I am right here.
June 4, 2014 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Samantha Peterson slams her case for having a fat body in this world. No metaphor necessary. (SLHP)
posted by Sophie1 (185 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wish the crowd's reactions weren't being picked up so clearly by the microphone. They drown her out a bit, especially at the end.

I like her message. As a large woman, I wouldn't mind being compared to beautiful things like a galaxy.. because that would mean I'd be getting compliments. Why I feel that way, though, goes in line with the point she's making.
posted by royalsong at 7:29 AM on June 4, 2014


[A couple comments removed. Make an effort.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


These videos always make me happy for her, but sad for humanity.
posted by cacofonie at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


A galaxy of a body is lovely piece of writing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


This reminded me a bit of last year's "Shrinking Women" by Lily Myers. (Which is also fantastic.)
posted by bigendian at 7:52 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I enjoy how she examines, sets up, breaks down, and otherwise keeps turning the idea of body and metaphor around and around like you sort of have to in a culture that's so utterly fucked up when it comes to the realities of the human body.
posted by sonascope at 8:00 AM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's great that she feels this way. Sadly, "comfortable with my body" doesn't treat heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver particularly well.

TWO THIRDS of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is the biggest public health crisis of our generation. I don't think fat-shaming is a very good practice but at the same time this sort of attitude in response seems contraindicated to everything that health officials have been trying to teach us over the past forty years.

But on the flip side. Myself? I'm 5'11" and nudging towards 230. I'm comfortable with my body but I'm not happy. I don't want to be this way anymore. My current lifestyle is unsustainable and if I keep it up I can look forward to high risk of diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver and colon cancer. Changing you life isn't something you can do overnight. Part of the reason for my shitty lifestyle is I have particularly bad anxiety which manifests as picky eating and extreme embarrassment about trying new things like joining a gym. I have unrealistic expectations and a giant fear of failure that paralyses me and stops my follow-through on personal growth. I've been working with a therapist for 16 months and I've only now started to work out twice a week and eating vegetables. Sometimes I slide back. Sometimes I slide back hard. Every shitty little step I take towards my goal is an uphill climb. Your progress is measured in metaphorical inches per day and sometimes you can slide back a couple of feet.

It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do and probably will ever have to do. I expect it will take me at least five years to completely turn my life around. But I'm doing it. Because I don't want to be comfortable anymore. I want to be happy with my body.
posted by Talez at 8:18 AM on June 4, 2014 [27 favorites]


Gah, can someone please tell me how to get all the ads to stop playing? I can't even find them to turn them off so I can watch the video!
posted by likeatoaster at 8:21 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to separate body image from health when talking about women's bodies? It seems pretty complex, to say the least. I am a 42-year-old man, and I have dropped about 70 pounds since September.

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and if you look at the indicators for metabolic syndrome, I had them: 30+ BMI, waistline greater than 40 inches, neckline greater than 17 inches.

The thing is, in my 30's, when I put on all this weight, I didn't develop symptoms of metabolic syndrome. I just put on weight and went up a few shirt and pant sizes.

And the mantra of "bodies come in all shapes and sizes" was pretty comforting.

What's really interesting is that I have a twin sister who also struggles with weight, but it's a much bigger problem for her.


She is morbidly obese, essentially. A lot of it can be attributed to eating habits, but at the same time I cannot help but think that the message that it's okay to have a fat body in this world (or that "fat" is a social construct, especially for women) is pretty harmful.

The poet here is pretty young (younger than me!) and presumably has not encountered the problems associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, notably for women, low fertility caused by PCOS etc.

I'd like to hear from women in their forties about body image.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:25 AM on June 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


So brave.
posted by jjmoney at 8:31 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I specifically posted this because I am in the process of thinking about body image a lot. I've been pretty open about my eating disorder on the green, I've been in treatment more than a decade, and I'm 43.

Her slam is not an excuse, it is not an apology and it is not justification for her body. Her final words, "I am right here.", is all there is. This is the body I have. RIGHT NOW. I could join a boot camp and lose weight. I could eat 2 whole cakes every day and gain more weight. I could maintain where I am, but none of that future matters, because this is who I am TODAY. I am right here. I take up this much space. RIGHT NOW.

I think with body image, we are always looking at the future, at the past, but we need to be talking/thinking about right now.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:38 AM on June 4, 2014 [45 favorites]


KokuRyu: I am a 47 year-old woman who is about 75 pounds overweight. I won't go into the whys of my overeating. You asked about body image. I am not proud of happy with my body. I have large pockets of fat that literally hang from my body. They are impossible to disguise with clothing. I see people looking down at my legs and my swollen ankles as I pass by and I am ashamed. I also know that if I don't change, I won't live a full life.

That is pretty much how I feel about it.
posted by harrietthespy at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Because I don't want to be comfortable anymore. I want to be happy with my body.

Then be happy with it. If you need to lose weight, be happy when you have. If you don't need to lose weight, be happy where you are. If you're having a hard time being what you desire to be, be happy in the moment, and be happy when your efforts result in benefits. When they don't, be happy there, too.

The thing I find so perverted about our world of fucked up body image is that being okay with being fat is not the same thing as shrugging off health.

If you're fat now, be happy now. Write off the venomous losers who need to support their own self-hatred by fanning yours. I lost a ton of weight years ago, and you know what? I'm the same person in the same body. Had a debilitating injury at work that led me to regain most of that lost weight, and I know I'm supposed to feel like I fucked up somehow, but you know what? I'm the same person in the same body, and when you spend most of every day for six months immobilized by pain, you're allowed to be fat. I'm working to lose that regained weight, with more wisdom this time around about the things I didn't do right the last time, and with an understanding that I'm trying to get a foothold in a business that requires me to be strong and energetic and swift dieting is incompatible with that. I'm the same person in the same body, and I'm okay as a fat guy, right now, and will be okay if I don't manage to catch the skinny train on the schedule the rest of the world wants to set for me.

In life, we can only do what we can do.

Thing is, the mindless repeaters who feel like we always, always must chime in with patronizing litanies about health, as if there was ever a fat person in all of human history that did not know that they were fat, or that sometimes health requires that we trim it back, if we can, remind me of one ugly bit of history.

Remember when you were a teenager, by which I mean me, coming out as gay in the mid-eighties, and what every, every, every fucking "caring" person you told felt compelled to tell you?

"Oh honey, be careful! Because there's AIDS! Be careful not to get AIDS!"

And, yeah, I'm queer, and statistically, I'm way way more likely to get HIV than the other 96.6% of Americans, so…erm. Wait, am I supposed to be celibate forever, because AIDS? Should I avoid dating, because men cheat, and AIDS? Should I avoid relationships, because cheating, or live forever behind a latex curtain, because AIDS?

Life is management, and stewardship, and developing wisdom and the skills to run a life, and fat people know that they're fat, and that there are health concerns to work on, and being able to say that we are happy with ourselves in the moment isn't some sort of self-delusion that you're going to fix with condescending reminders of the same damn thing, time and again.

If we on Metafilter can discuss gay life without commenters feeling compelled to say "Hey, remember, there's AIDS, so, you know…try to be a little less homosexual so you'll live longer," why do we ALWAYS need the tut-tut?

Sheesh.
posted by sonascope at 8:45 AM on June 4, 2014 [87 favorites]


There needs to be a general recognition that body weight is antifragile: that is, it's like cut grass. "How to make grass shorter?" "Cut it!" But it then grows back taller, because of ancillary processes that cause it to grow taller. So it is with the human body: if any of you are underweight, then be advised that one of the most sustainable, long-lasting and quick ways to gain weight is by dieting. You lose 15 pounds and gain 20: have you had this experience? Of course most of us have had this experience. The mechanism by which the weight is gained is phenomenologically clear to anyone who's dieted: there is an intense hunger, an intense craving, which dieting causes then magnifies.

Now, the way that this usually gets formulated is "diets don't work", which is a true statement but not a useful one, because the implication is often that "there is no way to lose weight". Do you see how these are not the same statements?

Do you know how to get grass to stop being so tall? There are more ways than cutting it: you might stop watering it, you might not fertilize or transplant in poorer soil, you might shade it. Grass can take care of each of these, but it won't grow taller. It should be the same with weight: there should be a systematic investigation of other ways to lose weight. The exploratory studies for mindfulness treatment, for example (I dunno if you can access them, but here), have had good results with the cessation of binge eating. It's not as easy (it will be as easy as defusing a teenager's impetuousness, or a forumite's sarcasm, which I feel are also antifragile quantities), and it will certainly not be as quick. But it might have a chance in hell of working.

I think this is a viable synthesis of the two opposing statements.
posted by curuinor at 8:53 AM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I cannot help but think that the message that it's okay to have a fat body in this world (or that "fat" is a social construct, especially for women) is pretty harmful.

Nobody's asking you to believe that message or accept it if you choose not to. What other people (especially women) do with their bodies is their business, including how they want to feel about their bodies.
posted by emjaybee at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


People really snap? I thought that was a joke from "Dobie Gillis."
posted by ColdChef at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


The fat issue is one I have awfully mixed feelings about. When I was young, and thin, I didn't understand how someone could let themselves get fat. I was quite naive. Then I gained a lot of weight, and couldn't keep it off no matter what I did. My health suffered, in part because I was fat, but in part the cause of the weight. And I realized how foolish I had been, that being thin was the luck of a good metabolism.

I eventually lost some of the weight because some of the health issues were addressed (and dramatically shifting my diet.) . Some health issues from being overweight resolved. But now I worry whenever I see someone who is heavy that they're walking around, waiting for an early heart attack. A heavier friend had a heart attack at 34, she was lucky it was only a mild one and she got help in time.

But I also really think fat shaming is disgusting. We couch fat shaming in terms of health, but dont have the same negative reaction towards so many other health issues, many worse. Even smoking, something we as a culture have decided is bad, doesn't get the same horrible reaction. You don't have people showing at smokers from cars, or telling them they are less valuable as a person. And at the same time, skinny fat is okay, as is eating terribly, as long as you don't get fat.

So how does someone be concerned about the effects of excessive weight but be fat positive? I haven't found the answer.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


> I cannot help but think that the message that it's okay to have a fat body in this world (or that "fat" is a social construct, especially for women) is pretty harmful.

I can tell you with some confidence that the message that it's not okay to have a fat body is extraordinarily harmful.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2014 [52 favorites]


What other people (especially women) do with their bodies is their business, including how they want to feel about their bodies

I see this comment a lot in these threads, and while I loathe fat shaming and feel that self esteem shouldn't be tied too tightly to body image, it's hard to deny that obesity is a public health epidemic that has serious implications for public health policy and the health system in general, especially as we take these first imperfect steps toward government healthcare.

It's one thing to say fuck your fat shaming, taunts, and insults; my sum worth is not my appearance. It's quite another thing to say, fuck you what I eat and how obese I am is none of your business.
posted by echocollate at 9:13 AM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's one thing to say fuck your fat shaming, taunts, and insults; my sum worth is not my appearance. It's quite another thing to say, fuck you what I eat and how obese I am is none of your business.

In spite of your framing, these are not actually contradictory statements. What someone eats and how obese they may be is, in fact, none of your business. At all.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:15 AM on June 4, 2014 [28 favorites]


Nobody's asking you to believe that message or accept it if you choose not to. What other people (especially women) do with their bodies is their business, including how they want to feel about their bodies.

Yeah, yeah, I get that. I took a couple of Women's Studies courses way back when.

And I certainly understand that I could be perceived as a "concern troll" here, but on the other hand you know I would like to see my sister live as long as possible. So it is my business in a way. I've heard all these "fat positive" arguments for the last twenty-five years, both in the media and from friends, and I really wonder if it is a form of enabling.

I also think that if something like this is posted on Metafilter, there should be the expectation that there will be discussion, and discussion often involves people having different points of view, expressed respectfully.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


In spite of your framing, these are not actually contradictory statements. What someone eats and how obese they may be is, in fact, none of your business. At all.

If obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. contribute significantly to the cost of healthcare in this country, then yes, on a broader level it is a collective concern. Likewise with smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, or anything else that contributes to higher health care costs. We tend to think of these things as individual choices, but they often have very public effects.

Full disclosure, I smoke. It's something I'm not proud of. I wish I'd never started. I've tried to quit for a long time. I have complete empathy for obese persons, because I know how difficult the struggle is. I tend to curb my judgment of individuals precisely because I have no room to talk, but I understand the ramifications of my behavior, and I don't object to critiques from others. The same really applies to all of us who make bad choices with public consequences.
posted by echocollate at 9:21 AM on June 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Her words reminded me of a great Quino strip.
posted by infinitelives at 9:22 AM on June 4, 2014


[Couple more comments removed. C'mon, folks.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Man, it took us almost twenty comments to get to "when I'm paying for your healthcare," which means we're really getting lazy and fat here on Metafilter.

Of course, if you take that anti-communal approach to its extreme, and fat people really do die young, you ought to thank us for paying for your protracted Alzheimer's hosptalization.

Thing is, if the constant hectoring on our "behalf" (as well as one's narcissistic concern over one's healthcare dollars) is supposed to be for the good of fat people, you are doing it wrong, because people are still fat and hectoring has never been more intense and interminable.
posted by sonascope at 9:24 AM on June 4, 2014 [33 favorites]


Though, seriously, could we have a discussion about what this FPP is actually about, because it's pretty interesting?
posted by sonascope at 9:25 AM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


There should be a recognition that obesity is the second largest health problem that exists in the modern day, after smoking. If you exterminated every other cause of death except the ones that obesity is intricately involved in and causative of, you would cut the death rate by about 30%. But that does not mean that every individual should be blamed, because that's useless.

The other part of thinking in a systemic manner about these things is that there never seems to be a significant group-based intervention tried in these matters: that is, the existence of human groupings above the individual is elided in these discussions and not considered as an avenue for change. Dieting can also be criticized as one of the most alienating activities a person can do. This is not a viable way for all people to life.

I mean, you can alienate yourself by, say, dedicating yourself to the life of analytic philosophy or mathematics, but you cannot feasibly say that large numbers of people should go through this alienating task for the rest of their lives. But we are all to diet alone. Why does Mars Candy corporation still exist, making candy? Is this not, ceteris paribus, a thing that human beings do not need? If it is said that candy is a succor to our dark moments, then who made it that way (hint: Mars Candy)? Can they also stop that? And so forth and so on for all the candy and soda and what-have-you purveyors of food that is not food.
posted by curuinor at 9:27 AM on June 4, 2014


It is when I'm paying for your healthcare.

Hi! I'm a non-smoking, minimally-drinking borderline vegetarian who walks everywhere and exercises several hours per week, takes no prescription meds and has no medical issues, and I'm fat. You don't pay for a goddamn thing for me that I don't also have to pay for for you, because we're both taxpayers. Now, if you're engaging in any kind of high risk activity like smoking, eating fatty foods, driving everywhere, not getting enough exercise, indulging in leisure activities that have been shown to contribute to joint issues in later life like cycling or running or skiing, you may actually be more costly to the taxpayer than I am. So please shut up with this nonsense.
posted by palomar at 9:27 AM on June 4, 2014 [48 favorites]


A lot of anti-drug campaigns are shaming, commenting about the bad teeth and smell of smokers for example. We just kind of decided shaming is okay sometimes. I think using those methods for obesity is not productive and campaigns should focus more on education. There is so much misinformation out there in regards to food that people who do want to change their lifestyle sometimes don't know how to do it.

It's really hard though because if you grew up overweight you know how pervasive fat shaming is. It's everywhere, and it makes any kind of effort to talk with someone about the topic feel like shaming even when it isn't intended. It's better if people do mind their own business with this most of the time, unless they know someone very well and how to approach them.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:28 AM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


p.s. I've been reading all the hectoring bullshit that goes on in these threads here for YEARS. And guess what, you guys? I'm not any damn thinner. Maybe you'd like to try something new, since your concern trolling hasn't magically made me any smaller.
posted by palomar at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2014 [29 favorites]


Thing is, if the constant hectoring on our "behalf" (as well as one's narcissistic concern over one's healthcare dollars) is supposed to be for the good of fat people, you are doing it wrong, because people are still fat and hectoring has never been more intense and interminable.

In my more cynical moments (which is most of them) I consider that the point of this is not "you should not be fat" but rather "you should be fat and hate yourself over it". This is somewhat the product of gaining 40 pounds (due to medical condition), having a revelation over the cycle of guilt unaccompanied by productive action that is a minor hobby of all my female relatives (which they loop me into, unrequested, because they perceive me as female), as a consequence of said revelation and the resolution of medical condition losing 40 pounds, and discovering that when one chucks the guilt and loses the weight then one is doing two things wrong.

You're not actually supposed to exit the game, it seems.
posted by sparktinker at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


And I certainly understand that I could be perceived as a "concern troll" here, but on the other hand you know I would like to see my sister live as long as possible. So it is my business in a way.

It may be your business with your sister, but it sure as hell ain't with anyone else, like anybody else in this thread.

It's so weird to me that so many people in threads like this always think that "expressing concern" is a thing that fat or overweight people have never heard before, and that by saying it you are bringing truth to light and fat people will be all OH I GET IT NOW THANKS.
posted by rtha at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2014 [31 favorites]


Paying for obese people's healthcare? Wait, when did the US get single payer healthcare? Because if we don't have that, you're not paying for anyone's healthcare; you're flat-out concern-trolling.
posted by Kitteh at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


I too have been listening to all the anti-fat hectoring that goes on with metafilter for what feels like years.

The terrible, terrible fat shaming.
"You're horrible. This is a choice and it's a terrible choice. You're going to die. Healthcare costs. etc, etc. "

Anyway I'm now 20 pounds lighter. So keep it up. It's obviously working.
posted by zoo at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


p.s. I've been reading all the hectoring bullshit that goes on in these threads here for YEARS. And guess what, you guys? I'm not any damn thinner. Maybe you'd like to try something new, since your concern trolling hasn't magically made me any smaller.


I was going to come into this thread and make a joke about how every time somebody hectors a fat person, I order an extra plate of cheese fries, so if you really care about someone's health, you should probably just shut up.

But I decided against it because the thread was already going Not Well.

But then, thinking about it some more, that for some people, there's a lot of truth in that joke. While there are lots of reasons people are fat, for a lot of folks there's a very complicated relationship between food and shame and their weight, and when you make people feel that shame, you probably seriously are actually driving some of them to make eating choices they don't want.

So think about that when you're considering personal responsibility.

I'll be over here searching for where I can get cheese fries for lunch.


Also this:

I think with body image, we are always looking at the future, at the past, but we need to be talking/thinking about right now.


is just brilliant and needs to be repeated about a billion times.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


KokuRyu, I am a woman and I have maintained significant weight loss (similar to yours) for a decade, without surgical intervention, and even after reduction or discontinuation of medications that trigger appetite suppression. I also have medical conditions associated with higher weight. This makes me a statistical outlier, even at a young(er) age than you. As someone who currently has done what you have not (i.e., lose and maintain loss long-term), because of the way your comments come across, I suspect you will treat my opinion as if it counts more than that of a woman who is currently overweight. (Which....ugh.)

I find your consistent perseverative (and often derailing) comments in threads about body size and obesity come across as lacking empathy and kindness. Your comments do not come across as if you care about others' health in the least. Not even your sister's. Really. They come across as if you require constant personal validation of your personal work on your personal well-being, and that such validation should definitely come at the expense of treating others with respect for the complexity of their lives.

There are so many dimensions to overall health and self-care that go beyond "weight" and "body size." Your focus on weight is the sort of thing that discourages people from working on their lives and self-care in any dimension--all of which are important.

Your pattern of behavior is hurtful and that I still experience it as the shaming I received when I was much heavier. Fuck it, my only worth on this planet is tied directly to the scale, so why try at anything else?

on preview: wow, that was not a kind way to treat palomar. At all. That was awful. I guess my response about the opinions and lives of thin women counting more was spot on.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:37 AM on June 4, 2014 [30 favorites]


We couch fat shaming in terms of health,

Can't run a blood panel by looking.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:37 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's so weird to me that so many people in threads like this always think that "expressing concern" is a thing that fat or overweight people have never heard before, and that by saying it you are bringing truth to light and fat people will be all OH I GET IT NOW THANKS.

No, I get it. It's the same conversation I have with nonsmokers—total strangers—who inform me that smoking causes cancer. I know. And I regret it. It's what keeps me trying to quit, even when I fail.

But I don't go up to random strangers and tell them their obesity puts them at risk of heart disease, because that's tacky as fuck and a dick move (seriously, who does that shit?). A thread about obesity and body image, however, is a relevant place to tactfully discuss health consequences. Because those discussions are uncomfortable for some doesn't mean they're not undertaken in good faith.
posted by echocollate at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's quite another thing to say . . . how obese I am is none of your business.

If this comment were reframed as, "my principles on vaccination are none of your business," I would agree. Measles was non-existent for 10 years in the US; it's returned to this country because non-vaccinated travelers are transporting, in their bloodstreams, the virus back to the States. If you don't vaccinate your kids, and I contract measles, that's my business. It's a health issue that impacts on me.

The same might be said for smoking in public spaces. Second-hand smoke exposure causes cancer. It's my business; it impacts on my health.

Obesity, however, is different. Yes, your obesity will eventually raise heath care costs and burden hospitals, indirectly affecting the quality and accessibility of treatments I may receive, at some unspecified time in the future. But the same might be said of tanning beds. Tanning causes skin cancer, burdening the health care system and raising costs, impacting all consumers. Including me.

The difference between tanning and obesity is this: Nobody is shamed for having tanned skin, despite the added costs to healthcare of skin cancer treatments (which, admittedly, are far less than obesity). Tanning is culturally determined--due to paradoxical viewpoints of health that emerged from the industrial revolution--as acceptable and aesthetically desirable. Obesity, on the other hand, is determined--one might say overdetermined--as shameful, offensive, and indicative of a lack of willpower and regard to personal appearance and hygiene. As a result, it's easier to make the jump to condemning obesity than it is for other activities that diminish personal health and raise health care costs.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu: If I'm interpreting your comment correctly, you're saying she's (presumably) healthy now, but when she's older, her weight or the underlying cause of her weight might make her sick. But...it's ok to be sick? Or at least it should be ok, it should be acceptable to walk around in the world as a person who is sick. Someone with a condition that makes them too fat, too thin, makes them lose their hair or develop an unsightly rash or lose the ability to walk...is still a person who should get as much respect as any other person. And though they may want to do everything they can to cure their sickness or simply accept it as their lot (maybe it's incurable) that's not anyone else's business. I may be wrong but I think that's what she and others with similar messages are fighting for: the right to be treated as an equal person and not some gross thing to be looked down on or insulted. There's a connection between body image and health in other situations too. Breast cancer comes to mind. But how someone is or isn't managing their illness has nothing to do with how they should be treated by society for how they look.
posted by ocksay_uppetpay at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I cannot help but think that the message that it's okay to have a fat body in this world (or that "fat" is a social construct, especially for women) is pretty harmful.

Except that this is not a message that significant numbers of Americans actually believe. Do you really think that there are non-fat people out there who will see that message and think: "Despite the enormous social consequences of being fat, I now don't care about being fat and will eat as much as I want"?

Fat acceptance is not a cause of being fat. Most people come to it after years of being fat and trying not to be and the whole fat acceptance movement has lagged, not led, the increase in the number of fat people in the United States.
posted by atrazine at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


Being comfortable and not feeling shamed about one's body makes it a hell of a lot easier to get outside or to the gym to be active. I know when I'm feeling lumpy and dumpy* I tend to sit around the house and watch TV rather than get on my bike and ride around on public streets.

*Disclaimer that shouldn't fucking be necessary but somehow I feel like some people will take my word as more valuable if I say this: at 122lbs as of this morning I'm at the heaviest I've ever been, but I've been lifting heavy weights a few times a week for the past 6 weeks so I'm trying not to freak out about it. I am not now and never have been overweight.
posted by misskaz at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Something that contributed massively to my bulimia (not entirely, but significantly) was my mother (of course, but let me finish). My mother was OBSESSED with her weight. She was also obsessed with everyone else's weight around her. When someone gained weight, she commented. When someone lost weight, she commented. When someone wore something "unflattering", she commented. My mother, never more than 25 pounds overweight but usually of a relatively normal weight, was on every single, solitary diet in the 70's and beyond.

Today my mother is nearing 70 and she is on a diet. I don't know which one it is, but she talks about gluten, quinoa, smoothies and kale CONSTANTLY. I stopped listening years ago.

My mother also weighed and measured the foods my sister and I ate (but not my brother), but you know what? All three of us have disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Thanks, mom. My brother, who works with his body in the outdoors and is strong like ox cannot stand to look at that body.

Ultimately, you know what her constant hectoring about diet did? It made me so afraid of food that every time I needed to eat FOR FUEL I threw it up because food was BAD (I have been purge-free for about 3 years now). I have completely fucked up my metabolism for life. I go to the gym at 3:50 a.m. because I cannot have anyone look at me when I work out. I have not worn shorts or short sleeves as an adult. EVER.

That is what body-shaming does. That is what not allowing people to enjoy what their body can do, no matter how it looks, does.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2014 [41 favorites]


Oh come on, people.

That poetry kicked ass. She was amazing.

To put it out there, I am a 41-year-old woman and not at all fat. So fucking what? I might get fat in a few years' time. I might not ever be fat. I wish obesity rates weren't what they are, because I think most people have a better quality of life when they're not obese, and I want people to be happy.

None of this has anything much to do with the fact that people are entitled to feel good about themselves at any weight. They have a right to feel sexy and whole and happy and attractive, without other people fucking judging them.

The health implications (public and private) are a whole separate thing. They have nothing to do with this. That poet was on fire, and she was fantastic. I envied her.
posted by Salamander at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2014 [23 favorites]


Right now, I'm supposedly about fifty pounds overweight (at least, fifty pounds over the absolute lowest weight that I consider feasible for my body type). I also exercise several hours a week because I belong to a roller derby team. Our practices can be very strenuous.

My legs have fat on them, sure, but they are also thick with muscle.

I was telling the (tall and quite thin) intern on my floor about derby, and the exercise we do to strengthen our cores and legs. I demonstrated a wall sit. She tried it and lasted about ten seconds before she collapsed into a heap.

You really don't know what kind of shape people are in, just because of their outer appearance. Just an FYI. There are some wimpy-ass thin people out there.
posted by duvatney at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


Paying for obese people's healthcare? Wait, when did the US get single payer healthcare? Because if we don't have that, you're not paying for anyone's healthcare; you're flat-out concern-trolling.

The shared risk is built into premiums. It's as if all of those threads about how healthcare costs are bankrupting the lower and middle classes never existed. Lifestyle choices have a direct impact on those costs, so no, it's not just concern trolling.

That said, the poetry did kick ass, and I'm really, really happy that she's happy.
posted by echocollate at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lather, rinse, repeat:
as a society, what is the acceptable way to call out unhealthy behavior?

I don't believe there is one. At its most fundamental, I would suggest that "Unhealthy" is between a doctor and her patient, and it's no-one's fucking business otherwise.

That said, you can't change people anyway, and you're wasting your time and energy on one hand, and people will react badly to having their comfort zones challenged on the other.

If someone else is going to hell, the only thing I can really do is hope they find their ride enjoyable.
posted by mikelieman at 1:20 PM on May 22
posted by mikelieman at 9:51 AM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah that was a great piece of poetry, fantastically spoken.
posted by greenish at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2014


And the guilt!

I hope this isn't too off-topic, but it does pertain to our capacity for action in this subject, and I also find it pertains a lot to the poetry itself, given that it is also a corpus which is verbatim and filled with attributions.

Martin Seligman has a methodology called the Content Analysis of Verbal Attributions: it's a way of measuring attributional style in the abstract corpus, which means that it can be put down and used in corpuses like this one: the Metafilter Obesity thread corpus.

There's a complicated formalism, but you don't need it. I'll give a precis, even though I bet many of you are familiar with it.

Simply look at all the attributional statements for things which are construed by the attributor as negative (the statements that talk about the reason for something considered bad by the speaker) and rate in a Likert scale (on a scale from 1 to 7...) to yourself how:

1. Internal: "it's an integral part of that thing"
2. Global: "it covers the whole of that thing, it pertains to the total of that thing"
3. Stable: "it will persist"

it is. The more internal, the more global, the more stable, in a context of negativity, then the more the style of attribution is pessimistic.

(the actual procedure talks about the internal, global, stable characteristics characteristics of the explanations that individuals make for events, so internal meaning "it's my fault", global meaning "it's going to affect everything I do", and stable meaning, "it's going to last forever")

So you can do the rough (the social psychologist-style) count of how pessimistic this thread is, at least in your opinion, in the shadow of the Seligman theory of attribution (normal procedure calls for neutral raters, but oh well), about the issue of obesity.

I hope this is also a helpful tool for thinking.
posted by curuinor at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2014


Some buttons are getting pressed here, stuff I'm working on in my own (professional) work, so I'm trying out here a horrible analogy:

I have a lovely older friend who has cancer (multiple myelomas). Between aging, osteoporosis, and cancer, her back is getting very curved. Mostly, she is doing every damn thing she can to beat the cancer, but sometimes she might get tired and not do every single thing her regimen demands.

Nobody, so far as I know, thinks it would be a good idea to try to shame her into thinking about her appearance and how she needs to work harder at standing up straight, by fighting cancer harder or by doing core strengtheners. Humans are not perfect, and her friends love her so much, in whatever kind of body she occupies, we are grateful to have her present.

If she wrote a fucking awesome poem about how she loves her body because it's the body she has and gives her life and allows her to experience connection to the world and to other people, I reckon it would be bad taste in the extreme to point out the various ways she could act that might make her stand up straighter.

So: this is a fucking awesome poem. The more we love, respect, accept other people, the better chance of them feeling all of those things, the less chance that they (or I) will develop or continue disordered eating that causes over- or under-weight. [As many have pointed out, shaming someone does not tend to induce healthy behavior; showing concern doesn't either. Disordered eating, if indeed Samantha Peterson has an eating disorder, is not addressed by anyone's fucking concern or even well-meant advice. It doesn't work that way.]

People are bodies -- not our bodies. We love them, we love their bodies. If she has health problems and asks for my help or support, she gets that support. If she does not, then she should get from me whatever I owe to all other people.
posted by allthinky at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


What if I don't have health insurance, never go to a doctor or hospital and show up to work every single day without fail until I drop dead. Even if I have a stroke or a heart attack I promise not to see a doctor and I have a DNR in place at 30. Instead I will simply die at home, use my life insurance to pay for my funeral and be gone.

Now can I be fat? Now can I just live in my body instead of making my entire life an apology? I don't need you to cheer me on but could you just leave me alone? Could you just hate or resent me silently?

I really feel Samantha. I'm not sure why my body is so upsetting to you but it doesn't mean I owe you being upset about it too.
posted by Saminal at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2014 [30 favorites]


But then, thinking about it some more, that for some people, there's a lot of truth in that joke. While there are lots of reasons people are fat, for a lot of folks there's a very complicated relationship between food and shame and their weight, and when you make people feel that shame, you probably seriously are actually driving some of them to make eating choices they don't want.

I believe that was pretty much so, at least for me -- seriously, I grew up with a continuous background noise about weight and dieting, and about "being good" and "being bad" by which was not meant how many paper clips one had stolen from the office but rather what one was eating or was not eating or (most commonly) was eating while feeling guilty about it, and when I ended up weighing a figure which for me was solidly overweight I despaired because what I had learned was, essentially, you eat things and you feel guilty about it, and you still gain weight. And I did not want any of this.

Then I read an article in one of those low-level women's fitness mags about some diet that was easy! and fun! and you just ate 1000 calories a day of chicken breast and rice, and once a month you could have an Indulgent Treat of a quarter of a brownie (Reward Yourself!). Reading that, and the absolutely wretched level of impractical self-denial being billed as "easy and fun", I kind of snapped. I declared that the whole thing was bullshit, that the idea was clearly that you were set up to fail so that you would buy next month's magazine, and I was going to eat so many calories per day of WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANTED, definitely not inclusive of chicken breast and rice, and I was going to eat it or not eat it but I was not going to wank about it.

I then lost the weight in question eating McDonald's hamburgers, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, liver and onions, spaghetti with canned pasta sauce, and potato chips. Which caused me some odd social problems with my family because 1) I was visibly losing weight (cluck cluck, that isn't actually supposed to happen! revising your eating habits isn't actually supposed to produce results! unexplained weight loss is very serious! you could be sick!) 2) I was not to be found in front of the cookie tray angsting over the cookies and then eating them, which threw a wrench in the interaction pattern 3) I was not to be heard reciting a litany of woe regarding all the things that I wanted to eat, because I was instead eating them.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying the hell out of my food, because I was 100% justified and right in eating it, while also deflating consistently week over week because I was eating in a way that, combined with my metabolism, supported that result.

Having had that experience, it now seems to me like a fair chunk of the current dialogue over weight is pretty much along the same lines -- the point is feeding the negative emotional spiral which probably feeds the face but in any case can't be too healthy either. However, we don't exactly go through the supermarket being all judgey about whether other people look like they love and respect themselves enough and have a sufficiently emotionally uncomplicated connection between intent and action, do we?
posted by sparktinker at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


The thing I found particularly interesting in what Ms. Peterson was talking about was the awkward and uncertain region in celebrating a body as a body vs. celebrating it in sort of vaunted, poetic, metaphorical terms. The former is hard for us because we've really only allowed ourselves celebration of an extension of the old statuesque Greek ideal, at least in this phase of our culture, whereas the latter can sometimes veer into the realm of dodging the plain physicality of the body by rendering it into units of symbolic meaning.
posted by sonascope at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


This was great and I think she's great.
posted by gaspode at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


But...it's ok to be sick? Or at least it should be ok, it should be acceptable to walk around in the world as a person who is sick. Someone with a condition that makes them too fat, too thin, makes them lose their hair or develop an unsightly rash or lose the ability to walk...is still a person who should get as much respect as any other person.

Exactly. Life is tough for everyone, and being fat is physically uncomfortable for a lot of people a lot of the time -- why would I knowingly make things more difficult or painful for anyone? There's no good reason to.

And *everybody's body* is imperfect and mortal and fragile and that's OK. Whatever is going on with anybody's body is just fine, albeit the less pain the better. Human worth isn't determined by what a body looks like or even what it can do, there's inherent dignity just in life and in humanity, just in being a person.

This poem reminded me of the Elie Wiesel quote:

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”
posted by rue72 at 10:40 AM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


i had this big thing wrote up about how fatness, like gayness and transness and tons of other -nesses tends to hold a mirror up to the viewer. a lot of blah blah blah. we can only see ourselves in others.

after i lost a lot of weight i got into cyclocross racing. i was and am super-bad at it, literally one of the worst in the entire country, but i sort of hand-waved that away that because they're all so small and i'm not, not even now. i have all these reasons, lined up like drinks on a bar. they're small. their bikes are better. they learned mountain biking at a young age. they train more effectively. all true.

her mirror, it shows me that i'm losing the race that only has me in it. the fatness, her frustration in others unable to confront her body, it calls out to the same feeling in the man who can't face that even now. who comes in last even racing himself.

i'm right here, too. sister, i hear you.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


What's really ground my gears down to the nubbins is this ubiquitous tendency to measure how happy someone ought to be in terms of their 'likely' life longevity at any given time. I'm not sayin' people shouldn't try to have long lives but like...we are constantly basing our current, right now happiness on shifting projections of what may or may not make our lives longer. I'm fat, I smoke, I've got the BRCA1 gene, my dad died of a heart attack, I drive a car, I don't consume enough antioxidants, I live here or there, or whatever whatever and therefore I better feel really miserable in this moment because I'm taking up the present calculating what hypothetical years I may be taking off my life, as if such a calculation even makes any sense at all, like we all start with some guaranteed n number of years and every action contributes to some tally adding or subtracting from that number.

I think with body image, we are always looking at the future, at the past, but we need to be talking/thinking about right now.


Seriously folks, it sounds all like hippy dippy, but being here now is a really cool thing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:23 AM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Seriously folks, it sounds all like hippy dippy, but being here now is a really cool thing.

David Cain, again, What inner peace actually is
posted by mikelieman at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. contribute significantly to the cost of healthcare in this country, then yes, on a broader level it is a collective concern.

As has been noted above, losing weight, enough to go from "morbidly obese" back down to "obese", nevermind "overweight" is incredibly fucking hard.

After daily bike commuting with extra bicycling on the weekends and low-carb diets and fasting diets and "geek diet" calorie-counting nonsense, I had gastric bypass surgery. It's one of the few weight-loss methods proven to limit weight regain long-term to under 25% of lost weight regained.

So, from my experience, these lines of reasoning are in essence saying -

"I want you to have thousands of dollars worth of life-threatening surgery, then vomit blood for a week, and experience uncontrollable nausea and/or diarrhea at unpredictable moments for the rest of your life. It's only fair, to knock a couple bucks off my monthly health plan premiums."

You can only guess how this perspective makes me view those putting forward the notion we should be obsessed with other folks' fatness to control costs. Your insurance bill wasn't even in the same zip-code conglomeration of all possible and impossible universes with me when I made the decision to go under the knife.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:47 AM on June 4, 2014 [16 favorites]


you may actually be more costly to the taxpayer than I am. So please shut up with this nonsense.

That's great for you as a single data point, but as a whole, per capita medical spending was $2,741 higher for obese individuals than for individuals who were not obese—a 150 percent increase
posted by the jam at 11:48 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


As has been noted above, losing weight, enough to go from "morbidly obese" back down to "obese", nevermind "overweight" is incredibly fucking hard.

Yes. I don't dispute this at all. It's much easier to educate children so that they never gain the weight in the first place. That's how we should address the "collective concern."
posted by desjardins at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2014


That's great for you as a single data point, but as a whole, per capita medical spending was $2,741 higher for obese individuals than for individuals who were not obese—a 150 percent increase

Would you like to provide statistics for the growing elderly population as well? Or any other segment of the population? Or is it just fat people that we blame any rising costs on?
posted by palomar at 11:51 AM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


Not much we can do about people getting old, though.
posted by desjardins at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2014


Not much we can do about people getting old, though.

The cigarette industry might like to have a word with you...

Here's something to consider. I read a lot of public health/food service literature. If you want a quick-and-dirty guideline. Take *any* merchandising and marketing material from a food-service company, and if you completely reverse it, you end up with public health guidelines.

e.g.: You put the ice-cream in opaque covered coolers, so people don't see it IF you want them to have an easier time making better dietary choices. If you want to move product, you make sure they can see into those coolers.
posted by mikelieman at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


After daily bike commuting with extra bicycling on the weekends and low-carb diets and fasting diets and "geek diet" calorie-counting nonsense, I had gastric bypass surgery. It's one of the few weight-loss methods proven to limit weight regain long-term to under 25% of lost weight regained.

On the contrary, a lot of people gain the weight back because they just end up grazing continually.

The only sure fire way to lose weight is to eat a well balanced diet of appropriate portions with regular exercise. Lots of leafy green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats. But the American psyche on portion control is so warped that most people don't realize that the single plate of food from a restaurant has over a thousand fucking calories on it.
posted by Talez at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


A great way to reduce medical spending is to just not spend money on medicine. I look forward to the 'Just Walk It Off, Champ' Act and the You Don't Need Glasses, Just Squint A Little Harder Initiative that seem to be a great way to trim the fat, as it were.
posted by mikurski at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's much easier to educate children so that they never gain the weight in the first place.

We can teach children about health and nutrition. We cannot prevent children from gaining weight. Children are not a homogeneous unit of sponges who take on weight at a uniform rate (because children freaking grow up and out or out and up at different rates no matter how you feed them!). A child in Southern California is not going to eat the same things as a child in southern Louisiana. A child in Calabasas (L.A.) is not going to eat the same food as a child in Sylmar (also L.A.). We can even teach children about health and nutrition with an eye toward discouraging body shaming so that children who are heavier aren't "bad" and children who are thin aren't "good" but we are not going to solve body-shaming by educating children about nutrition.

I knew more about how many calories in a chicken breast or a tablespoon of mayo than any kid in any of my classes and I carried my own pre-portioned Tupperware of salad dressing to middle school. Based on the environment in which I was raised, however, I started eating forbidden foods in secret, starving myself and bingeing when I couldn't take the hunger pangs any more in elementary school. Educating kids without taking into account the entirety of their food access, their parent's food access and behaviors is not the solution. It may be part of a solution, but it is not THE solution.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:27 PM on June 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


Uh, I never said it was the solution or that no child would be overweight if we could just educate them. But education absolutely has an effect on behavior - look at the decline in smoking rates amongst young people. Or the decline in drinking & driving.

Anyway, my point was that it's easier (overall) to prevent obesity in the first place. Ideally that would incorporate better access to healthy foods in the kids' environment and educational support for the parents. But we gotta start somewhere.
posted by desjardins at 12:36 PM on June 4, 2014


The only sure fire way to lose weight is to eat a well balanced diet of appropriate portions with regular exercise. Lots of leafy green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

HAHAHAHA you said "sure fire." Like that's a thing. Except lemme tell you, I ate that diet for most of my life and was in fact slightly overweight for most of my life. To the mystification of every single human I knew, because SURE FIRE, right?

Except it isn't. My body gets fat on broccoli and lean chicken and salmon, it just does. It turns out my body gets fat on literally anything I eat if I eat more than 1100 calories of it per day. Which for people out there counting? Isn't very much. It is far, far, far less than any doctor EVER recommended for me, especially considering that I work out daily.

My body is not a universal or a variable-free machine; no body is. Your sure fire diet will make some people lose weight; it will make others gain weight. It will make some people sick, and other people well. The idea that there is, anywhere, a single universal magic bullet that "anyone!" can just use, to be acceptable, is the most damaging idea, I think, in the whole horrific nightmare mess of the American food psyche.

It took me almost 20 years to figure out how my body worked, 20 years of self-loathing and constant frustration at this stubborn flesh that wouldn't respond to "sure fire" methods. How many people would have just given up? And who on earth could blame them?!
posted by like_a_friend at 1:00 PM on June 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


On the contrary, a lot of people gain the weight back because they just end up grazing continually.

You are aware that science is a thing that people have been using to understand this?

And as bad as that result is, it's still better than competing weight loss methods for the obese, including the "only eat leafy greens, exercise intensely and regularly and hope you'll stick to it somehow" super-well-thought-out plan.

But it's not a prescription you're offering. It's bragging about your willpower or whatever it is you're feeling superior about at the expense of fat people. Nice.

Ideally that would incorporate better access to healthy foods in the kids' environment and educational support for the parents. But we gotta start somewhere.

That somewhere isn't here. Blame-and-shame is a proven loser in this arena. Toxic and evil.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:05 PM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


What are you talking about? I explicitly acknowledged that.
posted by desjardins at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2014


Oops, sorry, that was a comment I intended to make and forgot to hit "post" on. I meant to say earlier that I absolutely believe everyone should be treated with respect and that education is a better answer than shaming people.
posted by desjardins at 1:08 PM on June 4, 2014


KokuRyu: The poet here is pretty young (younger than me!) and presumably has not encountered the problems associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, notably for women, low fertility caused by PCOS etc.

Who are you too presume anything about this woman?

Yeah, yeah, I get that. I took a couple of Women's Studies courses way back when.

You cannot be serious.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


Educating parents is a really important key people sometimes seem to skip over to focus on educating kids instead. Kids don't buy their own food and create their own diet, that is a responsibility of the parents and they often don't know how to do it. It is extremely difficult for yourself, much less for another human being. Kids absolutely need to be educated too, but if they are overweight it isn't their own fault.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


But it's not a prescription you're offering. It's bragging about your willpower or whatever it is you're feeling superior about at the expense of fat people. Nice.

I don't do that though. It's my dream lifestyle to be able to do that without wrenching at the taste and texture of lettuce. Weight is something that's always in flux. Short of the atypical that gain weight at over 1100 calories in there's nothing to prescribe. Lifestyle, weight loss, it's all a game of inches. It's a slow gradual process that takes years to accomplish. It will involve almost as much failure as success. And sometimes I fail. And all I can do now is either resign to my fate and my probable early death from colon cancer or I can get back up and scrounge any fucking way I can for personal improvement. Sometimes that's taking a can of Coke instead of a bottle. Sometimes it's eating chicken instead of beef. Either way unless I'm not going to move forward by standing still.
posted by Talez at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2014


Ok.

Every single time I've heard the metabolism excuse ("I only eat 1000 calories, workout and still gain weight"), the people making that excuse were lying to themselves about the calorie intake or the exercise -- usually both. Or, they had severe body image issues (e.g. lying to themselves about being "fat" in the first place). Which is to say that while it's totally conceivable that one may actually experience these things, it is far enough outside the norm to justify a lot of skepticism.

This, of course, goes for the reverse as well ("I hardly exercise, eat cheetos and pizza for dinner every night and never gain weight!"). They never itemize how many "cheetos" or mention their bike messenger day job or the 2 hrs of sleep they get every night working 3 shifts, etc.

While the calorie "bag" model for the human body is flawed in some specific ways related to nutrition -- in a macro sense, it applies because how can it not? If you are telling me that you gain fat from 1000 calories or loose it from 4000, I'm going to wonder where those calories are going.
posted by smidgen at 2:04 PM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


the people making that excuse were lying to themselves about the calorie intake or the exercise -- usually both.

Exponentially-Weighted-Moving-Average FTW! My tool of choice for actionable relevant feedback about my short-term dietary choices.

You can't rationalize what happens to a trend line. Well, you can, but then you're back to the whole, 'getting over your own issues' thing ... And until people get past that, everything else is orders of magnitude more complicated.
posted by mikelieman at 2:09 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't really know where we're going to go from here if the response to, "The idea that there is, anywhere, a single universal magic bullet that "anyone!" can just use . . . is the most damaging idea, I think" is someone telling you are obviously a lying or self-deluded fat person or a psychologically disordered person who is actually thin.

At least you gave me the Option C, mutant outlier to be subjected to a skeptical evaluation of my actual existence. Never got that one before.

The point wasn't "being fat isn't my fault! my metabolism made me do it!" The point was, it's ridiculous to assume that literally any weight loss method is "sure fire." Which term was actually used to refer to, by the way, an incredibly vague prescription that could very easily backfire even in the absence of my freakish imaginary mutant flesh:

well balanced diet of appropriate portions with regular exercise. Lots of leafy green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats

What are "appropriate portions"? What proportions of each of those completely-innocent-of-fatmaking-except-by-liars-like-me foods? And moreover, what are these things TODAY, because god knows that 3 weeks ago, they were all wrong. And in 3 weeks more, or whatever the media science cycle is, they WILL ALL BE WRONG AGAIN.

There's no one thing that will make every person thin forever. I understand the temptation to believe that there is. But this is a huge component of what makes it so easy to dismiss, ridicule, and otherwise mistreat overweight people. In the face of overwhelming evidence that the problem is multifaceted, complicated, and highly resistant to improvement, "lots of leafy green vegetables" sounds like nothing so much as a superstitious incantation.

But what do I know? I apparently don't even know what I look like, or what I eat.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:11 PM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Every single time I've heard the metabolism excuse ("I only eat 1000 calories, workout and still gain weight"), the people making that excuse were lying to themselves about the calorie intake or the exercise -- usually both.

Explain to me this, then: when I get pregnant, I lose weight EFFORTLESSLY. A pound a week, sitting on the couch, eating all the cheese I can stuff in my face. When I'm not pregnant, I have to eat less than 1600 calories a day (weighed and measured, not estimated) with no simple carbs AND work out for an hour or two a day in order to lose a half a pound a week.

Do I just stop lying to myself when I get pregnant? Do I magically have more willpower?
posted by KathrynT at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Explain to me this, then: when I get pregnant, I lose weight EFFORTLESSLY. A pound a week, sitting on the couch, eating all the cheese I can stuff in my face. When I'm not pregnant, I have to eat less than 1600 calories a day (weighed and measured, not estimated) with no simple carbs AND work out for an hour or two a day in order to lose a half a pound a week.

Do I just stop lying to myself when I get pregnant? Do I magically have more willpower?


Your BMR goes up when you're pregnant and the half pound a week loss is a weekly deficit of 1750 calories? Plus you may be overestimating just how much you actually ate while pregnant. Anecdotal self-reported evidence is shitty ways to prove or disprove a hypothesis? BMR declines as you get older so you need to lessen your caloric intake or increase caloric expenditure to maintain a similar weight? If you're consuming 1600, have a BMR of 1200 and doing 650 calories of exercise per day then there's your half a pound a week. It's hard to tell without knowing weights and ages.
posted by Talez at 3:38 PM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


And really, the killer thing is: fat has no moral value. Yeah, it can have medical value, or endurance value, or aesthetic value, but I am not a bad, shameful person because I'm fat. I'm just a person who's fat. Losing weight is hard and takes time, and sometimes I have the resources to make it happen and sometimes I don't, and if my priorities lie elsewhere this week, or this month, or this lifetime, that is not a personal affront to you.

For me, fat acceptance is just about accepting that I am fat, that this is the body that I inhabit right now. I can choose to live life in this body today, or I can choose to believe that I have to delay enjoying my life until I hit some magical set of numbers, but neither choice is going to alter what my body is like today. If I want to join a couch to 5K group today, or buy a dress to wear to a wedding today, or have a dance party with my kids today, or go on a sexy date with my husband today, I have to do it in the body I have today.
posted by KathrynT at 3:42 PM on June 4, 2014 [32 favorites]


Explain to me this, then: when I get pregnant, I lose weight EFFORTLESSLY.

Sigh... Somehow, I figured people would get that I was talking about how the calorie bag model fits folks who don't have identifiable extenuating circumstances beyond "I must have a fast metabolism".

I think the various body changes revolving around "pregnancy" would qualify as perhaps some place the calories might go. This so obvious that I really have trouble understanding why you even mentioned it. Perhaps as an example of a higher basal metabolic rate in the same individual? But the calories are going somewhere and we know where they are going... so it's a horrible example.

And even with that, "eating all the cheese I can stuff into my face" and "sitting on the couch" aren't quantifiable -- and I suspect you might be surprised if you tried to quantify the calories and exercise you got while pregnant vs body weight, etc.

At least you gave me the Option C, mutant outlier to be subjected to a skeptical evaluation of my actual existence

Yep. You are an outlier. If all you say is true, and you're gaining weight on 1100 calories a day plus exercise., how hard is it to accept that someone is going to be skeptical?

I apparently don't even know what I look like, or what I eat.

You would be in good company, most people have a skewed idea of both because it's hard to measure either subjectively without really paying a lot of attention. I would venture to say all, but then you know universals: some nitpicker will reply with their fractional calorie counting and body measurement regimen. :-)

Getting back to the topic at hand: I have a very ambiguous relationship with "fat acceptance". In my own personal experience, I only got more healthy (or more *anything*) because I didn't "accept" the way I was. And I don't think being fat really is value-free.
posted by smidgen at 4:05 PM on June 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


In my own personal experience, I only got more healthy (or more *anything*) because I didn't "accept" the way I was.

See, for me, I couldn't make any changes in my life, my eating or my activity or anything, until I accepted reality. It doesn't mean I like it or am comfortable with it, just that I acknowledge that it's true.
posted by KathrynT at 4:08 PM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Most people find joy or satisfaction at bettering themselves. But who are you/we to tell a fat person that the thing they *must* work on is bettering themselves physically? What if they prefer putting effort into to being better at their career, or making a difference in their community, or being a better friend/wife/mother/father/son, or creating art or music in their spare time? One thing that is finite for everyone is time and energy. Just because seeing fat people offends you doesn't mean that you get to dictate how they spend that time and energy.

Because even if you deny that there are metabolic differences in how bodies process food (which, okay, but the difference between me counting every calorie and eating whatever the fuck I want and not exercising at all this winter is 10-15 lbs, but because on the high end that still doesn't make me fat I'm guess I'm a more moral person than someone whose set point is 50 or 100 lbs more? I have to disagree)... Anyway, even if we are all calories in, calories out robots, how dare you decide that a person should spend that much of their precious time and mental and physical energy on what you think is most important? I'm lucky to have the leisure time to home cook most meals, the finances to afford lean meats and lots of green veggies and fancy quinoa, and live in a setting where I am able to ride my bike to work most days so I don't even have to find time to work out. Not everyone is so lucky, and not everyone can or even should want to put in the extra effort it would take to lose weight just to make you happy. It doesn't make them immoral, it just means their priorities are elsewhere.

Frankly, I find the idea of a bunch of fat but happy people contributing to the world in a way that brings them and others joy or satisfaction to be a way better world than one where everyone is skinny but some people have to give up what brings them joy to get there.
posted by misskaz at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


this is my fat body that I've lived in for the past 31 years and I know everything about it. I know my stomach gets all bloaty when I eat too many carbs so i try to limit that. I know that drinking milk does bad things. I know that too much salt in the summer makes my feet puffy. cold rainy mornings make my big toe ache and my left shoulder has constant muscle knots in it from stress.

this is my body. these are my choices. your fake concern about my health won't change my mind on the choices I make daily. I know that you, as a stranger on the internet, do not actually care if I drop dead of a butter-induced heart attack tomorrow morning. you will never give me a second thought. no, you care about the fact that you have to look at bodies like mine and you're disgusted because they're unattractive to you. and that's fine - you're probably not my cup of tea either. but to pretend like you care about every fat person's health and that's why you say shitty things about body image acceptance? give me a break.
posted by kerning at 4:19 PM on June 4, 2014 [25 favorites]


From here, it looks as if some folks insist that fat is bad, and obesity is a public health crisis to which they have a solution, and that those who fail to be not-fat are somehow failing to accept an obvious solution which they btw have a duty to accept because zomg they are costing so much money and really, honey, we're just concerned about your happiness.

But (and Peterson's poem wasn't even directly about this) what this sounds like to me, and to many fat people, is "you do not have the right to be fat", which is, in essence, saying "you don't have the right to exist".

Everyone, please be clear, has the right to exist (arguments about capital punishment aside).

No one can know how easy or difficult weight-loss (or gain) might be for another, because in addition to chemical and physiological variations, there's an issue about motivation. All of us, all the time, are opaque to each other and even to ourselves... don't tell me I can change my diet easily -- you have no idea why I crave what I crave or why sometimes I can resist while other times I cannot.

Yay if you have a personal story about finally getting together the gumption to eat right and exercise daily ... that's awesome. But humans are influenced by countless forces, and the pieces that fell into place to make your personal triumph possible won't fall into place for everyone, and won't be the right pieces for everyone.

So, really, you don't know what you are talking about. You, me, most of us see a fat person with a grocery cart full of frozen egg rolls and french fries and despairs, or we think "what a loser". But what we don't know about their situation is pretty much all of it. And the more you look at them like "what the hell are you doing?", and insist that everyone could lose weight if they just really tried, the more damage you are doing.

You want to tell fat people that their lack of control makes their life less valuable than yours? Go ahead.

It's not an attractive quality you've got there, but hey, I don't know why it is you can't stop judging other people's physiology, so do what you need to do, I guess.
posted by allthinky at 4:22 PM on June 4, 2014 [21 favorites]


"It's not an attractive quality you've got there, but hey, I don't know why it is you can't stop judging other people's physiology, so do what you need to do, I guess."

THANK YOU for this. For the entire post, to be more exact. I was going to send this by private messaging, but why not post it here?

Sometimes I'm so far beyond words (other than "WTF") that I can't take the time to compose a nice, thoughtful response, which is my problem with this thread and its concern-trolling. I'm in my 20s and I have a chronic pain condition.* I was skinny as a rail for the first 25 years of my life even with minimal effort on my part. Then the pain migrated to my hips and legs.

For the first time in my life, I'm overweight. I can't run it off anymore because my knees and hips are bad. I almost collapsed yesterday after putting weight on my left hip in my attempt to stand up. I might need a cane soon, or a wheelchair, at my age. Oh, right, I'm also 30 pounds overweight because my exercise regime has changed drastically.

If anyone tries to concern-troll me or fat-shame me IRL the way I'm seeing it on METAFILTER of all places, they're in for an interesting lecture. And maybe a thwap with my cane.

*Try not to get fibromyalgia or arthritis at a young age. If you do, try taking better care of yourself. We're all very concerned about you(/r physique).
posted by quiet earth at 4:45 PM on June 4, 2014 [17 favorites]


First off,  fuck your fat shaming, taunts, and insults; my sum worth is not my appearance.

And secondly, fuck you, what I eat and how obese I am is none of your business.

I have given up beer, pizza, cake, chips (UK and US), soda pop, ice cream, waffles, pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza, and pizza, and I'm still fat, so if you think I'm fat because I have less dietary control than you do, you can jump right up your own ass.

I am 5-foot-not-quite-8-inches and 200 pounds of lean muscle, fat fat, and... bones that are probably average bone density.

I've been going to the gym an average of 4 times a week for over an hour for 5 years now and ride my bike wherever possible. You know what that looks like? Killer calves, a strong jawline, a big ole belly, a fupa, love handles, and tits that jiggle when I run on the treadmill that I read metafilter on (it took me an extra hour to post this because I was running to fast to type).

If I stop exercising and get a little less vigilant with my diet, I will average about 220 pounds and lose the sexy jawline.

If I can maintain my diet and increase the intensity of my workouts, I might trim down to 180 pounds. This happened a couple times (a) in my twenties, and (b) with the assistance of a relationship dying, an illness that had me bedridden for a month, and quasi-legal stimulant/appetite suppressants that almost certainly increase my risk of heart attack.

At 180 pounds, the best I've ever looked in my life, I was still fat.

ONE OF MY POINTS: human bodies are similar, they are not the same.

When I lose weight, whether it's from 220 to 190, or 210 to 205, I get treated differently, in both professional and personal relationships, by people who've known me forever and strangers on the street. I live in a fat city, and I'm rarely the fattest person in the room. Nobody is saying, "Hey, let's smile a little bit more at 200 pound ELR than we did at 210 pound ELR."

Their rejection of fatter me or acceptance of skinnier me is subconscious, as ingrained as my dislike for my own body, fed by images of desirable/responsible men in media, fed by ruthless childhood bullies, and fed by my mother who's been dieting and exercising for 30+ years and never the size she wants and never happy about it.

MY OTHER POINT: I'll lap up your positive reinforcement, but your negative reinforcement and concerns about health just make me hate the body I'm more or less stuck with.

You wanna help, encourage the construction of running, hiking and biking trails in your city. Teach a free "cooking well on a budget" course at your park district or church or community center. Your words of concern aren't helping anyone but your actions or your money can.

And if you're a big - time Hollywood producer, do what you can to make Melissa McCarthy and Lena Dunham as famous as Danny Devito and John Goodman, because fat people are out there watching movies, and maybe we're hitting up the concession stands too because we JUST CAN'T HELP OURSELVES.
posted by elr at 5:02 PM on June 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


Every single time I've heard the metabolism excuse ("I only eat 1000 calories, workout and still gain weight"), the people making that excuse were lying to themselves about the calorie intake or the exercise -- usually both.

Eh this line of reasoning is potentially a derail but I want to leave this insightful quote here (from an article that's been posted before to the blue, but bears repeating)

"Consider fever as another analogy. A cold bath will lower body temperature temporarily, but also set off biological responses — like shivering and constriction of blood vessels — that work to heat the body up again. In a sense, the conventional view of obesity as a problem of calorie balance is like conceptualizing fever as a problem of heat balance; technically not wrong, but not very helpful, because it ignores the apparent underlying biological driver of weight gain."

---

I have a very strong feeling our understanding of calories versus weight gain will be thought remarkably stupid in about 50 or 100 years when scientists understand more about it.
posted by xdvesper at 5:19 PM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Yep. You are an outlier. If all you say is true, and you're gaining weight on 1100 calories a day plus exercise., how hard is it to accept that someone is going to be skeptical?

You would be in good company, most people have a skewed idea of both because it's hard to measure either subjectively without really paying a lot of attention. I would venture to say all, but then you know universals: some nitpicker will reply with their fractional calorie counting and body measurement regimen. :-)


You know, it's really interesting because this is a thing that forever happens in threads about weight or diet. If you mention your own, personal, experience with weight or diet, nothing else you say about the grander topic will ever be heard. Only the things that are wrong or somehow judge-able about your personal weight or diet.

The point I made in my first post was simply that universals in the field of weight and diet are bogus at best, harmful at worst. Nobody has actually really argued with this statement in any substantial way. Instead it's been insisted not that my argument is wrong, but that I personally am somehow "wrong," for existing in a way (or saying that I do) which does not suit the very universal I've just said is an unhelpful framing.

I don't know what the appeal is of insisting upon an absolute universal in the face of data to the contrary; I don't know whom it helps or how. But I am a little fascinated by the need to do it, even when to do it means telling an actual human being: I am skeptical that you exist.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:19 PM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


(from an article that's been posted before to the blue, but bears repeating)

But such theories have been generally ignored, perhaps because they challenge entrenched cultural attitudes. The popular emphasis on calorie balance reinforces the belief that we have conscious control over our weight

Oh jeez. Well I guess I'm just lucky that my body randomly decided to start losing weight at the same time I started eating at a calorie deficit, at exactly the rate predicted, even when eating lots of carbs.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on June 4, 2014


Oh jeez. Well I guess I'm just lucky that my body randomly decided to start losing weight at the same time I started eating at a calorie deficit, at exactly the rate predicted, even when eating lots of carbs.

My sarcasm meter is broken, apparently.
posted by quiet earth at 5:57 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think "fat shaming" is clearly wrong. No one should ever be made to feel like a bad person because they are fat. However, I think that there's a distinction between taking pride in yourself and taking pride in an obese body (or, for that matter, in a skinny body that is out of shape and doesn't get the right exercise and nutrition). We should each feel a responsibility to take the best care of our bodies that we can. Obviously, what that looks like is different for everyone, and none of us can judge each other for the results. But I think we all should try for health.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:42 PM on June 4, 2014


We should each feel a responsibility to take the best care of our bodies that we can.

Why?
posted by rue72 at 6:44 PM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Because, even if we don't fear death ourselves, the people who love us will be saddened and hurt if we die early of preventable causes.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2014


But we don't shame people for doing risky things that might kill them, like driving, or biking and not stopping at stop signs, or [fill in the blank]. And food is something that no one can completely refrain from, unlike cigarettes or alcohol. But we spend endless threads on this subject doing various choruses of "They should just..." even if it's framed as "Well, I just...."
posted by rtha at 7:03 PM on June 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


I shame people for risky driving behavior and feel deep shame at my own when I was younger, but I try to avoid shaming people for being fat because I understand intimately that it doesn't help like it can in other situations. As I always try to say in these conversations though, it's a easy line to accidentally cross when you are talking about the health concerns.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:13 PM on June 4, 2014


Simply driving is the risky behavior, no additional shenanigans required. When your person or your roommate or parent or friend gets in their car to go to work in the morning, do you tell them about how great it feels to not have to drive to work? Do you regale them with statistics about how risky driving is, and how they might die or be injured in a crash before they get to the office? No, because that's A) dumb and B) pointless and C) since we don't recognize driving as "risky" in the way we recognize being fat as "risky", well, nothing to shame here, move along.
posted by rtha at 7:38 PM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have a chronic pain condition.* [...] Oh, right, I'm also 30 pounds overweight because my exercise regime has changed drastically.

Yeah, you don't hear people say "Oh, look, that person looks like they might have a health issue that thwarts their best attempts at maintaining their weight" or "Fuck, it must be hard for that person who probably has to choose between the medication that improves their quality of life and dealing with the side effects that packed on 20 pounds almost overnight".

No one should ever be made to feel like a bad person because they are fat. I think that there's a distinction between taking pride in yourself and taking pride in an obese body (or, for that matter, in a skinny body that is out of shape and doesn't get the right exercise and nutrition)

Which is it? Because otherwise you are saying to someone, "You shouldn't take pride in your obese body, but don't feel bad about it."
posted by Room 641-A at 8:00 PM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Simply driving is the risky behavior, no additional shenanigans required. When your person or your roommate or parent or friend gets in their car to go to work in the morning, do you tell them about how great it feels to not have to drive to work?

No, because they need work to live. I do recognize it as risky, but for the most part it's a necessary risk to be able to get around in much of the US.

Generally I think shame should be deployed in cases where people should be ashamed of what they are doing to others, not just themselves. Drunk driving deserves to be shamed, harassment or violence, racism or homophobia or misogyny...things along those lines. Not the cases where it's personal business alone.

Sometimes for personal vices like smoking if one of the problems is that advertising has glorified the habit. Making it a shameful habit instead probably helped reduce the number of smokers. I don't think we are in any danger of glorifying being fat though.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:09 PM on June 4, 2014


[Please, please don't make this into another thread about how all fat people need to just burn more calories]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:39 PM on June 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


A fat body is not a problem to be solved. Disgust and revulsion at fat bodies - that is the problem to be solved. And no amount of dressing it up as talk about health solves or completely hides the underlying attitude that your fat body disgusts me, scares me.

That, I think, is what she means when she says I'm right here....that you can avoid talking to me by talking about me, but you're still avoiding the person right in front of you.

Fat shamming is simply an umbrella catch-all for the thousand ways people communicate their visceral reactions to fat bodies - making it about diet, heathcare costs, educating the younguns - whatever - is just one of them.
posted by space_cookie at 8:52 PM on June 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I guess we could get all nitpicky about needing to drive in order to live, but it's still really not in the same room or house or building as needing to eat in order to live. Hundreds of millions of people are able to survive without driving to a job, but the same cannot be said about food. And every time we talk about this subject - obesity - we basically end up talking about how some people do food wrong. Our own personal anecdata of how we lost weight always ends up as "see, I did it, and here's how I did it, how come other people can't do it?" but anecdata from people who have tried this and that and all to lose weight and it hasn't worked - well, we want to see their whole medical record before we will believe that they really did try, and are not lying or deluding themselves about calorie intake or amount of exercise. It's gross and tiresome and I should really just never come into these threads because they bum me out a lot.
posted by rtha at 9:11 PM on June 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


It's none of your business.
It's none of your business what I eat.
It's none of your business what my BMI is.
It's none of your business what my cholesterol is.
It's none of your business how often or if I exercise.
It's none of your business what I wear.
It's none of your business whom I fuck.
It's none of your business what my health conditions, if any, are.
It's none of your business how many calories I eat.
It's none of your business if my caloric intake exceeds my caloric expenditure, or vice versa.
It's none of your business if I am on meds that make me fat.
It's none of your business if I'm suffering a debilitating disease or injury that has disrupted my life.
It's none of your business if I have a metabolic disorder.
My life, my well-being, all of who and what I am: none of your business. My health is my own. My body is my own. It is my business. Not yours.

Really. It's as simple as that.

It's none of your business.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:15 PM on June 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


I guess we could get all nitpicky about needing to drive in order to live, but it's still really not in the same room or house or building as needing to eat in order to live. Hundreds of millions of people are able to survive without driving to a job, but the same cannot be said about food.

Kind of feel like we are talking past each other here.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:20 PM on June 4, 2014


It's crazy, because we just had this thread where a woman talks about all the care and control that goes into her thin frame, and people just nitpicked it apart and said she was a narcissistic shamer of naturally skinny women who criticized men for their aesthetic preferences for naturally thin women.

Also we had paleo threads, full of ridicule. And gluten free threads, full of ridicule. What the hell are people supposed to do? What's the "perfect" thing?
posted by sweetkid at 9:22 PM on June 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


What's the "perfect" thing?

That's the 'crazy' part. Apparently, all sorts of things CAN work. I guess the real take-away is "Your Mileage May Vary"

I might suggest that a first step is to determine if your diet is making you nuts, or if it's the other way around. The latter makes things orders of magnitude more challenging.
posted by mikelieman at 12:34 AM on June 5, 2014


I'm sad this poetry thread went this way. If I was more vindictive, I'd save up a bunch of verse for the next (inevitable) fat-shaming thread and bust up your (well-trod, kinda tedious) arguments with it.

Here's what I would have liked to talk about instead: This poet was awesome. I wish slam poetry had been more of a thing in the Midwesty town I grew up in. I, like someone upthread, did not know snapping was a real thing. I also wish the mic didn't pick up quite so much audience noise, but I loved the little "ooooohs" that accompanied some of the poet's most poetic turns of phrase. Poetry is the shit, there should be more of it in everyday life.
posted by donnagirl at 4:11 AM on June 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Hi. I'm a thirty-eight year old woman, who walks to work, runs miles every day, eats well, has low blood pressure. low blood sugar and low cholesterol and is, depending on your preferred medical/aesthetic standards 50-60 pounds overweight. I have been fat since I was seven, according to my mother, father, grandmother et al and have been shamed/bribed/forced onto diets since I was in the second grade. I have been fat through childhood and fat through adolescence. I was fat through tennis camp and sailing camp and lifeguard training. I was fat at the psychiatrist my parents sent me to because I once ate five doughnuts while watching MTV on afternoon at age thirteen. I was fat through boarding school and required athletics and camping trips and two seasons of field hockey. I was fat through seven years of vegetarianism and countless subcultural affiliations. I was fat through half a theatre major, a literature major, three colleges, four cities, four bouts of depression, many, many unrequited love affairs with boys who respected me but "didn't really see me as a woman" or "couldn't really get past the fat" or slept with me and made me "swear you won't tell anyone this happened." I have been fat through Weight Watchers, through low-fat, through low-carb, through South Beach, through Atkins, through veganism, through being totally broke, through having a fair amount of money, through several forced consultations with medical professionals, including one bariatric surgeon who finally told my aggrieved, ashamed mother, when I was nineteen, that my sixty pounds overweight was not enough overweight enough for surgery.

My mother has yo-yo dieted her whole life and my sister and grandmother have basically starved themselves to stay thin, but they are all beautiful and we come from people who are supposed to be thin and beautiful, despite the fact that two of my great-grandmothers* were six feet tall, weighed over 200 pounds and I'm sitting here looking at a picture of my great-great grandmother laced into a preposterous corset on her wedding day in 1880 and she was, as my mother would euphemistically put it, "not a small girl, you know, honey, about exactly your size." From the time I was eight years old, my grandmother would pull me aside and say things like, "If you could just lose forty pounds, I would take you to New York and buy you anything you want. A whole new wardrobe. Anything." And my mother would say, "If you would just lose fifty pounds, you would fall in love, you would be successful, you would be loved, you would be confident, you would be happy. The only thing wrong with you is that you are fat." And my father would say, "It's disappointing to me that you don't seem to care at all about your health," after I lapped him for the third or fourth time and we hydrated together after a four mile run. And my sister? Well, my sister is beautiful. My sister is the ideal. My sister "looks a lot like you if you would just take care of yourself," says my mother.

And the thing is: I wanted to lose weight. I want to lose weight. I dream of being the sort of girl who men look at when she walks into a room with any expression other than horror, contempt or disinterest. I'm not the kind of girl that gets hit on. I'm the kind of girl who enjoys the backhanded compliment of walking unharrassed to work, of being big enough (at my height and weight) to force my way through crowds and rock shows and have men ask me to open jars for them, to make my presence felt, even if the people surrounding me are implicitly discounting me because I do not look like women are supposed to look. On a good day, I feel like Brienne of Tarth in a party dress. On a bad day, well, on a bad day I wish I were just a brain in a jar, with no body at all, because I am never more to you than this body, and it doesn't matter what my soul looks like because I'll never look like Heidi Klum in skinny jeans.

And yeah, I do care about my health. And the best way for me to care about my health is to get up from this computer and hit the trails for about six miles before I tuck into breakfast (granola, non-fat yogurt, fyi) and try not to give a shit that my jiggly, round, flabby, cellulitey, horrid, miserable body grosses you the fuck out.

I hate poetry slams. But, this poem made me cry.

*Anecdotal, I know, but all of those women survived well into their 80s. One lived to be 96.
posted by thivaia at 5:20 AM on June 5, 2014 [37 favorites]


I might suggest that a first step is to determine if your diet is making you nuts, or if it's the other way around. The latter makes things orders of magnitude more challenging.

Circular in my case. General love of food leads to self medicating anxiety/depression/other issues with food which leads to more anxiety/depression/other issues. Breaking out of that cycle was extremely difficult, more so I feel than the day to day of trying to lose weight. Once I did though, wow were the psychological benefits great even before any progress was made on weight. Having the thinking part of my brain control what I ate in an organized way rather than eating what I craved for the first time in my life had an instant impact on my anxiety around food. Helped me to feel better about myself in the moment because I didn't feel so insecure about the future. Kind of like the serenity I felt a few months after I quit smoking, a very loud and demanding voice in my head became much quieter and it made it much easier to enjoy my life. Many people out there have psychological issues a lot more difficult and/or complex to deal with than mine though, framing it as "What is making you nuts?" is a bit on the simplistic side.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:08 AM on June 5, 2014


framing it as "What is making you nuts?" is a bit on the simplistic side.

Well, I've spent a lot of time working with people in this area, and I've found me it's a fair guideline to differentiate between individual requirements. If stress and anxiety are the major issues, they need to be addressed before or concurrently with the weight thing or as I said, orders of magnitude more challenging.
posted by mikelieman at 7:44 AM on June 5, 2014


What's the "perfect" thing?

That's the 'crazy' part. Apparently, all sorts of things CAN work. I guess the real take-away is "Your Mileage May Vary"

I might suggest that a first step is to determine if your diet is making you nuts, or if it's the other way around.


Just to clarify, I was not asking for diet advice.
posted by sweetkid at 7:49 AM on June 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also no, that's not the 'crazy' part, that "all sorts of things CAN work."

The crazy part is that the people who are overweight are getting criticized if they are not carefully controlling their intake, and are getting criticized for doing it wrong if they are not carefully controlling their intake, and yet thin women who are controlling their intake (thereby doing everything right apparently!) don't get sympathy in a thread where they talk about how hard it is, because they must have an eating disorder and a sad life because they are controlling their intake.

!!!
posted by sweetkid at 8:43 AM on June 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


space_cookie wrote:

"A fat body is not a problem to be solved. Disgust and revulsion at fat bodies - that is the problem to be solved."

QFT.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:50 AM on June 5, 2014 [3 favorites]



The crazy part is that the people who are overweight are getting criticized if they are not carefully controlling their intake, and are getting criticized for doing it wrong if they are not carefully controlling their intake


Sorry, missed edit window: I meant he people who are overweight are getting criticized if they are not carefully controlling their intake, and are getting criticized for doing it wrong if they are carefully controlling their intake...
posted by sweetkid at 8:54 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think "fat shaming" is clearly wrong. No one should ever be made to feel like a bad person because they are fat.

That's great! Getting away from linking a moral judgement of a person's character to their pants size is a wonderful thing.

However, I think that there's a distinction between taking pride in yourself and taking pride in an obese body (or, for that matter, in a skinny body that is out of shape and doesn't get the right exercise and nutrition).

It's unclear to me what you're trying to say here. Are you saying that you believe it's okay for an obese person to take pride in aspects of themselves outside of the physical, but it's not okay for them to take pride in their physical body? Or are you saying that it's okay for everyone to take a little pride in themselves, but the people with ideal bodies (not too fat, not too thin, "in shape" in some sort of unclear arbitrary measure, and able to meet the standards for the "right" type of exercise and food) are really the only ones who can and should feel pride in their body?

We should each feel a responsibility to take the best care of our bodies that we can. Obviously, what that looks like is different for everyone, and none of us can judge each other for the results. But I think we all should try for health.

Oh, absolutely. Now, do you mean actual health, as in a holistic plan to care for the body and the mind? Or are you talking about health in relation to looks? Because I'll be completely blunt with you, I've been fat since puberty, and yet I'm in perfect health according to every test my doctor can run on me. Always have been. The only health problems I have, aside from seasonal allergies? My BMI is higher than a chart says it should be, and I have depression and anxiety issues that stem from being raised in a household where the size of my body was the only thing that mattered about me, and are exacerbated by living in a society where I'm told that it's okay for me to like certain things about myself, but I can't like my body because some people think it's icky to look at, and they pretend that they don't like it because they're worried about my health, but when they find out that I eat a better diet than they do and I get more exercise than they do but I'm still fatter than they think I should be, they pick apart everything I say so that they can find some error to point at and declare, "AHA!! This is why you're fat! See, I knew you were doing something wrong. You're welcome," as if they know a damn thing beyond the end of their own limited experience.

And yet, when you look at me, all you see is my fat body. So. How do you judge my health? Do you take my word for it, since you don't know me and you're not my doctor? Or, like so many others in this thread, do you demand specifics, then pick me apart and tell me all the ways you think I'm Doing It Wrong?
posted by palomar at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm 47 and obese and have been since my first pregnancy 28 years ago. My body has never been less than 200 pounds since and has gone up to as high as 260, but pretty much stays between 240-245. I have ZERO medical issues (aside from anxiety) and I see my dr every 6 months for medication refills and have labs annually. My cholesterol levels are normal, my glucose levels are normal, I didn't have PCOS, asthma, high blood pressure or any other markers of poor health. So, health wise, I'm pretty much the same as I was at 27.

As far as my self confidence and esteem? Any issues I may have stem from anxiety about not feeling as smart as other people or as accomplished professionally as other women my age, since I've been a SAHM for 12 years. When I look in the mirror, I LIKE what I see, with and without clothes on. It's not Maxim centerfold material, but I truly and genuinely feel pretty and sometimes actually beautiful. So, if someone else wants to cut their eyes at me and think about worrying about my health, that's on them. I'm healthy and happy and not worrying about them.
posted by hollygoheavy at 9:39 AM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Being overweight or obese increases the risk factor for many conditions. It can be unhealthy even if you aren't currently sick, much like smoking doesn't immediately give you lung cancer either. I'm not on board with using shame to fix that, but I'm not on board with acting like it's not true either.

I also don't like acting like nobody communicates health concern in regards to obesity outside of concern trolling/hidden shaming. Do we really think Michelle Obama is fighting childhood obesity because she's disgusted by fat kids? Maybe you do, but I think she cares about kids and wants them to live long, healthy lives.

I have lived through genuine concern feeling like shame anyway because it validated messages of shame from other sources, so I do urge people to mind their own business and I don't get upset when my own words are not welcomed, but I feel like the idea that nobody genuinely cares is just not true.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:47 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I also don't like acting like nobody communicates health concern in regards to obesity outside of concern trolling/hidden shaming. Do we really think Michelle Obama is fighting childhood obesity because she's disgusted by fat kids? Maybe you do, but I think she cares about kids and wants them to live long, healthy lives.

I feel like there's a HUGE difference between Michelle Obama's childhood obesity focused health initiatives and the bullshit diet/exercise "are you sure that you're actually eating what you say you're eating and moving as much as you say you move" policing that's gone on in this thread, and that happens in every thread on Metafilter that discusses obesity or fat acceptance or body image issues. And I feel like pretending that the two things are the same is really, really disingenuous at best.
posted by palomar at 9:52 AM on June 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


Body types of Olympic athletes, including height and weight. Going purely by BMI, at least a few of these people are severely obese. Like the guy who's 6'5" and 325 lbs - the NHI BMI calculator says he would have to get down to 250 lbs just to drop into the top of the "overweight" category. (This has appeared on the blue before, but that link is now dead.)

Being overweight or obese increases the risk factor for many conditions. It can be unhealthy even if you aren't currently sick,

Why, why do you act like people here can't possibly know this? What is the point of writing something like this? Do you really think that the fat people on metafilter are so dumb or have been under a rock for all these years? After all the stories in just this thread about how many people grew up being shamed in their own families, by people who loved them, and you think you are telling a truth they've never heard. What the what.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on June 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


I feel like there's a HUGE difference between Michelle Obama's childhood obesity focused health initiatives and the bullshit diet/exercise "are you sure that you're actually eating what you say you're eating and moving as much as you say you move" policing that's gone on in this thread,

The comment I linked there specifically mentioned educating young people as something under the fat shaming umbrella. If it only meant people on Metafilter with a desire to educate the young I still think it is wrong that the concern can't be genuine. That is a massive assumption of bad faith.

Body types of Olympic athletes, including height and weight. Going purely by BMI, at least a few of these people are severely obese. Like the guy who's 6'5" and 325 lbs - the NHI BMI calculator says he would have to get down to 250 lbs just to drop into the top of the "overweight" category. (This has appeared on the blue before, but that link is now dead.)

BMI is useful as a population level tool more than an individual tool. I don't think we have to worry that the reason 1/3 of the planet is overweight or obese according to BMI is an olympic bodybuilding epidemic rather than an obesity crisis. That is a valid criticism in regards to citing the BMI in regards to individuals however, but if they describe themselves as fat I'm not going to assume they mean built like an olympic athlete.

Why, why do you act like people here can't possibly know this?

I think most people do know this, but some people write comments that suggests they do not seem to understand it is the medical consensus. I AM a fat person on Metafilter. I do not have a low opinion of fat people on Metafilter.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2014


Body types of Olympic athletes, including height and weight. Going purely by BMI, at least a few of these people are severely obese.

Talk about disingenuous. BMI has its flaws but Olympic-level athletes are outliers by any measure. By definition, 99% of the population isn't as athletic as they are.
posted by desjardins at 10:10 AM on June 5, 2014


Talk about disingenuous.

It's really not. Because if I saw a guy who looked fat - and that's all the vast majority of us ever see of the people we don't know well, is how they "look," - then I might assume he can't be healthy. Why? Because he looks fat, duh! As is repeatedly pointed out in these threads, being fat is bad for your health, so if someone looks fat, they must be unhealthy. This is a constant message.

How many fat mefites have to pull out their cred and be all "I am XYZ pounds and all my various other health indicators are perfect" before we can fucking stop acting like we're just concerned or like we know what someone's health is based on their weight/BMI when that's literally all we know about them?
posted by rtha at 10:15 AM on June 5, 2014 [14 favorites]


I mean, seriously: On the one hand, "BMI has its flaws" and on the other, a whole fucking thread about knowing how healthy someone is based on their (self-reported) BMI. And on the other hand (shut up!), disregarding any other self-reported perfect health indicators aside from a high BMI because....something? I don't even fucking know.
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on June 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's so weird...you insisted everybody knew what I was pointing out already but...you clearly don't seem to yourself?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:21 AM on June 5, 2014


I think most people do know this, but some people write comments that suggests they do not seem to understand it is the medical consensus

Maybe it would be more helpful if you just directly messaged those specific people, then, because having yet another thread filled with "golly gee, don'tcha know what makes you fat, you dumb yokels?" is really tiresome.
posted by palomar at 10:22 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


How so?
posted by rtha at 10:22 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


(that was to Drinky Die)
posted by rtha at 10:22 AM on June 5, 2014


I'd like to hear from women in their forties about body image.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:25 AM on June 4 [13 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]



I will be 49 in two days. I have a medical condition associated with being excessively, unhealthily thin. I was diagnosed with it in my mid thirties at a time when I was quite plump. My medical specialist in no way suggested I should try to lose weight because so many people with my condition are dying in part from lack of nourishment.

I also began divorce proceedings a few years after getting my diagnosis. During my divorce, I knew plenty of men who liked me just the way I was. I did realize at the time that this probably meant that these same men would not be interested in me if I actually lost the weight. I chose to work on my health and I had no goal to lose weight.

My first hand experience is that it is mostly white American men who are simply obnoxious about a woman being fat. I knew men of other cultures who either cared very little what my weight was or who liked a BBW and they generally spoke differently about my body than white American men. I also noted that the men who were the most obnoxious routinely complained of inability to get a date. So I learned to turn a deaf ear to their weird assed shit and go pass the time pleasantly with men who appreciated me for a long list of other reasons.

For a variety of reasons, during my divorce, I was a good bit less discriminating than is my norm and I was often getting attention of some sort from more than one man at any given time. Because of the positive attention I was getting, I felt at my sexiest at a time when I weighed 245 pounds and was around a size 24-26. I was a whole lot of woman but I really felt sexy as hell.

Getting my hair cut short contributed to a loss of some of that attention. So I generally feel a lot more "ugly" for having short hair than for carrying extra weight. My experience has been men will forgive me for having a voluptuous figure and some men will adore me for it but short hair is apparently some kind of unforgiveable sin.

I put a lot of time and effort into resolving my health issues with absolutely zero intent to lose weight. Neither my doctor nor my gentlemen friends felt I needed to lose weight. I ended up losing a great deal of weight as a consequence of getting healthier and I ended up with mixed feelings about it because I had felt so sexy and popular while plump. Although it is not a direct consequence of losing the weight, the men who so adored me when I was plump are all history, kind of like I figured they would be.

Along the way, I made a great many choices to focus on my firsthand quality of life and generally worry a great deal less about what other people think of shallow things like my looks. So I will suggest that part of what is fucked up here is that your question is about a woman's body image instead of her self image.

At the age of (almost) 49, my self image is probably the healthiest it is has ever been even though at the moment I am feeling a bit on the old and ugly side and like no one will ever want me again -- things my adult sons laugh at when I comment on it given that I continue to get hit on, harassed and what not. I have a much richer life and sense of self than when I was younger and brainwashed into believing that what I looked like was some sort of really critical detail upon which all of life's successes and failures would be hung and which would largely determine my quality of life. I have not found that to be true at all.

I have found that men who like sex and want sex are more interested in whether or not I will be pleasant and cooperative in that area. They may enjoy my looks but, really, men who are sexually oriented are focused on getting me out of my clothes, not how pretty those clothes are. The ones who are worth being with have figured out that the best way to get a woman to give them a good time is to give her a good time and, thus, they make themselves pleasant instead of giving her hell about her looks.

I have found that job success is mostly about competence, not looks. I have found that people close to me (like my adult sons) will like me based on how well I treat them, not what I look like. I have found that focusing on my health, my goals, and my quality of life generally matters far more than pursuing some idea of the perfect look, which is fleeting at best. I have found that body image is a really shallow thing and something women should really worry a lot less about. Living well is a better focus. Enjoying nice clothes, pleasant compliments and the like can be part of a live well lived but if that is all you have going for you, most likely, you aren't really living all that well or enjoying it all that much.
posted by Michele in California at 10:25 AM on June 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Maybe it would be more helpful if you just directly messaged those specific people, then, because having yet another thread filled with "golly gee, don'tcha know what makes you fat, you dumb yokels?" is really tiresome.

I am not currently commenting about what makes a person fat. Nor have I called you dumb or a yokel. I do feel I am getting too much up in your business though, so I apologize for that.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:36 AM on June 5, 2014


I really feel like the focus on health back-and-forth here is severely missing the goddamn point. I am a woman. Maybe I am fat. Maybe I am not fat? Maybe I am juuuuuust right! Whichever one of these is true, I am more than just my body. I have a career and hopes for my future. I have family and friends and love. I have a brain which has thoughts, goals, and dreams. But, because I am a woman, NONE of those things are allowed to be more important than whether I am fat.

A few years ago, I was pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics, I had a new relationship which seemed to be starting off healthy and fun, I had mentors who cared about me, I had friends whose company I enjoyed, and I had family I cared deeply about and who cared deeply about me. Oh, and I was gaining some weight. Like, probably about 20 pounds over the course of a year or so. And guess which one of these things was always foremost in my mind. Yep, that one - I was FAT and it was GROSS and AWFUL and WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. Which I think contributed, in no small part, to my existing anxiety and pushed that anxiety until it became full-fledged depression and I ended up dropping out of my Ph.D. program and moving back in with my parents and basically restarting my life in a new city. Being scared of becoming fat became more important than DOING MY PH.D. RESEARCH AND WRITING A DISSERTATION. It became more important than my future career, my relationships with my friends, and my ability to leave my house and go out in public on a regular basis.

This is not an okay state of things. When we make every conversation about women focus solely on their weight, we are telling women that nothing else about their lives matters. We look at intelligent, amazing, capable, wonderful women and ignore all of those qualities because EWW FAT. This isn't just some personal, self-esteem issue that individual people need to get over - it is directly linked to the opportunities all women have in their career lives, intellectual lives, family lives, and their overall mental health. I have a body, yes. THAT BODY IS NOT ALL THERE IS TO ME. I have to actively remind myself of this every single day, because it is so contradictory to almost every message I am taking in from the outside world.
posted by augustimagination at 12:25 PM on June 5, 2014 [19 favorites]


How many fat mefites have to pull out their cred and be all "I am XYZ pounds and all my various other health indicators are perfect" before we can fucking stop acting like we're just concerned or like we know what someone's health is based on their weight/BMI when that's literally all we know about them?

Again, I'm not talking on an individual level. A fat person can have excellent bloodwork etc and run marathons How do you address the many studies that show that being overweight contributes to a shorter lifespan (ceteris paribus)?
posted by desjardins at 12:31 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


How do you address the issue of shortened lifespan due to every other potential cause of death? I mean, really.
posted by palomar at 12:36 PM on June 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Education? There's been tons of studies showing that smoking is bad for you. People smoke less than they used to. It's banned in most restaurants and bars. It's heavily taxed. Certainly it's not a 1:1 analogy but it's not like there is no precedent for changing unhealthy behaviors.
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on June 5, 2014


But in threads like this we are only ever addressing other individuals, people who are right here in this space. We're not epidemiologists at a conference; we're not giving presentations to the directors of state school nutrition programs. And we are (probably!) not the doctors, spouses, parents, children or best friends of any of the fat mefites talking about their lives, so what the fuck business is it of ours? Why are we required to assume that they can't possibly have heard this SCIENCE? Can we maybe stop that?
posted by rtha at 12:41 PM on June 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


desjardins, the only "unhealthy behavior" I'm exhibiting is EXISTING. You can talk all you want about how this isn't a personal issue, it's a public issue, but you're not talking to the public, you're talking to me, and to everyone else in this thread who's taken the time to share their lived experience with you. It would be great if you'd stop assuming that I and every other fat person in this thread is just too dumb to understand you.
posted by palomar at 12:51 PM on June 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm addressing you in the sense that I am responding to what you say, but I am not commenting at all on your health or what you eat or what you look like (I don't even know). Nor have I ever made any comment to anyone in my real life* about what they should/should not eat or if they are too skinny/too fat. You are absolutely correct that it is not my business and it is a waste of my time to try to influence an individual person's behavior.

But... on a macro level... how can we not be concerned with people's health and lifespans? I mean, why don't we just give up on everything? Hey, go ahead and smoke, don't use your seatbelt, drink yourself to death at home, we don't care as long as you're doing it to yourself? That just seems like a really weird attitude to me. I'm not saying all of these are equal risks to being overweight. BUT ON THE MACRO LEVEL, they have impacts on our society. I don't know how this is disputable.


*Okay, there was one time, years ago, when I asked a partner if he reallllly thought he should buy ice cream if he was going to try to stick to his diet. It was wrong and I never brought it up again.
posted by desjardins at 12:52 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


And it just seems like a weird attitude to me that it's so deeply important to let fat people know that being fat is bad and wrong and will kill you, that you have to trumpet that news to people who have already flat out stated, HEY, WE ALREADY KNOW ALL OF THIS. It's not like anything you're sharing is in any way new information. So please stop.
posted by palomar at 12:58 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


You're just not reading anything I'm saying, so yeah, I'll stop.
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


That just seems like a really weird attitude to me.

I think it would be a weird attitude, except we pretty much only ever see this concern expressed in threads about weight. Or maybe it's that it shows up so incredibly predictably in these threads. I'd bet money that if you searched just your own comment history you'd find you've said very similar things to pretty much the same people in past threads on this. And you're not special like that - I've almost certainly done it too.

BUT ON THE MACRO LEVEL, they have impacts on our society. I don't know how this is disputable.

This is so far from being unknown new news that I don't know why people think it must be. No one is disputing that on a population level, it has impacts, either. No one.
posted by rtha at 1:12 PM on June 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


You're just not reading anything I'm saying

And apparently that goes both ways, but thanks for knocking it off.
posted by palomar at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anxiety, stress, and depression are also deeply unhealthy and can come with tangible physical side effects. My internalization of the message that my body is bad and wrong and that it needs to be fixed - and that this fixing should take precedence over everything else that makes up me - led to a really shitty spiral of anxiety, stress, and depression and to me dropping out of a career in a field I had loved my whole life. Those are all deeply unhealthy things which have directly impacted my own health (and, in a vicious cycle, my fucking weight. Fantastic.).

I don't think I'm the only woman who's ever had mental health issues stem from body insecurity and weight gain. Our bodies and their weights don't exist in a vaccuum, and making weight the primary thing that women should care about comes with real, negative mental and physical health costs that, for some women, might outweigh the danger that their fat is going to kill them.
posted by augustimagination at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


I can't stop thinking about how this thread reminds me, oddly, of that recent thread about the woman who made a video about her non-traumatic abortion. There seems to be a category of person who is not satisfied to merely judge others—the object of their disgust must also agree, must suffer emotionally, must feel self-loathing and remorse. And, for some reason, they find it especially infuriating when the object of their revulsion announces to the world: I don't hate myself, I have the right to exist, I am right here.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think it would be a weird attitude, except we pretty much only ever see this concern expressed in threads about weight.

Well, it's very rare for someone in a thread about seatbelts on MeFi to say, "Not wearing your seatbelt is safe. I don't wear one and I've never been injured in a car accident." because they understand we are assessing future risk.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:12 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]




Drinky Die,

I don't think you can basically bully people into caring more about their health. I have been on health lists for folks with seriously horrible miserable deadly stuff and you can't talk reason to some people who will tell you that they can't be bothered to do weird things that inconvenience their life, they still gotta live, deadly medical condition or no. And there is just no arguing with that kind of attitude. It is pointless.

I kind of wish your memail were not disabled. I wrote a blogpost today sort of wondering out loud if the tyrannical white American value placed on female thinness has some other (more psychologically healthy) impetus and I would kind of like to share that with you in particular.
posted by Michele in California at 2:24 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish your memail were not disabled.

I generally like to avoid it, but sure I'll turn it on for now. There is a very real chance I will not have anything interesting at all to say on that subject though. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 2:27 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, it's very rare for someone in a thread about seatbelts on MeFi to say, "Not wearing your seatbelt is safe. I don't wear one and I've never been injured in a car accident." because they understand we are assessing future risk.

No, what you have in this thread, right here, is people telling you that they already do all the things you think they need to be doing in order to be "healthy" (read: thin, because you don't seem to believe that fat people can be healthy), and it doesn't make them thinner, and putting tons of emphasis on thinness as the only valid marker of health really only serves to make a lot of us more unhealthy as we strive to meet that single valid marker of health.

For many of us, it is healthier to concentrate less on losing weight to satisfy the arbitrary whims of perfect strangers who think they have a right to comment on our bodies and our perceived level of health.

It would be really, really great if, instead of leaping into these threads to shriek some more about how fat is unhealthy and if fat people really give a damn about their health they'll pay attention to your studies about the badness of fat, you actually tried listening to what people are saying.
posted by palomar at 2:36 PM on June 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


(read: thin, because you don't seem to believe that fat people can be healthy),

I believe that smokers can be free of lung cancer, but not that smoking is healthy. I believe that people who are fat can be free of heart disease, but being fat is not healthy. I believe that not wearing a seatbelt doesn't mean you crash through the window, but not that it's safe. I am saying this because it is the medical consensus. I am not shrieking, calling you a dumb yokel, leaping into threads, or any other negative emotional connotation you would like to ascribe to my words. I assure you I am reading what you write. You are currently experiencing a disagreement with another person who is fat and has all the wide experiences with the pains of being a fat boy and man that most other people like that experience. I do not hate fat people. I do not revere thin people. I do not think weight is the only health indicator, and at no time have I suggested it is. I do not know why you are fat, I don't understand how I got fat in the first place. I am in this thread for the same reason most people are, because what Samantha Peterson said hit home very deeply for me. If we disagree about the health impacts of being fat, that's fine. We're still both here in the same place in our lives regardless. I feel good, you feel good. Life's fine.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:51 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am saying this because it is the medical consensus.

In a thread where people have said repeatedly that they are aware of the medical consensus you and others keep harping about, what is the value of you continuing to bring it up? Seriously. What good do you think you are contributing to the world right now?
posted by palomar at 2:59 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you would avoid accusing me of having shrieking bad faith reasons for saying what I am saying I would see no further need to clarify why I began talking about why people should care about health after someone asked why we should care about health.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:02 PM on June 5, 2014


I'll ask again. What good are you contributing? Because I don't see any use to your contributions.
posted by palomar at 3:08 PM on June 5, 2014


[Cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:12 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was a fat kid back in the age when that was rare.

You will not thank yourself in old age for the years of satisfied fatness. I started running at age 42, and life really began. My youth was all wasted sitting around, do not do that, you will not feel good about it.

Life can be wasted, life can add up to little, please do not give yourself that delusional allowance.
posted by koebelin at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


koebelin who are you even talking to?
posted by sweetkid at 5:49 PM on June 5, 2014


If you would avoid accusing me of having shrieking bad faith reasons for saying what I am saying

Can't, sorry. Your are planted firmly in the camp of manicheism, where virtue or vice can be readily determined by how fuckable or not a person is. The fig-leaf of "health" and perhaps "well-being" is surprisingly scant, considering it takes the place exactly of retrograde blame'n'shame he way to a more beautiful bod (proven to work even less than the Susan Powter diet). Whether or not you yourself are fat is irrelevant.

Take the hint, here. The OP is about a poem where a woman fucking straight up tells you YES, she knows she's fat, NO, she doesn't need you to tell her, and she isn't sinful for not considering how you are or aren't moved to poetic bliss by her appearance.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:26 PM on June 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


sweetkid I just reacted , like an ex-smoker or ex-drinker, and moralized from my own life, about this thread about how to feel about being fat. I can tell you from experience that it is no way to go through life, waste it if you want, you can't get it back.
posted by koebelin at 6:33 PM on June 5, 2014


I can tell you from experience that it is no way to go through life, waste it if you want, you can't get it back.

I'm an ex-370-pounder, well on my way to Four-Hundee (as in, less than a year, if nothing changed.) I'm now 205, up from 190, all of it hard-won muscle as a 3x week gym-rat.

I'm telling you it ain't my business how much someone else weighs, or how they deal with it. I only offer my sympathy if they want it, my advice if they ask it, and my unconditional support no matter where they go next.

Us fat kids got to stick together. (Gravity!)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:47 PM on June 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Moralization is part of the problem, and causes more harm than good.
posted by palomar at 6:53 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy you have the answer! Do it!

I am a downer because I was down, I don't think life always results in happy, it may result in bad, you may die sad and empty, that may have been the usual result in previous times. Just going along with the flow of life may disappoint. But - you can resolve issues and experience life as joy and experiences you want you remember if you try.
posted by koebelin at 7:07 PM on June 5, 2014


Slap*Happy you have the answer!

There was a point, and it's waaaaaaay over there.

Here we go. Doing it the way I did? One out of a hundred dies from the surgery. More die from suicide or addiction. A third of us go back to being fat. Most everyone stops losing weight at 6 months out, and slowly starts regaining. You only get my results by gambling you'll beat the average, always a sucker's game.

I crap my shorts unpredictably once in a while, and just last month, had the pleasure of puking my guts out in a family restaraunt's bathroom because the guts of the new "me" decided the grilled chicken breast in my salad was unacceptable somehow. Everyone knew when I got back to the table.

Would I do it again? I'm in a weight-room 3x-week, with men I could pick up and hurl one-handed before, but who heave weights I can't even imagine lifting now. I'll likely need surgical repair of my arm after trying to keep up. I'm weak, flabby, and likely always will be, after once being big and strong enough to be a bouncer at a biker bar. (Literally)

I don't know.

That the answer you were expecting?
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:40 PM on June 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think it's 100,000 times better for someone to be happy with themselves as they are than to suffer to contort themselves into something they might not physically be able to be, and might not even be the healthiest for them.

I can't decide what's best for anyone, but I can definitely say trying to be happy during as many moments as we can is the best we can hope for. There's nothing to regret about that.
posted by sweetkid at 7:55 PM on June 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I can tell you from experience that it is no way to go through life, waste it if you want, you can't get it back.

Ok, and see, here is the major disconnect. I totally get and respect that was no way to go through life for you. You were miserable being fat, and that's totally ok! You did something about what was making you miserable, and that is awesome!

However, and please hear me here: not everyone is miserable being fat. Some people are, some people aren't. Some people love themselves and are genuinely happy exactly the way they are right that second, fat, thin, chunky, waiflike, whatever.

You found what makes you happy, and that is terrific. But you're coming across here a bit like the hyper-religious folks I know, the ones who Found Jesus and because that had such an amazing impact on their lives, they literally cannot fathom why anyone wouldn't want to Find Jesus, because Jesus was The Answer for them, so therefore Jesus must be the Answer For All. Which: no. There are billions and billions on this planet who are perfectly content being atheist or Muslim or Hindu or agnostic or whatever.

So basically what we're asking for here, what we've always asked for, is to let folks find their happiness and be happy, because for a segment of the population that isn't you, happiness and contentment are not connected to one's weight.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:14 PM on June 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


The comment I linked there specifically mentioned educating young people as something under the fat shaming umbrella.

And I stand by it. Instilling in young children a taste and desire for healthy food - great. Encouraging kids to be active, to play, do sports - all the awesome things a body can do - fabulous. Helping people take care of themselves in the best way they can and how they see fit - awesome. Because these are good and wonderful things in and of themselves and they're tethered to all kinds other things that are good too. And we happen to live in a time and place where all of these things are way harder than they should be.

Teaching kids to do these things in the context of battling obesity sends the message that the Fat is the agenda and not at all "living a long healthy life." Telling fat people to eat better and exercise in order to loose weight so they can live longer, healthier lives sends the message that the Fat is the problem, not their truncated life span or diminished quality of life. When it's done over and over and over again, I tend to think that's the agenda and I tend to think it has more to do with other people's discomfort with a fat body than it does that body's actual health and well-being.
posted by space_cookie at 8:27 PM on June 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


The poem was amazing, very eloquent. Loved it.

It seems there are shots being fired in every dirrection in this discussion, and it feels like a lot of them are missing the intended target.

I think we can (should?) all agree that an INDIVIDUAL should be able to live their life as they see fit and be happy (or be allowed to be happy, if that's what the want) with who they are and what they look like.

I think we can (should?) also acknowledge that there is, across the world, a documented increase in obesity IN THE POPULATION over time, and there are measurable impacts on the rates of certain diseases and health conditions as a result.

Stating the second point does not immediately infringe the first point, and it feels as if a lot of people are taking it that way.

The cost of health care is a red herring in my mind; I think we should be looking to reverse the trend of increased obesity for the benefit of the health of the population, and for no other reason. A lot of people have made comments about cancer and other diseases not illiciting the same response, and that is very pertinent. We should be treating obesity in the same fashion, with the same respect.
posted by trif at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, the calorie thing seems to be causing a bit of a problem...

Each molecule of fat in the body is made up of certain atoms. you need to get these atoms from somewhere. If you dont take in the requisite atoms, your body cant produce the resultant molecules. Calories are a very simplistic representation of this. It does tend to smooth over the differing digestion rates of individuals or what cooking does to make food more digestible, but it's a pretty good way of identifying "intake".

Again, caories simplify the amount of energy each individual body requires to function and move around, but it's a pretty good way of identifying "what we use".

"Intake" minus "what we use" equals any gain or loss. Conservation of energy is a big underlying factor here.

I think the trouble is that knowing and implementing are two different things, and mental health is far more important than some societal expectation. If you are unhappy keeping yourself to some arbitrary standard set by other people, but happy when you don't meet that standard, which is best? I know my choice.
posted by trif at 8:00 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I will suggest that one problem I see here -- and by "here" I don't just mean in this discussion but also every time this type of things comes up -- is that it is sort of myth that "how to lose weight" is a solved problem. There are plenty of people who have tried everything and can't seem to get it off and/or keep it off. There are plenty of people (some testifying in this very thread) that they do all that stuff you are supposed to do -- eat right, walk everywhere, etc -- yet are not thin.

My mother and ex husband are both people who are generally hyper critical and both were not nice about my weight when I was younger. For me, counting calories and cutting calories never, ever, ever worked and in my twenties I decided I would never do that again. I decided being healthy was more important to me. Given how my genetic disorder works, I have good reason to believe that had I felt compelled to try to cut calories or otherwise diet to try to force my body to be thin, I likely would have died young. I came plenty close to dying as it was, without doing anything like that.

For me, finally getting the right diagnosis empowered me to figure out what I needed to do for my body when all the usual advice was not working. At one time, I was walking six miles in the desert with a camelback of water several times a week and this made no difference to my weight. Walking has long proven to be the only form of exercise that isn't somehow a big problem for me. Anything which stresses my joints or lungs is a crisis waiting to happen. Anything too strenuous is also something I simply cannot sustain.

I currently walk four or more hours a day (and have done so for the last year or so) and I still have belly bloat, a really common problem with my condition. I am working on resolving that. It is not fat. It is fluid retention, because my cells simply don't work right. I used to have much, much worse fluid retention and saw dramatic progress in resolving it about three years ago using a combination of consuming hot peppers and doing 7 mile walks one to three times a week on top of my usual walking everywhere to get around because I live without a car. So I have learned some things that work for my specific condition but "dieting" and normal exercise routines absolutely do not fucking work.

Thus, I strongly suspect that there is far more to this issue of what works and what does not than most people are acknowledging, even people who are well aware that losing weight is not actually the solved problem we so often act like it is. I have had people bitchily tell me "calories in, calories out -- it is well known how this works" and crap like that. No, that is not really how this works, universally, for all people. That formula sure as hell does not fucking work for ME. There are things that work for me but the usual, standard wisdom of cut back on fats or cut calories or whatever is a major fail for me -- and apparently for many other people as well.

So I would really, really love it if people would stop talking like we know how to fix you, you fat fucks, and just get off your lazy ass and, you know, Just Do it. Because, no, we don't really know how to "fix" all the fat people (and turn them into skinny people). We just honestly do not.
posted by Michele in California at 10:54 AM on June 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


Each molecule of fat in the body is made up of certain atoms. you need to get these atoms from somewhere. If you dont take in the requisite atoms, your body cant produce the resultant molecules. Calories are a very simplistic representation of this. It does tend to smooth over the differing digestion rates of individuals or what cooking does to make food more digestible, but it's a pretty good way of identifying "intake".

Again, caories simplify the amount of energy each individual body requires to function and move around, but it's a pretty good way of identifying "what we use".

"Intake" minus "what we use" equals any gain or loss. Conservation of energy is a big underlying factor here.


The contest is over. We've hit Peak Condescension.
posted by winna at 12:17 PM on June 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


The contest is over. We've hit Peak Condescension.

Yeah, I love how people are using high school physics to explain how simple the biochemistry of endocrinology and metabolism is. As if fat people could only do simple arithmetic, they'd know to stop being fat.

The Hacker's Diet is almost entirely responsible for this brand of hand-waving woo. (My nutritionist, with a masters degree and a decade of experience in a clinical setting, had a very dark opinion on this brand of oversimplification.)

Calorie counting is a tool, and not the best or only tool.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Intake" minus "what we use" equals any gain or loss. Conservation of energy is a big underlying factor here.

I think the trouble is that knowing and implementing are two different things, and mental health is far more important than some societal expectation.

-
Yeah, I love how people are using high school physics to explain how simple the biochemistry of endocrinology and metabolism is. As if fat people could only do simple arithmetic, they'd know to stop being fat.

The Hacker's Diet is almost entirely responsible for this brand of hand-waving woo.

Weight loss advice is a category 5 hurricane named Hurricane Woo. If you eat less calories than you burn over a sustained period of time, you will lose weight. That is the least woo statement there is about weight loss, and pretty much all the woo revolves around it.

If you drop an apple, it falls. If someone eats less calories than they burn, their weight falls. I acknowledge the complexity of gravity, physics, and the human body and mind, and the variability of the human population as I state this. This goal is easier for some, and considerably more difficult for others to the point it can reasonably be considered not possible.

There are an unlimited number of completely legitimate reasons, physical or psychological, that people can not accomplish a calorie deficit for a sustained period of time. There is no call to be judge them negatively if they don't do it or if they can't do it. I spent most of my own life in a state I would describe as "can't" do it rather than "won't".

Once I got out of can't, I failed because of misinformation about weight loss I had absorbed from the woo. Once I started to find some success, it was with calorie counting and exercise tracking apps. That was the approach that worked for me because it allowed me to slowly fine tune my diet to a point where I could manage my hunger and it let me diagnose what was going wrong very specifically when I was not losing weight. I think that would be the best approach for most people trying to lose weight. Other people have success with other methods or simply can't make it work no matter what they try. The success rate for sustained weight loss is very low. We know what weight loss is, but we don't know any magic words that make it possible for everyone. Fully accurate calorie counting and activity tracking and long term fully engaged bare knuckle willpower will do it, but that is an unrealistic expectation for most people for legitimate reasons.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:42 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you drop an apple, it falls. If someone eats less calories than they burn, their weight falls.

That is actually not true. I know of cases where people were in the hospital and on an IV (to control their caloric intake and force weight loss) and they gained weight. Most, if not all, of my history of being overweight was likely fluid retention, not fat. I have zero reason to believe it had anything at all to do with calorie intake. I can't prove my own ideas about exactly what was going on, which many people have dismissed as not only Woo but downright Munchausen Syndrome, but I do know I have shrunk dramatically over the years and when I was consuming hot peppers and shrinking so dramatically and rapidly that total strangers were buttonholing me and asking me for diet tips, the big thing going on was that I was peeing and peeing and peeing. And, oh yeah, PEEING. I was very clearly peeing out more fluid than I was taking in.

As part of my effort to figure out what the hell was going on, I talked to a PHD chemist about it. Capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers) forces a cell channel open at normal temperatures which normally only opens when you are overheated and it causes the body to flush fluids out, along with certain other things (I forget what). The PHD chemist sent me a snippet of info suggesting it may have been indirectly related to the malfunctioning cell channel my genetic disorder causes.

I did, in fact, talk to a doctor who noted during a physical of mine that I had swelling in my legs halfway up my calf which I had not previously recognized as swelling. I had severe fluid retention, sort of similar to what you see with congestive heart failure. I have reason to believe that my actual fatty tissue content of my actual body is likely higher now than it ever has been in my life and that is why I weigh less and am smaller.

The body is a really complex organism. It is not a wood burning stove. I really find the whole concept of "calories" (measure of heat energy contained in food) sort of offensive. It so utterly overly simplifies things. For me and anyone who has some sort of odd medical issue going on*, the whole idea of "calories in, calories out" may simply not fucking work. I have not found that it does.

* (I will suggest this may include anyone who has ever struggled to lose weight and not found it simple to do. We don't really know what is going on in most of those cases.)
posted by Michele in California at 4:02 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


People (including the moderators) have been pointing out for most of this thread that the calorie shit is a total derail, but here it is again. Are people not bothering to watch the video -- only a few minutes long! -- and just reacting to the word "fat" in their most simplistic way possible?

It's a fantastic piece and well worth the four or so minutes it takes to watch it. She's making a set of extremely smart points about beauty and desire and metaphor, and about asserting her physicality and inhabiting her life and space. Personally I found it moving and captivating, and I'm man enough to admit that I teared up at one point. Her struggle is not my struggle, but good art is good art and she is speaking truth.

Not one minute of it has any relation to weight loss simplicities, calories, or poorly understood assertions about health statistics. She's talking about sexuality and power and identity, all of which are far more interesting subjects and ironically enough are subjects all of us can have an informed conversation about, which does not appear to be the case with weight.

So mark me down as a huge fan of the FPP, but frustrated and disappointed with the endless derailing and point missing that constituted much of this thread.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:03 PM on June 6, 2014 [15 favorites]


I don't see "The Hacker's Diet" as oversimplification of anything. The technique Walker brought to the table, using a moving average to give the Daily Rate of Weight Change as a metric is probably the closest you're ever going to get to actually instrumenting people's metabolic changes in response to their dietary choices.

Sure, he liked counting calories to change the number, but that's really only one tactic to induce a caloric deficit once you have the assessment and feedback provided by the EWMA.

I avoid the middle man, and just use the metric directly. If my Daily Rate of Weight Change < 0, I'm losing weight and I don't have to think much more about it. >0, I need to consider my lunch and dinner choices more closely.

Again, this is all predicated on working out the show-stopping emotional and psychological issues which were significant for, oh, 45 years or so...
posted by mikelieman at 4:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you drop an apple, it falls. If someone eats less calories than they burn, their weight falls.

That is actually not true. I know of cases where people were in the hospital and on an IV (to control their caloric intake and force weight loss) and they gained weight.


Part of the complexity is in figuring out precisely how many calories a person burns. Part of what I mean with loss being practically impossible for some people is that the number might be unreasonably low. But, we acknowledge that on a diet of only water at least someone would eventually lose weight. I think we can agree that at one calorie a day someone would lose weight too? Okay, that's acknowledging calories in and out on the most simplistic level. There is some number where weight loss will occur because the energy for life processes has to come from somewhere. That is not always of practical use though, which is why I pointed out for many people weight loss could well be practically impossible.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:25 PM on June 6, 2014


The thing that I find so frustrating about these sort of threads is that the response to someone being honest, open, and earnest about being comfortable with a body that is outside of the accepted norm is invariably that people feel absolutely compelled to demonstrate with perfect clarity that that person does not have the right to feel like they are worthy of the same kind of respect, admiration, and desire as those who meet the narrow standard that've collectively decided is acceptable.

Argue the science of weight loss in response to an FPP about weight loss. Heck, if you have a good case, come up with your own FPP and make the point.

Samantha Peterson was not reciting a piece about weight loss. She was not reciting a piece indicating that she would or would not ever lose or gain any weight. She was not reciting a piece about becoming contented and complacent, or about giving a big flipping finger to skinny people everywhere. Samantha Peterson was not claiming superiority, or defeat. She was not describing her health, or her future plans, or her deepest regrets.

In the end, she said "I am right here, I am right here," in a plea to let her be right here as anyone can be right here when they're not held up to the constant barrage of metaphor and condescension and corrosive didacticism, and Metafilter's reply is—

"Well, yes dear, that's lovely. Everyone should be happy, but don't you know how unhealthy you are? Don't you know how easy it is to lose weight? Don't you know how important it is to lose weight? We're only telling you because we care. We're also telling you because we don't want to pay for your failings. Just look at this simple method, and you can change."

Don't you know how much your comfort, even for a moment, bothers us?

And maybe she can. Maybe she wants to. Maybe she doesn't.

Is her body really your battleground?

175 comments here, and I see so little of Samantha Peterson.

Isn't that sort of what she was talking about?
posted by sonascope at 4:30 PM on June 6, 2014 [25 favorites]


Drinky Die, I feel kind of like you and other people are not making any attempt to understand what I am talking about.

The short version is that there is reason to believe that had I tried to diet in order to lose weight, instead of losing weight, I might well have simply died. Period. And gone in a casket in all my size 26 glory, not any slimmer. Just, you know, a helluva lot less alive.

Insisting that on some really crazy extreme version of your overly simple theory I would have had to lose weight is utterly failing to acknowledge anything I have said about the fact that my body simply does not work normally and my weight did not come down until a) after I finally got an appropriate diagnosis in my mid thirties and b) did a bunch of research of my own because doctors don't really have very good answers for me.

Can you acknowledge that maybe perhaps there might be a single exception to your theory here? Is that possible?
posted by Michele in California at 4:38 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have not commented on your diet specifically at all and I will happily continue not to.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:49 PM on June 6, 2014


I have not commented on your diet specifically at all and I will happily continue not to.

Dude, you are being incredibly disingenuous in this thread. I gather from coy and evasive words you have actually used that the Hacker Diet or some variant worked... for you... and now you're on some sacred crusade to make every fat person fuckable, or at least admit they are weak and evil and that's why they're fat. If you're not trying to convey that, stop and re-assess how you may, just may, be perceived by others struggling with this shit - including people who tried it your way and didn't get the same result and people, like the poet linked, who don't give a fuck what you think about diet and nutrition or bodyshape in general.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


I have not commented on your diet specifically at all and I will happily continue not to.

Dude, you are being incredibly disingenuous in this thread.


No, you are assuming bad faith. I can't do anything about that other than ask you not to.

I gather from coy and evasive words you have actually used that the Hacker Diet or some variant worked... for you

I have never heard of the hacker diet that you entered into this conversation as a point of discussion. I have mentioned dieting has worked for me, calorie counting, which you had also just previously mentioned as part of the ongoing conversation about dieting techniques. I then proceeded to immediately mention that other methods work for other people as well.

and now you're on some sacred crusade to make every fat person fuckable, or at least admit they are weak and evil and that's why they're fat.

I have said nothing that could be legitimately described in that manner. Here's the thing, as I have stated many times here: I am a fat person. I am here because the video spoke to me very directly. Discussions of body size and body acceptance circle around many topics, diet and nutrition are among them. For me finding myself in the moment and understanding who I am and what my body is led me in the direction of weight loss. It doesn't have to lead everyone there.

You and I having a disagreement on the mechanics of weight loss does not mean you hate fat people. It doesn't mean I hate fat people. It means we disagree about the mechanics of weight loss.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:11 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's a load of baloney, otherwise you'd be so far away from the mechanics of weight loss in this thread you couldn't even see it on a clear day. I have had clear and dramatic success in my weight loss. I'm actually probably not fat anymore, tho I have a hard time seeing it myself (picture in your mind's eye the Goodyear Blimp deflating...) You will note I am not here to fight the good fight in defense of the way I lost weight. I am here to acknowledge that everyone's body is their own, and their own reasons for being that way aren't up for any kind of debate.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


You will note I am not here to fight the good fight in defense of the way I lost weight.

If you would read my words in good faith and avoid any further jamming into my mouth of deeply offensive and bigoted beliefs about a group that I am a part of you would notice that I am not either.

I am here to acknowledge that everyone's body is their own, and their own reasons for being that way aren't up for any kind of debate.

...and that I do not disagree with this.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:34 PM on June 6, 2014


...and that I do not disagree with this.

And now you think you're clever, or that I'm stupid. Thanks.

What group? People who've lost weight? You keep bringing it up, your (easily and oft refuted) weightloss wisdom, while brandishing your self-proclaimed fatness as some kind of hallway pass. What on god's green earth are you trying to accomplish here? Your evasiveness and wounded-dignity act in the face of your offensive attitude towards others struggling with this stuff is bordering on the satirical at this point.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:14 PM on June 6, 2014


What group?

Fat people.

What on god's green earth are you trying to accomplish here?

I am trying to have a discussion about the video and related topics that have come up in discussion of it throughout this long thread because it is a topic that is deeply important to me.

Those are direct questions I can answer, the rest of your comment is further accusations of bad faith and putting words into my mouth.

Here are the words that I am communicating: Everyone's body is their own, and their own reasons for being as they are aren't up for debate.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2014


[Drinky Die, you've been pretty much dominating this thread; time to dial it back.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:37 AM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die,

Thank you for being one of the better behaved members here.

Thank you for being kind to me at a time when a lot of mefites were still being openly dickish to me. Your actions helped turn the tide and my experience of metafilter has been less shitty ever since.

I am trying to have a discussion about the video and related topics that have come up in discussion of it throughout this long thread because it is a topic that is deeply important to me.

I don't think you are commenting in bad faith. I don't think you are being intentionally dickish. I don't understand your last reply to me, but then I don't understand the failure communicate here to begin with. I know it is important to you. I had hoped my words might help you in some way. I regret they are not accomplishing what I had been aiming for.

175 comments here, and I see so little of Samantha Peterson.

Isn't that sort of what she was talking about?


I considered commenting specifically about Samantha Peterson but I chose not to because I am generally uncomfortable with doing that. She is a real person who could potentially be reading our very public discussion of her. Talking about her as if it will not get back to her when that is so patently, obviously a stupid assumption does not sit well with me. Thus, I made my first remarks about my own experience in order to be more oblique.

I will say somewhat less obliquely that she appears to be a white American female and my guess is a lot of the men being dickish to her are white American males. I have mixed feelings about the high value white American culture places on thinness. I blogged about that very recently. I won't repeat that content here. But as for positive emotional experiences, I found that men of certain other cultures were generally much more pleasant company when I was very heavy. Hispanic men and Middle Eastern men were generally much nicer about describing my generous curves in pleasant, inviting terms, no metaphors about being a "mountain of a woman" required. If she does end up reading our discussion of her here and would like to really get over being mad at men for the way they talk about her large body and has not spent time with men of other cultures, I highly recommend it.

There are always going to be judgmental, assholish people in the world. They don't go extinct once you lose the weight. They just find some other reason to criticize you. It kind of makes no difference if you are short or tall, fat or thin, male or female, someone, somewhere is going to be ugly to you over it. Going through life angry about it and trying to shout down those voices seems to me to be a not positive experience of the one life we get. Plus, as Ghandi noted, an eye for an eye will leave us all blind.

Living well is the best revenge. I hope Samantha Peterson goes and gets some of that. She seems to be a bit short on those experiences. Not all men are assholes. Starting with the assumption that they are tends to make it difficult to connect with the ones who aren't. And that is the bigger problem here -- not that some people are insulting jerks but that letting that get too much of one's focus can crowd out better things and leave you with nothing but shitty experiences. And then it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy and it gets hard to find your way out of it.
posted by Michele in California at 10:09 AM on June 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


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