Open for Discussion: “Obesity now a ‘lifestyle choice'”

It’s open for discussion because I can’t stop banging my head against the desk long enough to write anything about it.

Edited to add: I just put this in comments, but I thought it was worth putting up here.

Michelle wrote:

There is an excerpt from the book on the author’s site – brace yourselves:

“I have to admit that few things bother me more than seeing overweight kids. So when it comes to my own kids, as my wife repeatedly tells me, I’m a pain in the ass. I’m obsessed with what my five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son eat. (My infant daughter is still strictly under her mother’s domain, but she won’t be for long.) The occasional treat is fine, but you will almost never find soda in our fridge, and there are strict limits on the few sugary snacks in our pantry. I can probably count our trips to fast-food venues (that I know of) on one hand.”

To which I responded: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

You know what I find most infuriating about that? He just described my family’s kitchen, and the limitations put on ME when I was a kid. (Okay, there was usually real Pepsi in the house, but there were limits on how much of that we could have, like everything else. And by the time I was a teenager, I preferred Diet Coke.)

My diabetic mother did all the same things to control our diets, and you know what that created? FAT KIDS WITH MAJOR FOOD ISSUES.

In all likelihood, we would have been fat anyway. But we didn’t have to develop the major food issues. That was my parents’ “lifestyle choice” for us.

100 thoughts on “Open for Discussion: “Obesity now a ‘lifestyle choice'”

  1. That article made my head hurt; too many leaps of logic in 7-league boots. Sheesh.

    Would it be possible to have an online Sanity Watchers meeting? Or maybe a collective meltdown in which all the comments are: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  2. My blood pressure’s up, and it has nothing to do with my fat. Christ on a donut. Look, I filled out four Fat Bingo cards just reading that one article. Although, I really love the visual of you banging your head on the desk over and over and over again. You can stop now.

    Clearly, today, I have nothing significant to contribute.

  3. Here’s what I don’t get:

    The article starts out making the argument that obesity is the natural progression of weights in a first world economy. THEN it shifts gears to say that obesity is a choice? A choice between what – working 12 hour days in a field or sitting at a desk for the same amount of time and then doing 6 hours of cardio on top of it? How is this even a choice?

    Apparently we all need to get manual labor jobs. Let me know when the wages go up to a point where I can still afford my piece of shit apartment.

  4. Oh I’m sorry, in my blinding rage I neglected to read the last two paragraphs.

    It’s a choice between obesity and gastric bypass.

    My bad.

  5. “There are studies in which people have said they would rather lose a limb or be blind than obese. Being obese is not a desire,” she said.

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

  6. I’m just about to dash off to a friend’s house for cheesecake and scrabble and therefore don’t have time to mine this heap o’ shite for all the sparkly little clichés that abound in it – but this little gem particularly caught my eye:-

    “an independent research institute in North Carolina that works on social and scientific problems, asked overweight, obese and normal weight people to predict their life expectancy came up with a total difference of four years”.

    So… were these particular overweight, obese and normal people psychics? Hell, they could ask me to predict who wins the Mayoral race for London and it wouldn’t mean shit in scientific terms regardless of whether I got it right or not. What are these people on?

  7. Oh goddess, I can’t read this, I just can’t. I just know nothing good will come of it. I don’t know which is worse, their articles about fat or their relationship “advice” stories which basically amount to “act like an insanely jealous and manipulative 12-year-old and your partner will love you forever.”

  8. Kate, is there any room left at that desk? Ouch.

    If someone gave me a button I could push that would stop most of the world talking crap about obesity, 100% of me would push that button. Aah. Peace and quiet. And no weight change required. That’s what I call choice.

  9. I’m going to eat Finklestein’s arguments in baby-donut format.

    (Armnarm narm…)

    Hmm. Just like cheese puffs. Not too challenging, nutrition free, and full of air.

  10. “an independent research institute in North Carolina that works on social and scientific problems, asked overweight, obese and normal weight people to predict their life expectancy came up with a total difference of four years”.

    And what’s their point, that the fatasses are in deep denial about how long they will live? Dude, I’ve typed and edited dozens of reports about fat people well over 80. I’ve had fat relatives live into their 80s. It’s not a rarity.

  11. Well, hee, at least I stayed away from the comments! Look at what a good girl I am! Sticking to my Sanity Watchers this year!

    Oh, and, yeah, buffpuff, psychics r us. Fuck. I predict that this article will garner much media attention. I can has research grant?

  12. many Americans “will likely continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen that leads to excess weight,” because losing weight requires too many lifestyle sacrifices,

    This bit almost made me toss my monitor out a window. Losing weight doesn’t take “lifestyle sacrifices,” it takes the rare ability to walk the fine line between starvation and suicide while trading normal life-related activities for various and sundry obsessions that make one about as interesting as the proverbial drying paint. Which, I guess, is a sacrifice. (A crazy one.)

    I also really enjoyed the douche-tastic bits about “people are living longer, but with more diseases.” ‘Cause, you know, it’s just the fatties with the heart disease and cancer and diabetes and liver problems and arthritis and all the other stuff that happens when people get old. Lord knows, every hospital is just filled to the brink with sick fatties, wall to wall in every ward, with no beds left over for the thin people anywhere…

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

  13. I’m with you, Meowser.

    I always read them, and I always hurt deep deep inside.

    Just the HEADLINE makes me want to headslam over and over.

    “Experts say” is possibly the most weaseliest citation a reporter can possibly use. Gah. Stupid stupid stupid.

  14. So… were these particular overweight, obese and normal people psychics?

    No kidding. Here’s a prediction: I’m going to live to be 83 and then die in a freak accident involving a flock of Canadian geese and a mariachi band. Not even my closest friends will be able to read the obituary without giggling. Prove me wrong!

  15. @ Sniper: I honestly don’t wish your death, but damn, I want to see that come up on the Odd News at CNN or something. :)

    And just the bits that other people have quoted from the article make me want to eat fried butter. Lifestyle choice, take THAT.

  16. Haha, Sniper, that reminds me of that episode of Taxi where Reverend Jim, fancying himself a psychic, predicts that Alex will meet his maker while he’s at home in his apartment, wearing a catcher’s mask and doing the can-can, and then Alex, after dismissing Jim’s predictions as nonsense, finds himself at home one day doing just that in spite of himself. One of the funniest damn things I’ve ever seen in my life!

    Tari, my theory is that these stories are written by people (usually women) who bust their asses to stay 20 pounds under their natural weights in order to maintain a professional advantage. They think if they can lose 20 pounds, we can lose 50 or 75 or 100 or more, it just means doing what they do…two or three or four or five or more times harder. So simple!

  17. The first line uses the word ‘balloon’ as a verb. I had to stop reading.

    I’m guessing the rest of the article was so much bigoted nonesense?

  18. Good lord.

    So… okay, so the contention, then, is that all those thin people in the world sat down, wrote up a list of pros and cons, and just /decided/ to be thin? Seriously? Was this what everyone did in school that day during junior year when I called in sick from eating too many baby donuts?

    I bet it was just like the day I woke up and looked carefully at a bunch of pictures, did a bunch of research and interviewed a dozen people and finally decided that hazel eyes were the way to go.

    Wow. I’m not even sure there’s enough snark in the world to respond to this thing properly. I’m just gobsmacked, really.

  19. I love the part where they ASK everyone what they expect their life expectancies to be. Of course since fatties have been told all their lives that they’re going to keel over at age 40, they all answered with a lower life expectancy.

    It’s so freaking stupid. Next time, ask them how many of them think they’ll win the lottery within ten years’ time; it’ll be just as “scientific” and “accurate”.

  20. I’m with the fat woman quoted in the article. With all the fat bashing, legally sanctioned discrimination and general harassment that comes with being fat, why would anyone outside of masochists “choose” to be fat?

    And the fact that the seriously misguided doctor calls WLS “the best-known treatment for severe obesity” just goes to show how very off his rocker he really is.

  21. Finkelstein says he wrote “The Fattening of America” to “encourage discussion of what I understand is probably an uncomfortable position for a lot of people.”

    ‘[E]ncourage discussion’ is something I usually read as, I know the claims I’ve made here won’t stand up to any real scrutiny, but I’m so in love with my hypotheses that I want everyone to take them seriously anyway.’ And in this instance, I suspect ‘uncomfortable position’ can be read as schoolyard logic: If what I’ve said makes you angry, well, that must prove it’s true.

  22. Oh, and I forgot to ask — is this the same Dr Finkelstein as the one in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’? Because inquiring minds want to know.

  23. And in this instance, I suspect ‘uncomfortable position’ can be read as schoolyard logic: If what I’ve said makes you angry, well, that must prove it’s true.

    Which also must “prove” that every adult is a child molester, since being accused of such loudly over and over again would likely make 99% of people’s heads explode. Nu?

  24. I’m having a bad enough day (hooray for crying on the el!), therefore the only kind of response I can have to this article is a big old mammoth world-deafening “FUCK YOU”.

    Maybe later I can summon up something a tad more intellectual.

  25. KERA here in Dallas did a special package about obesity last year. After the documentary, which showed just how much harder an obese man had to work to maintain a still-high body weight, they had a panel of experts to talk about obesity & solutions.

    Just about everyone said what I thought they would (The activist surprised me). My summary follows.

    The Nutritionist:: “Under no circumstances should children ever be allowed to drink juice. Juice makes kids love sugar and explode into balls of lard!”

    The General Practitioner: “The answer for long term weight loss and maintenance is to — wait for it — eat less and move more!”

    The Weight Loss Surgeon: “It’s not as simple as diet and exercise. For many people, the only answer is a surgical intervention.”

    The Activist: Communities in which there is no safe, public park property, no accessible, affordable public transportation, and nothing but tiny, convenience-store-style markets are communities that are designed to be sick. People have to demand more equitable communities and better food stability.

    No one talked about the insane hours working class, insured people have to maintain to cover housing, transportation and medical care. I work so damn much. For the last six months, I’ve been either too congested or too damn exhausted to maintain what used to be a fun, vigorous activity level.

    I didn’t choose THAT.

  26. I find it fascinating that they’re referring to obesity as a lifestyle choice. Isn’t that the same term they use in the pro-ED communities? And yet, size 0 models are glamourized while fat people are demonized.

    The levels of hypocrisy in the title alone are enough to make me not want to read the rest of the article.

  27. From the article: …many Americans “will likely continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen that leads to excess weight,” because losing weight requires too many lifestyle sacrifices…

    As a fat woman who has had to make countless “lifestyle sacrifices” due to allergies to perfume, nickle, polyester, and a digestive intolerance to corn, I take personal offense at that statement.

    I also find it kind of hilarious that the quoted statement implies that there are certain kinds of exercise which make people fatter. Obviously, that isn’t what he meant, but these people are getting so sloppy with their rhetoric that it’s certainly what he implied.

    That article made my head explode.

  28. many Americans “will likely continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen that leads to excess weight,” because losing weight requires too many lifestyle sacrifices…

    “will continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen which leaves them fatter than a swimsuit model, because permanent major weight loss, for 95% of people, requires agreeing to never have a life.”

    Fixed that for ‘em.

  29. Actually, other than the headline, I’ve seen worse articles:

    “But the nasty side-effects of obesity aren’t as nasty as they used to be,” Finkelstein said.

    “When you have a first-rate medical system that can cure the diseases that obesity promotes, you no longer need to worry so much about being obese,” he told AFP.

    “With our ever-advancing modern medicine there helping to save the day (at least for many people), are government and the media blowing the magnitude of the ‘obesity crisis’ out of proportion?” his book says.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions in the article. I feel most sorry for the poor woman (Ms. English?) that they quoted, because she’s bought into the whole “fat is unhealthy” argument.

    I think, too, that the author of the article is flashing his fat bias more than the person the author is quoting. Finkelstein’s comments, as cited above, are really pretty moderate – as in, so what if people are fat, medicine can treat them, so screw it. The fact that gastric bypass is “hailed” in his book as “the best-known treatment” – note that the “hailed” came from the article’s author, and that best-known doesn’t mean BEST in terms of success rate.

    In fact, the first sentence of the article says that obesity is “less of a health hazard.”

    Despite the fact that the headline makes me want to punch things, the fact is, from most of the quotations, Finkelstein seems to think that fat really isn’t such a big deal. I can’t draw too many more conclusions without reading the book.

  30. “Lifestyle choice,” eh? Wonder what Dan Savage has to say about our metaphors now. I mean, it was the homophobes who made “lifestyle choice” into bigotry code for “way of being I find icky.”

  31. Pingback: Shocked and Awe « PhotoPhobic

  32. Laurie, I looked at that article, and I would say it’s probably a matter of genetics for her to be able to stay slim after having had a baby. If you look at her kids, every one of them seems to be slim, and I would bet that her mother, aunts, female cousins, grandmother, etc, are for the most part, slim also.
    I had a friend whose sister-in-law was thin (5’4″ and 105 lbs) after having had 4 kids. Everyone in her family was thin also. So it’s not like it took lots of willpower and starvation and exercising like a hamster on speed to get that way, she’s just naturally that way.
    *sarcasm on*
    As far as obesity being a lifestyle choice, yep, I certainly love being called a fatass bitch who needs to get up off the couch and quit eating all those delicious baby-flavored donuts that I’ve been cramming into my face all my life. I just love being told that my tailor is Omar the Tentmaker, and that every illness I have ever had and ever will have would be miraculously cured if I would just get thin. I also love being told that I’m ugly, stupid, and worthless, so yeah, it’s definitely a lifestyle choice. Not to mention being told that if I get thin, I’ll live forever. Yeah, that is just so happening.
    *sarcasm off*
    As for that magic button they talk about, I really doubt that I would push it. After all, I like myself (finally, after years and years of thinking there was something wrong with me), so why would I want to push it and get thin? I’m the same person inside, no matter what I look like on the outside, so changing my looks isn’t really going to change who I fundamentally am.

  33. Gaah! The stupid burns! Yeah, “obesity” is a lifestyle choice. Just like being gay. Thank you, mainstream media! Without you, we’d never know that we get to blame people for belonging to groups we like to discriminate against!

  34. *sigh*

    I’m still trying to figure out where they hand out the free research money. I can investigate foolishnes too! Honest I can. Give me the money and I’ll find it!

    Yeah. Witty? Outside the rant on my own blog, ain’t got much of that. Just a lot of vitrol. Maybe I should go knead my bread dough to make it better.

  35. I’m still trying to figure out where they hand out the free research money. I can investigate foolishnes too! Honest I can. Give me the money and I’ll find it!

    I have this theory that fat acceptance supporters bring the snark better than the average peson, and I need, hmmmm, $50,000 to research this issue.

  36. A lifestyle choice, huh? Okaaay. That article made no fucking sense. I’m trying to figure out how it is that my husband eats more fast food and spends his free time computer gaming but is reasonably fit whereas I eat far more fruit and veggies and absolutely love working out but am overweight (possibly obese, should I give enough of a shit about BMI to check…). So how is his lifestyle choice making him (and his outrageous cholesterol level) “healthier” than I am? And how is mine (with my normal cholesterol and blood pressure and immune system and… et cetera) making me less healthy? No explanation for that because lord knows that all of us active fat people are just lying about it, right?

    I don’t get hurt by things like this, possibly because I was raised around really awesome fat women who figured out that some shit just runs in the family. I got my mom’s fat genes and my dad’s strong bones. Hell of a great combination. I know bullshit when I see it. Now if only I could stop internalizing it anyway….

  37. Laurie, I looked at that article, and I would say it’s probably a matter of genetics for her to be able to stay slim after having had a baby.

    Oh, for sure, Vesta44. I assume Laurie was being sarcastic with the link.

  38. There’s also the fact that she says she doesn’t eat much while pregnant.

    Did you know that the US’s abysmal infant mortality rate is largely due to low birthweight? Just mentioning.

    (I know this woman is British, but still.)

  39. I hate this article, but I’m kind of interested in reading the book.
    Not buying the book, but skimming it at a bookstore or at the library.

    I also think that the idea that maybe the time has come to lay off fat people isn’t a horrible one. Again, I’m going to need to read the book.

  40. Yes, Mchelle, that was kicked around yesterday in the “In Which I Talk About Something Other Than Fat” thread. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some fourth graders to go force-feed.

  41. Hmm, I may have skewed the results a little, as I reported to the researchers that I was going to live forever.

  42. Sooooo….. if being fat is a ‘lifestyle choice’ (oh I hate that phrase, I do), does that mean that being a rampaging asshat is something a person’s just born with? ^_~

  43. What I’ve been thinking about all day is how there are serious things that could be done to improve health don’t have to do with telling people to lose weight. CDC’s 2007 chartbook on health statistics states:
    “Overall mortality was 31% higher for black Americans than
    for white Americans in 2004 compared with 37% higher in
    1990. In 2004, age-adjusted death rates for the black
    population exceeded those for the white population by 46%
    for stroke (cerebrovascular disease), 32% for heart disease,
    23% for cancer (malignant neoplasms), and 787% for HIV
    disease.”
    “Large disparities in infant mortality rates among racial and
    ethnic groups continue to exist. In 2004, infant mortality
    rates were highest for infants of non-Hispanic black mothers
    (13.6 deaths per 1,000 live births), American Indian mothers
    (8.4 per 1,000), and Puerto Rican mothers (7.8 per 1,000);
    and lowest for infants of Cuban mothers (4.6 per 1,000 live
    births) and Asian or Pacific Islander mothers (4.7 per 1,000)”
    “In 2005, the percentage of noninstitutionalized adults
    reporting their health as fair or poor ranged from 6% of
    those age 18–44 years to 30% of those age 75 years and
    over. The proportion of adults with fair or poor health was
    higher among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic persons
    compared with non-Hispanic white persons”

  44. There is an excerpt from the book on the author’s site – brace yourselves:

    “I have to admit that few things bother me more than seeing overweight kids. So when it comes to my own kids, as my wife repeatedly tells me, I’m a pain in the ass. I’m obsessed with what my five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son eat. (My infant daughter is still strictly under her mother’s domain, but she won’t be for long.) The occasional treat is fine, but you will almost never find soda in our fridge, and there are strict limits on the few sugary snacks in our pantry. I can probably count our trips to fast-food venues (that I know of) on one hand.”

    Isn’t he virtuous. It will be great, especially for his daughters, to have a dad “obsessed” with thier weights.

  45. But look! This woman does it!

    Cripes, I think reading that article cost me *double* Sanity Watchers points – half for the “she’s thin cuz she runs after her 13 kids all day” idiocy, and half for the UTERUS IS NOT A CLOWN CAR factor.

    And the head -asplodiest thing about it, for me, is how she actually admits that:

    “It’s not something I boast about – it’s always just happened. I guess I’m just naturally slim.

    but immediately follows with:

    “I certainly burn off the calories with my family.”

    ‘Scuse, please?

    So which is it – are you naturally thin, or is it because you just Work So Hard to avoid TEH DREADED OBESITY? You don’t get to have it both ways.

  46. Lauren, that’s almost a ‘perfect’ DM story as far as their view of women’s role in life, which is a) stay home and have lots of babies, b) look like a model, and c) realize that doing both is absolutely no problem.

    Mchelle, second me on that…I assumed VA was a guy. I could be wrong. What I do know is that the people I’ve encountered who claim to have lost large amounts of weight and kept it off for any length of time (and that includes a few people online plus the ONE person I’ve actually met in this category in my entire life) all seem to have something else in common: their self-righteous meanness towards anyone who can’t emulate them. Even if permanent weight loss is possible, you have to ask – do you really want the personality fallout it seems to come with?

  47. “many Americans “will likely continue to choose a diet and exercise regimen that leads to excess weight,” because losing weight requires too many lifestyle sacrifices”

    Isn’t it interesting that the use of the phrase ‘lifestyle sacrifices’ instantly reinforces the already deeply ingrained belief that those who choose to obsess about their weight are noble, heroic and admirable while reminding those of us who choose to say “fuck that noise” that we are lazy and self-indulgent?

    And, hey, if that bint with a bazillion children isn’t bragging about her freak ability to remain skinny throughout, what’s this lame-arsed excuse for a story doing in a national newspaper – apart from encouraging rafts of women with post-pregnancy weight to hate themselves? Oh. Wait. That is what it’s doing in a national newspaper. Sorry. Blame my fat. Makes me a bit slow.

  48. They talk about people would rather x than be obese. It’s not about obesity, it’s about prejudice. Nobody wants to be prejudiced against.

    The problem isn’t the obesity, it’s the prejudice that is constantly reinforced by statements like the ones in this artcle.

  49. There is an excerpt from the book on the author’s site – brace yourselves:

    “I have to admit that few things bother me more than seeing overweight kids. So when it comes to my own kids, as my wife repeatedly tells me, I’m a pain in the ass. I’m obsessed with what my five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son eat. (My infant daughter is still strictly under her mother’s domain, but she won’t be for long.) The occasional treat is fine, but you will almost never find soda in our fridge, and there are strict limits on the few sugary snacks in our pantry. I can probably count our trips to fast-food venues (that I know of) on one hand.”

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    You know what I find most infuriating about that? He just described my family’s kitchen, and the limitations put on ME when I was a kid. (Okay, there was usually real Pepsi in the house, but there were limits on how much of that we could have, like everything else. And by the time I was a teenager, I preferred Diet Coke.)

    My diabetic mother did all the same things to control our diets, and you know what that created? FAT KIDS WITH MAJOR FOOD ISSUES.

    In all likelihood, we would have been fat anyway. But we didn’t have to develop the major food issues. That was my parents’ “lifestyle choice” for us.

  50. Kate, I had similar food restrictions as a kid, not from fear of fat, but because our mother had read that artifical colorings and flavorings could aggravate hyperactivity in children, something she didn’t want to risk with my already ADHD brother. So that immediately crossed most junk food off the list. Also, we were quite poor, so dining out was a rare treat, even fast food. Did that make me a “fat kid with major food issues”? By no means. Then, as now, junk food was an occasional “treat” that, once consumed, didn’t seem like much of a treat after all. Although maybe the difference was in the approach–we were given health warnings, not body hangups.

  51. Although maybe the difference was in the approach–we were given health warnings, not body hangups.

    Yeah, I was definitely given both. And from the sound of that guy’s obsession with not having fat kids, he’s giving his kids both. (Though the good news for them is, if neither he nor his wife are fat, the kids probably won’t be either, so at least they won’t have to deal with the assorted hang-ups that come from being fat.)

  52. People always look at me horrified when I tell them we didn’t have koolaid or soda when I was growing up. We had regular juice and because there were four of us it was usually watered down to half. plus no simpsons awww…

    instead I got a psychadelic imagination from sesame street and full juice is too strong for me. I like tart koolaid and don’t drink soda often. I should be the picture of health! yay good job parents. Only thats not how it went. Because as soon as each of us got jobs we went and bought our own damn food and there was nothing my mom could do about it. I’d never had my own bag of oreos before that and I think I ate the entire thing in one sitting, a backlash from being in a house where if we got anything good, six people would take it out in the blink of an eye (in under 15 minutes, but only that long if not everyone knew it was grocery day)

    so what happens when that guy’s children move out into the world, at some point they’re going to realize that they can do ‘horrible’ things…like oh eat cookies, or drink soda! I wonder what kind of self loathing devices they’ll have in order to cope with the ‘bad foods’. Plus I wonder how the mother of those children can read any of that without getting horribly defensive of her children, he sounds demonic when he promises to get his little food-nazi claws into the infant. mwahahaha infant! soooon! soon you will be mine! To govern your caloric intake with all my might!

    yay drama :D

  53. Sanity Watchers will probably want to avoid the link in Mchelle’s post.

    The blogger at Violent Acres is supposedly a woman of the most virulently self-hating kind. I really don’t recommend reading the blog is you are fat, female, a person who likes women, a person who likes men, an animal lover, a person with manners, a person who has a job, or a person with any degree of sensitivity.

    Basically, the blog’s target audience is Chris Matthews.

  54. asked overweight, obese and normal weight people to predict their life expectancy came up with a total difference of four years.

    If they’ve been good, they get to add 14years or something.

    I must be a paragon of self-control, how? All the things that I’m not, that I expend no effort in not being. Ohh, me good.

  55. Re: the Violent Acres post…I usually hear similar things from people who have quit smoking. Who tell me how utterly disgusting smoking is, how easy it was to quit, what incredibly delightful, beautiful, and morally superior people they are now, etc…I don’t get nearly as much flak, if any, from my friends who have always been non-smokers.

  56. My mom did the same thing with me, only it was about health food, not weight loss (although if I had been fat as a kid, I’m sure weight loss would have been a part of it). She had friends who never let their kids have sugar, using the rationale that once they got a single taste of it, all their food instincts would be screwed up and they wouldn’t want anything but sugar. My mom didn’t go that far, but we didn’t have sugary food or junk food in the house very often, and when we did, my mom would watch the foods carefully to make sure they didn’t disappear too fast. She wanted me to grow up on health food, so that I would love fruits and veggies and not care about sugar or junk food.

    Only instead, it left me with a violent dislike for most fruits and veggies; it started before I can remember, and I still have a hard time choking them down. And all the forbidden foods that she didn’t want me to have? I ate them whenever I got the chance, even when I didn’t really want them, because I knew it would probably be months before I got another chance. It’s only now that I’m allowed to choose my own food that I don’t necessarily have to eat a donut when one is offered to me, because I know I can go buy donuts anytime I want and no one will interrogate me about it.

    If anything, having the “bad” foods restricted just made me want them more. When I was a kid, I used to tell myself that when I grew up, I would buy an entire container of ice cream and eat as much as I wanted – even if it was the whole thing – without anyone telling me I had to stop or checking to see how much was left in the container. Only that never happened, because by the time I grew up, I was fat, and so couldn’t eat exorbitant (or even moderate) quantities of anything without feeling guilty.

  57. No way is the person who writes VA a woman – the aggressive tone, the word choices, the FAQs are very male.

  58. Basically, the blog’s target audience is Chris Matthews.

    HA!

    I read a little further, having already done an astanga series this morning.

    There’s a post in there about that V person having graduated from high school weighing a “healthy 88 pounds.”

    Whatever else s/he may be (I have my suspicions as to whether a real woman human would name a blog what they named it – not throwing out the title b/c I don’t wish to draw trolls), that person is delusional.

    Or, to misquote Sir MixaLot, “Only if she’s 4’8″.”

  59. Eighty-eight pounds, huh? Someone didn’t get the memo about how, no matter what you do or don’t eat or how much you do or don’t work out, it’s physically impossible to weigh 88 pounds in your late teens unless you are naturally thin. I doubt, even at that age and way before antidepressants, that I could have starved myself much under 120.

  60. Ai yi yi.

    I was also on an extremely restricted diet as a kid. For me, though, it wasn’t the overhanging terror of a fat child (::dramatic music::) but instead extreme food allergies (as in, there were probably seven or eight food staples that wouldn’t either cause me to scratch my hands bloody or send me to the hospital).

    Which meant, of course, that as soon as I grew out of my egg and dairy allergies, I went and sucked down as much ice cream and as many doughnuts as I possibly could. As in, they made me /throw up/ the first time I tried them, but dammit, I was a Normal Kid! Normal Kids like doughnuts! Even now I feel a secret, tiny thrill when I can eat a carb-y, fluffy pretzel and expect to not either spend the whole night vomiting or in the ER, and I’ve been mostly allergy-free for a little less than a decade.

    In short: for fuck’s sake, come on. I mean, make sure your kids get enough protein and vitamins and (dare I say it?) fats, but, you know, a doughnut (or two or three) isn’t going to make them swell up a la Violet Beauregarde.

  61. Kristin, my mom never ever says how easy it was for her to quit. Because she knows people would laugh in her face, having seen her be hopelessly addicted to tabbacky for 40 years. (And incidentally, she is still on nicotine replacement almost 10 years later.)

    I remember when one of my friends had just quit and all he could talk about were cigarettes. “Do you have a cigarette? Do any of your cats smoke? What would happen if I lit up Hoobie’s (his cat’s) tail and took a drag?” I asked my mom how long it took her, after she quit, to stop thinking about cigarettes every minute. She said, “A year.”

    So yeah, while I suppose some people can just toss the pack in the garbage and not look back (as my dad claimed to have done), I’m sure plenty of ex-smokers aren’t quite so smug about it. Which is why I don’t give people shit for being smokers; I know I dodged that addiction bullet in my teens, and that was pure dumb luck, really.

  62. I also was raised on a restricted diet and I am “normal” weight. Data is not the plural of anecdote.

    And yet, you support your point with an anecdote. Okay, then.

    As I said in the comment in question, the kids in my family would almost certainly have been fat anyway, thanks to genetics. My point is not that a restricted diet makes you fat, but that it DOESN’T make you thin if you aren’t inclined to be in the first place — and that growing up with a restricted diet CAN give you major food issues, as several other people here have attested.

    Jesus.

  63. Isn’t it interesting that the use of the phrase ‘lifestyle sacrifices’ instantly reinforces the already deeply ingrained belief that those who choose to obsess about their weight are noble, heroic and admirable while reminding those of us who choose to say “fuck that noise” that we are lazy and self-indulgent?

    Actually, that brings up something that puzzles me. If you think about it…

    If dieting is ‘easy’, as so many people seem to think, then those people who stick to a diet have no right to make themselves out to be special and wonderful for doing something they reckon anyone can do.

    BUT…

    If dieting is damned hard, the self-deprivers have no right to look down on those of us who can’t (or at any rate, can’t for as long as they do, because of course ultimately nobody does).

    What actually happens is that the dieting lobby want the right to see themselves as superior beings for their self-denial, AND at the same time see their ‘achievement’ (personally I see it on a par with other fairly pointless feats of will over body, like pushing a peanut along a road with your nose) as being something everyone can and should do. And you can’t look at it in both those ways.

    Conclusion: Dieting destroys the logical part of your brain. But I think we knew that anyway.

  64. Meowser- I hope I didn’t imply that ALL reformed smokers are such jerkheads. There are a select group of people who are holier than thou about it, just like some people who have lost weight take the same approach. In both camps, I would guess a good percentage are just fine.

    And good for your Mom!

  65. My mother was completely psychotic about watching what I was allowed to eat as a child. Then she died, leaving me with no idea how or what to eat.

    Glad that the way I was raised and the aftermath of that is a lifestyle choice.

  66. I read a little further, having already done an astanga series this morning.

    littlem, whatever you do, don’t read the post entitled “Sorry, Sandler”. It’s about dog abandonment and will haunt your nightmares. I’m not kidding.

  67. Yeah, when I was about 9, my mom went nuts and decided we were to have no more white bread, no more sweetened cereals, no snack cakes, etc. But at least she didn’t restrict only me, she didn’t let my brother (or my dad, or herself) have that stuff either. And what happened? The kid with the fat genes got fat, and the kid with the thin genes stayed thin. Big shocker there.

  68. What actually happens is that the dieting lobby want the right to see themselves as superior beings for their self-denial, AND at the same time see their ‘achievement’ (personally I see it on a par with other fairly pointless feats of will over body, like pushing a peanut along a road with your nose) as being something everyone can and should do. And you can’t look at it in both those ways.

    Damn skippy. And I am snorfing grape juice over “pushing a peanut along a road with your nose.”

  69. Emerald, I think you’ll find that most of the folk who allege dieting and maintaining weight loss are easy are either those who’ve never dieted in their lives, or those who periodically do battle with 3 or 4 pounds they consider a weight problem.

    Those who demand validation and applause know damned well dieting’s boring and hard, resent the immense and constant effort they have to make to maintain weight loss – and resent those of us who’ve freed themselves from the compulsion to follow suit even more. For some reason, being thin is not rewarding enough in itself. Which kind of begs the question “why not?”.

  70. …or those who periodically do battle with 3 or 4 pounds they consider a weight problem.

    Exactly! Like my skinny husband who lost three pounds when he stopped drinking as much soda. Notice I didn’t say he gave up soda, he just cut down. A little. Until he watched my struggles, he just kind of assumed that the secret of losing 5, 20, or 100 pounds was to do what he did, only 10 tor 20 times as much. Which doesn’t even make sense, but hey.

  71. For some reason, being thin is not rewarding enough in itself. Which kind of begs the question “why not?”

    Because of the DIABEEEETUS we all have, BP, which they care so very deeply about eradicating, didn’t you know?

  72. Ohhhhhh … of course!

    Actually that puts me in find of another blog in another galaxy far far away when a troll told me fat and self-hatred were necessary in order to find the motivation to change. Really they’re so kind trying to help us with that, aren’t they?

  73. Violent Acres needs to find a good psychiatric clinic. And I say that with all seriousness.

    Or Violent Acres can take my better advice of leaping off a mountain and relieving society of its waste and burden.

  74. Until he watched my struggles, he just kind of assumed that the secret of losing 5, 20, or 100 pounds was to do what he did, only 10 tor 20 times as much.

    Oh Jesus, does this attitude ever piss me off. My grandmother (who I love dearly, but gah) gave me a piece of weight loss advice the other day. I was at her house for lunch and we all took two pieces of bread to dunk in our soup. Then she announced that the way to lose weight was only to take one piece of bread. Surely I would see a difference if I just did that.

    Or the friend who told me that if only I’d alternate fatty dinners with salad, like she does, I could be the same size as her. (Clearly I have pizza for every meal. I must do, cause I’m fat.) Or the people who seem to think that parking your car on the other side of the carpark and walking all the way to the door will be enough exercise to make an appreciable difference in your fitness levels. The people who stare at me if I take the escalator instead of the stairs.

    To lose the 100lb that would make me a societally acceptable size, I would need to do a damn sight more than sacrifice a piece of bread here and there and climb two flights of stairs a day.

  75. …he just kind of assumed that the secret of losing 5, 20, or 100 pounds was to do what he did, only 10 tor 20 times as much. Which doesn’t even make sense, but hey.

    That’s kind of an interesting exercise. My slender mom can loose two pounds by skipping one meal per week. [I can loose two pounds by not drinking anything with breakfast and then getting sweaty, but anyhoo…] I would need to loose about 120 pounds to be “normal”, so…I need to skip, lessee, sixty meals per week? The hell?

    Maybe people think it scales somehow, like if I lost 1.7% of my bodyweight doing this, you should be able to also. So where my mom lost 2 pounds, I should loose..ahm…4.6 pounds. *snort* THAT’LL get everyone off my case!

  76. I need to skip, lessee, sixty meals per week? The hell?

    Exactly! If my husband loses 3 pounds in two months by cutting back on soda, then I just have to not drink soda, not eat junk food, eat only 1200 calories a day, exercise an hour or two each day, skip bread, juice, meat, dairy and anything sweet forever to lose 60 pounds. It makes total sense.

    He’s snacking on chips and chocolate malt balls right now, dammit.

  77. Z said — If anything, having the “bad” foods restricted
    just made me want them more.

    That seems such basic human nature, and yet, so many
    parents fall into that trap. My mom wouldn’t allow white
    bread in the house — in the days when brown bread was
    heavy and dry and tasteless. Even now, my favorite treat
    is white bread and butter.

  78. StarWatcher, that brings back a very odd memory. Back when I was maybe about six or so – and that was before I started getting fat, I was actually quite a skinny kid then – my mother had this close friend (you know, the kind of mom’s friend you call “Auntie” even when she isn’t), and every time we were round her house, I would get into her pantry and start rifling for the white, processed sliced bread she had. Odd thing is, we always had white bread – the ‘real’ bakery kind – at home. And nowadays I can’t stand white sliced. I can’t recall if it was ever a restricted food for me then, but I do know my mother regarded bread and potatoes as my personal no-nos later on, so I tend to wonder…

  79. It’s hard to know what’s the worst thing VA has said. Though I’m finding it difficult to find anything worse than this.

    [links broken to avoid even a teeny amount of SEO, do the obvious to reconstruct]

    3ws.violentacres.com/archives/18/duh

    3ws.violentacres.com/archives/40/retard-genocide

    Srsly. “But then I remembered how much I fucking hate retarded people.” V’s a special snowflake alright.

  80. My brother has two sons. His oldest is not genetically his child, although my brother has been around since the baby’s birth and has adopted him. It is very painfully obvious this child is not genetically his, too–he’s tall and rangy and skinny as a reed, and the kind of child who eats half a chicken nugget and then runs off to play for an hour before it occurs to him to eat anything else. He’s also hyperactive, so he’s on a sugarfree diet (which yes, helps).

    My brother’s second son is very much his child. In fact, the little one is the spitting image of my father at that age: if you hold up pictures of them at similar ages you can’t tell who’s who. The little one is stocky and strong, and can shove over his 4-years-older brother without blinking. He follows the same sugarfree diet as his brother, just to make it easier on my sister in law and to curb squabbling. Yet the little one weighs nearly what the older one weighs–and he’s half his brother’s age. They eat the same things, they play the same games, they get the same activities. That’s genetics, right there.

    I saw these two little boys and forgave myself for my body. The fact is that I am heavy and strong and have bones of steel, and that’s just the way my body is supposed to be. I am very much my father’s child–people who have never seen me before say, “oh, you’re ‘s daughter, aren’t you?” and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I pursue my goals of dancing and cycling and running a triathlon, and work with what I am. There’s a concept.

  81. Finkelstein appears rather perturbed this weekend by the fact people aren’t buying his claims and that bloggers aren’t saying nice things about his book. He made a post on his blog, mentioning Kate Harding’s site by name! :)

  82. I was raised with restrictions on my food. My mom would tell me that eating things would make me fat. Was she right? Yes. Was she trying to save me from the struggles she has had with her weight? Yes. But did it help? Nope. I quickly found myself sneaking food, binging on bad things.

    To this day, if there are snacks in the office, I struggle to just have “one” of anything. I decide I want to have a donut? I will eat one, and then absolutely crave another, and sometimes want to sneak it. I don’t. Frequently, I don’t even eat the donut, because I don’t actually want to eat it – I just want it because I believe I shouldn’t, I believe that it is a guilty pleasure.

    I don’t blame my mom for this – she was doing what she thought was best and she meant well, and in the end, she did a good job teaching me what was good and what was bad. And she cared about me – not because she was worried about me being the fat kid, but because she didn’t want to see me go through what she did.

  83. “With the rising tide of obesity come health problems and an increased burden on the healthcare system and industry.”

    I just wonder why people who ordinarily couldn’t care less about helping out big businesses suddenly start caring about the huge pharmaceutical companies and HMOs when fat people are up for discussion. Why don’t they just admit they don’t like fat people?

    “”When you have a first-rate medical system that can cure the diseases that obesity promotes, you no longer need to worry so much about being obese,” he told AFP.”

    Yeah right. That’s how it happens – fat people go to the doctor when they have a health complaint and the doctor examines and cures them of it. They don’t just say “Lose weight and it will go away” and etc. etc. etc. I think we all know the reality of that ridiculous statement.

    “English has opted to join a growing number of Americans who have gastric bypass surgery — hailed in Finkelstein’s book as “the best-known treatment for severe obesity.”

    Surprise, surprise, the guy promoting all the misinformation HAILS gastric bypass/digestive system mutilation as the best treatment for obesity.

    “I have a higher risk of developing diabetes or hypertension if I don’t have the surgery,” English said.”

    Sad. She is going to let them amputate her stomach because she *might, theoretically* get diabetes or high blood pressure (neither of which are untreatable, and both of which affect people of all weights) and no one has informed her of the problems she is *guaranteed* to get if she has it. Such as malnutrition. Not to mention the risk of death (in the short or long term) and all manner of other nifty problems. It’s tragic that this drastic plastic surgery has become so very common.

    As to the unbelievably strict parents and food, well put me on that list. I was restricted in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons – not because I’d get fat, but because candy would rot my teeth (they rotted anyway; that’s another one of those genetic things they pretend you can prevent) and because she has this obsessive thing about her kitchen and about control and about food. She made enough food for dinner but it was almost all so tasteless and dry and awful that I never filled up on it. I was scrawny, hungry, pale and undernourished through my childhood. Then when I ended up somewhere where I could actually eat if I wanted to, could actually go into the kitchen and fix myself something if I felt like it, I would sit there every night and eat half a pan of brownies and half a bag of pretzels. I didn’t get fat then (mostly just went up to a normal weight) but I certainly had food issues. Then came years of yoyo dieting that certainly affected my metabolism. What a crazy cycle.

    I didn’t obsess with food with my children, except for sometimes when they were little having to push them to eat their dinners. They’re both thin (though my daughter fluctuates a bit) but the real point is that they do not have eating disorders or major food issues. The person who wrote the hideous thing in the OP is just begging for (and he will get) kids who have major issues with food all their lives – from anorexia or bulimia to binge/compulsive overeating and anything else you can think of. I feel very sorry for them. There are ways of keeping your children on healthy diets without being an obsessive, control freak asshole.

  84. You’d think all of these extended, vigorous bike rides along these gorgeous country trails would leave Violent Acres feeling serene, calm or happy with the world.

    Instead, VA seems to have her hand on The Button, eh?

    If we have to believe that all fat people are miserable deep inside, don’t we also have to believe that all “personal best” athletes are The Picture of All That is Happy? Can we call VA a liar? If fat people are all scarfing doughnuts, then aren’t all skinny athletic people awash in happy-making endorphins?

    Huh?

    HUH?

  85. Cindy, it must be remembered that the main difference between the high we get from the baby flavoring in our donuts and the high that “personal best” athletes get from their endorphins is that eau de baby gives a slow release buzz without any harshness afterwards (other than being a little weepy about running out) . The poor, strung out endorphin junkies on the other hand have rapid, soaring highs followed by free-floating anger and a mind-numbing dip in their reading comprehension and reasoning abilities.

    So while they are happier than pigs in shit when they finish a workout, they will have started getting a bit tetchy by the time they have dried off from their shower.

  86. However, Pure Baby Extract offers a permanent contentment with ones’ self without a hangover of any kind. That’s why I’ve switched to Harding Brand Pure Baby Extract for all my donut flavoring needs!

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