fat...so?
May 1, 2003 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Sure I'm insensitive, but you're fat. This jabeep may be on to something -- has our hot-or-not culture done away with all pretense of looking further than skin deep? fat may not be a "moral failing" anymore, but our growing national waistline doesn't seem to slow continued mockery of the non-slim...can't we be gorgeous ingenue hotties too, not just funny sidekicks? (via Bifurcated Rivets)
posted by serafinapekkala (128 comments total)
 
One caveat -- I wasn't actually that offended by this guy's letter, I mean, he sounds like a real tool. It just made me think back to last night's face-off on American Idol between the twiggy Trenyce and the stout Ruben...go Ruben! :-P
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:54 AM on May 1, 2003


There are a few diamonds, but with the amount of attention they get you'd think they were the Olsen twins.

Feckin 'ell, you mean people that are in college nowadays think of the Olsen twins as hot? I'm getting old.

And yes, guy's an assblanket, people eat too much, it's genetic, no it's not, etc.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2003


The guy's from the school of technology, so what does he care if women are fat? If I may indulge in a stereotype, it's not like he's socially developed enough to talk to women anyway.

(I know, I know. Times have changed, and the nerds of yesteryear are today's star quarterbacks.)

On preview: My 35-year old husband gets very uncomfortable when the Olsen Twins are in view. He can't wait for them to turn 18 so he can exhale.
posted by padraigin at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2003


This should be fun -- the issue of weight always brings out the best in Metafilter.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 10:23 AM on May 1, 2003


Holy Cow! That Purdue letter in the first link has been the talk of campus for the past few days. Everyone knows the guy was being an idiot, and the letters in response to his blatherings are almost as funny as the original. I'd hate to think how this reflects on the university, much less Indiana in general.
posted by pheideaux at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2003


I think the 'growing national waistline' will only increase the media's flood of the skinny and airbrushed. You create a problem, then you create products to remedy the problem. Then profit on the insecurities, and the need, created by media. But yeah, fat people suck.
posted by four panels at 10:26 AM on May 1, 2003


Lesley Boone is bodaciously hot. I'm just sayin'.

And I know that a lotta women and gay men think John Goodman is hot. So it's not like big folk are at any loss for admirers, esp. if this (NSFW) is any indication.

The Olsen twins are not sexy. Neither is Britney. The only ones of the current crop of teen idols who are bona fide babes are Alyson Hannigan and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

I hath spoken.
posted by jonmc at 10:30 AM on May 1, 2003


pheideaux -- thanks for the links! woah, those guys in Kappa Delta Rho are mighty smooth, using Brown's faux pas to highlight their own studliness: "We think Purdue has some of the most beautiful women around." Um, right.
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:35 AM on May 1, 2003


So he has a personal preference. Big whoop.

I am overweight, and my husband has the same taste in women as the husband in Malcolm in the Middle. (not that I ever watch that show. ) I don't get enough rest as it is.
posted by konolia at 10:36 AM on May 1, 2003


Mmm. I love John Goodman.
posted by padraigin at 10:37 AM on May 1, 2003


Maybe some of us like "fat chicks". I prefer someone with curves (not bony angles); someone I can bear-hug and not worry about snapping them in half.

Nothing infuriates me more when I'd take someone on a date, say "order what you want" for dinner, and have them say "oh i'll just have a salad".

If you want the lobster, order the lobster.
If you're hungry, eat until you're no longer hungry.

(sorry, had to rant there).
posted by mrbill at 10:38 AM on May 1, 2003


i like big butts.
posted by luriete at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2003


I prefer someone with curves (not bony angles)

I've got nothing against slight or skinny (tho' I too prefer a bit of substance), but yeah, when the hell did "bony is hot" come back? Skin stretched over ribs, pinched and sunken cheeks, knobby shoulders and elbows...blarrgh.

Of course, maybe what I'm doing is just as bad as making fun of fat people, but isn't this look something you really have to go out of your way to acquire?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2003


Actually Ms. Boone bears a passing resemblance to my better half, come to think of it.
posted by jonmc at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2003


has our hot-or-not culture done away with all pretense of looking further than skin deep?

I'm not sure all that much has changed regarding how much past skin deep people are willing to look. When it's a question of getting naked and rolling around with someone, you want to feel attracted, not just think they're nice. Some people often feel attracted to heavier people, but a majority have a certain range outside (usually beyond) which they're just not into it. This is not just male judgment of female bodies either; I know two different lesbian couples where the weight of one partner is becoming a serious issue re: their sex lives.

When it's a question of having a good conversation, people may employ unreasonable standards in high school when they're insecure and too concerned about association, but generally most people get over that.

fat may not be a "moral failing" anymore, but our growing national waistline doesn't seem to slow continued mockery of the non-slim

Just because we're all gaining weight doesn't mean we're all gaining an appreciation of overweight bodies. Since modern lifestyles are far more sedentary, and modern food far more abundant / far cheaper, our average weights are going up. But what we consider ideal hasn't really changed. There are fluctuations in art and (pop) culture so that we get plump models in renaissance paintings and heroin chic on pomo runways, but the standard throughout, from ancient greek sculptures through to the general preference of ordinary people, is for a well proportioned healthy body - not lacking what's necessary to be strong and vibrant, and not carrying excess useless or impedimentary weight (some of this could be "storing up for later," but unless youlive in a culture where you're likely to have a rough winter, this is no real use).
posted by mdn at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2003


by the way, I'm terrible at judging weight and often don't notice weight change in people unless it's over 15 or 20 lbs - so I'm not talking about what some people might consider 10 lbs overweight. I'd slot that in with normal.
posted by mdn at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2003


< fatgirlrant>

I often take offense at how "fat blackface" is considered acceptable in our culture. Thin actors putting on a fat suit to portray the most ridiculous stereotypes is just as insulting as any racial slur. Just look at Jiminy Glick (Hoho! he's fat AND repulsive! Isn't that funny!?) or Friends (LOL! Fat Monica can't stop eating candy bars! She's out of control!) or Shallow Hal (Look! The fat girl jumped in the pool! Now all the water is gone! Frekin' HILARIOUS!).

And don't feed me that crap about how people are fat because they eat too much and are lazy slobs. Yes, sometimes they are. But in my particular case (and millions of others like me) I take good care of myself, I am vegan, I rarely drink soda, coffee, or alcohol, I work out 3 times a week, and my blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc are all lower than my doctor's. I live like a freakin' nun. So bite me.

And dammit mrbill, there should be more of you, at least in Seattle. Funny thing how I lived in LA and had to fight the men off with a stick, yet I move to Seattle and it's like I contracted leprosy. You'd think the land of silicone and bulimia would be a harder place to find a date. Perhaps it's a supply and demand issue? And yes, I am a hottie.

< /fatgirlrant>
posted by evilcupcakes at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2003


I second what evilcupcakes says. Fat girls unite!
posted by VelvetHellvis at 11:07 AM on May 1, 2003


There are a few diamonds, [from the article]

I wasn't actually that offended by this guy's letter, I mean, he sounds like a real tool.

Tool in the use above, I'm having trouble gauging it here, please fill me in, someone? Good/Bad or a real arse.

side note
Woman, let me share with you my crystal ball. The men that went to Iraq, from my experience with my brother. After graduating from boot-camp he ate for 3 days straight, I mean ate. A lot of these guys will probably be going back to college, especially the Reserve. I don't think they will care about a waistline…it will be the late 40’s all over again…as the only request was for food that I heard repeated besides coming home.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.

truer words have not been spoken, wolfdaddy. way to cut to the chase, man!
posted by quonsar at 11:14 AM on May 1, 2003


I have a bit of a problem with both the dorkwad Purdue student who would write a letter like that AND with the "fat and proud" stance.

It's none of his business how women choose to look and it's obnoxious of him to make any kind of public service announcement telling women to lose weight so they'll be more attractive to him. I understand and respect that he finds slim people more attractive but the only decent thing to do is keep one's mouth shut on that topic and keep looking.

I am uncomfortable, however, with this whole "fat and proud" stance. There's a lot that IS positive about it. People must make their own choices and of course I applaud their efforts to be happy with their appearances. They SHOULD demand and get respect and courtesy from everyone, and they will be be considered attractive by many. The only element I don't like is the denial of the unhealthiness of their choice. It's parallel to smoking (laying aside the second-hand smoke considerations) - smoke if you want. It's your body and your business. Just don't kid yourself that it isn't bad for you.
posted by orange swan at 11:17 AM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie

i agree in principle, wolfdaddy, and i wish everyone subscribed to your worldview. the slings and arrows of the hottie hegemony, however, can take a toll on one's self-confidence after a while...'s all i'm sayin.' ;-)
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:20 AM on May 1, 2003


Friend of mine used to have great hips and a nice ass. She got the thin meme and now she looks like a boy with boobs. Eww. Another friend of mine (a coworker) was telling me about how she didn't like her hips. To me, this sounded dangerously like the onset of thin meme (which, she confessed, has had problems with before). I just had to try to set her straight. It was at work and I might have been fired for saying such things, but I told her she should keep her curves and why.
posted by wobh at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2003


Am I the only person who thought the Olsen twins looked like human Troll dolls?

Oh, and real women have curves.
posted by Cerebus at 11:23 AM on May 1, 2003


It's parallel to smoking

sorry, what is? "being fat"? "choosing to be fat"? "eating too much and being self-destructive"? before evilcupcakes goes off on you (or you read what she wrote again), just remember that where there is plumpness there is *not* always gluttony, biochemistry is often much more complicated than that.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:26 AM on May 1, 2003


The world is full to overflowing with anti-smoking nazis and nobody calls them insensitive. In such a world, why should anti-fat nazis be reticent? We only want what's best for all of you.
posted by jfuller at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2003


To clarify what I meant, serafinapekkala, eating too much and being inactive is parallel to smoking.
posted by orange swan at 11:30 AM on May 1, 2003


"Women at Purdue are too fat. There just aren't enough quality, healthy women on this campus."

I lump this in with statements like, "All the good men are either taken or gay," and try not to think of it as evidence of some sort of problem in need of a crusade.
posted by cardboard at 11:32 AM on May 1, 2003


Fat people need to loose weight. Not just for sex and attracting mates but because heavy weight is unhealthy. Simple. Some fat people just need that little extra incentive to loose the pounds. (^_^)
That said, I like jolly fat people enjoying their obiesity bumping (and grinding) into other fat people.
posted by xtian at 11:32 AM on May 1, 2003


The only element I don't like is the denial of the unhealthiness of their choice.

Even if you accept that it is a choice, I have a feeling that aesthetic critic Josh Brown isn't talking about the clinically obese. He's talking about women with hips and thighs. And there's growing evidence that just being fat, if you control for lifestyle choices, is not in fact bad for you.

The world is full to overflowing with anti-smoking nazis and nobody calls them insensitive.

Yes, in light of recent findings that secondhand fat is causing an epidemic in those in close proxmity to fat people, it's time to reevaluate whether we should allow fatness in bars and restaurants.
posted by transona5 at 11:34 AM on May 1, 2003


> The Olsen twins are not sexy.

Of course not. They're 32 years old and weigh 180 pounds.
posted by jfuller at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2003


I love the fat girls.

Thus ends my contribution to this thread.

fin
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2003


Seriously, there is a difference between a couple extra pounds and obese. America has a problem with obesity. Really. And its causing a range of problems from youth onset diabeties, to severe cardio-vascular disease earlier and earlier in the population, to simple issues like overcrowding public transportation (try sitting next to an obese person for a 5 hour Grayhound or Amtrak trip, not fun.) And at the end of the day its costing me money. My tax dollars, my insurance premiums, etc, go to pay for healthcare for obese people, like smokers.

Granted, there are some people who are "overweight" or "fat" or whatever you want to call it who have good diets, exercise, etc. That's the way they are. I have no problem with that. But the vast majority of overweight Americans are overweight because they don't get enough exercise (and I'm not talking about paying for an expensive gym people, go for a walk after dinner) and eat horrible fatty sugary food.

That's what I have a problem with. Its an individuals responsibility to take care of their body, but society ends up paying the price.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2003


Also, it should be pointed out that nicotine patches and gum, inasmuch as they work, are seen as a positive health development, but any attempt at a medical solution to obesity is immediately derided as a symptom of our lazy, quick-fix society.
posted by transona5 at 11:41 AM on May 1, 2003




There is no difference in someone being repulsive because they are a fat ass, and someone being repulsive because they smoke too many cigerrettes. Both things are choices, and can be corrected with hard work.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2003


> there's growing evidence that just being fat, if you control
> for lifestyle choices, is not in fact bad for you.

My growing evidence is more recent than your growing evidence.
posted by jfuller at 11:46 AM on May 1, 2003


please, for the love of god, just this once, ignore the trolls and keep this civilized
posted by GeekAnimator at 11:48 AM on May 1, 2003


Oh yeah I'd definitely hit it. On a lighter note, only insane people would prefer to be fat versus slender. I've been on both sides and there is just nothing to debate as far as I'm concerned. Plus there just are no acceptable excuses for staying fat other than denial.
posted by oh posey at 11:48 AM on May 1, 2003


But your evidence doesn't control for lifestyle factors. The last sentence is especially revealing: "What the study doesn't tell us is whether an intervention like losing weight will change the cancer incidence or risk of death," Professor Bishop said. "We would hope so."
posted by transona5 at 11:49 AM on May 1, 2003


I've heard men (boys, actually) complain about the viewing quality of the women around them before.

Notice that this guy is addressing his complaint to the ENTIRE student body of the school. It's not that he just wants to find one thin hottie to bang at home, he wants to raise the bar overall.

This is one of the most asinine complaints possible, as it implies that all the women attending Purdue are there for his viewing pleasure. The tone is identical to a couch potato griping about how there's nothing good on TV.

This twit deserves, no desperately needs a swift kick in the nuts. In a mortal match between an obese woman in sweats and a whiny engineering undergrand, I'd bet my hunny on the plumper.
posted by scarabic at 11:58 AM on May 1, 2003


I recently read a interesting book on this topic, Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, by Doug Critser (I went with the Salon review link rather than the Amazon link). Critser does a pretty good job of exploring all the factors - economic, cultural, educational, etc. that have made us (since Canada's not far behind) heavy. Also he provides a really detailed exploration of all the ills associated with being overweight.
posted by orange swan at 12:02 PM on May 1, 2003


The only element I don't like is the denial of the unhealthiness of their choice. It's parallel to smoking (laying aside the second-hand smoke considerations) - smoke if you want. It's your body and your business. Just don't kid yourself that it isn't bad for you.

I'm sorry, I think that you are confused. Research shows that being overweight and heart disease tend to occur together, not that one causes the other. Being overweight does not CAUSE heart disease, rather the same lifestyle that gives you heart disease can make you fat. As I said before, my blood pressure is 110/75, my blood sugar is 82, my cholesterol is very low (can't remember the number off the top of my head). So what is it that's going to kill me faster than you?

I really don't feel that I have made any "unhealthy choice". On the contrary, the only truly unhealthy choice I made was when I wanted to lose weight so badly I went down to a 800 calorie a day. 15 hour a week exercise regimen. I lost weight, and developed anemia, and fainting spells, and headaches, and insomnia, and stopped menstruating. Instead I choose to eat a diet free from refined sugar and fatty animal products. I choose not not smoke anymore. I choose to exercise daily. I choose to accept the body I was given and focus my mental energies on doing the things I want to do with my life rather than focus on having to conform my body through unhealthy measures to fit your mold of what a healthy person looks like.

I would rather be healthy and fat. And yes, there is such a thing.
posted by evilcupcakes at 12:03 PM on May 1, 2003


only insane people would prefer to be fat versus slender.

Well I'm insane...this was because I wanted to play football and stop from being bullied.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:10 PM on May 1, 2003


Evilcupcake, everyone has gone out of their way to differentiate between people who's bodies are naturally large (which is fine and healthy) and the vast majority of Americans who are overweight due to lifestyle choice. And many of these overweight people are dangerously overweight.

I am sure you are healthy and happy. All your vitals are within range. You clearly take care of your self. I am not attacking you.

I am attacking those who are exceptionally overweight out of choice, who thereby are unhealthy and impact the rest of us, you included.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.

Worth repeating again...

True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.

... and again.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2003


Purdue needs to publish a photo of the letter's author and let the women write in to comment on whether he should be throwing stones.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on May 1, 2003


So here's a question: what is the correlation between "looking fat" and being "dangerously overweight"? I wonder if it's less than we have become used to thinking it is? For myself, BMI calculations and cholesterol tests suggested I was pushing the envelope awhile ago, but I don't think I "looked fat". Diet, exercise and 20 pounds later I don't look much different either.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:32 PM on May 1, 2003


I think the main problem I have with a few of these posts is this: you generally cannot tell just by looking who the healthy overweight people are vs. the other type.

In my case my eating habits could improve but my blood pressure is 100/62 (taken about a month ago ) and my cholesterol is only a hair over what it should be.

One other thing to point out. There are some medications out there that can cause people to gain something like 60 pounds in a couple of months. Some people have to choose between stabilization of their medical problem vs. a thin body. I knew one gal who used to have a cute thin body-but she was a schizophrenic and in not quite two years was morbidly obese. The medicine that caused it was also the medicine that kept her halfway stable. It was heartbreaking.

So next time you see a fat person-unless you see them stuffing a twinkie in their mouth -don't be quite so quick to judge.

Oh and one other thing-some thin folks have horrible diets and could be just as unhealthy. Again, can't judge just by looking.
posted by konolia at 12:41 PM on May 1, 2003


can't we be gorgeous ingenue hotties too, not just funny sidekicks?

Sure hard work, Kelly Osborne, born with it, by famous Dad yet she earned her fame.(for what it's worth)
Queen Latifia, deserves every ounce of respect, not for being famous. For shining in more than one category of Detroit/Hollywood. She shows you can be famous with good old fashion hard work & self confidence.

Notice, singers cross over better to actors in Hollywood, than the other way around. Seems most in the spotlight want a hit record, even sport's figures. That was why I used Detroit/Hollywood.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:42 PM on May 1, 2003


I think it's a damned shame that the contemporary standards of beauty have gotten to the point that Jennifer Lopez is considered to have an exemplary butt. That should be the freakin' starting point, people. Sheesh.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2003


Instead I choose to eat a diet free from refined sugar and fatty animal products. I choose not not smoke anymore. I choose to exercise daily. I choose to accept the body I was given and focus my mental energies on doing the things I want to do with my life rather than focus on having to conform my body through unhealthy measures to fit your mold of what a healthy person looks like.

I would rather be healthy and fat. And yes, there is such a thing.
posted by evilcupcakes at 2:03 PM CST on May 1


I'ts not my intention to be cruel, but
you also choose to be fat.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:47 PM on May 1, 2003


There's a stark difference between "fat" and "morbidly obese." It would help if we all had a clear understanding of the difference.

I suspect the people decrying fatness are actually decrying obesity. One's not necessarily unhealthy. The other is, by definition, unhealthy.

in canada, you could have banged the olsen twins at age 14. though lord alone knows why you'd want to. icky.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:49 PM on May 1, 2003


PinkStainlessTail, I'd say "looking fat" is an aesthetic assessment and "dangerously overweight" is more of a medical assessment. They are not married terms.
posted by orange swan at 12:51 PM on May 1, 2003


I'ts not my intention to be cruel, but
you also choose to be fat.


If that's when she's healthiest then that is a good choice.

Orange: That's what I think too, but I think a lot of folks in this thread see people who "look fat" and get mad because they correlate that with "dangerously overweight and driving up my insurance premiums" or some such.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:53 PM on May 1, 2003


evilcupcakes and the rest of the curvy women on Mefi...rock on with your bad selves. ;) I too am of the ranks of women with curves. I'm shaped like an hourglass...a large hourglass, granted...but an hourglass none the less.

And frankly, boys are welcome to all the fantasy skinny airbrushed women they can conjure up...but the real men I know don't make judgements based on dress size.
posted by dejah420 at 1:01 PM on May 1, 2003


Celebrate heaviness.
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 1:03 PM on May 1, 2003


Lesley Boone is hot, no doubt about it. It would have been wonderful to see her have a real romance, but that's not likely to happen (and not just because Ed is likely to be cancelled).

And to add fuel to the weight/health fire: I'm not overweight, don't put salt on my food and work out three times a week and yet my BP is borderline high (I'm on meds now so it's back to normal). My wife (who was overweight when we married), on the other hand, is overweight (but not sedentary, perhaps that's the key) but has lower BP than I do (even after the meds), normal cholesterol and is not diabetic.

Just a datapoint.
posted by tommasz at 1:08 PM on May 1, 2003


I think one of the reasons why this is such a hot topic is that certainly being overweight is a health issue. However for some reason this has been used as an excuse to say things about fat people that one would never say to people with other types of unhealthy lifestyles with the possible exception of heroin junkies.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:09 PM on May 1, 2003


Some people have to choose between stabilization of their medical problem vs. a thin body.

I fall into this category. I college I weighed 175 pounds (I'm a 5'9" male), but I was horribly depressed. A couple of years of taking SSRI's to fight the depression, and I had ballooned to nearly 300 pounds. Diet and exercise mattered not a whit. The weight would not come off.

All that time my social life sufferred horribly. I was (still am, really) a thin person in a fat guy's body. But that doesn't matter, because everyone is so convinced that all fat-asses are just lazy slobs who eat too many Big Macs. Well guess what--we're not. And there are more of us than you may think.

Only now that I've managed to find a medication that doesn't decimate my metabolism am I able to lose weight. I've lost 35 pounds in the last two months, but I still have probably a year to go I get back to where I was. Until then, I'll still have to suffer the dirty looks and behind-my-back whispers of all those who think they know my lifestyle just by looking at me.

That's not a sob-story. I traded my physical appearance for my mental health, and I'd do it again. I just think people should know that the issue is not a simply as they may think.
posted by jpoulos at 1:18 PM on May 1, 2003


I am attacking those who are exceptionally overweight out of choice

Yeah, pjgulliver. People choose to be grossly overweight. One day, they wake up and say to themselves, "I want to be a member of one of the few remaining demographics people can openly ridicule." They think to themselves, "Today I resolve to become so overweight, people will avoid me, my sex life will suffer, and self-righteous assholes will harangue me at every opportunity."

Get a less-simplistic world view and do us all a favor, OK?
posted by Cerebus at 1:19 PM on May 1, 2003


Right, KirkJobSluder. It's difficult to make it clear that one is talking about weight as a health issue rather than as a aesthetic and emotional issue. It's such a loaded topic, there are far too many people like that Purdue student to say jerk-off things and it all gets het up far, far too fast.
posted by orange swan at 1:25 PM on May 1, 2003


PS - Please blame all those typos on Miguel.
posted by jpoulos at 1:31 PM on May 1, 2003


you watch too much tv
posted by Satapher at 1:33 PM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.

SSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo far from being a universal truth. There are enormously self-confident people out there who are literally repulsive and sooo not hot.

(remembers, shudders)
posted by NortonDC at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2003


Yeah, pjgulliver. People choose to be grossly overweight. One day, they wake up and say to themselves, "I want to be a member of one of the few remaining demographics people can openly ridicule."

Actually, Cerebus, it is almost that simple. While I am not morbidly obese, I have about 30 lbs. of extra gut that I would really like to get rid of. This weight has all been gained since my school days, mainly through very bad (and lazy) dietary choices, and a lack of motivation to exercise. While I did not wake up one morning and decided to gain weight, I was well aware of how much fat and other crap I was consuming, and chose not to change my habits. While it was not a single conscious choice that brought me to this point, it was nevertheless the result of choices I made. So yes, in effect I chose to be overweight.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:38 PM on May 1, 2003


when i read something so patently over-the-top, such as josh's letter at purdue, it's hard for me to respond. what can you really say?

pj:

My tax dollars, my insurance premiums, etc, go to pay for healthcare for obese people, like smokers.

your tax dollars and your insurance premiums go to pay for a lot of things. you've got a right to resent it, but i think healthcare for disease caused by obesity is a small part of a varied whole.

But the vast majority of overweight Americans are overweight because they don't get enough exercise (and I'm not talking about paying for an expensive gym people, go for a walk after dinner) and eat horrible fatty sugary food.

That's what I have a problem with. Its an individuals responsibility to take care of their body, but society ends up paying the price.


i have to be honest with you, pj: admonishment isn't a great motivator for me. i doubt it's a great motivator for people with serious obesity. it's still funny to see most people react to obesity with admonishment and bias. i think health is a positive thing for a person, and best supported by a positive attitude such as evilcupcakes'.

negative attitudes instill fear, shame, and self-loathing to those who accept them. why do people still persist in reacting to obesity negatively?
posted by moz at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2003


There is no difference in someone being repulsive because they are a fat ass, and someone being repulsive because they smoke too many cigerrettes. Both things are choices, and can be corrected with hard work.

there is no difference in being someone being repulsed by another's girth, and someone being repulsed by another's racial characteristics. both things are psycho-social maladjustments, and can be corrected with hard work.
posted by quonsar at 1:42 PM on May 1, 2003


Yeah, girth can be adjusted with hard work.
posted by NortonDC at 1:45 PM on May 1, 2003


no, I correspond it to people who are clearly incapable of any sort of sustained physical activity. That's when weight bothers me. When there are obese people holding up lines sloughing along, wheezing as they climb staircases, unable to breath properly because of the "apina" (I think that's the word, when your breathing system becomes all congested from the amount of fat...its a real medical thing) when people are so large the spill into my personal space on relatively large sized public transportation, when they can't be bothered to walk a few blocks...these are all the things I mean when I say a "fat person."

If you are capable of a modicum of physical activity, and therefore able to participate correctly in the society around you, I could care less how "large" you are.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:50 PM on May 1, 2003


evilcupcakes: and I have a Lane Bryant gold card, too! 8-)

A couple other responses here have said that your sex life suffers if you're overweight - not so, I can say. The "curvy and cuddly" factor goes in here - as my wife said; "wow, that would be like screwing a wooden rocking chair" when talking about Callista Flockhart.

We're both overweight - me due to a combination of the way I was raised (born prematurely; parents were told I would be sickly - so they encouraged me to eat, a lot) and the discovery two years ago that I had obstructive sleep apnea that had totally messed up my metabolism, and her due to PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome).

I got on CPAP (have to wear a pressurized air mask at night), and she got on medication for the PCOS. She's dropped nearly 70 lbs in the past year (and is buying from Victoria's Secret again), and I've lost around 50 lbs just from my metabolism speeding up.

We've both got a bit to go - but neither of us wants to be trendy and slim - we both like "normal" looking folk.

We watch a lot of BBC America, and have noticed that the British are a lot more realistic when it comes to portraying people on television shows (e.g., "overweight" people are not portrayed as freaks, but "people").
posted by mrbill at 1:55 PM on May 1, 2003


Let me clarify my point:

I hold to the belief that we are all given a body, and it is ours to maintain. I have nothing against the fact the people come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Rock on. If your doctors say your fine, that's terrific. If you feel fine, that's terrific.

But I've watched enough friends (and my own) weights change dramatically based on life-style choices (ie, how much do they drink, how much crummy fast food and sugary nothing drinks do the consume, how much exercise to they get...and not just an hour in a gym now and the but do the consciously try to make some level of physical activity, be it walking or playing freesbee or taking the stairs instead of the elevator occasionally) that I do firmly believe a large amount of the people out there who are considered "fat" or "overweight" are that way by choice. No one is that sympathetic to a lifetime smoker who develops cancer. Why should I be sympathetic to some given a perfectly good body at birth but continually abuses it through poor diet and lack of exercise?

Again, I'm not talking about people who are just born large...there's a lot of them out there, many of them in my family. But I'm talking about people with bad personal health habits. That's a choice. Its not an immedaite choice, the effects build up over time. You may be lazy and eat poorly in your teens and early 20s and find yourself maintaining a body you like and suddenly you balloon up when you hit 26. But that's not fate. Its the result of poor personal health choices over decades.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2003


Plus there just are no acceptable excuses for staying fat other than denial.

If anyone had told me that I would be cold all the time now, I might not have taken off those 112 pounds I lost.

*snortlaugh*
posted by likorish at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2003


unable to breath properly because of the "apina" (I think that's the word, when your breathing system becomes all congested from the amount of fat...its a real medical thing

Its called "apnea", and being overweight *can* be a contributing factor, but sleep apnea can happen to anyone (being overweight can be an exaggerating factor, however). I've suffered from it since I was a baby, and finally was diagnosed with it (and got treatment) a couple of years ago. I'll have to wear a CPAP (constant positive air pressure) mask at night while sleeping for the rest of my life, unless I want to go in and have major surgery (basically reconstructing my throat area and trachea below my vocal cords to remove some scar tissue caused when I was a premature baby).

I can lose all the weight I want - and I'll still snore and occasionally stop breathing unless I'm wearing the CPAP gear.

You might want to take a look at http://www.apneanet.org before you make such blat antly ignorant statements again.
posted by mrbill at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2003


Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go round.

Crash, ready to duel?
posted by vito90 at 2:21 PM on May 1, 2003


Sorry Mr. Bill. I feel horrible...I post without thinking sometimes.

In my defence, my roommate, who works for Medtronic Xomed retailing surgical equipement for head nose and throat stuff and is the guy who show's the surgeons how to use the equipment, often while the operation is ongoing, told me that it almost always came about from morbid obesity.

So again, I apologize, but I was misinformed, not making blind judgements.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:26 PM on May 1, 2003


> Being overweight does not CAUSE heart disease, rather the
> same lifestyle that gives you heart disease can make you
> fat.

A distinction without a difference.

I've reformed. I'm no longer a fat nazi, I'm now a heart-disease-lifstyle nazi. Everybody happy?
posted by jfuller at 2:33 PM on May 1, 2003


Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes. (NSFW)
posted by plep at 2:34 PM on May 1, 2003


Fat bottomed girls, you make the rocking world go round!

...and boy did I find some NSFW material trying to get that one right.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:48 PM on May 1, 2003


pjgulliver: no need for an apology, if you were just going from what your friend said.

A lot of people ignore apnea until it (or other things) cause weight gain due to metabolism changes, and then the weight gain causes the apnea to get *worse*. I know I ignored it, just accepted the fact that I snored and would stop breathing randomly at night - until I gained some weight, the apnea got (according to my doctor) life-threatening, and it was affecting my work and my general quality of life (I'd nod off at stop signs, while typing, and once even while being intimate with my significant other).

Imagine going for four years without any REM sleep, or not actually sleeping more than 30 seconds at a time (I'd stop breathing, and would "wake up" enough to resume breathing, but not become conscious). They gave me the CPAP mask and machine (imagine something like an air pump for a fish tank, the size of a shoebox); I took it home, wore it and slept for four hours - and woke up feeling like I'd slept for a week. I no longer snore - that first night, my wife kept coming in to check on me, "I thought you were dead or something".

A number of my geek friends have sleep apnea - and most of us had the same comment after getting on CPAP - "its as if someone turned up the contrast knob on life". Weight can cause it, but weight is not the only cause.

Apologies to everyone for turning this into a sleep apnea debate.
posted by mrbill at 3:07 PM on May 1, 2003


I'm guilty of it sometimes, too, but let's not stray too far the other way into thin-bashing. There are scores of women and men with rapid metabolisms who will never reach "normal" weights no matter how much they eat, and many more who are unusually thin due to other medical conditions. One of my dearest friends has had her appetite completely wrecked by chronic pain and medications, and it's very hard for her to know that people around her (even some of her doctors) assume she has an eating disorder. Calls for sensitivity all around. Lighter note:

what the mirror said

listen,
you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.
listen,
somebody need a map
to understand you.
somebody need directions
to move around you.
listen,
woman,
you not a noplace
anonymous
girl;
mister with his hands on you
he got his hands on
some
damn
body!


Lucille Clifton
posted by hippugeek at 3:19 PM on May 1, 2003


I am fat.

Guess what? I don't hate myself and it really pisses me off when people who don't even know me think I should simply because of the size of my butt. Or who think I should diet all the time, or exercise constantly, or whatever it is you think I should do. While I am not perfectly healthy (and who among us is?), I have absolutely no major health problems.

And I shouldn't ever have to justify myself with a disclaimer. And that's what's so wrong about people who are anti-fat. They always expect us to come out with details of our diet, exercise patterns, and medical histories. And only when we prove ourselves to be one of the "good" fat people, one of the ones who doesn't overeat, exercises regularly, and has a clean bill of health, only then is it okay for us to be fat, because we have, at that point, obviously done everything that we're supposed to do, so it's officially not our fault.

Fuck that shit. If I want a cheeseburger, I'm going to eat one. If I want to wear an attractive outfit, I'm going to wear it. If I want to have lots and lots of wonderful kinky sex, I'm going to do that, too. I'm not going to avoid living the life I want just because there are people who think I need to wait until I meet some societal standard of appearance in order to do so.
posted by eilatan at 3:33 PM on May 1, 2003


"True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be."

As mentioned, this is not universally true - not even close. I know a number of self confident people who project a good self image and so on who are not attractive and certainly not considered "hotties" in any general way by those around them.

Self image is a feature in attractiveness, but it is not the most compelling or the only one.

Temporary fluctuations aside, what is considered attractive as a general rule has stayed fairly constant for good reason - it fits with out wiring and our evolution.

Me? I don't care what people chose to let happen to themselves. You wanna be fat? Go for it... I won't hassle you about it. You have a genetic issue? Unfortunate, and your not going to get grief from me.

My only issue here is the silliness of the growing "fat lobby". The politicization of something as simple and natural as having a preference for people who are in shape and look good. Hell, even assuming that there is no natural standard for this - I am unsure why someone's preferences cause so much heat these days.

If you like fat chicks your "able to see past the surface" - though there may be a number of reasons for this preference that are not so enlightened.

If you have a preference for the conventionally attractive though your some kind of shallow git without the ability to "see people for who they are".

Hogwash. You like fat people? Good for you. You enjoy your preferences and leave me to mine. You are a fat person? Fine with me just don't be surprised that a lot of people don't think your hot.

Hell, you're not even expected to CARE about how most peopel see you - just don't act surprised.

Just let's drop the pretense that there is no such thing as a general preference among humans and stop making it seem liek all the fat people are champions of self esteem and intellectual superiority in the rejection of social straightjackets.

Most of them are simply people who eat more than they excursive. The result doesn't look very good to most observers. Get over it and move on.

Oh - and the Olsen Twins are hot :)
posted by soulhuntre at 3:34 PM on May 1, 2003


Sleep and metabolism...

I had no idea how closely the two were related until my son was born. At a checkup with my doctor, I mentioned that despite breastfeeding, keeping control of my calories and walks and yoga, I had only lost about 20 pounds of the pregnancy weight. (I gained a lot during pregnancy...it was the first time in my life where I had "permission" to eat. heh.)

Anyway, she asked if I was getting much sleep...and then we both laughed...because no nursing mother with a newborn gets much sleep. She said that with only getting a couple of hours of sleep a day, and virtually no chance for REM cycles, that it wouldn't matter if I tried to live on a carrot and a glass of water per day...that my metabolism just wouldn't kick back in until I started getting 6 or more hours of sleep a day.

Who knew?
posted by dejah420 at 4:15 PM on May 1, 2003


First off, since pjgulliver seems to be comfortable throwing around amateur diagnoses for something he/she apparently understands very little, I'll make one of my own: pjgulliver's obsession with those who are overweight and his/her deep-rooted feelings of displacement in society because of them is nothing short of pathologic. Yes, we who pay insurance premiums do pay for a wide range of physical ailments, whether one wants to classify them as preventable or not, due to lifestyle or not. That is how the insurance system is defined. We could go for the option of controlling such 'voluntary' problems if we decide, say, to subject ourselves to a cadre of 'lifestyle police' assigned by the insurance companies (which may be coming up in the future anyway, given the direction HMOs are going).

And, yes, sometimes we do have to walk or sit or stand next to or behind the overweight; the same goes for smelly people, rude people, evangelical christians, and insurance salesmen. And we can blame any number of our life's woes or daily annoyances on any range of people we choose to select for the purpose. But really, it's just the nature of living in society. Of course, you think you are right about the issue. Everyone thinks they are right. I certainly do. But so did Hitler. He was able to a large degree to wipe out Jews, homosexuals, or really anyone else who crossed his path that he found undesirable; he was able to bring a nation on board by espousing the idea that these people were to blame for their problems. Or just the idea that they were disgusting and didn't deserve to live and screw up our ideal society.

I'm currently overweight, by about 60 pounds. I was a very fat child, and I have periods in my life when I was in much better shape. I don't attribute it to heredity or some physical ailment. I think it has more to do with unhealthy habits I developed growing up. I've struggled with it. Willpower works for a while. The periods in which I have been the heaviest have been those in which I have been the most depressed or the most anxious, including now. At 35, I'm starting to feel my health is being affected; sometimes late at night, I'll feel a slight pain in the chest or some strange tingling in my arms and legs, and I'll wonder if I'm about to cross over; and sometimes I don't really care whether I do or not. I've had periods in which I'm self-conscious about how others view me, and periods in which I don't care. I've had periods in which I've felt my life indeed has less value than that of someone who is in perfect physical shape, and when I have thought that being in perfect shape would solve all my problems. And I've long felt that my inability to overcome this problem has held me back from my full potential in every other aspect of my life. (I'm not so caught up in the 'hot' or attractive thing; most people aren't hot; in fact, I'd say David Sedaris is right on track when he says (paraphrasing) that everyone looks retarded if you stare at them long enough.)

Despite all this, I can't imagine that anyone who is not me, who has not had my experiences, has any right to comment on whether my condition is voluntary or not, preventable or not, or justified or not. It's kind of like the whole gay think; being gay, I'm not terribly interested in whether it's genetic or not--whether it's purely choice or something deeper, it's no one else's concern. (And, the anti-fat scapegoat/blame game is not new; we gays have for years been credited with destroying the family and bringing about AIDS.)

So, you can say that overweight people are just plain lazy or have psychological problems or are a burden on society. But anyone who stops to think about it so deeply that they feel justified in condemning such people as a group have problems that have historically proven far more damaging to society than those they select to criticize.
posted by troybob at 4:30 PM on May 1, 2003


Nice godwin, troybob.
posted by NortonDC at 4:46 PM on May 1, 2003


True self-confidence gets you labeled a hottie, no matter what your shape may be.

I hardly ever find it necessary to quote myself, but I believe it's important to challenge certain contributors to this thread to find the words by everyone in the above sentence.

See, I didn't put them there because then the sentence would have been universally false.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:02 PM on May 1, 2003


My 35-year old husband gets very uncomfortable when the Olsen Twins are in view. He can't wait for them to turn 18 so he can exhale.

Padraigin - he can track their progress with the Olsen Twins Jailbait Countdown Clock!
posted by Wet Spot at 5:55 PM on May 1, 2003


That's right: Anorexic Sex (NSFW).
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:37 PM on May 1, 2003


Fuck that shit. If I want a cheeseburger, I'm going to eat one.

Exactly.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 6:40 PM on May 1, 2003


I can say, based on medical research and personal experience, that about 75% of the people in this thread, including you, pjgulliver, do not have the slightest clue what they are going on and on about.
posted by Hildago at 7:08 PM on May 1, 2003


Let's turn this one on its head, then: should no one judge or find distasteful the appearance of an anorexic?

Imagine someone standing 5'6" but weighing less than eighty pounds. She is gaunt. Her teeth are becoming loose and her hair is beginning to fall out. She no longer menustrates. She is physically weak: she can not run a lap around a track without feeling faint. And she persistently induces vomiting after eating.

Now, are you people going to tell me that no one should judge such behaviour? That it shouldn't be criticized, that we shouldn't want her to treat herself better? That we should all smile sweetly and say that it's okay for her to do this to herself?

Someone please explain to me how the anorexic is different from the morbidly obese.

(not that it's going to much influence my view. In the delicate words of one user: fuck that shit. You don't just ignore people who are killing themselves: they're not mentally healthy, and someone needs to step in and take control of their lives for them before they end up dead.)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:02 PM on May 1, 2003


Please note that fff's second link is NSFW.

Off the top of my head, a major difference between anorexia and morbid obesity is the mental states of the people affected. In general, the morbidly obese are well aware of their condition (though depression and other mental illnesses can certainly contribute to it). One of the symptoms of anorexia, though, is a distorted body image: many anorexics honestly think they're still fat when most people would see them as unheathfully thin. Sometimes intervention is appropriate for life-threatening obesity, but most of the time it's not going to be successful.

And she persistently induces vomiting after eating.

That's usually bulimia, not anorexia, though some people display characteristics of both.

And in the interest of equality: Large men, I throw some love your way. I've had my crushes on skinny musicians, but there's nothing like a good solid body to lean on. Keep it up.
posted by hippugeek at 9:45 PM on May 1, 2003


Someone please explain to me how the anorexic is different from the morbidly obese.

I believe the difference is that we consider anorexics to be tragic figures with a serious medical condition and fat people to be weak-willed buffoons worthy of ridicule and scorn.

Other than that, great comparison!
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 11:04 PM on May 1, 2003




I believe the difference is that we consider anorexics to be tragic figures with a serious medical condition and fat people to be weak-willed buffoons worthy of ridicule and scorn.

Yes, because nobody ever makes fun of really skinny people, and big kids never run over skinny kids just because they can and nobody would ever dare make sick jokes about Callista Flockhart or whoever the current target is.

People who are very skinny frequently get a lot of hell over it, whether you want to see it or not.
posted by bargle at 12:57 AM on May 2, 2003


That's what I have a problem with. Its an individuals responsibility to take care of their body, but society ends up paying the price.

But then obese people and smokers often die relatively young, rather than dragging their lives out and forcing the state or their relatives to shell out for all the many operations for stupid things such as glaucoma and arthritis that will inevitably crop up.

My 87-year-old clean-living grandmother, for example, could have saved us all a lot of trouble by dying in her sixties before her various illnesses set in. But no, she couldn't follow the example of her obese sister and keel over from a heart attack at the age of 57, or her smoker husband, who died from lung cancer at the age of 70. No, she had to keep on living, collecting her state pension and her free medicine. God only knows how much it's all cost. Utter selfishness. Overweight people should be given a medal for services to the welfare budget.
posted by Summer at 3:07 AM on May 2, 2003


Someone please explain to me how the anorexic is different from the morbidly obese.

I am 'morbidly obese.' There I've said it. And I'm sure I'm not the only one here at MeFi who is. I am fat, I have been that way for since I was 15, prior to that I was barely chubby.

I have a disease. Polycystic Ovarion Syndrome. I eat less than most people on an average day. I dieted myself into the hospital as a chubby 12 year old. I was diagnosed with malnutrition and starvation and I was still FAT!

I'm always going to be fat, no matter what I eat. But my blood pressure is fantastic, my cholesterol is wonderful, my heart is kick ass, and I am not diabetic.

What I am is fat. Plain and simple. My fat isn't costing you a damn dime as I do not have any of the supposed 'fat' health issues.

I am also not lazy prior to becoming disabled (which, by the way, has nothing to do with fat, but is a story for another day) I worked in an Nursing Home. I was lifting 250 pound + people on a daily basis, on my feet for 8-16 hours a day, walking on average 5 miles a day for my job.

I also went dancing 3 nights a week and worked out 4 days a week. I was still FAT!

Some of us just are fat, it has nothing to do with what we eat. I dare say I eat better than the vast majority of people here at MeFi.

And you know what? You don't like my fat? Don't look at me. Turn your head, your neck works. Do not disparage me soley because I don't fit society's ideal of a thin, tall, blond with enourmous breasts. I'm short, fat, wild haired with a little grey in there, I'm in a wheelchair on or on a cane. To my husband of almost five years, I'm fucking gorgeous. And when it comes down to it, he is the only one that matters.

If you search at Google for Fat Bottomed Girls, my fat positive site (sorely neglected due to real life) comes up on the first page. I'm tired of ignorant people who have the metabolism of a 6 year old hyperactive child on speed telling me how I should feel about myself.

Fuck that shit. Children torment one another over looks. Why do adults do that? It's ridiculous, completely ridiculous that every time something like this is posted to MeFi that the fat bashers come out in hordes.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:55 AM on May 2, 2003


</fat thread>
posted by crunchburger at 4:55 AM on May 2, 2003


Fatipuffs and thinifers.
'This book is quite boring because of the fact that the two kinds of people are exactly opposite so whatever happens on one side of the story is tediously repeated on the other.'
Sounds familiar.
Unhelpfully, I would like to add that it is usually very easy to spot a North American in a crowd, even a crowd of fat people, because they will be fatter. Seriously, the fattest person that I have seen this year (in the flesh) was boarding a AA flight to Chicago, each trouserleg could easily accomodate myself (and I am a 'large' waisted person according to Calvin Kline).
Watching Jackass, or similar programs that include 'innocent bystanders' I have noticed that y'all are pretty large on average. Just saying.
Whether it is the fat bug, ADHD, genes or gluttony, I don't care. Links require temporary subsrciption.
The problem is, from my point of view, that North America uses far more than it's share of the earth's resources at present, this is mirrored in the most overweight population on the planet. The 'fat issue' therefore takes on international political resonances that may not help the situation as regards societal pressure. On the other hand, realising that North America is not isolated from the rest of the world is something that I think would benefit the population as a whole, not to mention the rest of us.
Believe me, if the president declared a War On Obesity (Woo!) there would be a coalition of the very willing!
Currently, AFAIK nobody has explained the rise in obesity that we are experiencing and also AFAIK it is very difficult to maintain your body at a weight that varies by more than 10% of your 'optimum weight'. As discovered by evilcupcakes et al, we all have a weight which we oscillate around, it is not easy to deny this biological fact.
'THE WORLD has become dramatically fatter in the past few decades. Since 1980, obesity rates have risen more than 30 per cent in the US. Today, fully 23 per cent of adult Americans and about 20 per cent of adult Britons are obese, as defined by a body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres) over 30, which works out to 97 kilograms for a person 1.8 metres tall. The problem is even worse in countries like Samoa, where more than half the adults are obese.
This sudden billowing of fat in rich and poor countries alike puzzles obesity experts. The usual suspects—notably poor diet and inadequate exercise—haven't worsened as rapidly as obesity has burgeoned, which has left experts with the feeling that they must be overlooking some important factor. "The fat content of the diet is too high and the level of physical activity has declined, but still we feel we cannot explain all of this obesity problem," says Arne Astrup of the University of Copenhagen.'

Once one is perfect and has reached a state of enlightenment one may presume to comment on other's appearance with authority.

As regards sexuality and body shape, it is interesting that the androgynous/child like body image continues to be popular. The usual argument is that people want what they haven't got (in Africa having a healthy (read chubby) girlfriend/boyfriend is a mark of acheivement /generalisation). Couple with this the obsession with hairless, child-faced boys and girls and you can start to make some theories about sexuality in the minority world.
posted by asok at 5:15 AM on May 2, 2003


Wow. I don't have a psycological problem troybob...I just vehemently started arguing...probably cause there was no other thread causing an controversy yesterday.

But I do seriously believe what I was saying. And this applies to a lot of aspects of society. I just think we coddle people to much, we tell people "oh, whatever choices you make about yourself, that's ok." I like to call it the "every child a winner" syndrome. Guess what, everyone is not a winner. And though I think its wonderful for people to build their self-esteem, and its important that people be confident with who they are...there seems to be a tendency in this country to say "hey, I've made my choice about X, Y, or Z, and you better like it and celebrate said choice with me." I don't. I don't have to like it or respect it (and this goes way beyond the fat issue, its just a symptom). I guess I feel its a creeping kind of moral relativism...and I despise moral relativism.

So again, I'm sorry this came out so strongly on the whole "fat" thing...I guess I got riled up thinking about broader issues, and was purposely looking for a fight.
posted by pjgulliver at 6:36 AM on May 2, 2003


I don't have to like it or respect it

pjgulliver - the essence of tolerance is to ask what it's got to do with you. If the answer is 'nothing' then keen your sticky beak out, it's none of your business.
posted by Summer at 6:50 AM on May 2, 2003


nsfw: oops. sorry. hadn't considered that naked anorexics could be nsfw. mea culpa.

I guess I got riled up thinking about broader issues, and was purposely looking for a fight.

Ya think? :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 AM on May 2, 2003


pjgulliver: I understand what you're saying; I get deep into these debates as well, and I'm not exactly reasonable all or most of the time.

I think my argument is basically in the statement:

I just think we coddle people to much, we tell people "oh, whatever choices you make about yourself, that's ok."

In a free society, whatever choices we make about ourselves are ok, in that they are no one else's concern; sure, it's still being debated on a larger scale with such issues as marijuana legalization and assisted suicide--but as far as eating/exercise habits go, we're still on our own. You seem to be saying that our personal choices on this issue should not be ok because the rest of society has to pay a price for it. (Whether that price is higher insurance costs or just having to look at someone you find disgusting.) That's dangerous ground, as you can start applying it to any aspect of our individual lifestyles or choices. (For instance, I'm an atheist, and I feel that the entire practice of religious mythology exacts excessive prices on society on economic and cultural terms; however, I don't argue against freedom of religion.)

...there seems to be a tendency in this country to say "hey, I've made my choice about X, Y, or Z, and you better like it and celebrate said choice with me."

Well, there are fat people who have gotten to a point of being fed up with the personal turmoil they have been through because of the issue and have become more activist about it, and I can understand that. But you overstate it here. For most overweight people, the last thing they would do is call attention to their weight, much less ask or expect that it be celebrated. They just want to get through it all without being subjected to the judgment of others, particularly in the ways such judgment is manifest in words and behavior, by people who somehow feel they have a right to express their disgust or displeasure on this issue at will (and who wouldn't think of being so rude or intrusive on any other issue).

It's interesting that in the 80s Eddie Murphy could have a very successful stand-up routine that bashed gays in a really extreme way; yet, today I think the same routine would be ill-received. Our judgment of (and resultant behavior toward) the overweight is still generally accepted, and it is still considered funny. And while I maintain that tolerance should not be conditioned on whether someone is overweight (or gay) based on personal choice, I do see the parallels between them: it is as difficult to explain that being overweight is not simply a matter of personal choice as is is to explain that being gay is not simply a matter of personal choice; in each case, at a very basic level one certainly chooses how to behave (as much as any straight person chooses how to react to the opposite sex), but the reasons for that behavior are far too complex to be subject to so casual an analysis.

At the very least, one could empathize to the point of understanding that for those who are fat, losing weight must be very difficult when you consider the health and social implications one must endure as the alternative. The intolerance a fat person must face (indicated in part by comments in this forum) is indeed soul-crushing, and it's stupid to assume that people want to be a part of the target group.
posted by troybob at 8:32 AM on May 2, 2003


pj, not to pile on, because you're obviously doing your damnedest at this point not to be inflammatory, but I'm curious about your choice of comparison: "the 'every child a winner' syndrome.

Sure, not every child is a winner, but is that really the definitive, prevalent meme? I'd phrase it differently: "every child/person has value."

If you value a child, or by extension, an adult person, no, that doesn't mean you have to like and celebrate each and every one of their choices. But it also doesn't correspond to demeaning their physical appearance or lifestyle choices when they do not have direct consequences on your own life and health, such as is the case with secondhand smoke.

Some people make choices that lead to higher body weights. Others have higher body weights despite constant effort to change the situation. Still others have low body weights despite a variety of poor health choices.

It's not worth getting your blood pressure up over the weight variable, particularly if your argument is based on the impact to our health system costs. At least, not until the arguer is prepared to devote equal vehemence to a wide, wide, wide variety of other "chosen" or "passively accepted" health risk variables--and, as others have pointed out, to weigh the impact of other health system cost factors, such as limited prenatal care, geriatric care costs and prescription drug costs.

Yes, I'd love it if everyone in this country took optimal care of themselves--it would probably save us a ton of health care costs and make everybody happier and more pleasant to deal with to boot. But any energy that I might be tempted to expend in anger over "others' choices" and "others' lifestyles", I'll channel into trying to make my own life as healthy as possible and support those who *ask me* in helping them do the same. Go ahead and think global, but it's the acting local that works for me.
posted by clever sheep at 8:58 AM on May 2, 2003


I'm not saying that we should limit people's right to be fat...far from it. I would hate to live in a country where the government (or the private sector) impinged on personnel liberties that way.

On the other hand, I think the gay/fat analogy is horrible (and by the way, I despise humor that mocks people for being fat...just as Eddie Murphy's 80's standup was inappropriate, if someone got on stage today and unleashed a string of obscenities against fat people, I would get up and leave the room.) However, being gay is something you are, its not the product of a series of personnel choices (ie, if you masturbate too much in high school, you're not going to wake up gay in 10 years..and believe me, I know this from personnel experience....)

What gets me about the fat thing is that it clearly is a product of personnel choice. Which is fine. If people want to be fat, that's there deal. I don't so I take care of myself.

What pisses me off is the whole issue of "fat acceptance." Why should I have to accept the fact that you purposely take miserable care of your body? Its fine to disapprove of smokers for their choice, SUV owners for their choice, drug addicts for their choice. But the thought police seem to come out of the woodwork if anyone criticizes overweight people. Why? Why can't I openly criticize this?

Granted, I've been super vehement in my posts here. But that's partly to make this point. If I was an anti-smoking crusader you all might think I had gone off the deep end posting this much, but no one would ever suggest in the thread that my dislike of smoking and open criticism of smokers was related to psycological issues, like troybob posted. But criticizing fat people has become forbidden. Why?

Remember last year when Southwest announced it was going to start charging overweight people for two seats if they took up more than their allotted space on a fully booked flight? And the outrage that resulted from it? Why? Why the outrage on this issue?
posted by pjgulliver at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2003


But the thought police seem to come out of the woodwork if anyone criticizes overweight people. Why? Why can't I openly criticize this?

On the contrary. Hardly anyone will give you a hard time if you criticize fat people. That's the entirety of what fat people are pissed off about!

Speaking as a frequent fat person, I have found it easier to change myself than to change everyone else in the world. Whether "changing myself" means losing weight or simply learning to ignore the slings and arrows of outrageous morons. (Although the former will result in a far higher quality of life if you can manage it.) As a practical matter, nobody has a right to be "accepted" by others.
posted by kindall at 9:32 AM on May 2, 2003


Believe me, if the president declared a War On Obesity (Woo!) there would be a coalition of the very willing!

Willing? Bah! There'd probably be bigger protests (sorry about the pun) than the war with Iraq.

I think the point, however, is that if it doesn't concern you, you should probably shut the hell up (as Summer said more nicely). I've got the opposite problem -- I can't gain weight no matter what I try. Granted, there's a lot less sympathy to be had, but it sucks for equally annoying reasons. Girls don't like going out with guys that are skinnier than them. Large guys try and intimidate you. Clothes never quite fit right. Yadda yadda.

But I'm in good health, my blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels are all good. I can run a mile in under 6 minutes and have sex for hours. A friend of mine is overweight and has the best diet I've ever seen. He works out religiously, spends at least a half an hour a day on those "zero-resistance" cardio machines they have at the gym. He's a kung-fu master (hung gar, specifically), and there's really nothing he can do to change his body type. People come in different shapes and sizes. Does this excuse the sloth and terrible diet of most of my compatriots? Of course not.

In Buddhist philosophy, you're taught to accept certain things that you have no control over. It doesn't excuse you from attempting to change things, but if, after you try your damndest, you still can't do anything about it, you must resign yourself to your powerlessness. Accept this and you'll be a lot happier.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:42 AM on May 2, 2003


What gets me about the fat thing is that it clearly is a product of personnel choice.

That's like saying that people with depression choose to be sad all the time. For people who do not have a weight problem, it is extremely difficult to understand that in many cases there is an overwhelming genetic component, both in predisposition towards overeating, and in the way the body handles food once it has been consumed. Read the third link in the post as a basic primer to a very complicated and much-researched field of study. I doubt there is any serious researcher who would say, "after years of careful study, we have concluded that fat people chose to be that way."
posted by Hildago at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2003


How do you then explain that the American waist-line is expanding so rapidly (as are waistlines in other developing countries.) Couldn't it be poor food choices and lack of exercise?
posted by pjgulliver at 9:55 AM on May 2, 2003


pj, you say that what "gets you about this fat thing is that it clearly is a product of personnel (sic) choice."

Did you read evilcupcakes' post? She gives ample ev to support her claim that she lives like a "freakin' nun". She has better habits than me, and I'm tempted to speculate that they're better than yours. And yet she is fat.

You even responded, "I am sure you are healthy and happy. All your vitals are within range. You clearly take care of your self. I am not attacking you."

Later on, you also wrote, "Granted, there are some people who are 'overweight' or 'fat' or whatever you want to call it who have good diets, exercise, etc. That's the way they are. I have no problem with that."

Several other posters have also weighed in on biochemistry factors, medication complications, medical conditions, that all contribute to their being or have been fat.

Given all this, why do you persist in claiming you have a problem with fat because it's clearly about CHOICE? If you have a problem with people's choices, truly their choices, their gall in choosing something other than what you or society would have them choose, then whoa, man. Anything that comes to mind for me in response is dangerously close to Godwin.

By all means, correct me if I'm slandering you, but I honestly think you have a problem with FAT, not choice. Otherwise, what's with the "super vehemence"?
posted by clever sheep at 9:56 AM on May 2, 2003


Damn, forgot what I meant to say in addition--if pj or anyone else clearly gains the upper hand in our discussion about whether fat is *most often* the result of poor choices, vs. other causes, what's won? The moral imperative to denigrate or discriminate against those who make such choices?

I'm sincerely asking this: pj, what's at stake here? Why does causation matter to ANYONE other than the person living in that body and those who share their lives?
posted by clever sheep at 10:03 AM on May 2, 2003


Look around America. Please look at the following links: A CNN article , this paper from Harvard discusses the rise in obesity and its indirect costs on America , this collection of facts from the University of Minesota links to resources describing how the rapid rise in cases of diabetes in America is linked to obesity , this article from something called "Medical News Service" also discusses the nations alarming rise in obesity.

Folks, a rapid increase in obesity over the last several decades, positively linked in many journals to increase in poor health is the product of living patterns and therebye personal choice to some degree. Sure, for a minority of obese people there is simply no choice. And for everyone, its their right as Americans to be obese/fat if they want to. But the vast bulk of American's who are getting bulkier by the year, this is a result of poor diet, not enough exercise, etc. People need to take responsibility for themselves and preserving their bodies, and living healthy lifestyles. No less with obesity than smoking.
posted by pjgulliver at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2003


There is a level of miscommunication happening here.

pj says "I just think we coddle people to much, we tell people `oh, whatever choices you make about yourself, that's ok.'"

troybob responds "In a free society, whatever choices we make about ourselves are ok, in that they are no one else's concern."

And others respond similarly.

But those responses aren't addressing what pj actually said. He's not saying that you're not free to make whatever lifestyle choices you wish. He's saying that he shouldn't be expected to respect those choices.

Which is fair enough. I don't think any of us will look at a junkie and say, "I support your lifestyle choice. It's cool, I can respect it."

Yes, that junkie has every right to choose to fuckup his life. But we, as individuals and as a society, are under no obligation to support it or say nice things about it.

And here I'll wager a guess: pj also doesn't approve of other body extremes. I'll bet he isn't keen on the overbuilt musclemen who've got biceps bigger than their own heads. I'll bet he's not keen on scrawny chicks with ribs that stick out. I'll bet he doesn't find silicone boob jobs "out to here" to be real appealing. I'll bet the lizard man's self-mutilation doesn't do anything for him.

And he's well within his rights to say "icky!"
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 AM on May 2, 2003


Thank you FFF, you managed to say (much better than I have) exactly the point I've been trying to make here. Really, thanks!

And yes, I don't approve of the other body extreme. For the record, I much prefer to date women closer to the R. Crumb (classic) notion of beauty than the Calista Flockhart (or however you spell her name) and silicone is just that, icky.
posted by pjgulliver at 10:19 AM on May 2, 2003


like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung, wanna pull up tough
'Cause you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she's wearing
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring
Oh baby, I wanna get wit'cha
And take your picture
My homeboys tried to warn me
But that butt you got makes me so horny
Ooh, Rump-o'-smooth-skin
You say you wanna get in my Benz?
Well, use me, use me
'Cause you ain't that average groupy
I've seen them dancin'
To hell with romancin'
She's sweat, wet,
Got it goin' like a turbo 'Vette
I'm tired of magazines
Sayin' flat butts are the thing
Take the average black man and ask him that
She gotta pack much back
So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got the butt? (Hell yeah!)
Tell her to shake it! (Shake it!) Shake it! (Shake it!)
Shake that healthy butt!
Baby got back!

(LA face with Oakland booty)
Baby got back!

[Sir Mix-a-Lot]
I like 'em round, and big
And when I'm throwin' a gig
I just can't help myself, I'm actin' like an animal
Now here's my scandal
I wanna get you home
And ugh, double-up, ugh, ugh
I ain't talkin' bout Playboy
'Cause silicone parts are made for toys
I want 'em real thick and juicy
So find that juicy double
Mix-a-Lot's in trouble
Beggin' for a piece of that bubble
So I'm lookin' at rock videos knock-knee bimbos walkin' like hoes
You can have them bimbos
I'll keep my women like Flo Jo
A word to the thick soul sistas, I wanna get with ya
I won't cuss or hit ya
But I gotta be straight when I say I wanna, ugh
Til the break of dawn
Baby I got it goin' on
A lot of pimps won't like this song
'Cause them punks like to hit it and quit it
And I'd rather stay and play
'Cause I'm long, and I'm strong
And I'm down to get the friction on
So, ladies! {Yeah!} Ladies! {Yeah}
If you wanna role in my Mercedes {Yeah!}
Then turn around! Stick it out!
Even white boys got to shout
Baby got back!

Baby got back!
Yeah, baby ... when it comes to females, Cosmo ain't got nothin'
to do with my selection. 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she's 5'3".

[Sir Mix-a-Lot]
So your girlfriend rolls a Honda, playin' workout tapes by Fonda
But Fonda ain't got a motor in the back of her Honda
MY ANACONDA DONT WANT NONE
Unless you've got buns, hon
You can do side bends or sit-ups,
But please don't lose that butt
Some brothers wanna play that "hard" role
And tell you that the butt ain't gold
So they toss it and leave it
And I pull up quick to retrieve it
So Cosmo says you're fat
Well I ain't down with that!
'Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin'
And I'm thinkin' bout stickin'
To the bean pole dames in the magazines:
You ain't it, Miss Thing!
Give me a sista, I can't resist her
Red beans and rice didn't miss her
Some knucklehead tried to dis
'Cause his girls are on my list
He had game but he chose to hit 'em
And I pull up quick to get wit 'em
So ladies, if the butt is round,
And you want a triple X throw down,
Dial 1-900-MIXALOT
And kick them nasty thoughts
Baby got back!
posted by GiantRobot at 10:25 AM on May 2, 2003


I didn't consciously choose to be fat. Honest. My senior year of high school, I was maybe 25 pounds overweight and I thought I was huge.

Two months into the school year, I woke up one morning to find that my mother was dead. I spent the next year and a half in what I now recognize as fairly serious depression--especially after I went off to college. I gained a significant amount of weight in that time period. I wasn't eating healthily because my father was buying a lot of processed and packaged foods because he had to work a lot of hours and I became hyper involved with extra curricular activities, and often ate on the run. I also ate because it was just about the only thing that gave me any happiness at that point in my life. It was also the only thing I could control.

I never actively loathed myself because of my appearance, but I certainly did everything I could to try to make myself invisible. I tried to lose weight my last semester of college, but I just couldn't. It wasn't clicking for me. This lasted until about 5 years ago, at which point I met a wonderful man who taught me to be proud of myself. My weight's gone up and down in that time, but at the moment I weigh pretty much exactly the same I did five years ago, and that's a huge accomplishment for me--I'd resigned myself to gaining 20 lbs a year at that point. I feel that for me, it's a better choice for me to make right now to work at keeping my weight stable instead of obsessing over losing weight. I'm sure that I'll want to lose weight at some point, but right now, it's not a priority.

I don't expect anyone to accept my weight as being healthy--I know it isn't. But I also expect that you not get in my face about it, that you not expect me to trot out my "good fat person" credentials for inspection, and that you not assume that I don't care what I look like. I'm the person who has to live in my skin, and it's taken me years to get to where I'm comfortable in it, and I don't appreciate anyone trying to take that away from me. Because, to me, that's what a lot of this sounds like.
posted by eilatan at 10:31 AM on May 2, 2003


FFF, funny that I find myself responding to you when so many times, lurking, I've felt you were my surrogate poster.

You write that junkies, and by analogy fat people, have "every right to choose to fuckup [his/her] life. But we, as individuals and as a society, are under no obligation to support it or say nice things about it." And you conclude with, "And he's well within his rights to say 'icky!'"

Again, I ask, pj, FFF, what's at stake here when you say you don't have to "support it, or say nice things"? Do you just want everyone to concede your right to say nasty things (like "icky") about fat people? Of course you've got that right, it's called free speech. But I hope plenty of people keep getting in your face about it, because saying things like that to and about people isn't civil. It's ugly and unproductive. It doesn't add to your quality of life or that of the person you're denigrating.

And if it's about not having to "support it"--what's that really about? What kind of structural or legal changes are you agitating for? So far I haven't seen any proposals from pj, and I doubt you would support any, FFF, as they'd probably involve serious infringements on rights and freedoms that I know you take very seriously.

(\unsupported speculation)
What IS it about fat that gets some otherwise sane and reasonable people so vituperative? Is it like some people I'm acquainted with who wig out around older people with health conditions or mild dementia because on some primitive level they feel it could be catching? It could be THEM someday?
(/unsupported speculation)
posted by clever sheep at 10:48 AM on May 2, 2003


Well, first clever sheep, I have never (or at least never post middle school) gone up to a fat person and insulted them, described them as icky, asked to see someones dieting credentials, spurned potential friendships based on weight, etc. Please don't put words (actions) into my mouth.

Second, what's "not supporting it" really about? I have a huge problem with the notion of fat acceptance. Specifically as it relates to children. If you look at the links I posted above (and that was just after about 20 seconds of googling) I really do believe that our expanding national waist-line, and its connected medical issues (of which heart disease and youth-onset-diabetes are merely the most written about) pose a health risk to this nation. I believe they drive up everyone's costs in a variety of ways. And I do believe that a large number of obese American's are that way by "choice." No, I don't think that people wake up one morning and say "screw this, I'm going to be obese." But I do think people say, well, I really like drink soda instead of water, eating cheeseburgers instead of a veggie sandwich sometimes, and riding the subway/driving rather than walking 10-15 minutes. And they choose to do those things. And those choice (poor diet, eliminating regular physical activity--not preprogrammed exercise--from their lives) have really consequences, one of which is the tendency to put on weight.

And the whole notion of "fat acceptance," which to my understanding is, I may be very overweight but I'm still beautiful, celebrate my body the way it is, send a message to kids saying, hey, indulge in whatever unhealthy lifestyle patterns you want, become overweight if you want, its societies fault if they don't find that end product beautiful and sexy. I think that's a dangerous message to send, and has repercussions far beyond issues of weight.

There is a healthy body size for each individual. Each individual size is different, granted, but there is a healthy size for each person. And the more I read on this, the more convinced I am that the average American far exceeds this size, for whatever reason. As a matter of public and personal health, we should be all be thinking about that. And if you choose to exceed that size, fine. But don't tell me I have to respect that choice. I don't. I admit, it takes effort in today's society for many people to maintain a "healthy" weight. People who do this consciously think about it. They make exercise and physical activity a part of daily life (not just 3 times a week for an hour at a gym) incorporating walking, bike riding, taking the stairs, playing outside with friends, into daily activity. They watch their diet, occasionally saying, wow, I'd love a cheeseburger, but I had one for dinner last night, maybe pasta salad is a better lunch choice, they drink water instead of sugar-water soda, etc.

And I believe all of these things lead to healthier, happier, individuals. People with active lifestyles suffer from depression, cardio-vascular illness, etc, far less then their sedinatary companions. Most people who are active find they fell more alert, and more positive. We should be sending our kids the message that extremely thin is unhealthy, but so is overweight. Neither condition makes someone a bad person (and some people will be naturally thin or large) but treating your body poorly is not to be recognized as a "positive" choice. Its not to be mocked, but not to be supported either.

So, that was rambling, but that's my rationale.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:50 AM on May 2, 2003


pj, there's a lot going on in your last post. Hope you don't mind if I resort to some numbering to keep it all straight. You think *you* were rambling? Watch this!

1) Who's putting words and actions in whose mouth? If you re-read my posts, nowhere in any of them will you find any accusations or speculations as to the nature of your real-world behavior, either in childhood or in maturity. The "icky" reference is taken right out of FFF's post, in which he said you had the right to use such terms if you wanted to. To which I agreed, although I hope such hurtful and useless comments face consistent challenge from anyone who hears them.

2) You say choices have consequences, and again, I agree. However, where we seem to diverge is that I don't think there is any positive outcome to be gained by raising one's blood pressure about the consequences of *others' legal lifestyle choices that do not substantially impact oneself.* In my world, that makes them none of my business unless my opinion or assistance is requested.

If I have to repeat that, I'm going to repeat myself some more, because I'm not sure I got through the first time. In prior posts, you've raised the point that you and the nation are impacted by increased health care costs. And I pointed out that weight-related disease costs are only one variable in that area, such as geriatric costs, prescription drug costs, the lack of prenatal care, et cetera. Have you yet considered how much of a role that *one variable* that you're addressing with such vehemence plays in that bigger picture? And even if that variable is substantial, which it may be, are you focused equally severely on any of those other variables? Or is fat some kind of special trigger for you?

3) And again, if the trigger that riles you up is all about CHOICE, what action are you looking for? How are you proposing we influence choices?

Re-reading your post, the only action I notice is that you say we should be sending our kids the message that overweight is unhealthy, but from my point of view, that message is already out there in spades. Given the deplorable general acceptance of mocking and cruel behavior toward higher weight people in our society, do you really think that we're not stressing *enough* that higher weights are "not a positive choice"?

Just curious...do you watch the TV show "Ed"? There's a teenage actor on that show who's had his stomach stapled and is following the careful eating regimen that surgery demands, all in an effort to bring his weight under control. You might approve. This same character, however, has also had an ongoing romantic relationship with a girl who *accepts him* and loves him. This, I approve! My point is that I think that acceptance by others and yourself and striving to improve are in no way mutually exclusive.

3) This brings me to your discussion of your definition of "fat acceptance." You wrote: "...which to my understanding is, I may be very overweight but I'm still beautiful, celebrate my body the way it is, send a message to kids saying, hey, indulge in whatever unhealthy lifestyle patterns you want, become overweight if you want, its societies fault if they don't find that end product beautiful and sexy. I think that's a dangerous message to send, and has repercussions far beyond issues of weight."

Completely contrary to your concern, I love the first two sentences! You betcha, higher-weight people can "still" be beautiful, and darn straight they should celebrate their bodies. Shouldn't everybody? Isn't this a legitimate basis for self-esteem, no matter who you are and what you weigh and how you're built?

Parallel case: how do you feel substituting "old" for "fat"? "I may be old but I'm still beautiful, and I celebrate my body the way it is." Or how about "pregnant"? Or "short"? Or "in a wheelchair"? Rock on!

And isn't promoting acceptance of one's body much more conducive to leading to the positive choices you DO want, pj? We're more likely to take care of something we value, after all. And other posters have already pointed out that agonistic comments are *not* motivating.

On that same note, and moving on to your last next few sentences, I don't agree that feeling that your higher-weight body is beautiful and worth celebrating is necessarily or even commonly associated with "doing whatever you want" and "faulting society if they don't judge you sexy."

Rereading most of the posts that have gone before mine, I haven't found one yet that takes those positions. Just the opposite, actually. When it comes to attraction, seems like lots of people have piped in that they already find higher-weight men and women plenty sexy, while others have noted YMMV on this characteristic just as it does for any other. And I hope evilcupcakes doesn't mind me pointing to her again, because she's higher-weight, OBVIOUSLY not doing whatever she feels like doing day-to-day, and she's a straight-up hottie!

4) Last but not least, we seem to keep circling back to whether you, pj, or any other individual "has to accept" fat people, or (and please note that "or" differentiation) those with unhealthy lifestyles. No, no individual has to. That's not a point I'm trying to make *at all.*

I guess I'm just responding to your rhetorical question, "why the outrage?" on this subject. I just hope that any comments (none by you, pj) that are hateful and denigrating toward people with higher weights are always met with the outrage they deserve. Those comments are generally ignorant, pointless, and none of the commenter's goshdarn business.

Whoa, long post--SORRY!
posted by clever sheep at 1:45 PM on May 2, 2003


How do you then explain that the American waist-line is expanding so rapidly (as are waistlines in other developing countries.) Couldn't it be poor food choices and lack of exercise?

It's access to food and transportation. Everybody eats worse and walks less than they used to. Fat people, thin people. The difference is the degree to which these behaviors are participated in, and the degree to which these activities affect individuals. And what I am telling you is that both of these things are, we are discovering, affected by complex genetic and social factors that are not the same for everyone.

Everyone is programmed to try to get as much sugar and fat as possible, and then not to exert more effort than they have to, it's just that until fairly recently we haven't had the overbundance that we do now, so there were fewer people at the extreme end of the spectrum. Now we are seeing an unfortunate side effect of technological progress outpacing evolution, in that it turns out so many people are ill-suited to the world they live in, at least in this one very important aspect.

So, on the one hand, you could say that choice has played a role from the beginning; that people have chosen to obey or disobey their biological drives, and that the food supply has had no effect on diet and exercise, or on the other hand you could say that in the long run diet and exercise is entirely determined by our access to food and transportation. I think neither is adequate, that there's a complex interelationship between free will and (if you like) biological determinism.

My objection to you is that I think you were (and to some degree still are) simplifying the issue into a matter of complete choice, perhaps because for you it is more a matter of choice and less of genetics. Meanwhile, a lot of people who have struggled with weight problems will look at your argument and say "wait a minute -- going on a strict diet to lose weight is a choice, gaining weight is what feels natural," which is, sadly, an accurate statement for many people, and is undeniably part of the problem of obesity in this country.
posted by Hildago at 2:56 PM on May 2, 2003


Sit glued to computer, 7 1/2 hrs. day. (Standing up = off task.) Sit in car commuting, 3 hrs. / day. Somebody please explain to President Bush that jogging won't fix this - no amount of working out at the gym, eating lunch of backpackers' gorp while walking around the building, diet modification / restricted calories, etc. seems to truly compensate for an enforced 10 1/2 hrs. of sitting!
posted by sheauga at 3:17 PM on May 2, 2003


clever sheep--

Believe it or not, I really appreciate your posts, and have enjoyed reading them.

I have completely gotten out of hand in this argument....my apologies...I'm going to retire from it now. I think I've been bored at work and thrown far too much energy to an issue that really doesn't matter to me personally that much.

I really haven't put a hell of a lot of thought into this, and have been arguing on the fly to some degree.

I hold no one out there in contempt for their lifestyle choices, whatever they may be.

Best to all of you for the weekend.
posted by pjgulliver at 3:34 PM on May 2, 2003


I'm not Bill, but I'm Bill's wife (Amy, for anyone who cares).

My five cents are real simple.

1. Each to his or her own. Some people like their bread buttered, some like it with cheese. I don't damn anyone for not finding women/men appealing on a blanket looks-only basis--as long as they are fully aware of how callous they're acting by excluding others from their lives based on something which is changeable (in this case, weight). They're in severe danger of losing out and they oughta be aware of it if not damned ashamed of it.

2. "Fat" (definition varies) chicks fuck better, harder, longer, more, and with far more vigor and passion than any celluloid Barbie ever will. Simply put, it's because appearance rarely matters to larger women and we do it from the heart/mind and not from the eyes. As I've found, same goes for men who are also a wee bit on the well-fed side of life.

3. Remember this phrase when people come at you with snarky comments: "I can lose the weight anytime I choose but you'll always be a lonely asshole." It's true.
posted by mrbill at 3:49 PM on May 2, 2003


pjgulliver: I wouldn't say you haven't put a lot of thought into the discussion...I think you make some interesting points, and I think I've understood where you are on the issue. Anyway, have a nice, calm weekend.

I would like to say that while the gay comparison was kind of out there, I introduced it only to compare the parallel arguments about (1) whether either is a matter of choice, (2) the right some people feel they have to denigrate people on the basis of that perceived choice, and (3) the question of whether, even it if were a matter of choice, people have the right to denigrate those who have made that choice.

Despite fff's defense, I would say for me, in the end, the contention came down to pjgulliver's statement:

That's what I have a problem with. Its an individuals responsibility to take care of their body, but society ends up paying the price.

I am overweight, and I know it is a problem for me on many levels. But the only person who should have a problem about that is me.
posted by troybob at 6:17 PM on May 2, 2003


"Fat" (definition varies) chicks fuck better, harder, longer, more, and with far more vigor and passion than any celluloid Barbie ever will.

I've had great sex with both skinny women and voluptuous women. I did not notice any consistent qualitative difference based on BMI. However, I am always willing to perform more research on this topic to ascertain the correctness of my conclusion.
posted by kindall at 7:29 PM on May 2, 2003


eating lunch of backpackers' gorp -- an extremely high-fat, high-calorie diet. When you're backpacking you want to carry light-weight, high-calorie, slow-digesting foods. Gorp fits the role: it's loaded with fat, which gives a longer "burn time", is light, doesn't require refrigeration, tastes pretty good (for the first few days), and even provides some salt replacement.

Have you yet considered how much of a role that *one variable* that you're addressing with such vehemence plays in that bigger picture?

I believe health issues related to being overweight are the number one cost to the health care system today, with parallel impact to business productivity. In other words, there is no other health problem that is costing Americans as much.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:13 AM on May 3, 2003


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