Please stop posting about your diets? February 22, 2021 2:10 PM   Subscribe

How can we do posts about weight better?

Once again, a post about fat stigma and obesity myths has turned into a mess. Fat people have requested others to not talk about their diets, yet people are still talking about their diets. I understand the motivation- it's only natural to reflect on your own personal experiences. I think there is a time and place for people to post about what's worked for them- there are lots of Asks, and a different article, framed as a successful intervention, could potentially work. The current post, and other similar posts? No. Society makes lots of space and forums for people to talk about weight loss success. It's important that we have some supportive, encouraging spaces to push back against this.

Moving forward, I would like people to pause and let the people who are currently overweight and have found dieting doesn't work to lead the discussion. Remember that talking about your weight loss success can be triggering and unhelpful to those who struggle with disordered eating or are currently overweight (some of whom may also have eating disorders).
posted by daybeforetheday to Etiquette/Policy at 2:10 PM (64 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

I had to step out of that thread which is a shame because IMO there was an interesting discussion to be had about how the author talked about health and "healthy behaviors" but I could not participate with the diet talk. At the very very least people could start their comment with a trigger warning.
posted by muddgirl at 2:23 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


Supercrayon's comment fat + health = how does it work? should be required reading on this topic.
posted by Paragon at 4:00 PM on February 22 [23 favorites]


Yeah, I had to leave that discussion, too, and it's a bummer.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:58 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I think you're talking about this thread.

I have a hard time as reading any post in that thread as saying their diets are completely successful and appropriate for everyone. The closest I see are posts that seem specifically written to describe personal experience only. I'm not linking to them because they appear to be triggering for you, and I want to respect that. I don't even see anyone who seems to disagrees with the premise of the article - to the contrary, it appears to be overwhelming amplification of the argument the article makes.

I'm fat, and my struggles with weight (successful and non-successful) are part of my life. My experiences do not invalidate your experiences. I hope that MetaFilter doesn't become a place where responding to a post with one's own experiences is considered inappropriate - whether or not those experiences are in line with the post.
posted by saeculorum at 6:23 PM on February 22 [57 favorites]


I saw that thread too, and while not every comment was the kind I really like to see, I didn't see any of the I-did-it-with-keto [or veganism or whatever] evangelizing that has ruined so many such discussions in other fora in the past.

While I do think it is worth reminding people to be mindful of how stories of weight loss can be triggering to some of us, it is also part of the overall reality for many. I'd really hate to see people unable to share their relevant personal experiences, especially when they are so often stigmatized elsewhere.
posted by rpfields at 7:18 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


Diet talk doesn't have to be particularly evangelizing to be exclusionary. I personally don't expect Metafilter to be a safe space but when the whole point of the article is that fat people are shamed for being fat, to the detriment of their health, I had hoped that the comments wouldn't have the same "I lost weight with keto! I did an 18/6 fast!" Like saying "well that's what worked for me" doesn't change the fact that they're talking specifically about weight loss.
posted by muddgirl at 7:46 PM on February 22 [20 favorites]


I will say yes I have seen worse threads about obesity here in the past but that doesn't mean we can't do better.
posted by muddgirl at 7:50 PM on February 22 [13 favorites]


I'm fat, and my struggles with weight (successful and non-successful) are part of my life. My experiences do not invalidate your experiences. I hope that MetaFilter doesn't become a place where responding to a post with one's own experiences is considered inappropriate - whether or not those experiences are in line with the post.

I think its probably too late. Early in lockdown I mentioned a couple of my own concerns about impact on my weight and health in a chatty thread and someone told me off for it. When I baulked at being told what I could say about myself and being overweight I was told that was how it was.

I think its a bad idea to tell people who are concerned about the health impacts of being overweight that they can't talk about it on Metafilter in case they offend people who are overweight but healthy.
posted by biffa at 3:26 AM on February 23 [53 favorites]


I really don't want to be told that I cannot express the history of my own personal body in a thread about a topic that affects my own personal body. I think it is absolutely the wrong thing to do, to tell people not to talk about something in their lives that helped them lose weight.

Although I do get that the request comes from a good and true place--let me say that. I understand how toxic weight rhetoric is. How it's always cast as a problem, always cast something that requires blame, soul-searching for how one got this way, a disorder, an illness, a moral illness. It's an ugly and abusive frame of reference, and society starts chugging that poison into you at a young age. And definitely, if we were to talk about how shitty it feels to be the target of society's mixed disdain and concern, someone popping up and talking about their intermittent fast--as though they have discovered The Truth--would totally miss the point.

But it gets harder when it's just people sharing their experiences--as opposed to proselytizing. Because part of being fat is, occasionally someone comes across something that makes them less fat. As the thread in question emphasized, that's often temporary, and often involves more stress than benefits, but as someone who would very much like not to be fat, I would like to hear about what works for other people, because I have a long, long catalog in the back of my head about what hasn't worked for me. And sometimes what works for people is acceptance, and sometimes it's exercise so they feel better in the body they have, and sometimes it's losing weight. I wouldn't want to leave any of those out (especially because, I mean, on a personal level, I don't seem to be able to manage any of those three things, so some hope would be nice).
posted by mittens at 4:50 AM on February 23 [34 favorites]


I think the point that's being missed here (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that this particular MeTa post isn't asking people to stop sharing their personal experiences with dieting or their bodies, rather this is a request for people to be more considerate when it comes to where and when you share those experiences. The post in question here is specifically about harmful diet culture. This is definitely a RTMFA (or maybe Read The Mother Fucking Room) problem as well.

As pointed out already, there are a ton of places on Mefi to talk about dieting and share your views. There aren't that many where fat people can come together and discuss the harmful aspects of diet culture without participating in or being around diet talk themselves. The latter spaces are sorely needed and should be respected where they're established.

This is also, IMO, about framing. If you're coming in to talk about your experiences as a fat person with dieting and how that's been difficult for you, that's on topic, but if it's solely about dieting or weight loss success, as some of those comments were, then that's less relevant and starts to spin into diet culture again. I also echo the above point that graphic talk of weight loss/calorie counting and so on should come with a content warning, or at least resist the urge to go into detail.
posted by fight or flight at 5:06 AM on February 23 [50 favorites]


How can we do posts about weight better?

It sounds like what you want is for us to do it your way and to keep our personal stories that don't pass your filter to ourselves.

Fat people have requested others to not talk about their diets, yet people are still talking about their diets.

Fat people, broadly understood, are not a small minority group being discussed by "outsiders" here. They/we are the majority of the population in most of the countries we live in. People who are not and never have been fat are not interested in diets and rarely know even so much as what the basic macro-nutrients are, why would they? I would bet that every single person discussing, let us be clear - their personal experiences - in that thread is fat because nobody else cares enough to discuss this topic and again, we are the vast majority of the adult population anyway so even just picked at random this would be the case.

It's important that we have some supportive, encouraging spaces to push back against this.

This is not your personal blog, personal safe space, nor personal support group. I think it's fair for people to show some consideration and I would never want any post on metafilter to turn into "lol try my diet, it's easy!!!" because that is just noise but what you are requesting here is that people not share their personal experiences unless of course they are of the kind acceptable to you, in which case it's encouraged. I don't have a problem with the existence of such places, I'm all for them, but not everywhere needs to be that.

Others have already noted that there is not a single "this diet works, just do X" style comment in that whole thread. Even people who talked about their personal experience heavily qualified them as being likely atypical, probably temporary, admittedly extreme, and rarely leading to being "not fat" whatever that is.

Moving forward, I would like people to pause and let the people who are currently overweight and have found dieting doesn't work to lead the discussion.

I am such a person and I am doing that.

Look I probably agree with you about almost everything here. Treating weight and diet as being about moral purity and worth is vile. Statistically speaking, diets work poorly or not at all. Medical science has no way to offer permanent weight loss so they should probably shut up about the notional benefits of something they cannot help anyone to achieve safely. I personally have very little interest in being less fat than I am, somewhere on my list around "have shapelier toenails" and "polish earlobes for extra gloss".

I also have no interest in being like the rest of the internet where everyone six weeks into their newest diet competes with people who have 10% body fat for decades to share their latest tips. However I thoroughly object to being told what I can and cannot say about my own personal experiences because it makes other people uncomfortable. I will not add a trigger warning to a story about my own life nor would I ask anyone else to add one to theirs.

While I understand comments about framing, I also do not think that we generally constrain people to stay very narrowly on topic on this site in general, do we?
posted by atrazine at 5:15 AM on February 23 [42 favorites]


I also do not think that we generally constrain people to stay very narrowly on topic on this site in general, do we?

Kind of selectively.
posted by thelonius at 5:32 AM on February 23 [16 favorites]


This is not your personal blog, personal safe space, nor personal support group.

Well, this goes both ways, doesn't it? If you're arguing that people can't restrict what someone talks about because it's not their personal blog, at the same time you can't treat it as your personal space to talk about whatever you want at any time without warning or thought to who will be reading it. If you want that sort of space, there are plenty of "Wild West" unmoderated spaces on the internet where you can freely read or throw out all sorts of things as much as you want.

What this actually is, ideally, is somewhere between those two concepts, where people should be allowed to speak about their experiences, but respectfully of each other. That might mean thinking "is this opinion or experience necessary for this discussion" before commenting, and/or putting a four word warning at the start of a post. It's not really a big ask in terms of how you conduct yourself, and if everyone made that effort it would, IMO, generate a significant reward in terms of communication and communal respect.
posted by fight or flight at 5:52 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]


For me, any specific talk about diets is really triggering. It's actually not going to hurt me if you say "I went on a diet and lost weight, so anyone can do it, and if you haven't then you're a terrible garbage person." I would think you were an ignorant asshole if you said that, but unless you got into specifics, it wouldn't cause me harm. But if you said "I tried this specific diet, which I will describe in great detail, and it was a terrible idea and failed terribly," that would be an eating disorder trigger for me. For me and for many other people in eating disorder recovery, diet talk is a trigger. And I can't deal with eating disorder triggers right now. I came about two centimeters from relapse earlier this year, and I don't feel like I'm off of that ledge yet. And while I realize that the world can't be sanitized for my safety, you should know that there are a lot of people out there who are in eating disorder recovery, and my hunch is that a lot of us are in trouble right now.

So basically, it was stupid of me to participate in that discussion in the first place. I should have known that any discussion of diet culture on Metafilter is going to become an example of diet culture, because that's how it works almost everywhere, and that's always been how it works here. But if every discussion of diet culture on Metafilter becomes an example of diet culture, that means that every discussion of the harms caused by diet culture is going to exclude many of the people who have been most harmed by diet culture. And I think that you lose things when discussions of pretty much anything exclude the people who are most hurt by that thing. I think that would be a good thing to avoid, in general. But that's just me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:27 AM on February 23 [32 favorites]


Well, this goes both ways, doesn't it?

Well I guess it would if it was a distinction between forcing a person to keep quiet and forcing someone to listen, but it isn't.

We're not talking about hate speech here. You can't just tell some of the fat people to shut up because you don't like how they're being fat.
posted by biffa at 6:31 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]


You can't just tell some of the fat people to shut up because you don't like how they're being fat.

I'm not sure if you read the rest of my comment where I specifically didn't do that. Asking someone to be considerate or asking for a content warning on potentially triggering subject matter isn't telling anyone to "shut up".
posted by fight or flight at 6:40 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


That was a really hard thread. I'd like to apologize to anyone who may have been triggered by my comment, first off.

I think the point that's being missed here (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that this particular MeTa post isn't asking people to stop sharing their personal experiences with dieting or their bodies, rather this is a request for people to be more considerate when it comes to where and when you share those experiences. The post in question here is specifically about harmful diet culture. This is definitely a RTMFA (or maybe Read The Mother Fucking Room) problem as well.

This is what I came here to say. "Yeah, I agree with the premise of this article that says that diets are garbage, here's my diet/routine that actually worked for me, might not for you tho" is both beside the point and also kind of an unbalanced statement. There is a lot of dysfunctional societal and emotional machinery behind the statement "here's my diet/routine," that is not really offset by a disclaimer.

There are a lot of fat people in the world; fat folks are not a monolith, and we're not all coping with being fat in a hostile world the same way. I cope by trying to model attitudes of body neutrality if not acceptance. Put me down for undiagnosed eating disorder as well. I'm sure I'm not alone in that - and certainly not alone on metafilter for that. There isn't harm in being conscious of this group's experiences and triggers, and making space for their contributions.

Yes, this is a public forum, and yes, people can share their life experiences. (Maybe somebody could find an article about "weird tricks for individuals that don't extend to the population level" and we could have a thread for sharing those weird individual tricks.) But I can't pretend that reading the article and then immediately seeing "here's my diet" didn't hurt.
posted by snerson at 7:20 AM on February 23 [26 favorites]


I'm someone with a history of an eating disorder. Depending on the time in my life, topics around eating have been extraordinarily fraught to something that I have little response to at all and all reactions inbetween.

I'm interested in these types of threads because my brain very much had fallen into the trap of societies messaging around this stuff. And I think while important individual experiences around food/dieting and experiences thereof are important, that articles about socital impacts around these things are not the place for them.

For every person who puts out their 'success' story whatever it is, however it is, someone else has pointed at that story as proof to message someone into thinking badly about themselves and about harming themselves, has put them down, has done all kinds of things. And ultimately, now there is some responsibility for everyone to step back and think about how we've perpetuated this discrimination to realize these stories have drowned out a group of people that science says, this absolutely doesn't work for the majority of people and we should stop acting like it does. And even then for some minority that it is working right now, five, six years from now may be a different story, as it hasn't happened yet.

Discussing wieght and it's societal and personal consequences is difficult. It's devastating. It's convoluted. It's years of harm couched in between the belief that stories of wieghtloss should be told, of the 12 step approach that after finding the way to /sobriety/ it's a story should be shared and others should be helped that our personal experience may be valuable to others somehow. When the truth is for most people that's not what works. It's noise on top of noise on top of incredibly harmful messaging.

I think that thinking about trigger warnings, and narrowly focusing on these topics is good. I do think that people should think of diet talk or wieght disclosure and if it is necessary in a thread. I think it's good to reflect on how those things impact others, even when it is personal experience.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:32 AM on February 23 [11 favorites]


Ok, let’s say* that there’s a country with difficult living conditions and the residents of this country are left with appalling healthcare, no functional goods like clothing or furniture, and few economic opportunities. And the borders are closed. And if you do manage to get out of the country, other countries just send you back. It’s an established fact that no matter where you go or how many times you escape, you get sent back to the original country.

The whole world looks at this country and says, “LOL, just emigrate!! It’s not that hard! You just leave your country and go to another one! God, these people are so lazy, they deserve what they get!” And the residents explain that visas are not available and anyone who does make it to another country gets sent back and the attempts at emigration are crushing and soul-sucking. So they start a thread about their difficulties, how to improve their rights and living conditions, maybe how to raise awareness that the borders are closed.

It would be really tone deaf of me to come into that thread and talk about my once-in-a-lifetime daring escape from this country via homemade submarine. Perhaps I could share that information in one of the many places on the internet for submarine enthusiasts. Maybe the time isn’t in this particular thread. Even if the submarine escape altered the very bedrock of my identity, being asked to read the room and extend a bit of courtesy doesn’t mean that I am being Silenced. Lots of people want to talk about submarines, just not these people who specifically asked that we not talk about escape attempts.


*This is just an analogy.
posted by corey flood at 9:13 AM on February 23 [34 favorites]


Further, I think, the entire world is giving "so here's my story about this diet that works for me" responses any time anyone mentions weight or obesity. The article wasn't about a specific diet, it was about obesity myths and how so much of the common knowledge is wrong, including quoting one source who describes his doctor giving him generic advice without asking what he already does (a lot) or has tried (a lot).
This is not your personal blog, personal safe space, nor personal support group. I think it's fair for people to show some consideration and I would never want any post on metafilter to turn into "lol try my diet, it's easy!!!" because that is just noise but what you are requesting here is that people not share their personal experiences unless of course they are of the kind acceptable to you, in which case it's encouraged. I don't have a problem with the existence of such places, I'm all for them, but not everywhere needs to be that.
Well, I think the awareness that things are triggering for significant numbers of people is something worthwhile - I'm triggered by diet talk and while I don't think this is my personal safe space, I think this is a mature community where people can consider whether some spaces are good for a discussion and some spaces might merit treading more carefully. I don't really believe anyone is announcing their personal experiences at all times and in all places without any reflection, so it's not that bizarre to suggest it might be worth discussing here.

(The thread generally was another round of 'why am I even reading this site' as a reader for me)
posted by carbide at 9:42 AM on February 23 [18 favorites]


Yeah, except that people have been told not to talk about being fat in other threads and not to imply that because they are fat they must be even unhealthy or worried about their health, regardless of whether it is a thread about diets or otherwise. This isn't a one off, its a policy.
posted by biffa at 9:42 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


This goes back to the State of the Site MeTa and the structural problems of MeFi. No thread can have an owner, so no one can set the ground rules for any particular discussion. ALL discussions are subject only to "community expectations," a nebulous set of norms that are enforced (to a varying degree) by the mods.

That's why there are some things MeFi Does Not Do Well(TM). And that's why MeFi can't be a true community. It's impossible to go deep here, because we're stuck with the same surface-level norms where no one is truly safe while simultaneously everyone is expected to be pinkie-out Civil At All Times. Everyone is welcome to be vulnerable as long as they don't mind getting trashed and unable to defend themselves.

In order to Do Fat Acceptance Better (in the absence of mods taking it on as a priority ha ha), we'd need something like the ability to give a discussion its own set of rules that could be enforced (probably by a "thread owner" rather than a mod, due to both resources and expertise). That would require placing a lot of trust in a thread owner, and it would mean hashing out a whole new set of norms about what is allowed. IvP? Anti-vax (I hope not)? Homeopathy (also anti-science but less harmful so...)???

Site leadership calls this place a community, but seems to have little appetite for anything beyond keeping the loosest possible collection of online acquaintanceships. To be fair, turning this place into a real, functioning community would be a helluva lot of work. But I think it's becoming clear that the alternative is slowly (and then faster) petering out while everyone cries "We could be so much better."
posted by rikschell at 9:49 AM on February 23 [16 favorites]


The current post, and other similar posts? No.

I don’t think users have agreed to this. We agree to be respectful, etc. But as mentioned, the comments in this thread weren’t malicious in any way. It seems like the only way to get the thread you want would be to set up rules for that thread and moderate according to them.

As far as I know, aside from a couple BIPOC metas, here haven’t been spaces designed for any specific group of people or managed according to guidelines determined by a specific person or group. Metafilter, as it exists, has everything open to everyone with the same guidelines across the board. I don’t honk it would ever be on the table, but the idea of having Black metafilter or other areas of the site that have different focuses and different rules is intriguing.
posted by snofoam at 10:05 AM on February 23


This goes back to the State of the Site MeTa and the structural problems of MeFi. No thread can have an owner, so no one can set the ground rules for any particular discussion. ALL discussions are subject only to "community expectations," a nebulous set of norms that are enforced (to a varying degree) by the mods.

Yeah, this is something I've reflected on as well. There were some MeTas a while back that specifically made space for trans folks, members of color, etc., that I thought were really great because they had guidelines on them. IME, creativity and restrictions are closely related to each other.

I would like to see some threads with guidelines to pilot this idea. They would have to be engineered a little more closely than the average thread (in terms of topic/article, etc), but I think it would be a good experience for the community.
posted by snerson at 10:07 AM on February 23 [7 favorites]


My comment in that thread about its being an improvement over past discussions of these topics was more about moving beyond what Aubrey Gordon describes here (Medium), and less about what comes after that, which I think is what MeFi is struggling with now.

Obviously I can't speak for anyone else -- that's the whole point -- but whenever I catch myself proselytizing without an invitation to do so, it's always in direct challenge to the well-known thesis Fat Is A Choice, And You Deserve All Consequences. I never intend telling my story as malicious, but I have to remind myself that the impulse to do it stems from something else entirely.

At any rate, I look forward to seeing how discussion continues to evolve.
posted by gnomeloaf at 10:20 AM on February 23


> People who are not and never have been fat are not interested in diets and rarely know even so much as what the basic macro-nutrients are, why would they?

No, that's not true. I'm interested in nutrition, know what my idea daily macros are, love Maintenance Phase, and also love reading about unusual diets: I've never been fat. I think it's good to have reminders in posts about being fat, aimed at people like me, so we remember that what -- to us --is an interesting hobby or way to get better at our chosen sport, to other Mefites is a very fraught issue (and that we should just lurk).
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:02 AM on February 23 [8 favorites]


> This goes back to the State of the Site MeTa and the structural problems of MeFi. No thread can have an owner, so no one can set the ground rules for any particular discussion. ALL discussions are subject only to "community expectations," a nebulous set of norms that are enforced (to a varying degree) by the mods. That's why there are some things MeFi Does Not Do Well(TM). And that's why MeFi can't be a true community.

This is a very strangely narrow and top-down definition of "community" that does not track with any type of community I can think of or have experienced. Communities are defined and managed nebulously and collectively by their participants, who do not necessarily agree with each other on the finer points.
posted by desuetude at 11:07 AM on February 23 [20 favorites]


That thread made me really, really sad. I hope we can do better with this. I've been a member of MeFi for something like seventeen years (and a regular reader for a few years before that) and I have watched us get better/more empathetic/more careful with so m "don't do this well" topics. And I know we've come some distance with this topic since the old days, but even now, there comes a point in just about every thread about obesity (including the one linked) when I think, "I absolutely don't belong here."
posted by thivaia at 11:27 AM on February 23 [16 favorites]


I think when there's a cultural narrative that is really rigid and unhealthy, like "what overweight people need is a diet and willpower, maybe with a side of shame" what happens is everyone who is trapped in that narrative is really having to fight for their own personal narrative, no matter where they end up. So it does feel really important to be able to assert one's own experience.

But - where that personal narrative does line up with the dominant narrative it does become a part of maintaining those kind of grooves.

I stepped into that thread kind of fresh out of a conversation so I came at it emotionally but at the time - I did feel like it was sliding into a conversation that was kind of undoing the work of the original link. I wonder if there is a way to indicate when a post is looking at a structural issue and asking people to be mindful of the original link's perspective...maybe not but that might be a way to examine it that isn't so closely linked to the topic itself.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:04 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


desuetude, I guess I'm just feeling the limits of what can be accomplished in MetaTalk. Different voices within the community say what they want, and maybe some people try to Do Better, but it seems like a large portion of folks have had it up to here with waiting for improvements that come very slowly if at all, and mods who can't or won't do much to change the situation. MeFi is trying to be a general-interest website in a world of specialty Discords and subreddits. I think that makes community here especially nebulous and collective and disagreeable, which makes people unhappy. If every post that includes Fat Acceptance has to have a discussion to argue for the very existance of Fat Acceptance, then people with that interest are going to stop posting about it and go elsewhere. And that sucks for all of us, because it makes MeFi worse.

We're lucky that women stuck with MeFi through the boyzone days and fought against it. We're lucky for trans members who've stuck it out and made many of us better behaved and better educated about trans issues. But it took until this year to automatically disallow posting slurs! If we just wait for the majority to try harder, this site will wither.
posted by rikschell at 12:06 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


I have a hard time as reading any post in that thread as saying their diets are completely successful and appropriate for everyone.

That's not the issue. The issue is that diet talk is not relevant at all, whether it be personal or general. The post is about opression and abuse, medical fraud, smear campaigns, lies, coverups, systemic gaslighting. Diet and obesity are not co-related. Weightloss and the obesity epidemic are not corelated. I am a lesbian. If I were to make a post about all of the flat-out lies about how lesbians are not fit to be parents, are all mentally ill, etc, it would be abhorrent for other lesbians to come into that thread and talk about how they managed to settle down with a man, and saying "it doesn't work for everyone, but I personally escaped homophobia by being socially straight".
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:23 PM on February 23 [31 favorites]


Nobody in that thread was posting their diet in a glib, “you can try what I tried, it worked great” type of way. I think there was maybe one mention of fasting that was maybe slightly in that lane, and other people talking about 1) losing weight at all costs in a traumatic way or 2) inexplicably losing/gaining weight in a way that did not comport with medical assumptions about weight and left them overall stumped. Which is completely on topic.

The fact that so many people are basically agreeing about the article is already a form of extreme homogeneity; a podcast guy is not an oracle.

If literally one comment saying “fasting worked for me” out of 70 is proof to you that Metafilter is demented about weight loss... why are you hanging out in a community of thousands of people? The caliber of discussion about weight loss here is 1000x better than you can find anywhere else on the web and you really have to nitpick to see anyone bragging.

If what you want is a community where everyone agrees with you exactly, it’s called a journal. There’s no such “community” on earth. This is about as good as you’re going to get unless you seek out a small group of very sympathetic friends.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:14 PM on February 23 [34 favorites]


And “diets” are 100% on topic, the article discusses diets throughout. This isn’t like the boy zone or anti-trans stuff, it’s like telling a bunch of women to stop talking about their experiences as women because it doesn’t fit one subgroup’s extremely specific vision of tone-policed female liberation.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:15 PM on February 23 [12 favorites]


The word diet does appear 26 times in the article.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:21 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The post is about opression and abuse, medical fraud, smear campaigns, lies, coverups, systemic gaslighting.

Are you reading the same post/article I am?

The term "diet" is used 26 times in the linked article. The article is at least half about personal experiences. It is not a purely statistical review of medical practices. I'll give some names for you to search in the article: "Sam", "my mother", "Corissa Enneking", "Janice O’Keefe", "Emily", "Joy Cox", "Lesley Williams", "Kimberly Gudzune", "Ron Kirk", "Andrew", "Stephanie Sogg", "Erin Harrop" - and that's not including a few doctors in the article who I skimmed over. Saying, "my experience is this" does not imply "their experience is not this". If you extrapolate accordingly, that's on you.
posted by saeculorum at 1:21 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Wow. I am super disappointed. MeFi, as a community, knows better than to freeze peach and talk about their right to discuss their personal experience anywhere that it seems relevant to them. I thought that the linked article was fascinating, and extremely emotionally impactful. And given that it said "dieting is not effective, and the culture of advocating for dieting is both ubiquitous and incredibly harmful to a large portion of the population," I really felt that the in-thread discussion of dieting success was incredibly inappropriate.
posted by agentofselection at 1:30 PM on February 23 [22 favorites]


While I understand that hearing a personal experience that is contrary to one's own can be painful, I thought the stories in that thread were respectful, relevant to the topic, and not controlling of, or prescribing to, the other participants.
posted by michaelh at 1:46 PM on February 23 [17 favorites]


> MeFi is trying to be a general-interest website in a world of specialty Discords and subreddits. I think that makes community here especially nebulous and collective and disagreeable,

Wait, you think MeFi is disagreeable compared to reddit? I only dabble there, but even the subreddit about the bank where I have my checking account is amazingly fighty.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:52 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


I think MeFi has come a long way on diet threads, in the sense that at least no one comes along now and says "calories in = calories out, fatty" and considers that a complete thought, a moral judgement and a witticism all in one. I used to get so angry about fat threads and I find them much easier to handle now, I don't feel like some people talking about their weight loss efforts was wildly off-topic in that thread, though there were a couple of tone deaf comments.

That said, I've never thought of myself as a person with an eating disorder, and I wouldn't say I was triggered by threads in the past, even when they were universally horrible, so I might not be the right person to gauge this off of -- there are obviously people with a much, much lower tolerance for diet talk than I have.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:41 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The article discussed dieting and included descriptions of disordered eating, so I don’t think personal reflections are completely off topic or offensive. There’s a difference between saying 16:8 worked for me and saying that fat people should try 16:8. Honestly, I thought the discussion started much better than ones in the past where someone would always pop up to say calories in calories out within the first few minutes. As a fat person, I would flag and then close the tab because I didn’t want to get banned for telling them to fuck off even though they clearly needed to fuck off.

In this case, there were definitely some people who jumped in to comment without reading, but that’s been happening for decades here and given human nature, it will keep happening. I didn’t read all the comments—whenever posts hit a certain number, I assume it’s fighty and best avoided.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:45 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


The post went better than I'd hoped and way better than I'd feared when I was considering submitting it. In fact I was ready to go a month or two ago but then I noticed it had been previously deleted though the deleted thread itself didn't seem too horrible. I asked the mods about reposting and they let me know it was a poster request rather than a mod decision to delete the thread originally. Though they also asked that I delay because of what was happening at that time and that was fine. The writing in the link was so powerful to me that I figured it would be worth it to advance it despite not being brand new and how the thread might go.

As an overweight person who has yo-yoed a few times and been descriminated against because of my weight it can be boring as hell to hear Yet Another One Weird Weight Loss Trick. Like Marshall's experience with his multi year quest for a legendary burger and having strangers recommend The Corner Bistro it is annoying that anyone would think I was so clueless as to not have heard of Atkins or whatever.

I didn't see much of that in the thread but I'm also not as triggered by it (and maybe immune a bit having seen it go much worse).
posted by Mitheral at 3:12 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


That's why there are some things MeFi Does Not Do Well(TM).

iirc, it was obesity threads that inspired that maxim in the first place
posted by thelonius at 4:13 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


If what you want is a community where everyone agrees with you exactly, it’s called a journal. There’s no such “community” on earth. This is about as good as you’re going to get unless you seek out a small group of very sympathetic friends.

The internet has a lot more places with well defined community norms than it did 5 years ago. I can find the "community" you don't think exists in private Facebook groups, discord servers, subreddits, and even sides of Tiktok.

MeFi is the most disagreeable place I still post.
posted by zymil at 10:36 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


I was following the thread and drafted about a dozen comments without posting any.

I think these issues have a very difficult line to walk.

On the one hand, I know from personal experience that it's absolutely true that there is an enormous amount of prejudice and hatred against fat people. It's absolutely true that shaming and mocking are not effective ways to motivate people to lose weight. It's absolutely true that repeated studies have shown that after a diet, people return to their previous weight within 3-5 years. It's absolutely true that the medical establishment has a great deal of prejudice and dismissiveness.

But on the other hand in these threads some people seem to go beyond what the evidence says to obscure theories about viruses or additives. People make blanket statements as if people have no control over their weight whatsoever.

The actual biology is incredibly complicated. For instance, there are dozens of genes that have been linked to obesity, which may operate in very different ways. Some of the genes like FTO affect hormones like leptin and ghrelin, which signal to your body when you are hungry, and when you are satiated. That sort of thing can't even be framed as "genes versus choice": if your genes make you hungrier, in one sense your genes are in control, but in another it's still extra food consumption that is causing the weight gain.

In other threads and context, we complain about the right-wing conspiracy theorists who constantly try to prove that masks don't work against COVID or that the COVID risk is exaggerated.

When we go over the line from "the medical establishment is biased in various ways" to "the medical establishment is wrong about facts of biology" it seems like we're going into the same territory. It gets worse when it seems like people are trying to ban other people from telling their personal stories because they contradict with what they want to be a universal narrative.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:58 AM on February 24 [22 favorites]


As someone who hasn't struggled with weight (yet) but is interested in cultural issues, science and misinformation - the personal stories of weight loss in that thread were too long. I know how hard it is to edit a whole experience in your life down to two or three pithy sentences. Oh geez I have deleted so much before posting in threads related to my own experiences, and I still think I could have done better.

But if you want to share an experience of weight loss that doesn't match the mainstream narrative, please do consider what details are relevant and ruthlessly cut anything else. Our whole society is saturated with weight loss narratives and a lot of people aren't going to read another one unless you make clear why yours is different.

If you're supportive of people who have eating disorders, or who have been discriminated against for their weight, or who are trying to push back on the toxic mainstream narrative about diets, please don't bury the interesting bit in endless details which on the surface look like one of the endless "you should try X" stories. What you ate, how often, for how long, the measurements... are they essential or are you just mentioning them out of habit, because that's how weight loss stories go? It's hard to resist the shape of that story, we've all heard it so so often. But any points you want to make will be more visible if you avoid them.
posted by harriet vane at 4:24 AM on February 24 [12 favorites]


Mod note: One comment deleted; gently, it's better not to share your well-intended "what worked for me for weight loss" story in this thread, because people are talking about how that kind of story can be a problem for them. It's fine if you want to comment about the discussion in the thread, but without sharing those diet details. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:28 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


Mod note: It seemed like many of the personal stories shared in that thread (and I don't know if perhaps several more problematic ones were deleted?) were along the lines of "but when I did lose weight it was never for the reasons people assumed/actually was due to poor health/was out of my hands" and the way in which the culture of:

opression and abuse, medical fraud, smear campaigns, lies, coverups, systemic gaslighting

made those experiences more harmful or difficult.

Which seems to me very different from "and here's how I did [blah] to lose weight" but if it truly is not, I would like to understand why.

> People who are not and never have been fat are not interested in diets and rarely know even so much as what the basic macro-nutrients are, why would they?

Because they grew up being shamed and gaslit about their bodies by a parent who suffered from an eating disorder and have spent their lives trying to undo that damage and work through their own disordered eating patterns? You can't tell if someone's healthy just by looking at them.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:06 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Mod note: "Your weight loss stories need better editing" was not where I expected this thread to go.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:54 AM on February 24 [13 favorites]


Mod note: What you ate, how often, for how long, the measurements... are they essential or are you just mentioning them out of habit, because that's how weight loss stories go? ... But any points you want to make will be more visible if you avoid them.

i haven't had more to say about this than "my best discussions about this are in places that ban specific mentioning numbers" (captain awkward comments, intuitive eating communities, others) but this bit so neatly made me realize why that works so well for me :) easier to actually engage with the discussion and hear what people have to say when i'm not on guard about whether or not i'll be triggered by every post
posted by gaybobbie at 9:06 AM on February 24 [6 favorites]


Mod note: MeFi is the most disagreeable place I still post.

“Disagreeable” in the sense that people literally disagree? Or that they talk about their personal experiences too much in a way you wish they wouldn’t? Because framing someone gently telling a story about a struggle they’ve had that agrees with the OP but doesn’t conform to a specific depersonalized narrative about weight loss as “disagreeable” is either irrelevant to what I said or a huge stretch.

That’s kind of the point though— if you want MeFi to be a subreddit or a Discord for one specific ingroup interested in a very narrow range of discussion around one particular topic... it’s not.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:15 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Blast Hardcheese, I agree entirely. The thread was almost, if not entirely, absent of the type of weight loss stories people are complaining about here.

I think what people are taking issue with is literally the fact that there are people in the thread who have lost weight, and they mentioned it. Doesn’t matter if they agree with the article that they lost it in a way they never expected, or gained it back, or lost it at great personal cost, or whatever else. If “mentioning you lost weight” is something that needs a TW, or if the majority of people here thinking that weight loss should never ever be referred to because losing weight or trying to is immoral, just say that. Don’t accuse people who are clearly struggling and being honest of glorifying something when they’re explicitly not.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:25 PM on February 24 [17 favorites]


Mod note: If “mentioning you lost weight” is something that needs a TW, or if the majority of people here thinking that weight loss should never ever be referred to because losing weight or trying to is immoral, just say that.

Don't be disingenuous, the argument is against telling your weight loss success stories in a thread that is explicitly about how the culture of weight loss encouragement is dangerous. It's about reading a room (and TFA).
posted by agentofselection at 3:04 PM on February 24 [15 favorites]


Mod note: the argument is against telling your weight loss success stories in a thread that is explicitly about how the culture of weight loss encouragement is dangerous

OK but developing hyperthyroid and dealing with the conflicting emotions around the weight loss that comes from a serious illness (literally one of the stories from the thread) .... that's not a SUCCESS story.

A poster who described the grinding misery of ongoing diets isn't telling a SUCCESS story.

And one of the people whose story could possibly be read like a "success" story came back to clarify that they don't consider it a success at all but in fact wanted to emphasize how wildly unhealthy and extreme it was and very counter to a balanced and healthy life.

I just can't see how any of that is "encouraging" weight loss, unless the very mention of weight loss by any means is an implicit encouragement. And if it is, that makes sense! The culture is so skewed in that direction that yes, maybe it is.

But I think it is asking posters to thread a very fine needle in discussions, and I don't think it's wrong to ask but it's probably wise to expect that some folks will fail to thread it perfectly.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:47 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Exactly. I DID read the article; in fact I read it before it was posted here, and listened to the podcast episode the author did about the topic, and shared it with my sister. I’m saying read the comments before wildly mischaracterizing them in MeTa.

They’re not “success” stories unless you think losing weight at all costs is a success. Which I thought we were explicitly agreeing it is not.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:17 PM on February 24 [8 favorites]


Mod note: I guess my point about editing was that if your story is not a success story, but it starts like or has the same style as a success story, then people won't read far enough to find that out. They're trying to avoid hearing the usual crap and could easily miss hidden subtleties. If you have something valuable to share, reading the room and styling things a bit differently will be helpful for other people even if it's a bit more work for you.
posted by harriet vane at 11:21 PM on February 24 [12 favorites]


Mod note: I should have added this: avoiding numbers and measurements (like people do in the places gaybobbie mentions) would go a long way towards making these conversations easier.
posted by harriet vane at 11:24 PM on February 24 [11 favorites]


Mod note: I'd like to thank Jessamyn and Eyebrows McGee for helping me frame this post.

I'd also like to clarify that I admit I was in a bad headspace when I read the original thread. I may have fallen guilty to the very thing harriet vane has described- misreading something as a typical success story. I'm sorry to anyone who I may have been unduly harsh to. There was at least one poster whose heartbreaking experiences I was rather dismissive of, and I'm very sorry.

However, I would like to defend myself against accusations of anti-medicine and censorship. I wasn't saying that people couldn't talk about their diets. I was saying I would like people not to talk about their diets in posts that are on the myths of dieting

A lot of good people in this thread have pointed out that these conversations would probably go a lot better if people didn't go into detail. I would be totally fine with "I know how this feels, I lost weight (no actual detail about what they did) but struggle with x". Or "I have lost weight, but acknowledge my privilege".

(Actually thinking about it, maybe I should have just got harriet vane to write the post!)
posted by daybeforetheday at 11:58 PM on February 24 [25 favorites]


Mod note: You're very kind! But I wouldn't have even thought about this if you hadn't raised the subject. It's what I like about MeFi - the jumble of ideas is messy and awkward and roundabout but we do push each other to higher standards.
posted by harriet vane at 4:20 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Mod note:
“Disagreeable” in the sense that people literally disagree? Or that they talk about their personal experiences too much in a way you wish they wouldn’t? Because framing someone gently telling a story about a struggle they’ve had that agrees with the OP but doesn’t conform to a specific depersonalized narrative about weight loss as “disagreeable” is either irrelevant to what I said or a huge stretch.


Disagreeable in the sense that if someone tells me that l am causing harm by posting diet details in a thread made by, for, and filled with people who struggle with diet culture and I keep doing it I don't think I'm going to get banned from this site.

The philosophy of moderation here isn't bad, but it is fundamentally different to most places I participate these days.
posted by zymil at 7:25 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Mod note: I understand that details can be a trigger for some people. I think this is a topic where comfort levels vary wildly and if it’s going to be an ED safe space that should be explicit, for the safety of those who want to participate. As someone who has brushed against the edge of ED but wouldn’t consider myself having one, I thought the discussions of diet were completely on topic. But on topic doesn’t mean safe.

Generally I would (personally) prefer a post where no mentions of diet (or no diet details) are welcome to be framed explicitly to say that. I can understand why some people would want that, I just didn’t see most of the existing comments as actually endorsing diet culture. They reminded me basically of anecdotes from the article, which I would think could be equally as triggering (e.g., eating only a carrot). But I’m not an expert in triggers, I can only say what I see. If a post is intended to be a certain type of space, I would definitely want those who understand the issue more deeply to frame the discussion. (Without that clear framing, it seems to become an argument about intent and what’s relevant to the post, neither of which seem like the crucial issue.)

Thanks for clarifying your mindset, OP.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:14 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


Mod note: I should also say I realize that introduces an extra burden for those affected by the issue (to put the extra effort into framing). It also seems (to me) necessary. So ideally moderators would pick up the extra burden, rather than it falling solely on those impacted. I think that’s already partially what’s going on, but a mod note or whatnot might go a long way. (Maybe not, I haven’t been following the site moderation trends lately.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:19 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Mod note: I was saying I would like people not to talk about their diets in posts that are on the myths of dieting

To give my bona fides here before I begin: I am a person who suffered from disordered eating throughout much of my life, both anorexia and bulimia, which have done a great deal of long-term harm to my body. I am also a fat person.

I think if we are having a conversation about the myths of dieting, we need to be able to talk about all aspects of those myths - and the myths in both directions. And some of those myths are 'no diet ever works or ever will work'. It's not enough to say 'Studies show diets don't work, you can't contradict that or people will find themselves doing them' without making space for people to say 'okay but what were they doing in those studies, and what was the economic class of the participants in these studies, and how did the amount of money and free time affect the weight issue, because I myself have had XYZ experiences and they seem to interrelate?'

It is important to me to be able to talk about how when I was more well-off financially and could afford to buy better categories of food, or fancy prepared food, I was able to keep weight off for a while and then as soon as I lost that extra income I couldn't. Because that is kind of central to the really upsetting and angry point that so much of fat-shaming is really socio-economic shaming, because the vast and overwhelming majority of us can't afford personal chefs and in-home exercise trainers or to do all our grocery shopping at Whole Foods without looking at the stickers for how much things cost. And I think that stuff gets obscured by 'you can't talk about diets and how they've impacted you for good and ill'.
posted by corb at 10:42 PM on February 26 [16 favorites]


Mod note: The thing about specific numbers and very specific details resonates with me. I wasn’t at all bothered by people talking about their experience, whether that included diets or exercise or weight loss. It is was the posts that almost read like recipes (x number calories, this many days fasting, exercise like this but not like this) that I found really difficult to read given the content of the article and the discussion I was expecting to have. And I do think that context was important.

I understand people want to share their experience, but it seems strange to give that much specific detail unless you are expecting someone else to use the information. That inferred expectation was what felt off to me.
posted by Concordia at 6:27 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Mod note: For me, it's the whole "comparison is the thief of joy" thing. I guarantee if I were to post my specific weight right now, it would be somebody's goal weight. If I then say I'm struggling hard to reduce that, that it's a low point in my life, it's making someone feel like even their aspiration is shameful. And that's not OK with me. Same applies to most other numbers: calories in, hours fasted, exercise done.

Basically, with something as variable as human bodies and diets in social and economic contexts, you never know when you're being Lucille Blyth saying "it's a banana! What can it cost, ten dollars?".
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:57 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


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