The Onion of the FA movement

Frequent commenter (and author in her own right) Alexandra Erin has been cracking you up with her mordant wit for a while now. But she has absolutely fucking outdone herself with the new website for The Health Institute for Nutrition, a project to which I dearly hope she will let me contribute even though I am not nearly as funny as she is.

Here’s an excerpt from the most recent entry, “Potatoes: The Silent Killer” — inspired by the expert nutritional advice dispensed yesterday by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who if we didn’t mention it is a fucking gynecologist.

Would you let your child eat an explosive device? Probably not. If your child cracked open a battery and consumed the contents, you would probably call poison control.

Yet if your child ate a potato, would you even think twice?

Think about it: thousands of children and college students across the country have enjoyed blowing up potatoes in microwaves. Chemical energy stored within them is used in elementary school science experiments to power clocks and other small electronic devices.

That chemical energy? It’s called starch. Starch is a carbohydrate, a word which comes to us from Greek. Note the presence of the word “hydra” in the middle there. In Greek myth, the hydra was a dragon-like serpent with multiple heads who could not be killed. This is all you have to know about carbohydrates.

And here’s T.H.I.N’s position on fat bloggers:

All that stands in the way of this dangerously subversive group is the fashion industry, the pharmaceutical companies, the weight loss industry, the carefully cultivated self-loathing of fat people themselves, and ten thousand years of patriarchal thinking. How can our lovingly entrenched ideas about health and beauty hope to survive the onslaught from the well-organized “bloggers” of the so-called “Fatosphere”?

Sweet Jesus this stuff is funny.

I hope Alexandra keeps this up for a good long time. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, THEN YOU MERCILESSLY SATIRIZE THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF THEM, then you win.

(ETA: But please consume carefully, because onions are a WHITE food.)

103 thoughts on “The Onion of the FA movement

  1. o.O

    So, if the word hydra is in carbohydrate and it comes from a 3 headed dragon snake…

    Why should we drink water? It hydrates us! AAAAH.

  2. Awwwwwwwwwwww, I am blushing so hard right now.

    I’m seriously glad I did this. I love, love, love satire, and for a long time considered myself a humorist over anything else. I just never found a topic that grabbed me the way this has. It hits all my buttons: feminism, marginalization, junk science, misinformation…

    Watching people riff on Meme—and seeing somebody mention that she’s been a little subdued since the Daily Show cupcake segment—it hit me that you don’t win against that kind of person just by arguing with them. You have to make them look ridiculous. Or rather, you have to let the world see how ridiculous they really are. Good satire is really a lens that magnifies flaws which are already there until nobody can ignore them.

    Anyway, I’m open to the idea of your submissions, but give me a week or two to establish a definite voice and tone for the site.

  3. The Fatosphere bit killed me. I AM DEAD.

    Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who if we didn’t mention it is a fucking gynecologist.

    I bet you a nickel that the producers at Fox were like, we’re going to have GIRLS on, we’d better get a GIRL DOCTOR!

  4. This:

    For years, America was able to keep obesity at bay through discriminatory hiring practices and the occasional pogrom,

    was my favorite part.

  5. Hee! I love it! The only thing I would worry about is the “quote” from the website… I suppose someone could take offense at you presenting it as their own words when it isn’t. (Fucking hilarious though.)

    (You have an extra comma in the first sentence, btw.)

  6. Sweet Jesus is right, I nearly spewed my coffee all over my monitor. Scienterrific!!

    Is Dr. Jennifer Ashniston really a gyno??

    Fucking hell.

  7. @fillyjonk: Oops, thanks. I reworked the opening so many times I’m not surprised there’s a mistake there.

    As for the “quote”, it’s a work of parody. I Am So Not A Lawyer, but there’s a reasonable expectation that anybody reading it will recognize that it’s not their actual mission statement. I do have a legal disclaimer linked from the bottom of the page which identifies the site as satirical… I may just go add a line to it about quotes being fabricated, to cover my bases.

  8. Yeah, my worry about the quote is fully paranoid, but you never know what people will react to, in ignorance of reality or the law. I mean fuck, some guy’s suing the Blue Man Group for sticking a camera down his throat, and that’s completely an editing trick.

    I think a disclaimer about fabricated quotes is probably good enough, though.

  9. I love this detail: “…with another person to be named later.”

    Alexandra, once you get that tone established, I’d like to apply to be an occasional contributor down the road.

    For example, I’d love to write about the side-effects of gravy. That’s a topic that has been weighing on me for quite some time now. I’m pretty convinced that since it’s such a retro food, folks have forgotten that gravy creates the illusion of comfort, thus leading innocent dinner consumers to actually eat MORE — including more potatoes (the silent killer).

    Anyway, no pressure. You’re off to a GREAT start and I’ll look forward to more. Good luck!!!

  10. P.S. Hey, I just saw your thread about this from yesterday. I love the idea of a contributor named Mome W. Rath. Get it???

    (Plus Meme uses her middle initials in her marketing consulting business, so it’s doubly fitting.)

  11. I can’t wait to have some time to read this.
    And if I can toot my own horn a bit (and all of yours, too), it’s attitudes like Alexandra’s and all of you that led to my yesterday. I just got some pictures from a friend of mine of a trip we took this summer. There were a few full-body pics, and I actually put them up in a facebook album. A little over a year ago I was so unhappy with myself that I couldn’t even bear to put up a profile picture without my face partially obscured. Finally got over that hump, and this is the first foray into having my whole self out there. I was looking at the pictures she sent and thought, well, most of the people on my facebook know me IRL, so it’s not like they don’t ALREADY KNOW I’m fat and will suddenly become aware of it only if there’s a picture of me on my page. Plus more, dammit, I look ok. And if someone doesn’t like it, I’ll sit on them and squash them to bits. :)

  12. the bit that really killed me with laughter:

    ‘Here’s a true fact: a nationwide dependence on potatoes as a food source in Ireland directly led to one million deaths between 1845 and 1849′

    That, is pure pure genius of parody. quotes out of context FTW!

  13. Well, thank GOODNESS someone is finally standing up for the skinny amongst us. I nearly wept tears (were I not dehydrated from avoiding drinking my calories) when I heard MeMeMeMe chronicle the horrible trials of the skinny who have no advocates on the Internet and certainly no websites that celebrate or instruct us on weight loss! Why you would have baby donuts thrown at you for suggesting a commercial venture like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. It’s awful out there.

  14. I found the link for the RSS feed under the heading “Feed It!”, and nearly busted a gut laughing.  That’s the best use of a strikethrough I’ve seen in ever.

  15. Alexandra – that website is absolutely fantastic!!

    I would love to be an occasional contributor too – I’ve been thinking about how the FA movement desperately needs a good dose of satire (I’m a big fan of satire) and I’m hoping you end up deciding to let people send you submissions and you post if you like them.

  16. Hey, guys, please give Alexandra time to find her sea legs before inundating her with offers to guest-blog. If you find yourself brimming over with satire, WordPress blogs are free!

  17. Um, not sure what I think of that phrase. My offer was genuine and not at all greedy. (I’m a professional writer and producer, so I have no lack of outlets for any work I do. Thus the word “contribute.”)

    In any case, I’ve been duly socialized now; I’m sure I’ll be able to restrain myself henceforth.

    Carry on.

  18. Sorry Stacy, a pigpile is when everyone jumps on top of someone, usually in a loving fashion. (See “kitten pile.”)

  19. Since I don’t want to pigpile anyone, I’ll restrain myself from offering to guest write…for now.

    (ducks fillyjonk’s potential wrath)

    Alexandra, you are teh AWESOME! I’ve bookmarked the page and plan to pimp it all over the place.

  20. No wrath! I’m just looking out for Alexandra.

    Once the blog’s been around for a while, I may slip her a note that input from Twistie improves every blog I’ve seen it tried on. :)

  21. [quote] I do have a legal disclaimer linked from the bottom of the page which identifies the site as satirical… I may just go add a line to it about quotes being fabricated, to cover my bases.[/quote]

    Alexandra – if you do that, I totally think that you should also add a line about “…but you know it’s totally what they’re really thinking.” Or something to that effect.

    [quote]mmm…pigpile…is there a recipe for that?[/quote]
    Pork Chops wrapped in slices of ham (fried in bacon grease) and topped with slices of bacon. Often accompanied by hash browns and gravy.

  22. Shit, I ate a potato earlier! I look forward to my insides splattering the passersby on my walk tonight!

    Love this blog, shocked I only just stumbled upon it today. I’m a mental health blogger, about, well, guess, but also about Body Dysmorphic Disorder and bulimia, which I suffer from. I find myself in the odd position of my principles (very much on the side of fat acceptance, size acceptance, whatever, just, everyone-acceptance because size doesn’t matter and food is tasty and not a dirty word!) but my own insecurities forcing me into destructive patterns where I define myself *totally* by my appearance and weight.

    So, a cheery wave from someone on the confused, conflicted sidelines, and thanks for your blog. I’m on page 10 in another window…

  23. [quote]Once the blog’s been around for a while, I may slip her a note that input from Twistie improves every blog I’ve seen it tried on. :)[/quote]

    (blushes deeply and becomingly)

    High praise, indeed, from such a fine source. I’m deeply touched, and not just in the head this time.

  24. Rather than piggyback on the success of others I started my own blog. Ha Ha!

    (And then I whored myself in the SP comments. So now I’m a fat whore in the best possible way. )

  25. Since potatoes are a no-go, and since according to the Good Doctor, alcohol “in moderation” is OK, can I have my potatoes in the form of vodka?

  26. I’ve got to echo other commenters on this and other blogs:

    Why do FOX and others keep giving MeMe Roth a platform? She’s not an expert, not a scholar. She just has an opinion and a lot of media savvy.

    When I heard her saying obesity kills 800 a day on the M & J show yesterday, I was chagrinned that the hosts didn’t press her for documentation and verification.

  27. She was a OB-GYN? I adore mine (who’s an older male from Brooklyn here @ the San Francisco’s Women’s Health Center) but I think they could’ve done better on who they should bring in.

    I just don’t get the reasoning behind bringing in an OB-GYN when you’re discussing weight. I know she’s a doctor, but her main focus is our reproductive organs and water works, not so much the rest. I can’t discount her just because she’s an OB-GYN – but I don’t get the logic in having her there to discuss weight and health. My OB-GYN and my MD both think the BMI’s a bunch of hooey (to use their words) but I don’t get treated badly because I’m not a skinny mini – which is why I left the original MD I picked here in the City because his assistant called me severely obese and told me that’s why my knee was bothering me, not the fact that I f*cked it up to it due to ten years of soccer and softball.

    Sorry. Went off into left field.

  28. I just don’t get the reasoning behind bringing in an OB-GYN when you’re discussing weight.

    In answer to that question, I propose a children’s book, published by Fox News, called “The Prettiest Doctor.”

  29. In answer to that question, I propose a children’s book, published by Fox News, called “The Prettiest Doctor.” *snort* Though I have to say My OB-GYN is much prettier. But she’s actually a nice person, so I don’t think she’d agree to be on fox.

  30. (I should amend that that she wouldn’t agree to be on fox to talk about something she knows little about. Obviously Mo and Rachel are amazing people. Sometimes I shouldn’t talk.)

  31. Dr. Ashton told us that she appears on FOX 4 – 5 times a week in addition to her full-time OB-GYN practice. In fact, she had to go off and do a surgery the day of the show at 11 a.m. Maybe the fact that she is a paid FOX contributor and lives locally (the show was late minute notice) is why they had her appear on the show.

    Dr. Ashton said some pretty silly things on the show, but Mo and I talked to her both before and afterward, and actually, I really liked her. Because her professional focus isn’t on weight, I think she relied on reports and studies that have appeared in medical journals that regurgitate the same anti-obesity schpeel. But she did acknowledge that weight isn’t a black and white issue and in the greenroom discussion, she was the one – not us – who brought up genetics.

    I liked the doctor so much, actually, that I asked her for her email address so I can keep in touch and maybe feature some questions with her on my blog. She really was a nice person, not evil incarnate like the chupacabra.

    Meme, on the other hand, has absolutely NO qualifications qualifying her as the “anti-obesity expert” FOX parades her as. In fact, all she has is a very poorly designed website. With as much as she appears on FOX news and in FOX shows, I think she must be a paid contributor. Either her contract with FOX precludes her from appearing on other stations or, and I find this to be more likely, credible news agencies see her as the nutcase she is and since they practice good journalism, they don’t ask her to be on.

    I actually have more academic qualifications than does Meme, and I wish this had been pointed out on the show. Maybe I should form the National Action Against Anti-Obesity and I will be paraded about as an anti-anti-obesity expert.

  32. Oh man, i take back everything i said about the doctor then. Just goes to show how first impressions (made when you arent even INTERACTING with the person) mean jack shit.

  33. I don’t take back everything I said about the doctor, because she said some really dumb stuff and if she’s on TV that often she should know better. She should have prepared, and she should have researched, and if she didn’t have time to at least learn what the BMI is then she should have turned them down. And I still think it’s really misleading for them to present her by omission as some kind of diet and nutrition expert. But I do find it very interesting that you liked her so much, and it certainly adds some nuance.

    I find it particularly interesting that the thing about late notice kind of validates my comparison upthread of the doctor’s performance to one of those dreams where you have to be in a play and you don’t know your lines. I sorta thought I was joking but maybe she really was faltering because they didn’t give her enough prep time (and perhaps pulled the rug out from under her as much as from under you).

  34. I think people who have credentials like an MD need to be responsible for how they use them. (Not that she’s not intending to do good, I’m glad that she wasn’t a MemeRoth Devotee obviously.) But if you are a doctor and you know people are going to listen to you then you shouldn’t agree to appear on national TV and have a discussion you are unprepared for.

    That said, I’m sure it’s really hard to say no to being on TV, so I don’t really blame her.

  35. I’m sure it’s really hard to say no to being on TV

    And really hard to be on TV, too, even when you have the best intentions. But I agree with you about the need to use your credentials wisely and perhaps sparingly. (Then again, she’s hired them out to Fox News, so it’s a little late for that! bada-bing)

  36. Oriencor, at Shapely Prose we follow a diet plan called Sanity Watchers, in which we avoid reading nasty fatphobic comments. My personal Sanity Watchers plan involves not even opening comments on an article about fat or weight or obesity or body image (outside the fatosphere, of course) because it always, always gets nasty, and it’s just upsetting and crazy-making.

    The article itself was actually pretty good though, I thought this quote especially was right on the money:

    “We live in a hypocritical society where the media tsks-tsks about stars with eating disorders, but then attacks someone plus-size as ‘a whale,’

  37. ..and by the way, has anyone noticed the horridness that is being spawned at ABC over Pierce Bronson’s rubenesque wife who *dared* to put on a bikini and be on the beach instead of hiding in shame in a dark pit somewhere

    Having read the article i see nothing wrong with it. Its using the discussion on TMZ of Keely’s weight gain as an opening to discuss how women outside of the ‘ideal’ body size are treated by the media.

    Unless the article got changed the split second i looked at it, i actually rather liked it and thought it was suprisingly insightful. (theres 3 pages of it btw)

    that doesnt count the comments though.

  38. to hell with it, i REALLY LIKED THE ARTICLE.

    It annoys me everyone in the comments seem to be missing the point TOTALLY.

  39. apricotmuffins, stop reading the comments right now or you cannot have a Sanity Watchers keychain when I figure out a design! And also you can’t have one anyway because CafePress doesn’t make keychains but that’s not the point!

    I thought the article was a little dumb but only because I spend half my life doing this shit… for people who aren’t thinking about the effect of the patriarchy on body image 24/7 I’m sure it was interesting and thought-provoking. (If that came out sounding patronizing, it’s meant to sound world-weary.) But the people fitting that description who read it and agreed probably didn’t comment as much as the people who just wanted to say “hur hur fatty,” you know?

  40. It annoys me everyone in the comments seem to be missing the point TOTALLY.

    Sanity Watchers! Don’t read the comments!

    I quite liked the article too, but I think Oriencor was referring to the comments when she was talking about horridness.

  41. Becky, to be honest I read the article (which wasn’t bad) and then opened the comments, skimmed and decided my self esteem was more important to me at the moment.

    But I thought it prudent to share, being how it related to FA.

  42. Yes, comments = horridness. I could only skim because I felt the dumb might be catching.

    I agree the article was well written and observant, the comments were horrid and nasty.

  43. ..and along the same lines of this train of thought (the media perception/disinformation/stupidity) we have the Project Runway designs downstairs in the atrium here @ LS&CO. and they’re beautiful but terrifying at the same time – mostly because I can’t comprehend how the models who wore them were able to stand up right, much less walk. I know they did, I watched them walk on the show.. but it’s still mind boggling.

    My sister commented that her bones wouldn’t even fit into the pants of one outfit, much less her hips.

    The funny thing?

    The outfits are too tiny even for the dress forms they’re on, which if I remember correctly from my work as visual merchandiser, run about a size 4-6…

    I doubt even MeMe Roth could fit into them.

  44. I’m sure it’s really hard to say no to being on TV

    I actually almost did say no. I told the woman I would call her back and called my mom and asked her. She said, “Are you crazy? Of course you’ll be on TV.”

  45. I don’t wish Dr. Ashton any ill will, but what’s the matter with telling a television producer that they don’t get to have a specialist on file for “generalist” news hubs? What’s the matter with a doctor saying tough love, man, ask someone who has spent years researching and treating obesity and obese patients.

    My spouse is a physician assistant and receives the state board newsletter. Reading about the suspension for ethical, sexual and substance violations as related to license suspension and revocation, there are plenty of docs out there who have craptastic judgment.

    And hell, I interviewed a podiatrist who tried to hock a weight loss powder as a way to treat foot pain.

    I repeat: he hocked weight loss powder. He did not actually treat the actual pain in his patients’ actual feet.

  46. The best part of the ABC article was at the end…

    >>”Being overweight is still an area where it is considered somehow acceptable to discriminate and be cool…”

    I am proud of the bloggers that are speaking up on our behalf, and believe that in time, we’ll see positive change. It is so refreshing to hear from women that look at themselves in a positive light. Yay! High five to all!

  47. Heh, that site is awesome! And yes, I thought I’d love to contribute too. But I also agree that she should be allowed to get started on her own and build it up. She’ll surely let us know when she’s too busy or tired to contribute and could use a guest blogger.

    Alexandra Erin, good luck on the site! Great stuff so far.

  48. that kills me! A gynecologist! *head to desk* What idiot decided to talk to an OB-Gyn about nutrition?White food is bad. *shakes finger* Bad white food BAD! Go to time out! And I thought MeME Roth was going to start frothing at the mouth!

  49. Pingback: The Blog That Goes Ping » Blog Archive » Fat-Fighting Crusadress Honored

  50. Ed, your mentioning that made me google MeMe to see what the first results on her name are right now, and it was a delightful experience. (Obviously the first ones are from her made-up organization, but the rest are great.)

  51. Man, I thought I’d get a few hits from mentioning the site in comments here… but today THIN has already become the second busiest site among my various enterprises. I’m getting incoming hits from everywhere. The MeMe article seems to be getting the most from fat-related blogs, but the potato one is circulating like crazy on Livejournal. Maybe it will draw in some new people?

  52. Thank gods the doctor didn’t say “no brown foods”, because life without chocolate just isn’t worth living.

  53. “White food BAD”? Excellent, I LOVE soul food.

    And if you eat your white food while watching Lawrence Welk reruns on PBS you will spontaneously combust.

  54. ““White food BAD”? Excellent, I LOVE soul food.”

    I told everyone yesterday. Black food for everyone.

    Pigpile. No Wrath!! Sounds like offside calls on the Thinball Field.

  55. Since potatoes are a no-go, and since according to the Good Doctor, alcohol “in moderation” is OK, can I have my potatoes in the form of vodka?

    I have been WAITING for someone to ask for this.

    Bottles of Grey Goose for everyone (except MeMe)! In moderation!

  56. LOL omg so much funny stuff on here i almost peed my pants.

    and i agree that doctor is an idiot. i love how she was like “well we can’t just look at height and weight. we have to look at BMI”.
    what the fuck is BMI if not height and weight?
    i also love how she said this may be “contraversial” of her to talk about BMI… interesting.

  57. I felt like the “news briefs” I added were fun but kind of a cheat since I didn’t write anything more than a mocking headline, so I went back and added “article highlights” and “steps to take” to them.

    Whee!

  58. Okay, so what if you brown the flower in meat drippings before you make the gravy? Doesn’t that get the white out? Oh, is there no defence from the white threat?

    Oh, my dog. I ate almonds and parsnips today. Not together, but still.

  59. Re the ABC-News Article: I cannot take an article seriously that honestly write this “Some stars like actress Kate Winslet, who championed the larger girl a decade ago in “Titanic,” have now dieted away to more svelte figures.”
    Kate Winselt was a size 4 in Titanic. A bloody size *4* is “larger”? Isn’t this the kind of stupid standard that the author is trying to critizise in other parts of their article?

  60. I’m not sure I buy that Winslet was a size 4 in Titanic. She was certainly a poster child for “Hollywood fat” at the time, which is usually around a size 8 (although I guess it’d be less if you were real short), and she talked a lot about how absurd it was that she was considered fat. And then she lost weight.

  61. I’m not sure I buy that Winslet was a size 4 in Titanic. She was certainly a poster child for “Hollywood fat” at the time, which is usually around a size 8 (although I guess it’d be less if you were real short), and she talked a lot about how absurd it was that she was considered fat. And then she lost weight.

    I think she was an 8 or 10–I was about a 10 myself at the time and happened to see one of her Titanic dresses in person and my scienterrific analysis of the dress (also known as “eyeballing it”) suggested to me that it would have fit me or at least been pretty close. And James Cameron was a total ass to her about her supposed “weight problem.” I–and all my friends–thought she was smokin’ hot though.

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