Michael Kelly to America: We are some kind of fat.
August 2, 2001 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Michael Kelly to America: We are some kind of fat. Never mind what we consider to be beautiful; the sad fact is that many, many Americans are slobs who cover their guts with spandex pants and think they look good. If only they knew. Amen to this op-ed, and down with dress-down, too, while we're at it.
posted by werty (96 comments total)
 
woohoo! fat bashing!
americans are ugly
and wear dumb clothes, too
posted by dogmatic at 8:47 AM on August 2, 2001


Not a day goes by, lately, that the ignorance level here doesn't astound me.
posted by hijinx at 8:54 AM on August 2, 2001


this guy is a prick
screw his narrow-mindedness
where is my muffin?
posted by starvingartist at 8:55 AM on August 2, 2001


Was Brando recently seen in the D.C. area?

Is there a plague fat shirtless 50-year-olds wandering around the Mall with septum rings? What is this guy attempting to say?
posted by solistrato at 9:02 AM on August 2, 2001


methinks mr. kelly needs a little more fibre in his diet.
posted by heather at 9:11 AM on August 2, 2001


He's not attempting to say anything other than "I am witty. You are enjoying my article. Pay my employer."

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:14 AM on August 2, 2001


There once was a nation of blobs
Who ate greased food by the globs
Two pasttimes they had
One was to eat bad
The other was to deny they were slobs.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:16 AM on August 2, 2001


cover their guts with spandex pants and think they look good

I think that's a mighty, mighty big assumption -- that people who are overweight all think they look good. In fact, most people who are even 10 or 20 pounds overweight think the extra weight makes them look awful. I'm more overweight than that and I certainly have no illusion that the extra poundage makes me look "good." And I've never even worn Spandex.
posted by kindall at 9:18 AM on August 2, 2001


There once was a newspaper writer
Who ate cheddar and mayo on sliders
He'd sit at his desk
And never confess
The doughnuts he ate every nighter.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:18 AM on August 2, 2001


"With relatively few exceptions, we should ask ourselves if we might better serve our country by putting our clothes back on"

Hardly. You'd better serve your country by going on a diet and getting some excercise. Fat people shouldn't be the object of ridicule or excluded in any way. While fat people should be accepted just like anyone else, we shouldn't forget that it's not cool to be obese because it's not healthy to be obese.

Slimming down America would be great, but this article is painfully shallow. A beautiful America is a nice side effect of a healthy America.
posted by tomorama at 9:20 AM on August 2, 2001


There once was a limerick composer
Who'd never do what he was supposed to
He'd compose a few lines
And ignore the bad rhymes
And his browser he'd reload and reloader.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:21 AM on August 2, 2001


Okay, sorry. Back to work. Michael Kelly doesn't deserve more of a response than bad limericks, I think.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:22 AM on August 2, 2001


Hey, all you people with your washboard abs and your perfect teeth and great hair can just kiss my flabby ass!

Fat is beautiful. And you svelte asswipes are in the minority now! Let's see how smug you are when I squash your stair mastered ass with my sumo belly.

Flabless, muscled up bodies are unnatural. Fat is here to stay. We're fat! We're proud! And we're in your face! Get used to it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:22 AM on August 2, 2001


From an IM conversation:

werty: Americans are dumb b/c they think their fat is something to be proud of
anildash: no, i don't think that's true
anildash: Americans are so inured to their sense of entitlement that they don't realize how arrogant they are when they try to redefine "fat" as "normal".
posted by anildash at 9:24 AM on August 2, 2001


Yes, everything is the fault of the fat. Fat people don't deserve a day of fun at the beach, and shouldn't even be seen in public during daylight hours. Fat people should all be skinny people, but they shouldn't walk on the boardwalks or the beach, or exercise in any way that would force us normal folks to have to see them. They should be confined strictly to wearing muu muus with hoods and zip in floors, and forced to live behind locked doors and drawn shades.

My mother looked at a fat woman once by accident when she was pregnant with me, and now I have a birthmark shaped like Mama Cass.
posted by kristin at 9:26 AM on August 2, 2001


Kristin, why do you make me laugh so?
posted by solistrato at 9:29 AM on August 2, 2001


Of course in some cases, you can be healthy and overweight. Not perfectly healthy, but not a dying sack of poo that people would assume.

I'm overweight, and pretty healthy myself. I am very self conscious about my body though. Ideally, I would look like a guy from the Abercrombie catalog. But slimming down isn't as easy as just saying, "ok america, let's slim down." For some it is a very hard thing to do.

I've dieted, I've exercised, I've done differant things. The result? I am exactly the same size I was 4 years ago. The object of ridicule in school, the object of digust in adulthood, I am not the "toned 23 year old" that I want to be, or that everyone thinks I should be.

I keep working at it, trying to whittle away the pounds. But in the meantime, while I am doing that, I need to be happy about myself. Because if I am not, I know I won't succeed. So for every person who eats a chocolate muffin the size of a softball in the morning, and never gains a pound, there are those like me, who eat our whole grain oat bars and watch and record and write down and walk seven flights up to our offices, in hopes of losing two inches off our too-big asses and stomachs.

And for those of us like that, while we work on ourselves, and hope for something to come our way to help us out, we just ask that you look at us as an individual, not "that fat person."
posted by benjh at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2001


Fat, my friends, is not healthy,
But it looks ok on the wealthy.
Yes I've grown to love fat
as modelled by that
rich guy who sees doctor melfi.
posted by ericost at 9:40 AM on August 2, 2001


Jesus, how do I get a job like that? You mean people get paid to write useless articles about how people are ugly, fat, stupid and tasteless? This is a revelation! I've had a fucking epiphany over here, honestly.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:44 AM on August 2, 2001


come on now >> while mr kelly surely was harsh in his rant, there is no doubt to me that the majority of americans are overweight because we eat nasty food and don't exercise, myself to an extent included. this doesn't mean that everyone more than 5 lbs overweight needs to shut themselves in, but we all could stand a little less time in front of a monitor doing reps with a 12 ounce beer and a 10 ounce remote and maybe go outside. we'd be happier (exercise is good for the brain, too!), we'd see more of each other (pun unintended), and we might alleviate ourselves from some of the stress we bear. i've got to say, when i see fat kids walking around, who look like they're fat from happy meals and television, i get sad/pissed/worried about the future of this land.
posted by whoshotwho at 9:56 AM on August 2, 2001


<OT>
Mo Nickels has nothing better to do
than write a limerick or two
but everyone knows
to the tips of their toes
that we MeFi prefer haiku!
</OT>
posted by heather at 10:00 AM on August 2, 2001


I love that I got this ad on the page.
posted by davidfg at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2001


who look like they're fat from happy meals and television

If you ate a television, you'd look fat too.

Maybe for his next piece, Michael Kelly could write about those Jews and their big noses or how all those Japs are just a bunch of slitty-eyed yellow bastards.
posted by briank at 10:16 AM on August 2, 2001


I'm overweight, and although I enjoy excercise (specifically sports such as Ultimate and soccer, rather than aerobics or a tread-mill), one of the big obstacles that I feel relates to healthy (ie thin) peoples' responses to my engaging in excercise with them. Because I'm slower, weaker, heavier, I get picked on, picked last, and often made to feel a burden. This is unavoidable in an actually competitive forum, but when it's a fun game between friends and acquaintances, it really makes it hard to make the decision to go out regularly. It's akin to the people who make comments about the fat guy at the gym. Isn't that the opposite of what the healthy world should be doing? Does anyone else have the experience of being overweight and put-down for it even when attempting to lose the weight?
posted by Marquis at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2001


Wilful unhealthiness is condemnable, in any form.

Things you did not choose and cannot change you cannot be charged with.

You know where you lie along this continuum with regard to your weight and its consequences--accept or shrug off the negative reactions of society accordingly.
posted by rushmc at 10:51 AM on August 2, 2001


I don't wanna look like a freak...uhhh... I'll go with the mu-mu!
posted by bob bisquick at 10:52 AM on August 2, 2001


I do not love thee, Mr Kelly,
You spin out fictions, re: the belly,
So I must kick you with my welly:
I do not love thee, Mr Kelly.
posted by holgate at 11:16 AM on August 2, 2001


once i was quite thin
and then suddenly was not
now i exercise
posted by bwg at 11:18 AM on August 2, 2001


If you ate a television, you'd look fat too.

This McSweeney's story comes to mind, actually.

And, by the way, Kelly's piece is a cheap shot, I agree.
posted by matteo at 11:19 AM on August 2, 2001


"One: It is a nice thing to have an 18-year-old body and a nice thing for other people to be able to look at an 18-year-old body; so, when the owner of an 18-year-old body wears a minimum of clothing, this too is a nice thing. It adds to the general attractiveness of the world and the general happiness of humanity. But (and this is the critical point), we are no longer 18. With relatively few exceptions, we should ask ourselves if we might better serve our country by putting our clothes back on."

Wow - someone had the balls to just come out and say that in a large forum :) And the rampant hostility is a good example of why this needs to be said more often.

"Because I'm slower, weaker, heavier, I get picked on, picked last, and often made to feel a burden. This is unavoidable in an actually competitive forum, but when it's a fun game between friends and acquaintances, it really makes it hard to make the decision to go out regularly."

I can see how that would be upsetting, and I am sorry it happens to you. Unfortunately, even people playing a 'friendly' game of anything want to win... it's just one of those things.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:23 AM on August 2, 2001


as the old joke goes:

yes, i may be fat
but you, sir, are quite ugly
and i can diet
posted by bwg at 11:36 AM on August 2, 2001


"his name is Jared, and he's heading to Subway."
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 11:38 AM on August 2, 2001


Interesting, Heather. I never thought of Mefi as anything other than a place, rather than a count noun. Though the individuals of the species are "MeFites," are they not?

[I should add that I never abbreviate Metafilter to MeFi. It seems to reveal that the user writes, or worse, talks about Metafilter so much that it's necessary to create a less syllabic time-saving phoneme pair.]
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:45 AM on August 2, 2001


I laughed at Kelly's column quite a few times, I admit, as I read it while standing on the Metro. Maybe living in the D.C. area is making me callous? Whatever the case, sure, it was mean, but relatively harmless.
posted by nedlog at 12:03 PM on August 2, 2001


I think it's important to recognize the structure of our cities and towns and the way in which America, as a society, deals with food.

We are very car-centric so there goes a lot of the exercise that we could be getting. Our cities are built completely around roads and buildings, not around or for, it seems, people.

Being busy and showing stress are signs of success here so it's no wonder the proliferation of fast food and junk food.

Our corporations exert constant pressure to make us as fat as possible while our entertainment industry lets us know that bones are beautiful.

Since being layed off, I'm able to set my own schedule (ha!). Sometimes I work long days and other times I don't. I have been able to make the time, though, for exercise and shopping for healthy food. I have a renewed interest in eating well because I can make time for it now. I've lost weight and quit smoking (mostly) because I don't have the day-to-day stress and pressure that caused me to reach for comfort food/vices to get me though the day.

Is this good for the economy? No. It's good for me, though.
posted by amanda at 12:09 PM on August 2, 2001


Should you cover your gut with spandex pants
And think you look as good as you could
Don't expect Michael Kelly to dance
He's always been in this bad a mood.

Next time: blank verse!

amanda? whoops?
posted by dhartung at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2001


This reminds me of an op-ed piece years ago in Time Magazine where the columnist bemoaned the dearth of attractive airline attendants. He travelled a lot for business, see, and seeing young nubile girls in tight uniforms was the one thing he looked forward to. But now, because of union rules, etc, there were *gasp* middle-aged women and, worse yet, male flight attendants, and that made travelling a downright drag.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:15 PM on August 2, 2001


Mike Welly's a stodgy ole grump
Wishes he could make everyone jump
"Change what you wear
And do with your hair"
His self-hatred he does dump.

(and it was "lycra")
posted by spandex at 12:20 PM on August 2, 2001


This has been some of the worst rhyming I have seen on MetaFilter. Make it stop.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 12:21 PM on August 2, 2001


This reminds me of an op-ed piece years ago in Time Magazine where the columnist bemoaned the dearth of attractive airline attendants.

You're thinking of USA Today founder Al Neuharth's 1989 column for the paper complaining about flight attendants who were "aging women" or "flighty young men."

His piece didn't show up in a search, but there is a funny Mike Royko rebuttal.
posted by rcade at 12:31 PM on August 2, 2001


Wilful unhealthiness is condemnable, in any form.

Things you did not choose and cannot change you cannot be charged with.


However, neither you, Michael Kelly nor anyone else can tell by appearance whether one is unhealthy, whether their condition is willful or not, and therefore your blanket condemnations are neither appropriate or anything short of rudeness at its limit.
posted by Dreama at 12:33 PM on August 2, 2001


Looking at people's fat rumps
Makes me feel down in the dumps
But my ass and thighs
Are the optimum size
So why should I look at you chumps?
posted by donkeymon at 12:35 PM on August 2, 2001


However, neither you, Michael Kelly nor anyone else can tell by appearance whether one is unhealthy, whether their condition is willful or not, and therefore your blanket condemnations are neither appropriate or anything short of rudeness at its limit.

This is bull. By seeing a 40 year-old, 300-pound woman on the street, I can tell whether or not she's been taking care of herself. I don't need a doctor to tell me that she's 'a bit overweight.' That's the kind of obesity we're talking about and condemning, Dreama. And I fail to see how you can defend anyone that has so little self-respect or regard for his or her own health.
posted by dogmatic at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2001


Why is almost everyone studiedly avoiding Kelly's comments about too many piercings and sagging acres of ink? Hey, I thought Me-Fiers were cool! Lets hear some threats to get uvula-piercings and Mitch Miller tattoos!

Upstanding citizen to W.C. Fields: "Sir! You are drunk!"
Fields: "Yeah, and you're crazy. But I'll be sober in the morning."

[Warning: quote from memory; search on "It's A Gift" for authoritative quote]
posted by Twang at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2001


I think one of the major problems, is that if you are 'a little bit overweight' (ie. don't look like a gap/abercrombie model) than you are ousted by society, no matter your actual look.

I am 'a little overweight' by definition. But I am still healthy.
posted by benjh at 1:06 PM on August 2, 2001


dogmatic, I'd like to see your Ph.D.

self-link

[mathowie, thanks for the ride - it's all been fun, man!]
posted by hijinx at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2001


Wow, dogmatic is being an ass. What are you, some sort of ultimate soldier tae-bo nut?

And I fail to see how you can defend anyone that has so little self-respect or regard for his or her own health.

Just because someone is heavy, doesn't automatically mean that they have no self-respect. Not everyone has the means to eat lentils and yogurt and weigh their so-called "optimal weight." This is a nation that encourages unhealthy eating and drinking, and it is often unavoidable. I am sorry if those people offend or scare you, I will try to keep them out of your site.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 1:09 PM on August 2, 2001


Dogmatic, I tend to think that a person who is as morbidly obese as you describe has a problem more serious than mere sloth. I seriously doubt that it is anyone's choice to be that way. 20 pounds overweight? Sure, many people will decide it isn't worth the effort to lose that weight. But 200 pounds overweight? It would be very difficult to gain that kind of weight on purpose. So I think that level of heftiness stems from a physical condition more than a psychological one.
posted by donkeymon at 1:10 PM on August 2, 2001


What on earth could be wrong with willful unhealthiness? What would be the point of condemning it? What business is it of anyone's? Why is it even something to be particularly avoided? I really am baffled at this idea, though I'm willing to learn, if someone can defend it.
posted by moss at 1:13 PM on August 2, 2001


Wow, dogmatic is being an ass. What are you, some sort of ultimate soldier tae-bo nut?

No, and I'm not "optimal weight" either. I'm 5'8" and got a paunch, I come from a family that's historically overweight (at least last four generations), and I refuse to believe the hype that obesity is unavoidable. I was an extremely fat kid, worked most of it off, and while I've slipped and am technically overweight, I do not allow myself to become obese.

This is a nation that encourages unhealthy eating and drinking, and it is often unavoidable.

This is also a nation that revels in avoiding responsibility for its own actions at all cost. The argument that people are genetically obese is tired. The argument that people have no choice in what they eat is tired. The argument that people trying to lose weight often have a poor conception of self and are often depressed is tired. The argument that society shapes people into obese turds is tired.

At any point, these people can turn their lives around if they have the motivation. At any point, they can choose to eat smaller portions of better food (lentils and yogurt be damned, there are healthy, tasty, and low-cost foods to be had). At any point these people can begin an exercise regimen (which does not require a gym...one can work to lose weight through sit-ups, push-ups, running and any other number of equipment-less exercises). At any point these people can make themselves feel better about themselves just by trying.

I've been there, and entering a self-determined weight-loss program is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, and it's difficult to get through the first couple of days and weeks and months. But by god, it's not impossible. And I'm tired of hearing about people who for whatever reason cannot lose weight. In almost all situations they can, if only they'd try hard enough.
posted by dogmatic at 1:29 PM on August 2, 2001


but we all could stand a little less time in front of a monitor doing reps with a 12 ounce beer and a 10 ounce remote and maybe go outside. we'd be happier (exercise is good for the brain, too

I get sad/pissed/worried about the future of this land.


I can't imagine a worse experience than forcing myself to go subscribe to a gym and start lifting things because it would supposedly make me happy. I've got so many better things to do with my time its ridiculous.

Its the artificiality of the situation that gets me the most - "I live in a major city, live a modern lifestyle, have more than a few interests, and now have to pay Bally's x amount a month and run a treadmill/lift weights so I can lose these extra 10-20lbs."

Everyone I know who makes an effort to be nice and fit has a strong motive for it. My brother wants to be a big bodybuilder, my coworkers talk strictly about the sex appeal of being fit and tan, what's-his-face loves martial arts, and some just like playing volleyball or whatnot. If you don't have a motive making the effort feels exactly like work and no one likes work.

As for the future of this "land", that's just laughable. Its like fat was just invented last year and we're really concerned.
posted by skallas at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2001


What on earth could be wrong with willful unhealthiness? What would be the point of condemning it? What business is it of anyone's? Why is it even something to be particularly avoided? I really am baffled at this idea, though I'm willing to learn, if someone can defend it.

One person's willful unhealthiness is not necessarily a problem. It's when we become a society of people that are willfully unhealthy that it should be condemned, methinks. And we're very nearly at that point, I'd say.

Among other things, it skews the population's perceptions of a) what is acceptable and b) what is healthy. We are re-thinking what is considered healthy in the name of social accpetance and in so doing we are becoming even larger as a nation. It's a vicious cycle, and one that is lately spinning out of control. As more children are being brought up in obese households, more children are growing up to be obese, having obese households themselves and having more obese children. On a whole, obesity is not healthy (though, as Dreama points out, there are exceptions to this) which means that as it becomes socially acceptable, we as a nation become increasingly unhealthy.
posted by dogmatic at 1:40 PM on August 2, 2001


As for the future of this "land", that's just laughable. Its like fat was just invented last year and we're really concerned.

No, but in the last twenty years our nation has become increasingly obese. It makes one wonder when we will reach critical mass.
posted by dogmatic at 1:42 PM on August 2, 2001


On a whole, obesity is not healthy ... which means that as it becomes socially acceptable, we as a nation become increasingly unhealthy.

So the majority of Americans become increasingly unhealthy. Why not let them, if that's what they want to do? You yourself pointed out that most people are quite capable of being healthy if they really want to be. Why should it matter if that's not what some others choose to do?
posted by moss at 2:13 PM on August 2, 2001


Anagram:
Kelly:We are some kind of fat = I WOK SEDENTARY FEMALE FOLK
posted by swell at 2:18 PM on August 2, 2001


No, but in the last twenty years our nation has become increasingly obese. It makes one wonder when we will reach critical mass.

Yeah, we're all slowly becoming Springer guests.

Thanks but no thanks I don't want nor need a state philosophy on health to be part of my life. After all we're talking about our "critical mass" reaching nation. I'll stick with personal choice and leave the sky is falling inanities to the extremists.
posted by skallas at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2001


I've noticed that it's generally the formerly fat (such as anil and dogmatic) who are the most likely to run down the currently fat.

The formerly fat seem to be under the impression that since they used to be fat, what would be rude if said by someone else is no big deal if they say it.

The ff are also under the impression that since they solved their problem that anyone else can solve his or her problem the same way. Presuming to know what's best for everyone based on your own limited experience is a good definition of arrogance.

God save us from the zeal of the converted.
posted by anapestic at 2:49 PM on August 2, 2001


And I fail to see how you can defend anyone that has so little self-respect or regard for his or her own health.

Because unless you know that person and their medical history, you don't know whether or not that person has self-respect or regard for his/her health, you can only make arrogant, self-righteous, judgemental presumptions that are based upon nothing more than your own prejudices.

At any point, these people can turn their lives around if they have the motivation.

Or so you presume -- you don't know. You cannot know. They may have already "turned their lives around" anyway -- the 300 lb. woman you see today may have been a 450 lb. woman a year ago. Or she may have been a 200 lb. woman a year ago with a metabolic disorder, pulmonary disease and severe arthritis which limits her ability to exercise and causes her to gain weight while eating a normal or even calorie restricted diet. If you're not her doctor, how would you tell?

And more importantly, what business is it of yours to tell in the first place?

We are re-thinking what is considered healthy in the name of social accpetance and in so doing we are becoming even larger as a nation.

Yes, indeedy, so many people are so tolerant of fat folks that everyone's getting fat! It's the trend of the new millenium, everyone gain weight! It's so much fun getting winded climbing a flight of stairs and having to pay double the price for clothes that are half the quality! It's great to have a double chin and stretch marks!

No one is saying that anyone should accept the idea that it's okay to be overweight and unhealthy. What they are saying is that no one should treat fat people as though they are nothing more than the sum of the numbers when they step on the scale.

By reducing all fat people to nothing more than greasy, undisciplined, wretched looking hordes who are doing a grave disservice to society, fat people are dehumanised and stripped of their personhood. When an entire category of people are targetted and written off as a whole, denoted as nothing more than a blight on our visual and medical landscapes, it should make everyone stop and ask what the purpose of such proclamations are.
posted by Dreama at 3:01 PM on August 2, 2001


Ya know, you have to be pretty heavy to be "unhealthy." It's not like the average person with a beer gut is going to see any real health problems from being overweight. They will, however, not look so good in spandex.
posted by Doug at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2001


Damn, I clicked post before I was finished.

. . . it should make everyone stop and ask what the purpose of such proclamations are.

It came as little surprise to me to see that the ad on the page was for eDiets. The "weight loss" industry in this country (whose long-term results are only rivaled by the substance -recovery industry in terms of failure) is a multi-billion dollar moneymaker that capitalises on nothing so much but a sense of failure, shame and low self-worth. Those destructive ideas are routinely bolstered by the diet companies in their advertising, which feeds us images and concepts of how much better our lives would be "if only" we were slimmer -- and how much we're missing as fatties -- especially women, who are routinely told that they will never be beautiful so long as they're fat, and strongly imply that only when they are thin will they be happy and loved .

An article like this, whose only purpose is to denegrate and embarrass people solely because of their weight, is just the kind of free reinforcement that companies like eDiets crave. Kind of makes one wonder if there's some quid pro quo going on, if Kelly is an opportunistic jackass, or just a general one.
posted by Dreama at 3:15 PM on August 2, 2001


So the majority of Americans become increasingly unhealthy. Why not let them, if that's what they want to do? You yourself pointed out that most people are quite capable of being healthy if they really want to be. Why should it matter if that's not what some others choose to do?

The fast and easy answer to this is that a nation of unhealthy people stresses that nation's health industry. The less healthy we are, the more primary health physicians are needed, the more overpriced surgery is needed, the more expensive these things become. Health care costs go up, everyone hurts. From those that are willfully unhealthy to those that make a conscious decision not to be obese, everyone feels the increase in medical costs. Not a fun future.
posted by dogmatic at 3:19 PM on August 2, 2001


everyone stop and ask what the purpose of such proclamations are.

It's probably to make them feel superior to others and feel better about themselves. The "I would never let myself go like that" mentality that makes one secure and lets one focus less on one's own faults.

I've been becoming less concerned about what people settle for. I know some of the things that I want in life and I need to be somewhat fit to enjoy them. I don't see how that some of the activities that I enjoy are better or make me better if the end result is the same. One can shed a lot of excess stress from life if one declines to believe people should look and act a certain way. Appearance does not dictate personality.
posted by john at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2001


Dreama - Yes, indeedy, so many people are so tolerant of fat folks that everyone's getting fat! It's the trend of the new millenium, everyone gain weight!

Can you suggest another reason for obesity to have ballooned in the past two decades?

What they are saying is that no one should treat fat people as though they are nothing more than the sum of the numbers when they step on the scale.

Perhaps not, but do you have a better way to promote health awareness while spreading the contradictory "be happy - it's ok to be fat" message?

Doug - Ya know, you have to be pretty heavy to be "unhealthy." It's not like the average person with a beer gut is going to see any real health problems from being overweight.

This is the exact same type of thinking that I'm talking about. Of course the 'average person with a beer gut' has gained about 20 pounds over the last twenty years.
posted by dogmatic at 3:35 PM on August 2, 2001


Perhaps not, but do you have a better way to promote health awareness while spreading the contradictory "be happy - it's ok to be fat" message?


Funny how there's no mention of the weight-obsesed young girls in Dogmatic's posts. Personally, I'd like to see the "its ok to be fat" meme cancel out the "girls shoud look like ultra-thin models" meme. "Fat" is also a pretty ambigious term to begin with, so I think the message would actually be a positive one.
posted by skallas at 3:48 PM on August 2, 2001


Can you suggest another reason for obesity to have ballooned in the past two decades?

Where should I start.

How about the rising prevalence of sedentary jobs and the associated decline in jobs which require physical labor? Even manufacturing is much less demanding than it had been due to automation.

How about the increasing number of suburban dwellers who have no choice but to drive everywhere because there is nothing close enough to their homes that they can walk?

How about the amazing growth of personal computers in the home that people park themselves in front of for hours on end, posting on MeFi and chatting on ICQ?

How about the development of new and previously unavailable or unattainable entertainment like in home video games, DVDs and 500 channel cable/satellite TV?

How about the growing number of families with two working parents which means a lot of latchkey kids who plunk themselves in front of the aforementioned PCs and TVs while eating whatever salt, fat and sugar laden convenience foods the parents stock up on because they're "easier" than making healthy meals when you stumble in a 6:30 and have a ton of activities and chores still to do?

Is that enough, or should I keep going?

Perhaps not, but do you have a better way to promote health awareness while spreading the contradictory "be happy - it's ok to be fat" message?

What "it's ok to be fat" message? Who is saying that? No one has said that it's okay to be anything. What they have said is that it's not okay to be judgemental and rude to people based upon their weight. What they have said is that no matter what your size, you should be free from condemnation, accusation and assumptions from people who don't know you but think that they know everything about you based upon how you look. There's a big difference.

The fast and easy answer to this is that a nation of unhealthy people stresses that nation's health industry.

That's right -- so why don't you go crusade against people whose lifestyles are unquestionably unhealthy and who could not possibly be improving themselves so long as they continue as they are, like the people who are still smoking, still drugging, still drinking to excess, still driving under the influence, still speeding, still living a totally sedentary lifestyle, still having casual, unprotected sex. . .

Oh, because it's not nearly as easy to pinpoint those people, so you just go for the most obvious targets. Heaven forbid that on your crusade to improve the public health that you should have to do a little work!

Personally, I'd like to see the "its ok to be fat" meme cancel out the "girls shoud look like ultra-thin models" meme. "Fat" is also a pretty ambigious term to begin with, so I think the message would actually be a positive one.

Damn straight. Remembering the thread about the size 10 "plus size" model from last week, you're right on the money.
posted by Dreama at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2001


Skallas and Dreama... grrr. The majority of anorexics are men. That's right. The utter mythology of ads making women feel the need to starve themselves is so god damned dated, I'm amazed it holds any weight at all on MetaFilter.

Moreover, I'm unhappy with the lack of equality continually expressed on Metafilter over weight issues. It seems perfectly O.K. to rail against thing people, yet completely unacceptable to mention that one prefers the thin to the fat. Also, the excuse that most fat people have excuses is ridiculous. Anorexia is a mental disorder, and the population afflicted with it is therefore very small. On the other hand, over half of Americans are overweight. The majority of these are inexcusable by mitigating circumstances. If they were all mitigated, the number of underweight people would equal the number of overweight people.

And to finish it off: the disdain the fat experience is barely noticable in the face of the viciousness the thin are subjected to, as this thread proves.

P.S.--why doesn't spellcheck work on NS6/Win?
posted by Ptrin at 4:52 PM on August 2, 2001


Skallas and Dreama... grrr. The majority of anorexics are men.

Where did I write anorexia? Do tell. If you re-read my post the words were "weight-obsessed," like young girls on very unhealthy diets doing very serious harm to their bodies for the sake of the manufactured standard of beauty.

In other words, tan and thin does not equal healthy nor does pale and fat equal unhealthy.

Grrr right back at ya.
posted by skallas at 5:06 PM on August 2, 2001


You know, I should probably be upset about this thread.

But I'm not.

I eat what I want, exercise when I want. I'm in the overweight category, don't really care, could break the spines of most people I meet, don't do that. I can lift several hundred pounds over my head and carry it around.

Healthy, unhealthy, whatever. I've survived a lethal condition, an absolutely horrific life, and I'm not going anywhere. Articles about how fat Americans are mean nothing, in the long term. Neither do magazines with extreme or unusual body images.

I've gone in my life from the skinniest person in my school to a build remarkably similar to a mountain gorilla. I've been on both sides, and people were assholes. There are always going to be vicious, arrogant people who need to pick on others to get any sense of self worth. Those people are bullies, and I made it my life's goal to give it back to them for a few years. But it is ultimately dissatisfying. They are weak. They fold under pressure. You hit one in the face and then he's trying to hold back tears, trying to understand how he went from dominator to dominated.

Size of body? Eh. It would be nice if we could all be healthy. If we would stop poisoning our food, our water, stop eating like mad and sometimes regurgitating it. If we could just be.

Maybe it won't happen. Maybe it will.

I'm going to be happy anyway. Those of you who want to join me in being happy, cool. Those of you who want to snipe at other people, go fuck yourselves.

I say this with love. Trust me. Last week I nearly had a stroke I was getting so pissed off. It's no good. Too much rage is as deadly as not enough. All things in moderation, I say to you, my son: and remember also those things which are the province of the immortal gods, which are impervious to your irritation.

Fat or thin or just right or somewhere else. It's true that most fat people are fat because they're eating food that's cheaper, with more cheap fats and hard to digest carbohydrates and additives. It's also true that some peoplke treat food like a friend, or even an enemy, rather than as a mere need.

But the fact is, looking back, there have always been cultures with different diets and different body types. Ten thousand years ago, they apparently found people with body types three times as massive as once could find on those poor people who end up on Talk Shows attractive.

Anyway. Not much else to say. I'm happy with myself, with a body that can run when I ask it to, that can smash down a door and lift another human being right off the ground even while they squirm. Fat? Yep. But powerful, and that's good for me. I survive. I endure. Nothing has managed to kill me yet.

That's really all I can ask. And all I do.
posted by Ezrael at 5:16 PM on August 2, 2001


"Grrr baby, very grrr."

The fact still remains that the vast majority of people with weight problems are overweight, not underweight. At the 25th percentile, I'm considered underweight. At the 50th, others are overweight. Its pretty darn clear.

Also, who said tan was healthy? I'd rather not have my girlfriend die early from skin cancer, thanks. But I'd also like it if she didn't suffer from heart disease.
posted by Ptrin at 5:50 PM on August 2, 2001


I read this article last night when I noticed it on Yahoo's most popular list. It made me sad more than anything. I do not have a weight problem, but several people close to me do. When I see overweight people, I feel compassion and wish there was something I could do to help.

Now before I get slammed for "fat-bashing", there are very good reasons for concern. According to statistics cited in Fast Food Nation, obesity is the second leading cause of death in the United States, smoking ranks first. The CDC estimates 280,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of obesity. Annual medical costs are more than $240 billion, and $33 billion is spent every year on dieting products and programs.

I personally blame poor diet and nutrition for much of this. However this is not as simple a choice as we'd like to believe. In most parts of the country eating well is very difficult. Healthy food costs more and you get less. Cheap fast food has convinced us that a normal meal today is nearly three times as large as a normal meal 25 years ago.

Also consider how much soda Americans drink. The report Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans' Health has a diagram displaying the increase in single serving sizes of soda. In 1950, a coke was 6.5 oz. Now a single serving is usually 20 oz or 1 liter. A supersized meal comes with a 32 oz soda. A 12 oz can has 160 calories, or about 13 calories an ounce. Therefore a 32 oz soda has about 420 calories, more than two Snickers candy bars.

This year, for the first time in my life I dieted. I lost 20 pounds. It was among the hardest things I've ever done. The biggest factors for me were changing my diet, cutting out soda and eating smaller portions.
posted by joemaller at 6:20 PM on August 2, 2001



Wait, wait, wait. I just have to respond to Ptrin. Where on earth did you get the idea that the majority of anorexics are men? Everything I've ever read said that 90% to 95% of anorexics are women/girls. Do you have anything to back up your claim?

posted by acridrabbit at 7:19 PM on August 2, 2001


That's right -- so why don't you go crusade against people whose lifestyles are unquestionably unhealthy and who could not possibly be improving themselves so long as they continue as they are, like the people who are still smoking, still drugging, still drinking to excess, still driving under the influence, still speeding, still living a totally sedentary lifestyle, still having casual, unprotected sex. . .

Because dear, they are not at issue here. No one mentioned them prior to you...And, well, I dislike and would rail against all of those unhealthy behaviors. But that's a bit off-topic, is it not?

As the number two killer, obesity deserves some attention, does it not? You like to talk a lot about those that can't reverse the process, and spend their lives fighting a losing battle. Unfortunately, they are probably a minority of the truly obese population. Most people that are obese do not try to change the fact, or they do not try hard enough.

But no one is born obese. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of time to become obese, a lot of time that can be spent avoiding obesity. What about not getting to that point to begin with? Not allowing our children to become obese? Why is that so difficult a concept?

PS I love you Dreama. You give my life meaning.
posted by dogmatic at 8:15 PM on August 2, 2001


Honestly, I have absolutely no idea. I know there was some disease thought to be a "women's" disease that really affects more men than women. Worse than being wrong, now I have no idea what disease I was thinking of :/

The other point still stands, though. Men have body issues as well as women... it just isn't reported as much.
posted by Ptrin at 8:35 PM on August 2, 2001


I am going to break out the hose if you damn kids do start getting along. Enough with the fat-bashing and back-lashing... from a line in a big movie I saw over the weekend, with apes in it: "Can't we all just get along?"
(yes, I now that was Rodney's originally)
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:37 PM on August 2, 2001


don't start getting along... I mean.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 8:38 PM on August 2, 2001


Not everyone has the means to eat lentils and yogurt and weigh their so-called "optimal weight." This is a nation that encourages unhealthy eating and drinking, and it is often unavoidable.

What crap. There are more choices in the average supermarket BY FAR than at any time in the past, and in every price range. No one forces anyone to life on Cheetos and Pepsi. I could care less what eating habits the "nation" encourages. Anyone with the slightest concern about their own health and well being can do the minimal research required to determine what constitutes healthy eating, and then follow it.

And the other factor, portion size, is theoretically inversely proportional to relative wealth, as well as entirely controllable on an individual basis.
posted by rushmc at 8:47 PM on August 2, 2001


Ya know, you have to be pretty heavy to be "unhealthy." It's not like the average person with a beer gut is going to see any real health problems from being overweight. They will, however, not look so good in spandex.

Totally untrue. There have been numerous studies that seem to show fairly dire effects of being as little as 15-20 pounds overweight (via heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.).
posted by rushmc at 8:49 PM on August 2, 2001


'cause i want a fat babe ...
requires flash
posted by bwg at 10:31 PM on August 2, 2001


I'm remembering the pro-anorexia thread right now and wondering why it's okay to make fun of thin people, some naturally skinny and some mentally ill, and suddenly taboo to make a fat joke. Either weight (surplus or lack of) jokes are funny, or they aren't -- make your choice and stick with it.
posted by lia at 11:37 PM on August 2, 2001


[Cheerleader post]

Ezrael - yes!

[/Cheerleader post]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:43 PM on August 2, 2001


Fat or thin, I think I'm going blind. *
posted by john at 12:12 AM on August 3, 2001


ezrael - great post!

like you - i went from thin-boy at school to (not quite a mountain gorilla) a fairly big boy.

like you, i've been derided. the world will always be filled with pointy-headed cretins.

you are not one of them.
posted by bwg at 2:58 AM on August 3, 2001


eeeeek! someone (and it was not me) forgot to close the font tag, so i'll do it.
posted by bwg at 2:59 AM on August 3, 2001


this font be too skinny.
posted by dogmatic at 5:59 AM on August 3, 2001


in the last twenty years our nation has become increasingly obese. It makes one wonder when we will reach critical mass.

Fantastic
posted by werty at 6:48 AM on August 3, 2001


A supersized meal comes with a 32 oz soda.

Old data. A supersized meal comes with a 42 oz soda.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:30 AM on August 3, 2001


The majority of these are inexcusable by mitigating circumstances. If they were all mitigated, the number of underweight people would equal the number of overweight people.

That has to be one of the most ridiculous, nonsensical, illogical statements I have read in a long time.
posted by syzygy at 1:15 PM on August 3, 2001


Rushmc: Anyone with the slightest concern about their own health and well being can do the minimal research required to determine what constitutes healthy eating, and then follow it.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Yes, they could do the research, but the field of nutrition is bewildering at best. The very obese have probably tried all the fad diets and signed up for all of the Jenny Craigs and Weight Watchers with no success.

So they turn to the USDA food pyramid ... the gov't must have the official word, yes? NO. That article is about the new book by Walter Willet that supports the thought gaining support from nutritionists that Americans have been poisoning themselves with pasta, cheese, and "bad" carbohydrates ... most Americans have NO CLUE about eating healthfully. I've been researching healthy eating for six months, and have yet to find a book that isn't quite convincing that it's method (completely different from everything else I've read) is true and correct. It's baffling and I'm learning far more about biology than I had intended ... but the more I study the more I realize that I have to be Conscious of Every Single Thing I put my mouth. You're only as healthy as your last meal.
posted by Johannahh at 2:28 PM on August 3, 2001


You're only as healthy as your last meal

Only if you get food poisoning. I changed my diet last year and do a lot of walking and barely any other exercise. I have dropped 30 pounds. I eat no meat other than occasional seafood and very little cheese or other fat-rich foods. Gradual change is a good plan. There are plenty of great tasting foods that are good for you. I am currently quite taken by white peaches, a great desert alternative.

But the biggest factor is that I simply eat less and what I do eat is not wasted calories, etc. It's a slow road, but it gets easier and you get stronger and you get more energy as your body becomes more efficient. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to know the difference between needs and wants.
posted by john at 3:28 PM on August 3, 2001


This article is about the Olive Garden and all the other crap Americans eat out of ignorance and coroporate control of the food supply. It's also about the fashion ignorance of Americans. AMERICANS: START BY STOP DRINKING FRUIT JUICE.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:11 PM on August 3, 2001


P.S: Americans: turn of NASCAR, your kid a bicycle. Or at least watch the Tour de France. So many little cultural things contribute to the pathetic state of Americans' health.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:16 PM on August 3, 2001


So they turn to the USDA food pyramid ...

I realize that there is a LOT of mis- and disinformation out there. I was talking more about (what should be) common sense type things: smaller portions; no snacking between meals; no eating right before going to bed; less fat, sugar, and "empty calories"; more fruits and vegetables; etc.

Fad diets aren't necessary (or usually healthy). Sensible eating will work wonders for the vast majority of people (see john's testimony above).
posted by rushmc at 5:11 PM on August 3, 2001


turn of NASCAR, your kid a bicycle

That is either very Zen or very Dada.
posted by kindall at 9:26 PM on August 3, 2001


It's "turn off NASCAR; get your kid a bicycle." And get you one too.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2001


The survey (a work in progress)

DC: lots of fat people
Denver: fewer fat people
Austin: I thought there were fewer fat people than DC, but then I went to Wal-Mart and H&B (HEB? whatever)

Also, there seems to be a not-very-mysterious social force at work in Austin encouraging white women to go blonde.
posted by NortonDC at 10:22 PM on August 3, 2001


Norton:

Go down to the hike & bike trail in Austin on any weekend morning.. you'll see a different group of people.

It is interesting to me, though, that I've seen regional differences in weight as well. I've seen a lot less heavier people on the two coasts, but all in the midwest, the people seem a lot heavier. But, in the midwest, it's mostly what I've seen at the airport.

Does that mean larger people don't like direct flights?
hmmm. all so confusing.
posted by j at 7:09 AM on October 7, 2001


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