KEEP BRINGING IT UP IN CONVERSATION (something women do far more than men), because I then assume that if we could only just solve this problem of their weight (either attitude or physique) then they'd stop bringing it up (possibly futile hope).

When I am in a hypothetical cannibalism scenario. I don't know a lot about meat eating, but I've heard that the skinny folks are stringy and tough.
posted by klangklangston at 6:12 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about managing to sit for a few hours without cramming food down your mouth?

Wow. I don't know if you're addressing me or the overweight gentleman in allkindsoftime's story, but either way, this comment is disturbing.

I'm not a large person by any means, nor am I tiny. I am of average height and weight for a woman in the US. I am way not sitting on an airplane without a snack. Cramming food down my mouth or not, I'm not going to allow the unpleasantry of being cranky from having low blood sugar add to my traveling woes. I have the metabolism of a narcoleptic hippopotamus - I don't eat very much, but I do graze on food every few hours to keep from becoming hungry.

You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry. I get a wee bit homicidal. It may just be time for a snack right now, judging by how this comment has rubbed me entirely the wrong way.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:12 PM on May 17, 2009


why are you attacking me? we just disagree about something.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:13 PM on May 17, 2009


saying no to that bag of potato chips and bringing a bananna to work instead. Easy things.

Data Point: My local Starbucks has started selling bananas, which brought me a certain amount of joy since it's hard to find snacks "on the go" that aren't just piles of partially hydrogenated corn syrup.

But the Apple Fritter was way more delicious and my thighs enjoyed every ounce of that corn syrup.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:14 PM on May 17, 2009


Fat people and insensitive commenters alike, please explain yourselves further in order to determine if you are worthy of our finger wagging.
posted by ODiV at 6:15 PM on May 17, 2009


There's a saying that goes "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Okay. How about "Nobody should throw stones." That's crappy behavior. (Demetri Martin)
posted by shadytrees at 6:15 PM on May 17, 2009


why are you attacking me? we just disagree about something.

Why on earth have you been attacking desjardins? You're at it like a dog to a bone, even after having been told several times that it's time to let it go.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on May 17, 2009


Got about halfway through this thread, so this may not be at all relevant now, but I just wanted to say something about comparing being overweight to smoking.

There is a significant difference between telling a person that they have a disgusting habit, and telling a person that they, as a physical entity, are disgusting.
posted by kjs4 at 6:26 PM on May 17, 2009


i wasn't attacking her, i didn't say anything about her personally, i said, i think her comment is full of contempt for the lying overeating fat people in her acquaintance, and maybe that extends beyond her circle of friends, or else why is she saying it?

i'd really like to know if she can mount a defense for a comment i believe is ugly. i'm not saying she's ugly, i'm saying she said something that IN MY OPINION is ugly. that is not an attack. saying you're an asshole, that's an attack.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:28 PM on May 17, 2009


Klang, see if the cats want to get high, man!
posted by Mister_A at 6:28 PM on May 17, 2009


P.o.B., did you read the synopsis of that study i linked to?

Yes, it was a review of older studies. I don't know what to make of those types of studies. How old are the studies? What kinds of diets? Not all diets are as simple to integrate into your life as others. If you studied people who made small changes to their diet to lose a very small percentage of weight the weight loss percentages would invariably be higher than people who did low carb diets that had to use a drastic unsustainable method of weight loss. Even the newer low carb diets are more nuanced now than they were a few years back. Did these studies include exercise programs? Amongst other questions.

so you're saying that pointing out that there are many reasons why people become fat,
Sure

and that it's sisyphean to overcome it,
Perhaps for some, I don't believe so, but some studies indicate that.

but recognizing those facts and making a conscious choice not to judge people for their weight is a "hand-holding technique"?
No, my statement was not about judging people. My thoughts on that are if you went into any random crowd and pulled out a morally ambigous person and told them it's not nice to outwardly judge people for being overweight, I think they would give you a "no shit, Sherlock?" Everyone learns how to be nice to others in elementary school, something I said perhaps a couple hundred posts back. Some people never learn to navigate the foggy gray boundaries of conflict within certain subjects, therefore perhaps everyday normal people feel it is adequate to judge on those basis. I don't know.

what is meant by "hand-holding technique"?
I was thinking more along the lines of some groups that want to induce a type of thinking that it is okay to be obese. Rather than a doctor telling them that past a certain point, the higher the weight the more likely that you will have a reduced life expectancy.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:41 PM on May 17, 2009


I was thinking more along the lines of some groups that want to induce a type of thinking that it is okay to be obese

but it is okay to be obese in some senses: 1) being obese is not something that people need any more shaming about, so keep your goddamn fatty-shaming and "public health concerns" to yourself, and 2) it's no one else's business besides your own (and maybe close family members) if you are obese

i get that some people buy into the moral panic "obesity crisis" hysteria, but really, it's not a problem on the scale (if you'll pardon the pun) that it's made out to be. read this interview with paul campos about his book 'the obesity myth.'
posted by Hat Maui at 6:50 PM on May 17, 2009


How about managing to sit for a few hours without cramming food down your mouth?

Wow, someone's wearing their ignorant fuckwad panties today.
posted by peggynature at 6:51 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Relax. Where did I shame anybody? If you feel shame about something I said, then please point that out to me, and you may get an apology.
I do think it is a public concern if we are going to take US social health care system seriously, but hey that's my opinion and you shouldn't care about that right?
posted by P.o.B. at 6:55 PM on May 17, 2009


Besides, if you feel so proud about it "shout it loud and proud" as they say. I don't care. Just don't be surprised if others don't think so, and shout back.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:58 PM on May 17, 2009


i am a bit surprised you don't see the problem with such commentary.

I'm equally surprised that you're so committed to the least-charitable possible reading of her comment even when other people who more or less agree with you about the big pictures stuff point out that your reading seems off the mark and hostile.

If you're going to chase around the fat-acceptant-but-not-saintly and give them shit about "fat-hate" you're just going to make enemies of erstwhile friends. There's a far distance between "I find that problematic and here's why" and "then keep your fat-hate to yourself."
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:02 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


that logic applied to gay people 20 years ago. would you say that to a gay person now?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:02 PM on May 17, 2009


That wasn't directed at me, but if I was a gay orgy and my friend was whining about how he couldn't stop sucking cock, then I'd probably feel the same way, yeah. You don't even have to go back twenty years.
posted by ODiV at 7:09 PM on May 17, 2009


Those two, homosexuality and obesity, equate? I hold to the idea that someone is gay becasue they are born that way; genetics. Let's say it's a given fact obesity for 50% of the population is genetically pre-determined, or better yet 67% of the population. Do these two still equate?
posted by P.o.B. at 7:10 PM on May 17, 2009


P.o.B. - I'm curious. If it turned out that gay people "chose" to be that way (and I'm not arguing that's reality, just hypothetically) would that then mean it would be okay to marginalize them?
posted by peggynature at 7:14 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


that logic applied to gay people 20 years ago. would you say that to a gay person now?

If you were replying to me, it's not really clear what it is you're asking if I would say to a gay person. Clarify, please, if that's what you were going for.

If it's a question of what I'd say to someone I thought put their damn foot in it talking about their experiences with gay people, that I can answer:

I've told friends why I had a problem with them saying "fag" as casual derisive slang, and started a couple conversation about why I was bothered by their anecdote about This Annoying Flamboyant Guy or something that came off as shades of insensitivity or lack-of-exposure gay cooties or whatever. People I know and like and respect have said things that came off as weird or unkind or intolerant to me, and I've tried to work with them to help them understand why it bothered me.

I never called them gay-haters or demanded that they explain themselves, because that would be a shitty way to engage them on the subject.

Fred Phelps is one thing. A well-meaning person who says something that I take issue with is another entirely. Collapsing the distance between the two is a sure way to lose ground fast in a reasonable discussion, and it feels like that's what you were doing with your response to desjardins.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:24 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


you're so committed to the least-charitable possible reading of her comment even when other people who more or less agree with you about the big pictures stuff point out that your reading seems off the mark and hostile.

desjardins called it "grossly mischaracterized." five fresh fish, who does not agree with much of what i'm saying, thinks that what i've said is off-the-mark and hostile. so let's put what i've said up against what she said, ok? i will highlight the stuff that i think is unnecessarily contemptuous:

desjardins:

However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating. I see this ALL THE TIME when I go to lunch with heavyset coworkers, or have dinner with obese friends - they order heart-attacks-on-a-plate and then complain about not being able to lose weight. Jesus, just admit that you're not trying, would you? The hypocrisy is what gets under my skin. Just admit that you like ice cream and bacon and you're not going to give them up. I really don't care, but don't whine to me about how it's not a choice when you're sitting in front of me stuffing your face.

me:
like the poster above who hates all the fatties who constantly lie about how they try to diet and then order a "heart attack on a plate"

maybe this isn't a totally fair characterization. maybe "hates" is too strong -- after all, she did only say "really irritating" but maybe she only strongly dislikes really irritating things, not hates them. and actually as i'm reading it, she is only really irritated at fatty dishonesty, not fatties themselves. she might think they're wonderful people but they irritate her with all their eating and dishonesty about said eating.

desjardins:
I. don't. care.

me:
then keep your fat-hate to yourself.

well, if she really doesn't care, then why make the comment about how irritating it is to her? she must care to a certain degree. maybe "fat-hate" is an unfair way to describe it. would a fair response to that be "then can you please keep your disdain of your dishonest friends and coworkers who overeat and then whine about being fat to yourself, because some of us (me, especially) might take it to mean that you think of all fat people that way?" if not, why not?

me again:
she then describes interactions with her friends as a way, i believe, of making a larger point that fat people, in her experience, do this all the time

that is my belief, and maybe it's uncharitable. in the absence of some statement from her to the contrary, i have no reason to think it wasn't her intent. again, i'm curious -- why shouldn't i think this? it seems to be a pretty plain reading of a statement that begins with "the dishonesty among some fat people is really irritating." does she really mean the statement only applies to her friends and coworkers, or is this the generalization about fat people that it seems to be?

There's a far distance between "I find that problematic and here's why" and "then keep your fat-hate to yourself."

you are right about that, and i'll allow for the possibility that i could be persuaded that she wasn't coming from a fat-hate perspective. but it sure sounded like it to me, and i bet i'm not the only one who took it that way.

finally, if my characterization is truly the hypersensitive and least-charitable possible reading that you seem to be saying it is, i'd love to hear anyone's idea of a more-charitable take on that, including desjardins own. please, in all seriousness, tell my why i shouldn't think that it's a comment that drips with contempt for fat people.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:28 PM on May 17, 2009


would be okay to marginalize them?

I never argued for marginalizing anyone.

And sure, there are some people who chose to be in a gay relationship.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:29 PM on May 17, 2009


Diets don't work even when you call them lifestyle changes.
posted by Jeanne at 7:32 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


that is my belief, and maybe it's uncharitable. in the absence of some statement from her to the contrary, i have no reason to think it wasn't her intent. again, i'm curious -- why shouldn't i think this?

I can't tell you not to think that way, I can only tell you that it seems like a miserably futile and antisocial approach to improving anything. We're bordering on "are you still beating your wife?" territory, and I think you should rework your approach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:36 PM on May 17, 2009


As a note of small contention for me, when someone says "this is like this", I can see it as a comparison but not as a straight across one to one relation. Things are very rarely the same on a scale, and variables rarely align to make it so. I think homosexuality may be an apt comparison to obesity in some instances but hardly the same.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:37 PM on May 17, 2009


could you please respond to the part of my comment that came immediately after the part that you quoted to the end of the paragraph?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:39 PM on May 17, 2009


Diets don't work even when you call them lifestyle changes.

Well if we are going to throw out unsubstantiated one-liners -

Diets work fantastically when included in lifestyle changes.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:39 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


How bizarre that our wealth is killing us. We have lots of cars and roads and teevees and conveniences, so people exercise a lot less. We have lots of food - salty, greasy, sugary (HFCS-y) cheap, fast, calorie-laden food. People do precisely what advertisers tell them to do. Eat this, buy this, watch some more teevee and more ads, and eat more crap and buy more crap. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are showing up younger and younger.
posted by theora55 at 7:43 PM on May 17, 2009


in other words, cortex, why is it futile and antisocial to think that a statement like "the dishonesty among some fat people is really irritating" is a generalization about fat people? and if it is a generalization about fat people, why is it a fair thing for someone to say? and why am i wrong to objecting to it? if she said "the dishonesty among some mexicans is really irritating," i have no doubt you'd have a problem with it. so why is it fair to substitute fat people there, or more to the point, why is it unfair for me to object to that?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2009


Well, Hat Maui, you've convinced me of one thing: I should ignore you in fat threads, because you behave like an asshole.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


whatever, dude. don't you have some bricks to lug and then brag about?
posted by Hat Maui at 7:48 PM on May 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


in other words, cortex, why is it futile and antisocial to think that a statement like "the dishonesty among some fat people is really irritating" is a generalization about fat people?

I have no problem with you coming away with that interpretation of the comment. What bothers me is your insistence that, barring some direct disavowal by desjardins herself, that is the only interpretation you need to bother with, even when other people in the thread are telling you that they think your interpretation is flawed.

You've narrowed down the field of allowable prompts to reconsider your own take on what she said such that no one but her can move you on the subject, which seems like (a) itching for a fight and (b) dismissing what anyone else here thinks about it. That sucks. It leaves me feeling bizarrely like I got stuck being on the same side of the larger argument with you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 PM on May 17, 2009


my read was that desjardins was talking about her friends or coworkers that annoy her and why they're annoying as a way of explaining some of the stickier grey areas about this debate and you, Hat Maui, decided that how she feels about her friends complaints is generalizeable to how she secretly feels about all overweight people and all of their struggles. Especially after her specific clarification:

That last line sounded snarkier than I intended. I had some flashbacks to friends who felt the need to constantly discuss their weight and eating habits.

Annoying people are annoying. Irritable people are irritable. Dejardins may be irritable and her friends, fat or not-fat, may be annoying. Trying to explain how you feel about something and then having someone dissect it into tiny pieces even when you're more or less on the same page about the larger topic seems like it would be difficult.

- dejardins did not say fatties, you did.
- dejardins didn't even say anything about "all fat people," you did. She was talking about her friends; people who we can presume that she otherwise likes.
- "heart attacks on a plate" says nothing at all about overweight people. Unhealthy food is actually sort of objectively unhealthy no matter how you're built.

I feel like you twisted her words to make them sound bad and then asked her to defend them. I don't mean to be all creepy-stalky about any of this but I feel, based on knowing her through AskMe over the years, like desjardins is also no stranger to body-issue setbacks and attitude from others, I don't know why it's important to go after her like this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 PM on May 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


When television first started being used (a century ago), some people objected to it because it was a bastard word formation, half Latin and half Greek. If their objections had been taken more seriously and the language mavens had jumped on the bandwagon, all of you who hate irregardless would hate it just as much.

It appears that your opinion has changed.
posted by harmfulray at 7:55 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


well, i am not really itching for a fight. i feel passionately about this, sure, but i'd point out that this is the only thread in 4 1/2 years of participating here that i've commented more than ten times in.

i only note three people telling me my take on her comment is flawed -- desjardins herself, five fresh fish who has taken to ad hominem argument, and now you. that's all well and good, but what all three of you have not done is offer up any sort of alternative interpretation of her statement. i have asked for that and hope that someone provides me with it. i am not insisting that it come from desjardins herself, but that seems to be the most logical person to ask first, which is what i did. i asked. why don't you take a stab at it? i am really, genuinely curious if i'm overlooking a way to look at it.

one more time: i have one take on it, others think my take is flawed, that's fine. if you think my take is flawed, then what is another take on it? i'm all ears.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:00 PM on May 17, 2009


jessamyn --

decided that how she feels about her friends complaints is generalizeable to how she secretly feels about all overweight people and all of their struggles

yes, except she began with the statement "the dishonesty among some fat people is really irritating." let's just talk about that, ok? there's no "secretly" about it -- it's right there in the open. she is generalizing about all fat people, saying that some of them are irritatingly dishonest. again, i'd suggest substituting saudi arabians or vermonters or spelunkers in there -- could we all agree that any of those substitutions would be an unfair overgeneralization?

i did address certain aspects of my take on it in the longer comment above and i backed away specifically from "fatties" and "all fat people." i don't know if you didn't read that or just disregarded it.

so on pain of being accused of twisting anyone's words again, i will withdraw everything i've said about her statement except where i've objected to the first part of it about how dishonest some fat people are. that is what i have a problem with and that's what i'd like to see anyone respond to.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:07 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey peggynature, what do nutritionists say about the whole "diets don't work" issue? Isn't nutritionism (is that the term?) all about diet? I found it interesting that the UCLA study was from a psychology perspective.
posted by ODiV at 8:08 PM on May 17, 2009


To me, her take is that she has a few overweight friends who are annoying and who are in denial about the relationship between eating a lot of unhealthy food and obesity. As she said "the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating"

Now, I could see how a decent response would be "well maybe you should stop being so irritated at things you have little control over" -- since I'm an irritable person and that's what I tell myself a lot -- and she admits that many other things people do irritate her. But it seems to me that she took care not to overgeneralize and in fact mentioned upthread she doesn't really care about people's fatness or thinness otherwise. That's my read.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 PM on May 17, 2009


well, i am not really itching for a fight.

All evidence to the contrary?

if you think my take is flawed, then what is another take on it?

Go and read her comment and take every sentence as it is written, without projecting your own thoughts onto it. One thing I've found about Mefites is that they're pretty good about meaning what they say and saying what they mean.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:09 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


so why is it fair to substitute fat people there

Because they are not the same. Obesity can be changed. Being gay cannot. Being (insert race here) cannot. That comparison is not apt, and using it set up your reasoning against people making those comments doesn't work.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:12 PM on May 17, 2009


what if i said that "the dishonesty among some feminists is really irritating" and then proceeded to describe some really awful friends and co-workers who were dishonest feminists... would that be ok?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:12 PM on May 17, 2009


Because they are not the same. Obesity can be changed. Being gay cannot. Being (insert race here) cannot. That comparison is not apt, and using it set up your reasoning against people making those comments doesn't work.

god, we're back to the beginning with you. did you miss all the shit about how it's not really a choice in any meaningful sense, and even if it is, it still doesn't warrant the volunteered disdain of others?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:14 PM on May 17, 2009


I vote yes.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:14 PM on May 17, 2009


But dishonesty among some feminists is annoying. Maybe try dishonesty among some two year old middle eastern children? No, that's annoying too.
posted by ODiV at 8:14 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


i only note three people telling me my take on her comment is flawed

sure, but that'd still be a clear majority of people still reading the comments down here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:15 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


TPS, how is that a "take"?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:15 PM on May 17, 2009


sure, but that'd still be a clear majority of people still reading the comments down here.

you know this how?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:16 PM on May 17, 2009


you know this how?

i subscribe to the cabal's tweet.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:18 PM on May 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


did you miss all the shit about how it's not really a choice in any meaningful sense, and even if it is,

You are just weird.

it still doesn't warrant the volunteered disdain of others?

No, but can anyone have an open discussion about it??? Or is it all just fat-shaming-haters who should just shut up?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:19 PM on May 17, 2009


Jeez, Hat Maui. I can understand you're feeling put upon, but once one starts tossing around the "Only X number of people..."s it's a slippery slope to quoting favorite counts like they mean something, and then beyond that, madness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:21 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I notice you're all dodging the sweet potato pie vs. pumpkin pie discussion, which I think is very telling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:22 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


and i'll allow for the possibility that i could be persuaded that she wasn't coming from a fat-hate perspective

It's not fat hate, she was irritated by lots of people, including her own husband, who weren't doing X, when they could be doing X, but had lots of reason for not doing X instead of just saying "Fuck it, I like doing X."

She's cool, so lay off, ok?

desjardins, having been one of those fat people, you're looking at it all wrong. I literally didn't understand the full impact of what I was doing and was pretty clueless about what I was eating, but I was very aware of people judging me. One night at dinner, a good friend asked "Do you really mean to order two carbs?" and being self conscious about being put on stage, so to speak, only had me respond "Uh, yeah, no biggie" instead of "Yeah, is that bad and if so, why? How many carbs should I have? What exactly are carbs and why exactly are they bad? Ok, not all carbs are bad, well what about this one, how much of it should I have? Hey, the restaurant is serving way more than that amount, even in one carb, what do I do with the extra?" It wasn't so much that I liked eating bad, just didn't know anything different.

Yes, yes, I know that amount of ignorance is silly and unbelievable. You can call it dishonest and hypocrisy, but I'm not sure it fits.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


what are you talking about, alvy? is it where i said "i bet i'm not the only one who took it that way"? that's somehow objectionable to you?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:24 PM on May 17, 2009


Hat Maui:

I was repulsed by desjardins' comment as well. There have been other crappy, judgmental comments by others that clearly show their bigotry. This is to be expected in a semi-anonymous conversation of the internet.

Instead of focusing on these individual comments, I would rather have more of a conversation about why anyone thinks that it is OK to treat obese people like shit. Just because some people have very limited ideas on what makes for a non-"visually repellent" body shape does not give them the right to treat those who do not meet their qualifications like a leper who has wandered out of the colony.

I'll make another analogy: I have seen many people whom I find to be physically unattractive. Would it be OK for me to harangue them about doing something about their ugliness? Should I nudge my friends and stage-whisper "Look at that ugly motherfucker!" After all, they could get plastic surgery to make them less ugly, right?

One of the things that blows my mind about the Progressive Left, of which I consider myself a part, is that everyone is supposed to be welcome in the big tent. People of all colors, creeds, GLBT, everyone, right? But not fat people. Fat people apparently exemplify overconsumption, waste, greed and sloth.

I think that the fact that more Americans are obese than others is the combination of genetics, as I commented previously, and the near-infinite supply of food that is designed to be cheap and addictive. Some people are lucky enough not to have to worry about their weight. Good for you, I'm happy for you. For the rest of us, the fact that we can get a combo meal at McDonald's for about $5 that has over 1,000 calories and who knows how much fat without having to get out of out cars isn't working out so well for us.

Lest anyone think that I've given up, I'll share that I've lost about 65 pounds in the last eight months. I've dropped from 356 pounds to 290. This has taken a herculean effort on my part, but I still have 102 more pounds to go to reach my "ideal" weight.

So when you nudge your friends and stage-whisper, "Look at that fat 300 pound motherfucker! I'll bet he ate a waffle wrapped around a stick of butter for his second breakfast!!", you are being a bigoted dumbass who doesn't know what the fuck you are talking about.

So please, be nice to other people. Everyone needs a hug. Even if you can't get your arms all the way around me.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:25 PM on May 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


Hey peggynature, what do nutritionists say about the whole "diets don't work" issue? Isn't nutritionism (is that the term?) all about diet? I found it interesting that the UCLA study was from a psychology perspective.

I'm not peggynature, and I can't speak for nutritionists in general... But mine refuses to give me any advice specifically about losing weight, and she most definitely does not approve of diets. Since I'm in great health as I am, she sees her job only to make sure that I eat the types and amount of food that will make my body work the happiest, whatever weight that puts me at. Her concern is healthy eating habits in general, not doing anything in particular with the single goal of losing weight.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:26 PM on May 17, 2009


why didn't you respond to your friend "why is it your business how many carbs i eat?" that's a fucked up anecdote.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:26 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're looking for additional folks who think that your reading of desjardins is uncharitable, Hat Maui, put me on the list.
posted by Kwine at 8:28 PM on May 17, 2009


kwine, noted. care to elaborate?
posted by Hat Maui at 8:30 PM on May 17, 2009


Hey peggynature, what do nutritionists say about the whole "diets don't work" issue?

My nutritionist would want to know exactly what you mean by diet and what specific individual we're talking about. If pressed, she'd totally agree that eating less and exercising more is the basic principle that works, but she'd say it's usually not so simple for a person to get from point A to point B.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:36 PM on May 17, 2009


Excuse me for being back at the begining Hat Muai, just because I don't think the longest post = most informed. I've spent enough time actually working with people on dealing with their weight instead of sitting around pontificating that it's too hard to actually do. So maybe you don't think what I have to say has merit, I find your attitude about this whole subject a bit skewed.
Also, even if weight was choicelss (which would throw the whole idea of trying to change it out the window), it still doesn't make a person's race and a person's fluctuating number on a scale the same thing.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:39 PM on May 17, 2009


P.o.B:

Much earlier in this thread, you accused me of trolling. Maybe my latest comment will show that I'm not, but perhaps further clarification is warranted.

I didn't mean that it's hopeless to try to lose weight. I meant that my fat-prone body will be laying in wait for me to stop exercising and eating better to put back all of the weight I had, plus some extra, just in case.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:47 PM on May 17, 2009


whatever, dude. don't you have some bricks to lug and then brag about?

This, however: touché. I see that I've been rather loud about it. Damn endorphins.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on May 17, 2009


Topical, if off topic. WTF, Delta, you won't let the wide of girth purchase a double seat? Even when the poor fuck is willing to pay twice the price?!

There, see? Easy to find a legitimate hate-on. Delta obviously hates its customers. All of them, without bias.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on May 17, 2009


Just like gay people can't be cured of teh gay, I can't be cured of teh fat. We could both change our behaviors on a temporary basis to get temporary results, but we are what we are.

Ah, yes. Your more recent comment was much more enlightening. Good on you for your weight loss.
I don't think our default setting is crappy eating and weight gain though. Our bodies are geared towards easy weight gain, but they also have escape from predators function which is opposed to idea of greatest weight is most advantageous. I don't believe more activity is necessarily a temporary fix. To be more specific I think you can make your default what you want it to be.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:04 PM on May 17, 2009


Also, apologies for the misread on your comment double block and bleed.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:06 PM on May 17, 2009


Perhaps the cause of desjardin's ire, and the question posed to Brand Blatcher, stems not from cruelty but concern? how is that a fucked up statement? perhaps the people making these supposedly outrageously insulting statements are simply concerned about their friends' health and happiness, and don't want to see them suffer? desjardin never said it was the people themselves who were annoying, but their dishonesty. and she never said all fat people were guilty of this, merely some, which I don't think is too crazy a statement to make.

Frankly, Hot Maui, aside from the few trolls who've decided this thread to be the ideal place to do a drive-by on, I've found your comments to be the most offensive of the thread. No one here has attacked you, there seems to be a broad consensus on your original point, yet you're lobbing insults like you're taking heavy fire. Back off.
posted by kaspen at 9:08 PM on May 17, 2009


what are you talking about, alvy? is it where i said "i bet i'm not the only one who took it that way"? that's somehow objectionable to you?

I'm saying that your statement "i only note three people telling me my take on her comment is flawed," like it signifies something profound or telling is silly. Like when people say 'Hey, my comment got 5 favorites, so I gotta be doing something right.'

But since it does matter to you, I felt that desjardins' statement was very similar to my comment on the Blue where I expressed my distaste for the term "fat pride" and explained how it's come to have more negative connotations than positive for me. desjardins does not make any blanket statements about heavy people in her comments and explains how and why she's arrived to her position. It's definitely a reach to say she was making a horrible generalization about people who are overweight, rather than expressing frustration about the habits and behaviors of people she knows.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:12 PM on May 17, 2009


[comments removed - um, seriously absolutely no reposting anything from MeMail or email here without permission.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:19 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


from the FAQ: Unless you have specific permission, reposting someone's MeFiMail is a violation of site guidelines.

now i don't think that what i said to him is anything i haven't said in the thread, and as such, i don't think it needs deleting, but i think you mods might want to reiterate the policy here.


I did not know it was an official site policy, and I am disappointed.

I have absolutely no interest in having anything go said in discussions that is not said in the public sphere. It is rude to everyone else who has expressed an interest in the discussion and it creates behind-the-scenes bullshit that I feel detracts from the community.

I am glad you don't think it needs deleting, and I am now informed that there is an unnecessary site guideline to consider in addition to the old social convention carried over from usenet and smtp/popmail.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on May 17, 2009


I'm saying that your statement "i only note three people telling me my take on her comment is flawed," like it signifies something profound or telling is silly. Like when people say 'Hey, my comment got 5 favorites, so I gotta be doing something right.'

that is not at all what i intended. cortex was making it sound like it was a resounding chorus of people that agree with the general premise of the thread but not with my criticism of desjardins' comment, when actually it was only desjardins herself, five fresh fish, and then cortex actually saying that. of course desjardins is going to disagree -- she made the comment in the first place. and five fresh fish was already not agreeing with me about the general premise, so it's not surprising he didn't agree with the criticism of desjardins' comment. so that left cortex, and that's fine, but he can't use "others are disagreeing with you about desjardins who otherwise support what you're saying and that's something you might want to avoid" when it was really only he himself that he was actually talking about (again, because five fresh fish didn't agree with me already, and desjardins comment was the subject of discussion). that's what i meant. it was not in any way "bragging" about how little i had been shouted down as proof of the truth of what i was saying. i also note you didn't post the rest of that statement, which was, no one has offered up a more charitable take on the comment. that has since happened but i guess i'm not really persuaded by what's been offered up.

very similar to my comment on the Blue where I expressed my distaste for the term "fat pride" and explained how it's come to have more negative connotations than positive for me

i responded to your comment on the blue in a way i thought was being helpful: it's not so much "pride" that people want to feel about being fat as it is "not shamed" about being fat. but your statement and hers aren't really analogous.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:25 PM on May 17, 2009


jessamyn, why was my comment deleted?
posted by Hat Maui at 9:27 PM on May 17, 2009


Most of the dietitians I've worked with, even those intensely invested in promoting weight loss, seem to agree that long-term success in maintaining weight loss is a fairly rare thing. Not that it never happens, but that people are vastly more likely to regain any weight lost after a period time.

But the most important difference seems to be whether we attribute that regain to some inherent character flaw (read: gluttony, sloth, Original Sin, etc.), or to the enormous difficulty of attempting to alter a phenotype that is regulated by a rather complex set of physiological controls.

I vote for Door #2, but then I'm just bleeding-heart-liberal-hippy-pinko-scum like that.
posted by peggynature at 9:30 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


of course desjardins is going to disagree -- she made the comment in the first place.

What? How can you feel that you have an accurate reading of desjardin's comment and also feel that it's a given that she would disagree with said reading?
posted by ODiV at 9:31 PM on May 17, 2009


jessamyn, why was my comment deleted?

Pretty sure because it was responding to fff's deleted comment and leaving it there would make a bunch of people be like "omg what did he say?" so feel free to repost the parts that weren't responding to an absent comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 PM on May 17, 2009


yeah, i can't really do that now. any chance you can send me the text via memail so i can repost the relevant, non-referring stuff? also, by that logic, doesn't your comment about removing comments cause the "omg what did he say" problem too?
posted by Hat Maui at 9:35 PM on May 17, 2009


What? How can you feel that you have an accurate reading of desjardin's comment and also feel that it's a given that she would disagree with said reading?

do i really have to walk you through this? she said something that i think was objectionable. obviously she doesn't think her own statement was objectionable or she wouldn't have said it in the first place. absent her weighing in further about the statement i found most problematic -- about "the dishonesty of some fat people" -- why would i think she changed her mind about her own statement?
posted by Hat Maui at 9:38 PM on May 17, 2009


Maui, I didn't like desjardin's comment, but your reading of it is wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:41 PM on May 17, 2009


why didn't you respond to your friend "why is it your business how many carbs i eat?" that's a fucked up anecdote.

Because, hey, maybe his friend is expressing surprise and concern because he cares about him.


[comments removed - um, seriously absolutely no reposting anything from MeMail or email here without permission.]

I note that permission was given, prior to deletion. So what you describe isn't a guideline, it is a rule that sucks. You remove my ability to keep public discussions public. I can be grilled or even outright abused in email, but it must remain a State Secret. The public must not be informed of the full behaviour of a member who is engaged in a public discussion. It is a bad policy.

posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 PM on May 17, 2009


Blatcher, i am not persuaded by "she's cool so lay off." the comment where she clears up how she's irritated by everyone and not just us fatties is not the comment i'm objecting to.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:43 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm withdrawing from this discussion. Too many cooks in the broth now. Hat Maui, I hope you can figure out why you leapt to conclusions about desjardin's comments, and maybe get clarification from people before you slice open the "Hate" jugular vein. Jessamyn and moderators: whatever, I've said my part, it is unlikely I will agree with you, and it doesn't much matter at all anyways.

Everyone else: hug someone.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 PM on May 17, 2009


Time to close this thread. Nothing is being achieved for the community by this point.
posted by Rumple at 9:47 PM on May 17, 2009


Hat Maui, please consider the possibility that her later statement explains the first statement. It's kinda hard to get mad about the first statement if she's clearly expressing general irritation about her interpretation of certain behaviors.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:48 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


fff, if you have correspondence that's absolutely cleared by the correspondent and you think needs posting, do so and disclose it and assuming we don't hear any "nuh uhs" from the other end of it we can deal with that. But having that super explicit in the first place is pretty much key, and even then it's not something we're at all hot about and puts you and us in a weird potential Alice-said-Bob-said position if what Alice is saying was cleared gets claimed as not-so-cleared by Bob, and that's a mess.

If you need to turn a private conversation public, consider doing it over in public. Publicly broadcast emails make for a damned weird turn in the conversation for everybody but the two folks involved in the emails in the first place.

All that said, not reprinting private correspondence without permission has been the policy for a good long while now. You can think it's a bad policy, but it's one we're very much standing by and if your future insistence on ignoring it collides with metafilter's guidelines it's not the guidelines that are going to give.

If you're receiving abuse over private correspondence, let us know about it privately and we'll go from there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 PM on May 17, 2009


Time to close this thread. Nothing is being achieved for the community by this point.

we haven't settled the pumpkin pie vs sweet potato pie debate
posted by pyramid termite at 9:50 PM on May 17, 2009


I can be grilled or even outright abused in email

ok, this is getting to be outright ridiculous. can we please repost the fricking thing with retroactive permission from me, so we can all see how i abused poor little fff? it isn't fair for him to be able to suggest that i said anything abusive now that the original reposting is gone.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:51 PM on May 17, 2009


Because, hey, maybe his friend is expressing surprise and concern because he cares about him.

You know what, I'm sure that probably WAS the case. However, that doesn't make it not fucked-up to question a grown adult's ability to choose their own food -- it just means fucked-up behaviour like judging other people's food intake is acceptable in our culture, and thus people use it as a way to express concern and caring. Because our culture is fucked-up around food and body size.

Frankly, pointing out how many carbs a friend is eating (unless they're diabetic and you happen to know their sugars are running high or something) seems a bit nosy-parker to me. Again, most dietitians I know would never even do such a thing. It would be like giving someone a rectal exam, uninvited, over cocktails.

Respecting people's privacy and bodily autonomy is another way to express care for a friend.
posted by peggynature at 9:51 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you're receiving abuse over private correspondence, let us know about it privately and we'll go from there.

seriously, i had that problem once - i blocked them - end of problem
posted by pyramid termite at 9:51 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet potato.

There. The gauntlet is thrown.
posted by peggynature at 9:53 PM on May 17, 2009


why didn't you respond to your friend "why is it your business how many carbs i eat"

Was more concerned with looking like I knew what I was doing, rather than listening to friends.

What, you were never young and stupid?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 PM on May 17, 2009


we haven't settled the pumpkin pie vs sweet potato pie debate

Carrot beats them both, handily.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:53 PM on May 17, 2009


carrots? carrots? my god, the next thing i know, someone's going to say they like rhubarb pie
posted by pyramid termite at 9:54 PM on May 17, 2009


or, shit, i'll just repost what i memailed him (in an attempt to not bog the discussion down in a rancorous tete-a-tete between the two of us, by the way).

here it is, in its entirety (titled "asinine, hypersensitive ass" because these are words fff used to describe me in the thread):

ok, what gives, dude? we disagree about how to interpret desjardins' comment. to me, it is dripping with contempt, calling (some) fat people dishonest, complaining about how they "stuff their faces." i think that's kind of ugly. it'd be like if i said "man, some of my canadian friends are soooo cheap, and they're hypocrites about it too!" would you take that as me just complaining about only my friends or would you think i was trying to suggest that canadians other than my friends are cheap?

i really don't get why you said what you're saying to me, even if you disagree with me. why did you get personal and ad hominem?

posted by Hat Maui at 9:54 PM on May 17, 2009


thank you, peggynature, for putting that much better than i could have.
posted by Hat Maui at 9:55 PM on May 17, 2009


Alvy: I'll see your carrot, and raise you a pecan.

Nothing is better than pecan pie.
posted by peggynature at 9:55 PM on May 17, 2009


Except TWO pecan pies.
posted by peggynature at 9:55 PM on May 17, 2009


Can sweet potato pie be made using yams?
posted by Rumple at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


i think you need to put a lot more than two pecans in a pie, peggynature
posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 PM on May 17, 2009


Pecan pie sucks. Apple is where it's at. Any civilized person knows this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:58 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely not.

If it could, wouldn't we be calling it YAM PIE?

No pie is complete with only two syllables to its name. Unacceptable.
posted by peggynature at 9:59 PM on May 17, 2009


you could put spinich in it - then it'd be I YAM WHAT I YAM PIE
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does rhubarb taste good on its own? I've got this rhubarb sorbet recipe I've been thinking of making, but my friend told me that rhubarb is only good along with a sweet fruit, like strawberries or apple, never by itself.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:00 PM on May 17, 2009


I guess apple pie is good...if you've recently suffered severe head trauma.

I guess.
posted by peggynature at 10:00 PM on May 17, 2009


I can be grilled or even outright abused in email
ok, this is getting to be outright ridiculous. can we please repost the fricking thing with retroactive permission from me, so we can all see how i abused poor little fff? it isn't fair for him to be able to suggest that i said anything abusive now that the original reposting is gone.


This is you once again jumping to conclusions. I did not say your message was abusive. I was communicating to the moderators about their rule and why I protest it. If your message had been abusive, I would have said something about it in the message where I posted it, d-uh.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 PM on May 17, 2009


Rhubarb is very tart, to my understanding. I've had it on its own in some relish-like chutney-thing, and I liked it.

I say throw caution to the wind. Make the sorbet.

Taste the experience!
posted by peggynature at 10:02 PM on May 17, 2009


Pumpkin pie. The Union Forever.
posted by Kinbote at 10:02 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


seem to agree that long-term success in maintaining weight loss is a fairly rare thing

There are two parts of the statement that are a bit tweaked from my viewpoint, and they both remind of a quote from Flight Club "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."
1)Success as a protracted never ending goal is inherently a losing battle. At what point are you looking for a success? If this is met, is that the point at which you quit your goal-oriented activities?
2)Physiological changes. As you get older, you get slower, it gets harder to move. You are going to have to account for this.

Anyway, I would agree this is getting pretty yawn inducing. It seems some people here are either to entrenched with their ideas or don't really want to have a conversation about.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:04 PM on May 17, 2009


Yams are a suitable substitute for sweet potatoes. And Adolf Hilter loved pecan pie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:07 PM on May 17, 2009


Adolf Hitler invented Pie. Jesus said the righteous eat cake.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:09 PM on May 17, 2009


Kinbote - everyone knows pumpkin pie is only for gumboot-wearers and disaffected parolees.
posted by peggynature at 10:09 PM on May 17, 2009


This is you once again jumping to conclusions

maybe. but is it difficult for you to see that someone might take it that way, absent other information? i'm objecting to the suggestion, you say you aren't making that suggestion, but that doesn't mean that the suggestion isn't still there. whatever, i'm fine just reposting that so it's clear to anyone reading it that i wasn't sending you nastygrams.

i do think it's lame of you to not engage with me outside the thread, because i was really trying to avoid having our disagreement play out in the thread, because i think the rancor we were exhibiting toward each other was distracting and i'm not happy i participated in it. but here we are. how about this: let's just be done talking to one another for the purposes of this thread, ok? i will if you will.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:10 PM on May 17, 2009


Respecting people's privacy and bodily autonomy is another way to express care for a friend.

Oh bullshit. What if their drinking too much? Or cutting? Or have an eating disorder like Anorexia?

Or any number of harmful self-destructive things people do when they are in a non-healthy—but bodily autonomous—state. And many times if friends don't say something or intervene in some way then you end up with a dead friend.

You know about five years ago I had a friend die way before his time (he was 38) of complications from Type II diabetes. Which was all preventable. He was obese. He drank too much. He smoked too much. And when he ended up with diabetes at 35 (with no history of it in his family) he didn't do a god damned thing his doctors told him to do. I wish I would of had the guts to say something. I'd rather have him pissed at me than dead. I'll regret that until the day I die.
posted by tkchrist at 10:10 PM on May 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is you once again jumping to conclusions. I did not say your message was abusive. I was communicating to the moderators about their rule and why I protest it. If your message had been abusive, I would have said something about it in the message where I posted it, d-uh.

Hey Captain Disingenuous, your comment strongly implied that the email in question was in fact abusive. To claim that you did not intend to give that impression is laughable.
posted by dersins at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2009


It seems some people here are either to entrenched with their ideas or don't really want to have a conversation about.

Or the third option. Looking for an excuse to be outraged.
posted by tkchrist at 10:14 PM on May 17, 2009


I guess apple pie is good...if you've recently suffered severe head trauma.

The French invented pecan pie, you lousy traitor.

Jesus said the righteous eat cake.

They nailed him to cross, that guy didn't shit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:15 PM on May 17, 2009


For the record, I thought the debated Desjardin's post was poorly framed, but not offensive. I should note before I begin that I'm both larger than your average bear and have found myself often feeling the same peevishness over the hypocrisy of people I know well enough to determine that although they say they want A and don't understand why they can't get it, while consistently doing something that won't result in A. If I eat with you all the time, and you tell me about or I see the awesome calorie- or fat-rich meals you are eating, and then bemoan the fact that you can't lose weight, I too will be frustated and annoyed. This happens in a lot of different arenas. (e.g., I am similarly annoyed that when someone complains they never meet any nice people to date while constantly IMing a stream of jerks to fill up their entire social schedule). I usually keep my mouth shut whilst being peeved (unless specifically asked) because I hate it when people tell me how to live my life and find it incredibly counter-productive.

It was easy to misinterpret the focus of the nucleus of the peeve (she's doesn't seem to be skeeved out by fat people, or she wouldn't choose to dine with them where she'd have to interact with the what I guess would be the horror of them eating for those who would be skeeved?) because of the context of the peeve and the context of this ... discussion. She expressed herself colorfully in words that have a loaded negative connotation if you've been hearing nasty mean-spirited intentionally hurtful things using those words for a huge patch of your life like I and I suspect you have. When I hear some of those phrasings in the larger context of fat/obesity, I try to look at what the underlying meaning is rather than reacting the window dressing.

Also, I have to put in a vote for lemon meringue pie. Please don't tell apple I said that.
posted by julen at 10:15 PM on May 17, 2009


Cherry.
posted by salvia at 10:16 PM on May 17, 2009


At what point are you looking for a success?

From what I've read, usually longer than 5 years. But many studies of various weight loss interventions don't even follow up for longer than one year, which is kind of ludicrous. And the drop-out rates from the interventions are normally pretty heinous to begin with.

If this is met, is that the point at which you quit your goal-oriented activities?

Some people claim to regain weight without stopping their "activities." This has not been something I've experienced personally; I do think most "goal-oriented activities" are unsustainable for life. But most people, even when referring to "real lifestyle change" are actually referring to behaviours which, collectively, look an awful lot like dieting and are just as unlikely to be sustained. (One, because they're unpleasant as hell. Two, because external rules and external goals used as reinforcements, i.e. weight loss goals, may actually undermine intrinsic motivation to eat well and exercise for their own sake -- that is to say, for the sake of simple well-being.)

My answer to the "lifestyle change" brigade is Health At Every Size. It's new. Maybe you haven't heard of it. Basically, you focus on healthy, pleasurable eating and fun, sustainable activity without focusing on weight-related goals. Here's an interesting study.
posted by peggynature at 10:16 PM on May 17, 2009


i'll cast my vote for hair pie.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or combine all the options like Voltron, that has a large justice dispensing sword for all who raise a valid point. Yet are cut down anyway, as evil-doers that shame others without choices.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2009


he didn't do a god damned thing his doctors told him to do. I wish I would of had the guts to say something

peggynature was referring to a situation where brandon blatcher, who is not someone at death's door from obesity, was admonished by a friend over eating a second "carb" (which i took to mean eating potatoes AND corn with a meal or something similar; correct me if i'm wrong). is this the type of intervention that would have saved your friend? and would you offer that criticism to another friend who wasn't overweight?

also, why do you think badgering your friend about what he consumed would have succeeded in keeping him alive where his doctor's advice didn't? please note i understand your regret and i am in no way making light of it, and i'm sorry you lost a friend that way. but that tragic situation doesn't really compare to someone volunteering a comment like "you're going to eat TWO carbs?" to a person that isn't at risk of dropping dead from an extra 400 calories.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:22 PM on May 17, 2009


Oh bullshit. What if their drinking too much? Or cutting? Or have an eating disorder like Anorexia?

Simmer down, champ. No one's saying you shouldn't intervene when people are in immediate danger. But I do think it's interesting (and wrong) that we've become accustomed to seeing "overweight" as just as dangerous as those things you list. Many "overweight" and "obese" people are not in the kind of extreme health straits that you might imagine.

Actually, the CDC did an analysis and found that morality risk was lower for people in the "overweight" category than those in the "normal" weight category. And that even the highest class of "morbid obesity" (i.e., someone my size) isn't associated with as many deaths as they'd previously thought.

This panic about body weight is not an open-and-shut case, as much as the media and some of the medical establishment would like us to believe. And yes, I do think fat people deserve the right to choose their own foods without even well-intentioned friends butting in.

Even if someone has a real medical issue, I still think it's something more appropriately dealt with by their physician. Health issues are private matters, for the most part.
posted by peggynature at 10:27 PM on May 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


i like pot pies - and i'm not talking banquet ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 PM on May 17, 2009


UbuRoivas wins.
posted by peggynature at 10:28 PM on May 17, 2009


Winner provides pie for the group.

Pony up, Ubu.
posted by peggynature at 10:31 PM on May 17, 2009


Maui, there was more behind that statment and I was eventaully diagnosed Type 2. He was trying to help, can't fault friends for that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:35 PM on May 17, 2009


And tkchrist -- not to dismiss what happened with your friend. That is a shitty and tragic situation, and I'm very sorry. But there's likely not much you could have done if he was not able to sort it out between himself and his doctor.

Some people just never learn to cope, for whatever reason. You can't blame yourself. And for all the shame and admonishments we like to give people for what they eat and how they live their lives, people still go out and do destructive things. Which makes me think that shame and admonishments are not exactly effective.
posted by peggynature at 10:36 PM on May 17, 2009


This happens in a lot of different arenas. (e.g., I am similarly annoyed that when someone complains they never meet any nice people to date while constantly IMing a stream of jerks to fill up their entire social schedule). I usually keep my mouth shut whilst being peeved (unless specifically asked) because I hate it when people tell me how to live my life and find it incredibly counter-productive.

Ain't that the truth. People are masters at self deception and building their own self-reinforcing mental filters. I had friend years back always complaining about the lack of "good men." Meanwhile she was fucking married guys.

I look at American obesity as a logical extension of our cultural penchant to over-consume in every other way. One on one you can get people to see that certain forms of over consumption is bad. You can show them the logical progression of the damage done to society, the environment, and you can appeal to their sense of social responsibility. But with food? America views food like it does sex. Just as fucked up and duplicitous. Simultaneously puritanical and indulgent.

Here's the deal. We don't have the right to be morbidly obese. Not when millions of people are starving on this planet because our food system is geared to feed the factory food system and not people.

What we have a right to is to eat food that won't fucking kill us and that isn't corrupted corporate greed and filled with shit. We have the right to food that is cultivated and consumed responsibly and sustainably. THAT should be our right.

But as long as people accept it —accept that their food system is just a profit stream for corporations and that their own health is secondary to the bottom line of corporate America—witch is what you do when you keep buying calorie laden nutrition less fast food processed pap then you have to accept the personal responsibility of what it does to you. Just like smoking. Stop waiting for magic pill to fix you. And stop demanding everybody else pay for your desire to eat poison. Take responsibility. We don't live in a vacuum.

If you don't buy that shit, you don't over consume, then hey, what ever your body looks like is your god damned business and anybody has a problem with that can fuck right off.
posted by tkchrist at 10:37 PM on May 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't do MeMail for disagreements that are happening on MeFi or MeTa. What's public stays public. So I'm reposting:

No.
posted by atrazine at 10:39 PM on May 17, 2009


Which makes me think that shame and admonishments are not exactly effective.

You know there is a happy medium between shame and admonishments and letting people kill themselves.
posted by tkchrist at 10:39 PM on May 17, 2009


I do know that, tkchrist. And that's why I do what I do for a living.
posted by peggynature at 10:41 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


but only if i don't overconsume food? can we look at ways you overconsume and judge them? or don't you overconsume anything at all?

what ever your body looks like is your god damned business and anybody has a problem with that can fuck right off

this statement, full stop. no "if then."
posted by Hat Maui at 10:42 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And Hat Maui has a point - if you want to make the overconsumption argument, then you can't just blame the people who are an easy target to be scapegoated because they are set apart by a physical characteristic.

Everyone in this culture who isn't actively fighting against the things you describe is complicit in the overconsumption you describe.

Thin people eat junk food too. Thin people throw out too much garbage and use too much gas too.

Overconsumption is certainly a problem -- but not a problem exclusively caused and maintained by fat people.
posted by peggynature at 10:44 PM on May 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Maui, there was more behind that statment and I was eventaully diagnosed Type 2. He was trying to help, can't fault friends for that.

wouldn't that be pertinent to have included with your original anecdote?
posted by Hat Maui at 10:45 PM on May 17, 2009


this statement, full stop. no "if then."

Okay then people can apply that any over consumptive behavior. Hell. Own five Humvees. Max out all your credit cards. Take out five second mortgages.

If you truely think that way you have no right to bitch about any other consumption related issues like global warming or anything else.
posted by tkchrist at 10:46 PM on May 17, 2009


From what I've read, usually longer than 5 years

I'm still looking for a study I can read that has been done in the past ten years.

"real lifestyle change" are actually referring to behaviors which, collectively, look an awful lot like dieting and are just as unlikely to be sustained. (One, because they're unpleasant as hell.
Behaviors of people mostly revolve around a few simple things anyway. Food is one of them. Of course the behaviors are going to look like "dieting", whatever that entails. A change of diet shouldn't be unpleasant at all. Actually, unless you are really determined to make a huge difference in your body, they should be mostly effortless.

Two, because external rules and external goals used as reinforcements, i.e. weight loss goals, may actually undermine intrinsic motivation to eat well and exercise for their own sake -- that is to say, for the sake of simple well-being.)

My answer to the "lifestyle change" brigade is Health At Every Size.


I'm all for anything that actually does promote a healthier lifestyle, which is in effect what I mean by lifestyle change, although I'm not sure pleasurable eating fills that criteria.
I don't really think people should care how much they weigh unless they are using it as an indicator of other things. Except, if you're at 400 or so, then yes you should care how much you weigh.

By the way I didn't know I was part of brigade now. Sweet! I don't have to pay fees or anything do I?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:46 PM on May 17, 2009


Yes. You may pay them to me. In the form of cookies.
posted by peggynature at 10:48 PM on May 17, 2009


Overconsumption is certainly a problem -- but not a problem exclusively caused and maintained by fat people.

Our consumptive habits are completely interrelated. If you are fat or not. It is no accident our farm and food policies correlate with the obesity epidemic. And those same farm policies cause severe environmental damage.
posted by tkchrist at 10:49 PM on May 17, 2009


At 2 years after completing the Health At Every Size program, participants maintained body weight, risk factors related to heart disease decreased ('bad' cholesterol was reduced), eating behavior normalized, and psychological factors like self-esteem, depression and body image improved.

peggynature: What are the guidelines for eating?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:49 PM on May 17, 2009


If you truely think that way you have no right to bitch about any other consumption related issues like global warming or anything else.

ok, dude, but just so i'm sure i'm being lectured by someone squeaky-clean, please inventory how many cars you have, the square footage of your home, annual miles driven or flown, number of garments not purchased second-hand in your wardrobe, electronic devices you own, annual energy bill, volume of trash your family creates, monthly, and just where you obtain all this food that is somehow outside the reality of corporate food production. once you do that and it's clear that you're not a big stinking hypocrite, i'll gladly agree that you have the right to say what you're saying to me.
posted by Hat Maui at 10:51 PM on May 17, 2009


I've kind of lost track of where we are.

Are we in some sort of sociology paper or something?
posted by ODiV at 10:52 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyway, if you really want some more information to read, there are some good books on the topic. Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon just came out, and talks about her study (I linked to earlier) in depth, as well as a lot of the other science in this area. It's a really well-researched book. So is this book.

And here's a sort of primer/FAQ thing.

I'm sure you can appreciate that I'm not really up for a full Fat Acceptance 101 seminar at 2am. But maybe I'll eventually craft a good front page post that covers the basic, though it would be difficult to do in a diplomatic way that doesn't spark WW3 and significant moderator casualties.
posted by peggynature at 10:55 PM on May 17, 2009


In closing, I would like to say:

Pecan pie.

And UbuRoivas owes everyone a slice of delectable hair pie. Write it down.
posted by peggynature at 11:01 PM on May 17, 2009


One on one you can get people to see that certain forms of over consumption is bad. You can show them the logical progression of the damage done to society, the environment, and you can appeal to their sense of social responsibility. But with food? America views food like it does sex. Just as fucked up and duplicitous. Simultaneously puritanical and indulgent.

People often apply the adage that "just the little bit of what I'm doing won't hurt anything in the larger picture." Often that's connected to "it's my right to do it." So if I go ahead and dump this small portion of oil into the drainage it won't matter, but what is ignored is the cumulative effect this has. With food, and the feedback loop it has, this becomes overbearing for most people. "I can have this dessert now because it's Friday and I'm relaxing from a long week of work." Then it's Sunday and I'm hanging out with friends. Then it's Wednesday/Hump Day. And so on until it's all the time, and then Type 2 Diabetes pops up.

I'm sure you can appreciate that I'm not really up for a full Fat Acceptance 101 seminar at 2am.

West Coast wins! I don't know what that means or what we win.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:08 PM on May 17, 2009


And UbuRoivas owes everyone a slice of delectable hair pie.

no, under no circumstances should hair pies be sliced. you have to eat them whole, or not at all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:15 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, rhubarb! I love rhubarb. Simple rhubarb betty, honestly. Just chip it, butter, brown sugar, crumb topping, I like an oaty one.

Takes five minutes to make, is DELISH.

Bonus points for using molasses and splenda.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:15 PM on May 17, 2009


"i only note three people telling me my take on her comment is flawed -- desjardins herself, five fresh fish who has taken to ad hominem argument, and now you. that's all well and good, but what all three of you have not done is offer up any sort of alternative interpretation of her statement. i have asked for that and hope that someone provides me with it. i am not insisting that it come from desjardins herself, but that seems to be the most logical person to ask first, which is what i did. i asked. why don't you take a stab at it? i am really, genuinely curious if i'm overlooking a way to look at it."

Look, I just deleted a nasty reply to you, in the hopes that I can deëscalate things here. I've had the same experience as desjardins, and I bet you have too, if you think for a second, you have too.

You go out to lunch with some middle-aged woman, she orders a cheesecake bacon butter burger that's worth 16 million calories, and then spends the entire lunch hour talking about how she just can't lose weight. You think, Well, that coronary plate isn't helping.

There are people, mainstream people, for whom weight is a hobby. I've worked in offices where we all got pedometers and log sheets as part of some broad health study, and had conversations with women for whom faking data was a passtime. Instead of walking the 1600 steps per day, they would come up with ways to fake the data rather than attempting the experiment.

Yes, as Ms. Saint says, this comes from an unhealthy relationship with food. Of course! Food and weight are socially fucked in America!

But that means that a whole lot of people—especially women—expect you to have these weird, annoying conversations with them that sanction their weird-ass relationships with food and weight. And if you've decided that it doesn't really matter, then it's annoying to go through the same "No, really, validate my diet" bullshit again and again.

Having had these discussions again and again, I can't really divorce myself from them, but blaming me for being annoyed seems to be asking too much indulgence for the stupid.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on May 17, 2009


Can somebody please put a bullet in this thread already? It's gone long past point of useful dialog.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:21 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What are you, some kind of pie-censor?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:26 PM on May 17, 2009


Bonus points for using molasses and splenda.

Does molasses work in sorbet? I've never worked with molasses before, and I've never made a sorbet before, but the idea of a rhubarb and molasses sorbet? That could be interesting. Am I crazy?
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:31 PM on May 17, 2009


klangklangston, thank you for sparing me your vitriol. i'm lucky, i guess. (i am not sure why you really want me to know that you wanted to send me some nasty reply -- do you think i should feel bad for my behavior in this thread? am i arguing in bad faith, in your view?)

you're not talking about what i'm talking about. once again: my objection about that comment is that it in the context of the overall discussion, it's not cool to be suggesting that fat people are dishonest and always stuffing their faces, because this is the problem the post identifies: hating on (or being disdainful of) fat people because of their fatness (or in your case their neuroses about their fatness) is not cool, and shouldn't be acceptable in polite society. if desjardins has some annoying friends, why is she talking about "the dishonesty of fat people" instead of "the dishonesty of some people i know"?

let me try one more analogy -- let's say her exact statement was "the promiscuity of gay people irritates me. every time i go to a club with a gay friend or co-worker, all they talk about how badly they want to be in a monogamous relationship, but then i find them in the bathroom later having anonymous sex. just stop being hypocrites, already!" now imagine that that statement was in a thread about how some commenters had posted homophobic statements in a metafilter thread, and the contention of the metatalk post was that was wrong and shouldn't probably be on metafilter. does that make the objection any clearer? and then you would come along later and talk about how many people you know are neurotic about sex and constantly talk to you about it, and you say, "there are some people, mainstream people, for whom sex addiction is a hobby. and the bad part is everyone expects you to have weird conversations about it that annoy you. no, really, validate my promiscuity."

to make it clear: her post reinforces a common stereotype about fat people -- that they're always lying about how much or little they eat -- and IN MY VIEW it contributes to the hostile atmosphere that fat people are constantly being subjected to. if you're not a fat person yourself, you really don't fucking know, do you?

you're not a woman, and yet you're seemingly a feminist, at least based on lots of comments of yours that i've read. why are you hip to shit like the problems with the male gaze, but can't see how that comment was replete with hostility toward the fat?
posted by Hat Maui at 11:45 PM on May 17, 2009


Goodnight, peggynature, and thanks for the comments and links.

It's interesting that there are dietitians who promote eating for weight loss and also see it as being pretty rare to succeed. That must be intensely frustrating.

But the most important difference seems to be whether we attribute that regain to some inherent character flaw (read: gluttony, sloth, Original Sin, etc.), or to the enormous difficulty of attempting to alter a phenotype that is regulated by a rather complex set of physiological controls.

So it's pretty much a given that we can't change our diet and exercise in order to reduce fat and then keep it off, long term? That's kind of depressing. I'm not really interested in pointing fingers. I guess it's good that the psychologists are looking at it now.

I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile quotes like "fat people live longer than thin people" from here with the findings of this study, specifically charts like this and quotes like "overall mortality was lowest at about 22·5–25 kg/m2 in both sexes and at all ages, after exclusion of early follow-up and adjustment for smoking status. Above this range, each 5 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with about 30% higher all-cause mortality".

Is that study I found just bunk?

Actually, the CDC did an analysis and found that morality risk was lower for people in the "overweight" category than those in the "normal" weight category. And that even the highest class of "morbid obesity" (i.e., someone my size) isn't associated with as many deaths as they'd previously thought.

I'm interested in this analysis. I'll see if I can find it.
posted by ODiV at 12:03 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly, and I know from what I speak on all accounts, the only thing more annoying than overweight people lamenting the difficulty of not overeating as they do that very thing, or drunks who bring up alcoholism at 1 am when we're obviously BOTH at a bar on #4, are self-righteous assholes who blither on about how they. would never!! do what all the idiots do wrt food, booze, whatever. Like, "OKAY. Good on ya, Healthypants McCleareye. So why are you devoting so much energy to asceticism and the eterrrrnally delayed rewards of self-denial?"

I mean, to me, at least the fat people have heart. (Big, enlarged, hearts. Oh, that's sweet. Sweet as diabetes.)

So, having been a a witness or participant in three distinct cultures of food discourse:

1. The desperate food lovers appalled at their complete lack of mastery over it, unselfconsciously singing their wish fulfillment songs into their drumsticks

2. The snots who apparently control themselves sooo well they have to brag about it to other people and do so at every junction that could likewise be taken toward a result of empathy

3. Weight Watchers (a strange hybrid, a very strange, in my opinion harmless and feebly high-fiving hybrid)

I've concluded that dropping out altogether is better. I do what I do, the results are the results, but the specifics? Why should I think they interest you? Your eating or denial or self-denial or calorie clubs are dull and make eating less fun. Eating should be about yummy, not about you.

Yep, the whole discourse. IS FUCKING STUPID. I don't want to ever have considered whether I was fat or not. I would be better off, I assure you. I can't help but think that it's this overdevotion of attention to it that makes it so powerful.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:06 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ms. Saint, I meant for you to stick to baked rhubarb betty, which can be reallly lowca , as it happens, but in a sorbet? Dude... Molasses rhubarb could get up toward the strawberries and balsami-sphere.

I might prefer a ribbon of molasses in a rhubarb ice cream, but there I go, liking food for the balance of taste and not for the nutritive profile.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:10 AM on May 18, 2009


let's say her exact statement was "the promiscuity of gay people irritates me. every time i go to a club with a gay friend or co-worker, all they talk about how badly they want to be in a monogamous relationship, but then i find them in the bathroom later having anonymous sex. just stop being hypocrites, already!"

Let's pretend that being gay and being obese are equivalent.

Instead of your uncharitable analogy, let's say her statement was something like this: "The hypocrisy of some of my gay friends irritates me. When we talk about relationships, they complain about how badly they want to be in a monogamous relationship, but they spend all their free time in hook-up bars looking for one-night stands."

Now, you might say something like, "your experience isn't representative of gay people." I'd probably say, "you need new gay friends. Mine aren't at all like that." Instead, though, people are saying, "yeah, that is annoying" and "I can see how that would be annoying." And they are saying this because they, too, have been in this situation.
posted by smorange at 12:18 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


ok, smorange, that helps me see it in a somewhat different light. i still think that sentiment could have been put differently, and some of her phrasing is pretty much dogwhistle stuff to fat people ("stuffing her face" to describe someone eating, for instance, is a bit harsh in my view) but i'll allow that for all i know, this is all she meant by her comment.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:24 AM on May 18, 2009


Finally, the notion that going from, say 250 lbs to 180 is a matter of some time in a gym is moronic. There are roughly 3500 calories per pound of fat. To burn 70 lbs (assuming its all fat) requires burning an extra 245,000 calories.

I know a guy that did this in about a year. His training wasn't some insane professional athlete shit - it was large muscle group-working stuff a 3-4 days a week that can be done by someone that's never worked out seriously before - running, dumbbell lifts, bodyweight exercises, etc. It is indeed difficult and not everyone's body is going to respond that way, but no, it's not a moronic idea at all.


While I'm posting, I might as well toss my bits in about the larger discussion: There's a lot of people here eager to prove that most overweight people's condition is more the result of their own choices than that of factors outside of their own control. Let's say you get there and prove this and can now judge fat people without MeFites arguing with you about it. What are you going to do with this prize?

Are you on a mission to help your fellow man be healthier and rid the nations of obesity? Is this the tool that your anti-obesity organization is going to use to lever people into fitness programs?

Or are you mostly concerned about proving fault so that you can quietly file away the fact that you made better choices than these fat people, and therefore, are better than them? (Of course, this means there are plenty of people better than you, but as long as you're more than halfway up the ladder, you're cool.)

Somehow, I doubt anyone is arguing that most fat people have made a choice to be fat because they want to do things to help fat people. But if I'm wrong, wouldn't it be more effective to find a way to get free nutrition and exercise counseling to overweight people in your area than to prove on MeTa that these fat people did it to themselves?
posted by ignignokt at 12:26 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of people here eager to prove that most overweight people's condition is more the result of their own choices than that of factors outside of their own control.

People get emotionally invested. If you're working out and dieting then the last thing you want to hear is that your success or failure is largely due to factors outside of your control.
posted by ODiV at 12:36 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


ignignokt, I think you're basically right about people's motives, but what you describe is a very natural and widespread impulse. Replace "obesity" with "right-wing American conservatism" and you've described a lot of the discourse that goes on on MeFi with, I suspect, the same motivations lying behind it. What to do about this, I don't know.
posted by smorange at 12:36 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, pretty much anything is more effective than arguing about obesity on MetaTalk, ignignokt. I think we're all at fault here.
posted by ODiV at 12:37 AM on May 18, 2009


Well, at least I'm on an elliptical right now.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:45 AM on May 18, 2009


There's a lot of people here eager to prove that most overweight people's condition is more the result of their own choices than that of factors outside of their own control. Let's say you get there and prove this and can now judge fat people without MeFites arguing with you about it. What are you going to do with this prize?

My answer has nothing to do with any judgmental values that people seem to think equate with the discussion. Admittedly that is what this discussion is about, but at the same time there is chicken & egg conundrum that is bubbling up.

I would like to see it as something that is empowering for people. Plain and simple. You can do it. Does modifying your diet and including a regular schedule of exercise work? Do these two things regularly and consistently for a couple of months and then let me know how your body is absolutely out of your of influence. As a matter of fact, don't change your diet. Just work out and keep eating what your eating, but don't increase your overall consumption. See how that works. You don't want to work out? Fine. I believe it is your choice to do what you want with your body. Where does that put us in the discussion of causes for this though? Is it none of my business? Because I'm kind of curious what kind of repercussions those things may have on people.

I think what people tend to do in the discussion is skip over the lack of choosing to be skinny, to a type of victim framing with "I didn't choose to be fat." I think both are important to keep in mind and address.

I'm interested in this analysis. I'll see if I can find it.

I'm interested in it too, ODiV. Unless some of the more popular studies I've read on decreased weight being more beneficial for long life are wrong.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:09 AM on May 18, 2009


if i said "man, some of my canadian friends are soooo cheap, and they're hypocrites about it too!" would you take that as me just complaining about only my friends or would you think i was trying to suggest that canadians other than my friends are cheap?

You've added an extra variable to the analogy. It only works if your friends are being dishonest about their cheapness or dishonest about their nationality.

And getting back to the heart of the debate, rhubarb cheesecake = bestthingever.
posted by the latin mouse at 1:18 AM on May 18, 2009


You've added an extra variable to the analogy. It only works if your friends are being dishonest about their cheapness or dishonest about their nationality.

i actually used canadian (and remember it was in the context of a private memail to him) because fff is canadian and and i thought that might bring it home for him a bit. you could see why a canadian might take offense if someone was maligning canadians in some manner, just as i took offense that someone seemed to be maligning the honesty of fat people. i read it that the commenter was perpetuating that particular stereotype, which is a common one, even if her anecdote is an accurate representation of her circle of acquaintance.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:37 AM on May 18, 2009


After reading through this whole awful thread, I have a suggestion for all those who are disgusted by fat people and feel they are dumb, lazy, liars unwilling to do anything to improve their weight.

Stop badgering and shaming the fat people. Give up on them. Consider them a lost cause. All of the shaming and badgering of the already-fat doesn't seem to be working. Instead, start badgering and shaming the not-yet-fat. Ask your friend if he really needs that bag of chips. Sneer at the average-sized lady in the buffet line taking both potatoes and corn. Roll your eyes when you see a skinny person get on a plane with a McDonald's bag. Don't let your attractive mom have that second slice of pie. Get tough on the not-yet-fat! They may only be a few pounds away from being disgusting!

Where do fat people come from? Well, they come from the not-yet-fat. So go make some people with average weights neurotic. Why ... you'd be saving lives and eventually you might even lower the overall number of fat people in the world to disgust you.

Fat people don't disgust me. What disgusts me are a number of Metafilter members. Really, what a lot of hate in this thread. It's vile.
posted by Orb at 1:45 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Every time someone mentions rhubarb pie, I get a little queasy. I think that I have a food aversion to it after my mom made strawberry rhubarb pies and tried to pawn them off on me as simply strawberry pie.

The trifecta of pies are cherry, pumpkin and pecan.

Of course, I mustn't stuff my face with these in public, lest I bring upon myself well-deserved ridicule and shame.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:19 AM on May 18, 2009


I'm just kind of wide-eyed at this whole thing.

I'm reasonably slender by anyone's standards. I've been one of those really, really thin 'beanpole' sorts all my life, purely by dint of an overactive metabolism. I don't eat very well, I rarely exercise. Certainly no good example, is what i'm saying.

I had a situation occur that required me to spend a long time (about 1.5 years) cooped up in a small apartment, leaving it very little (caring for someone, it was no disability of mine). During it, my metabolism slowed and I gained a little weight. Just enough so that I wasn't so bony, I have a rather nice little belly there now. But still, by anyone's metric i'm fairly slim, and i've always been so. I feel pretty good.

And even so, this thread caused a few "I wonder if these sorts of people think i'm overweight? Am I disgusting, repellant and unattractive? Is this what people are thinking when they look at me?" thoughts to casually flit through my head. I caught it happening and had to shake them out consciously.

And that is insane. That, that thing that just happened in my head, is what a number of you harsher types in this thread are doing to people's heads. I should be largely immune to it, but still, the insidious nastiness of it still managed to creep in.

It's not helping, guys.
posted by pseudonymph at 3:50 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


wouldn't that be pertinent to have included with your original anecdote?

The anecdote was included to offer a different viewpoint on the "fat people are dishonest and hypocrites" line of thought. Naturally, this being the internet, some people decided a different aspect of it i.e. "what business does anyone have suggesting what you eat," hence the additional info.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:08 AM on May 18, 2009


Cherry pie, definitely.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:22 AM on May 18, 2009


As an overweight person myself I resent being characterized as mentally ill or having a medical condition just because I'm fat. I'm a sane person just like the rest of you and my weight is my own doing. So stop fucking putting thoughts in my mind. Everyone has shortcomings and such as, stop making them to be illnesses and whatnot. You're not helping.
posted by Authorized User at 4:42 AM on May 18, 2009


Coconut cream, you fools. Fruit pies drool.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:46 AM on May 18, 2009


Kinbote - everyone knows pumpkin pie is only for gumboot-wearers and disaffected parolees.

I resemble that remark.
posted by Kinbote at 5:07 AM on May 18, 2009


Adding my .02 to many others...I don't like the overbearingness of some people when it comes to fat people's "eating habits", and couching their antipathy towards fatness in terms of "health" reasons.

Caring for people's health should not have an element of judgmentalism in it, mainly because its countereffective. The target of concern can actually feel the disdain and condescension, and the target's response is usually to shut down, become defensive, and completely dismiss any valid information the concerned party might have to give.

If you truly care about people killing themselves due to their obesity, you might want to use a more supportive, "I'm on your side" approach.

Otherwise, the "I can't believe you'd eat that--it's suicide" attitude is pretty damn annoying, and just seems like another way for people to feel superior about themselves.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 5:09 AM on May 18, 2009


Fuck yeah, I have a brain tumor!
posted by flabdablet at 6:04 AM on May 18, 2009


There's a lot of people here eager to prove that most overweight people's condition is more the result of their own choices than that of factors outside of their own control. Let's say you get there and prove this and can now judge fat people without MeFites arguing with you about it. What are you going to do with this prize?

Eat it!
posted by dirigibleman at 6:16 AM on May 18, 2009


> So yes, I grasp that it's a social construction, and the minimal pain suffered by those "corrected" is outweighed by keeping a dumb word out of common circulation and denying the dull another blind to hide behind.

You're still not getting it. The word is not "dumb" in any sense except that you don't like it, and the reason you don't like it is that you were once told it was dumb. Accepting that circular logic as a child is inevitable; accepting it as an adult is, well, dumb. You do not address my point that irregardless is constructed in exactly the same way as inflammable; that's probably because you can't, so you fall back on repeating "dumb" and "dull" as if they were arguments. Like I said, bigotry.

Also, lemon meringue pie.
posted by languagehat at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good morning everyone!

So, I just wanted to add a few links for people who are interested in reading them.

"Overweight was not associated with excess mortality (–86 094 deaths; 95% CI, –161 223 to –10 966). The relative risks of mortality associated with obesity were lower in NHANES II and NHANES III than in NHANES I."

And here's a really interesting, full-text article from the International Journal of Epidemiology that clearly lays out many of the arguments we've been talking about here.
posted by peggynature at 6:30 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


My answer has nothing to do with any judgmental values that people seem to think equate with the discussion. Admittedly that is what this discussion is about, but at the same time there is chicken & egg conundrum that is bubbling up.

I would like to see it as something that is empowering for people. Plain and simple. You can do it. Does modifying your diet and including a regular schedule of exercise work?


P.o.B., a more effective way for you to get closer to what you want is to volunteer at your local YMCA or similar community service organization as a fitness instructor or assistant. You'll have a far greater effect on more people by working directly with people than you will by somehow establishing that most fat people choose to be fat here.

You don't need an airtight scientific answer to empower people to lose weight, and there's probably plenty of other ways to do it other than volunteering at the Y. Don't use this lack of a definitive study be an excuse that stops you from taking action toward your goal. (The answer is probably going to be "it works better for some people than it does for others," anyway.)
posted by ignignokt at 6:37 AM on May 18, 2009


Desjardins is probably a good person, but here's why what she said probably sounded like there was some hate behind it to a lot of people:

However, the dishonesty amongst some overweight people is really irritating.

Let's say this was a discussion about ____ people, and someone said that he has nothing against _____ people, what they do is their own business, but he finds the "dishonesty amongst some ___ people really irritating." That guy may be talking about specific dishonest ____ people he knows, but this speech pattern is usually indicative of a guy that actually does hate ____ people.
posted by ignignokt at 6:59 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's interesting that there are dietitians who promote eating for weight loss and also see it as being pretty rare to succeed. That must be intensely frustrating.

ODiV - yes, from what I've seen, it is intensely frustrating. Frustrating to the point that the clinical dietitians I worked with in hospital explicitly refused referrals that were solely looking for weight loss. Their job was to help manage certain diseases through diet, something that can be difficult, but which they found far more doable than attempting to get people to lose weight.

That didn't stop them from thinking of weight loss as a good thing, and it didn't stop them from promoting practices for the control of the disease that might also be interpreted as weight-loss gestures, perhaps in the hopes that it would be a lucky side-effect of the dietary treatment -- but nevertheless, they explicitly stated to me that they were not there to "do weight loss" with people, specifically because, in their 30+ years of experience, they found the long-term success rates were too low.

This needn't be depressing however. Weight is hard to control for lots of people, but some people apparently get lucky and make changes that stick. Far more importantly, though, it is apparently totally possible to improve your health and the quality of your life by eating well (and YES, enjoying your food is part of "eating well") and doing a sustainable (and again, preferably ENJOYABLE) form of physical activity -- without focusing on weight. I mentioned this study earlier, but here's another article on Linda Bacon's study, which pitted a size-acceptance intervention against a weight-loss intervention, and found that the size-acceptance group made some important improvements, and were more likely to sustain those improvements over time, compared to the weight-loss group. (Sorry, haven't been able to find the full text anywhere online, though you can email Linda herself for a .pdf of it.)
posted by peggynature at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


OC, that was some vile bullshit I just had to delete. Do not do that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2009


OK. Whew. That will teach me to walk away from the computer overnight.

I've only read about the first 30 comments since my last post, so that's what I'm responding to.

desjardins, do you believe most fat people tend to be the way you describe your friends that sit around whining to you as they "stuff their faces"?

No. It's not even all my (overweight) friends - it's a subset of them, so it's definitely not all or most fat people. There are overweight people of my acquaintance who do not complain about their weight, appearance, diet, etc. They seem content with who they are. I don't get annoyed at them no matter what they eat. My annoyance is specifically at people's behavior, not at what they look like. When I said "I don't care" I meant in the same way that I don't care to hear about your sex life. Your body is your business. It's personal. Why bring it up here? Well, this is a discussion about fat people, and acceptance of them (or lack thereof). Much of the conversation has centered on personal responsibility. Doing what you say you're going to do falls under that heading IMO. Some fat people don't take personal responsibility for their situation (e.g. eating excessively) and I'm annoyed when they complain about it. I didn't mean for my anecdote to be generalized to all fat people, but perhaps my saying it in this thread implied otherwise (despite my use of "some," meaning NOT ALL).

(btw any implication that I'm anti-gay is absolutely fucking hysterical to anyone that knows me.)
posted by desjardins at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2009


Glad to hear that "Unless you've got glandular issues that make you fat, shape the fuck up and stop being a fatass" is not vile bullshit.

Over the last week I've learned it's perfectly acceptable to say things on MetaFilter that are racist, misogynist, or homophobic, and to call overweight people "lazy fatasses who need to shape up," but if you critique the people who say those things, it's shocking and horrible.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:15 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish I'd never read this thread, because I have now lost all respect for a member whose contributions I have greatly enjoyed in days gone by.

This:
Pecan pie sucks
I can not abide.

Brandon, maybe someday you will return from the benighted abyss of hatred that keeps the awesome light of nutty goodness from shining on your soul. Until then, suck it!
posted by Mister_A at 7:16 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and a personal example that will hopefully make this more clear - I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine. If I chose not to use the machine and then complained about being tired, my friends would be more than justified in their annoyance. If I use the machine but I'm STILL tired, it's on me to call my doctor or do whatever I need to do to follow up on it.

Sleep apnea isn't my choice, it's most likely due to some birth defects. I'm still responsible for doing what I can to alleviate it. Even if your genetics predispose you to being fat, there are still things a person can do about it, and people are responsible for their own health. If they're not willing to take responsibility, then I personally don't want to hear about it. If others want to listen to them, great, be my guest. I wouldn't expect anyone to listen to me whine about my credit card debt, my messy house, my sucky job, or other things I am choosing not to deal with in a productive way at the moment.
posted by desjardins at 7:16 AM on May 18, 2009


kldickson's comment was disclaimed as off the damn wall at the time. But we delete very little from metatalk—that shouldn't be news to you—and calling some bullshit bullshit is how it's usually done over here.

There's a bright, nasty line between "critiquing people who say those things" and going into full-on shitheaded personal attack mode, and the latter is what you did, and one of the very few sorts of things that do get deleted around here.

You want to critique, critique. Just don't go into flaming asshole mode and start going after other users with both barrels like that. On a level of violation of the social contract around here, yes, that's more vile even than an obnoxious, ignorant generalization like the one kldickson posted upthread, and you should fucking well know better by now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 AM on May 18, 2009


Over the last week I've learned it's perfectly acceptable to say things on MetaFilter that are racist, misogynist, or homophobic, and to call overweight people "lazy fatasses who need to shape up," but if you critique the people who say those things, it's shocking and horrible.

Generalized bullshit, while uncool, is still general. MeTa being MeTa, it sometimes stays. Personally-directed, link-trawling, I-hope-someone-hurts-you venting is totally beyond the pale, avoidable and not okay anywhere and something you have an ongoing problem with here. I'm not sure why these two things are hard to separate from each other, but the first one is flag and move on territory and the second is "the admins are debating whether you need some time off" territory. Choice is yours.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 AM on May 18, 2009


I note that 1 person says "This is irritating" and there's a pileon of OMG, Get over it!!!!!! pretty often. Lots of things are irritating. Point out those things is not an indicator of knickers-in-a-twist. It's irritation, not bloodlust, screaming, bone-chilling, want-to-gouge-your-entrails-from-your-belly-with-a-chainsaw hatred.
posted by theora55 at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2009


Hi desjardins! I have enjoyed your contributions (esp. that hat trick against the Kings in '93), but I thought that comment of yours was a little off. It just seemed like an odd time to point out that some overweight people are, in fact, whiners.

But, as I said, I have enjoyed your contributions here, meaning that I am familiar enough with your online persona to read that comment in a more charitable way than hat maui and some others. I still think it was an odd time to drop that anecdote, but you have never evinced any sign of being an "-ist" of any sort, so I'm not going to condemn you for a few words that I might take issue with–especially when the issue is more with the timing, as it were, than the content of your comment.

You are right about this–overweight people who don't accept responsibility for their actions are going to stay overweight. The same is true of alcoholics and drug addicts. These are medical conditions, but they are also behavioral conditions, and it is foolishness to ignore or deny the primacy of the behavioral component of any of these conditions. However, shaming, badgering, and humiliating people who are overweight, or who have substance abuse problems, is counter-productive. Maybe that's what some people were reacting to–they may have read your comment as an attempt to shame fat people about their laziness or lack of personal integrity on this issue. I don't see it as such, but I get how other people can. It's a fine line between badgering and bullying and helping someone to take a healthy ownership of these conditions. I guess the thing to do is to avoid dwelling on the past. There's a big difference between "take responsibility for how badly you've screwed up your health" and "take responsibility for making changes that will help you feel better, and maybe look better to boot."
posted by Mister_A at 7:44 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


some of her phrasing is pretty much dogwhistle stuff to fat people ("stuffing her face" to describe someone eating, for instance, is a bit harsh in my view)

duly noted, and very poor word choice on my part.

I'm late for work now. :(
posted by desjardins at 7:47 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Desjardins is probably a good person

Eh, she sounds like one of those dirty pecan pie lovers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2009


oh yeah, I forgot to mention: PECAN, definitely.

(dude, you're from the south, how could you not like pecan? you're a pie-traitor!)
posted by desjardins at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fools, all of you.

Key Lime.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2009


THIS FAT FUCK OF A THREAD IS TEXTUALLY REPELLENT.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 7:57 AM on May 18, 2009


You're still not getting it. The word is not "dumb" in any sense except that you don't like it, and the reason you don't like it is that you were once told it was dumb. Accepting that circular logic as a child is inevitable; accepting it as an adult is, well, dumb.

It sounds dumb to me too. Not because anyone has ever told me that it is so, but because the prefix is not only gratuitous but inverts the sense of the word. When I hear it used I can't help but think that the speaker is careless about expressing his thoughts.

You do not address my point that irregardless is constructed in exactly the same way as inflammable; that's probably because you can't, so you fall back on repeating "dumb" and "dull" as if they were arguments. Like I said, bigotry.

This dictionary entry for irregardless points to ir-2, which in turn points to in-3, which reads in part, "a prefix of Latin origin, corresponding to English un-, having a negative or privative force." The entry for inflame points to in-2, which reads in part, "used [...] as a verb-formative." Given the different meanings of the in- prefix above, what's the basis of your claim that the two words are constructed exactly the same way?
posted by harmfulray at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2009


Dude, shoe fly all the way.

Also, why the focus on weight? Fit versus unfit is much more important to health, and body fat is only one indicator in the determination.
posted by Loto at 8:05 AM on May 18, 2009


Good morning everyone!

So, I just wanted to add a few links for people who are interested in reading them.

"Overweight was not associated with excess mortality (–86 094 deaths; 95% CI, –161 223 to –10 966). The relative risks of mortality associated with obesity were lower in NHANES II and NHANES III than in NHANES I."

And here's a really interesting, full-text article from the International Journal of Epidemiology that clearly lays out many of the arguments we've been talking about here.


While I do not believe that anybody should feel ashamed of who they are, it is a vast misrepresentation to state that the science shows that obesity does not come with poorer health outcomes. It is not difficult at all to find a vast array of scientific articles which disagree with the two articles linked above.

Commentary: Counterpoint to Campos et al.

Quoting single articles in an attempt to refute the importance of weight gain as a predictor of morbidity and premature mortality suggests a somewhat distorted view or a lack of understanding of how conclusions in this field are developed on the basis of many studies that are carefully scrutinized for their validity. The field of medical and scientific research has never been more unified in expressing its concern about the medical and personal disadvantages associated with excess weight gain as evidenced in a succession of WHO reports and other scientific statements, particularly those issued in the US, with broader acknowledgement of the pathways leading from obesity towards its manifold co-morbidities.

Reverse Causality and Confounding and the Associations of Overweight and Obesity with Mortality

Results: In age-adjusted analyses that did not take account of reverse causality or smoking, there was no association between being overweight (BMI 25 to <3>
Discussion: These findings demonstrate that with appropriate control for smoking and reverse causality, both overweight and obesity are associated with important increases in all-cause and cause-specific mortality, and in particular with cardiovascular disease mortality.

Commentary: Understanding the epidemiology of overweight and obesity—a real global public health concern

Considerable progress in the scientific study of obesity's determinants and consequences has led to a growing understanding of the responsible causal pathways, risk factors, and mechanisms. In particular, there is now strong evidence relating dietary factors and physical activity levels to the risk of obesity, hypertension, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and other coronary heart disease (CHD).

Epidemiology, Trends, and Morbidities
of Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome


As body weight, expressed as the BMI, rises, there are a number of other diseases that are associated with it. First, life span is shortened and the risk of sudden death increases. Second, the risk of diabetes, gall bladder disease, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and certain forms of cancer also increase.

The Epidemiology of Obesity

Cynthia L. Ogdenlow , Susan Z. Yanovski‡, Margaret D. Carrolllow and Katherine M. Flegallow


A higher body weight is associated with an increased incidence of a number of conditions, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and with an increased risk of disability. Obesity is associated with a modestly increased risk of all-cause mortality. However, the net effect of overweight and obesity on morbidity and mortality is difficult to quantify. It is likely that a gene-environment interaction, in which genetically susceptible individuals respond to an environment with increased availability of palatable energy-dense foods and reduced opportunities for energy expenditure, contributes to the current high prevalence of obesity. Evidence suggests that even without reaching an ideal weight, a moderate amount of weight loss can be beneficial in terms of reducing levels of some risk factors, such as blood pressure. Many studies of dietary and behavioral treatments, however, have shown that maintenance of weight loss is difficult. The social and economic costs of obesity and of attempts to prevent or to treat obesity are high.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Of course you can find couterpoints, comrade_robot. I'm not saying that my position is unanswerable -- I'm just saying that it is a legitimate position that is shared by some well-regarded researchers and practitioners, and that it deserves consideration when discussing the whole scope of things related to body weight.

I'l repeat what I said earlier: it's not an open and closed case. Most things are more complicated than we think. Funny how reality works.
posted by peggynature at 8:14 AM on May 18, 2009


You're right: I did know better, but I did it anyway. I think we should mock and humiliate people who are racists and misogynists and homophobes and sizeists. I don't think we should just ignore them and through our silence let them think that these are acceptable things to say about an entire set of people.

I would be a nice, trouble-free poster - a milquetoast, even - if the rules didn't encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia, and sizeism without fear of reprisal or censure. And those of you who know me personally know that I am gentle and kind, because it's very rare for a stranger to accost me on the street and tell me "fat people are worthless" or that New Orleans should burn to the ground because of the blacks or that pedophilia would be moral if it weren't against the law, or any of the other insane opinions posted by insane people that I've gotten "in trouble," as it were, for attacking.

You don't have to give me any time off - I'll do it myself.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:15 AM on May 18, 2009


Of course you can find couterpoints, comrade_robot. I'm not saying that my position is unanswerable -- I'm just saying that it is a legitimate position that is shared by some well-regarded researchers and practitioners, and that it deserves consideration when discussing the whole scope of things related to body weight.

I'l repeat what I said earlier: it's not an open and closed case. Most things are more complicated than we think. Funny how reality works.


I do not mean this as a personal attack on you or the obese at all, but the vast majority of the literature does not agree with you.

The field of medical and scientific research has never been more unified in expressing its concern about the medical and personal disadvantages associated with excess weight gain as evidenced in a succession of WHO reports and other scientific statements, particularly those issued in the US, with broader acknowledgement of the pathways leading from obesity towards its manifold co-morbidities
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:26 AM on May 18, 2009


Late to the party, and only managed 100 comments or so before jumping down to the comment box, so I apologize if I'm repeating something said 300 times after the first 100 comments, but:

I'm an American, living in Japan for over a decade. My personal belief, visiting America from time to time, is that pretty much everyone is eating too much. It isn't that fat people are pigs, it's that almost everyone are pigs, but the skinny people have better metabolism. The dishes at restaurants are jokes: enough food to feed 2 or 3 people, and yet people order a plate and then appetizers.

However, none of that justifies insulting or shaming people. There are certainly some folks with genetic predispositions. Even the strictest fat-hater would agree that insulting them is bad. There are folks who are fat but working on it. There are all kinds of cases, to varying degrees, where insulting or shaming misses the mark. So even if you think, in principle, that shaming or insulting people is kosher, blanket insults are going to miss the mark quite often. And, of course, there is the fact that insulting and shaming doesn't actually improve anything.

A separate point, but the phrase "fat pride" seems bizarre to me. Not because it's something to be ashamed of, but "accepting" and "pride" are different. It has been compared to "cirhossis of the liver from overdrinking pride", but that's a loaded comparison. A far less loaded comparison would be something like "cancer pride". Nobody is ashamed of cancer (er, well, except for cancer due to smoking, or skin cancer from extra tanning). Ok, let's make that "bone cancer pride". Nobody is ashamed of bone cancer, but nobody is proud of it either. It's a sucky thing that happens. So, if people are obese because they really want to be, that's nothing to be proud of. But even in the reverse case, where 100% of obesity is purely genetic, it's also nothing to be proud of. So from a fat-haters perspective, obesity is something to be ashamed of. From a non-fat-haters perspective, it's something to be accepted like any other medical condition. The only people who I can think who would be actually proud would be the fetishists. Which, I guess, makes me wonder if there are bone cancer fetishists who are into bone cancer pride.
posted by Bugbread at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'd also just like to say that my linking a couple of articles above is not my attempt at providing an exhaustive summary of the controversy about body weight in the scientific literature. It was merely an attempt to expose people who've apparently never even heard that there IS a controversy to some new ideas. Of course the vast majority of scientific literature disagrees with me -- isn't that the case for lots of emerging theories? It doesn't make them not true. It just means the evidence needs to be developed further and the past evidence perhaps needs to be analyzed differently.

I could likely post counterpoints to your counterpoints, and you could rebut with further counterpoints, and we could go on and on and on into infinity this way.

If you want exhaustive summaries, there are books you can read, none of which I am prepared to write myself, right here and now. I've linked those as well, for people who are truly interested into looking at the arguments and making their own judgments.

The thing that always strikes me in these discussions (which are, on their surface, about bias and prejudice and resulting discrimination) is that the health argument always gets dragged out as one way of justifying that bias. But hating on people for being in poor health isn't considered an effective solution for other diseases -- and if you believe that "obesity" is a disease, then why would that behaviour apply here? As Marilyn Wann once aptly stated, "You can't hate people for their own good."

Telling people to buck up and take responsibility and stop being so lazy or gluttonous or whathaveyou, though I'm sure it's well-intentioned and sounds reasonable at first blush, comes off as discompassionate and profoundly dismissive to those of us who've struggled with body weight. Some people might even choose to invoke political concepts like "Othering" and hatred, and they wouldn't be totally out-of-line to do so, given how these arguments have progressed in other movements based on improving the treatment of a group of people who are visibly different from the majority population.

So, anyway, to sum up so I can get out of here and go enjoy this sunny Victoria Day, because discussions of bias often work their way down to the scientific literature and the health issue. I'm saying that there is some controversy there. And I'm also saying that, even if the health at every size hypothesis gets soundly tromped in the literature, and all the negative health sterotypes about fat people are definitively, causally proven (that is to say, beyond drawing epidemiological associations and correlations), it still wouldn't justify the kind of bias and, yes, even hatred that fat people experience in our culture.

And there's a whole whack of literature to back up the fact that that bias does indeed exist and is not helpful to anyone.
posted by peggynature at 8:40 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


bugbread: I think the missing link in your argument is the fact that a lot of fat people refuse to identify their fatness as a disease. So, no, it's not exactly like having cirrhosis pride or bone cancer pride. It's more similar, philosophically, to terms like "Black is beautiful" or "Gay pride" or whathaveyou.

You may not understand it or agree with it, but that's not what's important. What's important is that pride is invoked is because it apparently helps some fat people to feel better about their bodies and their place in the world. Similar sentiments are expressed by people with disability, for example, and other groups who identify as different from the mainstream in some way. Because it helps us negotiate a sometimes hostile culture with our dignity intact. Not because we want to impress a lot of thin folks who think we're gross and disesased.
posted by peggynature at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


languagehat: But perhaps you're better qualified to determine what is and isn't a word than lexicographers.

I'll go ahead and skip the fake humbleness: I am, indeed, more qualified, and irregardless is a silly word.

More seriously, we've discussed prescriptivism and descriptivism a bit in the past, so you know I'm basically a prescriptivist, but in a weak form. The way I think of it, the descriptivists always win. Words mean what they are used to mean, and once they reach a certain level of use, almost everybody is OK with them (witness, as you say, how few arguments there are nowadays about the word "television"). The role of us prescriptivists, then, is not to point out how a word is Right or Wrong, but to pretend that words which we really dislike are somehow objectively Wrong, so that people use them less, so that they never hit the critical level where everyone uses them and they become universally accepted "correct" terms. While "irregardless is ungrammatical and illogical" is the kind of argument that doesn't sway linguistics folks like you, y'all aren't the target (except for some misguided souls on MeFi) of our arguments. We aim to confuse and brainwash the less linguistically minded.

In a sense, it's like advertising a campus party: you say it is the biggest party of the year, not because it is the biggest party (perhaps last year it was only the second biggest), but because if enough people believe that and come, then it actually will be the biggest party. You tell people a word is wrong and evil, not because it is, but because if enough people believe that, it actually will be.
posted by Bugbread at 8:52 AM on May 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


I would be a nice, trouble-free poster - a milquetoast, even - if the rules didn't encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia, and sizeism without fear of reprisal or censure.

You've constructed quite a bizarre fantasy of how this place works.
posted by modernnomad at 8:59 AM on May 18, 2009


An honest man at last! Now I can put down this lantern and go have some lunch.
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on May 18, 2009


Er, that last comment was to bugbread. Damn, you people type fast. [NOT TYPEIST]
posted by languagehat at 9:02 AM on May 18, 2009


(dude, you're from the south, how could you not like pecan? you're a pie-traitor!)

Don't like pecans and it looks like burnt diarrhea. Smells nice, but you know who else smelled nice, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 AM on May 18, 2009


"I think the missing link in your argument is the fact that a lot of fat people refuse to identify their fatness as a disease. So, no, it's not exactly like having cirrhosis pride or bone cancer pride. It's more similar, philosophically, to terms like "Black is beautiful" or "Gay pride" or whathaveyou."

No, I understood that, but I was working from the two far-edge cases: the "fat people are fat entirely because of their own moral failings", which results in fat shame, but not fat acceptance or fat pride, versus the other far end "fat people are fat for reasons entirely out of their own control", which results in neither fat shame nor fat pride, but in fat acceptance. I just meant that from both of the sides primarily represented in this discussion, "fat pride" makes little sense. I didn't mean my examples to be exhaustive.

"You may not understand it or agree with it, but that's not what's important."

I don't want to sound really argumentative here, so please don't read any harshness into this, but: that's a bit of an odd statement. There is no absolute importance to either position here. What's important to you is different for what is important to me. To me, what is important is precisely whether I understand something or not, and whether I consider it logically consistent or not (regardless of whether I agree with it or not).
posted by Bugbread at 9:04 AM on May 18, 2009


Heh, I read that as "put down this intern and go have some lunch."

NOTE TO SELF: Stop drinking gin at work.
posted by Mister_A at 9:08 AM on May 18, 2009


Wow. Helluva thread.

I read the whole thing with interest as I have grown by four dress sizes in the past five years (sedentary lifestyle and crap diet) and I'm beginning to make the changes necessary to reverse that.

This thread has brought three things to my attention:

1. Ms. Saint's depiction of the self-hatred/overeating/shame cycle is spot on, and I'll probably come back to it more than once, for perspective.
2. Five Fresh Fish is my hero, as I know the key change for me is also a serious increase in purposeful activity.
3. I never, ever want to be like Hat Maui. In fact, I never, ever want to be near Hat Maui.
posted by headnsouth at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Smells nice, but you know who else smelled nice, right?

general sherman?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't like pecans and it looks like burnt diarrhea.

To think I used to respect you, Brandon Blatcher.
posted by ODiV at 9:11 AM on May 18, 2009


People who don't like pecan pie are welcome to come hang out with me, as long as they bring a pecan pie with them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is one great mail order pecan pie. If you like that sort of thing.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:23 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey that reminds me, it's nearly time for the Portland Pecan Pie Party!
posted by Mister_A at 9:24 AM on May 18, 2009


The funny part is that we have a three story tall pecan tree. We found this out last year when it literally rained pecans all summer. It got so bad, squirrels moved in under the house, free loading fuckers. You want to talk about fat, those furry bastards gorged themselves all winter.

You ever tried to cut a lawn full of pecans? It was like 'Nam, but nuttier.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:35 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know this is incredibly late, but I wish everyone, be they fat-haters, acceptance-advocates, disinterested observers, whatever -- everyone -- would read this most excellent essay penned by Monique (she of Mopie.com and, more recently Big Fat Deal): "What it's Like."

I read that years ago and it has never, never left me.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:39 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


You ever tried to cut a lawn full of pecans?

Actually, when I'd visit my grandparents, it was my job to pick them up. For some reason that seemed like fun when I was 8. Fortunately, they live in Florida now and someone else cuts their grass.
posted by desjardins at 9:43 AM on May 18, 2009


Now that I better understand what desjardins meant as opposed to what she said, I can let bygones be bygones.

As for comparing pecan pie to "burnt diarrhea", I should tell you that I already have the tar hot and the feathers ready. I can also see the glow of torches and glint of freshly sharpened pitchforks coming from yonder hill.

I suggest you repent your wicked blasphemy. Quickly.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2009


I'd like to credit P.o.B.'s (unobjectionable to me, fwiw) use of the word "irregardless" in this comment upthread for inspiring a chain of thought that has lead me to spending the last two days doing this:

A survey of "irregardless" use and response on Metafilter.

I'll point out that my thought at the time was, "huh, I bet someone says something about that. In fact, damn, it seems like someone always says something about that. Well, not always, but, well, huh. How often, exactly?"

And now I know. And in the mean time y'all got in an argument about it, which was a nice touch.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


shiu mai baby: See, here's what I don't understand. Why is it cool for the author to also make judgments about people's bodies when that's what she's decrying? Examples:

Your thin friend breaks up with someone and you don't really feel sorry for her. [...] the skinny girl can have whoever she wants. (note: objectively not true)

Nicole Kidman looks like a chicken.

Now, I know that 99% of judgments about weight are against fat people rather than thin. It doesn't make either OK. I am not saying poor me, and I certainly don't want to make this thread any more about me than it became overnight, but I've been told that I'm skin and bones, I must be anorexic, why don't I eat more, I eat like a bird, people "hate" me because I'm skinny, etc., and I don't see how that's any more OK than judging a fat person for their size.
posted by desjardins at 9:54 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


cortex is good at internet.
posted by Mister_A at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2009


> cortex is good at internet insanely detailed parsing of insanely trivial stuff.

And that's why we love him!
posted by languagehat at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2009


Well, that and his pecan pies. I love lemon meringue best of all, but I won't turn down a slice of pecan. (Shoo-fly pie, now, that stuff is over the top.)
posted by languagehat at 10:07 AM on May 18, 2009


MetaFilter: Insanely Detailed Parsing of Insanely Trivial Stuff.
posted by Mister_A at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2009


You can't start a sentence with and!

what?
posted by ODiV at 10:08 AM on May 18, 2009


I'm not referring to this particular thread as trivial! Please don't hunt me down! Also, it's National Exclamation Point Day!
posted by Mister_A at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2009


Gad. Zooks.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:10 AM on May 18, 2009


This was mostly directed towards Brandon Blatcher, who seems to hate pecan pie irregardless of the incontrovertible evidence of its awesomeness.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:12 AM on May 18, 2009


wow, so this thread is pretty awesome, huh?

I know we've moved on quite a bit from the comments I'm going to respond to (and yes, I've read the whole thread.) but I wanted to address them anyway:

i was very annoyed by WALL-E and thought the fat hate in that movie ruined an otherwise adorable little love story.

out of curiosity, what fat hate? there's no hate in that movie whatsoever, towards anything. I've never in my life seen a movie that had so much love to share. yes, there were fat people in it, and yes the movie was pretty clearly depicting a future of nearly crippling obesity species wide due to sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits. on the other hand, those same people (with a little help from a robot) fell in love at first sight, saved themselves from imprisonment and are about to rebuild a better earth. if WALL-E is a movie full of fat hate, what on earth would one full of fat love looked like? should humanity have had no fat people despite living entirely sedentary lifestyles in space? should humanity have remained fat but had everyone admiring each others' physiques and sharing over-eating tips? what should they have done in that movie to address modern american over-consumption and unhealthy eating and environmental destruction that would have been less fat-hatey? or is it that they shouldn't have tried to discuss the obesity problem at all? I don't want to sound like I'm trying to get on your case personally, and if I come across that way I'm sorry, but it really sounds to me like - in the particular instance of this movie - you're being a bit over sensitive.

but the whole narrative about the obesity "epidemic" is quite clearly a case of moral panic.

why is it clearly a case of moral panic? and bear in mind that I'm asking this because there are studies and data that back up the epidemic and I've never seen any that back up your claim of a moral panic, so I'm asking for hard data here.

So I think the issue boils down to: is it okay to be disgusted with the way fat people look?
posted by fleacircus at 10:06 AM on May 16


yes it is. as so many have said, however, it's not okay to treat them differently because of it.

since people have made the comparison to smokers, I'll share my feelings as a smoker. I've met a lot of people who are disgusted by smokers, and some were presumably disgusted by me in particular for being one. That's their business and not mine. Anyone who felt the need to tell me, however, how they felt about my smoking has always been treated to a hearty "fuck off" and if they persisted were given more direct reasons to do so immediately.

and that's the important distinction. what people think is their business, and they are as susceptible to external and internal pressures to feel that way as fat people are to external and internal pressures to eat a certain number of calories or resist certain amounts of exercise or whatever. people can affect the way they think and behave, but our feelings and reactions to things are complicated and stem from many many different sources. we can't just change the way we react to things because someone tells us it's wrong to think a certain way. people are raised to hate themselves for looking a certain way, and that's horrible and wrong. they are also, however, raised to hate others for looking a certain way, and that's equally horrible and wrong. but what's wrong is raising them to feel that way, what's not wrong is being susceptible to societal pressures while being raised. we can't help that, any of us.

what we can help is what we do with those feelings once we're aware of them. I think it's pretty clear, at this point, that there is little to no justification for taking available opportunities to scoff at and belittle any one. There are times when discussing obesity is helpful, but shaming the obese on metafilter is not one of them, and it's certainly not the right tone and direction for discussion no matter where or when you do it.
posted by shmegegge at 10:13 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Desjardins, I didn't read the author of that article in any way condoning or approving of that sort of judgment about Nicole Kidman. Instead, she was just trying to express the type of obsessive, self-destructive and other-hateful thought patterns that you can fall into, if you're fat. I have thought almost those exact types of thoughts that she expresses, and I am ashamed of how hateful it can be. It's a defense mechanism, I guess. If every moment that you're in public, you believe you are being judged as worthless and bad because of your weight, you're going to respond by being equally judgmental about other people's weight. "Yeah, I'm fat. I know I'm fat. But, look at that guy -- he's even fatter than I am! And I know you think that chick over there is better than I am because she's thin, but I bet she's unhealthily thin, dammit."

I have said a lot of stuff in this thread that is very personal. I have said a lot about my habits and my weight that, a few month's ago, I would be far too ashamed to ever tell anyone, even anonymously on the internet. But, I've got to say, it's this that I am the most ashamed about: I can find myself thinking in the exact same way she describes. It's sick, yeah. It's judgmental in all the wrong ways, yeah. And I try to stop it when I notice it.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:14 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


You would never say, "You're so fat, you make me sick" (you might think it, you asshole), to an overweight persons face, but there is absolutely no hesitation for people to say "You are so skinny you make me sick!"

As a former skinny person, I can agree with Desjardins that skinny people are regularly belittled as well. Very in-your-face stuff, too, with everyone nodding and agreeing. No one really thinks that this hurts your feelings for some reason.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nicole Kidman looks like a chicken.

I'd truss it and bone it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:22 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


None of you can argue. You are bad arguers. And I hold as my ultimate proof:

Macadamia Nut Pie is the superior pie. It destroys other pies. No other pie can defend.

The next meet up I will bring one of my mom's macadamia nut pies. You will make me your king and worship as a god.
posted by tkchrist at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


You would never say, "You're so fat, you make me sick" (you might think it, you asshole), to an overweight persons face, but there is absolutely no hesitation for people to say "You are so skinny you make me sick!"

I've heard assholes say both of those things, actually. It's nasty crap in either case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:25 AM on May 18, 2009


Re: this thread. Here.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:30 AM on May 18, 2009


Hey, while we're at it, you know what I used to not could stand? When people would sort of brush me off with, "Oh, you're a brain. Of course you would know that." And I'm like, no, the reason I know that is I studied molecular biology for many years. Not every smart person knows a lot about cell-surface glycoconjugates, idiot! And they're all like, LOL ur a nerd!

But now I like it. If someone labels me as "smart" to be insulting or dismissive, I say "Damn right. You know who else was smart? Atilla the Hun. He played polo with the heads of his defeated enemies." And then my interlocutor generally decides that I'm an asshole. I can live with that, now.
posted by Mister_A at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2009


I've heard assholes say both of those things, actually.

That's a weird image.
posted by found missing at 10:32 AM on May 18, 2009


I just read this whole thread, hooray!

And now I want to say that my acceptance of fat people is directly correlated with how much they can squat.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:34 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


desjardins, I don't think that's what she's saying at all. I think it's more that, as a culture -- and especially so in American culture -- we are absolutely obsessed with something as shallow and meaningless as appearance. It's a nasty cycle we've gotten ourselves into, and yeah, judging someone as being "too thin" or comments that someone like Lindsey Lohan should just "eat a cookie already" are just as deplorable as those who sneer at an overweight person for eating a McDonald's hamburger (maybe it was all they could afford; maybe it was the only thing available; maybe they just fucking wanted a hamburger).

In other words: When you're fed a steady diet (har har) of being told that you are no good/you're lazy/you have no self-control/you are unsexy and unworthy of love -- all that bullshit that's been hashed to death already upthread -- solely because of how much you weigh, it's all too easy to let that incredibly destructive narrative to inform your own thought process. It doesn't make it ok, of course it doesn't; but acknowledging its existence isn't the same thing as an endorsement, either.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:35 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got a lot of "you're so skinny" comments. I hated it too.

But that is also PRECISELY why I don't cast dispersion on people for appearance, and it is PRECISELY why I know it may not be under people's control. Because -- well, shit, I knew that while some underweight people were deliberately not eating well or not eating at all, I knew that certainly wasn't true in my case -- so hey, maybe the same was true of overweight people, where maybe some of them were, like me, trying to actively change that state and it just plain wasn't working?

Also, eople in here have said that "oh but I have a friend who complains about how they can't lose weight but then they get the Supersize value meal and blah blah blah." I would say that your issue is not with "the dishonesty of overweight people", I would say that your issue is with "the dishonesty of your friend in particular." In either case, it's an issue with dishonesty, not obesity. Dishonesty itself always sucks.

Wait, unless it's in the service of keeping a surprise birthday party secret or something like that.

Um.

Okay, absolutism sucks. There.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on May 18, 2009


Also, Ms. Saint types a hell of a lot faster than I do.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2009


What pecan pie lovers DON'T want you to know.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:47 AM on May 18, 2009


midnight skulker - This is one great mail order pecan pie. If you like that sort of thing.

I didn't think I liked pecan pie, until I had a piece of that...well, "pie" doesn't do it justice. "Gift from the gods" seems more appropriate, but just thinking about it means an extra hour at the gym tonight.
posted by malocchio at 10:49 AM on May 18, 2009


Cortex, I have never heard anyone say that to an overweight person.

Perhaps I just surround myself with exceptionally nice people, but "skinny bashing" is A-ok with just about everyone. People just don't realize that they are insulting you, even as they actually sneer while they say it.

Asking if you are anorexic is another gem. Makes you want to eat a deep fried double mayo sandwich.

I don't have that issue anymore (too many of those mayo sandwiches) but I have a friend who is extremely slim and she is brought to tears by comments like this.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:51 AM on May 18, 2009


I'm with you, ludwig_van.

"Stronger people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general."
posted by Loto at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2009


Now, I know that 99% of judgments about weight are against fat people rather than thin. It doesn't make either OK. I am not saying poor me, and I certainly don't want to make this thread any more about me than it became overnight, but I've been told that I'm skin and bones, I must be anorexic, why don't I eat more, I eat like a bird, people "hate" me because I'm skinny, etc., and I don't see how that's any more OK than judging a fat person for their size.
posted by desjardins at 12:54 PM on May 18 [+] [!]

This isn't going to make either of us popular, but you can have an amen on this one, sister. The double standard is real, and shitty. On the internet, I've been amazed at how, say, a place like jezebel.com is all "beauty at any size", "no body snarking allowed or you're banned", etc....until a photo of a thin model/celebrity/etc. makes the front page and then it's all (these are quotes), "her pointy hip bones just made me vomit in my mouth" and, "I can tell the difference between someone who's supposed to be skinny, and someone who's skinny because they're mentally ill, just by looking." God forbid you mention that this is hurtful and hypocritical, because then you get the non-answer, "BUT IT'S WORSE TO BE FAT! YOU'VE GOT SKINNY PRIVILEGE!" Yes, it's worse to be fat. It's still not OK for you to call me or someone who shares my shape "disgusting", "obviously mentally ill," "unwomanly," etc.

In real life, I have gone out of my way to be "that friend" who was always there to reassure (genuinely; I really do think women can be attractive at any size and have photographed nudes from slim to full-figured) larger women that they were beautiful, feminine, etc. After many years of this, I've soured a bit as I've realized that at least half of these women were true "frenemies" to their "skinny bitch" friends like myself: at the same time I (and others) were reassuring them of how beautiful they were, complimenting them on outfits, flattering haircuts, etc., they were the most ruthlessly critical and nasty women I knew in terms of calling thinner friends "butterfaces", "mannish looking", never complimenting anyone else dressed up for a girls' night out, gossiping about who was "aging badly", "slutty" or "desperate", etc.

The last straw? When I realized that, within a few years and a few different social circles, I had heard a few different women savaged for gaining weight that took them from a size 4 or 6 (i.e. very thin, by US standards) to a size 10 (i.e. still thin, by US standards). And who were ridiculing and shaming these women behind their backs? Was it:

a) skinny bitches
b) men (gay or straight)
c) "the media"
d) "society"
e) women who were size 18-22's?

If you guessed "e", then you know that the call is coming from inside the house, ladies. I know for myself, when I've worried about gaining 10 pounds over a long, carb-filled winter, it's not the men or other thin women I'm worried about having something nasty to say about it.
posted by availablelight at 11:02 AM on May 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


FYI, I've been teased for appearance-related issues that have nothing to do with weight (and can't be fixed by any amount of surgery etc), so being called skinny or anorexic has really been the least of my concerns.

I would say that your issue is not with "the dishonesty of overweight people", I would say that your issue is with "the dishonesty of your friend in particular." In either case, it's an issue with dishonesty, not obesity. Dishonesty itself always sucks.

Upon reflection, my original comment was a misguided drive-by. I do believe what I said, but this was an inappropriate thread in which to express it. I think that at some level my thought process was along the lines of "Hmm, this thread is about Topic X. What is my experience with Topic X? My anecdote, let me show you it" even though it added nothing of value to the conversation. I've been trying not to do that in other threads, and my better judgment escaped me here.
posted by desjardins at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the internet, I've been amazed at how, say, a place like jezebel.com is all "beauty at any size", "no body snarking allowed or you're banned", etc....until a photo of a thin model/celebrity/etc. makes the front page and then it's all (these are quotes), "her pointy hip bones just made me vomit in my mouth" and, "I can tell the difference between someone who's supposed to be skinny, and someone who's skinny because they're mentally ill, just by looking."

May god forgive me for defending Jezebel after the recent SUPRIZE BUTTSECKS debacle, but in all fairness, the commenters who snark on the body shape of any celebrity, be they super-skinny/average/fat-by-hollywood-standards are the ones who are, almost invariably, called out by the editors in their Worst Comment of the Day feature. The editors are pretty damned clear that comments of that nature are not acceptable on their site.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to come back in to emphasize this earlier comment by dydecker:

...the recent BBC Horizon series 'Why Are Thin People Not Fat?'

It's available on BBC iPlayer and YouTube. It's worth watching


I went over and checked it out--it's a six-part series on YouTube, and I highly recommend watching at the very least the first and the sixth segments.

The first segment explains the purpose of the study, in which a number of very thin people (average wait was 63 kilos or 138 pounds) were made to eat 5000 calories of food daily, taking no exercise, for four weeks, with the goal of having them gain 15% body fat. If they gained more they would be thrown out, as the researcher said it "wouldn't be ethical".

The motivation behind the study was this idea, which came about from earlier research and was highly controversial even then, that the body might have a 'set point' for weight, or a specific weight it feels is 'right', and that this set point varies from individual to individual, and is a determinant, if not the determining factor, in how each person deals with changes in diet and exercise.

The sixth segment explains the results. Quick summary: you'd expect that the weight gain would be the same across the board. In fact, not only did some gain more weight than others on the same diet, with only two coming close to the 15% expected weight gain, one man didn't even gain fat. His base metabolism sped up and he put on muscle mass. They don't know why.

All of the participants were thin from childhood, and that apparently makes a huge difference--apparently, the more fat cells you put on early in life, the harder it is to lose weight, because you can never get rid of those fat cells, so thin children have an advantage later.

The participants all reported being able to lose the weight (a few said openly that it took no conscious effort at all on their part) within a few weeks after the study. Their bodies reverted to what, for them, was their "set point" weight.

Also included is another study where obese people were put on a starvation diet, with constant monitoring in a secure facility, to lose 10% of their body weight. They were then given the precise amount of calories to sustain them at their resultant weight. They reported feeling as if they were hungry all the time, and in fact their bodies reacted as if they were still starving. The researchers determined that, for these people, the body had a "set weight" of the original obese weight, where it felt comfortable, and so tricked them into feeling as if they were starving so that it could get back to that weight.

Just amazing. At 10 minutes long, those two segments alone are definitely worth time out of your day to watch, to have a better understanding about this whole subject. I would really advocate watching all of them, if you can (of course, they do a much better job explaining all of this than I have done here).
posted by misha at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've been trying not to do that in other threads, and my better judgment escaped me here.

Too much pecan pie obviously. It's got the devil in it, impairs judgement. Be careful!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:30 AM on May 18, 2009


desjardins, your classy conduct on MetaFilter is kind of wrecking the curve for guys like me.
posted by Mister_A at 11:40 AM on May 18, 2009


"You're still not getting it. The word is not "dumb" in any sense except that you don't like it, and the reason you don't like it is that you were once told it was dumb. Accepting that circular logic as a child is inevitable; accepting it as an adult is, well, dumb. You do not address my point that irregardless is constructed in exactly the same way as inflammable; that's probably because you can't, so you fall back on repeating "dumb" and "dull" as if they were arguments. Like I said, bigotry."

I get it; I disagree.

Regarding the circularity of the argument—the link between sounds and meaning is inherently arbitrary. There's no reason that "cat" means cat and not dog. It's socially constructed. You don't call your mother "fat cunt," that's socially constructed. Trying to argue that because something is socially constructed that it is meaningless is bullshit. I haven't bothered with your inflammable because a) you're wrong, they aren't constructed the same way if you're talking about prefixes, and b) it doesn't matter.

I am also bigoted against white people who call black people "nigger," an obviously more extreme case of social construction and disapproval. You can stamp your foot and spit your dummy over that if you like, but retreating to "bigotry" is dumb and dull.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pecan pie is vile. Why not just cut out the middleman and guzzle Karo syrup straight from the bottle? Lemon meringue pie is yummy, as pies go, but in our flawed and debased reality, peach cobbler is as close as it gets to the Platonic ideal of dessert. This is just fact, people.

On the (ostensible) topic: I was just visiting the folks and while I was there my 10-year-old nephew topped 200 pounds. He's a big kid, 5'6" or so, but still... He was so, so upset after he got off the scale. He gets teased, he can't climb three flights of stairs without getting winded, his pediatrician has said he's at risk for Type II diabetes. His dad (my brother) and stepmom know it's a problem; so do my parents. Totally not glandular; he eats too much, most of it crap, and he spends too much time on Wii and the DS. The grownups have made all sort of abortive attempts directed at him ("Get him a Wii-Fit! Order this online diet!") but of course, that doesn't work. In order to make the changes necessary to help him develop better eating and exercise habits, the whole extended family would have to change the way they eat, what they buy, their entire attitude toward food—and that ain't happening.

It's hard to watch, especially after reading all the comments from MeFites describing lifelong struggles with their weight. When asked, I make suggestions or offer ideas but really, about all I can do is love him, and them. And worry.
posted by dogrose at 11:51 AM on May 18, 2009


All of the participants were thin from childhood, and that apparently makes a huge difference--apparently, the more fat cells you put on early in life, the harder it is to lose weight, because you can never get rid of those fat cells, so thin children have an advantage later..

Interesting, did they say why you couldn't get rid of those cells?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2009


Upon reflection, my original comment was a misguided drive-by

desjardins, as the poster who was most critical of your comment (and judging by how some people reacted to my criticism, the most "unhinged"), i want to thank you for acknowledging this. believe me, i didn't really want to get bogged down in obsessive critique of your comment, but i wasn't going to back down just because some posters kept insisting that there was nothing wrong there. for the record, i don't think you're a bad person and never did, i just thought that was a particularly unhelpful comment from someone who i wouldn't expect to make such a comment.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:53 AM on May 18, 2009


Well, believe me, I was all "what the HELL" when I woke up this morning and saw this thread, so I'm glad we can all hug each other now and eat pie. Except for Brandon, who can sit in a corner and think about the error of his pie-eating ways.
posted by desjardins at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2009


All of the participants were thin from childhood, and that apparently makes a huge difference--apparently, the more fat cells you put on early in life, the harder it is to lose weight, because you can never get rid of those fat cells, so thin children have an advantage later..

Interesting, did they say why you couldn't get rid of those cells?


No, and I have to say I wondered at that, too--for instance, if these people had liposuction, which of course is a serious medical procedure and not something I'm suggesting for a minute they should because of all the risks, etc., associated with that, but if--would that get rid of those fat cells? I feel very ignorant on that whole aspect of it.
posted by misha at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2009


I have heard that liposuction + regaining weight= increased visceral fat deposition (very bad), but it seems pretty anecdotal at this point.
posted by Mister_A at 12:04 PM on May 18, 2009


I recall reading once that you can never get rid of fat cells, period. that all you can do is to sort of "deflate" them. does anyone know if I'm remembering correctly, or am I totally wrong?
posted by shmegegge at 12:08 PM on May 18, 2009


I've heard that too, shmegegge. It seems to be the conventional wisdom, don't know how well substantiated it is though.
posted by Mister_A at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2009


Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans
Although we cannot rule out that a more prolonged period of weight gain in adulthood could result in an increase in adipocyte number, these results and ours indicate that fat cell number is largely set by early adulthood and that changes in fat mass in adulthood can mainly be attributed to changes in fat cell volume. This may indicate that the number of adipocytes is set by early adulthood with no subsequent cell turnover. Alternatively, the generation of adipocytes may be balanced by adipocyte death, with the total number being tightly regulated and constant.

--

There's some more speculation in there as to why, if you really want more information.
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:16 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you really want someone you love lose weight, stop telling them to stop eating ice cream and start helping them love and appreciate themselves, their love of ice cream and all.

Everything Ms Saint has said so far, with sugar on top. I had to go out and buy clothes that fit for reals, and not put any food on the off-limits list, in order to lose ~60 pounds. (Hit my goal last spring, so far so good!)

I don't have a medical condition, in fact I was an underweight child/teen; I just had 10+ years of sedentary work, a few bouts of depression, some ongoing fairness issues, and life with a guy 6" taller than me. (Splitting treats evenly doesn't work in my favor, weight-wise.) I'm not going to go on blah blah blah about my weight loss, although I've written about it in AskMe a few times. Just have to say that weight issues are freaking complicated. A best buddy actually does have a thyroid disorder (he had a heart attack, spent a few weeks in a coma, and ended up suing his previous doctor!), but he had other stuff to deal with before he lost 200+ pounds.

As far as the science goes, I really enjoyed Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Definitely brain-bending. Also, the National Weight Control Registry has ongoing research into how people lose weight & keep it off. I've got the paperwork in my bag to fill out & send in; that was one of my personal goals in all this. :)

Look, we're visual creatures. We react to the way other people look, at least in our own heads. The key difference is whether you're a jerk about it.
posted by epersonae at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2009


Also, mmmmm, pie. (Esp pumpkin, cherry, pecan, or lemon meringue, but I'm an equal-opportunity pie-eater.)
posted by epersonae at 12:48 PM on May 18, 2009


availablelight: If you guessed "e", then you know that the call is coming from inside the house, ladies. I know for myself, when I've worried about gaining 10 pounds over a long, carb-filled winter, it's not the men or other thin women I'm worried about having something nasty to say about it.

I am truly sorry that you've experience such assholishness. Honestly. But also, I'd be very grateful if you could not project your own anecdotal dealings with said assholes on, you know, all overweight women.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:00 PM on May 18, 2009


But also, I'd be very grateful if you could not project your own anecdotal dealings with said assholes on, you know, all overweight women.

...except I wasn't, if you read a bit more carefully. But it's happened often enough (i.e. not all overweight women are like that, but virtually all of the most vicious practitioners of girl-on-girl crime I've met over the last 10 years or so--who have said nasty, "lookist" things about my appearance, or my friends' weight gain as well--have been 50-100 pounds overweight) that I've grown sour on the double standard. Having the experience of being instantly disliked or the target of catty remarks about my appearance, clothing, hair, etc. just because of what my body looks like, regardless of my conduct or what I'm like on the inside, has really sucked too--maybe that's something we can all identify with.
posted by availablelight at 1:14 PM on May 18, 2009


ignignokt: You have no idea who I am or what I do. What you said is presumptious and has nothing to do with what I said. If I needed those kinds of answers I would go to AskMe.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 PM on May 18, 2009


maybe it was all they could afford; maybe it was the only thing available; maybe they just fucking wanted a hamburger

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same.

One of these things explains what happened to the USA. Maybe they just fucking wanted a shiney new monster home. Maybe they just fucking wanted the new SUV with the bling. Maybe they just fucking wanted a 30% ROI. Maybe they just fucking wanted it.

Maybe that's the fucking problem.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:40 PM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, GOT IT, America bad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sorry, a sense of frustration with people's sense of entitlement carried over from other browsing. I had said I left. My bad. Mods delete at will.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:08 PM on May 18, 2009


Have a slice of apple pie, that'll make anyone feel good.

Anyone civilized.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on May 18, 2009


But the problem, availablelight, is that you go out of your way in both of your post to point out the size of the women who are being horrible to you. You hammer away that the nasty comments were, without exception coming from "women who were size 18-22," and that "virtually all of the most vicious practitioners of girl-on-girl crime I've met over the last 10 years or so...have been 50-100 pounds overweight" and that "it's not the men or other thin women I'm worried about having something nasty to say about [your own weight gain.]"

So what's your point? Why does it matter that these people were fat? Fat people are hypocrites for decrying the nasty, judgmental things that our society says about them? Fat people deserve every bit of the shit they get, because they dish it out just as much?

The point I'm trying to make here is that those people who were jerks to you are that way because they are assholes, and their size has nothing to do with that. I would take a million dollar bet that they would be just as cruel if they were size 2 or size 22. Their fatness is not their character flaw; it's their lack of empathy and compassion, and their inability to judge someone without looking at their BMI that makes them lousy human beings.
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:31 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, women from sizes 18-22 really especially suck! Lucky for all of you "skinny bitches" I am holding on at 16 (and soooo ready to turn around and go back down to 12) or it might be Hullllk Smaaaaash!

And as for the "too skinny" sizeism,

I don't see how that's any more OK than judging a fat person for their size.

It's not okay to judge, but I don't know if teasing and judging are the same thing. Do skinny people get passed over for opportunities? I'm dubious. The teasing is a pure expression of plain and simple jealousy and should come as no surprise. If you're "too skinny," people tell you so because they envy the process by which you could seek to remedy the problem, because it's remedied by doing something universally pleasurable. I mean, are there people who don't like trying to gain weight, eating bricks of cheese and pints of beer with big hunks of crusty bread? It sounds kind of heavenly, to me.

Still, there's almost never a reason to tell someone else their business, that they're too this or too that. It should be seen as rude, and the popular pastime of gabbing about weight and looks makes it normative but it's still stupid and déclassé.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:33 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


For those looking for resources on the effects of drastic dietary changes on people of varying weights, I cannot recommend highly enough The Great Starvation Experiment.

In 1944, the US government wanted to find out what the effects of severe starvation were likely to be on the residents of war-torn Europe, particularly those who were being held in concentration camps. The goal of the study was to determine what kinds of health problems starving people were likely to experience and the best way to re-feed them back to optimal health.

The 36 men in the experiment, all of whom were conscientious objectors who volunteered for the study, were within the "normal" weight range for their heights at the start of the experiment. During the starvation phase, they were fed around 1,600 calories a day (many modern weight-loss diets prescribe fewer calories than that), which was designed to produce a loss of up to 25% of total body weight. These men volunteered out of patriotism to participate in what is today considered to be a fairly reasonable weight-loss regime.

The results were pretty astonishing. Participants in the study experienced depression, obsession with food, fatigue, an almost total loss of libido, declines in cognitive function, lower body temperatures, and exhaustion. Some subjects exhibited behavior common among anorexics, including obsessive gum chewing and edema from overconsumption of water. One subject became delusional and cut off three of his own fingers with an axe.

The study is not by any means an indication that anyone who eats 1,600 calories a day will go nuts, or that dieting is impossible. But it does offer evidence that depriving one's body of the calories it demands has consequences and is difficult to sustain long-term.

I am above the weight that the BMI charts say is ideal for my height, and I don't like pie. At all. I like fruit and nuts, and I like dessert, but I hold a strong belief that fruit and nuts should never be ingredients in dessert.
posted by decathecting at 2:46 PM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Damn it, the preview didn't post-- a paragraph is missing.

It should read:

these results and ours indicate that fat cell number is largely set by early adulthood and that changes in fat mass in adulthood can mainly be attributed to changes in fat cell volume. This may indicate that the number of adipocytes is set by early adulthood with no subsequent cell turnover.

On the other hand:

Virus-induced obesity

THE HUMAN ADENOVIRUS-36 (Ad-36) was first described in 1980, about the time that the prevalence of obesity began to increase (15). Prevalence of obesity increased by 30% between 1980 and 1990 and by 61% between 1990 and 2000 with no indication that this increase is lessening (12). The reason for this epidemic increase in obesity is not clear, but dietary changes, such as an increase in dietary fructose derived from corn syrup (2), increased food intake (10), and decreased physical activity (11) have all been suggested as potentially playing a role. Infectious agents such as viruses are another possible contributing factor (3).


Support for Ad-36 being a contributor to the obesity epidemic has been accumulating over several years. Ad-36 has been shown to cause obesity in chickens, mice, and nonhuman primates (4, 5, 8). Obese humans have a higher prevalence of serum neutralizing antibodies to Ad-36 (30%) than lean humans (11%), and the antibody-positive obese or nonobese subjects are heavier compared with their antibody negative counterparts (1). Similarly, when human twins are discordant for antibodies to Ad-36 antibodies, the antibody-positive twin has a higher body mass index ....

The mechanism by which Ad-36 causes obesity has been explored. Ad-36 accelerates differentiation of preadipocytes to adipocytes in 3T3-L1 cells, and this has been confirmed in human preadipocytes, as well (14). When the open reading frame E4orf1 from the Ad-36 virus was inserted into 3T3-L1 cells, C/EBP-{beta}, PPAR{gamma}-2, and glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase were all stimulated compared with the control 3T3-L1 cells, suggesting that the viral gene E4orf1 is responsible for the stimulation of adipocyte differentiation (9).


In other words, this virus does increase your number of fat cells.

You can get most adenoviruses multiple times, too, so you could potentially gain bunches of new fat cells from Ad-36 over a period of years.

Caddis made a very nice post about all this just this January, resulting in a 300+ comment thread. If I'm the first to refer to that... why?
posted by jamjam at 3:10 PM on May 18, 2009


I mean, are there people who don't like trying to gain weight, eating bricks of cheese and pints of beer with big hunks of crusty bread? It sounds kind of heavenly, to me.

Depends on the cheese, the beer, and the bread. In general those items and the sub-par quality you typically find in America eaten together would make me puke.
posted by tkchrist at 3:11 PM on May 18, 2009


Hey, jamjam, good catch. Actually, the 5th segment of the BBC Why Are Thin People Not Fat? talks about that virus.
posted by misha at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2009


But the problem, availablelight, is that you go out of your way in both of your post to point out the size of the women who are being horrible to you.

Yeah, I admit it: I think it's especially repulsive to make fun of my friend who went from a size 4 to a size 10 and gleefully dish about how bloated and awful she looks when you're still 100 pounds heavier than she is. You're shaming someone for their weight gain when you know that no one within earshot will dare say to you, "But she's still 5 sizes smaller than you."

I also think it's poor behavior to mock someone for a "flat chest" and a "mannish figure" when you know they're too kind to make the obvious comeback: they're just 50 pounds away from having your "womanly" size DD's. I guess I don't have patience with the double standard on hurtful remarks.

I also have never, ever, ever heard one of my rail-thin girls comment on ANYONE's weight gain, and yet heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis. And I don't want to hear comments or "jokes" on how sick/gross/unfeminine/etc. I look for being thin when I have genuinely been openminded about my own concept of feminine beauty and would never think to insult someone else's body type.
posted by availablelight at 3:27 PM on May 18, 2009


The study is not by any means an indication that anyone who eats 1,600 calories a day will go nuts, or that dieting is impossible. But it does offer evidence that depriving one's body of the calories it demands has consequences and is difficult to sustain long-term.

Once again the issue is stopping people from getting to the point that drastic calorie restriction is remotely necessary.

On NPR about a few years ago (I think it might have been Science Friday) the head of the CDC was on talking about the state of American (ill) health. It was was shocking.

She was saying that if current trends continue for another decade American life expectancy would begin dropping precipitously. Think about that. If America wasn't already on it's way to being a defacto third world nation in terms of every other comparative healthy society metric we get that last nail in the coffin. Great.

But what pricked my ears was some stat, and I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was something around 30-40 million Americans eat over 4,000 to 6,500 calories a day. The total average for all adults was then around 3,700. The healthy recommendation is between 2,000 and 30,00. Wow. I'd say there is definitely a healthy "consumption" disconnect going on in this country. I wish I could find that show on-line it was pretty amazing. Agreat deal of the problem is of course the preponderance of trans fats and other calorie dense ingredients like sugar/corn syrup in foods which were not there 100 years ago.

Anyway. What bothers me is this anti-science trend to exploit the slightest chink in the armor of a study and run with it like it invalidates medical consensus. It's very much akin to Climate Change deniers tactics. The fact is there is clear consensus in medical science about what is and what is not healthy as far body fat percentages, ie "size." And this idea you can be "healthy at any size" is simply wishful and dangerous misinformation. It's just not true. Now. What causes obesity, like the potential for a virus cited above, much more needs to be studied. But we know what effect obesity has on people in terms of health. And sorry it's not good.
posted by tkchrist at 3:31 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The healthy recommendation is between 2,000 and 30,00.

Heh. Clearly you mean 2-3K.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:35 PM on May 18, 2009


Being overweight, or even obese, makes a person more likely to be diabetic, have heart disease, possibly cancer, bad knees, and a few other medical problems. Fat people take up more seat space in crowded planes, buses, etc. In general, fat people consume more calories than they burn. In some cases there are medical reasons why people are fat. In some cases there are cultural reasons why people are fat.

You see a person, and their size is immediately apparent. Hey, look, across the street, that person is fat, therefore visually repellent, ugly, stupid, lazy, disgusting and I hate that thing.

You look at another person, or we look at you, and there's so much we can't see. Are you mean-spirited? Are you a spendthrift, spending more than you earn, and walking away from your mortgage? Maybe you never give to charity. Maybe you shoplift. Maybe you're just a little too fond of your stepdaughter. Doesn't show. You aren't visually repellent. Good for you.

How about, try to be a better person in your own life, and try to cut people some slack. Maybe you're motivated, disciplined, principled and cool as hell. But, trust me, you never know when fate is going to smack you down. Cut people some slack. It makes you a nicer person, and the whole fucking world needs some niceness. Just a little kindness would make it a lot better all around. Some of it may even come back around to you.
posted by theora55 at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you're "too skinny," people tell you so because they envy...

Maybe sometimes, but more often I think it's motivated by hypersensitivity about eating disorders (specifically, anorexia and bulimia), in which case it's an apt comparison. I've known many more thin women who have to deal regularly with classmates, coworkers, etc. commenting that they should eat more and gain weight, than overweight men or women who are regularly told to eat less or exercise. Obviously that's anecdotal, but the phenomenon exists and I agree with AvailableLight that it seems to be more socially acceptable.
posted by cribcage at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2009


heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis

Oh, go eat an overgeneralization sandwich and a double side of anecdata.

And tkchrist, if you're eating found cheese, I can see why you might be made sick.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:41 PM on May 18, 2009


The last straw? When I realized that, within a few years and a few different social circles, I had heard a few different women savaged for gaining weight that took them from a size 4 or 6 (i.e. very thin, by US standards) to a size 10 (i.e. still thin, by US standards). And who were ridiculing and shaming these women behind their backs?

You are hanging out with the wrong people. I don't think I've heard anyone I know talk about someone's weight (in a "boy, she sure got fat!" kind of way) since junior high.

Anecdatally, the girls who bullied me in junior high were on the skinny side, so maybe "people I know" isn't always the greatest sample.

Also, if there is any apple pie left, I'll take a piece - is there any Cheddar to go with it?
posted by rtha at 3:41 PM on May 18, 2009


I can see what you're saying, availablelight. It sucks that you've gotten derogatory comments in that direction.

However, I dunno, it's a bit of poor form to belabor the point. It's like a rich person being amongst poorer people, then complaining when the poorer people are hyper-aware and hyper-critical about fluctuations of someone's financial state.

It's up to you to tell them to stop being jerks about it, and they can rise above that kind of b.s.. Do you tell them to cut it out?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:41 PM on May 18, 2009


You can skip large portions of the Why Are Thin People Not Fat? documentary. Episode 3 is mostly talking with and watching the study participants eat.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:42 PM on May 18, 2009


I also have never, ever, ever heard one of my rail-thin girls comment on ANYONE's weight gain, and yet heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis. And I don't want to hear comments or "jokes" on how sick/gross/unfeminine/etc. I look for being thin when I have genuinely been openminded about my own concept of feminine beauty and would never think to insult someone else's body type.

a couple of things:

1. what people are objecting to in your comments is evident in this comment, too. You're saying things like "heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis," as though this were a characteristic of fat women, instead of a characteristic of the women you know. it's a sweeping generalization, and entirely anecdotal, and it's probably time you took a step back and gave some real consideration to whether you mean to be tarring an entire group of people with this brush.

1a. give some consideration, by the way, to whether or not people who have been victimized for ANY reason may tend to visit the same victimization on others. what you're describing is not a condition of being overweight.

2. yes, you would think to insult someone else's body type. so would i. so would anyone. we all have thought to do it in our angrier/cattier moments. good on you if you've never actually done it, though. that's the key.

3. the fat women you know have absolutely been the victims of mockery, shaming and derision, even if you haven't seen it happen. further, it's not just at the hands of other fat women. I assure you that plenty of skinny men and women in this world have openly mocked obese men and women to their faces for being overweight, and that every single obese person you know has had more than their fair share of mockery throughout their lives for weighing as much as they do.
posted by shmegegge at 3:45 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was funny watching the participants see all that food in the documentary and feeling overwhelmed. I myself felt sick looking at the spread.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:46 PM on May 18, 2009


Have you seen The Biggest Loser? They do that at the begining of the series with all the participants.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:48 PM on May 18, 2009


I've known many more thin women who have to deal regularly with classmates, coworkers, etc. commenting that they should eat more and gain weight, than overweight men or women who are regularly told to eat less or exercise.

Yeah, but from my experience at least, that is because we fatties are assumed to already know. There's a "you know what you've done" kind of non-confrontational silent treatment which verifies what a huge stigma it is, and though I've called the confrontation of telling someobody they're too fat, thin, tall, whatever, on the other hand, rude, the unspeakble fatness situation isn't helpful to a struggling individual either.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2009


To follow up on that, I think it's more for ZOMG! effect than actual info.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:49 PM on May 18, 2009


1) Genetic diversity is fucking awesome.

2) Pumpkin pie needs more respect.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:06 PM on May 18, 2009


You are hanging out with the wrong people. I don't think I've heard anyone I know talk about someone's weight (in a "boy, she sure got fat!" kind of way) since junior high.

Anecdatally, the girls who bullied me in junior high were on the skinny side, so maybe "people I know" isn't always the greatest sample.

Also, if there is any apple pie left, I'll take a piece - is there any Cheddar to go with it?

posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on May 18 [+] [!]

And I will admit that I no longer hang out with these toxic circles of friends anymore (I've even switched hairdressers), where these kinds of remarks were either tolerated or ignored. (And where it was a no-win situation to confront anyone on this: "Do you really think it's OK to mock Sally based on her weight gain/eye wrinkles/hairloss/etc. when none of us are beauty queens either?" "WHAT?? AVAILABLELIGHT JUST TOOK A POT SHOT AT MY OBESITY HOW DARE SHE THAT SKINNY BITCH"....*sigh*). You wouldn't know this by looking at me, but I was considered quite unattractive for other reasons until relatively late in the game-- I wasn't the skinny girl mocking anyone in middle school or "stealing" male attention away, so to go from invisible to both men and women (and part of the non-judgmental "nerd herd") to a target for a shiv in the back (and to suddenly have ringside seats to hearing women I had been kind to being decidedly unkind towards other women) was quite jarring. And often I just feel like Rodney King stammering, "Can't we all just get along?"

And I'll have a piece of apple pie too. Ala mode.
posted by availablelight at 4:23 PM on May 18, 2009


I have genuinely been openminded about my own concept of feminine beauty and would never think to insult someone else's body type.

Enough, I get it already: you and your skinny friends are the very paragons of virtue and acceptance who have ne'er spoke ill of anyone, and every fattie you've ever encountered is a hateful, judgmental cow. Some of your best friends are unbearably obese, and yet you've pulled from your deep spiritual purity and nobly looked past that which society would shun, only to have your blameless actions thrown back in your face by these bitter overweight women.

Except that virtue you're so danged proud of? Is non-existent, at least based on your behavior in this thread.

You claim that you "don't have patience with the double standard on hurtful remarks," and yet you're incredibly comfortable saying that the only nasty things you've ever heard uttered about someone's body type has only come from those who, by your implication have "no right" to be saying such things because they are "100 pounds heavier" than you and your flawless friends. Why is that any more offensive than if the same obnoxious thing were coming out of the mouth of a 98 pounder? Here's a hint: it's not.

Let me make it plain, because this is the key point that you seem to be willfully ignoring: Any person, be they skinny or fat or medium or 2,000 pounds, is an asshole for snarking on someone else's body shape, regardless of what that shape is. It doesn't fucking matter the shape of the person making the cruel statement.

But you know, you're so absolutely convinced that only fatties make all the rude remarks, so I'm not sure that this conversation can go much farther.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:31 PM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


P.o.B., I didn't presume anything. You said you wanted to empower fat people. Did I misinterpret you?
posted by ignignokt at 4:35 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Enough, I get it already: you and your skinny friends are the very paragons of virtue and acceptance who have ne'er spoke ill of anyone, and every fattie you've ever encountered is a hateful, judgmental cow. Some of your best friends are unbearably obese, and yet you've pulled from your deep spiritual purity and nobly looked past that which society would shun, only to have your blameless actions thrown back in your face by these bitter overweight women.

That's right-- that's exactly what I've said. Because I'm skinny, and skinny women are EEEEVIL. You can tell just by looking at our disgusting, emaciated bodies and the fact that we're all smugly strutting around, simultaneously hogging all the attention and silently judging everyone without any insecurities that might make us empathetic to other women who don't feel perfect.

Or, you know, we could just share this apple pie here and talk about how difficult it is to be a woman, and how often it's other women who hurt us and make us miserable no matter what side of the skinny-fat continuum we're on--not "patriarchy", "men", "society", etc.

We can play "Everybody Hurts" in the background, and argue over which is better on the side, cheddar cheese or ice cream.
posted by availablelight at 4:43 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That sounds kind of lame.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:49 PM on May 18, 2009


who the fuck eats cheddar cheese with PIE?
posted by desjardins at 4:51 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Adolf Hilter ate the shit out of some cheddar cheese on pie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:54 PM on May 18, 2009


Because I'm skinny, and skinny women are EEEEVIL. You can tell just by looking at our disgusting, emaciated bodies and the fact that we're all smugly strutting around, simultaneously hogging all the attention and silently judging everyone without any insecurities that might make us empathetic to other women who don't feel perfect.

Ok, now you're just being obtuse, but whether it's out of genuine denseness or some weird attempt at humor, I'm just not sure. What I am sure of is that I've never once suggested that "skinny women are EEEEVIL," not even close. I keep repeating that size judgments suck regardless of who is making them, but somehow that's just not getting through to you.

how often it's other women who hurt us and make us miserable no matter what side of the skinny-fat continuum we're on

And I could not possibly agree with you more. I mean, hell, one of the most fascinating/frustrating aspects of value judgments based on appearance is that, arguably, women have it about a thousand times harder than men do when it comes to society judging you on how you look, something that has only barely been touched upon in these two related threads.1

The only problem is that this -- at least up until this very moment -- has not been your position.


1 - Think I'm wrong? Let me ask you -- the general you, not you, availablelight -- when was the last time you saw a sitcom that starred a heavyset woman married to a hot dude? How is it even possible that some people were questioning Sotomayor and Kagan's aptitude to be a Supreme Court nominee based on how fat they were? I could go on, but it's a conversation for another thread.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:56 PM on May 18, 2009


who the fuck eats cheddar cheese with PIE?

Vermonsters.

But only with apple pie. I've also been known to eat cheddar cheese just with apples. Sometimes, I'll slice 'em both and put 'em together. If I'm not feeling the whole "getting a clean knife" thing, it's one bite cheese. One bite apple. Repeat.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:00 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only problem is that this -- at least up until this very moment -- has not been your position.

I'm sorry that's how you've been reading my comments. Maybe this would have gone differently in person...or maybe not. I'm happy to have been the strawman you've been looking for in this thread, though.
posted by availablelight at 5:03 PM on May 18, 2009


P.o.B., I didn't presume anything. You said you wanted to empower fat people. Did I misinterpret you?

Yes, in light of the fact you are asking why people needed clarification on the idea between choices, conditions, environment, etc.. You took it upon yourself to move the spotlight from the reasoning and shined it upon an implied back story about the people discussing it. It's like if I said "People should Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle more." Then you sat back and said "Well you should blah blah blah." Therefore indicating not only that I do not know that but also I'm not doing that. You just don't know do you?

I never said "I wanted to empower fat people"

What I said was "I would like to see it as something that is empowering for people." Which would be contrary to the idea of helplessness in the face of "That's the way it is, and I can't change it."
posted by P.o.B. at 5:08 PM on May 18, 2009


when was the last time you saw a sitcom that starred a heavyset woman married to a hot dude?

I always point out the episodes of The Big Bang Theory where Leonard has a hot doctor girlfriend who is also heavyset. The greatest part is, her weight is never, ever a thing and no one even mentions it. She's just a hot brainy chick. The bad part is how shockingly rare that is on television.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:10 PM on May 18, 2009


On NPR about a few years ago (I think it might have been Science Friday) the head of the CDC was on talking about the state of American (ill) health. It was was shocking.

She was saying that if current trends continue for another decade American life expectancy would begin dropping precipitously. Think about that. If America wasn't already on it's way to being a defacto third world nation in terms of every other comparative healthy society metric we get that last nail in the coffin. Great.


please go read this cite: The epidemiology of overweight and obesity: public health crisis or moral panic? that was linked above by peggynature. (also it's worth brushing up on the basics of moral panics).

among the well-substantiated findings in the article:

--In any case the real question is whether these developments represent some sort of genuine health crisis. This is true only if crossing the threshold of BMI 25 or 30 is analogous to contracting a life-threatening disease. But this analogy holds only to the extent that overweight and obesity actually cause increased mortality.

--Except at true statistical extremes, high body mass is a very weak predictor of mortality, and may even be protective in older populations

--the vast majority of people labelled ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ according to current definitions do not in fact face any meaningful increased risk for early death. Indeed the most recent comprehensive analysis of this question within the context of the US population found more premature deaths associated with a BMI of less than 25.

--It is quite possible, and even likely, that higher than average body fat is merely an expression of underlying metabolic processes that themselves may be the sources of the pathologies in question. For example, much evidence suggests that insulin resistance is a product of an underlying metabolic syndrome that also predisposes persons to higher adiposity because compensatory insulin secretion promotes fat storage

--Claim #4: Significant long-term weight loss is a practical goal, and will improve health.

At present, this claim is almost completely unsupported by the epidemiological literature. It is a remarkable fact that the central premise of the current war on fat—that turning obese and overweight people into so-called ‘normal weight’ individuals will improve their health—remains an untested hypothesis. One main reason the hypothesis remains untested is because there is no method available to produce the result that would have to be produced—significant long-term weight loss, in statistically significant cohorts—in order to test the claim


continuing with your comment:
But what pricked my ears was some stat, and I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was something around 30-40 million Americans eat over 4,000 to 6,500 calories a day. The total average for all adults was then around 3,700. The healthy recommendation is between 2,000 and 30,00. Wow

are you really making an argument based on a half-remembered statistic you heard on the radio several years ago? this is not credible argumentation, i'm sorry to inform you.

Anyway. What bothers me is this anti-science trend to exploit the slightest chink in the armor of a study and run with it like it invalidates medical consensus.

that's an interesting way to look at it -- what you call "exploiting the slightest chink in the armor of a study" (an aside: LO fucking L), some of us call "the scientific method."

It's very much akin to Climate Change deniers tactics. The fact is there is clear consensus in medical science about what is and what is not healthy as far body fat percentages, ie "size."

this is manifestly not true. there is a wide range of opinion about that very topic and much of it has been cited in this thread. it's also interesting that you think those that would disagree with your poorly-thought-out take on it are the equivalent of global warming deniers (i don't accept the "climate change" construction).

And this idea you can be "healthy at any size" is simply wishful and dangerous misinformation.

you will have a hard time finding any nutritionist or dietary scientist that will agree with this premise. you are the one who is in denial. your world view is being challenged and you're doing the equivalent of covering your ears and stomping your feet.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:10 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will know share my secret of cheese. Gouda is good. Gouda on apples is absolutely delicioso.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:12 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


who the fuck eats cheddar cheese with PIE?

See what you've been missing by eating that shit called pecan pie?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:15 PM on May 18, 2009


I was putting forth a reason why people want to prove badly that fat people are to blame for their weight. (And "moving the spotlight" is allowed. It's been moved many times.) You offered this:

My answer has nothing to do with any judgmental values that people seem to think equate with the discussion. Admittedly that is what this discussion is about, but at the same time there is chicken & egg conundrum that is bubbling up.

I would like to see it as something that is empowering for people. Plain and simple.


In context, this certainly sounds like you want to prove that fat people are to blame for their situation so that they can be empowered. But apparently, I'm wrong.

If you don't want to prove this to empower them, why do you want to prove it? You don't have to answer, but I am curious as to why you and others are so eager to be able to hold fat people accountable. If it not for their sake, then for whom? If it's just for the sake of scientific truth, then why does it matter whether or not it's empowering?
posted by ignignokt at 5:19 PM on May 18, 2009


I will know share my secret of cheese. Gouda is good. Gouda on apples is absolutely delicioso.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:12 PM on May 18 [+] [!]

Would it be just as good with apple pie, though? I love me some brie with granny smith apples, but don't think I'd love it as much with apple pie.
posted by availablelight at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2009


ignignokt, perhaps you should reread what I wrote. You can deconstruct my sentences however you want, but there is context and a line of thought there. I promise. Your questions, from my viewpoint have already been answered.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:23 PM on May 18, 2009


I'm sorry that's how you've been reading my comments.

Well, since you've raised the topic, let's take a quick look at the playback, shall we? (Bold emphasis all mine, just to make it abundantly clear)

>And who were ridiculing and shaming these women behind their backs? Was it:
[edit] e) women who were size 18-22's?

If you guessed "e", then you know that the call is coming from inside the house, ladies. I know for myself, when I've worried about gaining 10 pounds over a long, carb-filled winter, it's not the men or other thin women I'm worried about having something nasty to say about it.


Point 1: The people shaming your friends were "women who were size 18-22s."
Point 2: You're not worried about "men or other thin women" saying nasty things about you; implication -- the only people who say crap to you are the aforementioned "18-22s"

>virtually all of the most vicious practitioners of girl-on-girl crime I've met over the last 10 years or so--who have said nasty, "lookist" things about my appearance, or my friends' weight gain as well--have been 50-100 pounds overweight.

Point 3: "Virtually all" the perpetrators of girl-on-girl crime and/or those who have judged you based on looks were obese women.

>I also have never, ever, ever heard one of my rail-thin girls comment on ANYONE's weight gain, and yet heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis.

Point 4: You and your "rail-thin" girls never, ever comment on anyone's weight; in your experience that comes solely from the bitter fatties.

So then, after all that, and after my repeating god knows how many times that size judgments suck regardless of the size of the commenter, you backtrack with this:

>how often it's other women who hurt us and make us miserable no matter what side of the skinny-fat continuum we're on.

But up until that last comment -- on which, again, I totally agree with you -- you have given example after example of how the only negative body comments you've ever encountered have come from teh fats.

I mean, you're obviously certain that this whole time you've been making some other, all-inclusive, kumbayah kind of position, but your words seem to indicate otherwise. If I've been reading your comments wrongly, then, do tell: based on what I've quoted above, please let me know how else they should be interpreted? Because it seems rather plainly stated, to me.

Keep your strawman hail-mary, babe. I'm just quoting from (and responding to) the source.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:24 PM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Would it be just as good with apple pie, though?

I don't know. Those two cheeses taste distinctly different. Haven't tried Brie with apples, not that I recall at least.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:25 PM on May 18, 2009


you will have a hard time finding any nutritionist or dietary scientist that will agree with this premise. you are the one who is in denial. your world view is being challenged and you're doing the equivalent of covering your ears and stomping your feet.

Hat wtf.

Not only can I find literally hundreds of well known dietitians, to agree with me I can find thousands of doctors, and the entire CDC to agree with me.

Are you seriously postulating that somebody 5' 2" and 300lbs or with 50% + body fat could be remotely considered to be healthy? Please find me a dietitian and nutritionist that says so.

I got say of al lthe pole in this thread you have been the most shrill and disingenuous just looking for a fight and to shamelessly vent someoutrage.

Have at it bro. You will be ignored.
posted by tkchrist at 5:35 PM on May 18, 2009


I love me some brie with granny smith apples, but don't think I'd love it as much with apple pie.

A tangy sharp and creamy Brie is excellent with apple pie, my friend. Excellent. Cheddar? It has to be extremely sharp.
posted by tkchrist at 5:37 PM on May 18, 2009


Are you seriously postulating that somebody 5' 2" and 300lbs or with 50% + body fat could be remotely considered to be healthy? Please find me a dietitian and nutritionist that says so.

Yes, I'm saying that. And yes, I know dietitians who believe so. I'm not about to post the names of people I know personally on the Internet, but for a start, there's Lucy Aphramor, a dietitian in the UK who fervently believes in and promotes health at every size.

If you're interested in the experiences of larger people, here are some blogs.
posted by peggynature at 5:43 PM on May 18, 2009


The bad part is how shockingly rare that is on television.

Gilmore Girls. Sookie.

Less Than Perfect. Claude. and Ramona. Though Sara Rue (Claude) is now super skinny and ironically not finding work.

There are a few more.

But yeah it's pretty rare considering the opposite of the chubby dude with the hot wife. However the chubby dude is always infantalized as a "man-child" and the wife is pretty much a mother. So not sure it's healthy characterization how ever you look at it.
posted by tkchrist at 5:44 PM on May 18, 2009


I actually have apple pie at home. If someone wants to bring over some cheese, I'll be adventurous.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 PM on May 18, 2009


Yes, I'm saying that. And yes, I know dietitians who believe so. I'm not about to post the names of people I know personally on the Internet, but for a start, there's Lucy Aphramor, a dietitian in the UK who fervently believes in and promotes health at every size.

Well that pretty much goes against all the known science. But I am open to more research.

Like I said before you can also fine a vocal minority of "scientists" who deny Global Warming. So color me very unconvinced.
posted by tkchrist at 5:47 PM on May 18, 2009


She was saying that if current trends continue for another decade American life expectancy would begin dropping precipitously. Think about that. If America wasn't already on it's way to being a defacto third world nation in terms of every other comparative healthy society metric we get that last nail in the coffin. Great.

if i'm shrill, what does this make you?

on what basis do you think i'm being disingenuous? you like to throw a lot of crap out there without substantiation, so if you're going to go ad hominem, maybe you could do me the favor of backing up what you're saying. i won't hold my breath.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:48 PM on May 18, 2009


Does it make me a racist if I am eating some Gouda with a Granny Smith and some crackers?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:48 PM on May 18, 2009


So color me very unconvinced.

tkchrist, did you even peep at that link in my comment? will you please do so for the sake of discourse, and i'll look at any links you'd like me to? that way we can actually have a discussion that's supported by facts instead of rancor disguised as self-righteous certainty.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:50 PM on May 18, 2009


Not if the Gouda was from brown cows.
posted by tkchrist at 5:50 PM on May 18, 2009


versus the other far end "fat people are fat for reasons entirely out of their own control", which results in neither fat shame nor fat pride, but in fat acceptance. I just meant that from both of the sides primarily represented in this discussion, "fat pride" makes little sense.

Other people have physical characteristics (like skin colour, or sexual orientation) that they consider to be outside their control. Does this mean there is no place for "pride" movements among those people?

I don't think so.
posted by peggynature at 5:51 PM on May 18, 2009


But don't you realize fat is unhealthy?

tkchrist, read that link if you're at all open to having your beliefs challenged. i dare you. you're not afraid of a little new information, are you?
posted by Hat Maui at 5:52 PM on May 18, 2009


She was saying that if current trends continue for another decade American life expectancy would begin dropping precipitously.

I guess we'll have to see what actually happens in another decade, then. That's a very easy statement to make -- anyone can say that something shocking is going to occur in ten years without needing any evidence to back them up.

Because recent anhalyses on life expectancy show that it is increasing.
posted by peggynature at 5:54 PM on May 18, 2009


Last Sept from the ADA

Statistics show nutrition and diet are associated with seven of the top 10
leading causes of death in the United States, including the "Big Three" --
heart disease, cancer and stroke. A century ago, she noted, the leading causes
of death were bacterial and viral diseases.

posted by P.o.B. at 5:57 PM on May 18, 2009


I assume you all know who used to like eating Grossmutter Schmidt Apfeln mit Gouda?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:59 PM on May 18, 2009



The bad part is how shockingly rare that is on television.

One other one: George and Callie on Grey's Anatomy. But yes, it is rare. But then again, Hollywood never shows a plain Jane--fat or not--with the "hot guy" (and this is the town that casts Janeane Garofalo as "the ugly friend"), but constantly matches up average dudes with beautiful women.

(And shui mai baby, babe-- I'd be happy to have a drink with you sometime and talk it over in person, but this sort of she said-she said thing just isn't getting solved over the internets. And I'd recommend you take some time off closely moderating/policing this thread looking to take offense...we're on 14 hours now, right?)
posted by availablelight at 6:02 PM on May 18, 2009


Other people have physical characteristics (like skin colour, or sexual orientation) that they consider to be outside their control. Does this mean there is no place for "pride" movements among those people?

You have to admit that "fat pride" and yet a movement to simultaneously list obesity as a disability are a bit contradictory.

Anyway. I look at those links the last time this came up and this is way too fringe and smacks of too much wishful thinking and very, very, little science. I think the Global Warming denier comparison is growing more apt every second.

Sorry I'm gonna side with science, the CDC, The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins, the (EU) International Association for the Study of Obesity, and U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on this one. You know. Actual scientists and doctors.

When it turns out a majority of credible scientist say you can be 4'1" 700lbs and 75% body fat and live a healthy normal active life then I will begin eating a gallon jar of mayonnaise in celebration.
posted by tkchrist at 6:06 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I actually have apple pie at home. If someone wants to bring over some cheese, I'll be adventurous.

You want a nice aged Cheddar - both Cabot and Grafton, from Vermont, make delicious, widely available Cheddars. Ideally, the cheese should be at room temperature, sliced thinly but not too, and the pie should be room temp or a little warmer. I usually eat a bite of pie with a bite of cheese. I was a New England transplant, however, so a native may be along to school me.
posted by rtha at 6:07 PM on May 18, 2009


I assume you all know who used to like eating Grossmutter Schmidt Apfeln mit Gouda?

I had to punch out a Nazi in the store because he was holding the last wedge of Gouda. Layed him out in the cold cuts I did!
posted by P.o.B. at 6:09 PM on May 18, 2009


and this is the town that casts Janeane Garofalo as "the ugly friend"

And that is just crazy. I saw her live a couple of times. That woman is gorgeous.

But they do the same thing to Tina Fey. She plays this neurotic supposed schlump and she is amazingly beautiful.
posted by tkchrist at 6:10 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I had to punch out a Nazi in the store because he was holding the last wedge of Gouda. Layed him out in the cold cuts I did!


How did you know he was a Nazi?

Was he Gouda-stepping?
posted by tkchrist at 6:13 PM on May 18, 2009


When it turns out a majority of credible scientist say you can be 4'1" 700lbs and 75% body fat and live a healthy normal active life then I will begin eating a gallon jar of mayonnaise in celebration.

this is bad faith argumentation. you claim you're on the side of "science" but use not a single citation to back up any of your assertions, and in fact, even hilariously describe a study that expands upon or challenges a previous study as somehow being designed to "exploit a chink the armor of the study."

Anyway. I look at those links the last time this came up and this is way too fringe and smacks of too much wishful thinking and very, very, little science

so you're saying that the International Journal of Epidemiology at Oxford University is fringe? do you realize how misinformed that sounds? actually, stupid is a better word. that is a frigging stupid statement, i'm sorry.

and then you throw out the riotously funny strawman of a 4'1" 700lb person -- why don't you go all out, dude?

i was actually trying to engage with you even though i think a lot of what you are saying is incorrect and you were personally hostile to me (you might argue i was hostile to you, but i was actually only hostile to your argument or lack thereof).
posted by Hat Maui at 6:19 PM on May 18, 2009


PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!!!!
posted by tkchrist at 6:22 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the Global Warming denier comparison is growing more apt every second.

Yeah: the damage to your joints alone.
posted by smorange at 6:26 PM on May 18, 2009


oh, whatever, dude, you're one of the more self-obsessed posters on metafilter. for instance i know all about how you're a graphic designer and a kickboxing instructor and how you're super intense and how your dad supposedly beat up a coke machine and etc. and i'm a fairly casual user. i don't seek your attention, i want to discuss this issue and dispel bullshit like the kind that you're spewing.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:28 PM on May 18, 2009


i want to discuss this issue and dispel bullshit like the kind that you're spewing.

One persons bullshit is another's veritable cornucopia of scientific facts.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:33 PM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: One persons bullshit is another's veritable cornucopia of scientific facts.
posted by Rumple at 6:35 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did make an enormous post upthread with a whole bunch of citations including one that criticizes that very study. It seems that there is some argument over whether the curve is U shaped, linear, or J shaped, but there is little disagreement that being obese is bad for you.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:37 PM on May 18, 2009


Just popped in to check the score. Who's winning?
posted by netbros at 6:39 PM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


there is little disagreement that being obese is bad for you

but a fuckton of disagreement about what that should mean or how we should respond to it and how maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't be so obsessed with it societally because that contributes to the problem. and if you're not someone who works in public health, why is it your special duty to make sure the entire world knows just how unhealthy all the fat fatties out there truly are, and how we must Do Something about them?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:41 PM on May 18, 2009


The Nazis, Cheddar, and lastly it's a toss up between Pecan and Apple Pie.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:41 PM on May 18, 2009


ignignokt, perhaps you should reread what I wrote. You can deconstruct my sentences however you want, but there is context and a line of thought there. I promise. Your questions, from my viewpoint have already been answered.

Well, from a plain, non-deconstructive reading: you want to prove fat people's conditions are of their own doing. You want to prove this not because you want to help them, nor for the sake of pure truth, but for a reason that is none of those. Feel free to clarify. Or just leave it at that. That's cool, too.
posted by ignignokt at 6:44 PM on May 18, 2009


Brie with Raw McIntosh or Romes. Blue Cheese or Roquefort with Granny Smiths. (I am generalizing).

Peanut butter is THE thing to eat with apples, though (and peanut butter-stuffed jalapeños are a basic food group all by themselves).

Cheddar goes in the apple pie crust.
posted by reflecked at 6:47 PM on May 18, 2009


One persons bullshit is another's veritable cornucopia of scientific facts

Actually this is completely arse about. In fact one person's cornucopia of scientific facts is another's bullshit.

Are we in a wideboat thread yet?
posted by flabdablet at 6:48 PM on May 18, 2009


oh.... And... yam pie (pumpkins are pig food) with pecans is a work of wonder. Sweet potato pie is very very good, but people sweeten it too much.
posted by reflecked at 6:50 PM on May 18, 2009


Well, from a plain, non-deconstructive reading

Really? Then why are rewording and reframing what I said?

You forgot to ask me when I'm going to stop shaming the fatties?
posted by P.o.B. at 6:50 PM on May 18, 2009


The Nazis, Cheddar, and lastly it's a toss up between Pecan and Apple Pie.

For the last frigg'n time MACADAMIA NUT PIE!

Now I like apple pie, apple pie is fine. And Pecan pie has it's place. MACADAMIA NUT PIE IS THE DOLPH LUNDGREN PLUS CHUCK HESTON PLUS SEX IN ZERO GRAVITY WHILE ON ACID OF PIES!
posted by tkchrist at 6:51 PM on May 18, 2009


You forgot to ask me when I'm going to stop shaming the fatties?


You will right when you stop beating your wife.

AFTER YOU EAT THIS MACADAMIA NUT PIE!
posted by tkchrist at 6:52 PM on May 18, 2009


intense!
posted by Hat Maui at 6:53 PM on May 18, 2009


Are we in a wideboat thread yet?

Yeah, and trying to go upstream by using teaspoons.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:53 PM on May 18, 2009


You will right when you stop beating your wife.

God! I hate how I have to stop doing one to start the other.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:55 PM on May 18, 2009



God! I hate how I have to stop doing one to start the other.

You know due to modern technology you really don't.
posted by tkchrist at 6:56 PM on May 18, 2009


Yeah: the damage to your joints alone.

I don't get it
posted by tkchrist at 6:58 PM on May 18, 2009


Really? Then why are rewording and reframing what I said?

YA RLY. Where am I wrong? Honestly, I don't see too many other plausible interpretations.

But you know, you can just say straight up what your reason is for wanting to prove that fat people are responsible for their condition, if you want instead of dancing around. And if you don't know what your reason is, it's OK to say that.
posted by ignignokt at 7:00 PM on May 18, 2009


Yeah, and trying to go upstream by using teaspoons.

In a plane on a conveyor belt while de-clawing, performing an abortion to, AND circumcising an atheist cat. And while beating PoB's wife.
posted by tkchrist at 7:00 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


what your reason is for wanting to prove that fat people are responsible for their condition

I think it's more about him contending that all people, obese or not, are ultimately responsible —once they are educated and informed as to the facts and circumstances— for their own health and behaviors.
posted by tkchrist at 7:03 PM on May 18, 2009


Just as another data point: I'm a first year nursing student and today in our lab we learned how to do blood pressures on each other. I'm easily the chubbiest girl in my group of 14 by a significant margin. Most of the other girls are very slender. Anywho, I apparently have great blood pressure. Only two of the other girls had a level as good as mine, and most of them were much worse. They're not thin because they're all athletes, they're thin because their metabolism inclines them that way, or they smoke to keep weight off, or whatever - what I'm saying is it's not neccessarily an indicator of a healthy lifestyle. Whereas I'm way too heavy, but I walk everywhere (I don't own a car) so I'm actually pretty well off it seems.

As another data point: pumpkin pie, dammit.

And as a weird bit of synchronicity I was writing up my first care plan over the weekend and I used "irregardless" in it (I stared at both "regardless" and "irregardless" and both looked...a little wrong. What can I say, I had been working away for 9 hours at that point and I wasn't too sharp). Which now I feel a bit bad about. If I get it back with the comment "this isn't a real word, dumbass!" from my lecturers I'll let y'all know.
posted by supercrayon at 7:04 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


— for their own health and behaviors...
oh. And what to do about those behaviors should they prove to be negative. If that is do "nothing" then so be it.
posted by tkchrist at 7:05 PM on May 18, 2009


You know what's weird about this thread? By far the people who are dominantly using the term "fatties" and the like, are the ones who are the most vociferous to disparage it's usage and connotations.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:07 PM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know what's weird about this thread? By far the people who are dominantly using the term "fatties" and the like, are the ones who are the most vociferous to disparage it's usage and connotations.

I wasn't going to say anything.
posted by tkchrist at 7:09 PM on May 18, 2009


Whoa there, from i want to discuss this issue and dispel bullshit like the kind that you're spewing.

right to

but a fuckton of disagreement about what that should mean or how we should respond to it and how maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't be so obsessed with it societally because that contributes to the problem. and if you're not someone who works in public health, why is it your special duty to make sure the entire world knows just how unhealthy all the fat fatties out there truly are, and how we must Do Something about them?

That's, uh, a little extreme, don't you think? I don't want you to feel like you've been ganged up on, but I did take the time this morning to type out a response to that article, and I do not believe it is by any stretch of the imagination unassailable.

I'm not making it my special duty to inform the world of how unhealthy, &c., but I don't see what anybody gains by believing cherry picked studies that go counter to the vast majority of the evidence.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:11 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wasn't going to say anything.

Did I do that thing where everythings cool and then someone pipes up with "this is awkward" and then it is awkward because they said that. Shoot! I hate that.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2009


Oh THAT'S JUST GREAT P.o.B

Now we have to have a MeTa thread on grocer's apostrophe's.
posted by desjardins at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2009


I don't see what anybody gains by believing cherry picked studies that go counter to the vast majority of the evidence.

justification
posted by desjardins at 7:16 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


PoB you know what else. It's funny which topic will bring out the usually collectivist lefty Mefites' Inner Libertarian.

Some threads with some posters it's suburbs vs. cities. Others it's guns. Or global warming. Still others it's obesity.

It's like over-whelming scientific and medical consensus is fine on a topic as long as it isn't inconvenient to my lifestyle!

"There is no connection between how much we eat, what we eat, and our fucked up food system! Becuase that means you want to take away my Carls Jr. Deep Fried French Fry and Cheese Taco Burger! When you pry it out of my dead hand! GO RON PAUL!"
posted by tkchrist at 7:17 PM on May 18, 2009


So here's the weird part: Sara Rue played Leonard's hot doc girlfriend referred to by jessamyn and is now skinny as noted by tkchrist.
posted by ltracey at 7:21 PM on May 18, 2009


It's funny which topic will bring out the usually collectivist lefty Mefites' Inner Libertarian.

Or the topics where there is clearly emotional investment, and most everyone has to tiptoe around the landmines by following up their arguments with something like "BUT I AM NOT A RAPIST, NOR DO I ADVOCATE IT!" It's a wondrous thing why these types of affirmations need to be made in the midst of an intelligent crowd.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:25 PM on May 18, 2009


tkchrist, I was agreeing with you.
posted by smorange at 7:27 PM on May 18, 2009


So here's the weird part: Sara Rue played Leonard's hot doc girlfriend referred to by jessamyn and is now skinny as noted by tkchrist.

I don't watch that show but wow I didn't even recognize her.
posted by tkchrist at 7:28 PM on May 18, 2009


tkchrist, I was agreeing with you.

Yeah. But I'm not smart enough to see... WHAT THAT HAS TO DO WITH MACADAMIA NUT PIE BEING SO AWESOME!
posted by tkchrist at 7:29 PM on May 18, 2009


Okay. Time to go exercise...

MY PIE HOLE!
posted by tkchrist at 7:30 PM on May 18, 2009


And I'd recommend you take some time off closely moderating/policing this thread looking to take offense

Calling you out on your logical inconsistencies and asking you to defend them is debate 101, not "closely moderating/policing this thread," no matter how very much you wish it to be otherwise; indeed, the only one I've been responding to here is you.

Your unwillingness to actually engage in a genuine conversation -- which, by definition, includes owning the stuff you said upthread, rather than side-stepping when things got uncomfortable -- is at best vaguely entertaining, and at worst, a little sad.

Thinking you've somehow offended me, however, just demonstrates a pretty significant overestimation on your part of the effectiveness of your arguments.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


ok, color me shouted down.
posted by Hat Maui at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2009


god what a bunch of horrible posts
posted by dydecker at 7:36 PM on May 18, 2009


I don't watch that show but wow I didn't even recognize her.

Yeah, and apparently there is a 95% chance she will revert back to how you remember her.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:39 PM on May 18, 2009


#mefi h8 2 say but megafilter neva wend ls. 8 bagels 4 bfast yum. finalizing tech swap w/ iranians lol
posted by the Cabal at 8:01 PM on May 18, 2009


Yum -- sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese with Apple Pie! Many New Englanders are familiar with the combo. "Apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze."

And then there's always 'Apple Cheddar Cheese Pie.'
posted by ericb at 8:07 PM on May 18, 2009


> One of these things explains what happened to the USA. Maybe they just fucking wanted
> a shiney new monster home. Maybe they just fucking wanted the new SUV with the
> bling. Maybe they just fucking wanted a 30% ROI. Maybe they just fucking wanted it.
>
> Maybe that's the fucking problem.
> posted by five fresh fish at 4:40 PM on May 18

Glad to have a chance to agree with you, fff, my thought exactly. From my red, white 'n' blue vantage point I can tell you that my country's position at the top of the charts for worldwide obesity rate is caused by exactly one thing: vast numbers of people each shoveling in more food in a day than an entire Somali refugee camp gets in a month. It's entirely in character for the five per cent of the world's population that uses twenty percent of the world's energy. There are other explanations, and we've seen pretty much all of them in this thread, but that's the only one that doesn't deserve a horse laugh.
posted by jfuller at 8:41 PM on May 18, 2009


I thought this was bad ~570 posts ago when I was here last. This is just all kinds of bad times.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:50 PM on May 18, 2009


Adolf Hilter ate the shit out of some cheddar cheese on pie.

that's funny, i thought he ate the shit out of eva
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 PM on May 18, 2009


What's on the menu for the 10th anniversary meetup?
posted by lukemeister at 9:17 PM on May 18, 2009


Thread... why can't I quit you?
posted by Kloryne at 9:24 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh no, no way am i gonna eat thread. it always ties my guts up in knots.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:56 PM on May 18, 2009


Oh, god. Did I just eat that?

Guys, I don't think I was supposed to eat that...
posted by dirigibleman at 10:35 PM on May 18, 2009


I had some really good berry cobbler at a meetup tonight.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 PM on May 18, 2009


I don't care what colour the Cobbler was, cortex, and neither should you. As far as I'm concerned, a shoe repairer should be judged on how good he is at repairer shoes, not the color of their skin, be it black, white, yellow or berry.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:46 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


speak for yourself. i agree that the cobbler's colour is irrelevant, but i can't stand eating them when they're too fatty.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:10 PM on May 18, 2009


oh hai everybody, i forgot:

do you think the banned mock advertisement (that was the subject of the original FPP, remember?) helped raise awareness about discrimination against people with largeness?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:17 AM on May 19, 2009


one poster says - hey, there was some skinny hate going on in that linked article - that sucks, i've been a victim of skinny hate and it's super lame.

some people respond that they don't think the writer was condoning it, just acknowledging that it happened and then they acknowledge that they have felt skinny hate before (some taking more responsibility for that and some turning it around on it being a reaction to the fat hate they feel targeted by, which frankly sounds a little like "why are you making me hit you").

then some people are like, see! when you talk about skinny hate you're REALLY exhibiting fat hate!!

it's a really bizarre exchange, one that i think some of the participants are too wound up by other things to talk about rationally.

this isn't to say that only fat women are mean about size or only skinny girls are mean about size. but some of you act like it never happens to skinny girls and that if it does it's like a rich person flaunting their wealth (claiming your pain is greater than theirs).

more than anything, what women need to realize, is that our poor self esteem doesn't come from the media, images in magazines, or male lovers. it's not because daddy didn't hug us or a boy called us fat/beanpole - our major enemy is other women. there's a jealousy and a pull between us that is just hateful. that is the thing we should be looking to weed out - it doesn't matter what the adjective (fat, skinny, flat tire, lard ass, anorexic, binge&purger, nerdy, slutty, easy, bitch, dyke), what matters is that between us girls it's rarely about what the thing is, just that it's something someone can cut you down for.

to leave you with words from ani difranco "god help you if you are an ugly girl, of course too pretty is also your doom - everyone holds a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room"
posted by nadawi at 5:22 AM on May 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Cobblers smell like cobbler.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:26 AM on May 19, 2009


this isn't to say that only fat women are mean about size or only skinny girls are mean about size. but some of you act like it never happens to skinny girls and that if it does it's like a rich person flaunting their wealth (claiming your pain is greater than theirs).

It happens to guys too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 AM on May 19, 2009


Brandon Blatcher - i meant to address that -

the specific back and forth i was talking about seemed to very quickly be more about girl on girl hate than it was about fatty vs beanpole. it was touching on the group dynamics of women and how size plays into all that.

the absolute meanest i've ever seen someone be about size directly to someone's face, the victim of the torment was a very skinny man. i'm very aware this isn't just a girl problem.
posted by nadawi at 6:19 AM on May 19, 2009


Does this mean average sized people are a minority? If so, can we talk about them?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh absolutely! those crazy normal sized people who fit into clothes in stores! fuck them! :)
posted by nadawi at 6:42 AM on May 19, 2009


average sized people are most likely to be statistical medians.

whether they are a minority or not would depend on the distribution - is it two-tailed or regular, for example?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:47 AM on May 19, 2009


Most people would be above average?
posted by Midnight Skulker at 7:01 AM on May 19, 2009


Boy, all we need is Sarah Palin in this thread and it'll go to 2000 comments. Anyone want to craft a photo of Sarah Palin covered in apple pie and cheddar cheese or something?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:06 AM on May 19, 2009


Fools. Everyone knows strawberry-rhubarb is the best pie.
posted by electroboy at 7:08 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a Palin / lipstick on a pig joke in there somewhere, but I lack the wit and verbal finesse to pull it off. Alas.

Strawberry-rhubarb is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:31 AM on May 19, 2009


Thank you, cortex, for bringing up the sorely-needed option of cobbler. Through all of the pumpkin/pecan/apple/cheddar/sweet potato pie discussion, I kept thinking 'who cares, cause a peach raspberry cobbler beats the shit out of all of those pies anyway'.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:34 AM on May 19, 2009


what about a crumble?

fresh raspberries and blackberries tossed with a little sugar, then a mix of butter, oats, and brown sugar spread over the top - bake at 375 until everything is bubbling and toasty looking. add vanilla bean ice cream. die of happiness.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 AM on May 19, 2009


TV shows haven't done well with heavyset women since, maybe, Amy from Bosom Buddies, and that's like decades ago.

BUT! Read Good in Bed if you want to enjoy a funny, timeless novel about an overweight woman that DOESN'T require her to lose 50 pounds in the end to be happy and successful.

Really, it's a fantastic book.
posted by misha at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2009


Oh, and apple/pumpkin pie tied for best.

I do want to try that macadamia nut pie, though.

posted by misha at 9:01 AM on May 19, 2009


I'd like to see that, bitter-girl, but for shameful reasons that I'll leave to readers' imaginations.
posted by Mister_A at 9:03 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never knew marionberry cobbler until I moved to Portland. And now I wondered how I ever lived not knowing it existed.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:08 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


holy shit, nadawi. I think I could give up all other pies forever.
posted by desjardins at 9:18 AM on May 19, 2009


I used to work for a summer camp, and in the winter, there would be open house events that gave campers and staff a chance to reconnect, as well as a chance for potential campers to meet some people.

There was always a nice selection of food at these events, but there would always be, without fail:

1. Yellow cake with white frosting
2. Doritos
3. Brie

After seeing this strange assortment enough times, I became convinced that some sort of ultimate snack could be formed by combining the three.

I was right. The result it, literally, a creation of the gods. (Not literally. I made it, and I am not a god.)

Dobrieto Cake
1. Take one (1) Dorito. Preferably one of the flatter ones, though experienced chefs may want to experiment with the ones that curl too. As for flavor, I've only attempted Nacho, but certainly other options exist.
2. Spread a cheese knife's worth of brie evenly on one side of the Dorito.
3. Place the Dobrieto, brie side down, on a small piece of cake.
4. Consume all at once.

That said, Macadamia Nut Pie sounds amazing, tkchrist. You and I should find a way to get it inside my tummy post haste.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:59 AM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


nadawi, I am favoriting you so hard right now.

And without wasting any more breath on this, I find it remarkable that some people have such a difficult time believing there are skinny people out there who DON'T body snark. Because my nerd herd in high school and middle school certainly didn't, nor does the group of grownups I've been spending time with now, and I certainly never have (partly because of my own physical flaws I've taken heat for in painful ways when younger, partly because of obese family members and friends I've cared for very much, partly because not everyone skinny girl is the asshole who made you cry when you were 14.) For the record, I never have and never would use the word "fatty"--which HAS been put into my mouth here several times. I'm not uncomfortable with the discussion at all (one of several projections that miss the mark totally) but man, this does not go well between strangers on the internet.
posted by availablelight at 10:06 AM on May 19, 2009


shmegge, re: "Is it okay to be disgusted with the way fat people look?"
yes it is. as so many have said, however, it's not okay to treat them differently because of it.... what's wrong is raising them to feel that way, what's not wrong is being susceptible to societal pressures while being raised.

This sort of seems to be what everyone agrees on, but "don't treat them differently" covers a lot of territory. I don't see much discussion beyond the entry point which is "don't say mean things to their faces." There's a lot more that could be called not treating someone differently—it goes all the way to inky depths of physical attraction—but we've really only been splashing around in the shallow end, wondering what's up Hat Maui's butt and padding the comment count with BS trading witticisms about our low irregard of pie. Heck, we've even entertained the plight of thin people and if that doesn't indicate a thread on prejudice that's run its course, I don't know what does.

Long term, I don't think it's okay to be disgusted. I don't think you can fulfill the "don't act like a dick" clause without also fulfilling the "don't think like a dick" clause. You've really got to try at both. I don't think it works to be contemptuous in your heart while vowing to be nicey-nice some certain amount that makes it okay. But, being an evil two-faced bitch myself, I can't really hold anyone else to a higher standard.

Smoking is a good comparison to obesity in some ways. It's a poor health choice, and has the element of physical repulsion. Importantly, someone deep in the throes of it will have a very hard time shaking it off, even if they are an above-average kinda dude. BUT, with smoking it's mostly the behavior itself that people don't want around. A fat person can't just stop being fat for 15 minutes, or only go be fat somewhere else, or stop being fat for a moment to get a picture, or take up being fat to meet cool kids, etc. Also, being disgusted by the inhalation of smoke is not the same basic thing as being disgusted by the way someone looks. You can't avert your nose.
posted by fleacircus at 10:17 AM on May 19, 2009


And without wasting any more breath on this,

except the breath you're about to waste.

I find it remarkable that some people have such a difficult time believing there are skinny people out there who DON'T body snark.

what are you talking about?! nobody is saying that. for gods sake, stop! you keep going on and on about how you never make fun of anybody ever, even though you're skinny. nobody is disputing it, except to point out that you KEEP GOING ON ABOUT HOW FAT GIRLS CRITICIZE YOU.

It has now been 14 hours since you last pointed out that you've been going on about this shit for 14 hours, and the conversation has long since moved on, but here you are getting back into it again.

so let's make something clear, here: if your argument with shiu mai baby were a contest, she would have won. you've been arguing in bad faith, backpedalling and revising without ever acknowledging that the point you continue to repeat is kind of obnoxious and not representative of any larger point besides "fat girls are meanies." you've accused shiu mai baby of attacking straw men when she has only directly addressed the things you've said. you've tried to change your position without addressing how different the new version is from what you originally said, and shiu mai baby has been gracious enough to tell you that she agrees - repeatedly - with your new version. but since she has pointed out how it is almost 180 degrees different from your original comments, you've leveled more accusations at her for continuing the argument. and here you are, going at it again - totally unprovoked.

you are being obnoxious and you should stop. you original point is stupid and wrong, and the characterizations you've made of shiu mai baby's points and the points of anyone who has disagreed with you are so grossly inaccurate that they can only be considered willful misrepresentations. you are bad at the internet. go home and stop instigating fights.
posted by shmegegge at 10:18 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can't smell your own business, either, unless you're quite flexible.
posted by fleacircus at 10:25 AM on May 19, 2009


Long term, I don't think it's okay to be disgusted. I don't think you can fulfill the "don't act like a dick" clause without also fulfilling the "don't think like a dick" clause. You've really got to try at both. I don't think it works to be contemptuous in your heart while vowing to be nicey-nice some certain amount that makes it okay. But, being an evil two-faced bitch myself, I can't really hold anyone else to a higher standard.

well, i can see this side of things, but I think where I would really disagree with you is that you seem to be equating "disgust" with "contempt."

as a for instance, I am disgusted by tomatoes. but I don't hold them contemptuously in my heart or anything. I don't sit around thinking about how much I wish I could eradicate tomatoes from the earth. I just don't eat them because I think they're disgusting.

now, I don't think fat people are disgusting, but I'm also not attracted to them physically. This doesn't mean I have contempt for fat people. It just means I don't find them attractive. That's my prerogative, and there's no reason why I should feel any differently than I do. I happen to be an extraordinarily hairy guy, and I find excess body hair disgusting. Other people do, too, though (fortunately) not everybody. It's not their job to think about body hair differently in order to be in some way fairer to me. Just do me a favor and don't treat me like shit about it, and that's that. I don't imagine that people think contemptuously of me for being hairy. I just understand if they're not attracted to me, and that's about the long and short of it. I don't see it as two faced, I see it as respectful and civil. We can't all like the same things equally, and there's no reason we should. But we can damn sure keep our fool mouths shut about it if we don't have anything nice to say.
posted by shmegegge at 10:25 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


American thighs and cherry pie.

is there anything rock-n-roll can't do?
posted by Sailormom at 11:02 AM on May 19, 2009


It couldn't make Bob Packwood cool.
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on May 19, 2009


I never knew marionberry cobbler until I moved to Portland.

When I first moved to Portland and saw marionberry pancakes on a menu I though it was a hilarious joke. I pointed to them on the menu and mumbled "bitch set me up" repeatedly. My dining companions had no idea what I was talking about, and I had no idea that marionberries were, like, an actual thing that had nothing to do with, y'know, Marion Barry.
posted by dersins at 11:59 AM on May 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


It should be noted that the OP of this callout has disabled their account.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:15 PM on May 19, 2009


I guess some people just don't like any kind of pie.
posted by Drastic at 12:19 PM on May 19, 2009


Now this thread can be solely about why pumpkin pie is the king of pies, while pecan has been scientifically proven to be responsible for the global economic recession. Look it up if you don't believe me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:24 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I learned something in this thread. I learned that it's "obese", not "obeast".
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on May 19, 2009


A friend of mine in university thought obese was a polite way of saying overweight. That was kind of funny for a bit.
posted by ODiV at 12:29 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it remarkable that some people have such a difficult time believing there are skinny people out there who DON'T body snark.

what are you talking about?! nobody is saying that. for gods sake, stop!


"Enough, I get it already: you and your skinny friends are the very paragons of virtue and acceptance who have ne'er spoke ill of anyone, and every fattie you've ever encountered is a hateful, judgmental cow. Some of your best friends are unbearably obese, and yet you've pulled from your deep spiritual purity and nobly looked past that which society would shun, only to have your blameless actions thrown back in your face by these bitter overweight women."

"2. yes, you would think to insult someone else's body type. so would i. so would anyone. we all have thought to do it in our angrier/cattier moments. good on you if you've never actually done it, though. that's the key."

At least I don't fail at reading comprehension. Also, when people put insults in my mouth and interpret what I've written as, "YOU'VE SAID THAT ALL __________ ALWAYS DO _________ AND ALL __________ NEVER DO ___________" I do returrn to try to clarify a bit.

But you're right, you guys win at the internet. In the meantime, I've gotten back to work from my really cool volunteer gig on a beautiful warm day, and am eating a ripe mango.
posted by availablelight at 12:30 PM on May 19, 2009


I approve of pumpkin pie acceptance but not pumpkin pie pride. Unless it's a stellar pumpkin pie.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:30 PM on May 19, 2009


Now this thread can be solely about why pumpkin pie is the king of pies

Pumpkin pies are awesome but only if made with approximately 1/2 the sugar called for in most recipes. You want to taste some pumpkin not just an explosion of sugary sweetness.
posted by Justinian at 12:32 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stop bearing false pie-witness, MStPT.

The undisputed god-king of all pies is the Karo Nut pie from the Family Pie Shop in DeVall's Bluff, Arkansas. This is an objective truth, and as such is not subject to any sort of debate.
posted by dersins at 12:32 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pie is so yesterday. Cheesecake is the new black.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on May 19, 2009


TURKEY POT PIE, BITCHES!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least I don't fail at reading comprehension.

Yes you do. I'd point out why and how but we've been doing that all thread and you've failed to comprehend it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on May 19, 2009


Um, hello? Why are we even talking about pie anymore? The king of pies, whatever it may be, cannot hold a candle to Dobrieto Cake (Largely because pies suck at holding candles.)

Are you going to tell me that you don't happen to have yellow cake with white frosting, Doritos, and brie around the house? If so, you're clearly lying, but I'll let it slide. You should be able to get these things from le supermarché (that's french, like the brie, see) in about an hour. I'll meet you back here then so I can revel in just how wrong you've been about everything you know and have held dear celebrate with you.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:53 PM on May 19, 2009


Someone should make a movie about pie.
posted by Mister_A at 12:55 PM on May 19, 2009


Any they could call it American Pie.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:02 PM on May 19, 2009


Someone should make a movie about pie.
USian pie, even.
posted by notashroom at 1:04 PM on May 19, 2009


No, it should be USian pie, because certain people on MetaFilter like to pretend that when you call a person from the USA an "American," it can be confusing, and listeners may think you mean a Canadian or a Brazilian, even though the USA is the only country that has "America" right in the name and it has been used and understood for generations. So, USian pie.
posted by Mister_A at 1:05 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


notashroom totally copied off me.
posted by Mister_A at 1:05 PM on May 19, 2009


Totally. Get off my lawn pie!
posted by notashroom at 1:38 PM on May 19, 2009


"Enough, I get it already: you and your skinny friends are the very paragons of virtue and acceptance who have ne'er spoke ill of anyone, and every fattie you've ever encountered is a hateful, judgmental cow. Some of your best friends are unbearably obese, and yet you've pulled from your deep spiritual purity and nobly looked past that which society would shun, only to have your blameless actions thrown back in your face by these bitter overweight women."

This, my dear, is what is commonly referred to in some elite circles as sarcasm. It was low-hanging fruit, and probably not me at my best moment, but you just kept up with the "see! I <3>
It's a long thread, I know, so for the sake of expediency, let me remind you (and as before, emphasis added to make this point extra-easy to digest):
> In real life, I have gone out of my way to be "that friend" who was always there to reassure (genuinely; I really do think women can be attractive at any size and have photographed nudes from slim to full-figured) larger women that they were beautiful, feminine, etc. After many years of this, I've soured a bit as I've realized that at least half of these women were true "frenemies" to their "skinny bitch" friends like myself: at the same time I (and others) were reassuring them of how beautiful they were... they were the most ruthlessly critical and nasty women I knew in terms of calling thinner friends "butterfaces", "mannish looking", never complimenting anyone else dressed up for a girls' night out, gossiping about who was "aging badly", "slutty" or "desperate", etc.

> I also have never, ever, ever heard one of my rail-thin girls comment on ANYONE's weight gain, and yet heavier women have no trouble dishing out the same "size shaming" they feel victimized by on a regular basis. And I don't want to hear comments or "jokes" on how sick/gross/unfeminine/etc. I look for being thin when I have genuinely been openminded about my own concept of feminine beauty and would never think to insult someone else's body type.
Do you hear yourself? You tout how you've gone out of your way to be "That Friend" -- as if being a friend to someone who is overweight is, like, a lifetime accomplishment or something. I mean, it's honestly laughable. You set everything there up in an us vs. them scenario, but then decry a double standard.

Is it really that difficult to step outside of this argument for one nanosecond and impartially read what you wrote there? Can you not hear how condescending, self-congratulatory, and smug you sound?

For what it's worth, you're probably a very kind person, and I have no doubt that you've had your share of hateful stuff slung your way. As I said in the very first time I ever addressed you: I am genuinely sorry to hear it. It sucks. It is inexcusable, coming from anyone of any size. Full stop.

One last time (and sing it with me, folks, if you know the tune): Any person, be they skinny or fat or medium or 2,000 pounds, is an asshole for snarking on someone else's body shape, regardless of what that shape is.

This. No more, no less. This has been my point from the get-go.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:41 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crap. Stupid page coding mistaking my "less than symbol + 3 = 'heart'" text.

The second sentence of the second paragraph should've read:

It was low-hanging fruit, and probably not me at my best moment, but you just kept up with the "see! I love fat people! I photograph them! But they are mean to me!

Sorry for the unintended confusion there, y'all.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:44 PM on May 19, 2009


In my elite circle we refer to that as hyperbole, not sarcasm.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:03 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well clearly, I am hanging with the wrong crowd. Thanks for the correction, kuujjuarapik.
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:40 PM on May 19, 2009


In my elite circle, we raise one eyebrow around a millimetre, knowingly, as we take another dainty nibble at our cucumber sandwiches & discuss the fox hunting season.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:44 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my circle, we don't use millimeters.
posted by desjardins at 2:48 PM on May 19, 2009


Yes, but is there pie?
posted by shiu mai baby at 2:49 PM on May 19, 2009


It's not American Pie.

It's not even USian Pie.

It's Bannerspangler Pie.

Get it right, people!
posted by misha at 2:55 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


One doesn't eat 'pie'; only tourte à la truffe et poitrine fumée.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on May 19, 2009


Ever since that one episode of Dexter I've always wanted to taste a really good Key Lime pie. Now, did someone say Cheesecake?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:11 PM on May 19, 2009


I would order Bannerspangler Pie at a restaurant.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:18 PM on May 19, 2009


SpiffyRob, you may have finally topped my leftover holiday buffet sandwich 'o doom, namely:

* Knorr spinach dip
* on pumpernickel with
* potato chips squooshed in...

Oh....now I am hungry for sure.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2009


BREAKING NEWS

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER THAT NEW OBESITY EPIDEMIC ORIGINATED IN DISCUSSION OF PIE ON WEBLOG METAFILTER.COM
posted by desjardins at 3:38 PM on May 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


One doesn't eat tourte à la truffe et poitrine fumée; one partakes of macadamia nuts in taramosalata on ritz crackers.
posted by flabdablet at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2009


P.o.B., Keylime Pie is the greatest. For even more absurd wonderfulness, when you mentioned cheesecake, you should really try the Keylime Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.

While there, you can also do research on the silly portion size that has enabled so much of this thread. Might I recommend the chicken and biscuits?
posted by Ghidorah at 4:36 PM on May 19, 2009


Where I live, small portion size = no value. Even the fancy restaurant in town serves an 8oz duck breast. I can never tell if they serve that size for the value conscious doggie-baggers or because Canada Geese are so easy to catch. But it's enough duck fat to congeal your sweat.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:48 PM on May 19, 2009


one partakes of macadamia nuts in taramosalata on ritz crackers.

For elevenses? How remarkably gauche.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on May 19, 2009


Have you ever been to Claim Jumper? Or Buca di Beppo?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:55 PM on May 19, 2009


No, but do they serve Spangler's Last Meal Pie?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:24 PM on May 19, 2009


Gauche? My dear fellow, one mustn't cut oneself off from life's simple pleasures merely because they are inexpensive, lest one run the risk of appearing - or perhaps even disappearing - completely up oneself.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 PM on May 19, 2009


You may have a point. After all, partaking of cake, for example, is what unites one with the common man.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on May 19, 2009


68 Fat People Stories — starting off with one that seems appropriate to this thread:
At 285 pounds, Cindy was certainly aware of her size, but felt hopeless about controlling her eating habits. She never felt satisfied by three meals and she’d often catch herself snacking on fatty fast food like fried chicken, McDonald’s fries or take-out pizza. She’d then top it off with a king-size Snickers bar. …

But it wasn’t until she felt she was shortening her life that she finally decided to make a change. …Tired from being overmedicated … Cindy put on her sneakers and started walking.
And now se's controlling her eating habits and walking her ass off. Good on ya, Cindy!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on May 19, 2009


"Meet people who lost 100 pounds or more through diet and exercise!"

Well, that sure satisfies my bias for confirmation!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:47 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


at 785 pounds comments, this thread is pretty hefty.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:15 PM on May 19, 2009


The avoirdupois of this thread is really none of your business.
posted by palliser at 8:19 PM on May 19, 2009


thrs nthng fr t thn, bt t pt th thrd n strct zr-vwl dt.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:20 PM on May 19, 2009


MAYBE THE THREAD IS COMFORTABLE THE WAY IT IS
posted by palliser at 8:27 PM on May 19, 2009


fff, I'm having a hard time not hearing that pullquote as the intro to Little Acorns and I don't know why.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well played, sir.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 PM on May 19, 2009


Quite so!

Time, I think, for another round of - what did you call these, Mrs. Abernathy? - ah yes - "lamingtons".
posted by flabdablet at 10:18 PM on May 19, 2009


It would have been nice ... had this great good gateau been named for the humble genius whose invention, or divine perception, it was. But in the snobby bumsucking manner of the day it was named in honor of baron Lamington, who was governor of Queensland at the time. For many years lamingtons were served on state ceremonial occasions in Queensland and won universal approbation. But Baron Lamington himself could by no means abide them. He invariably—and somewhat oddly—referred to them as ‘those bloody poofy woolly biscuits’.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:24 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


They should've named them after the NSW Governor of the time, William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp.

Not only would "beau chomp" have been a better name in itself, he also resigned & went into exile when enemies threatened to out him as a homosexual, so we could've said to eath other "help yourself to a bloody poofy beau chomp, mate"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:47 PM on May 19, 2009


Sounds familiar. And I guess this guy didn't read the great starvation diet because instead of having a mental breakdown, he lost half his weight.

Some of those people lost the weight of an entire whole other person. That's amazing. You gotta respect that kind of self-determination. It's a wonder some of these people don't go on to rule the world.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on May 19, 2009


Hell, some of those people shed the equivalent of a whole 'nother morbidly obese person: 400lbs. I am in awe. That's a real hero, headnsouth.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 PM on May 19, 2009


i reckon that by now you could probably split an atom with that axe of yours, fisho.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:35 PM on May 19, 2009


At least that atom will be thin, AMIRITE?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who are these people with the heroic self-determination that could go on to rule the world? Fat people. Heck yeah. It's just that not all of us want to use our strengths and energy on getting thin.
posted by ferociouskitty at 7:26 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, sucks that you don't find those stories inspirational. Myself, I am always impressed with people who can quit smoking, stop the cycle of abuse, lose a ton of weight, go back to school, and so on. I'm having a bitch of a time losing a piddling ten pounds. That someone could lose four hundred simply blows me away. And gives me and others one helluva lot of encouragement to continue trying. Suck it, haters.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, yeah, GOT IT, it's all about the thin and exercise, heard ya the first nth times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2009


Ahem, heard you the first N times. Pass me the ladyfingers and a fat blunt, old chap.
posted by Mister_A at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2009


Yeah, yeah, GOT IT, it's all about the thin and exercise, heard ya the first nth times.

Is this part of some cross thread grudge match? Because I hope it's not.
posted by shmegegge at 10:51 AM on May 20, 2009


HOW DARE YOU CALL THAT BLUNT A FATTY.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like Stockholm syndrome...
posted by Salamandrous at 11:06 AM on May 20, 2009


Is this part of some cross thread grudge match?

He likes pecan pie, damn straight it's a grudge match.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2009


I don't hate fat people. I hate people who by choice wallow in the depravity of American-sized gluttony, and these people are also usually fat, poorly mannered, and generally intolerable.
posted by plexi at 12:29 PM on May 20, 2009


Good to know, plexi. Help the rest of us out: how do you discern between the ok fat people and the bad fat people? The very last thing I want to do is expose myself to someone who is fat for all the wrong reasons.
posted by shiu mai baby at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2009


Help the rest of us out: how do you discern between the ok fat people and the bad fat people?

Look for the oversized Tweety Bird T-shirt.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:05 PM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or just ask: "Are you by choice wallowing in the depravity of American-sized gluttony?" Make sure you ask the thin people, too, because otherwise it's bigoted. Just don't believe the fat ones.
posted by palliser at 1:57 PM on May 20, 2009


It's a well known fact that fat people are bigger liars.
posted by ODiV at 2:11 PM on May 20, 2009


Also, "Wallowing in the depravity of American guttony" would look pretty good either on a T-shirt or an album cover.
posted by ODiV at 2:13 PM on May 20, 2009


As a generally intolerable person I take exception to your hatred, plexi.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:13 PM on May 20, 2009


Help the rest of us out: how do you discern between the ok fat people and the bad fat people?

I explained this several hundred posts ago. You ask them how much they squat.

I agree with the charitable reading of plexi's comment, which is to say I think it's gross to be lazy, sedentary, and incapable. However, I don't think there's necessarily a strong correlation between those things and bodyfat percentage. There are plenty of lazy, sedentary, unhealthy skinny people and plenty of active, strong, and capable fat people.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:40 PM on May 20, 2009


heh, plexi called people poorly mannered and intolerable.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2009


Plexi, after watching that BBC documentary on the thin people who forced themselves to gorge everyday (and really did not gain very much weight) all I can say is that it made me rethink my association of fat with gluttony.

You'd be surprised how many skinny people are walking around who eat the worst foods, and remain thin.

I'm one of those types whose eating habits would disgust a nutritionist, but my body seems to be "set" at a skinny person's weight. I'll gorge pretty often, but my body responds by possibly speeding up my metabolism or just feeling kinda sick of food for a while, so I won't eat.

So this has nothing to do with my actual willpower. But I probably escape the cursory "depraved" and "gluttonous" label merely because of a body chemistry that was given to me, out of no effort or choice of my own. (Of course if you look at what I actually eat, I am a bad, bad person.)
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2009


There are plenty of lazy, sedentary, unhealthy skinny people and plenty of active, strong, and capable fat people.

Oh my yes. I'm 5'8" and about 130 lbs., but I'm pretty sure my cholesterol count is up to four digits. I put butter in my cereal, and drink peanut oil straight from the bottle. My version of "exercise" consists of walking to and from the DVD player to change the movie. And I'm so lazy that when I order a pizza, I leave the front door open so the guy can bring it into my living room. I'm saving my strength for something major, like a piano about to fall on someone from a high window, or a truck barrelling towards a little old lady. You never know when that sort of thing is going to happen, and it's important to be prepared. Don't blame me if it happens to you and you can't catch a falling piano.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2009


Hey, sucks that you don't find those stories inspirational.

well done to the people in the stories, sure, but they don't personally inspire me because i've always been physically active - i currently average around 15-20 hours a week of vigorous exercise, because i enjoy it & it makes me feel good all day.

capoeira masters, now they're an inspiration. i'm currently trying to work on a handstand that lowers into a curled-up headstand then pushes back up again into another handstand.

gotta run now; i mean cycle. slept in a bit this morning, but can still manage half an hour in the gym before work...
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2009


(and yeh, i know, it's a sign of privilege to be able to have so much free time to exercise, but i also specifically organise my life around it, to make it possible)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on May 20, 2009


whatever, dude. don't you have some heads to stand on and then brag about?
posted by palliser at 3:32 PM on May 20, 2009


after watching that BBC documentary on the thin people who forced themselves to gorge everyday (and really did not gain very much weight)

I kept thinking nobody gains weight that way, unless they are intentionally doing that. Plus, all the people were in their early 20's. As a standalone experiment it was fine, but I didn't think it had much to offer as the rest of the program did.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:08 PM on May 20, 2009


that's a bit harsh, palliser. just saying, this is what i do because i enjoy it and it works for me. there's something about the challenge & satisfaction of slowly getting better at, say, acrobatic moves you once thought were beyond you, that keeps it interesting and fun. and that fun element is something i always advocate when people on the green ask about how to sustain an exercise regimen.

but at no point in either of these two monster threads can i remember getting on any kind of high horse about how everybody could or should follow a program like mine. each to their own, and all that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 PM on May 20, 2009


I think palliser was just riffing on this little gem, Ubu.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:11 PM on May 20, 2009


oh, sorry.

gotta add, as well - it's not only "each to their own" but there's also a factor of what's easily available. one of the things that keeps me with my current employer is the fact that there's a gym & showers etc downstairs, so i can easily cycle in, work out in whatever time i have available, shower & hit the desk. add lunchtime yoga classes, other classes after work, and a swimming pool a short walk away, and that's a ridiculously privileged situation. i doubt i'd exercise quite so much if it wasn't all right there on my doorstep (cheap, too, at around US$12 a week!) and clearly most people would have to ass around a lot more to fit the gym into their routines.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 PM on May 20, 2009


This thread could have gone worse (see comments).
posted by desjardins at 6:25 PM on May 20, 2009


Wasn't that everyone else's favorite comment in this thread? No? Just me, then?

Sorry, Ubu. It was actually how little your comment merited it that made it strike me as funny to say it. And by the way, all my ad hominems will be taking that form ("whatever, dude, don't you have some _____ to ____ and then brag about?"), now and forever, no matter how little sense it makes, or how humbly someone is offering up a description of their workout routine. Which you clearly were.
posted by palliser at 7:41 PM on May 20, 2009


that's cool, palliser. i missed the earlier comment *heads back to fave it*
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:47 PM on May 20, 2009


Well, I didn't mean offense in my comment, but reading EmilyClimbs comment sort of hit the "I'm a fucking hypocrite" nerve and I'm man enough to admit that, yeah, even though I probably eat better and exercise more than some people I have in mind, I'm not exactly a health nut either, and it's very likely that many other people would be overweight even if they had the same lifestyle I do. So yeah, I'm lucky that I can make less responsible decisions about my eating and exercise habits without my physical appearance suffering. I am also aware that when we discuss issues of obesity, we're dealing with aggregate numbers, not every single person's personal situation.

BUT!

I think why this thread goes so badly is the sheer hyperbole. I haven't seen a single person in this thread say they are personally disgusted by overweight people, or that they deserve to be discriminated against or made fun of, or that they are morally inferior. It just isn't happening here. But anyone who isn't jumping on the bandwagon is being accused of this, routinely. It is very insulting to assume such bad faith of me, as if I sneer and call people disgusting pigs behind their back, or whatever. There was one comment that was along these lines -- made in the original thread -- and that person was justifiably called out by the community.

So what is the point of this thread? If there really was a lot of fat-hate on the site, it would make sense, but there just isn't, so people trying to make sense of the conversation have turned to their point of view on obesity in general and are feeding more off of the political/socioeconomic ramifications rather than thinking you personally are disgusting. I'm sorry but I think that the health concerns of obesity are important in the same way I have a lot of political/social beliefs which don't directly affect me. It has nothing to do with your physical appearance. I am sorry that there are people who are assholes to you because of how you look, but again, I am not seeing that here, and furthermore do not think it is a very sound basis for discounting the larger discussion of the causes of increasing obesity or putting down people who acknowledge it by accusing them of being hateful bigots.

And back to my original point, yeah some people can eat whatever the fuck they want and not gain a pound, and some can't. I'm not sure that is a great excuse for being fat, though. There are also a lot of people who can drink whenever they want and not become alcoholics, but I sure as hell am not that person. Because of my genetics and mental disposition, I must eschew alcohol despite how much I enjoy it because of how fast I go down the rabbithole when I do not. We all have our crosses to bear. Some people -- gasp! -- have life easier. But that is the shittiest excuse for not taking care of yourself ever. Sorry, but there it is.
posted by cj_ at 11:05 PM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think why this thread goes so badly is the sheer hyperbole.

I think why this thread goes so badly is that some people seem to remain preachy and judgmental, if not in their thoughts, then at least in their language. For instance:

I'm not sure that is a great excuse for being fat, though

After everything that's been said in this thread, you're still boiling it down to fat people making excuses. If you're still doing that at this point in the thread, then you come off more as wanting to judge or perhaps berate people. Maybe that's not what you intended, but that's how it's coming off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 AM on May 21, 2009


I was pretty concerned about making any serious contribution to this thread, because it seemed like even agreeing with Hat Maui was likely to run afoul. (And let me note, I cheer not at Hat Maui, or anyone for that matter, disabling their account here. This place has the ability to edify everyone, regardless of how offensive or abrasive they may come off.)

But with the vitrol dying down, I figure now I can safely express what really rubs me the wrong way about this issue. First off, I 100% agree that hating on obsese/overweight people is extraordinarily lame. Hating on anyone, as has been pointed out many, many times in this thread, is rather uncool. While only a handful of comments in this thread have done that directly, some more have done that indirectly, but the response to these should be to try to politely point out why what might seem like an objective comment to the person making it actually contains some incorrect information or value judgement.

And sure, this is a sensitive subject, and tempers will almost always flare. But on this topic, as with many others that tend to provoke such passionate responses, I think it's important that your presentation, regardless of which side of the aisle you're on, not turn off people who may well be sympathetic to your viewpoint.

I say this because I have struggled with weight myself for most of my life. Certainly not to the extent that many of the people either contributing to or mentioned in this thread have, (and GREAT on those of who have made progress, big or small, on this front!) but over the course of the last 10-11 years, I have slowly and methodically dropped about 35 pounds, and I'm just now crossing into the "healthy weight" section of BMI. (I know it's a bullshit metric, but milestones are milestones, faulty or not.)

So I would tend to think of myself as being more sympathetic than average to issues of weight. That said, I've found parts of this thread have been incredibly helpful in identifying some biases and judgements that I still hold, and I really hope I can keep those in mind as I continue to live my life. (Miko's comment was so on the money and should be read by every person walking this earth, but I suppose we've come to expect nothing less. No pressure though, Miko. *wink*)

With all of that said, there's an attitude, demonstrated in Hat Maui's flameout, that makes it almost impossible for us to make any progress in this discussion. Rather than call out any comment by Hat Maui, given the disabling, the linked to Kate Harding blog post has one area that sums it up nicely.
4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.
Thanks, Kate. I'm certain I appreciate being called a freak of nature as a reward for my efforts about as much as you enjoy any of the hate being thrown your way. electroboy, in another thread (I won't crosslink to avoid confusion) pointed out this article which makes it pretty clear that anyone looking to rationally discuss any subject at all would be well-advised to stay away from Kate Harding as backup. I'm not in the habit of discounting someone entirely because I disagree with their ideas or style of argument, but, good lord.

But I digress. This isn't about Kate Harding, and I don't really have any major point to make other than this: There are a lot of tough social issues out there, and NOTHING is accomplished when we start turning on each other, regardless of circumstance. I can dance around this all day, but as is usually the case, Kurt Vonnegut says it best: "God damn it, you've got to be kind!"
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:26 AM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


And of course, Devil's Rancher brought the exact same quote to light earlier. (Man, this thread's been an ordeal!) It still holds true. HUGS!!!!
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:31 AM on May 21, 2009


you come off more as wanting to judge or perhaps berate people

Again, there's a distance between judging and berating. Five Fresh Fish made an interesting point above about society "tak[ing] a dim view of obesity." Isn't that the libertarian response to smoking—it's harmful in myriad ways, both direct and indirect; but government isn't the answer to every problem so instead of prohibiting it or taxing it, we should rely on societal disapproval to extinguish it.

Which is not to say that I am a libertarian, or that FFF is, or that codifying disapproval in law isn't sometimes wiser and more just (i.e., less susceptible of abuse). Just that there's a more complex conversational ball to kick around once we get beneath the veneer of "don't call people names"; and as you say, "at this point in the thread," it would seem we have. I thought that's what CJ was getting at.
posted by cribcage at 8:50 AM on May 21, 2009


And of course, Devil's Rancher brought the exact same quote to light earlier. (Man, this thread's been an ordeal!) It still holds true. HUGS!!!!

Aww, c'mere. *does the manly three-pat-on-the-back-guy hug*

You know, I was skinny as a rail until I hit about 30, then I put on 40 lbs in about 3 years. My metabolism threw some kind of mid-life switch. Then, I tried the slowly going out-of-business stress diet (I don't recommend it -- it comes with PTSD) for two years, and lost 30 of it. I've put 10 back on and planed out at 155 lbs. but I can't eat like I could in my 20's any more, that's for sure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:15 AM on May 21, 2009


God damn it, you've got to be kind!"

It's kind to give pies to me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:18 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Manhugs and pies (in moderation) all around!

I will also hug ladies when appropriate.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:44 AM on May 21, 2009


Hat Maui disabled his account? That's a shame; a longterm member, and presumably an enforced lurker before that, during the signup freeze.

I wouldn't call it a flameout, though, argumentative as he was in this thread. Clearly, a topic he felt passionate about, and he must have felt like he was banging his head against a brick wall. Hope he's just taking some time off for a bit.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 PM on May 21, 2009


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