Okay, Now I’m Mad

Because this bullshit is evidently gaining traction.

Carrying a spare tire or two around the waist has become socially acceptable in the United States as the population’s waistlines have expanded, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Yeah. I’m not even kidding. They really fucking published that.

What are they basing this on?

In 1994 the average woman tipped the scales at 147 pounds but she wanted to weigh only 132 pounds — but less than a decade later the average woman weighed 153 pounds but said her desired weight was 135 pounds

Because the average woman’s desired weight has gone up three pounds, there is obviously “less social pressure” to lose weight!

Um, except for one thing. In 1994, the average woman wanted to lose 15 pounds. Today, the average woman wants to lose 18.

Can you see the headlines if you spun the numbers that way?

STUDY: AMERICAN WOMEN UNHAPPIER WITH THEIR BODIES THAN EVER BEFORE

STUDY: AVERAGE WOMAN WANTS TO LOSE MORE THAN 10% OF BODY WEIGHT

STUDY: AS WAISTLINES EXPAND, DIETERS BECOME DESPERATE TO LOSE MORE

But no, we get this fucking bullshit about fat suddenly being “socially acceptable” instead.

The other basis for that outrageous conclusion is “a previous study in which 87 percent of Americans, including 48 percent of obese Americans, believed their body weight fell in the ‘socially acceptable’ range.”

Once again, that tells us exactly jack shit. What it tells us is that 48% of people in the obese BMI category believe their body weight falls in the “socially acceptable” range. We’ve already discussed that being in the “obese” BMI category and looking like the headless people they illustrate these articles with are two very different things.

 

See the difference?

Edit, because this may not have been clear before: Please note that there is absolutely no difference between me and the woman in the other photo in terms of our humanity or the respect we deserve. There may very well be no difference in our overall health, either. There is, however, a vast difference in our social acceptability — and yet we are both clinically obese. By implying that a majority of “obese” people A) look more like her than me and B ) believe their bodies are socially acceptable, the researchers and reporter here are propagating the myth that fat people are ignorant and/or delusional.

And believing you fall into a “socially acceptable” weight range is not the same thing as believing you are not fat, or not hated for it. I believe I fall into a “socially acceptable” weight range, insofar as I’m not harassed by strangers about my weight very often (though it’s happened), I can fit into airplane seats (barely), and I’m still small enough that people talk shit about “real” fatties in front of me.

But do I believe most people look at me and think I’m a “healthy” weight? No. Do I believe I could get into a club that only lets the Beautiful People past the rope? No. Do I believe the average straight man in this culture would look at me and think, “Yeah, I’d love to have her on my arm?” No. Do I believe I could walk into any doctor’s office and not be harangued about my BMI before I’ve had my blood pressure taken or cholesterol checked? No. Do I believe that if I have ice cream in my grocery cart, some asshole won’t look at that and go home and blog about how fatties are killing themselves by overeating? No.

Do I believe fat is socially acceptable? FUCK NO. And I am fat. But I would still say I fall into the “socially acceptable” range if asked, because 20 years past the 7th grade, I am no longer directly bullied for being fat on a regular basis. I can walk into an interview for the average office job and not be judged unfit to do that job before I ever open my mouth. I can walk into most stores and not be ignored by the salespeople. I can sit next to a stranger on a plane without him asking the flight attendant why I wasn’t forced to buy two seats. Some fat people don’t have any of those privileges, and I am very aware of mine.

I’m also totally willing to believe that 87% of Americans do fall into the socially acceptable range, if you define it like that. People built like the woman who unwittingly became the illustration for this article are a tiny percentage of the population. And believe me, those people know goddamned well how socially unacceptable they are.

I am so FUCKING SICK of these articles that all purport to scientifically demonstrate the same basic thing: fat people are stupid, deluded, and living light years away from reality. We don’t know we’re fat. We don’t know how fat we are. We don’t know that being fat is supposedly unhealthy. We don’t know that apples have more vitamins than Twinkies. We don’t know that people in this culture don’t like our bodies. We don’t know that Dane Cook doesn’t want to fuck us. We don’t know that most people think burning more calories than you consume will guarantee long-term weight loss. We don’t know that if we say we eat a normal amount of food and exercise regularly yet remain fat, the “scientific” response will be that we are big, fat liars.

Dear Universe,

WE FUCKING KNOW.

Love,

Teh Fatties

For Christ’s sake. Have these people ever spoken to a fat person? A claim like “Carrying a spare tire or two around the waist has become socially acceptable in the United States” is so PATENTLY FUCKING ABSURD, the only conclusion I can draw is that some thin scientists and reporters are stupid, deluded, and living light years away from reality.

And this particular piece of bullshit doesn’t just infuriate me; it terrifies me. Because once they’ve established that fat is “socially acceptable,” the next step is ramping up the organized campaign to “teach us” that it’s not.

I don’t even want to imagine how they’ll do that.

50 thoughts on “Okay, Now I’m Mad

  1. I don’t have anything to add to what you said.

    You said it all right on the money!

    The mainstream media does a horrible job of analyzing any story or study they get. They do no research or analysis to investigate whether the claim of the headline is true.

  2. I can’t believe they used that picture. The woman in that picture is far from the 153 pounds the average woman weighs and even further from from the 135 pounds the average woman wants to weigh. And without ever having met her I can tell you with 100% certainty that she knows her weight is not socially acceptable. And being fat is more acceptable because our target weights have increased by three pounds? Jesus, my weight fluctuates by three pounds of water depending on the time of the month. Three pounds is absolutely negligible.

  3. Deborah, no shit.

    I might need to do an entire post at some point about the use of phrases like “a spare tire or two,” “packing on the pounds,” “tipping the scales,” “rolls of blubber,” etc. in ostensibly serious science reporting.

    Like, could the bias be any fucking clearer? The same reporters don’t write about a decrease in heart disease by saying, “Fewer tickers are crapping out these days!” But fat is inevitably described with pejorative slang.

  4. I just recently started following your blog, so if I’m off base here, please excuse me, but in reading this post, the way a distinction is made between people who are “obese” according to the BMI standards and the “real fatties” (as you put it) comes across as if the “real fatties” are, I don’t quite know how to put it, but like it would be an insult to someone in the “obese-per-BMI” group to be lumped in with the “real fatties.”

    Given that I’m closer to the 2nd picture above than the 1st one, maybe I’m just hypersensitive. I’ve run into several people who advocate for size acceptance and encouraging people to be healthy at any size, up until it becomes more convenient for them to essentially declare the super-obese (for lack of a better term) to be something of a mutual enemy – almost like they think they can distract some of the “dieting-advocates” by pointing to the super-obese and saying “see? we’re not *nearly* THAT bad! Those are the people who really need help!”

    Again, I may well be taking what you’re saying entirely the wrong way, and I truly hope I am. I’ve appreciated a great deal of what you’ve written so far, and didn’t want to just dismiss you and your site without giving you a chance to correct my impression if it is, in fact, wrong.

  5. Kriselda, that’s a totally fair point. I just addressed this in comments at Shakespeare’s Sister, because I realized my sarcasm may not have been coming through. I’ll also edit the post. And I’m really sorry if you spent a minute feeling like I think you’re the enemy or less deserving of rights than I am.

    Here’s what I said over there:

    And on a serious note, I hope no one misinterprets my use of that contrast as suggesting, “I’m not like THEM. THEY’RE the bad fatties!” This post is laced with a lot of angry sarcasm that I fear may not come through to the uninitiated.

    So for the record: there are not “good” fat people and “bad” fat people. There are just a whole lot of different body types that qualify as “obese,” and yet the media would like us to believe that “obese” = extremely fat, and that there are extremely fat people on every corner. There just aren’t.

    And the extremely fat people who are out there — especially those having their pictures taken and printed without permission for the purpose of evoking disgust and/or laffs — have taken quite enough shit already, for the love of Pete.

  6. Amen. I particularly like your point about the semantics invoked in journalism about “obesity” as opposed to heart problems. Since when is it professional for news outlets to be using terms like “spare tires”? Sheesh.

  7. I said this on the fat studies list — I really think this type of reporting is a push to get our society to believe that fat acceptance is what is making us fat. They can’t have us giving up dieting and the like. What would happen to our economy?

    Fat acceptance must be working if they are trying tactics like this.

  8. I’m still small enough that people talk shit about “real” fatties in front of me.
    Kate, that’s me as well, post WLS. And part of that comes from this ‘understanding’ ‘we’ all have that I’m to be somewhat ashamed of my size, but would never let myself be ‘that’.
    I have a bisexual married friend (an ex-boyfriend, in fact) who says he lives a ‘het privileged life’, and it constantly tries his ethics, the fact that he ‘passes’.
    I pass now. Which is what I wanted. Whooh hooh?

    I have a girlfriend who would describe fat women as well rounded. She would say, So and so is well rounded and first I would think, She’s educated? and then I would think No, she’s just fat. I finally asked my friend to stop saying it. She was on the side of good, but the coming at it sideways, saying it but not saying it, felt like trickery. She totally got it and we discussed options… if she’s not comfortable saying fat, I offered up round and a few others. Training.

  9. I really am perplexed by people who seem to think that fat folks have it easy these days. I was reading through the forums at an art site, and found a thread where people were complaining about the new show Fat March, because, apparently, “fat people get enough breaks already”, and don’t need any more handouts. WTF? I have seen people complaining that fat people never get made fun of, that clothes are too big now because of all the fatties, etc. Well, the last two times I’ve gone grocery shopping, people have, out of the blue, made fun of me for being fat, to my face. And I’m not “that big”, so I can only imagine what it’s like for people who are. Whoever thinks that being big is acceptable, is fucking whacked, I’m sorry.

  10. Lethe – I watched the first episode of Fat March and if that’s what they got out of that show, then we really do have effed up values. It was awful.

    Kate – you forgot to add that teh fatties don’t know they are ugly and smelly (since all of those opinions were so eloquently elucidated at Digg about this article…the link is on the Big Fat Blog).

  11. I was gonna mention that “tipped the scales” crap. I think it may have started as a neutral colloquialism… like this is the weight at which the bar on the scale tips, and is therefore your weight… but nowadays it clearly implies that the person “tipping the scales” is heavier than they should be. I guess this means that the “average 1994 woman” as described was a real fattie at 145 lbs. You know, Lonie Mc., maybe you are right that this means fat acceptance might actually be making a dent because they are really grasping at straws (even more than usual) to try and foster “obesity panic” over women who weigh 145 or 153 lbs.

    This whole avuncular, snidely amused “oh-ho-ho” tone that is taken toward fat people in mainstream media “science” reporting, apart from being irritating, is so dehumanizing and paternalistic. It drives me insane. Kate, I would love to see a post on the topic if you do decide to write it.

  12. After leaving this thread I saw a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new “rebuttal” feature that Google News will offer. It sounds like they plan to contact people quoted in some news stories and offer them the opportunity to make “comments” that will be posted along with the story. Unfortunately it’s only a tiny bit of the article but if you’re a subscriber (we are given access to some of their content at work) you can read the whole thing.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118661292595292298.html?mod=hpp_us_whats_news

    The main thing that caught my eye was that at the end, there was a quotation from a New Mexico professor who viewed this as an opportunity to flesh out his statements in articles where only a couple of sentences were used out of a 15-20 minute interview. The guy had been quoted in a vaguely-referenced “fast food” article so it got me to thinking. This could be of some benefit if the actual researcher is given a chance to provide additional information that would be viewed along with a typical mainstream media article on weight. Maybe the information a reader sees, at least on Google News, would be a little more balanced and less hysterical if that happened.

  13. I might need to do an entire post at some point about the use of phrases like “a spare tire or two,” “packing on the pounds,” “tipping the scales,” “rolls of blubber,” etc. in ostensibly serious science reporting.

    It’s worth doing. I posted maybe 2 years ago about the use of “blubber” and a quote from “Baby Got Back” in an article about medical care of larger people.

    The language issue is serious, it’s as though people are incapable of writing about obesity without showing disgust; as if they’re afraid of being seen as neutral or approving.

    And Roberta, what you never lived with was the constant roller coast. My history is of “successful” roller coaster dieting. Losing 60 pounds and keeping it off for three years; that sort of thing. And let me tell you, the things people are willing to say!! “You looked so awful before” sort of thing. And then when the weight comes back (plus more)? How are you supposed to forget what they said?

  14. It’s not “tough love,” it’s facism! Why not just
    encourage people to exercise and eat right? Scary
    to think what kind of world our children and grandchildren
    are going to come into. If you don’t think America is
    headed away from democracy, then please rent
    the movies Children of Men or V for Vendetta, which
    shows how the world could look in about 50 years!

    If these employees really care about Americans’ weight,
    then why not boycott inner-city fast food restaurants or
    organize walk-a-thons? Why? Because they don’t give
    a flying fuck about us!

  15. Um, maybe I’m wrong, but hasn’t the “average woman” also aged a few years in that time? Aren’t the Boomers still throwing all that “average” business out of whack, or have I missed a memo on that one?

    Not like it seriously matters, just… GRRR!!! Thorn SMASH!!

    And I would love to see a post on the use of pejorative language in what is supposed to be “objective” science reporting. It gives that kind of thing a double-dose of faux-authority – first because it’s in the newspaper, and secondly because it’s “scientific” and everyone KNOWS that scientists never have preconceived notions or biases of any kind. Nope no sirree! Never!

  16. So who exactly are all these fat people who are blissfully unaware of their adiposity? I’ve met a lot of fat people, and I’ve never met one of those EVER.

    Yeah, there are cultures and subcultures where being fat isn’t going to get rocks thrown at your head every time you stick it out the window. Working-class people in general, and black/Latino working-class people especially, tend not to have the giant stick up their collective sphincters about weight that the white Latte Class does.

    But as someone else said here (if it’s you, feel free to ID yourself), if they really imagine that the reason people are fat is insufficient ridicule and humiliation for their weight, how do you explain all the fat kids in junior high and high school? Do they think being given three swirlies a day instead of two is going to do the trick?

  17. That the article is gross has been commented on, and I agree. But here’s my take on it. There’s been a shift in the standards of thiness. So in my youth, Cindy Crawford was the be all and end all of hottie bodies, she’d almost be ready for plus size modeling today. They are pushing the size zero as the perfect body, nothing could possibly be more fashionable or chic.

    So if you’re pushing this to American women, wouldn’t you expect now that you’re a couple of years into it, that most women would like their weight to be 110 lbs and under? Wouldn’t the majority of women coveat that look? Aren’t we suppose to look at these model and say “Sigh, I wish that were me!”

    But we’re not. This study reveals that a bit. And they’re like Rev. Jones, standing over us saying “Drink your Kool Aid, damnit! It’s good for you!”

  18. The alternate explanation, though, is that women HAVE been trying for that size zero for years, failing and pushing their weight up which also resulted in revised “goals” with the idea of being more reasonable. Frankly, even people who do see size 0 as the ideal may feel its out of reach thanks to failures of dieting and try to find what seems like a more achievable ideal to reach for. They may still be sighing at the size 0′s, but feel resigned to it being out reach and try to settle for what is perceived as a more achievable (though ultimately not, of course) goal. A lot of dieters move their goal weights up after years of dieting. Perhaps that’s the effect we’re seeing here.

  19. Maybe I don’t hang out with enough rich folks, but I don’t know any women who want to be a size 0, although I know a ridiculous amount of women who want to be a size 4. And that ain’t too achievable either!

  20. Pingback: Feminist Link Round Up « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

  21. It is just marketing. Diet/pharma is very well organized and wants to push for more government intervention. I would be scared too, except that the bottom is going to fall out of our economy soon and we will have more important things to worry about.

    “Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!”

  22. Another reason I’m not impressed with the “48% of obese people felt their bodies were socially acceptable” meme: I hate to sound like a broken record, but a lot of musclebound gym rat dudes, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, are “obese” by BMI standards. Think Arnie’s all embarrassed about his social unacceptability?

    FWIW, at the doctor’s office this morning, the nurse — who hadn’t seen me before — initially started out my scale marker at 150 pounds, and seemed genuinely surprised that she had to move it over 200. Even health professionals can’t tell who’s “obese” by looking. Like you, Kate, I’ve gotten people running smack about the fatties in my presence as if I’m not one of them, and when I speak up it’s, “But you’re not obese.” When I correct them, there’s hella stammering.

  23. I get the “you’re not obese” thing too, Meowser, and, even when I point out that according to BMI. I most certainly am, folk still refute the fact. I think I loathe the word “obese” even more than I do “overweight”. Depending on who’s using it it’s either some quasi-medical catch-all meaning “unhealthy” or a supposedly polite way of deeming someone sexually unappetising. Whichever way you slice it it’s got everything to do with looks and sweet sod-all to do with health.

    Maybe what friends mean when they refute obesity is simply that we’re not lazy/inarticulate/dirty/smelly/sick/ignorant/junk scarfing/insert negative fat stereotype of choice. ‘cos, see, that describes the other,/i> fat people – the ones you see in the papers – who can’t possibly have brains on account of being headless and all.

    Grrr.

  24. WOW. the chick in the first picture? I’m 95% sure she’s wearing an underbust corset. Cuz I have one and that’s exactly what it does to me – lifts the boobs and gives the tummy an “unnaturally flat” appearance. Which I LOVE, but it’s not a good picture to use for a news article on obesity!!!

  25. Hey Roo? The chick in the first picture is our Fearless Leader on this here blog.

    And from what I’ve seen of other pictures of her, I pretty certain that’s just her. In, y’know, a shirt. :)

  26. “It’s not a good picture to use for a news article on obesity”

    Hmm – I think it could be. An ‘epidemic’ of Kate Hardings! We could use one of those. Aside from that, it’s certainly a more realistic representation of the ‘clinically obese’ population than the woman in the second photograph. But nobody would even think of it, again proving that this is not concern about fat peoples’ health, just a kind of sick voyeurism. If it was about health, we’d have pictures of actual happy, non-headless fat people demonstrating self-confidence.

    Alas it is the lot of the fattie to only be allowed to be miserable and self-hating until that magical, happy day when they are thin.

  27. Speaking of all those horrid headless pictures, I think I’d like a t-shirt that says on the front:
    I’m a person, not a belly, and I’m up here [with an arrow pointing to my head]
    and on the back the same thing, with ‘ass’ substituted for belly.

  28. May I just add a couple of “scientific” numbers? In order to be “obese” at 153 pounds, a woman would have to be 5’1” or smaller. Now, I’m not sure, but I think even in the US (where people are shorter than for example the northern regions of Europe, where some of the tallest people on average live) that’s not the average length of a woman. But do correct me if I’m wrong. And even then she’d have a BMI of just 30 and probably look somewhat like you Kate, so no “tires or two” to be seen.

    For me, at 5’11” (so no, sorry scientific people, I don’t fit the profile of an average woman), being 153 pounds would mean a BMI of 22.2. Being 135 pounds would mean a BMI of 19.5. I was close to 153 pounds in my adult life *once* after living on a liquid protein diet for about 9 months (yes, really, I *never* cheated, most horribel time in my life!), and my mother later commented she thought at that time I was *way too skinny* – and she didn’t mean that in the flattering manner a lot of women nowadays would take it.
    135 pounds would make me look less than skeletal, I presume – maybe I’d wear a four or two dress size. Guess what that would look like on my frame (o right, I’d look like a model!)

    More likely I’d be dead, thank you very much.

  29. O, sorry, I just realized, to look like a model I’d have to be less than 105 pounds, even with my 5’11″. So at 135 pounds I’d still be considered fat.

    But like I said, I’d probably be dead a long time before that.

  30. THANK YOU. I am tired of people assuming that I break chairs and can’t touch my toes or whatever the hell.

    By the way, I can touch my toes. To my forehead. While standing up.

    :P

  31. I once had the pleasure in revealing to some guy friends of mine that me and the girl with me were both classified as overweight with the BMI. They were suitably shocked and concluded that the BMI was a pile of tripe, as apparently neither of us looked anywhere near overweight to them. so not only do I find my overweight body to be acceptable, so do other people. If thats a problem, then holy crap, I need to punch someone.

    These articles appearing are so, so poisonous. It frightens me.

  32. Dutchy, I believe the average American woman is 5’4. So at 153 pounds, the average woman is at the lower end of the “overweight” range. The scandalously three pounds higher goal weight of 135 is within the “healthy” range so even by ridiculous BMI standards, overweight and obesity are not what the average woman is considering an acceptable weight for herself.

  33. I can’t help noticing the irony of my own position, sitting here in a hotel, reading your reaction to said article (which I read) while eating a way too large portion of Club Sandwich, Salad, and French Fries :D However, I don’t really care. I agree with you. As a 5’0″ woman, who *I think* weighs about 155 (I haven’t had a working scale in months) I guess that I am obese! However, I am very active, eat healthily, take my vitamins, don’t drink (much), don’t smoke, etc.
    While I am well aware that my weight isn’t “healthy” I know that I would be undernourished if I weighed the 100 pounds that according to the BMI I am supposed to be.
    About 6 years ago, I lost weight….I was around 125 lbs…and my friends and family said that I was getting too skinny….still on the upper end of my “ideal BMI”.
    I think that one of the main issues that is being ignored (aside from the fact that many clinically obese people don’t look like the poor lady featured in the article photo) is that maybe there are a lot of underlying medical issue that may be contributing to the “problem”….or they are just big! I have a friend, who is fat, and admits it, (though I would consider myself to be fat as well) but she is one of the fittest people I know and can walk rings around my skinny “healthy” friends!
    I know that for myself, I have several underlying medical issues that contribute to my weight: Hashimoto’s Disease, PCOS, Insulin Resitance to name the stuff I know of.
    I know, that for my health, I need to lose weight, and I am doing so, with help of medication, healthy eating and exercise, but I know that I will never weigh 100 lbs. It ain’t ever going to happen.
    But If I am able to go rock climbing and sailing when I am “obese” and not break a sweat….something needs to be reevaluated here….I would consider myself fit. Maybe not as toned as I would like, but I have to say, that for a clinically obese woman, Kate Harding, you look Awesome! I think you look good….and I know that you aren’t fishing for complimnets, but it really illustrated the bias that there is in the media…and it makes me sad! I think fitness, not numbers on the scale should be the litmus test. I know way too many skinny people who can’t keep up on a hike with me….and I am the fat one! What is wrong with this picture? Or right for that matter!

  34. But If I am able to go rock climbing and sailing when I am “obese” and not break a sweat….something needs to be reevaluated here….I would consider myself fit.

    AnnaLee, that’s it exactly. And in fact, I would question why you think you need to lose weight for your health if A) you’re fit, B) you know you have medical problems that affect your weight, and C) when you were at the upper end of a “healthy” weight, people thought you looked too thin.

    I’ve said it many times before but am always willing to say it again: eating a healthful variety of foods and exercising are both wonderful things I very much encourage, but there’s no reason to assume that if they don’t cause weight loss, they aren’t causing health benefits. If you’re rock climbing and hiking and getting your veggies, there’s simply no good reason why you should have to lose weight — even factoring in the insulin resistance. (From everything I’ve read, even if fat cells do affect insulin resistance, exercise has a tremendous positive effect on that, regardless of weight.)

    Oh, and thanks for the compliment. :)

  35. Just a note on short folks and BMI. I’m 5’1 and 130 lbs right now. Last winter I was 150 lbs. I am now in the high end of a “normal” BMI and in the winter I was an “obese” BMI. So when you’re short, there’s 15 – 20 lbs that separates you from “normal” to “obese”

  36. I’ve been wondering about the MSM’s coverage of fat people for a while. Given that I AM the MSM (thankfully not covering health,) it blows my mind that we have major style requirements for everything related to race, ethnicity, social background, homosexuality (though you wouldn’t know that from the paper I work at,) etc. But there are no style guidelines to deal with someone’s weight. Writers who think they’re being sensitive just say Obese without giving definition to what that is.

    Many others want readers to think they’re funny, cute or droll and use very overused and rather offensive phrases such as “tipping the scales,” “spare tires,” “dropping pounds,” “blubber,” “rolls of fat” because they seem more conversational.

    But my main thought is this: a LOT of the articles coming out about studies on obesity are written in NYC, LA or by TV reporters. All of those areas (and the TV profession in general) tend to be more culturally obsessed with thinness.

    I know correlation doesn’t mean causation, but I when I came to that realization, it made a lot more sense why many of the NYTs articles about weight, health and culture make me want to slit the writer’s/editor’s wrists.

    And don’t get me started on ‘critiquing’ TV reports.

    Thoughts?

  37. Given that I AM the MSM (thankfully not covering health,) it blows my mind that we have major style requirements for everything related to race, ethnicity, social background, homosexuality (though you wouldn’t know that from the paper I work at,) etc. But there are no style guidelines to deal with someone’s weight.

    Sarah, the good news is, there are people at work right now on something akin to GLAAD’s media reference guide, which helped establish those style requirements for reporting about gay people. Obviously, not all papers have adopted GLAAD’s recommendations, but it’s created some major changes. Here’s hoping a fat guide could do the same — especially since I believe some of it is done more out of ignorance than malice.

    As for your theory about NYC/LA/TV in general, I think it certainly makes sense, though obviously we have no way of knowing how true it is or isn’t. I would say we live in an eating disordered culture in general, and any industry that puts an extra special emphasis on thinness is bound to suffer from it even more.

    But yeah, correlation is not causation. I would love to see someone research that, though, along with the question that came up the other day about how many nutritionists and fitness instructors have eating disorders.

  38. I know this is old, but I just wanted to add…

    I’m a size 8 and I, too, have been publicly harassed about my weight. Some people are just jackasses who pick on whoever appears to be the easiest target. Being a non-skinny woman in this society makes you a target for fat jokes (and being a skinny woman makes you a target for anorexia jokes, which is also appalling).

    Plus, why is the focus on women’s weight? I don’t know ANY women who don’t have a desire to lose weight/maintain a certain weight, and most women I know have serious hangups about their bodies. If fat really did become more socially acceptable, this would be a good thing, and millions of women could reclaim their bodies as their own.

  39. I know I’m a late-comer to this article, but thanks again for writing some of the smartest stuff I’ve ever read. P.S. you are beautiful! (or what I can see of you anyway).

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