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Obesity is caused by a virus and it could be contagious!
June 25, 2001 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Obesity is caused by a virus and it could be contagious!
Yet another excuse to give fat people a hard time.
posted by lagado (91 comments total)

 
I don't see this as an excuse. I'm sure others will. However as the end of the article says, we should have an open mind. This may or may not be part of the answer. With all that we know about the human body, there's at least twice as much that we don't know yet. I don't think the answer's just "diet and exercise." That doesn't work for everybody. Maybe for some you can say obesity is based on gluttony and sloth, but it's a complex combination of factors. I for one am glad there are scientists working on the issue, looking at all the possibilities.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:54 PM on June 25, 2001


There seem to be many causes of (or at least contributing factors to) obesity, and yet the vast majority of the medical establishment recommends exactly the same dietary changes (and exercise) to everyone.
posted by kindall at 8:07 PM on June 25, 2001


Meaning what, exactly? Cutting down on the McFat burgers might be bad for some people? Regular exercise will reduce your lifespan?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:17 AM on June 26, 2001


Is this a new study? Something similar was discussed here on MeFi last year. It does say the study is a year old, but it appears to have just been published. Perhaps it is a new study on the old news.
posted by girlhacker at 12:36 AM on June 26, 2001


mr. womderChicken, I don't think anyone is saying that exercise and reduced fat are harmfull....but they're not always as useful as skinny (oh, sorry, normal) people assume them to be.

Regardless of my level of activity or diet, I have been fairly overwieght for my entire life. Even when I rode a bicycle twenty miles a day, I was overweight. I was in perfectly good shape, strong, and with a healthy cardio-vascular system, I ate my vitamins, and mcD's was NOT a regular part of my diet. I had a mom that knew how to cook and taught me the same.

Even so....the fat keeps coming.

Fat discrimination is the last PC discrimination allowed. Tell a joke about "niggers": racist. Tell a joke about "bitches": sexist. Tell a joke about "kikes": anti-semitic. Tell a joke about fat people:hahahahahah.

You skinny people.....arg! You don't know how good you've got it.
posted by jaded at 3:01 AM on June 26, 2001


I'm not fat, it's a virus!
posted by fullerine at 3:08 AM on June 26, 2001


Now if they could just come up with a scientific reason for people who make fat jokes and constantly ridicule fat people....

Oh! Wait! That's ignorance and stupidity. Got it.
posted by hijinx at 4:28 AM on June 26, 2001


STOP THE INSANITY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by a3matrix at 4:59 AM on June 26, 2001


the CHICKENS! oh! wont somebody please think of the chickens!..
posted by a11an at 5:11 AM on June 26, 2001


jaded: as a fellow fatty, I'd say you're situation is the exception rather than the norm.

Seems to me a lot of the people banging the "fat acceptance" drum are endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle under the guise of "tolerance".
posted by owillis at 6:38 AM on June 26, 2001


Seems to me a lot of the people banging the "fat acceptance" drum are endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle under the guise of "tolerance".

Oh, right! I forgot. All fat people eat poorly, don't exercise, and are inactive slobs. Sheesh, I keep forgetting about that.

You'll have to excuse my intense sarcasm, but that's the only way I can continue with blanket statements such as yours. I'm going to continue banging my drum until people who aren't educated on the issue at least think about what they're saying.
posted by hijinx at 6:43 AM on June 26, 2001


"Now if they could just come up with a scientific reason for people who make fat jokes and constantly ridicule fat people....

Oh! Wait! That's ignorance and stupidity. Got it."


Unfortunately, ignorance and stupidity are also contagious...
posted by markkraft at 10:02 AM on June 26, 2001


All fat people eat poorly, don't exercise, and are inactive

Not all, but many - if not most.
posted by owillis at 10:06 AM on June 26, 2001


Seems to me a lot of the people banging the "fat acceptance" drum are endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle under the guise of "tolerance".

You know, you don't HAVE to present yourself as black to the world. You could put a ton of makeup on every morning to make yourself look white, like Eddie Murphy did in "White Like Me." All your racial problems would be over. Given this fact that you COULD do something about your race if you really wanted to, why should society have to accept black people? Why do you keep banging the "black acceptance" drum instead?
posted by aaron at 10:33 AM on June 26, 2001



All fat people eat poorly, don't exercise, and are inactive

Not all, but many - if not most.


Of course, this is also the case for many slender people.
posted by redfoxtail at 10:36 AM on June 26, 2001


markkraft, I loved the dichotomy of your post and owillis's. Beautiful:

Unfortunately, ignorance and stupidity are also contagious...
Not all [fat people eat poorly, don't exercise...], but many - if not most.

aaron and redfoxtail, thank you. [see also]
posted by hijinx at 10:38 AM on June 26, 2001


Boy, did redfox nail it. Wish I'd kept that in mind, as it's absolute proof that the "fat people just don't exercise enough" meme is pure ignorant hate speech.
posted by aaron at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2001


The only way I've found to reliably lose weight is to cut virtually all carbohydrates from by diet. If I cut out the fat instead, as is recommended by so many diet gurus, I'm hungry literally all the time, even when I don't need to eat. When I tried low-fat diets, eventually the hunger would become overpowering and I'd binge. In this state, I could easily eat an entire medium pizza by myself and still be hungry. It's easy to carp about willpower, but willpower only suffices to ignore gnawing hunger for so long. If you had a gnawing hunger 24 hours a day, you'd have problems sticking to your diet, too, I don't care if you have a will of iron. People with normal appetites, who feel full after they've finished a proper meal, simply do not understand what it's like. It's sheer torment, and it goes on for months and months and months -- as long as you're on the diet.

When I'm eating low-carb, I don't have this problem. In fact, while on this sort of diet, I have at times gone entire days where I never really got hungry enough to eat anything. Yes, just like any diet, it works because you end up eating less, but the important part is that it makes it relatively painless to do so.

As an added bonus, dropping the carbs allows me to be well-rested on six hours of sleep a night instead of needing nine. That's like getting a whole extra day each week. I experience other fringe benefits as well: increased libido (all right, this may not be such a benefit, as it can be really, really distracting, especially with no one around to help relieve it); fewer sinus problems, much improved overall mood and energy level. Oh yes -- contrary to what you'd expect for people who are eating lots of fat and meat, most people truly suited to a low-carb diet experience improvements to their serum cholesterol and lipid numbers.

I lost seventy pounds painlessly on a low-carb regimen a few years ago and then, stupidly, went off it. Gained back every pound I lost, of course. Now I'm back on the diet again. If you've been overweight your entire life, and nothing seems to work, these sorts of plans are well worth investigating. Some doctors are now recommending them for patients who have trouble losing weight on a more "traditional" low-fat or low-calorie plan.

It's not for everyone. The first week or so, your body will go through carb withdrawal, and that can be a bitch. It's also easy to become dehydrated that first week -- the first 10-15 pounds you lose will be mostly water -- and you've got to watch your electrolyte levels, supplementing with potassium and a good multivitamin as long as you're on the diet. (Lack of potassium will cause muscle aches at first and if it gets too bad, you could run into heart trouble.) On a less pressing note, you will probably get somewhat stinky breath as well, though there are remedies for this problem.

Some books you might want to read include Protein Power, Neanderthin, The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, and Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution. (Many overweight people are on the verge of becoming Type II diabetics.) You'll notice I don't recommend Dr. Atkins' book, even though the man is largely responsible for popularizing low-carb dieting; that's not because it's a bad book per se, but rather because the other books, which followed his, have a bit more research behind them and thus somewhat more respect from the medical community.
posted by kindall at 11:28 AM on June 26, 2001


Ignoring, Aaron's inflammatory remarks...

I said most. Obviously there are some real aspects of discrimination vs "the fat", but I see most of the people screaming fat acceptance on tv, etc. and it seems to be the attitude of "i'm gonna stay the way I am without even trying". Maybe its just my perception. America's like 60% obese? You can't tell me all those people have some sort of affliction or disease. They just don't exercise or have a good diet (Mickey D's on every corner sure doesn't help). Passing of the lack of desire to do that and instead pass an "acceptance" agenda is ignoring the problem.

By the way being black is not a burden or curse, while being fat can be...
posted by owillis at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2001


but I see most of the people screaming fat acceptance on tv, etc. and it seems to be the attitude of "i'm gonna stay the way I am without even trying". Maybe its just my perception.

I'd advance that it is, indeed, your perception. And so what if that is their attitude, in any case? Michael Stipe once said that it was no one's business what he did with his penis unless they were sitting on his lap. Well, I say that it's no one's business if I weight 100 lbs. or 500 lbs. unless I'm sitting on their lap.

Passing of the lack of desire to do that and instead pass an "acceptance" agenda is ignoring the problem.

"The problem" is something that can only be addressed by each individual, for themselves and on their own terms. The concept behind the "fat acceptance" movement is not simply that it's "okay to be fat" or to endorse any course of action or inaction on the part of fat people. The FA movement is not about the attitudes of fat people. It is about making a radical idea clear to everyone -- it is never acceptable to mistreat, belittle or insult people or relegate them to inferior status because of their body size, whatever that body size happens to be.

It is what should be an extension of the idea that it is never acceptable to mistreat, belittle or insult anybody, ever, for any reason. That seems to extend to every imaginable minority without question (with considerable ramifications to those who dare act or even think differently) but not to the overweight, who are the statistical majority in the U.S. and most industrialised nations.

Fat is still a punchline in 2001 America -- see Monica in the "fatsuit" on Friends, Big Momma's House and the Nutty Professor movies, see Julia Roberts being considered "fat and dumpy" at a size that's supposedly 60 lbs. heavier than her actual weight in the upcoming America's Sweethearts -- and until fat people are treated with dignity no matter what our personal decisions are with regard to our own bodies and health we will continue to be marginalised and treated as slightly less than human, fitting subjects for taunting and derision merely for being who we are.

We are snickered at, condescendingly lectured, barraged with unsolicited advice and worse because certain people think that they know better or have a right because we're the stupid fatties who don't know how to take care of ourselves. Given all that, I'm very thankful that there are people like Marilyn Wann and others who are willing to speak up on our behalf to counter those notions and attitudes, and expose them for the prejudice and bigotry that they are.
posted by Dreama at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2001


> fat people just don't exercise enough" meme is pure
> ignorant hate speech.

Dear me, all those hate-filled doctors, all those hate-filled nurses, all those hate-filled nutritionists and trainers and coaches...

If it isn't mainly a behavioral and nutritional issue, why are Americans so much fatter than everybody else?
posted by jfuller at 12:42 PM on June 26, 2001


I'll go out on a limb here: It is my opinion that the "epidemic" of obesity in this country is largely iatrogenic in nature.
posted by kindall at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2001


kindall sez obesity is caused by doctors. Could you expand on that a bit?
posted by jfuller at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2001


kindall: I think that's more responsible for the epidemic of stuttering fat people.

While I think owillis just doesn't "get it" (non-fatties rarely do), I also think it's freakin' hee-LAR-ious that several of MeFi's most notable right-wing voices are, as it turns out, Big Fatties. Is their bitterness at fat oppression the cause of their misguided conservatism? If they lost weight and started bagging the babes, would they then start reading Chomsky and voting for Nader? No less an authority on women than Dan Savage sez that after good personal hygiene, a left-leaning voting record is the best way to pick up chicks...:)
posted by hincandenza at 1:32 PM on June 26, 2001



If they lost weight and started bagging the babes, would they then start reading Chomsky

How does the Government and Binding theory of syntax enter into this?
posted by iceberg273 at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2001


Non-fatties? "Dude, Have You Seen My Girth?" Why else do you think I believe I'm qualified to talk on this issue?
posted by owillis at 1:51 PM on June 26, 2001


hincandenza

> While I think owillis just doesn't "get it" (non-fatties
> rarely do)...


whereas owillis describes himself in this very thread

> as a fellow fatty


Ah, the joys of talking past each other...
posted by jfuller at 1:52 PM on June 26, 2001


I am fat and I am, generally speaking, left wing.

What is your point, hincandenza, or are you just wasting our time? Please do not waste our time, I've got better things to do, like sit on my ass and get fatter.
posted by cCranium at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2001


I am a shade underweight and politically somewhere between Adam Smith and Ebenezer Scrooge. (My jackboots are at the lickers' right now but I expect 'em back any minute.)
posted by jfuller at 2:10 PM on June 26, 2001


kindall sez obesity is caused by doctors. Could you expand on that a bit?

Doctors almost universally recommend a diet high in carbs, low in calories, increased exercise, and willpower to the overweight. In other words, the same stuff most people with a chronic weight problem have already tried. As i mentioned above, such a diet is difficult to impossible for many people to stay on. it leads to bingeing and yo-yo dieting (a few pounds down, a few more pounds up). I've known people who actually gain weight on such diets because they are hungry all the time and thus eat constantly, even though the food they choose has no fat. Eventually people either give up, believing that since they've done what the doctor said there's no hope, or they take more drastic measures (such as surgery). In either outcome the doctor has failed the patient by giving them a diet that is impossible for them to stay on, then blaming them for not staying on it. And in either outcome, since the root cause of the weight problem has not been addressed (or even investigated), the problem will continue to get worse. In fact, prescribing a high-carb, low-fat diet to a borderline diabetic may be the worst possible thing for their health.

The epidemic, then, may be caused by doctors in the sense that they by and large don't listen to patients sufficiently and do not understand that different people may well require different diets.
posted by kindall at 2:13 PM on June 26, 2001


> Doctors almost universally recommend a diet high in
> carbs, low in calories, increased exercise, and willpower
> to the overweight.

Doctors have been saying "eat less, exercise more" since recorded history began. Why is it only now causing an epidemic of obesity?
posted by jfuller at 2:28 PM on June 26, 2001


Doctors have been saying "eat less, exercise more" since recorded history began. Why is it only now causing an epidemic of obesity?

Because the typical American diet has changed, making certain people much more susceptible to weight gain than they used to be. If you don't get along well with carbs, for instance, french fries are evil. The starch (carbohydrate) triggers an overabundance of insulin, which tells the body to store fat. And there just happens to be a huge amount of fat in the fries, too, waiting to be stored.

I hadn't thought this through enough to say this first time around -- it's not that the medical establishment's advice has caused the "epidemic" in itself. It's that that doctors are perpetuating the epidemic by continuing to give advice that obviously doesn't work for a large number of overweight people. This can cause people who might be helped by other diets to give up and become another "permanently overweight" statistic.
posted by kindall at 2:37 PM on June 26, 2001


Ah shoot- don't trouble me with facts. I hate facts, they confuse me. I think I was going by this link...
posted by hincandenza at 2:57 PM on June 26, 2001


Yeah, and I lamented at the time that there wasn't a "chunky" body type, so I went with what I could get...
posted by owillis at 3:01 PM on June 26, 2001


In my defense, I'm not myself today- I've been smoking a lot of the pot from this thread...
posted by hincandenza at 3:02 PM on June 26, 2001


Even assuming the whole "it's their choice to be fat" line is true (and make no mistake, it's complete bullshit): How many of you feel that way about homosexuals? Regardless of how you might feel inside, the fact remains that if they really wanted to, they could choose to only date member of the opposite sex.

Somehow, I don't think a line of hate like that would be tolerated here for one second. If Hincandenza had made a post about how many MeFites are "Big Faggots", I have a strange feeling that the reaction would be a lot different.
posted by aaron at 3:26 PM on June 26, 2001



I have to agree with aaron. Does it matter whether people are overweight because they can't help it or because they choose not to worry about it? Of course not. What's wrong with accepting an unhealthy lifestyle? Most of us accept that people choose to drive everywhere they go. Most of us accept that people choose to smoke. Most of us accept that people choose to do drugs and drink alcohol. Most of us accept that people go outdoors without enough sunscreen. Most of us accept that people go skiing or swimming or flying or any number of other unsafe activities. Why can't we accept that some people are fat?
posted by daveadams at 3:56 PM on June 26, 2001


I agree with Aaron's comment, and it throws me off on a parallel tangent to this train of thought.

The "you choose your crappy fate" argument always cracks me up. Children take this position a lot. Yes you have free will, but not everyone is starting from the same place, with the same opportunities. When people make that argument, it only illustrates their inability to get past their myopia, to empathize with others. It seems like an easy way to avoid doing anything positive.

Generally speaking, this my problem with a lot of Republican rhetoric that I hear. I'm no Democrat, their approach seems just as myopic to me, only from the opposite direction, but it seems it's a tad less childish than "if you really wanted out of that ghetto, you'd just apply yourself" or similar nonsense that I hear coming from the Right.

I realize this is wrong thread for this remark, but it is the thought that occurred to me reading back this post.
posted by dong_resin at 3:58 PM on June 26, 2001


really, there is not much difference between homosexuality and obesity. we suspect there are genetic links in both. so what's the difference?

well, for one, obesity presents intrinsic health risks: heart disease, blocked arteries, heart failure (the inability of the heart to pump enough oxygen needed to support the entire body mass), and so on. homosexuality may present health risks among men (anal sex is slightly riskier than vaginal sex with regard to the spread of STIs), but these are not intrinsic to the orientation, for these risks depend on the existence of an outside force (that being the STI). i think both groups owe it to themselves to do what they can to reduce these health risks, and it so happens that for those who are obese, exercising and dieting can help tremendously. of course, a side effect of these activities is losing one's obesity.

just a changeup in the thought process. we should not discriminate against the obese for BEING obese, but we should say "there are things you can do to try to prevent these health risks." just as we cannot discriminate against a homosexual man for being homosexual, but can still say "you ought to be using protection." and of course, an obese person may be working out and still obese, in which case of course you cannot say that they were not sitting on their hands.
posted by moz at 4:03 PM on June 26, 2001


daveadams: Why can't we accept that some people are fat?

I appreciate the question you pose here, but the sentiment behind it disturbs me greatly. You're assuming that fat is unsafe. Fat is not unsafe; a sedimentary lifestyle is. If you link the two together in your mind, then no matter how much you preach acceptance, you're not really practicing it. And I can hear you now, owillis. But you've got to understand this, too, I think.

A greater question I've got is, what if someone chose to be fat and liked it? It seems that at least a few people here are offended at that idea, or perhaps disgusted by it. Could it be because society frowns upon fat automatically? Or could it be that such an idea would throw an enormous amount of notions about lifestyle choices upside down? Yes, if someone chose to be fat, they would face a litany of (possibly) misplaced comments and "advice" for the rest of their days, even if they accept and love themselves. I say that's wrong because, as has been stated here, you can't assume anything about a person because he or she is fat. Nothing.

I'm glad to hear that kindall is doing well with diet and lifestyle choices - that's always good to hear. What I didn't care for, though, was the idea that obesity is a disease - which harkens back to this thread's original link (hooray!) - that can be cured. Yes, doctors need to understand that people are different but they also need to understand that being overweight in and of itself does not kill people. It also doesn't increase your chances for diabetes (a study earlier this year, which I will dig up, showed no connection.)

What kills people? Bad health choices, in some instances; fate or what-have-you in others. But that's true even if you're thin, or "average" weight. However, because America fears fat and wants to eliminate it altogether, it's seen as something absolutely fine to make fun of, and try to "cure".

Oh, and moz is right: if a person is obese and working out, great. But the end goal of that person should be health first; if the person wants to lose weight, fine. Thing is, good luck finding an obese person in a gym: society wants fat people to work out, but provides no place to do so without ridicule.

Bollocks to that.

In any event, what is really remarkable in this thread is that I find myself coming back to Dreama's excellent post and simply being awed. Her thoughts on this issue are spot on with mine (a first ;) and she says everything necessary.
posted by hijinx at 4:16 PM on June 26, 2001


Just to reiterate some of the points made above: Last week my mother, an extremely kind and, yes, overweight person, was randomly accosted by a gaggle of teenagers shouting that she should "get her fat ass off the sidewalk". This sort of behaviour would be completely unacceptable were it over any other physical characteristic. She, being sensitive about her weight, immediately went home and felt bad about appearing in public. I, on the other hand, being a confident, successful, and happy zaftig gal, would have turned around and quite possibly popped one of them in the nose. (Note: Yes, violence is wrong, blah, blah blah.. but so is prejudice based on appearances.)
posted by jess at 4:28 PM on June 26, 2001


"if you really wanted out of that ghetto, you'd just apply yourself" or similar nonsense that I hear coming from the Right.

(Not to be picky or tangential, but only idiots on the right say stuff like that. Most of us think it's liberal government programs that have stuck most of those people in the ghetto, not laziness on the part of those stuck therein.)
posted by aaron at 4:31 PM on June 26, 2001



violence is wrong, blah, blah blah..
Actually, violence can be very effective, and is not necessarily wrong. Very misunderstood that violence. Return to the fray.
posted by thirteen at 4:33 PM on June 26, 2001


Aaron, I agree with you on this one -- I suspect most people who have read this thread all the way down to here probably do -- but I find it hard to support you when you insist on pulling stunts like this.

Take a page from the books of kindal and hijinx -- they're arguing your case a lot better than you are. Just state your case eloquently and give people a chance to realize you're right (that's "right" as in "correct' -- we already know you're the other "right" as well). But the traps and the bombast get old, dude.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:44 PM on June 26, 2001


No one chooses to be fat? I've heard the exact counter-argument regarding smoking, say, from conservatives on here, and countless other matters in which they preach "personal responsibility." Plenty of people I know and care for are obese. I've gained a little bit too much in the past year, and am currently swimming and cycling (in a very slow-going residential 'hood) every day to work some of it off and just get back in good shape generally. But I still worry about myself, and I worry about people I care for who are overweight. I do believe much obesity has something to do with genetics, and thus harassing people about it is counter-productive and cruel. Some folks can't do much about it at all.

But we have more obese people in this country than ever, right? Are our genes responsible? (People were generally shorter in the Civil War. Why not?) In the South we have more serious obesity, and people eat far fewer greasy fried pies than when I was a child. It doesn't compute, really. Heard someone yesterday that eating out is our main form of national entertainment now, outdoing the movies, gambling, recreation, strip clubs, the Internet, anything besides TV. Maybe that's the culprit?

In any case, can conservatives just stop harassing everyone about personal responsibility in every case, or seeing it as the main culprit? Yes, it's almost always a variable. But give a rat's ass besides someone other than yourselves, have some empathy rather, and maybe you'll get the same treatment in return. You'd most certainly deserve nothing less.
posted by raysmj at 4:44 PM on June 26, 2001


What I didn't care for, though, was the idea that obesity is a disease ... being overweight in and of itself does not kill people.

No, but it does significantly reduce your quality of life in many, many ways. For example, my knees creak, and if I do not do something about my weight, they will probably need to be replaced eventually. My weight also affects my breathing habits when I sleep; sometimes I stop breathing for a minute. This also is not good for me, as it lowers the amount of oxygen I get and leaves me tired even after several hours' of sleep. Both of these are directly related to my weight. They might not kill me but they do have an effect on my health. There is also the fact that my clothes cost a lot more than they need to and/or are not as nice as others (have to go to the big and tall store instead of the same places everyone else goes). The fact that I almost have to buy a business-class seat when flying home for the holidays (6-hour flight). The fact that just standing in line somewhere makes my feet hurt. The fact that I can't buy as small a car as I might prefer to, because I have trouble fitting behind the wheel. The fact that I can't get into some restaurant booths, or only get in with a good deal of compression of the flesh. And the myriad other inconveniences, major and minor, that overweight people put up with every day, and I haven't even got to the snot-nosed brat who thinks it's cute to chant "one tubby tubby, two tubby tubby" as I walk by him in the mall. Of these, "fat acceptance" would only change how other people treat you, and that's really the least of my problems with my weight, since I long ago stopped caring much what others think of my appearance. I already know most people are morons; their opinions about most things, including me, are thus largely (no pun intended) inconsequential.

If someone claims not to mind all the crap that goes along with being fat, I have to suspect they're either a liar or a masochist. If they think "fat acceptance" will solve all their problems, they're probably fooling themselves. I've been (relatively) thin, and I've been fat. Believe me, being in decent shape is so much better in so many ways. I find it difficult to accept that people really wouldn't be happier if they could drop the extra pounds. I used to think that, and then I found a diet that works for me, and I changed my mind in a hurry. What "fat acceptance" is, is a reflection of a lack of hope. But I think there's hope for most overweight people -- it just might not lie in the direction your doctor is pointing you.
posted by kindall at 5:11 PM on June 26, 2001


Are we sharing here? Oh, well, let's share anyway. I don't know what position this puts me in, but I was (remembering my 14-times table) about 220lbs on my 16th birthday, and 130lbs on my 17th birthday. Neither of which were healthy. I'd had enough of the bullying, and simply stopped eating.

And while I'm somewhere comfortably in-between right now, that year left me with something that's almost certainly not a virus, but is just as pervasive. Not a day goes by when I don't worry about what I eat: food is as much an obstacle as a means to survival. Mirrors upset me. I'll still force myself to throw up the odd big meal. It's not pleasant to be part of that four percent.

Anyway, hijinx has it right: it's about health, not weight. And the culture of obesity within the US actually scares me: I could share stories of Saturday breakfasts at the Buckhead IHOP, or the family of four at the KFC on the road back from Louisville who ordered $48 of chicken and could barely fit into their minivan. That's not healthy, pure and simple: it's a culture that values pure consumption like the age of Rubens, played off against a media that makes "health" an essential section of the evening news, and lionises skinniness to the point of emaciation. (Anyone who caught some of the endless discussion about Rene Zellwegger's nine-stone Bridget Jones will appreciate this.)

It's fucked up beyond belief.
posted by holgate at 5:22 PM on June 26, 2001


Fat discrimination is the last PC discrimination allowed. Tell a joke about "niggers": racist. Tell a joke about "bitches": sexist. Tell a joke about "kikes": anti-semitic. Tell a joke about fat people:hahahahahah. and It is what should be an extension of the idea that it is never acceptable to mistreat, belittle or insult anybody, ever, for any reason.

If it’s funny, you can make a joke about anything. Just ask Chris Rock about old black men, or Seinfeld about death.

While I agree that belittling people for their weight is hateful — sort of like saying “Hey cancer-y cancer boy! Spare some cancer?” — “fat acceptance” has caused strangely inappropriate actions. For instance:

“At the edges of the [fat acceptance movement], the inheritors of Susie Orbach's politics have created Web sites called FaT GIRL and Largesse: the Network for Size Esteem, which claim that "dieting kills" and instruct how to induce vomiting in diet centers as protest.”
LET THEM EAT FAT

Now, that is a painfully ignorant response to treating a sedentary lifestyle — again, think of diabetes patients refusing their insulin boosters. Radically ignorant people have twisted an anti-discrimination campaign to suit their strange needs.

ray:

one fifth of all Americans are obese, meaning that they have a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 30. (BMI is a universally recognized cross-measure of weight for height and stature.) The epidemiological figures on chronic corpulence are so unequivocal that even the normally reticent dean of American obesity studies, the University of Colorado's James O. Hill, says that if obesity is left unchecked almost all Americans will be overweight within a few generations. "Becoming obese," he told the Arizona Republic, "is a normal response to the American environment."
[ibid]

kindall: It's that that doctors are perpetuating the epidemic by continuing to give advice that obviously doesn't work for a large number of overweight people.

If we’re talking about obesity as an epidemic, then that is not even remotely the cause. Perhaps that happened in your case, but if this was a problem of misdiagnosis, then doctors, hospitals and HMOs would’ve seen the largest class-action lawsuit in history.

I also agree that there can be fat healthy people, but they are tiny minority. Most people that eat healthily and excercise 10-15 hours/week will not be overweight.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 5:26 PM on June 26, 2001


Kindall, that's where I do politely disagree with you. The problems you exhibited were yours and they simply do not apply for everyone who is overweight. Can they? Maybe. But not always, and this doesn't mean that what you did will work for everyone (something you admitted a number of pages back.) It sounds like you had medical issues, so you took the steps that were necessary to correct that; again, that is good.

I sympathize and empathize with your problems of not physically fitting into spaces. Now, in your case, you wanted to lose weight in order to help combat this problem - which, again, is fine and it's your choice. But there are people who are overweight, and believe enough in themselves physically, spiritually, and emotionally to know that something is wrong with this - and it's not their fault. You yourself say you don't care what other people say, but I can't help but if, deep deep down inside, you do. Comments can be cruel, even if they come from ignorant people.

The problem that I see in your argument is that you fully believe lives will change significantly if people lose weight. It will change on an external level, because now those formerly fat people are seen as "okay". Fat acceptance argues that all people, including fat people, are "okay" - and why shouldn't that be? Because there's a cure, you say? I still don't see it as a disease. Can it bring on other issues? It can, but so can my sleeping on my left side, or eating a certain food, or what-have-you.

Some people (a majority even, in the US) are fat, and others are not. Because of a societal bias, we accept thin people and admonish the fat ones. Fat is not bad, fat is not evil, fat is not wrong, fat is not "out of shape". Fat is an adjective, and it's time to drop the negative connotations and notions. Fat people can eat well, exercise, and still be fat.

Finally: If they think "fat acceptance" will solve all their problems, they're probably fooling themselves.

The only people who have been fooled are the fat people who are healthy, who are doing everything right, and are still being told there is something wrong with them because they are overweight. And that, my friend, is the entire crux of my argument.

capt. crackpipe: Some people who want fat acceptance are going to be militant. If you want to bring about change, sometimes you need to do something dramatic.

Fat rights now.
posted by hijinx at 5:31 PM on June 26, 2001


Unless your 5'8" to 6'3" .. white... blonde (female) or dark hair (male).. toned and muscular.. you may have a problem and should seek help immediatly.
posted by stbalbach at 5:33 PM on June 26, 2001


I'm not saying obesity is necessarily a "disease" that needs to be "cured." But it is certainly damned inconvenient sometimes -- hell, a lot of the time. If people want to put up with the hundreds of little inconveniences, more power to them. But life is a lot nicer when you don't have to.

This has nothing to do with feeling "OK" about yourself. It's on the same level as paying my bills every month. I could sit down, write out the checks and stamp the envelopes and mail the payments. Or i could pay my bank a few bucks and let them do it for me. It is not a big inconvenience and it has nothing to do with my self-esteem, but my life is more enjoyable when I don't have to deal with it. Similarly, my life is more enjoyable when I don't have to pay $800 for what should be a $400 airplane ride, because I can fit in coach comfortably.

No, you should not lose weight because of society's attitudes toward fat people. You should lose weight because doing so will improve your quality of life, in many ways you may not have thought of, even if it does not necessarily improve your health or longevity. If you don't, it is of course no skin off my nose, but if you haven't done it because you think it's not possible for you, I'm just saying it might well be.
posted by kindall at 5:42 PM on June 26, 2001


I see your point, Kindall, but I'll just agree to disagree at this time. I feel that it's entirely arguable that one's quality of life will improve if he or she loses weight. Can we agree that if someone feels good about one's self in all facets, it will improve that person's quality of life moreso? What do you think?

Losing weight so one can, for instance, pay less on an airplane or fit in a movie theater seat or what have you... that, I feel, is just a reinforcement of resigning to society's attitudes on fat people. You're fat, you don't fit in. Even on a subversive level, it's still there. You lose weight, you're "normal" or thin, and you fit in! Welcome to the club! and so forth. I consistently question why things in society are as they are, for fat people. You questioned why, and said (big leap of faith paraphrasing here), "I don't fit in. I'm going to lose weight." And now you're seeing a change, per your own choice. Why should fat people be denied that same option now? I'm not talking about a time after they choose to lose weight, if they even choose that; what about now?

My biggest beef continues to be with the sentiment that "fat acceptance = giving up", which I catch in the last sentence of your post. It's not. It's not.
posted by hijinx at 5:54 PM on June 26, 2001


if this was a problem of misdiagnosis, then doctors, hospitals and HMOs would’ve seen the largest class-action lawsuit in history.

Of course it is, and of course they won't. After all, everyone "knows" that all you have to do to lose weight is eat a little less and exercise a little more, right? Everyone also "knows" that if it doesn't work for you, you're probably cheating.

Given what everybody "knows," how could any class-action case ever get off the ground? The judge and jury already "know" that the medical advice the doctors gave was correct. Sure, there are some people who say you can eat all the fat you want and still lose weight, but that is obviously "wrong," so their testimony should be discounted and the proponents of such diets branded as "quacks." Having established them as quacks, any future evidence they may come forward with can then be discounted as well. Welcome to modern medicine, where you will be dismissed out of hand if you think you know something a doctor doesn't.

Are you familiar with a little bit of medical jargon doctors use when a particular treatment doesn't work on a given patient? They say, "the patient failed the treatment." No kidding -- the very wording implies it's the patient's fault! This thinking permeates the medical profession. Not all doctors succumb to it, but far too many do.

Very slowly, alternative ways of eating are being investigated and accepted by the medical establishment, but they're very, very resistant to change.

An interesting read: Chuck Forsberg's Adiposity 101, which surveys what is currently known about the causes of obesity and possible solutions. Old-time geeks may remember Forsberg as the inventor of the Zmodem protocol.
posted by kindall at 5:55 PM on June 26, 2001


People can stop being fat. I encourage fat people to try. It's worth it.
posted by NortonDC at 6:08 PM on June 26, 2001


Steven E. Landsburg, a columnist over at Slate, weighed in (ha!) on the question of why Americans are getting fatter. His original column (and the responses from his readers) are little more than speculation, but make for some interesting reading.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 6:23 PM on June 26, 2001


Very slowly, alternative ways of eating are being investigated and accepted by the medical establishment, but they're very, very resistant to change.

Perhaps it's because many of these carefully-crafted laboratory plans offer a false panacea. They're missing the point.

Consider France, for instance, with its 38-hour week, four-day weekends, three-hour lunches and diet rich in red wine and saturated fat: France has a rate of obesity that's a fraction of that in the US and UK. Italy, with similar habits, has a miniscule rate of heart disease. Why might that be? Possibly because the French and the Italians tend to buy fresh, locally-produced food and cook it themselves, rather than subsisting on take-outs and processed crap in packets -- and because they eat in social groups, at the table, rather than on the couch in front of the television.

The US (and now, increasingly, the UK) is becoming utterly divorced from the raw materials of its diet. And that seems like a recipe for bad health.
posted by holgate at 6:51 PM on June 26, 2001


People can stop being fat. I encourage fat people to try. It's worth it.
People can stop being poor. I encourage poor people to try. It's worth it.
People can stop being gay. I encourage gay people to try. It's worth it.
I thought the thread was past this at the fifth comment.
(disclaimer for the sarcasm-impaired: I do not believe either of the non-italicized statements)
posted by darukaru at 6:56 PM on June 26, 2001


darukaru: Generally, Norton is right. There is no insurmountable obstacle most obese people have to be healthy. And we most surely have done the differences of obesity and homosexuality.

Kindall, I just seriously doubt the medical establishment suddenly went ignorant in the 80s, and lo — we have an obesity epidemic. There are far more obvious reasons as Holgate notes.

...

“The United States and Britain have made a real contribution to the obesity epidemic with big portion sizes, huge amounts of meat and fat and fast food," James says.

David York, the president of NAASO, says general changes in lifestyle around the world also are contributing to the problem, including a decrease in the level of physical activity.

Especially hard hit, James says, are the poor. "They have less opportunity to buy high-quality foods and to be in an environment where they have motivation and ability to take exercise."

There are lessons to be learned from other countries, he says. "Scandinavian law forbids TV advertising of foods to children; Finland specifies standards for school meals."”
Weight of world on our shoulders

Also see my previous link. That Slate link, though. That's just goofy.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 7:08 PM on June 26, 2001


I am 6'1". I was 315. I am 175, and have been in the 170's for the almost 2 years now since losing the weight.

I just might have a clue about the topic.
posted by NortonDC at 7:17 PM on June 26, 2001


I don't understand what's going on here. SO WHAT if people are fat? Maybe it is dangerous to their health. Maybe their life would be 1000000000000 times better if they lost that extra weight. Who are YOU to assume that you know better than they what they want to do with their life?

I don't smoke, I think it's disgusting and dangerous. But I don't tell people to stop smoking. I don't care if they choose to live a lower quality of life, that's up to them. What about people who want to live in the suburbs? Do I go around telling them they should move to the city where life is much better?? (Well, sometimes, but I shouldn't.) That's purely subjective anyway.

Just because you think one lifestyle is better than another or one so-called "choice" is superior doesn't mean you have the right and certainly not the responsibility to go informing all the poor poor individuals who don't know any better that they could and should change.

Geez.

Sorry if this sounds like crazed lunacy. It is, really. But these kinds of comments make my blood boil.

As for this: "You're assuming that fat is unsafe" No I'm not necessarily, but in my previous comment I was taking the argument from the point of view that being fat is unhealthy, which is the only possible reason that everyone seems to think it's their right to tell us that we shouldn't be fat.
posted by daveadams at 7:41 PM on June 26, 2001


daveadams: But you can give people information as to what smoking might do to them, in a non-harassing fashion. Government and various private groups did that for eons (but have never done so to the maximum extent possible). The harassment part seemed to come from within the culture. To take that, however, and say that society should somehow turn a blind eye to smoking is entirely another matter, and morally indefensible. No one can tell you shouldn't be obese. But you should be provided with information about health risks and what to do about it, if anything. There should be nutritional info on all foodstuffs (Just a thought: Seen ingredients or chemical info on cigarettes lately, or ever?). Why shouldn't people be encouraged to exercise? Good heavens.

No one should be harassed out the wazoo or made to feel inferior, though, because obesity can be genetic and hard to overcome no matter what the case, as can addictions. Otherwise, you're encouraging, say, diet pill addiction and starvation diets, etc. TV and magazines do the same thing by presenting waifish and ultra-well-toned, hardbodied types (abs - who gives a s*** about abs?) as the only fashionable types of people out there, but I think you know what I'm getting at. Can't believe I'm typing this!
posted by raysmj at 8:18 PM on June 26, 2001


I just might have a clue about the topic.

No, Norton. The only thing you have a clue about is how your own individual body reacted to your attempts. Very little of that can be logically extrapolated to any other person's body. Look at it this way: What if you had brain cancer? There's more than one way to attempt to treat such a disease, and none of them works for everybody with brain cancer. If you had received a certain treatment for that cancer that worked, would you then assume all other people with the same cancer must be treatable by that same technique or regimen?

Or look at it yeat another way: Over the last two years my mother gained a lot of weight; she really ballooned up. During that time, she has been on the receiving end of every sort of hate speech brought up in this thread, as well as every piece of advice in this thread. She tried all the advice, none of it worked. She just got bigger. About three weeks ago she found out what the problem was: Something had triggered her long-present-but-never-THAT-bad sleep apnea, to the point where she was one of the worst-affected patients with that problem her doctor had ever seen. It was so bad that she was living the equivalent of a full-blown hospital stress test every hour she was asleep, making her barely able to function during the day. She had less than 50% of the amount of oxygen in her
blood that a normal person does; she was waking up every morning experiencing the same physical, mental and emotional changes that happen to climbers near the Top of Mt. Everest. Many people who were less healthy than her (other than her obesity) would have long since had a heart attack from it.

The solution: They gave her a little portable air machine (it it looks like this). She wears a little mask over her nose when she goes to bed at night, which forces air into her lungs at a high pressure, keeping her airway open. Within a week she was 75% better, and just today she was checked again and her oxygen level is back up to 97%. Her physical stamina is back to normal, the mental and emotional fogginess are gone. And she's already lost 30 pounds, without a single change in her eating habits or exercise regimen. The weight gain was entirely caused by the apnea.

So, there you have flat-out proof of someone whose fatness was caused entirely by something unrelated to exercise or diet. Ignorance, while pathetic, can at least be understood. But if, after reading this, anyone in this thread still feels comfortable going around spouting off the "they're just lazy bastards" meme, well, they'll deserve to get that scarlet H stamped on their foreheads, right next to the L.
posted by aaron at 8:51 PM on June 26, 2001



Why shouldn't people be encouraged to exercise? Good heavens.
Yeah, it's in the constitution somewhere. The government exists to shape personal behavior. Thomas Jefferson defined "morally indefensible" and it turns out it is an absolute, and not a flexible notion that differs between any 2 people on the planet.
posted by thirteen at 8:59 PM on June 26, 2001


so to recap:
- many people are fat because they eat too much and don't exercise enough; in fact, maybe *most* people are fat for those reasons. plenty of people exercise and eat moderately and are fat anyway. you can never know for sure why someone is fat.

on a side note, plenty of people who eat a lot and don't exercise are thin. or maybe they eat moderately, but they eat unhealthy things. you can't tell from looking.

- it does seem that in the US people's diets and exercise patterns have changed, and for the worse.

- the standard advice to eat less fat ands get more exercise does not work for some people. for some people a low-carb diet is best. for others, there is another health problem that needs to be addressed.

[ed note: rapid weight gain or loss for no apparent reason is always a signal that something is awry. I am not a doctor, but I feel comfortable saying that.]

- the main reason to care about someone else's fat is because they may not be healthy. obesity often leads to significant health problems. but some fat people have very healthy hearts, you can't tell from looking at them.

[ed note: I'm pretty thin, and I know that my heart is not in particularly good shape because I get next to no exercise. you can't tell from looking.]

[ed note ii: telling a smoker that smoking is bad for them isn't going to induce the smoker to quit smoking. they *know* it's bad for them. they'll quit when they're ready. telling a fat person that they need to lose weight is equally idiotic and self-aggrandizing. they *know* they're fat, they're doing what they can about it. or not. it's their choice.]

[ed note iii: people do feel that they can say anything about this. when I was a waitress I was quite thin - I was walking 10-12 hours a day. people regularly accused me or asked me if I was anorexic. in truth, I had a *huge* appetite, which I indulged daily, but why did they feel this was okay? why didn't they ask me if I had a yeast infection or if I was too poor to pay my utility bill?]

- people need to be respectful and polite to each other no matter their weight.
....
I agree with dave that if someone wants to indulge in an unhealthy lifestyle, everyone needs to just get over it. as we've seen here, lots of people are fat for all kinds of reasons that are basically out of their control. some are fat through reasons that are in their control, but so what? I have friends who smoke, drink, take drugs, drive too fast, carry guns, and lots of other things.

so, fat people in this thread, I want to know if people frequently say mean things to you; or if you feel passed over in job advancement because of your weight; or in what form this discrimination takes. obviously the media thinks its fine to poke fun at fat people. is there anything we can do about *that*? - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 9:51 PM on June 26, 2001


People don't say mean things to me often, but I do get a lot of looks. Especially when you do something like sitting on an airplane (although I think those seats are too small for "average" sized folks as well).

Maybe it's because I was small/average size when I was younger and on a swim team and know that I could actually lose weight if I attempted to - why I don't really have a "victim" attitude about it. My size basically boils down to me being lazy and sitting writing diatribes on the web when I could be running around with my pup.

On the other hand, I make fat jokes but on the "concept" of weight, versus making fun of people - that's just mean I think. I liked the Nutty Professor, because it's an exaggeration of real behavior.

And I would also say with some people, encouraging them to lose weight is a good thing. Sometimes someone needs that little push. I'm not saying you should beat your drum incessantly, but telling someone who you know is overeating that what they're doing is "okay" would make you a bad friend in my eyes. Strangers on the street who do this, on the other hand, should be sat on.
posted by owillis at 10:26 PM on June 26, 2001


thirteen: Doctors and an uncountable number of health specialists encourage people to exercise, as does the government, to a lesser extent. What the hell's the matter with that? That's what I was asking. In any case, part of the preamble of the Constitution includes the phrase, "promote the general welfare." Not that I implied that the government does all the work in the place. Where did that come from?
posted by raysmj at 10:31 PM on June 26, 2001


owillis: And I would also say with some people, encouraging them to lose weight is a good thing. Sometimes someone needs that little push. I'm not saying you should beat your drum incessantly, but telling someone who you know is overeating that what they're doing is "okay" would make you a bad friend in my eyes

well, isn't it better to accept someone as they are, and then - when they want to change (whatever they want to change) - lend them your support?

I'm stubborn when I think someone wants me to do something, I dig my heels in. I also need to feel accepted for who I am *now* in order to be motivated to make a change.

obviously, some people may not work like this, but I'd never offer to a friend that they needed to lose weight. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 10:34 PM on June 26, 2001


well, isn't it better to accept someone as they are, and
then - when they want to change (whatever they want to change) - lend them your support?


Well, again - I think it depends on the person and your relationship with them. Some people (like myself) sometimes need a swift kick in the pants to realize they're doing something wrong (in general, not just weight related). It's really not that they aren't accepting you for how you are, but instead care enough about you to say something.

But still, it depends on personality and type of relationship. I have two aunts who I love to death who are insane smokers and I bother them to no end about it - I was even going to stop once, but one told me to continue because she felt it would eventually help to motivate her. Whereas, my grandfather used to smoke but I had a totally different relationship with him and wouldn't even think to bring up the subject.
posted by owillis at 11:06 PM on June 26, 2001


No, aaron, I didn't do any of the things you accuse me of. My previous contributions to the thread are pretty tight, so I'll quote them here:

People can stop being fat. I encourage fat people to try. It's worth it.

and

I am 6'1". I was 315. I am 175, and have been in the 170's for the almost 2 years now since losing the weight.

I just might have a clue about the topic.


Where in there do I tell people anything about how to lose weight? Nowhere. But, gee, why let what I actually wrote get in the way of an overheated rant?

What I did do was encourage people to try. If I can't encourage people to try to experience a condition I find very positive without offending you, then too damn bad for you.

It has been wonderful, and I do encourage people to try.
posted by NortonDC at 4:18 AM on June 27, 2001


Rebecca: great post. is there anything we can do about *that*?

It's either got to be done through massive education or massive demonstration, and thus far the movement has not been effective at either. The media's concepts will be tough to change for many reasons... and it even starts small. Think about newscasts. Think about any story, ever, dealing with fat people.

What shot do they show all the time? The infamous city shot of various peoples' midsections, in motion, bouncing or jiggling around. Some are big, some are small; some have big tummies, some have big butts. This in and of itself is dehumanizing. They're lopping peoples' heads off, and saying, "Here is fat. Fat bad." And people will think about fat as a thing and not a part of a real person.

Insofar as comments go, I've gotten a fair number of 'em. Do they hurt? Yes. Do they sting? Yes. Do they stay with you, even if your self-esteem is high? Yes. What can you do about them? You have to kind of resign yourself to the fact that a lot of people will comment on your appearance, and not in a good way. And that's both sad and wrong.
posted by hijinx at 6:33 AM on June 27, 2001


> I agree with dave that if someone wants to indulge in an
> unhealthy lifestyle, everyone needs to just get over it.

The problem with this is that when the consequences of an individual's unhealthy lifestyle choices come home to roost (heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, lung cancer, AIDS), that individual suddenly remembers he's not an isolate and he runs to society and demands to be rescued from the consequences of his earlier choices that "didn't affect anyone but him."

> Epidemiologists at Harvard University conservatively
> estimate that treating obesity and the diabetes, heart
> disease, high blood pressure and gall stones caused by
> it rang up $45.8 billion in health care costs in 1990, the
> latest year studied.

That's not Rush Limbaugh talking, that's Scientific American - issue of August 1996, and the numbers come from 1990, and they're worse now.

So who pays those ever-increasing health care costs? I do, that's who, in the form of increased taxes and ever more expensive medical insurance.

Therefore, as long as those who live the unhealthy lives insist on running to me later to get me to pick up the pieces, you better believe I'm going to tell them how to live their lives - lose weight! get off your butt and exercise! quit smoking! quit drinking! quit doping! stop fucking anything with a hole! - and there's absolutely nothing they can do about this except stick their fingers in their ears and shout "I'm not listening! I'm not hearing this!" Which is what most of this thread consists of.
posted by jfuller at 7:07 AM on June 27, 2001


jfuller: Therefore, as long as those who live the unhealthy lives insist on running to me later to get me to pick up the pieces, you better believe I'm going to tell them how to live their live

so I assume that you're going to be equally draconian with your traffic laws? anyone going over the speed limit gets busted bigtime, freeway speeds no faster than 55mph anywhere in the country (maybe lower), no cellphones, eating, putting on makeup, diddling with the radio, etc while driving?

are you going to fight for legislation to massively penalize corporations that pollute the air and water, since those things affect the health of thousands if not millions of people who breathe and drink the byproducts?

and do you eat meat? because I don't, and I think there's ample scientific evidence to show that a diet that's absent or low in meat is healthier than one that centers on meat.

insurance is about shared risk; generally, non-smokers get lower rates than smokers (but insurance companies are notoriously bad at rewarding preventative behaviors and treatments). ultimately, though, each of us makes our own choices about which risks are manageable and which are not. I'd be surprised if you didn't take some risks that I feel are not acceptable at all. (for example: do you ever play with firecrackers or fireworks? I won't even touch the little wussy ones.) and generally, I feel that if people choose to be overweight or to smoke or to eat meat, it's none of my damn business.

"I'm not listening! I'm not hearing this!"

what I'm hearing is that lots of people are fat even though they do everything that conventional science tells them to do in order to lose or maintain a lower weight.

I'm also hearing that no one who is fat doesn't already know that; and that when people mention it to them, it hurts. it's like telling someone they're ugly. it's mean. it doesn't help. it doesn't motivate.

everyone in this country is bombarded with "emaciation is the way to be!" messages every day in the media (which is just as unhealthy, by the way). it seems to me that, in general, Americans have developed pretty much the same relationship with food that we notoriously have had with sex. - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2001


> so I assume that you're going to be equally draconian
> with your traffic laws?

Laws? Who mentioned laws? I'm not talking about telling you how to run your life the way the government does, with laws. I'm talking about telling you how to run your life the way Dear Abby and your mom do, with good advice and guilt trips.

It strikes me as odd that I hear the "my lifestyle choices only affect me" song and dance so often from this crowd, which is otherwise so (correctly) convinced that no man is an island and everything that happens affects everything else. In fact your lifestyle choices intrude on your neighbors' lives and your neighbors' neighbors' lives and your neighbors' neighbors' neighbors' lives and the ripples go all around the world and come back. Which in turn means that your neighbors have every right to have opinions about the choices you make and the kind of life you live, and to express those opinions to you even if this bruises your sensibilities.

Is that the same as the dreaded "pressure to fit in?" You bet it is; and you're free to conform or resist, just as you please. Just don't expect to escape the pressure, unless you're ready to go be a hermit on a desert island.
posted by jfuller at 12:54 PM on June 27, 2001


well, I think the point has been amply made here that many people are making the "correct" lifestyle choices and yet are still fat. the point being, that you can't deride someone for being fat because you don't know *why* it's happening.

before we go further, tell me how you would apply this pressure, in real life. are you talking about approaching strangers and mentioning their weight, or are you talking about gently suggesting to your spouse that both of you join the gym?

or what, exactly? - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:02 PM on June 27, 2001


> approaching strangers and mentioning their weight

only if they take up half of my bus seat in addition to all of theirs. I have never, even as a kid, run after an overweight person yelling "Fat! fat! the water rat!" However, I have been known to laugh mercilessly over phrases like "size diversity empowerment."
posted by jfuller at 1:36 PM on June 27, 2001


What the hell's the matter with that?
I think the matter might be that nobody asked for anyone's opinion. If we want to play that way, I have no problem following people around and commenting on, and judging them all day long. I would disagree that justification for the government recommending anything to me comes from the preamble, but rather from the imagination of busy bodies who would do matter to mind their own business.


That is what the hell is wrong with that.
posted by thirteen at 1:51 PM on June 27, 2001


jfuller: ...only if they take up half of my bus seat in addition to all of theirs.

Your attitude exemplifies every single thing I'm fighting against. It's bereft of compassion, consideration, and - ironically enough - only deals with you. Well, gee, if no (person) is an island as you suggest, why should fat people conform to your requests? Because you're "right"? Well, so am I, and so is everyone else. Don't forget that while you'll be happy to trumpet that the lifestyle choices of a fat person affect others, you overlook the fact that your attitude and condescending nature of the entire argument affects others at least the same way, if not in a more severe fashion.

I'm talking about telling you how to run your life the way Dear Abby and your mom do, with good advice and guilt trips.

Drop the pretense and the sugar coating. Anyone who is fat has heard it before: from friends, neighbors, strangers, passersby, driversby, the milkman, the clerk, the employee, you name it. Your advice and guilt trips are nothing new, and they are no relevation.

Next thing you know, we'll be hearing from someone about how fat people shouldn't go out in public. They can't fit in anyway, so why bother? (cough cough cough)
posted by hijinx at 1:52 PM on June 27, 2001


The last "matter" should be "better", otherwise, what a beautiful post!
posted by thirteen at 1:53 PM on June 27, 2001


jfuller: only if they take up half of my bus seat in addition to all of theirs.

for all you know, that person has already spent the last year losing 100 pounds, on the way to their goal of losing 100 more during the next, thereby exerting more willpower than I'll probably ever have.

but I imagine you were exaggerating for rhetorical effect. :| - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:56 PM on June 27, 2001


thirteen: No actually, it sucked. No one's telling you specifically what to do. People only advise, or at least those who don't suck only advise. I appreciate health information, think it's needed. What, I'm just supposed to go to a doctor? How would I know to go to a doctor in the first place without health information? Osmosis?
posted by raysmj at 2:05 PM on June 27, 2001


otherwise, thirteen, I said nothing (nothing!!!!!) about judging people - in fact, quite the contrary - and I'd suggest you take your pointless nitpicking somewhere else.
posted by raysmj at 2:12 PM on June 27, 2001


Do tell us, jfuller, how you have improved the lives of those around you, so we may better conform to your example.
posted by darukaru at 2:16 PM on June 27, 2001


actually, it sucked.
Heh, well... I not exactly thrilled with your response either.

We just disagree. My position makes me a crank, and yours makes you a meddler, I know which I think is more honorable. So you keep giving "advice", and I'll keep telling you what to do with it.

Please tell the government to have my breakfast ready at 9 tomorrow, I'm going to sleep in.
posted by thirteen at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2001


Advice/judging, in this situation I don't care to make the distinction.
posted by thirteen at 2:19 PM on June 27, 2001


Gosh amighty, already. I never said a freakin' word about judging. I said putting out information about the benefits of exercising, about what's in your food. How am I supposed to know how many calories are in my food if I can't find out? You're a freakin' nitpicking ninny with an ax to grind, who came in here making comments about guv'ment when I didn't use the word.
posted by raysmj at 2:27 PM on June 27, 2001


Actually, you did mention the government first, and that is what I responded to in my first post. I probably would not have bothered if you had not used meaningless puffy phrases like morally indefensible, but you did and here we are. I'd prefer society turn the blind eye you find objectionable, and ask where you divine right to involve yourself in the lives of strangers comes from?

No one can tell you shouldn't be obese. But you should be provided with information about health risks and what to do about it, if anything.
that reads a lot like "I'm not one to gossip, but did you see that dress Vickie wore to church! Shameful!", not to mention the authority to go around advising people is your own invention.

I have no ax to grind, and I do not know you. If you examine our positions, you will see that I have the more liberal viewpoint.

If you don't know when to go to the doctor, or how to plan your diet I cannot help you. You seem to know, and have decided it is the government. Try cracking open a book instead if you are interested in that sort of thing.
posted by thirteen at 2:47 PM on June 27, 2001


No, thirteen, I mentioned government in regard to cigarettes, and its well-known role in bringing the dangers of cigarettes to light (specifically, the Surgeon General's role). Otherwise, I used the more general word society, which is not equal to government, although it can include it. (In the case I was addressing, very little, except in deciding that companies should provide nutritional info, which is now provided by the companies by law, but not by the government. But that was only a small part of what Iw as talking about.) And I actually don't give a shit about your viewpoint anymore.
posted by raysmj at 3:01 PM on June 27, 2001


Very neat and compartmentalized.
And I actually don't give a shit about your viewpoint anymore.
Fair enough, as I never really cared about your advice or opinion either.
Thanks for playing.
posted by thirteen at 3:14 PM on June 27, 2001


It's something that my ex-wife would often say which still haunts me.

"Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours."

I'm all out of compassion. I don't ask for it from others. I don't offer it to others.

I know I'm overweight. I know I'm not obese. I do what I can about it. I've lost twenty pounds. I'm working on twenty more. That's my business. What you do? That's your business.

If you are fat and you like it, good for you. Stop expecting other people to like it. Ignore the delinquents that make wisecracks and sing childish songs. Be happy with who and what you are. Surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are, and shun those who are "obecist." Don't argue with them: SHUN them.

If you are fat and you don't like it, good for you. Do something about it. If what you do doesn't work, try something else.

If you're not fat and you like it, good for you. If you don't like it in others, shut the hell up.

If you're not fat and you don't like it, EAT SOMETHING.

Now I'm sure you'll continue the petty bickering despite my words of wisdom. Just don't be surprised when people stop listening when they realize you're no longer looking for answers.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:39 AM on June 28, 2001


hijinx quotes and comments:

>> jfuller: ...only if they take up half of my bus seat in
>> addition to all of theirs.
>
> Your attitude exemplifies every single thing I'm fighting
> against. It's bereft of compassion, consideration, and -
> ironically enough - only deals with you.

The question I was answering was Rebeccablood's "Do you ever approach strangers and mention their weight?" A question that only deals with me is likely to elicit an answer that only deals with me. Doh!

As for compassion, are you so compassionate that you say nothing when somebody blows secondhand smoke in your face? The two cases are precisely parallel. Both the over-width person intruding into the seat I have to occupy and the smoker blowing hydrocarbons into the air I have to breathe can say "I'm caught in a situation that's very hard for me to get out of, so you just put up with me and keep quiet about it, eh?" Well, forget that. Heh, true compassion calls for intervention.
posted by jfuller at 6:45 AM on June 28, 2001


jfuller: The two cases are precisely parallel.

I don't think so. Here's why. Smoking is something that, second-hand, can have health repercussions. It can adversely affect the insides of people who inhale it. Fat? You can't catch fat, even though the article in this thread's link (yay!) claims otherwise. Fat isn't something that moves by osmosis. For you, it's an inconvenience and - as a bonus - a chance to air out any of your "compassionate" opinions on that person's lifestyle, eating habits, etc. Besides, curious, what would you say to a fat person in that situation? "Please remove your buttocks"?

Well, forget that. Heh, true compassion calls for intervention.

Yes. And starting right now, I'm going to walk up to every skinny person I meet and say, "You know, you really should eat. You're looking awful! It's bad for you to be that thin!" Also, if a skinny person does anything which I don't like, I'm going to take that person to task for being thin. It doesn't matter. Thin isn't good. Thin is dangerous. Thin people don't work hard, they're lazy, they're incompetent, and they offend me. But I'm just saying, you know, they should change themselves. I'm being compassionate.
posted by hijinx at 7:23 AM on June 28, 2001


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