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A plea.
October 3, 2011 12:29 PM   Subscribe

This has turned into one of the worst threads related to health, obesity and body image I've seen around here in ages. Can we please not generalize to assume people who are overweight have some sort of mental instability, gluttony and/or poor self or impulse control? It's rather ugly. Thank you.
posted by zarq to Etiquette/Policy at 12:29 PM (309 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I can't wait for negative ads about how Chris Christie caused a MeFi pileup in addition to other driving offenses.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've never flagged so many comments in my life. That thread is just depressing.
posted by leesh at 12:34 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I agree. I am so appalled I have had to stay out of the thread entirely.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:34 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You were expecting what exactly? Discussion of overweight people (and I speak as a newly minted one myself) always degenerate into "You fatsos have no self control" vs. "How dare you criticize fat people!"

Why should this thread be any different? To paraphrase Al Swearingen on Seth Bullock, maybe you expect us to be better than our nature.
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's rather ugly.

Are you equating my physical unattractiveness with mental illness?

That said, the thread is eponisterical, one of those non-issue bullshit discussions you see bandied about by talking heads, nothing but a bunch of fizz.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2011


I think many of those comments are instructive, if only in a perverse way. They are a slightly more articulate form of what most voters are thinking.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah that got ugly really quickly. It was like people were just overwhelmed by the opportunities to axe-grind arrayed before them and lost all self control, shoveling handfuls of snark into their faces with absolutely no regard for the health or consequences to the thread.

I wish there was some kind of metaphor I could use here to describe this...
posted by quin at 12:36 PM on October 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I guess after all the previous fat threads, which had some great info on health stats, etc, I expected a little more nuanced and educated approach than

> wouldn't all obese individuals be smoking, drug-addicted, sex-crazed, hot-headed, shoplifters

Congratulations. You just described the United States of America.
posted by Lon Mem at 11:55 AM on October 3 [2 favorites +] [!]


(among others.)
posted by small_ruminant at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know what's wrong with mefi lately. The way this thread about a deaf person went was also very disappointing.
posted by desjardins at 12:38 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Rarely have I found so many things to flag as in that thread.

And as a fat guy, I resent the implication of low self-control in that thread, as disproven by the fact I did not in fact call out some people as the bloviating asshats they were showing themselves to be. Not one call-out! Tell me that's not self-control.
posted by mephron at 12:38 PM on October 3, 2011 [28 favorites]


That thread had nowhere to go but ugly. I flagged it when there were still only about a dozen comments because Dead Ray Charles In A Cave On Mars could see where it was going to go.
posted by Gator at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Doesn't this always happen with Mefi threads about weight?
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I expected a little more nuanced and educated approach

Very few people vote with the tips of their prefrontal cortexes, however. A big fat guy running for office will always be a big fat guy to most people, regardless of how well he can pursue policy. I wish people could've addressed that better in the thread, but many of them seemed caught up in the fact that a big fat guy might want to be president that they couldn't step outside of their reaction.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2011


It's non-issue politicsfilter explicitly about obesity issues. I'm a little surprised it was even allowed to stay, but only a little.

If there's ever an opportunity for a non-issue politicsfilter that's about, I don't know, cat declawing or circumcision, the outcome will be just as predictable.
posted by Drastic at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2011


I'm disappointed that nobody is asking if Christie is "black enough".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:40 PM on October 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


desjardins - ugh, the deafness thread. another case of people who have always had something that comes easy making sweeping generalizations and value judgements about people who aren't so fortunate.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Though, I gotta say this one isn't doing well by any reasonable measure there.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2011


jonmc: "You were expecting what exactly?

A less depressing conversation, especially after the Marie Claire / Mike & Molly thread.

Discussion of overweight people (and I speak as a newly minted one myself) always degenerate into "You fatsos have no self control" vs. "How dare you criticize fat people!""

Perhaps it would change things if commenters were more aware that they are discussing a topic with other thread participants who probably don't look like Kate Moss?
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I expected a little more nuanced and educated approach

Why?

Besides, most of the time people use their 'education' to reinforse their own prejudices.
posted by jonmc at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2011


That seemed civil to me, nobody chimed in with a hateful descriptions of poor people buying soda by the gallon at walmart and beating their kids.

Even if the dude eats two chocolate cakes a day, as I do, how the fuck is it anyone's business cept his own. I thought we were pro self-determination.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think many of those comments are instructive, if only in a perverse way. They are a slightly more articulate form of what most voters are thinking.

Here are some of the instructive, articulate comments:

Overweight is a single, daily bottle of beer after dinner. Obese is ten bottles by noon and passed out behind the dumpster at Carl's Jr.

You can eat Five Guys every day but its hardly an addiction like alcoholism or a disease like bulemia. Its just a choice the guy made for years and years and years. And I'm going to hold that against him.

wouldn't all obese individuals be smoking, drug-addicted, sex-crazed, hot-headed, shoplifters
Congratulations. You just described the United States of America.


I am simply advocating people to be healthy.
And in response to "discrimination" non sense, I am not saying "put down the fatties, and make them feel poorly". Merely this occurs in politics and the media.
If one can't separate an individuals own value systems in contrast to societal ones, critical thinking and evaluation are not your forte.


The only thing I've gathered from this thread is that the mods are on a lunch break, because this type of bullshit isn't what I've come to expect from this site. Even 4chan would be more playful.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Very few people vote with the tips of their prefrontal cortexes,

I'm not talking about voters, I'm talking about metafilter users, whom I hold to a higher standard (especially after so many educational threads about obesity.)
posted by small_ruminant at 12:44 PM on October 3, 2011


Perhaps it would change things if commenters were more aware that they are discussing a topic with other thread participants who probably don't look like Kate Moss?

No. They'd just use it as an excuse to be assholes. You expect too much, my friend.
posted by jonmc at 12:44 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you just call that thread fat?
posted by Eideteker at 12:45 PM on October 3, 2011


Yes.
posted by jonmc at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2011


Horselover Phattie: "I think many of those comments are instructive, if only in a perverse way. "

Yes. If I thought they were widespread throughout the site I'd probably never attend another meetup or suggest any other member I know (overweight or not) do so.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


God, I'm glad I never read the comments to the deafness post before now. What an ugly thread.
posted by flatluigi at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2011


I'd go to a meetup.

I might take a taser with me and zap the screaming hell out of some of the worst offenders, which would get me in trouble.
posted by mephron at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I'm not talking about voters, I'm talking about metafilter users, whom I hold to a higher standard

Oh, yeah, I get that. I guess my point was more that even in a place that is supposedly a bit more enlightened/sensitive than other sites on the internet you see some unchecked gut reactions to fat political candidates. There's something instructive about seeing that play out.

I realize it makes for terrible discussion here.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2011


I'm talking about metafilter users, whom I hold to a higher standard

Why? MeFites may be more educated, 'smarter', more traveled, but that dosen't mean we're less prone to being assholes.
posted by jonmc at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


zarq: "Perhaps it would change things if commenters were more aware that they are discussing a topic with other thread participants who probably don't look like Kate Moss?"

Hasn't Kate Moss put on some weight, anyway?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2011


> wouldn't all obese individuals be smoking, drug-addicted, sex-crazed, hot-headed, shoplifters

Congratulations. You just described the United States of America.
posted by Lon Mem at 11:55 AM on October 3 [2 favorites +] [!]



Honestly, I just had no idea how to respond to this. I mean, you make a completely over the top comparison, hoping that it would help drive the point home about the ridiculousness of the assertion that obese=complete lack of self-control and you get a reponse like that?

I have no words.
posted by blurker at 12:51 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I just had no idea how to respond to this.

You don't have to respond to it. Metafilter can be a lot of fun, but you (the general you), don't have to respond to every crazy and stupid comment that drools from someone's brain.

Skip it and move on to the fun stuff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can't we just get to the truth of the matter? It's your parents fault.

Hey, it might be a cliché, but it's a true cliché!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2011


Hasn't Kate Moss put on some weight, anyway?

Yeah, but her knees are still too sharp.
posted by Gator at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2011


Doesn't this always happen with Mefi threads about weight?

I've seen a lot of similar threads and this one seemed worse for some reason. Maybe the running for office aspect made people feel like they could be more judgy about the topic than usual.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2011


Why? MeFites may be more educated, 'smarter', more traveled, but that dosen't mean we're less prone to being assholes.

I disagree with this. I think we're in general a whole lot less assholey than most other user commenting sites. I can usually visit metafilter without completely losing my faith in humanity, unlike, say, 4chan, youtube, or the comment section of any newspaper article.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree with BB. I don't think there's any need to respond to something like Lon Mem's hateful trolly comments. It just inspires people like that to comment more with trolly hateful comments and everyone gets worked up.
posted by sweetkid at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yikes, it's getting rough in there.
posted by cashman at 12:55 PM on October 3, 2011


Hasn't Kate Moss put on some weight, anyway?

uh - no [mnsfw]
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2011


Looks like some deletin' is going on now.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2011


Your favorite band Presidential candidate suxx0rz.
posted by Lynsey at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like when threads like this distract everyone from discussing how well we handle politics.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I flagged that thread when it was young, also. It's a born loser.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2011


Can we please not generalize to assume people who are overweight have some sort of mental instability, gluttony and/or poor self or impulse control?


We can probably do that around the same time we also refrain from ascribing bigotry and ignorance to anyone with the temerity to point out that obesity is a bad thing that can almost always be fixed with a little bit of application and desire from the person concerned.
posted by Decani at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think we're in general a whole lot less assholey than most other user commenting sites.

Honestly, no. We're just more articulate/glib about our assholery.
posted by jonmc at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm talking about metafilter users, whom I hold to a higher standard

I'd just like to point out that, though the thread is found on MeFi, the hatfull of assholes posting hyperbolic poopie are hardly representative of the thousands of MeFites not posting crap.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread should have been nuked from orbit at birth, not least for the editorializing pull quote which inevitably got the opposite reaction it was seeking.
posted by unSane at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2011


I thought this thread about dealing with disabilities in a college classroom from several days ago went terribly.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


There's a newer comment by someone who...

I can't even talk about it without it being a callout. And I am so goddamn tempted to do it despite the consequences.
posted by mephron at 1:02 PM on October 3, 2011


> I can't even talk about it without it being a callout.

Sinewy man beauty? That dude is being a total dipshit.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


We can probably do that around the same time we also refrain from ascribing bigotry and ignorance to anyone with the temerity to point out that obesity is a bad thing that can almost always be fixed with a little bit of application and desire from the person concerned.

Decani: it's one thing to point out that there are fixes to obesity. It's another to be hateful while doing so. That thread is full of comments from 4-5 people who are, quite obviously, intending to be hateful. It's trolling at it's worst/finest.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


jonmc: You were expecting what exactly?

I was expecting the worst. Republicans+obesity seemed like a catalyst for our collective worst tendencies. I was still shocked by that thread. Maybe it's just the threads I've chanced into, but MetaFilter seems to have been at its worst lately.
posted by Kattullus at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think what really bugs me about this is the irony of people grinding the shit out of their axes, when the FPP itself addresses exactly that kind of stupid axe grinding. Here is a good quote from the very first link:

Kinsley’s and Robinson’s attacks on Christie come down to the claim that fat people choose to be fat, and could choose to be thin if they were more self-disciplined and had better lifestyle habits. Robinson advises Christie to “eat a salad and take a walk,” while Kinsley believes Christie should be disqualified from running for president until “he goes on a diet and shows he can stick to it.”

This is utter nonsense, which these two writers would recognize as such if someone were to apply their reasoning to almost any other social issue, such as poverty. What would these two double-plus good-thinking liberals say to the claim that poor people choose to be poor, and could choose to be rich if they were more self-disciplined and had better lifestyles? My guess is they would say that’s a ridiculous oversimplification, and one that is ultimately harmful to the cause of social justice. And they would be right.

People were in such a rush to be all ZOMG FAT PEOPLE JEEEZUS that they didn't even bother to RTFA(s).

. . . refrain from ascribing bigotry and ignorance to anyone with the temerity to point out that obesity is a bad thing that can almost always be fixed with a little bit of application and desire from the person concerned.

Oh wow! Ironically, there is a recent FPP that addresses this point exactly, with a number of articles on the subject! Perhaps you would like to read it?
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


All those threads are heinous. Is Mercury in retrograde or something?
posted by rtha at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember that it's ok to flag comments or posts and laugh at the irony as you shovel down a bowl of ice cream.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2011


We can probably do that around the same time we also refrain from ascribing bigotry and ignorance to anyone with the temerity to point out that obesity is a bad thing that can almost always be fixed with a little bit of application and desire from the person concerned.

This reminded me of how Michelle Obama announced a program to encourage children to exercise and eat right and Rush Limbaugh responded by pointing out how that fat-thighed negress sure does love ribs.

It would have been nice if the thread could have focused on the reality that weight issues and so-called "healthy living" (to admittedly use a loaded term) have become a legitimate political issue because, since Ms. Obama is for it, the right is now obligated to be against it (remember Sarah Palin showing up the next morning with cookies that may have well had "fuck you, Obama" written on them in extra-gluconated frosting?) but instead it devolved into petty arguing, and this MeTa thread, about who gets to be the most offended.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2011


Robinson advises Christie to “eat a salad and take a walk,”...

The crazy thing is that's totally possible to make unhealthly salad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Possible? It's not even hard.
posted by cashman at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


But a taco salad is so delicious!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2011


Yes, Brandon. I tried to get a healthy salad at Potbelly's. Turns out my girlfriend was right about trying to get anything healthy at a place whose name celebrates overeating (it's a stove, I know. But in that place, vegetarian=cheese).
posted by oneironaut at 1:10 PM on October 3, 2011


I'm disappointed that nobody is asking if Christie is "black enough".

I did say I had a lot of fat friends. :P
posted by phaedon at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2011


I once wrote that these days anything in a martini glass is considered a martini. I'd also like to say that these days, just about anything in a bowl with lettuce is considered a salad.

/hates salad
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My problem with Christie's generous...ness was not that he is obese right now. It's that he had to become obese over a period of time and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

This, as opposed to ZOMG he's fat right now and that's not socially acceptable let's grill him up (which is bad planning, they should save him for the Delicatessen type scenarios)
posted by Slackermagee at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2011


I don't even drink martinis in martini glasses. They're too sloshy.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:12 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


No way. That thread made me a a bit concerned about my health so I went to get a salad. I got iceberg, ham, bacon, salami, sliced eggs, blackened turkey and ranch dressing, it didnt fit into the container so I had to pay extra for the counter man to carefully pick out all the iceberg. Now I got a bowl full of ham, bacon, salami, sliced eggs, blackened turkey drenched in ranch dressing. Still totally healthy! It is like a loophole in the laws of the universe.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:13 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't even like martinis (I hate vermouth), I was merely tring to make a point.
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on October 3, 2011


It's that he had to become obese over a period of time and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

No, it shouldn't.
posted by leesh at 1:16 PM on October 3, 2011 [51 favorites]


I was tickled when I ran across "Jack LaLanne's favorite salad" on the menu at John's Grill:


Jack Lalanne's Favorite Salad 14.95

SEASONAL GREENS, DUNGENESS CRAB, SHRIMP, AVOCADO,MUSHROOMS, TOMATO, CREAMY BLEU CHEESE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING (emphasis on the "creamy" -ed)

Yes it was awesome. No, it was not healthy.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2011


and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

What, exactly, do you mean here? I don't understand what you're saying, so could you explain your reasoning, please?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2011


It's that he had to become obese over a period of time and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

Some people can eat lots of food and stay thin, while others can eat much less and gain a bunch of weight. This is simply a matter of genetics, and it brings up a bunch of interesting questions. Would you say that the person who ate less and gained more weight is somehow less moral than the person who ate more? Or, to be consistent, would you just say that anyone who eats a lot has moral problems? Do you think it's a good idea to start asking every candidate how much they eat on a regular basis? Of course, to get a real accounting of their moral fiber (no pun intended), you'd have to index this against their body mass and total amount of exercise and activity on a given day

Anyhow, to make sure I understand this correctly: For the people who are arguing about a moral axis here, there is some sort of mathematical formula involving one's amount of exercise, height, and food intake that magically determines whether or not someone is a moral person. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if this sounds plausible.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


I deleted a bunch of off-topic anti-fat-people ranting from that thread and probably would have considered pulling the thread entirely if I hadn't been at lunch. Sorry about that. That said, people need to learn to do better with this sort of thing or else it's just another thing on the "we can't trust you with these topics" pile.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes it was awesome. No, it was not healthy.

Didn't Jack LaLanne live to be 90-something?
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2011


I thought we had moved past this as a community. Pretty disappointing thread - I stopped reading pretty quickly.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:20 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slackermagee: My problem with Christie's generous...ness was not that he is obese right now. It's that he had to become obese over a period of time and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

What the heck? How is that any of your business? Are we going to have debates that start off with a weigh-in followed by a reading of a food journal that starts off at birth?

Some people are fat, some people are thin. Some people are men. Some people are women. Some people don't like those labels. Some people are gay. Some people are transgender. Some people are smart. Some people are not that smart.

You should judge people on how they interact with other people, not how they feed themselves. THAT'S character. Not if I had another donut.
posted by inturnaround at 1:20 PM on October 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I read through before the deletions. Pure craziness in some of those comments. Weird, and not what I was expecting.
posted by Forktine at 1:21 PM on October 3, 2011


It's not irony, but what is it when a particularly bad thread about eating goes even worse when people feed the trolls? Because it's not irony, but it's something...
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:21 PM on October 3, 2011


It's that he had to become obese over a period of time and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character

Well, if he got fat snatching candy from babies, stealing gruel from orpahns and drinking other people's milkshakes all up that is pretty bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


jessamyn: "I deleted a bunch of off-topic anti-fat-people ranting from that thread and probably would have considered pulling the thread entirely if I hadn't been at lunch. Sorry about that. That said, people need to learn to do better with this sort of thing or else it's just another thing on the "we can't trust you with these topics" pile."

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's not irony, but what is it when a particularly bad thread about eating goes even worse when people feed the trolls? Because it's not irony, but it's something...

I'd say it's a bad joke you're better than, I hope.
posted by inturnaround at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2011


and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character.

What, exactly, do you mean here?


I think he's saying: "Some are born obese, some achieve obesity, and others have obesity thrust upon them."
posted by Floydd at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Your welcome.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2011


I deleted a bunch of off-topic anti-fat-people ranting from that thread and probably would have considered pulling the thread entirely if I hadn't been at lunch. Sorry about that.

I don't care if it's not really funny, that made me laugh.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The crazy thing is that's totally possible to make unhealthly salad.

Not only is it possible, but in fact it's hard to eat out and get a salad that *isn't* unhealthy. The first time I ate at an Applebee's a few years ago, I was shocked at the quantity of egg, cheese, and bacon they put in my house salad.
posted by aught at 1:27 PM on October 3, 2011


i'd rather have a fat ass than a thin heart
posted by pyramid termite at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Maybe I'm just too new here to understand what constitutes a legitimate post in a MetaFilter thread, but I am quite irked that my comment was deleted from the thread in question.

The post was in response to a comment that asserted that the problem people have with Christie's appearance isn't about his health or self control, it is that he isn't attractive enough to be electable.

My reply was that the first time I saw Christie on TV a few weeks ago in the context of his possible presidential bid, my first thought wasn't "I wouldn't vote for him because he isn't handsome," it was "Wow, if this guy obviously cannot successfully manage his own health and eating habits, how can I trust him to manage the country?"

Perhaps this is insensitive, but it was my gut response when I saw him. Judging by the comments in this thread and the other, I imagine that a large segment of the electorate has reacted/will react similarly.
posted by Kevtaro at 1:29 PM on October 3, 2011


Honestly, I don't see how anyone could jump into these threads and take the bait unless they're a total noob. I think I stopped reading the Fat threads in what, 2004. I mean I have opinions about obesity and stuff, but there is no point, nothing good has ever come out of the discussion here.

It should be in the FAQ when you sign up.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps this is insensitive, but it was my gut response when I saw him.

It didn't really address what was in the articles, though.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2011


Perhaps this is insensitive, but it was my gut response when I saw him.

And it's a response that is ignorant of the facts of many over-weight people's lives. That's the point. The point that you and many other are missing, that is.

If "gut response" was supposed to be funny - it wasn't.
posted by aught at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Some people are fat, some people are thin. Some people are gay. Some people are transgender.

I'm not sure that one can reasonably equate a sexual orientation with being thin or fat.

I think that plenty of us have observed someone that we know, over a period of time, falling into bad habits fed by poor decisions that led to a significant weight gain. Hell, I'm one of them. That's not a value judgment, but let's not pretend that this doesn't happen, either.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2011


> My reply was that the first time I saw Christie on TV a few weeks ago in the context of his possible presidential bid, my first thought wasn't "I wouldn't vote for him because he isn't handsome," it was "Wow, if this guy obviously cannot successfully manage his own health and eating habits, how can I trust him to manage the country?"

I think it might've stayed up if you had done a bit more to couch that comment in "here's my honest reaction as a voter, and here's how I'm deconstructing that reaction" rather than just a naked reaction, but I don't recall your specific comment.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:32 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aw, fer chrissakes... what really sucks is I had a comment with 26 favorites in that thread that jessamyn deleted (I'm hoping only because it was a response to something sinewy man-beauty said).

That comment? That's the one that put me over a ratio of 1 on this site. After 10+ years on this site- and no doubt countless people deciding I'm a horrible, awful, terrible person- the ratio of number of favorites I had to the sum of all comments and posts I've made in all subsites finally went above 1. Or in other words, my average post/comment has at least one favorite.

I know it's not a competition, and it may mean nothing to the cortexes et al, with their gaudy, Ruthian sabermetric MeFi stats... but still, I'd been keeping an eye on it lately as a little personal accomplishment that however much I may inspire loathing on the part of some users, my average comment might be considered by the hive mind to be a net positive.

And now, watch as random MeFites removing their favorites of my past comments just to fuck with my fragile ego...
posted by hincandenza at 1:35 PM on October 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


What is different about that thread from many other threads on fat is the nasty tone of a lot of the comments about obese people and the widespread assumptions about the character of others based on their weight. While there's a lot I don't like about "obesity" threads, it's usually more to do with condescension and disagreement. I do think it is possible to disagree and discuss this issue in a reasonable, even heated, way.

But if an entire group of people is going to be written off as "incompetent" and morally or intellectually suspect because of the way they look, that is just bigotry. There are lots of Mefites who are obese and those kinds of statements are alienating. I know people think they can tell your behavior by what you look like. They really can't. Shoot, even knowing a person's behavior doesn't tell you why they behave in that way, but we're not even that far in the conversation.
posted by Danila at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think that plenty of us have observed someone that we know, over a period of time, falling into bad habits fed by poor decisions that didn't led to a significant weight gain.

so, tell me - why do we judge the group that gains weight worse than the people who are just always naturally skinny? if it's about the poor decisions and lack of self control, wouldn't both of them be held to the same scorn?

as i said in the main thread, you can talk about health problems without talking about self control. saying obesity has serious health consequences is quantifiable and sources can be cited. saying an obese person simply lacks self control is making the most mean spirited guess you can.
posted by nadawi at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


SEASONAL GREENS, DUNGENESS CRAB, SHRIMP, AVOCADO,MUSHROOMS, TOMATO, CREAMY BLEU CHEESE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING (emphasis on the "creamy" -ed)

I don't really see what's particularly unhealthy about this. Greens and tomatos and mushrooms are obvious. Crab, shrimp, and avocados are full of good fats and proteins.

Putting some tasty tasty dressing on top doesn't negate any of the healthfulness of the rest of the ingredients, and when it comes to dressings bleu cheese vinaigrette is pretty decent. Don't most people get their dressing on the side nowadays anyway, or is that a left coast thing?

Of course, I don't consider most unprocessed foods to be a priori "unhealthy."
posted by muddgirl at 1:38 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


bleu cheese vinaigrette is pretty decent.

CREAMY blue cheese vinaigrette. Yes, the ingredients are fine, but the calorie count is astounding.

But tasty.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


what is a creamy vinaigrette anyway? i mean, i know practically what it is, but once you add the "creamy" doesn't it stop being a vinaigrette?
posted by nadawi at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2011


"Wow, if this guy obviously cannot successfully manage his own health and eating habits, how can I trust him to manage the country?"

Yes, yes, I can see the conversation now:

"How could we ever have known that President Christie would go insane and nuke Canada?"

"Well, you know, he once told me that . . . that . . . HE THINKS ICE CREAM TASTES GOOD."

"OH MY GOD."

[Stunned silence. Music swells]
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Whenever I hear anyone deconstucting/criticizing/getting-all-high-and-mighty about someone else's eating choices, I always want break out the old chestnut that'd it'd break my fat old heart if they disapproved, really.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2011


The only thing I've gathered from this thread is that the mods are on a lunch break

That's weirdly exactly what happened, all of us at once and not by design. Jess did most of the cleanup by the time I was back, but, yeah, sorry about the conspicuous pile-up. Not a great premise for a thread in any case maybe given the weird hodge-podge of pushbutton things involved, but woof.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:43 PM on October 3, 2011


but once you add the "creamy" doesn't it stop being a vinaigrette?

That's what I thought, too.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2011


what is a creamy vinaigrette anyway?

Emulsifiers, lots of emulsifiers.
posted by peeedro at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Overweight is a single, daily bottle of beer after dinner.

So that's... something I should not be doing? *scratches head*

Anyway, I've read threads about weight, diet and exercise that were more or less civil and nuanced. This one was downright toxic. Pretty soon we're going to be seeing "thinspiration" FPPs. And I assume/hope the AskMe crowd has a better attitude, otherwise we'd be driving askers to despair.
posted by naju at 1:45 PM on October 3, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: " Robinson advises Christie to “eat a salad and take a walk,”...

The crazy thing is that's totally possible to make unhealthly salad.
"

It's not a proper salad until the steak, french-fries and melted cheese are on top.
posted by octothorpe at 1:46 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


vinaigrette with cheeses floating in it can stay though. mmmm, feta.
posted by nadawi at 1:46 PM on October 3, 2011


what is a creamy vinaigrette anyway?

(Tasted like mayo to me.)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:47 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


you say that like it's a bad thing
posted by jonmc at 1:48 PM on October 3, 2011


It's not a proper salad until the steak, french-fries and melted cheese are on top.
Oh yeah - it's 9am and I should go to work but I'm going to spend the rest of the morning looking for a place that does this.

"Wow, if this guy obviously cannot successfully manage his own health and eating habits, how can I trust him to manage the country?"
The Situation for President!
posted by doublehappy at 1:49 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


you say that like it's a bad thing
posted by jonmc at 1:48 PM on October 3 [+] [!]


I assure you, that was not my intent.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2011


The way this thread about a deaf person went was also very disappointing.

No kidding! I thought that whole thread was bizarre.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2011


It was a pretty confrontational lead in.
Maybe I'm being naive, but I really do believe that framing can shape a conversation enormously.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2011


And OMG, you should see their crab cocktail. A good half-pint plus of crab with a lemon and a little cocktail sauce dribbled over the top.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:52 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of blue cheese and ranch recipes contain buttermilk, sour cream, or mayo and only a token amount of vinegar. That is what makes them so damn good.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:52 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


sounds tasty
posted by jonmc at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2011


The Situation for President!

you have to admit, GTL is great process and application.
posted by nadawi at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And OMG, you should see their crab cocktail. A good half-pint plus of crab with a lemon and a little cocktail sauce dribbled over the top.

With so much awesome food in the world, why would I want to stay thin. So I can live another couple extra years eating greens and whatever else thin people eat? Fuck that! I am voting for Christie so we have a man who knows how to enjoy life in the whitehouse for once.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:56 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


doublehappy: " The Situation for President!"

Out of curiosity, why is his nickname "The Situation"? The wikipedia entry doesn't say.
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2011


"How could we ever have known that President Christie would go insane and nuke Canada?"

Maybe the fear is that President Christie will go insane and eat Canada.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The way this thread about a deaf person went was also very disappointing.

I only read the first couple of comments and closed the thread. There was so much awesome joy in her reaction that I didn't want it spoiled by pointless bickering about how deaf she might or might not have been.

It made me feel good to watch, and that was all that mattered to me.
posted by quin at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zarq - his abs are "the situation" and then it extended into his nickname.
posted by nadawi at 2:03 PM on October 3, 2011


Out of curiosity, why is his nickname "The Situation"?
The same reason your username is "zarq".
posted by doublehappy at 2:03 PM on October 3, 2011


By which I mean to say he chose it for himself. It's synecdoche.
posted by doublehappy at 2:05 PM on October 3, 2011


nadawi: "Zarq - his abs are "the situation" and then it extended into his nickname."

Clear as mud. ;)

doublehappy: "By which I mean to say he chose it for himself. It's synecdoche."

Ah.

Thank you both. Had been wondering.
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


A thread about a fat potential republican candidate is very nearly a perfect storm here on Mefi. It could only be worse if we learned that he circumcised his de-clawed cat in his humvee.
posted by crunchland at 2:08 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


A thread about a fat potential republican candidate is very nearly a perfect storm here on Mefi. It could only be worse if we learned that he circumcised his de-clawed cat in his humvee.

And had a side job counseling gay youths into godly heterosexuality.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the problem with all of the weight issue threads is that arguing with the "if fat people would just eat less" crowd is a lot like arguing with creationists. They're so flat out wrong that you're not really arguing about the topic itself. It's like someone dropping in a thread and claiming that the world is flat.

You're really having a veiled discussion about how much a person is willing to hold on to their worldview in the face of opposing evidence. The fat issue is just a handy hook to hang that (completely useless) argument on.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


I guess I don't see the calorie count of one dish as necessarily unhealthy, either. I never understood those commercials for, like, a 90-calorie breakfast bar - if that's all I ate for breakfast, I'd need a 1000-calorie salad for lunch! Even if someone is actively trying to lose weight, don't they still need something like 1,500 calories a day, net? Maybe this doesn't make sense to me because I don't count calories and I have a savory tooth (rather than a sweet tooth)...

...and also I'm a fatty fatty who can't control what goes into my mouth. I never noticed before how fat shaming and slut shaming often share the same language. I guess it all stems from the same obsession with "mental" control of an "animalistic" function. Maybe someday when we've gotten past sex shaming and food shaming, we'll start judging people based on their bowel movements or the color of their urine.

(wow, that really turned into two different comments, didn't it?)
posted by muddgirl at 2:10 PM on October 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


muddgirl - i had been mulling over the idea in my head about how the argument that we as a people should be concerned about what he does to his personal body because he might be president echos some of the arguments about the "health of the fetus" and how the mother's autonomy is suddenly not important once she gets pregnant (to extend it further - the arguments about "pre-pregnancy"). the slut shaming angle is interesting as well.
posted by nadawi at 2:13 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


arguing with the "if fat people would just eat less" crowd is a lot like arguing with creationists

That's a weird way to put it. There's no way I'm going into those threads giving out diet and workout tips, but I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking that for the majority of obese adult North Americans it's likely an issue of what and how much they're eating combined with a sedentary lifestyle. I wouldn't necessarily link that sort of thinking with creationism of all things.
posted by ODiV at 2:14 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Adding a moral component is weird and judgey though. Maybe those are the people you're talking about?
posted by ODiV at 2:19 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The preponderance of evidence would suggest that the biological response to weight loss involves comprehensive, persistent, and redundant adaptations in energy homeostasis and that these adaptations underlie the high recidivism rate in obesity therapeutics.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:20 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


So yeah I started the thread. And so I ask this without snark. People have made comments about how they find it surprising the thread was allowed to stay, knowing that it was going to go in a particular direction. Is the alternative to ban all topics that are considered "sensitive"? The post is about Chris Christie's weight and it is being widely discussed in the media, I'm sure that talking about subjects like homosexuality, faith, Israel/Palestine, and many more also are just as divisive. People are going to say stupid things, that cannot be helped. But there is a fair bit of intelligent conversation going on in that thread as well. Or maybe what I'm saying just sounds like fizz to you.
posted by Fizz at 2:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It didn't really address what was in the articles, though.

The articles--and the MeFe discussion--are about people's reactions to Christie's appearance and how it would hypothetically affect his electability if he were to run. The discussion about whether it is his physical attractiveness (as the original poster has asserted) or some other character judgement based on his appearance that would drive people not to vote for him is, in my opinion, on topic.


I think it might've stayed up if you had done a bit more to couch that comment in "here's my honest reaction as a voter, and here's how I'm deconstructing that reaction" rather than just a naked reaction, but I don't recall your specific comment.

Perhaps you're right. What I meant was that the feeling was my initial and honest reaction to the the suggestion that Christie may run for president. I reacted this way even though I previously struggled with my own weight. I think that this is a reaction that, right or wrong, I think many people share, and as such it would affect his electability much more than, say, his physical attractiveness. I will add that I would obviously take his stance on issues that I care about and my confidence in his ability to bring together our hopelessly divided political parties into consideration before voting, were he to run.


That said, people need to learn to do better with this sort of thing or else it's just another thing on the "we can't trust you with these topics" pile.

I've been a long-time reader of the site and I respect the rare thing that the community has built here. I trust the hard-working moderators' judgement and will work explain myself better in future comments. That said, I hope that future posts or comments aren't banned from the blue simply because they are controversial or encourage more trolling than other posts. I don't come here because I want to be in an echo chamber. I come because of the diversity of opinions and viewpoints, even those that I vehemently disagree with or that are downright obnoxious.
posted by Kevtaro at 2:22 PM on October 3, 2011


Metafilter loves science so much! Except when it comes to obesity research.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:23 PM on October 3, 2011 [12 favorites]



I never noticed before how fat shaming and slut shaming often share the same language. I guess it all stems from the same obsession with "mental" control of an "animalistic" function.


I think you hit the nail on the head there.

There are some class issues in there as well, if you want to round that off. It's thuggish and lower class to give into your cravings. Up here among the elite we sip, and we savor delicate flavors, we don't just gulp things down and scratch our asses like those craven heathens that clean the toilets and dig the ditches.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:25 PM on October 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


My informal survey says that metafilter is more of a Perrier place than a no-name Coca-Cola place.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:27 PM on October 3, 2011


Didn't Jack LaLanne live to be 90-something?

Yes. However, saying that salad is LaLanne's favorite salad says nothing about how often he ate it. Hot-fudge sundaes are my favorite dessert, but I haven't had one in years. I hate that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't understand how saying that some people are obese or overweight due to lifestyle is equivalent to fat-shaming.
posted by girlmightlive at 2:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wordwoman: What do you think is causing rising obesity rates? Changes in diet and lifestyle don't seem to be unrelated.
posted by ODiV at 2:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The post is about Chris Christie's weight and it is being widely discussed in the media

For my part, I look at it a little funny because Christie's just the current grist in the media mill while the primary season is gearing up, so it's like, yes, people in political news/gossip circles sure are talking about his weight a lot to have something to fill the dead air in the 24-hour news cycle while they wait for the will-he-or-won't-he shoe to drop. It's definitely fodder, yeah.

Whether that translates to a likely rewarding Metafilter post is a separate question, and "controversial political figure: too fat?" isn't really something I'd peg as a great choice. I realize you put some effort into making it more than just literally an op-ed on the subject, but it's hard to get away from the essentially sort of "here we go, for no particularly good reason" feeling about it even so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:29 PM on October 3, 2011


I'll think a bit more about my posts in the future, especially political ones.
posted by Fizz at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the problem with this issue is people conflating public health issues with individual health issues.

I don't think it's controversial to say that the growing obesity epidemic reflects poorly on our culture's food and activity choices. We can probably all agree that encouraging a more active lifestyle and better meal choices (not empty choices like diet cola and fruit juice vs. regular cola) is good public policy.

The problem is that people who harp on this issue are basing their arguments on the smoking war, which the anti-smoking side has essentially won. With smoking, there is direct cause and effect between smoking and cancer, as well as a connection between second-hand smoke and public health. Thus, anti-smokers feel themselves justified on criticizing smoking on moral grounds as well as public health grounds.

The moral argument just doesn't fit at all when it comes to obesity (I take no position on whether it fits with smoking). You don't get heart disease from second hand fat! And you can be overweight with little risk of heart disease if you're taking care of yourself, whereas if you smoke there's no getting around your cancer risk. But for some reason people still feel justified in their fat-shaming. As a skinny guy who went many years with terrible eating habits until I was diagnosed with high cholesterol at 25, I'm glad that for some fluke of genetics my eating habits didn't show in my body and I was spared all this asshatery.

I challenge anyone who even thinks to criticize someone overweight for their self-control to put that energy into public health initiatives in your community. It'll do a lot more good than publicly insulting someone who, in all likelihood, has healthier eating habits than you do.
posted by auto-correct at 2:31 PM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, right, sorry. the bit I quoted said, "if fat people would just eat less," assuming an individual as a starting point. Nevermind, I'm offtopic.
posted by ODiV at 2:31 PM on October 3, 2011


an overweight individual rather.
posted by ODiV at 2:32 PM on October 3, 2011


girlmightlive: "I guess I don't understand how saying that some people are obese or overweight due to lifestyle is equivalent to fat-shaming."

That was not what was being said in that thread before Jessamyn cleaned it up. The most gentle deleted comment said that people who are overweight should not be President because they obviously have no self-control.

But other comments said things like this: Overweight is a single, daily bottle of beer after dinner. Obese is ten bottles by noon and passed out behind the dumpster at Carl's Jr.

I trust you see why that's a problem?
posted by zarq at 2:34 PM on October 3, 2011


Fizz: "I'll think a bit more about my posts in the future, especially political ones."

While you're at it, might I suggest you also consider how you editorialized the title of the post with a fat joke?
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thus, anti-smokers feel themselves justified on criticizing smoking on moral grounds as well as public health grounds.

I just criticize because for 18 years I didn't realize how bad it stank until I quit (and now it is one of the worst smells in the world), and these days I desperately hope that I can convince people who are still addicted and going through withdrawal every hour or so, that they are being tricked into believing that they need something which is merely giving them a Pavlovian reward.
posted by quin at 2:40 PM on October 3, 2011


A thread about a fat potential republican candidate is very nearly a perfect storm here on Mefi. It could only be worse if we learned that he circumcised his de-clawed cat in his Humvee and had a side job counseling gay youths into godly heterosexuality while listening to pirated Lady Gaga and Weird Al Yankovic mp3s on a jailbroken iPhone he bought in Palestine but activated in Israel.
posted by George Clooney at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


ODiV - that link seems to concern the health risks of a western fat diet and a sedentiary lifestyle. I would never argue that being sedentiary is healthier than an active one (although your health is not my business), but I don't see why obesity is the focus of all our ire - there are plenty of sedentary thin people with shitty diets. Can't we promote a more active lifestyle, and more balanced nutrition, without talking about body weight at all?
posted by muddgirl at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I reacted this way even though I previously struggled with my own weight.

I haven't ever met people so vigorously anti-smoking as former smokers, so maybe there's even more charge when it's something someone's familiar with.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2011


ODiV: obesity is multifactorial. Nobody is denying the role of calorie intake and energy expenditure. However, the oft-repeated assertion that obese people could just lose weight if they applied a little more willpower is an assumption that is not scientifically based.
posted by Wordwoman at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I trust you see why that's a problem?

Certainly. I don't agree with that false equivalency. But, we say we want nuance, and yet when someone wants to talk about the correlation to our American lifestyle and weight, they get shouted down, and this...

publicly insulting someone who, in all likelihood, has healthier eating habits than you do.

I thought making generalities about a person's food intake is wrong? If it is, it should be wrong for everyone.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but I'm under the impression that the issues with smoking aren't just second-hand smoke but the higher health costs that arise from the preventable diseases that smoking causes. Aren't they seeing the same thing with our sedentary lifestyles as well?
posted by girlmightlive at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2011


I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking that for the majority of obese adult North Americans it's likely an issue of what and how much they're eating combined with a sedentary lifestyle.

yeah, but that's such a vast oversimplification, that it really comes close to being a completely useless statement. The reason I compare it to creationism is for that very reason. Saying "god created Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago and that's where we all come from" is an extreme oversimplification compared to a more nuanced belief that it is valid as one of a vast number of creation myths across a variety of cultures that speak some sort of allegorical truth as to the origins of what we consider to be humanity.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:48 PM on October 3, 2011


we'll start judging people based on their bowel movements or the color of their urine.

Bristol 4 and straw-colored. Ready to announce my candidacy!
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:52 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's amazing how people who are overweight (apparently) intentionally inflict so much distress on everyone who has to look at them. Maybe they should take some personal responsibility and willpower and not look at fat people, I dunno.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:52 PM on October 3, 2011


auto-correct: The problem is that people who harp on this issue are basing their arguments on the smoking war, which the anti-smoking side has essentially won. With smoking, there is direct cause and effect between smoking and cancer, as well as a connection between second-hand smoke and public health. Thus, anti-smokers feel themselves justified on criticizing smoking on moral grounds as well as public health grounds.

People have been criticizing other people's appearance and behavior on moral grounds as far back into history as we can see. Hundreds of thousands of years ago an individual of the species homo erectus told another individual of the species homo erectus that the way he lit fire was proof that he was no better than a dung beetle. And here we are, the pinnacle of Terran evolution.
posted by Kattullus at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2011


Can't we promote a more active lifestyle, and more balanced nutrition, without talking about body weight at all?

Personally, I think this is a great question muddgirl posed and I'd like to know the answer as well.
posted by sweetkid at 3:01 PM on October 3, 2011


Bristol 4 and straw-colored. Ready to announce my candidacy!
posted by SpiffyRob


Old and busted: "Tanned, Rested, and Ready"
New hotness: "Smooth, Soft, and Straw-colored"
posted by George Clooney at 3:01 PM on October 3, 2011


I don't see why obesity is the focus of all our ire

Oh, it's not. We've got some ire left over for people who are too thin as well.

Can't we promote a more active lifestyle, and more balanced nutrition, without talking about body weight at all?

I don't think we can promote these things effectively at all lately, unfortunately, with or without the mention of body weight.

However, the oft-repeated assertion that obese people could just lose weight if they applied a little more willpower is an assumption that is not scientifically based.

Yeah, willpower's a really judgmental word to use and impossible to test scientifically, as far as I know.

billyfleetwood: Sorry, I'm really not following, but again, I wasn't really addressing your initial point anyway because I misread it so feel free to disregard.
posted by ODiV at 3:02 PM on October 3, 2011


girlmightlive: "But, we say we want nuance, and yet when someone wants to talk about the correlation to our American lifestyle and weight, they get shouted down, and this..."

Once the comment was made that America was made up of obese, "smoking, drug-addicted, sex-crazed, hot-headed, shoplifters" the nuance ship had pretty much sailed. Please note that for the first 1-150 comments, the people in that thread had no interest in talking about the third party effects of obesity vs., that of smoking. A number of them simply wanted to assert that Governor Christie would be an unfit Presidential candidate due to his inability to control his impulses. And extended that towards condemning judgments against all overweight/obese people.

That said, here's a relatively early comment that was not shouted down.

You take out of a discussion what you put into it. And there were comments being added to the discussion that were deliberately inflammatory and not reasonable.
posted by zarq at 3:09 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's thuggish and lower class to give into your cravings. Up here among the elite we sip, and we savor delicate flavors, we don't just gulp things down and scratch our asses like those craven heathens that clean the toilets and dig the ditches.

I remember reading an old etiquette book (might have been Modern Manners and Social Forms) in which the author railed against the horrible custom of eating while walking. You might think that comestible you're contemplating is a harmless ice cream cone to be enjoyed while strolling along the sidewalk, but in truth it's a sign that you are UNCIVILIZED and INCAPABLE OF MASTERING YOUR LOWER URGES and NO BETTER THAN AN ANIMAL. *fans self*
posted by Lexica at 3:11 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think we can promote these things effectively at all lately, unfortunately

I was going to try and respond to this in good faith (with examples of local initiatives to improve the walkability and bikeability of my own city), but I guess I don't get the point. You think that American civics is hopelessly broken so... what? We shouldn't fight against those who bully fat people?
posted by muddgirl at 3:14 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pardon, I see that you're in Canada. Maybe Canadian civics is broken, too.
posted by muddgirl at 3:14 PM on October 3, 2011


Alright, I had a gigantic wall of text, but I'm going to condense it:

There are things which take the culpability of being obese off of the individual. These cases are tiny percentages of the total obese population, even when added together. The choice is the that of the individual to have a muffin, one soda, an okay lunch and dinner, and dessert all in one day and then not workout or be active.

Trying to tie the large majority of obese cases, wherein the responsibility lies solely on the individual, to gay rights or slut shaming is flabbergasting and if you don't see why I can't really address that as its a belief that those three things are similar rather than looking at the facts of the matter.

Telling me that it takes excessive effort, that most people fail at delivering, to return to normal weight is a no brainer: it took an excessive amount of food over many years to get there in the first place and they failed to stop while they were doing it to begin with.

Telling me that the reason Christie put on so much weight is none of my business really makes no sense to me. Unless he's part of that tiny percentage, he made bad decisions for years by putting short term pleasure ahead of long term health and responsibility. His bad decision making isn't a zero sum process, that way of planning could pervade (someone from NJ tell me this) or has pervaded his governing style.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:22 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You think that American civics is hopelessly broken so... what? We shouldn't fight against those who bully fat people?

I think life in North America is increasingly geared towards an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle and I think the so called "promotion" of active lifestyles and healthy eating going on right now is more or less a joke. I guess I'm feeling pessimistic today and realize I didn't give you a real answer to your question, sorry. Yes I believe we can definitely promote healthy lifestyle without bringing body weight into it.

Please continue to confront those who bully other people. I was taking issue with what I saw as the conflation of the idea that if you eat less you'll probably lose weight with creationism.
posted by ODiV at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2011


Slackermagee, I'm curious: Who do you think school lunch programs would be healthier under, President George W. Bush or President Michael Moore?
posted by Flunkie at 3:27 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are things which take the culpability of being obese off of the individual. These cases are tiny percentages of the total obese population, even when added together.

Can you support this assertion with anything other than common knowledge? How can I, Ms. Joan Q Public, determine who is Culpably Fat and who isn't? Maybe we should do a huge study and label all the Bad Fatties.

Telling me that it takes excessive effort, that most people fail at delivering, to return to normal weight is a no brainer: it took an excessive amount of food over many years to get there in the first place and they failed to stop while they were doing it to begin with.

Except that this is the exact opposite of what scientific studies show. It is incredibly hard to maintain weight gain, just as it is incredibly hard to maintain weight loss.
posted by muddgirl at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


People spend most of their time working to pay the rent or pounding the pavement looking for work. Most people have nothing to look forwards to but 40 more years of stuggle, no career goals, no travel, no degrees to get, just 30 more years of toil till they retire. Things are out of their control, their livelihood depends on giant faceless corporations, food is one of the only things they do control, nobody can tell them jack shit. If I am going to get a moment of pleasure from eating a ho-ho, I am going to eat a fucking ho-ho. I'm not hurting anyone else. I'm not out driving drunk or beating on people. I am eating ho-hos.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [28 favorites]


Honest question, do you think that people are suddenly less moral or have less willpower than 40 years ago? I don't think it comes down to "culpability".
posted by ODiV at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


(sorry, that was for Slackermagee, meant to put his name on it)
posted by ODiV at 3:29 PM on October 3, 2011


all i'm saying ODiVis that ONLY saying "if you eat less, you'll lose weight" is taking a very complicated, nuanced and multifaceted subject, and reducing it to an oversimplified statement that has the ring of truth and authority but in reality is kind of bullshit. I'm not that idea is the same as creationism, I'm saying that arguing that idea puts you in the same untenable position as arguing creationism. It's a flawed stance that seems to resist any and all evidence to the contrary.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:38 PM on October 3, 2011


One of the many things that's so spectacularly annoying about morality-based anti-obesity rhetoric is that it hurts efforts that might actually do something to help public health. If the cause is because individual humans lack will-power, then why bother ensuring that children have the option of eating healthy school lunches? Or keep snack-machines and fast-food advertising out of schools, for that matter? Why fight to make healthier foods available to the poor if it's just because fat people are impulsive self-harmers? Why structure the tax code so that it's cheaper to make healthy foods than unhealthy? Making accusations of immorality is not taking part in constructive debate, it's about drawing distinctions between an us and a them.
posted by Kattullus at 3:46 PM on October 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


Ho-how are good, but you know what is really good? Those Golden Cupcakes, but i just don't get why Hostess makes them so damn hard to find. When i see them, it's like I'm Charlie and I just found that mutherfucking gold ticket. I pick it up and i fell like "Yeah! Who's got the glow now?"
posted by P.o.B. at 3:49 PM on October 3, 2011


Gah. Posting from this Droid phone is untenable and flawed.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:52 PM on October 3, 2011


I really like that it doesn't matter how much I smoke, drink, or gamble, because I look like I have self-control and willpower thanks to my unearned physique. But all overweight people are morally culpable for not looking like they're trying. Thanks for taking the heat off, y'all, my next whiskey is to you.
posted by Errant at 3:55 PM on October 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


You mean these bad boys? I never really liked the frosting on them. All this talk is making me want ho-hos, cupcakes or maybe I'll grab a chocolate torte and bring it over to the bar and pass around slices while I drink Jamesons
posted by Ad hominem at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2011


I'll pass on the ho-ho and the golden cupcakes, but if you have a big pot of cheese fondue...

Seriously, though, it's always hard for me, as an obese person without a sweet tooth who's sort of processed-corn-intolerant (meaning I don't really eat corn chips), to get offended by popular representations of fat people. We never depict fat people, like, really chowing down on some dairy, or eating ONE WHOLE BOWL of beef stew.
posted by muddgirl at 4:01 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


billyfleetwood: Depends on context I think. I believe it's a true statement, just probably not a very helpful one and downright inflammatory in certain instances, so I agree with you there. If you're answering an AskMe question about weight-loss then I think it's definitely part of a "best answer" depending on the question.
posted by ODiV at 4:08 PM on October 3, 2011


"and the way in which he achieved obesity should cast some light on his character. "

I disagreed with you until I found out that Christie got fat by eating a lot of orphans and homeless.
posted by klangklangston at 4:27 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Were the orphans homeless"
posted by Sailormom at 4:30 PM on October 3, 2011


Sorry, I always latch on to these tangential points that don't really have anything to do with the initial post or Meta. Please ignore.

Christie got fat by eating a lot of orphans and homeless.

Ah, but were those homeless culpable for their condition?
posted by ODiV at 4:33 PM on October 3, 2011


You mean these bad boys?

Yes, except "Golden" cakes. Not Orange or whatever it is those other ones are.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:34 PM on October 3, 2011


Thank you Zarq for this thread. If only people would stop to think that 1. fat people have feelings too and 2. shaming us, embarrassing us, or making us feel like shit doesn't help the situation AT ALL.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:49 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The orphans were under a chutzpah relief program as parracides.
posted by klangklangston at 4:50 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If only people would stop to think that 1. fat people have feelings too and 2. shaming us, embarrassing us, or making us feel like shit doesn't help the situation AT ALL.

I don't get why people want to antagonize the fatties. Piss us off enough, and we'll just turn you into lunch. The ground will shake with our righteous fury and hungry anger.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 PM on October 3, 2011


Well, if you like antagonizing snarkers, give 'em a try sometime. Me, I can't usually get 'em 'cause my girlfriend's a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. But I do love the taste of a good antagonizing snarker.

Mmmm.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:08 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Honest question, do you think that people are suddenly less moral or have less willpower than 40 years ago? I don't think it comes down to "culpability".

Obviously there was just about 50% of the population that we should've been judging 40 years ago but we couldn't tell yet.
posted by mellow seas at 5:25 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think making it sound like fat people eat other people is helpful to the situation. Nor is saying someone fat will sit on you or implying fat people are always hungry.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:30 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


*ofers P.o.B. a tasty beverage*
posted by jonmc at 5:31 PM on October 3, 2011


That thread was so depressing to me (a fat person who very rarely eats junk food or fast food). I know people judge fat people unfairly, but christ. I know this isn't the time or place to get personally defensive, but I can't stop thinking about how I eat healthier than most of my skinny friends—but that wouldn't matter to some commenters in the original thread because I am unable to make good decisions about governance! Thank god some people still judge others by their actions, not their ugly bodies. It certainly doesn't reflect on my moral character that I can see. I just don't understand how people jump to that conclusion.

And I fucking HATE Chris Christie and his attacks on teachers! And I hate him even more for making me feel like I should rush to his defense to prevent him from being judged on his appearance.
posted by theredpen at 5:35 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want everyone to hear that quote from Christopher Reeve: "Your body is not who you are." Your body is not you.
posted by theredpen at 5:36 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't even get it. Eat well, eat badly, whatever. You're going to die anyway. I don't derail every Mad Men thread by saying smoking is bad for you, and I don't yell at my favorite heroin-chic rockstars to fatten up. It should be a non-issue.

I want everyone to hear that quote from Christopher Reeve: "Your body is not who you are." Your body is not you.

Its just a meatsuit for our minds.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:45 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Telling me that the reason Christie put on so much weight is none of my business really makes no sense to me. Unless he's part of that tiny percentage, he made bad decisions for years by putting short term pleasure ahead of long term health and responsibility.

But you only know (and care) because you can see that he's overweight. Did he run up credit card debt in his youth? Ever mix alcohol and prescription medication? Cheat on a girlfriend Take the DO NOT REMOVE tag off a mattress?

These are all bad decisions that could, over time, lead to the impression that someone put short term pleasure before long term responsibility, but you're not worried about those simply because you can't SEE them.
posted by jess at 5:46 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Take the DO NOT REMOVE tag off a mattress?
Aaah the tag explicitly says that it can only be removed by the consumer, or the person who bought the mattress/pillow/etc. Let's end this madnessss....
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who are you to judge? And why?
posted by batmonkey at 6:03 PM on October 3, 2011


"the culpability of being obese"

what I don't even
posted by madamjujujive at 6:06 PM on October 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unless you won some sort of genetic lottery that causes you to burn calories really fast, we're in a society that is becoming increasingly obese not because of some massive moral failure, but because of a massive failure in public health. It is now not just possible but very easy to get all of your daily caloric requirements from a single burger, because the things are so saturated with fats and sugars. There has never been a time in human history when it was so easy to consume so many calories so quickly and cheaply. Maintaining a constant healthy weight requires ongoing vigilance and a decision to divorce yourself from the way people generally eat -- a hard decision, as eating isn't just a consumption of nutrients, but also a social activity.

All his weight tells me is that he is in the same toxic dietary envionment as most Americans, and declaring this to be a crisis of self-control offers no solution, but substitutes shaming. And we can do better, and the fact that we aren't because it is more useful to use weight as a tactic in political football than actually think about how to address the crisis -- well, it may keep one man from getting elected, but I can't see any value beyond that, and if all you have against the guy is that he's fat, who cares if he gets elected or not?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:06 PM on October 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


Remeber when people were saying they wouldn't vote for Obama because he was too skinny? Yeah, good times.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:09 PM on October 3, 2011


And, apparently, posting the "Fat Hate Bingo Cards" belongs in MetaTalk, while pointing out that All Presidents Must Be Buff and Fatties Eat Too Much is reasonable commentary on the candidate.
posted by jrochest at 6:19 PM on October 3, 2011


Lexica: I remember reading an old etiquette book (might have been Modern Manners and Social Forms) in which the author railed against the horrible custom of eating while walking.

Man, I wish we could look at that idiocy as if in a museum, but a certain perfesser of my acquaintance--who once got to make some calls on just how beastly it is to use science on stem cells--still totally asserts the eating in public thing, and, further:
Not just the uneducated rustic but children of the cultural elite are now regularly seen yawning openly in public (not so much brazenly or forgetfully as indifferently and "naturally"), unaware that it is an embarrassment to human self-command to be caught in the grip of involuntary bodily movements (like sneezing, belching, and hiccuping and even the involuntary bodily display of embarrassment itself, blushing).
But at least he makes it perfectly clear which anxieties are at the root of his hate.
posted by Kylio at 6:27 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So whom should I judge and how vehemently? Tubby? Stocky? Portly? Corpulent? I'm confused.

Can't we just tattoo everybody's BMI on their foreheads? That way, even if they lose weight I can still hate them for their former morphology.

I'm trying to cooperate, but it's tough. Skin color, sexual orientation, tobacco use, religion, size, shopping preference. Maybe there's a klub I can join that will help me figure this all out.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:43 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if somebody's mostly thin, but has fat thighs? Or a big ass? Does that person not have self control? Is it a public health emergency?

I have to know. People I know are getting away with cankles and back fat and man boobs. I need to put a stop to this.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:47 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter can be a lot of fun, but you (the general you), don't have to respond to every crazy and stupid comment that drools from someone's brain.

I resent that.
posted by brain_drain at 6:50 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the many things that's so spectacularly annoying about morality-based anti-obesity rhetoric is that it hurts efforts that might actually do something to help public health. If the cause is because individual humans lack will-power, then why bother ensuring that children have the option of eating healthy school lunches? Or keep snack-machines and fast-food advertising out of schools, for that matter? Why fight to make healthier foods available to the poor if it's just because fat people are impulsive self-harmers? Why structure the tax code so that it's cheaper to make healthy foods than unhealthy? Making accusations of immorality is not taking part in constructive debate, it's about drawing distinctions between an us and a them.

And to add to your list, why study the biology of obesity? When scientific articles about metabolism hit the popular press, often there's a pile-on implying that studying obesity at all is a waste of public money because, hey, all you need to do is eat right and exercise and bam, problem solved. (The irony to me is that there's also usually a chorus of complaints from suspiciously similar circles blaming the obese for rising health care costs.)
posted by en forme de poire at 7:09 PM on October 3, 2011


I'm not singling out Metafilter in particular with that last comment, by the way. That was just a more general frustration with how these conversations tend to be framed in politics and the press. Hugs for people who want them, and friendly, respectful nods from a 3 meter distance for people who don't.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2011


Metafilter is not immune to bigotry or small mindedness, no matter how arrogantly we may think otherwise.
posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


IndigoRain: "Thank you Zarq for this thread. "

You're welcome.
posted by zarq at 7:21 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remeber when people were saying they wouldn't vote for Obama because he was too skinny? Yeah, good times.

I think that didn't happen because Obama is built.
posted by Winnemac at 7:40 PM on October 3, 2011


I need to stop reading threads about obesity here. They're bad for my anxiety levels. They remind me that a lot of people who otherwise are cool, level-headed, intelligent, and educated can hold really awful views about fat. I work with a lot of cool, level-headed, intelligent, and educated people. I'm fat. I always wonder, as they smile and treat me nicely, what are they secretly thinking about me?
posted by meese at 8:03 PM on October 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'd like to cash in my Anecdata Coupon on this one and call bullshit on the whole "fat people make poor choices" meme. I watched a family member of mine struggle with her weight her entire life - despite being very calorie conscious, "disciplined" and active. Yet for all the crap I eat, and how little I exercise, I've managed to be pretty thin.

Anyway, no one I know has the discipline of my aunt, and I'd always assumed that people who honestly believe fat people are just lazy are people who watch too many old Disney shorts. Watch different cartoons, people. I've seen both Tom and Jerry empty whole refrigerators full of food into their gullets. They'll get a hilariously large paunch for a little while, sure, but then they're both skinny again. And don't tell me it's the exercise - the actual chasing, running, getting slammed in the face by a cleverly placed rake and such comprises very little of their time. So look to Tom and Jerry, if you must base your opinion of the overweight on what you saw in the cartoons.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:23 PM on October 3, 2011


Its just a meatsuit for our minds.

I don't approve of body-shaming in any way, shape, or form, but the notion that our bodies are somehow not "us," but "just" a vehicle to carry the "real" us is also part of an unhealthy attitude toward physicality that may lead to obesity, or anorexia, or other kinds of physical neglect. For better or worse, we are bodies as much as minds, so it's wise to take care of both. If you won't be bothered to take care of your body because "you're only going to die anyway," my only question is "Heavens! What are you waiting for?"
posted by octobersurprise at 8:27 PM on October 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Its just a meatsuit for our minds.

I don't approve of body-shaming in any way, shape, or form, but the notion that our bodies are somehow not "us," but "just" a vehicle to carry the "real" us is also part of an unhealthy attitude toward physicality that may lead to obesity, or anorexia, or other kinds of physical neglect. For better or worse, we are bodies as much as minds, so it's wise to take care of both. If you won't be bothered to take care of your body because "you're only going to die anyway," my only question is "Heavens! What are you waiting for?"


The only real answer to that question is "I'm afraid".

but seriously, I've recently started to barely take care of my body. it still seems bizarre to see so much concern about it. i mean, sure, if you think you're too fat then get exercise, but its a personal choice. raging about people being fat is like when I rage against people not wearing hats - its stupid and pointless.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:37 PM on October 3, 2011


Someone should take a bunch of comments from the thread in question, replace "fat" with "homeless" or "gay," or any of the other Totally Not Okay To Mock minorities on MeFi, and then post them as quiz of "guess which of these quotes were taken from a right-wing web site's conservative-with-a-capital-K comment thread and which are just MeFi quotes with 'fat' replaced with a different word" and be like "SPOILER it turns out they're all from MeFi LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND SEE WHAT YOU HAVE BECOME" and everyone will be all "nooooooo it can't be"
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:56 PM on October 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


Can I once again insert a plea that flagging not be used to mean "I think this comment is mean" or "I think this comment is very wrongheaded"? Since when did Metafilter become "that place where I try to have any comments I don't like removed".

Unless the comment is "Fuck you, fat people!" either ignore it or reply to it. But flagging stuff just because it is wrongheaded is juvenile.
posted by Justinian at 9:10 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and everyone will be all "nooooooo it can't be"


and we'll be all, "ha ha, charade you are"
posted by stubby phillips at 9:14 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]



Unless the comment is "Fuck you, fat people!" either ignore it or reply to it. But flagging stuff just because it is wrongheaded is juvenile.


I disagree. I think it's far better to flag a trolly comment than reply to it.
posted by sweetkid at 9:15 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where "troll comment" means "comment of which I strongly disapprove", one presumes.
posted by Justinian at 9:15 PM on October 3, 2011


No, I mean a trolly comment.
posted by sweetkid at 9:17 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


People can flag for whatever reason they want to as long as it's not being stunty or really ratcheting up our workload as some sort of performance art piece. While we don't remove comments because they espouse unpopular opinions, we will jump into a thread if "guy with unpopular opinions won't stop making the thread about his unpopular opinions" and other variants on that theme. That thread was about a specific topic and people turned it into a soapbox to trot out their same old arguments about people's weight. This is tiresome, it's not good for MetaFilter and it ran a little more amok than usual because I was eating a triple-decker grilled cheese sandwich and cortex was listening to a pal who was having a bad time.

We are sorry. But that does not mean that we're sorry about the comments we deleted. I'm even a little sorry we didn't delete the thread entirely. Flag what you want to flag and know that we'll be looking at each one of them and making decisions about what to do. We appreciate your input.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:35 PM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I thought we had discussed you having personal lives.
posted by Meta Filter at 9:42 PM on October 3, 2011


It's a grilled cheese, not a personal life!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:46 PM on October 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think that didn't happen because Obama is built.

I wasn't kidding, I swear there was a post to the blue about this. Here is a WSJ article saying "his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them".
posted by Ad hominem at 9:54 PM on October 3, 2011


i don't know, was that a triple-decker grilled cheese, or a "triple-decker grilled cheese"?

frankly madam i am shocked
posted by palomar at 10:45 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I am WAY too self-involved to pay attention to other people's weight, eating habits, etc. Being an asshole has its advantages.
posted by Kloryne at 11:38 PM on October 3, 2011


zarq : Can we please not generalize to assume people who are overweight have some sort of mental instability, gluttony and/or poor self or impulse control?

Provide an alternative explanation, then.


What the hell did you all expect, from a thread that started with the question, "Chris Christie Is Fat. Who Cares?"

You want to know who cares? A majority of the voting population. You want to know why? Because we perceive obesity as a choice (albeit a passive, rather than active one). You don't choose your race, your age, your sexual preference, your relatives; most people don't choose their religion, their nationality, their gender. But you absolutely do choose not to eat less or exercise more when the number on the scale starts creeping upward.

You may not personally agree with that, but it answers the question.

Now, in the past, my own discussions on the Blue about this topic usually end with something about poverty and the low quality of cheap food. I don't accept those as an excuse, but at least in the present situation - Christie ain't poor.


As for the reason this MeTa exists, I find that somewhat disturbing. I agree with Jess that the original thread should have gone away entirely; Though not because it led to "mean" comments; rather, because it gave the ubertolerance cheerleaders here on the Blue a chance to whine about meanness. Nothing but a "dot" thread in sheep's clothing, and Zeus help anyone daring to engage the topic honestly.
posted by pla at 3:41 AM on October 4, 2011


Yes, heaven forfend we should call for civility around here. Those ubertolerant sissies and their insistence on reasoned discussion!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:37 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]



Provide an alternative explanation, then.


Wow, if only someone had thought to do that before! Then you could just read those comments instead of threadshitting.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:43 AM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Last link was supposed to go here. My clicking accuracy sucks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:44 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish : Wow, if only someone had thought to do that before! Then you could just read those comments instead of threadshitting.

Do you mean the post by Wordwoman? The one that says "the oft-repeated assertion that obese people could just lose weight if they applied a little more willpower is an assumption that is not scientifically based"?

Because, that doesn't even try to provide an alternate explanation, it simply denies the premise (as well as basic physics). If you eat (enough) less and exercise more, you will - Unavoidably, unambiguously, absolutely, scientifically provably, obviously - Lose weight. Period.

So I agree - If only someone had done that. If only.
posted by pla at 6:04 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I wouldn't vote against him just for his weight. But the FP post asked "Who cares", and you really aught not shout down (or in this case, flag-spam) those who answer that question honestly.
posted by pla at 6:17 AM on October 4, 2011


On the other hand, the men's rights thread suddenly steered away from a ditch overnight. That was a pleasant surprise.
posted by NortonDC at 6:19 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are some thoughts as to why "basic physics" is not a useful way to think about obesity.

(Can we lay off the period, end of story, and bolding verbs, especially when we do not bother to provide evidence that supports our own views?)
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:25 AM on October 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


OK, more seriously:

But you absolutely do choose not to eat less or exercise more when the number on the scale starts creeping upward.

How, pray tell, do you know Christie hasn't done this? Who are you to presume that everyone with a weight problem just "isn't trying hard enough"? I really don't get this. There's a wealth of material out there on the subject of genetics and obesity that flies in the face of your simplistic assertions.

Given that we know nothing about how Christie has struggled with his weight problem, and the numerous factors and situations that can contribute to obesity, it seems pretty glib to write him off as not trying hard enough.

On the other hand, the men's rights thread suddenly steered away from a ditch overnight. That was a pleasant surprise.

Yes, that was a great example of what happens when people make clear and civil points, ignore the noise, and try to listen. It really did perk up my evening.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:47 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Reading this thread and the first really drives home that when people define something as moral issue fact don't matter.

It's interesting to me since, in this case, it's not personal (I'm actually on the skinny side), and it's not really a political issue for me. I can see the illogic of it more clearly without my usual biases.

It seems like once you've defined something as a moral issue, even looking at relevant facts or considering the idea that there is anything you might have misunderstood about the issue becomes morally wrong.


You want to know who cares? A majority of the voting population ...

Does a majority of the voting population in US outside of New Jersey even know who Christie? Do they care if he decides to run or not? Do they know that he's overweight, are they even aware that this is something they're supposed to care about?

I'm pretty skeptical about this. Poll figures do not support the idea that a majority of the voting population knows who he is and has an opinion about him. Nor do they support the idea that a majority of people who have heard of him have a negative impression of him.
posted by nangar at 6:54 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


pla: "Provide an alternative explanation, then.

The comments begin with a false assumption, i.e., that all fat people have impulse control problems and are morally deficient. There are many reasons why a person might be overweight that have little to do with that, including various hormonal issues (adrenal and others) to medical ones such as glucose intolerance (diabetes,) etc. We are not privy to Christie's medical history, and frankly it is inappropriate to assume that his weight is caused by any one thing until we know all the facts.

What the hell did you all expect, from a thread that started with the question, "Chris Christie Is Fat. Who Cares?"

As I said upthread:
A less depressing conversation, especially after the Marie Claire / Mike & Molly thread.

Perhaps it would change things if commenters were more aware that they are discussing a topic with other thread participants who probably don't look like Kate Moss?
I watched a number of people in that thread condemn all overweight people for their lifestyle choices, when I know damned well that at least three MeFite friends of mine reading that thread have medical issues (NOT lifestyle ones) that make weight gain incredibly easy and weight loss extremely difficult. I hoped this thread might help folks who were participating there be a little more empathetic to one other.

FWIW, I was very, very careful when I framed this post. I didn't call anyone out specifically. I didn't quote from or link to any particular comment. I spoke to the general tone of the thread, rather than turning this into a callout.

You want to know who cares? A majority of the voting population.

Perhaps you're right. But I don't believe you or anyone else here is empowered to speak for all them. Nor have you or anyone else expressed a convincing argument that his weight and appearance will be the overriding reason why people won't vote for him, when there is double-digit unemployment in some areas of the country and our economy is still a total mess.

You want to know why? Because we perceive obesity as a choice (albeit a passive, rather than active one). You don't choose your race, your age, your sexual preference, your relatives; most people don't choose their religion, their nationality, their gender. But you absolutely do choose not to eat less or exercise more when the number on the scale starts creeping upward.

A number of medical conditions exist (and often go undiagnosed) which do indeed make weight loss quite difficult, and most of them are related to hormones. In women, there's PCOS. In men, there are a variety of conditions related to testosterone and/or insulin deficiency.

These are manageable conditions. Assuming you know you have one. But as you indicated with your examples, biology is not a choice. If you don't know a person's medical history, it is silly to assume you know why they are overweight.

As for the reason this MeTa exists, I find that somewhat disturbing. I agree with Jess that the original thread should have gone away entirely; Though not because it led to "mean" comments; rather, because it gave the ubertolerance cheerleaders here on the Blue a chance to whine about meanness. Nothing but a "dot" thread in sheep's clothing, and Zeus help anyone daring to engage the topic honestly."

There was a lot of complaint in the original thread that people were being attacked for speaking unpopular opinions. But the truth is, the last widely, socially-acceptable target of derision, contempt and discrimination in this country are fat people. And the idea that anyone here is somehow being silenced all their life on the subject is absolutely ludicrous.

I think that if we are going to criticize overweight folks we should be doing so intelligently, and keeping in mind that while for some there are factors which they can control, for others their situation is most certainly not a choice. Treating both groups as if they were some sort of monolith is stupid as hell, in my book.
posted by zarq at 7:12 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Provide an alternative explanation, then.

Because, that doesn't even try to provide an alternate explanation, it simply denies the premise (as well as basic physics). If you eat (enough) less and exercise more, you will - Unavoidably, unambiguously, absolutely, scientifically provably, obviously - Lose weight. Period.

As several people have already pointed out, when a person changes their weight, this is accompanied by metabolic changes in the opposite direction. Skinny people who eat a lot more see a jump in their overall metabolic rate; the metabolic rate of obese people who have lost a lot of weight plummets, like you would see in a starving person whose body is trying to hold on to every last calorie. This is what people are talking about when they say the situation is not as simple as eating less and exercising more, especially when talking about the kind of really drastic weight loss that would be necessary to go from obese to a normal BMI. Here are links to some of the science which you may have missed. The NYT article is a particularly interesting summary but if you only want primary literature here is a good starting point.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:22 AM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


But you absolutely do choose not to eat less or exercise more when the number on the scale starts creeping upward.

Just to build on what zarq said about medical conditions. Often people with joint problems put on weight because the number of activities that one can engage in is severely limited not just by pain, but for legitimate medical reasons (ie not causing more damage to an already injured part). I've actually been told by my doctors I shouldn't walk more than I have to in order to prevent more damage to my ankles.In addition, I have arthritis in one knee. I'm 37, but assure you I am FAR from atypical. Joint injuries aren't always immediately apparent (like in my case) and unless someone has access to a pool, finding a way to increase exercise that isn't painful and/or dangerous isn't easy. This is in addition to various other issues (hormones etc) that people here have pointed out so no, it's not as simple as it appears to be.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:30 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : How, pray tell, do you know Christie hasn't done this?

Because we have this very discussion occurring.
posted by pla at 7:47 AM on October 4, 2011


Because we're talking about his weight, he clearly hasn't tried dieting and exercise, contrary to all the other evidence people are trying to spoon-feed you? Alright then.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:56 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


We know that Christie hasn't been trying to up his activity and lower his caloric intake because....people on the internet are talking about his weight? That if he were trying to lose weight, we would all immediately see evidence of that and...not talk about how being fat means you're immoral? What?
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is why I only vote for candidates with the skinny eating disorders. Indicates sticktoitiveness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:02 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think it's a pretty dishonest assertion. We're having this discussion because there are, in fact, a myriad of reasons for weight gain that go beyond that narrow "lack of discipline", yet many (clearly) refuse to go beyond it. It's like the opposite of learning; actively rejecting scientific evidence in order to stay uninformed. I don't get it. And why someone would drop into this thread so late in the game and purposefully ignore all this makes me wonder about the motivation here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:03 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll offer up my own metabolic example, AGAIN. When I'm pregnant, I lose weight incredibly easily; in both pregnancies, I lost 30-40 pounds while sitting on the couch eating all the cheese I could cram in my face. At the end of my second pregnancy, I was on literal bed rest, up for five minutes of every hour + a half an hour a day, and I still lost a pound a week.

After I give birth? the tables turn. Right now I'm meticulously tracking and controlling my calories and carbs, plus I hit the gym HARD five times a week for 60-90 minutes a day, training for a triathlon and lifting weights. I have two small children whom I run around after constantly, plus I'm still nursing the baby, which is an additional 300 calorie a day deficit. My son is eleven months old; I weigh six pounds less than I did the day after I gave birth to him.

It's not just about eating less and exercising. I'm dramatically healthier for my lifestyle choices now, but I am not dramatically thinner.
posted by KathrynT at 8:19 AM on October 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Over a year ago, Chris Christie told Don Imus he was on a diet and had a personal trainer. And admitted to once weighing 550 pounds.

So he *has* lost weight, and he *has* been making an effort. Let's all take a peek at our own glass houses before throwing stones, shall we?

never in my life did I imagine that I would be coming to MetaTalk to defend Chris Christie.
posted by ambrosia at 8:51 AM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


What I found frustrating was the number of people in the thread who chimed in to say something along the lines of, "I pig out all the time! And I never exercise! And I weigh 107 pounds and I'm as healthy as can be!" I understand their intentions and that they were merely trying to argue that gluttony/overeating do not necessarily cause obesity, but equating thinness/underweight with good health is almost as dangerous as equating overweight with poor health. One does not guarantee the other.
posted by pecanpies at 9:06 AM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't see that, pecanpies, but it's a big thread. Mind linking?
posted by ODiV at 9:17 AM on October 4, 2011


ambrosia: " never in my life did I imagine that I would be coming to MetaTalk to defend Chris Christie."

QFT.
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I apologize if my comments have irked you at all, KathrynT. That was not my intention and I realize bringing up healthy eating and exercise in the context of the initial thread was pretty tactless. I seem to always end up doing this on a few select topics.
posted by ODiV at 9:22 AM on October 4, 2011


What I found frustrating was the number of people in the thread who chimed in to say something along the lines of, "I pig out all the time! And I never exercise! And I weigh 107 pounds and I'm as healthy as can be!"

I didn't really see that. I saw people chiming in to say, "I eat crap and never exercise, and yet I don't get shit for it because people can't tell by looking at me that I'm so unhealthy."

That was an awful thread to read, but this meta is making me feel better. I'm actually having the interesting experience of realizing that something that happened a few years ago is still having a huge impact on me when I thought I'd laughed it off long ago. I was on an expedition cruise, traveling by myself (which is a fantastic experience, btw). I was getting to know some of the other passengers, and there was one woman in particular who seemed really nice and wanted to have lunch with me one day. She thought what I had studied in school and what I did for my job was fascinating, and we had a really nice time. At the end of lunch, however, she starts in on talking about how Weight Watchers changed her life. I started to get worried, and...yup, sure enough, I started getting the, "You have such a beautiful face! And you're so accomplished! And yet...." talk.

This is the kind of thing I always wish I have a good comeback for, but I never do. I think I got a frozen smile and excused myself to go. "Oh," she said, "I've offended you!" Yeah, no shit, I thought, but I didn't say anything and went back to my room. And I basically cried on and off the rest of the afternoon, even though I felt like a massive baby for it. The worst part was the realization that, no matter what - no matter what kind of person I am, or how friendly I am, or how awesome my science skillz are or impressive my Ph.D. is - to a lot of people, I'll just be a fat chick. I'll be a sign of wasted potential. And that's a hard thing to realize.

The woman in question came up to me at dinner to try to apologize and I blew her off. Then I felt like crap - because I'm usually totally non-confrontational and want people to like me - so I went to apologize to her for my response. I said something about the realization, but I'm sure it didn't come across well and didn't really get through to her.

Heh. I told a couple of people about that after I got back and kinda laughed it off, but I haven't really stopped thinking about it. And I'm realizing now that I've given that episode so much power over me these last few years. I wish I knew how to get past it. I wish life was a simple as deciding something and making it happen.
posted by Salieri at 9:26 AM on October 4, 2011 [22 favorites]


What I found frustrating was the number of people in the thread who chimed in to say something along the lines of, "I pig out all the time! And I never exercise! And I weigh 107 pounds and I'm as healthy as can be!"

No, I specifically said that my diet was UNhealthy and possibly gluttonous, and my exercise habits were non-existent, yet since I'm 105 lbs, you can't tell from looking at me. If someone wants to call me a lazy pig, they wouldn't be far off the mark, but I am not fat. Therefore skinny = moral and fat = immoral is an incorrect snap judgment.
posted by desjardins at 9:38 AM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]



What I found frustrating was the number of people in the thread who chimed in to say something along the lines of, "I pig out all the time! And I never exercise! And I weigh 107 pounds and I'm as healthy as can be!"

I didn't see that at all, either.
posted by sweetkid at 9:56 AM on October 4, 2011


ODiV, it's not you as much as comments like this: "If you eat (enough) less and exercise more, you will - Unavoidably, unambiguously, absolutely, scientifically provably, obviously - Lose weight. Period."

Now, mind you, I guess I am losing weight. But at the rate I'm losing it, I'll be at a "normal" weight, ie no longer overweight by the BMI charts, in sixteen years. That's a long time to have people making cruel comments and moral judgments about me based on my weight.
posted by KathrynT at 10:00 AM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think I end up trying to back up the facts of statements like that while ignoring, willfully or otherwise, the context of the discussion and the underlying moral judgement.
posted by ODiV at 10:16 AM on October 4, 2011


And I weigh 107 pounds and I'm as healthy as can be

Sorry to pick at one small part of your comment, but 107 can be a healthy weight (as in, not underweight) for plenty of adult body types.
posted by elizardbits at 10:50 AM on October 4, 2011


since I'm 105 lbs, you can't tell from looking at me. If someone wants to call me a lazy pig, they wouldn't be far off the mark, but I am not fat.

What I found frustrating is that people seemed perfectly willing to accept desjardins' self-outing as a lazy not-fat person, blessed with a metabolism that allows her to eat crap without blowing up like a big rubber raft, without being willing to accept the idea that the opposite might exist: people who carefully watch what they eat and exercise and yet do not meet society's general standard of acceptable weight. They can accept that some folks can be naturally thin, but anyone who is fat has a moral failing? Riiiiiight.
posted by ambrosia at 11:01 AM on October 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


ambrosia, I find that extremely frustrating.

And salieri, hugs if you want them, I have these powerful moments too that hold sway over me and I wish they didn't.
posted by Danila at 11:26 AM on October 4, 2011


A person who is steady at 300 pounds and a person who is steady at 100 pounds are both consuming exactly as many calories as they use: neither is overeating.
posted by unSane at 11:33 AM on October 4, 2011


No, I specifically said that my diet was UNhealthy and possibly gluttonous, and my exercise habits were non-existent, yet since I'm 105 lbs, you can't tell from looking at me. If someone wants to call me a lazy pig, they wouldn't be far off the mark, but I am not fat. Therefore skinny = moral and fat = immoral is an incorrect snap judgment.

So the point is that fat = immoral and skinny = possibly immoral, then?
posted by coolguymichael at 11:58 AM on October 4, 2011


No, the point is that fat<--->skinny continuum is orthogonal to moral<--->immoral continuum. They're two separate axes on an alignment table.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:59 AM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


No, the point is that fat<>skinny continuum is orthogonal to moral<>immoral continuum. They're two separate axes on an alignment table.

Yeah, I took that online test. Turns out I could stand to lose a few pounds AND I'm a Libertarian!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:02 PM on October 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's nothing moral about eating healthy or exercising, and there's nothing immoral about sitting on the couch and eating a bag of chips (vs, say, walking on a treadmill while eating some celery).

I never understand why this is difficult.
posted by muddgirl at 12:06 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why is it that sometimes Metatalk threads calling out stuff on the blue do end up being about policy and site wide matters and sometimes, as in this thread, they end up simply being the blue thread mark II? I can't figure out the pattern.

But yeah, this one apparently became the place to have the same discussion that is going on in the thread on the blue.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on October 4, 2011


To be fair, this seems to have bled off a lot of the more general FAT PEOPLE AMIRITE/URWRONG stuff and left the one on the blue to be more of a specific discussion of fat in politics. Still kind of an odd mkII-in-the-grey thing, yeah, but the system is sort of working at least.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:19 PM on October 4, 2011


Justinian: "Why is it that sometimes Metatalk threads calling out stuff on the blue do end up being about policy and site wide matters and sometimes, as in this thread, they end up simply being the blue thread mark II? I can't figure out the pattern.

This post was deliberately not framed by me as an explicit request for mod action or a change in site policy. I did not ask for a change to the way the site works here. The tag on this post was "Site Etiquette."

I hoped a deeper discussion could be had about the way we members were handling a specific topic. Which has happened.

But yeah, this one apparently became the place to have the same discussion that is going on in the thread on the blue."

I think it turned into a more constructive conversation, specifically about preconceptions and prejudices regarding fat people. And that was one of the reasons I created this MeTa -- so we could discuss that stuff. In a way, perhaps this post acted as a sort of safety valve so that the original post didn't erupt into a flamewar?
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on October 4, 2011


In a way, perhaps this post acted as a sort of safety valve so that the original post didn't erupt into a flamewar?

That's possible, I guess. Erupt into a bigger flamewar anyway.
posted by Justinian at 1:21 PM on October 4, 2011


There were lots of flames in that post. While this post might've been useful for discussion, I don't think it served much to reduce flames.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2011


I don't understand why being fat is somehow immoral--if I'm wronging anyone when I eat a cupcake, surely it's only myself. And in some ways I have chosen to be overweight, I guess, but that is because the alternative of extreme exercise and extreme cutting back on food made me feel more miserable, even if it got me compliments from other people.

Also, as for Christie (whose policies I don't agree with but whose eating habits are none of my business), isn't it possible he's got better stuff to do than go to the gym all day, like being the governor?
posted by mlle valentine at 1:43 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian : Why is it that sometimes Metatalk threads calling out stuff on the blue do end up being about policy and site wide matters and sometimes, as in this thread, they end up simply being the blue thread mark II?

Because sometimes, the community needs to reflect on the current set-point in our tradeoff between civility and censorship; and sometimes, the adults just want to have a discussion that might upset those of a more sensitive disposition.
posted by pla at 2:00 PM on October 4, 2011



I don't understand why being fat is somehow immoral--if I'm wronging anyone when I eat a cupcake, surely it's only myself.

There is a view--and to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it--that being fat (and it not relating to medical, genetic, etc. matters) creates a significantly greater likelihood of a need for medical services that are not infinite both in general and, in theory, specifically.

A potential example of the latter (?): Someone needs urgent medical care because of genetically related heart attack, but care is delayed because carers are helping someone who has had an obesity-related heart attack (and the obesity is not related to medical, genetic, etc. matters).
posted by ambient2 at 2:30 PM on October 4, 2011


A person who is steady at 300 pounds and a person who is steady at 100 pounds are both consuming exactly as many calories as they use: neither is overeating.

If a person wants to maintain a 300, or 100, pound body then yes you (and Taubes) would be correct. Arguing against a reductionist position from stance of reductionism is probably not the smartest move IMO.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:30 PM on October 4, 2011


Someone needs urgent medical care because of genetically related heart attack, but care is delayed because carers are helping someone who has had an obesity-related heart attack

Yes, there's that argument, but somehow it's levelled more at obese people than people who watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, or sit at a computer, or eat sugar, or or or....

On the other hand, if you get hurt doing anything EXCEPT watching TV, sitting at the computer, etc, watch all the Just-Worlders come out and yell that it's your fault for doing something so stupid as hiking/biking/surfing.

The U.S. anyway has turned into a society just ITCHING to tell you that you deserve whatever ills/back luck you end up with.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:34 PM on October 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


"No, the point is that fat<>skinny continuum is orthogonal to moral<>immoral continuum. They're two separate axes on an alignment table.

Put an x on the continuum between love and fat.
posted by klangklangston at 2:34 PM on October 4, 2011


Sir Mix-a-Lot already did that for me.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:17 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


ambient2: "There is a view--and to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it--that being fat (and it not relating to medical, genetic, etc. matters) creates a significantly greater likelihood of a need for medical services that are not infinite both in general and, in theory, specifically.

A potential example of the latter (?): Someone needs urgent medical care because of genetically related heart attack, but care is delayed because carers are helping someone who has had an obesity-related heart attack (and the obesity is not related to medical, genetic, etc. matters).
"

You could replace 'obesity-related heart attack' with just about any activity that increases the risk of injury and, really, how many people don't do something that increases that risk? Riding a bicycle to work and back, an activity that is widely encouraged as leading to greater fitness and health, puts someone at far greater risk of injury. This thinking leads to a person doing this being less deserving of medical care if they get wiped out by a car than someone who sits on the couch all day. I do have some sympathy for this line of thinking, to be honest, but it's flawed in that society accepts all sorts of activities that have the potential for injury as being positive activities, so society has to accept the consequences of that risk.
posted by dg at 4:18 PM on October 4, 2011


dg : You could replace 'obesity-related heart attack' with just about any activity that increases the risk of injury

Saying that riding a bike increases your "risk of injury" while engaging in that activity differs rather a lot from saying that something increases your risk of all of the top four causes of death in the US (and two more in the top ten), 24/7/365.24.

I would suggest that smoking makes a better comparison than mildly risky recreational activities. Similar health consequences, similar biochemical reasons for the difficulty in losing the habit, similar socioeconomic tie-ins. And yet, would anyone in this discussion like to defend smoking as something for which we should have "tolerance"?
posted by pla at 5:13 PM on October 4, 2011


Shaming people is generally recognized as an ineffective and counterproductive public health strategy.
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm tolerant as hell of the fact that some of my friends are addicted to cigarettes, even if I don't let 'em smoke inside my house. Most of them aren't actually happy about the fact that they have a smoking habit, many of them have tried to quit, and despite their best intentions to accomplish that major, health-impacting change in their own lives they have failed, sooner or later and mostly sooner, to pull it off.

I don't think it's a good idea for them to have a regular habit, but I'm sure as shit not going to knowingly treat them like shit about it. I tolerate the fact that there's something that I don't think is great and that generally they don't necessarily like either about their body/lifestyle but that they've struggled only unsuccessfully or partially successfully to change.

But all that aside, the analogy falls apart pretty quickly: smoking's strictly optional at a baseline level (at some point you elect to start smoking, and if you're not lucky you start doing it a lot and keep at it) whereas literally everybody needs to eat and will be doing so several times a day every day as long as they live. The difference between someone who eats at a caloric surplus (or fails to eat at a strict and sufficient deficit over the long haul) is in all but the most exceptional cases one of degrees, and is impacted pretty seriously by the fact that eating is one of those things that happens on a monetary and temporal budget while the rest of the day, the month, the year marches on.

I think there's a significant health issue with body weight that it would really, really benefit us as a human culture to find a way to mitigate. I don't think that being intolerant of overweight or obese people because they're manifesting that health issue helps anybody do anything useful. It makes a hell of a lot more sense to me to be tolerant of the people and to attack the problem at a systemic level.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:30 PM on October 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


And yet, would anyone in this discussion like to defend smoking as something for which we should have "tolerance"?

The last time you invited anyone to respond, you got lots of responses. As far as I can see, you acknowledged almost none of them. That doesn't make subsequent invitations very inviting.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:38 PM on October 4, 2011


gnomeloaf : The last time you invited anyone to respond, you got lots of responses. As far as I can see, you acknowledged almost none of them. That doesn't make subsequent invitations very inviting.

1) Respond, or don't, but can we skip the pettiness? You responded solely to say you wouldn't respond to me. Poor form, at best.

2) RFC of interest? No idea which of my invitations you mean, though I will readily admit that I sometimes miss response-worthy posts.

3) I very rarely respond merely to parrot "I agree". I either respond to agree-with-comment, or to disagree. I do occasionally favorite very well-phrased rebuttals to me, and have done so at least once in this very thread. FWIW, I actually would respond to almost every single person who responds to me, but I've learned that here on the Blue (or Grey, in this case), that leads to mod displeasure in short order.
posted by pla at 5:57 PM on October 4, 2011


pla: " ... would anyone in this discussion like to defend smoking as something for which we should have "tolerance"?"

Well, yes, I would. Society has decided that, although smoking is clearly bad for you, it's an activity that is legal and acceptable for adults to engage in. Therefore, society has a responsibility to deal with the consequences. But, even for activities that are clearly bad for you and illegal, such as regular use of illegal drugs*, society still takes on the responsibility of dealing with the consequences. Society has a responsibility to look after all of its members, no matter how well or otherwise they look after themselves. To suggest that any member of society is less entitled to medical care because of lifestyle decisions, no matter how ill-informed or harmful the effect of those decisions on the individual, is to deny those people membership in society. As cortex points out, the solution is to deal with all such issues from a systemic perspective in an attempt to reduce the number of people making bad lifestyle decisions, not to punish those who make the decisions.

I don't judge someone's worth on whether they are overweight, if they smoke, or if they shoot heroin twice a day. I judge someone's worth on who they are. Saying that someone is a lesser member of society because of any one behaviour is just plain wrong (yeah, there are some extreme exceptions to this, of course). Encouraging someone to exercise even a little bit is a far more effective approach than telling them they are lazy and should just get off their arse and stop stuffing themselves.

*Not trying to spark a debate about whether any or all illegal drugs are bad for you or should be illegal - my point is that society decides what is acceptable largely through legislation.
posted by dg at 6:52 PM on October 4, 2011


that leads to mod displeasure in short order.

So does retreading a MeFi thread in MeTa. I think we should tolerate smokers. I think we should not make this thread a de facto place to hold the arguments that were not really okay in the MeFi thread. I'd like, from this point forward, for us to stop doing that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:59 PM on October 4, 2011


you can't cold turkey food. (pun accepted as inevitable)

you can't avoid the barrage of food-related messaging.

willpower has limits.

there are many other factors in effect.

shame doesn't work.
posted by batmonkey at 7:02 PM on October 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


And yet, would anyone in this discussion like to defend smoking as something for which we should have "tolerance"?

I'm a guy who used to wear a fedora. I don't smoke, but I'm not going to pretend it doesn't make some people look cool.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2011


ambient2, I've yet to take away health services from the more-deserving, as far as I know, but I can more or less see your point.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:08 PM on October 4, 2011


jessamyn's mum: "So does retreading a MeFi thread in MeTa. I think we should tolerate smokers. I think we should not make this thread a de facto place to hold the arguments that were not really okay in the MeFi thread. I'd like, from this point forward, for us to stop doing that."

oops, sorry
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on October 4, 2011




I had a health screening this time last year at work. I'm fat, but my vitals are textbook perfect. Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose -- all in the midpoint of the current "normal" ranges. The only number that was "bad" was my weight/BMI.

I just had this year's screening today. Same results -- all results well within normal ranges except for weight/BMI. The difference is that my weight has dropped by 20 pounds.

I exercise regularly and eat well. Have been for years. I made no increases to my workouts or cut any "naughty" foods out of my diet. (I practice intuitive eating, no foods are off limits.)

So why did I lose 20 pounds this year, if nothing about my habits changed at all? Simple. I was diagnosed with ADD this spring, and I went on medication about four months ago. The meds suppress my appetite while elevating my heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism.

Just eat less and exercise more? Nah. I did that for years with none of the magic results that the "it's so easy, just burn more than you put in" crowd insists will happen if I just follow this easy formula. Prescription amphetamines, though... that gets the weight off.
posted by palomar at 8:19 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess technically the "just eat less and move more" crowd was right... because now I sometimes forget to eat for an entire day. It's not great when I have to lift heavy things at work and my vision gets dim around the edges, but golly, at least I'm losing weight and becoming a good person who could maybe hold political office someday!
posted by palomar at 8:23 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occasional fainting is a virtue, palomar. COME ON.
posted by sweetkid at 8:29 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do 10-20 pushups after every trip to the restroom.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:32 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus god, I pee ten times a day* at least. Now I have to do pushups after each trip to the whizz palace? There goes my productivity.

med-induced epic cottonmouth = drinking water like it is actually my job.
posted by palomar at 8:39 PM on October 4, 2011


And do fifty burpees every time you feel like eating. Or fainting. Or doing push-ups!
posted by rtha at 8:42 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I have to do pushups after each trip to the whizz palace?

Nahh, just do a couple of sets of bodyweight squats after you snack or eat. At least you get to: keep your hands off the bathroom floor, exercise the largest muscles in your body, shunt the newly introduced glucose into the muscles, AND not worry so much about what you eat.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:10 PM on October 4, 2011


For God's sake I didn't mean do the pushups in the bathroom!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:13 PM on October 4, 2011


Someone needs urgent medical care because of genetically related heart attack, but care is delayed because carers are helping someone who has had an obesity-related heart attack

Yes, there's that argument, but somehow it's levelled more at obese people than people who watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, or sit at a computer, or eat sugar, or or or....


Shades of gray.

And I am sitting at a computer and eating sugar, a Magic Bar from the Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill, and it's real tasty. I'm also wearing a jacket I bought more than 20 years ago, walked about four miles today.

Virtually nobody is impeccably healthy, but people who are approaching or beyond double their ideal body weight will almost certainly have greater medical needs and costs than those who aren't... which damn sure isn't to say (the global) we should be intolerant of or shaming those people.
posted by ambient2 at 10:32 PM on October 4, 2011


Muffled noises.

Joe looks over cubicle wall. "Hey Bill, watchya doing?"

Grunting. "Pushups."

Joe blankly looks for another half minute. "Oh." Slowly lowers head.

Joe's head pops back up. "Why?"

Grunting. "Getting in shape." Grunting. "Burning calories"

More blank looks. "Oh." Slowly lowers head.

Joe's head pops back up. "Could you maybe go to the bathroom or somewhere to do that? I'm trying to concentrate over here."
posted by P.o.B. at 10:33 PM on October 4, 2011


"Fat" threads on Metafilter remind me of religion threads on Metafilter... no matter what the nut of the proposed discussion might be (and what essentially superficial qualities might be deemed necessary for a presidential candidate in 2011 in America seems like a potentially valuable and nutritious nut to chew on to me) the discussion must devolve to: "Fatness: can we agree that it sucks? And that it is basically a personality flaw?" The derails come from both sides and it never goes anywhere I'd want to participate in.

Fat is complicated (check it out, I incorporated a topic that made the Metafilter sidebar!). But we are people and we want SIMPLE. Voldemort is PURE EVIL getit? We want a bad guy. A big fat bad guy. What do you have against a salad, you cretins?

Fatness is a real problem in human society today. My dad is actively dying of fatness (well, probably more so of smoking, but the fatness sure the hell don't help) and I don't want him to die, and also most particularly I don't want to die of fatness and I'm trying, my people, I sincerely am, and it's fucking hard. (Not smoking if you look at my personal weight history seems to play a real specific role in my fatness too, ain't that a poser?)

But fuck that, right? Weak willed, won't make the basic effort. Did I mention that my father is also a mainstream Protestant minister? What a jerk, right? Wasting his life doing shit like sitting at the bedsides of dying people, many of whose deaths are probably precipitated by their fatness! Shit they coulda died five or ten years later if they weren't so weak and awful.

I gotta say, the tone and content of discussion on the topics by the smartest group of people I'm aware of online sure doesn't give me a lot of hope for our ability as a species to come to anything like real solutions (as opposed to moralistic pronouncements that haven't show a hell of a lot of efficacy since the dawn of time). Mayhaps we doomed. It's shit like this, as the kids say.
posted by nanojath at 10:46 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a quote from C. Wright Mills that I think seems apropos:

"When, in a city of 100,000, only one man is unemployed, that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills, and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual. (Mills 1959: 9)"

Took some googling before I could even remember who wrote it, much less find the quote.

Yes, weight and fitness are huge problems right now. Stunning percentages of adults and children are overweight. Considering that so many people are overweight, though, I'm sort of surprised that anyone thinks that the fault or cause lies principally with the persons in question. Is no one surprised that over the course of a few decades, a society that had not previously been overrun with weak-willed, slothful overeaters somehow gave birth to successive generations of them?
posted by kavasa at 12:14 AM on October 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Stunning percentages of adults and children are overweight.

Maybe we're evolving into a form more suited for sitting in front of computers?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:40 AM on October 5, 2011


jessamyn : I think we should not make this thread a de facto place to hold the arguments that were not really okay in the MeFi thread. I'd like, from this point forward, for us to stop doing that.

Uh, hold on a sec there...

Serious question - What does the daily refrain of "take it to MeTa" mean, if not that we should move controversial discussions from the Blue to the Grey?
posted by pla at 3:36 AM on October 5, 2011


There is a view--and to be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it--that being fat (and it not relating to medical, genetic, etc. matters) creates a significantly greater likelihood of a need for medical services that are not infinite both in general and, in theory, specifically.

You know who really sucks up medical services? Old People. Yeah that's right. Those immoral douchebags, sucking up the medical services, costing the nation a fortune. I think we should start directing our shaming techniques at them. Every time you see a wrinkly, sneer.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:47 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


We could simply execute everyone over a certain age. Would solve the problem nicely.

Speaking of which, they're remaking Logan's Run.
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Serious question - What does the daily refrain of "take it to MeTa" mean, if not that we should move controversial discussions from the Blue to the Grey?

Serious answer: it usually means stop fighting here [in the MeFi thread] and then if folks can't come over to MeTa and talk to each other without doing the same aggressive interrogation and "take on all comers" sorts of things then they have to have that argument somewhere that is not-here. At this point folks can see who is interested in and possibly invested in this argument and folks can feel free to MeMall each other if they want to continue discussions that don't really have a place here. This is not everyone's hollering space. MetaFilter is not designed to contain everyone's arguments.

Additionally, I know people are trying to make useful points but the devil's advocate positions on a topic where people are already riled up don't always help drive the point home the way you hope it might and may open new arguments. I know there are people who are disappointed that other people still have negative feelings in their heart of hearts, but we may need to sort of leave that alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


people who are approaching or beyond double their ideal body weight will almost certainly have greater medical needs and costs than those who aren't

Do you have a desk job? No matter how much you exercise outside of your job, you will have greater medical needs and costs compared to those that do not sit on their ass 8 hours a day.

Again, we are treating obesity like it is the cause of other medical problems, like heart disease or diabetes. The more we look at the actual medical science, the more we discover that obesity is generally a co-symptom. I feel like so much of this debate would be analogous to giving blemish cream to people with the chicken-pox, like getting rid of the visible poxes will get rid of the fever and the other signs of illness.

and I don't want him to die

I think that I got a lot more healthy about my own self-image, and my judgement of other people's behaviors, when I accepted that everyone is going to die.
posted by muddgirl at 8:02 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone???
posted by P.o.B. at 10:53 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even Buckets, the beagle-spaniel mix???
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have something to tell you, DoctorFedora... Sweet little Buckets didn't actually go to Aunt Mabel's farm in Ohio...
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


noooooooooooo

unspeakably devastating tragedy
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:54 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yet, would anyone in this discussion like to defend smoking as something for which we should have "tolerance"?

Yes. Do you think smokers should be banned from public office? Not allowed to testify in court? Not be able to vote?
posted by spaltavian at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but I think they should be restricted from AAA membership and prevented from joining queues containing an even number of people.
posted by ODiV at 10:09 PM on October 5, 2011


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