Newsflash: Bigotry not based on fact

This should make me happy, I guess:

EAST LANSING, Mich. — New research led by a Michigan State University scholar refutes commonly held stereotypes that overweight workers are lazier, more emotionally unstable and harder to get along with than their “normal weight” colleagues.

With the findings, employers are urged to guard against the use of weight-based stereotypes when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing.

Mark Roehling, associate professor of human resource management, and two colleagues studied the relationship between body weight and personality traits for nearly 3,500 adults. Contrary to widely held stereotypes, overweight and obese adults were not found to be significantly less conscientious, less agreeable, less extraverted or less emotionally stable.

Instead, possibly because I am really stressed lately and have been particularly tense today, it just pisses me off that this study was even done (and funded) in the first place. It’s like doing a fucking study on whether Jews are obsessed with money. What the fuck is the point of this? Proving that negative stereotypes aren’t based in fact? Are you kidding? Why would you legitimize them enough to consider them a valid object of study?

I know I’m being a little unreasonable, because after all I welcome studies that show that fat people don’t eat more than thin people on average, or aren’t sicker than thin people on average, or don’t cost more to the health system. But these are situations in which people are basing their misconceptions on existing flawed science; the addition of new science is valuable for refuting that. Actually bothering to do the social science research to refute nasty stereotypes backed only by bigotry and anecdata… well, it’s as appalling to me as an extensive study on stereotypes surrounding any other group. Fat people aren’t mean? That’s your study? Are you fucking KIDDING me?

And get this part:

Roehling, who’s also a lawyer, said the practical implication of the research is that employers should take steps to prevent managers from using weight as a predicator of personality traits when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing.

Oh wow, thank goodness this study was done, then. Because if negative assumptions do turn out to be true on average, that means you should totally judge people’s personalities based on their looks, since there’s no such thing as common cause and things that are true of a group on average are true of every member of that group. If black men are imprisoned at a higher rate than white men, that can only be because black men are criminals and you should never hire one! If there are fewer women than men in the sciences, that can only be because women are dumb at thinking and you shouldn’t give them high-level jobs! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS BULLSHIT, I EXPECT THIS FROM EVERYONE ELSE, BUT ACADEMIA, YOU ARE MOTHERFUCKING DISAPPOINTING ME

120 thoughts on “Newsflash: Bigotry not based on fact

  1. It looks like the PI in this case was an “associate professor of human resource management.” So I suppose he could have designed this study in reaction to a pattern he was seeing in hiring/firing practices. In which case, if the journal this was published in (“Group and Organization Management”) has any influence in the industry (anybody know?), maybe it will cause some managers to reflect further on their decisions. Or, maybe people will just snicker and toss the paper to the side with a “Whatever, common sense totally dictates that fat people are lazy and mean, why should I let this so-called ‘science’ contradict that?” (Yes, I’m cynical, it’s been that kind of a week, you know?).

    Seriously though, I agree that it is sad that this sort of stuff needs to be done in the first place, although I guess I can try to tease out some sort of a silver lining. It is simply indicative of the amount of prejudice our society currently has against fat people–after all, they may not get away with a study called “Are Jews Obsessed with Money?” right now, but would you be surprised if they dug up some sort of a paper written on that subject say….fifty to a hundred years ago? I guess in a way you can view science in a similar way to movies, books, etc….a barometer of the attitudes of the time they were made in.

  2. And here was me thinking that you have to have actual evidence for your hypothesis before it becomes newsworthy to disprove it!
    I’ve been missing so many publishing opportunities. Look out for “Welshmen Are Not All Singing Thieves” in a journal near you.

  3. Look out for “Welshmen Are Not All Singing Thieves” in a journal near you.

    MissPrism, I love you so much. This line almost completely evaporated my bad mood.

  4. Rereading what I wrote, I felt I should clarify that the “silver lining” I’m trying to tease out is that this might have a teensy chance of effecting some change. Not that the article is indicative of the current climate of prejudice against fat people. That would be a silly silver lining. More like tin foil, really.

  5. I know you’re annoyed, but a lot of social science research is predicated on disproving commonly held beliefs. There’s a lot of stuff out there that “everyone knows” that is probably complete crap, but until scientists disprove it how do you know that?

    Classic example: corporeal punishment. The classic is “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Supposedly, it;s just common sense that spanking kids will get them to behave better. Well, study after study has shown that the exact opposite is true — what corporeal punishment actually does is teach kids that violence is an acceptable response to problems.

    So, please, don’t get annoyed with sociologists for attempting to debunk widely held false beliefs — if they didn’t do it, who would? The fact that you or I or any other Shapeling could point to individuals like ourselves or our acquaintances as not meeting the stereotype would be greeted with, “Well, you’re the exception. There are always exceptions.”

    I am intrigued by the idea that fatties would be viewed as less extraverted or harder to get along with than other workers — whatever happened to the stereotype of the jolly fat person who’s always in a good mood?

  6. “Corporeal punishment” is my favourite typo I have seen anywhere all day. As opposed to …? “You boys better behave yourselves, or it’s the ghost cane for you!”

  7. So it’s better that people just keep on going with their irrational hatred? This is how academic research works. You don’t know what his original question was, or why and how he came to the topic and this particular dataset. Studies testing conventional wisdom are very common. There is currently a movement in the social sciences and public policy towards “evidence-based policy,” which means there will and should be studies about race, crime and imprisonment. This will be a very good thing, as most prejudices are just that – wrong and hurtful. But to expect people to give up their beliefs based on your word alone that they are “wrong” isn’t going to get very far.

    One of the main point in THE OBESITY MYTH and RETHINKING THIN is that the research from inside and outside the obesity medical world tend to show very different results. So attacking people who are trying to undercut the mainstream attitudes towards the obese are counterproductive at best.

  8. So it’s better that people just keep on going with their irrational hatred?

    Yeah, I’m really sure that people with IRRATIONAL HATRED are going to suddenly turn rational now that they’ve read this study. “Gosh, science says my IRRATIONAL hatred isn’t based on fact! Guess I’ll quit being a bigot now!”

  9. wait – whoa! you just totally blew my mind there. you mean, good workers can’t be judged by looks?? but then how do you explain away the fact that all my worst bosses have been white men??!? i can tell by looking at them that they’re gonna suck! (and i’m a feminist, so of course i hate white men on principle, you know.)

    oh wait, maybe it’s that 90% of all bosses, everywhere, are white men. huh. well, i’ll wait for the study to prove it!

    *chuffs impatiently*

    i’m right there with you on the Cranky Train, i’m a little too tired of being astonished by perfect piles of horseshit. holy hell.

  10. ‘whatever happened to the stereotype of the jolly fat person who’s always in a good mood?’

    Fat hatred has stamped that one out. It’s not ugly enough to get people’s blood boiling about what kind of monsters we are.

    ‘If black men are imprisoned at a higher rate than white men, that can only be because black men are criminals and you should never hire one! ‘

    Sadly, lots of people have no qualms with this kind of thinking.

  11. I’m really sure that people with IRRATIONAL HATRED are going to suddenly turn rational now that they’ve read this study.

    Well, maybe not the people with irrational hatred, but perhaps those with unexamined assumptions? I could see a study like this opening up a few eyeballs, maybe….not those who have dedicated their lives to being Against the Fat, but some of those who have just assumed, for whatever reason, that these things are true. Now they can be told that they are not.

    I can understand where you’re coming from. With the trolls that come here day in and day out, how it would seem like this sort of a study isn’t going to do anything. Think less of the hateful, irrational trolls who definitely wouldn’t care for a study like this, and think more of a manager or HR director, who may read this study and realize (light bulb!) that they have intentionally or unintentionally discriminating against people under false pretenses. It might yet be able to make some change.

    I agree with Mo that much of social science is dispelling so-called conventional wisdom (and sometimes, confirming it). It seems redundant and stupid sometimes, but it is a necessity if we want to base our decisions in reality.

  12. Ok – This is a bit off topic, but I had to share it anyhow. I was reviewing last month’s issue of Readers Digest and they had an article about “What Doctors Shouldn’t Confess, But Did”…or some shit like that. The very FIRST confession was a doctor whining about how patient’s never lose weight when they’re told to, lie about what they’re eating and still have the nerve to complain about bodily ailments and pain. The doctor’s are apparently sick that we fatties never listen to them, but still come see them about ailments and illnesses.

    So yeah, I am fairly sure Reader’s Digest is a little iffy in terms of accuracy…..so a big F*CK YOU to Reader’s Digest for continuing to feed the machine…that OBESE REDUNTANT FAT RHETORIC MACHINE we all know and love.

  13. It just sucks because such findings would be news to quite a few people out there. If they can hate on fat people because “science” says we’re lazy and worthless, well, here’s some science right back at them.

    whatever happened to the stereotype of the jolly fat person who’s always in a good mood?

    You mean fat men, silly. Fat women are all bitter hags with nothing going for them.

  14. We’re talking about a sick amount of money and effort going into investigating absurdities based only on the fact that someone believes them. I wouldn’t dignify intelligent design with a study, because that would mean it was a valid object of scientific inquiry, and I don’t support studies of nasty stereotypes. It’s not about whether it’ll do anything (though you might be interested in this article); it’s about whether “are Welshmen really singing thieves?” is a study that needs to be done with the limited amount of grant money that’s available out there. And it’s about why we assume that unfounded stereotypes need more debunking than “wow, what an unfounded stereotype” when they’re about fat people, but not in other cases. Find me the “study testing conventional wisdom” on whether Jewish people are money-obsessed; I dare you.

  15. Yes, I see the point that such vicious stereotypes may not be worth responding to, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re out there (duh!). I see this sort of thing as perhaps a shade more helpful than harmful.

    I don’t think — despite attempted and real trollery in the fatosphere and the jerks who come out every time anyone mentions fat in a mainstream publication — that most people are really raging, fat-hating bigots. I’m not sure most people really care that much. But they may well be making assumptions because notions like those looked at in the study are so much in the culture.

    So if this, as EntoAggie says, perks up the ears of a few well-meaning people, perhaps it will be of some positive use. It’d be nice if all of us, with whatever combination of characteristics inborn and acquired could be viewed simply as individuals and taken on our own terms. But we’re not there yet — not by a long shot.

  16. I wouldn’t dignify intelligent design with a study.

    Well, that would require the IDers to actually produce something to study. Oooo, sick burn! :)

    Anyways, I mostly agree with you fillyjonk, and I can’t think of a way to phrase my objections eloquently or delightfully enough, so enough for me.

  17. Thing is, if your area of study is sociology, a commonly-held belief is a legitimate area of inquiry.

    I don’t think the existence of a study that shows that fat people aren’t lazy is going to legitimate fat hatred any more than not studying it would. ‘We don’t need a study to tell us fat people are lazy’ would, I think be more common than ‘Since science has not studied it, we’ will reocgnize it as a prejudice.’ (We often hear the reverse, in fact: “We don’t need a study to tell us that all you need to do to lose weight is eat less and exercise more. God, stupid scientists for studying it!)

    Plus, having a study is useful if one is trying to argue (in an anti-discrimination hiring practice context) that someone was illegitimately fired because the manager thought that fat = lazy.

  18. I don’t think — despite attempted and real trollery in the fatosphere and the jerks who come out every time anyone mentions fat in a mainstream publication — that most people are really raging, fat-hating bigots.

    To be quite frank, I do think most people are raging fat-hating bigots. Well, maybe not the raging part unless given a reason…but I can name eleventy-billion instances I’ve personally witnessed where reasonable people who know and love me (an un-subtle fat chick) just GO OFF about some fat person or other who somehow disgusted them by doing something. And while maybe there’s a root crap behavior in there somewhere, it’s always couched in fat-hatred. No fat person is offensive because they’re offensive….they’re offensive because they’re fat. ((How many times have I heard, “I’m sorry, I know you’re really healthy, but MOST fat people eat too much/never exercise/are dying of diabetes/etc.”??))

    And yeah, it’s the culture blah blah blah. At some point, though, I believe people have a responsibility to examine their actions and choices and think for themselves. If they can switch their light bulbs to CFLs, for fuck’s sake, I think they might be able to stop treating fat people like shit for no good reason.

    I can see where maybe this study is something in our arsenal against stereotype and bigotry….but I also am disgusted that, for some reason, that whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing doesn’t seem ever to apply to fat people. So much so that they had to do a study about it.

  19. Plus, having a study is useful if one is trying to argue (in an anti-discrimination hiring practice context) that someone was illegitimately fired because the manager thought that fat = lazy.

    Well, in a case like that the manager isn’t going to come out and say “I fired him/her because s/he was fat, and everybody knows that fat people are lazy.” Those may very well be the subconcious undertones of the whole affair, but nobody’s actually going to come out and say it. Even in our current fat-hating culture, so-called polite society dictates that the manager couch in in terms of “This person was lazy.” Even if subconciously the fat=lazy parallels are being drawn, unless the case is made to be specifically about a person’s fat, the article would be irrelevent in the person’s defense.

    Plus, as fillyjonk stated, what if the article did conclude that fat people are, on average, lazier than thin people? What would that say about that particular fat person? Would it be suggestive, incriminating, negligible? Although I can see why this particular study may have been done, and I think it might be good to have in our arsenal of scientific articles, we also have to be verrry careful with these sorts of correlative studies, which are often misunderstood and misused.

  20. FJ, definitely a thought-provoking post! On one hand, I’m kind of a research junkie, especially on so-called common sense topics that seem to be wrong more often that not. Just falls into my general worldview that the majority of people are far outclassed by squirrels in terms of critical thinking. ;) They need to be told in a somewhat concrete and official manner that their heads are indeed up their asses.

    On the other hand, no one publishes studies that examine whether or not the tooth fairy exists. Doing research on the validity of fat-based bias does suggest that there is some uncertainty as to whether said bias is in fact accurate and not just a mythical creature with wings, as it were.

    Also, FJ, the article you linked to above was very interesting…the study authors could be strengthening prejudicial ideas with their choice of language!

  21. One of the things that interest me (read: annoys me) is the way the passive voice was used in the reporting of this study (note that I’m using passive voice here in this sentence as well, in part because I’m not sure if the “contact person” for this article is its author).

    If you read though the article, you’ll see phrases like:

    “commonly held stereotypes” [held by whom?]

    “the use of weight-based stereotypes when it comes to hiring, promoting or firing” [and who uses these stereotypes?]

    Even the last sentence of the article:
    “Employers concerned about the fair and effective management of their work force,” Roehling said, “should be proactive in preventing negative stereotypes about overweight workers from influencing employment decisions.”

    I agree with that sentence. But in whom are they “preventing negative stereotypes”? Whose decisions are we talking about here? Is it, perhaps, those same employers who should be concerned?

    A revision of that sentence might read, “Employers concerned about the fair and effective management of their workplace should be proactive in recognizing and combating their own stereotyped beliefs about fat workers.”

    Leaving out the active participant in this framework is leaving out the bigot as agent without ever acknowledging that, in the current climate, there are employers who consider themselves “fair and effective managers” who are still actively and regularly discriminating against fat people in the workplace.

  22. Well, that would require the IDers to actually produce something to study. Oooo, sick burn! :)

    Hee!

    I can’t think of a way to phrase my objections eloquently or delightfully enough

    You are in no danger of being non-eloquent or non-delightful.

    Miriam, that’s an excellent point about the passive voice… the way the study is phrased now, we don’t even know whose beliefs and how many people’s beliefs are being studied. Honestly, I’m not even sure how “commonly held” the belief that fat people (I mean, besides me and Kate and to a lesser extent SM) are assholes really is.

  23. Anyways, I mostly agree with you fillyjonk, and I can’t think of a way to phrase my objections eloquently or delightfully enough, so enough for me.

    I think you did just fine, EntoAggie. :) I don’t think the two viewpoints — that doing a study like this is total bullshit and that it could be useful for changing minds — are necessarily contradictory.

    I did finally start watching season one of Mad Men over the weekend, and one of the most amazing things about the show is all the casual bigotry: racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic stereotypes are so commonly held to be true, the WASP men aren’t even embarrassed about propagating them most of the time. There’s such a great scene in the first episode where they have to deal with a Jewish, female client, daughter of a department store owner. They’re thrown off-guard by having to deal with a woman in the first place, and then, when she rejects coupons as a marketing strategy, you can see all their heads exploding as they try to figure out how to say, “But lady, JEWS ARE CHEAP!” to her face. The only reason they don’t say it to her face (not at first, anyway) is that they’re all about the bottom line, and keeping the client outweighs their bigotry. If someone had handed those characters a study showing that Jews are not, in fact, obsessed with money, they might have been a lot more open to a different tactic.

    Now, this hypothetical study would not have made them better people. And the study’s very existence would have been totally infuriating and offensive, for all the reasons FJ points out. (Also, I’m talking about fictional characters.) But I do think that historically, one way prejudices start to break down is because the dominant group realizes a marginalized group has cash value — either as consumers or producers. Often, it just leads to new, slightly more flattering but equally bullshit stereotypes — African-Americans make good music/are good at sports, gay men have lots of disposable income, Asian-Americans are smart and hard-working — but the result is that the dominant group does end up interacting more with the marginalized group, ’cause there’s an economic benefit to doing so. And the more you interact with people, the harder it becomes to dismiss them.

    So, while I agree 100% that taking fat stereotypes seriously enough to study them is bullshit, I can’t say I’m sad that the results are being reported in an HR journal. If this makes employers think twice about their kneejerk assumptions that fat people will be lazy and unproductive, it’s ultimately to the good. It’s just really sad that research money and effort had to be spent on telling people what they should fucking well already know.

  24. A revision of that sentence might read, “Employers concerned about the fair and effective management of their workplace should be proactive in recognizing and combating their own stereotyped beliefs about fat workers.”

    Outstanding.

  25. To be quite frank, I do think most people are raging fat-hating bigots.

    I think most people are lazy fat-hating bigots. The “Die-Fat-Bitchez” trolls are a minority, I’m sure, but it’s so easy to slam fat people. So easy to go for the cheap joke, the old stereotype, the junk science. I was just visiting a sort-of-cute blog about celebreties and pop culture from an Asian perspective and it was full of fat slams… because being pro-Asian means being anti-fat? I don’t think so.

    I see something about the obesity epidemic every damned day. People I know talk shit about fat people right in front of me. (But not you! I mean people who are, like, 200 pounds) My own husband said that people shouldn’t get bariatric surgery because “they should be able to do it on their own” – as if he hasn’t watched me try to lose weight for years.

    It takes work to rethink one’s perspectives, and most people don’t want to do it, especially when the perspective concerns worthless fat people.

  26. (Disclaimer: This was composed this over a course of an hour with many interruptions from kids, so apologies if while that was happening someone came along and made the same points already…)

    FJ, I totally get why this didn’t make you all that happy. You know, right now I’m imagining other “findings” about oppressed groups that would contradict oppressive stereotypes with a long pedigree. Something like: “Jews No More Stingy Than Anyone Else, New Study Reveals!” or “Native Americans Exhibit Whole Range of Human Emotion and Experience, Not Just Long-Suffering Nobility and Intuitive Special Closeness to the Earth, Say Researchers!” or “Young Black Females Not All Hypersexual, Noted Sociologist Discovers!”

    First, it demonstrates – and in so doing, somewhat reinforces – the fact that the the stinginess of Jews, e.g., is at issue. At issue enough to have a study done about it, and to have the presumed reader (who is, of course, not thought to be a member of the oppressed group) react with, “Well, I never! How bout that?! Of course you would THINK that Jews ARE stingy, because, well, I mean, it’s OBVIOUS why. Something about ‘Jewishness’ just screeeeams ‘stinginess.’ Surprisingly, though, they’re NOT!”

    2. Some people have ALWAYS known that those oppressive stereotypes are faulty – namely, those who ARE oppressed by them and have done the hard-ass work of questioning the oppression they’ve internalized. Ah, but what does THAT count for? Of course THEY would say that. What we need are some objective experts to come along and tell people’s stories for them, but from a point of view that actually COUNTS — i.e., that of the “researcher.” Grrrrr.

  27. Beth, that’s absolutely stunning. You might be fat because you buy lunch with a credit card? (Of course, as we all know, more expensive things always have more calories than cheaper things.) And people in large groups certainly aren’t eating more because people tend to go out in large groups on special occasions where they’re wiling to spend more and order multi-course meals. I hate people.

  28. bah! Don’t know why that phantom number two showed up; I thought I’d edited it out. At least, though, it let me use the phrase “phantom number two.” I guess that’s the kind where you’re pretty sure it happened, but there’s no sign in the bowl?

  29. fillyjonk, I wouldn’t dignify intelligent design with a study either, but I might be interested in doing a study of the people who believe in it to try to figure out just where along the line they lost the ability to understand basic science.

    And, EntoAggie, actually, yes, managers will come right out and say they fired someone because he or she was fat. Unless things have changed in the last month or so, that’s a perfectly legal thing to do in most states.

  30. Hmph, makes sense it comes from my bass-ackwards state. (Don’t get me wrong it’s a great place, but in my experience, it’s not exactly a pantheon of social reform.) At least it wasn’t my alma mater (not that I’d put it past them).

    I love sociology. My passion is folklore and religion. If I can overcome the fear of never being able to pay back my student loans, I’d like nothing better than to be a folklorist. But this? This is NOT a move in the right direction. If we know anything about urban myth that becomes folk “wisdom,” we understand that to discount a negative myth takes more than a study like this. The stereotype didn’t start with science, so science cannot save it.

    (The one possible exception would be if Mythbusters did a show on fat, since the series has a large enough cult following to make an impact, but it’ll never happen because you can’t build a robot or blow anything up in relation to fat myths… and if they started becoming a show about challenging social norms I’d be sad anyway… as much as I love them, and agree that social norms need challenging, let’s face it, I watch their show to escape, look at some handsome maniacal fellows and one cute maniacal lady all playing mad scientist, and get a good chuckle.)

    Anyway back to the point, if they really wanted to do something positive for fat, they could be conducting studies focused on the positive, as in, what fatties ARE doing as opposed to what they’re NOT doing, even if what they’re NOT doing is eating those baby-flavored donuts and lazing around while their thin coworkers slave on, or whatever.

    How about a study of fat people in extreme sports?
    Fat people who save the environment?
    Fat people who dance?

    I dunno, I’m with FJ on this one… why on earth do we need such a biased and pointless study? Let’s put grant monies to work on something much more fun and useful, like pay for me to go to Scotland and study the potential economical implications of either proving or disproving existence of the Loch Ness Monster, or perhaps a trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to compare the number of people who simply enjoy the myth to the number of people who truly believe in it, and see if there is a correlation between positive regard for a cryptid and belief in its existence (it’s a dream of mine to do a cryptid study as to whether liking a certain cryptid versus being afraid of it makes you more likely to be a believer).

    Or at least we could use it to fund my guitar lessons, since if this whole folklorist gig falls through I may need to become a professional wandering bard to earn my keep.

    …wait, did I just go off on another folklore tangent? I’m sorry. I do that a lot.

  31. WHOA I BUY LUNCH WITH A CREDIT CARD AND I AM FAT

    Probably the reason I never have any cash, which is why I buy lunch with a credit card, is that it’s SO HEAVY and I’m too out of shape to carry it!

    I also buy breakfast with a credit card, and my breakfast is expensive, like 5-7 bucks. The women at the deli tease me about it. See, I buy fruit, and they charge by the pound, and fruit weighs a lot. Guess I should switch to eggs and potatoes.

    fillyjonk, I wouldn’t dignify intelligent design with a study either, but I might be interested in doing a study of the people who believe in it to try to figure out just where along the line they lost the ability to understand basic science.

    Totally! I totally agree. And I think the same applies in this case. Sure, I’m interested in where managers get the idea that fat people are hard to work with, and what they do with that belief. Am I interested in whether they’re RIGHT? No, as A Sarah points out (after cracking me up as she does with nearly every comment), I have always already known that they are not right.

  32. Beth, that’s HIDEOUS. Can we smack them with a big CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION sticker?

    And, of course, as LilahMorgan said, since when did things that cost more automatically have more calories? A garden salad at Panera is about $7.50 and doesn’t have enough calories to keep me alive for two hours, let alone a whole day. It’s like 3x as much as a Big Mac, which DOES.

  33. What a great post and great discussion as usual.

    People like saying things for shock value, and I think for some people, prejudiced statements with a veneer of scientific skepticism are exactly the kind of things that can be most fun to say. I have some friends who study the psychology of racial prejudice, and the number of times they’re approached by otherwise smart people saying “But what if… *GASP*… the prejudice is true?!” really messes with my head. I think it’s actually helpful for them, when faced with that kind of person, to be able to say, “Uh, no. Plz to look at the literature, kthxbai.”

  34. LilahMorgan said: And people in large groups certainly aren’t eating more because people tend to go out in large groups on special occasions where they’re wiling to spend more and order multi-course meals. I hate people.

    Yeah, and the correlation between using a credit card and spending more has everything to do with calories and nothing to do with a) the economic status/habits of people who use credit vs. cash, b) the prices in establishments that accept credit cards vs. those that don’t, or c) the prices of food in geographic areas that have more CC-accepting establishments. Of course. It’s not like credit cards charge a fee per transaction. No way. Blargh.

  35. That aol thing? Yeah. *headdesk*
    I’ll just repeat what everyone else said and ask how the hell they managed to conclude that more expensive food = more calories. Also, the church thing? I haven’t seen whether the actual study accounts for this, but isn’t the average age of regular churchgoers a bit higher than, well, average?

  36. At issue enough to have a study done about it, and to have the presumed reader (who is, of course, not thought to be a member of the oppressed group)

    This point about the presumed reader is excellent — I think the presumed researcher is also not a member of the oppressed group. This study exoticizes fat people even as it participates in the OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!!111 that is predicated on the idea that fat people are not, in fact, “exotic” enough.

  37. I think next they will be doing a study to see if kittens really do shit rainbows.

    Gods. On the one hand, HUZZAH for the results being published in a wider context than most studies showing that fatties aren’t “insert stereotype here”. On the other hand, just having to do the study in this frame of mind really limits the scope of an experiment. Why not start by asking “why are fat people fired more often?” Why start and do a study with a sterotype as its basis?

    Well I can only hope that seeing this opens some eyes. My co-worker saw the press relese of the study and was asking “Who actually THINKS like this” So maybe that IS progres….

  38. That aol thing? Yeah. *headdesk*

    For reals! If I lived according to their rules, I would stop drinking pop (oh, wait, already did that one), eat less meat (hey, that one too!), get divorced (wait, I’m not married), stop going to church (oh, right, I’m not a Christian), eat alone for every meal (instead of *almost* every meal), always pay with cash (hang on, mostly do that already, too), get rid of my car (eight years ago), sunbathe (when there’s sun in Chicago, anyway!), drink in moderation (occasional binge drinking is moderation, right?), and wear clothes that fit (uhhhh…).

    Okay, wait a sec. By their list I ought to be thin already!! The only thing left is all my fat friends! Damn, are y’all making me fat again?!

  39. On the one hand, HUZZAH for the results being published in a wider context than most studies showing that fatties aren’t “insert stereotype here”. On the other hand, just having to do the study in this frame of mind really limits the scope of an experiment. Why not start by asking “why are fat people fired more often?” Why start and do a study with a sterotype as its basis?

    On the one hand, HUZZAH for April D. for putting this exactly perfectly.

    On the other hand… same thing again.

  40. A major, major lightbulb went on in my head Saturday about what FJ posted.

    On saturday, I was in the Great Land of Unwashed Massed: The Mall. I really looked at people in regards to the BOOGA-BOOGA-OBESITY-EPIDEMIC-BOOGA!

    I saw some really thin people, and some people I *think* would be considered by physicians and sociologists to be morbidly obese. The vast majority of men and women (and kids) fell in between. Most people I looked at had a litlle padding in certain socially unacceptable places – midriffs, backsides, and thighs. Almost all the people I looked at were mobile, energetic and appeared to have full lives – children, etc.

    Are these the people who are the targets of these stereotypes? OMG! You look like you could lose 50 to 25 pounds and you’re headed for an early death and your kids will be welfare brats!!! Are these the men and women the government and Big Pharma are trying to scare?

    Maybe this study isn’t so pointless?

  41. …but isn’t the average age of regular churchgoers a bit higher than, well, average?

    And even those who are younger are statistically more likely to have children (people who stop attending religious services as teenagers or young adults commonly return to raise their children in their faith tradition). Having children = gaining weight, for most women.
    Also, maybe because religious organizations tend to be good places to find acceptance and community when you’ve been rejected by the rest of society on account of your body? You know, looking beyond the mundane and superficial, and all that? (That’s how I got involved in my faith community.)

  42. I know that it is frustrating that such issues are being studied; however, there is a very real issue of discrimination in hiring and in employment that this type of research addresses. At NAAFA this year, there was a lawyer who works in the Bay Area who spoke with Paul Campos about issues of weight and discrimination. I can see how this could not only relate to employment discrimination, but also discrimination in child & family law cases.

    I know that it sucks and I know that we should not have to have someone writing studies like this, but when the studies are available some asswipe can’t just walk into court and say: “This person is fat and everyone knows they are not as capable/smart/motivated, etc.”

  43. but when the studies are available some asswipe can’t just walk into court and say: “This person is fat and everyone knows they are not as capable/smart/motivated, etc.”

    I can see this if the study were about something that is widely believed to be directly, scienterrifically caused by fat, such as, say, higher medical bills. If a study was done to determine whether fat employees actually took more sick days than non-fat employees (or something along those lines), and the results disproved that, then it would still come from the duh truck but be potentially really useful as a point of reference. But a study that says “fat people aren’t unpleasant”? I’m just not sure that that weighs more in the “useful” category than the “you arrogant bastards” category. I don’t know.

  44. I mean, I think part of it is that there are plenty of people who really believe they have scientificish evidence that fat people are lazy because who would be fat if they had the self-discipline to be thin (I’ve actually heard it phrased as “Being fat is a good indication to employers that an employee can’t meet longterm goals.”) I just can’t be unhappy that people are collecting evidence that can refute the beliefs people are convinced are scientific that aren’t, even when it’s ludicrous to consider them scientific to begin with.

  45. Like it or not, the stereotypes matter, and no matter how idiotic this research is, it will probably help us more than it hurts.

    Case in point: one of my favorite bars got rid of all the nice wooden benches in their outdoor patio area, and put in cheap plastic lawn chairs that are about the same size as airline seats. I wondered what the hell was going on since the benches were in excellent shape and actually very comfortable, and I asked one of the guys I know that works there.

    According to him the owner found research that fat people were poorer so he was actively discouraging them. If you couldn’t fit in the chairs, you were going be standing all night. Theoretically this would restrict the crowd to the ideal upscale mix you see in Bacardi commercials.

    Absolutely fucking brilliant.

    I didn’t believe that anyone would be dumb enough to twist the research out there into this particular bottom line, until I saw ANOTHER bar that had the same idea. This one was Pure in St. Louis (Westport Plaza). I visited there and almost every single seat is impossible to sit in if you weigh more than about 190lbs. Think lopsided cocktail glasses that balance on one leg and cup your butt. I snooped around and apparently they have the same idea – a thin clientele is a rich clientele.

    With this level of idiocy, you NEED research like this. It might be blatantly obvious to us that Jews spend as much in bars as Christians, but there is some idiot out there that firmly believes otherwise, not because he is a bigot, but just because he heard it somewhere.

  46. Off topic, but “scienteriffically” is the best word ever. I’m going to have to use it in my orals somehow. :-)

  47. We need MORE articles & research about the Fat Ghetto in the workplace. It is REAL & it is out there.

    We NEED to get fat discrimination written into the laws to protect us.

  48. This reminds me of the recent blurb on yahoo about some study saying that our voices are good indicators of how good looking we are. I think they then went on to say that it was genetic soundness or some such shit. If I weren’t holding a babe right now, I’d go look for the link. Complete and utter shit.

  49. And can I just say that ‘mermaidfarts’ is the best fucking name I’ve heard in a while?!

  50. LilahCello, I googlescholared that and found Hughes, Dispenza & Gallup (2004)- Ratings of voice attractiveness predict sexual behavior and body configuration.

    Here’s the abstract:
    We investigated the relationship between ratings of voice attractiveness and sexually dimorphic differences in shoulder-to-hip ratios (SHR) and waist-to-hip ratios (WHR), as well as different features of sexual behavior. Opposite-sex voice attractiveness ratings were positively correlated with SHR in males and negatively correlated with WHR in females. For both sexes, ratings of opposite-sex voice attractiveness also predicted reported age of first sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, number of extra-pair copulation (EPC) partners, and number of partners that they had intercourse with that were involved in another relationship (i.e., were themselves chosen as an EPC partner). Coupled with previous findings showing a relationship between voice attractiveness and bilateral symmetry, these results provide additional evidence that the sound of a person’s voice may serve as an important multidimensional fitness indicator.

  51. Oh, and it’s in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, which I don’t know anything about.

  52. Hm maybe i should start that study on whether jews are obsessed with money. I bet i could make some money off it. I’ll discuss it with the others at our next jew conspiracy meeting and get back to you guys.

  53. I mostly lurk here, but wow, Kate, this argument is so full of holes I don’t even know where to begin:

    But I do think that historically, one way prejudices start to break down is because the dominant group realizes a marginalized group has cash value — either as consumers or producers. Often, it just leads to new, slightly more flattering but equally bullshit stereotypes — African-Americans make good music/are good at sports, gay men have lots of disposable income, Asian-Americans are smart and hard-working — but the result is that the dominant group does end up interacting more with the marginalized group, ’cause there’s an economic benefit to doing so.

    1) Privileged people work against their economic interests ALL the time. I’m sure I don’t need to give you fatphobic examples of that fact.

    2) None of the racialized stereotypes you listed are a result of white people “realizing” people of color have economic value as consumers. That’s not at all what those stereotypes are about. They are about divide and conquer, the furtherance of oppression, plain and simple.

    3) Even if true, this incremental capitalist BS would not be a step forward, and has never led to increased empowerment for POC. See also http://www.i-am-asian.com/ It’s freaking insulting and does nothing to challenge any oppressive power structure. It just makes it easier for the powers that be to claim inclusivity and “colorblindness.” Ugh. This in no way causes “prejudices to break down,” although it might move some folk from the overt to aversively racist category.

    I thought you weren’t supposed to be making comparisons of fatphobia to racism? You seem less than well-equipped for that discussion, for reasons I don’t have the energy to detail. But here’s a soundbite: fatphobia is an intersectional oppression. It can’t really be compared to racism (especially by white people) for a hundred different reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is subsidiary to racism (and sexism, and classism and ablism). But hey, that’s just my opinion, etc.

  54. That AOL slideshow was absurd. I know I totally buy clothes several sizes too big so that I can shove baby donuts down my throat nonstop for several months before I notice that I have gained any weight. Some people keep skinny jeans to fit into, I personally like fat ones. That way I can always fool myself into thinking I am a size six (perfect size six? or four?).

    Oh. And can I derail for a moment to run all over the place shouting I PASSED MY DEFENNNSSSE!

  55. A few weeks ago, a woman I know was complaining about her new potential nanny. The woman had a ton of experience, wonderful references, was an avid hiker and mountain climber, and happened to weigh 180 lbs.

    The woman was unsure that the nanny could take care of her children, because, as she put it ‘People who can’t even take care of themselves certainly can’t take care of children.’

    Now what really makes this sad is that this woman has a very high position in the World Health Organization. So yeah, even if these studies are shitstupid (I think that they are), maybe they’ll do someone somewhere some good.
    At least, I hope. Believing otherwise will send me even further into the pit of despair.

  56. There are jew conspiracy meetings?! Does that mean that there are fat conspiracy meetings where fatties get together to decide how to fatten up all the kiddies in the land and try to take all the benefits for ourselves? You know. like adequate health care, basic human respect, and so on? Because if so, sign me up! Maybe our groups can work together in the future. ;-)

  57. There are jew conspiracy meetings?!

    Oh sure. We roll around in money, drink the blood of Christian babies, control the media, the whole bit.

    (FJ has shamelessly stolen the above joke from SM’s brother, who is not Jewish, but somehow it was funny anyway.)

  58. I know this is not a popular viewpoint on this thread. But frankly, we NEED studies like these. Why? Because the number of times I talk to people who tell me “Stereotypes are based on truth” makes my head explode.

    I was talking to a good friend of mine and she was discussing how they had less drama in their family now that all the men were gone. And isn’t that funny because women are so dramatic and unstable?

    I pointed out to her that this was a stereotype and therefore not a reliable judgement. And this woman, who I respect so much for her wisdom, who was a member of the first black family to live in her home town, looked at me and said “Stereotypes are based on the truth.”

    Thank god my brain does not actually have the capability of exploding.

    While I agree that the hypothesis tested in this study is bigotted and ignorant, it turns out that people are bigotted and ignorant too. And as much as I want to believe that 90% of america can just accept that the stereotypes they base their judgements on are not true, I don’t actually think that his the case. I know too many people who will consistantly refute my arguments with “But it’s true because of this story.”

    Frankly I would also like someone to study the following stereotypes and disprove them:
    “Feminists are man hating humorless bitches.”
    “Feminists have cats.”
    “Women are unstable and dramatic.”
    “All women like chocolate.”
    “People without 4 year college degrees are not worth hiring for good jobs.”
    “Men like sex more than women.”
    Anything blanket statement made about Jews, and Muslims, EVER.
    “Old people can’t learn new things.”

    I’m sure there are more but I am sick of all of these things being used as either reasons or excuses. And The only way I think it will stop is if we wave scientific evidence in people’s faces so they will feel stupid for insisting its true because “Every X they know does X” in the face of science.

  59. I sort of agree with shinobi here, and also:

    You forgot the GAY conspiracy meetings – they are the worst of them all! Run and hide!

  60. “I do think that historically, one way prejudices start to break down is because the dominant group realizes a marginalized group has cash value ”

    There was that period of time where African Americans literally had a cash value. Is this quite where you want to go using that analysis? Because I dont think it works that well…

    “And the more you interact with people, the harder it becomes to dismiss them. ”

    Not unless you operate under a concept of supremacy which allows you to dismiss them no matter how much you interact with them. Thomas Jefferson and “Dusky Sally” come to mind..

  61. Seriously Tiana!

    Which reminds me, does anyone have a copy of this week’s Gay Agenda? I’ve misplaced mine.

  62. In college I had a friend who sent around the following e-mail in response to campus goings-on about the Gay Agenda. Paraphrased slightly, except for the punchline.

    The Gay Agenda
    2:00pm: Welcoming remarks.
    3:00pm: Pride marches through College Republican meetings.
    4:00pm: Forced conversion of straights
    5:00pm: Cocktails!

  63. As a long-time AOL user (I’m on the verge of dumping it, but I’ve had that email address for soooooo long…), I can tell you that while the content was never very good, in the last year or so it has degenerated into the lowest celebrity gossip trash “news” and unbelievably shitty “health” articles like that one. They definitely stoke the fires of unreasonable hysteria– there was one slideshow about the “worst foods you can eat,” and one of the items was mayonnaise. Their reasoning was basically, “OH MY GOD DON’T YOU KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A TABLESPOON OF MAYONNAISE???!!!” BBQ, etc. I was rolling my eyes so much they almost flew out of my skull.

    Do yourselves a favor and stay away. Save your sanity.

  64. Hey I just thought I’d through this out there, on the subject of bigotry and discrimination. I was watching the Glenn Beck show on Headline News. He kept referring to fat kids as “fatty fat fat fatsos”, I’m not exaggerating.

    I wrote him an e-mail about it. What’s worse I went to what I thought, was a size positive chat room. I was told I was being too much of an advocate of size acceptance. That being x number of pounds is unhealthy.

    As well as being told I was being rediculous comparing how people talk about fat people these days, as in using terms like “We should thin the herd” towards them, to how people regarded Jews before WW2. In regards to fat people costing more from the economy and so forth.

    Sorry if this comes across as an off-topic rant. I just needed to rant somewhere. I also thought Kate, perhaps you might want to mention this issue regarding Glenn Beck in your blog. I am going to give him a fair chance, and see if I get a response. I’m not watching his show anymore. It amazes me, that Glenn as a father of a special needs child, would discriminate against fat people like this.

    Now I’m going to go and eat a Subway. Try to stop stressing out. It’s like, I woke up today in Crazytown.

  65. Personally, I think every little bit helps. I’m glad someone else is acknowledging that there’s a problem. On the subject of redundancy, just keep in mind that for every positive article like this, two negatives pop up to remind people not to question the status quo.

  66. Sorry filyjonk, I totally disagree with you. The reality, whether we like it or not is that such bigotry exists and any studies that show it’s based on a load of shite is a good thing.

  67. “Native Americans Exhibit Whole Range of Human Emotion and Experience, Not Just Long-Suffering Nobility and Intuitive Special Closeness to the Earth, Say Researchers!”

    I don’t know if anyone caught how hilarious this was!

  68. Thanks Doyyy Shou sometimes it does feel like you keep hitting a brick wall, but more and more people are realizing how wrong this kind of bias is. How destructive it is, and for what reason? We’re at the healthiest our country has been in history, and now cause apperently that’s not good enough, we’re striving to make ourselves ill again. *headdesk*

  69. Hey I just thought I’d through this out there, on the subject of bigotry and discrimination. I was watching the Glenn Beck show on Headline News. He kept referring to fat kids as “fatty fat fat fatsos”, I’m not exaggerating.

    Glenn Beck is a grade-A asshole, so I’m not surprised. I had the pleasure of seeing Janice Dickinson on his show, and he let her rant on about how gross and unattractive fat people are.

  70. People still tell Jewish people that we are cheap to our faces, now they just say it with a hip sense of irony, like we are all in on an awesomely funny joke.

  71. Right on, FJ.

    People who believe that others hate fat people because they just don’t understand are just reveal an underlying condescension similar to those who are prepared to ‘believe’ that fat people are fat because they don’t understand that they need to eat less and move more.

    Fat people are not hidden, we are out there disproving stereotypes every which way. And yes, we are their siblings, sons and daughters, friends and lovers, and yet they still want to believe those stereotypes, why?

    Our understandable disbelief is vanity, oh they couldn’t possibly hate me, not loverly me; yes I’m afraid they can and yet we cannot say they don’t like and love us either, it’s weird, eerie even.
    A study into that would get my backing, instead of this gravy train fodder. Sometimes sociological studies seem stupid because they are badly conceived and wait for it, stupid.

    One way it is slightly diverting though, is to follow the dumbing down effects of the crisis, seeing how people who should know better cannot resist getting on the gravy train. That’s the potential silver lining, watching people you’d normally respect behave in this way, brings them down to earth just a tad.

  72. I can’t help but think that if there are cranky, disgruntled, unfriendly fat people wandering around, it’s probably because they’re sick of being told that being fat means they must be cranky, disgrunted, and unfriendly.

    Also, congrats kristin!! WOOHOO!!

  73. The study is unspeakably moronic and you have every right to be angry about it. But I don’t really see how you can be so shocked that “academia” has sunk this low. Bigotry and academia have a long history together, from deciding who got to learn what down to what was correct to teach, study, explore, and what wasn’t.

  74. I think it is important to note that Mark Roehling has previously done some very interesting research into the fat pay gap, and looked at how the fact that fat people get paid less than thin people for the same work is also affected by the intersectionality of race and gender with body size. I’d urge you all to seek out his research in that area because this recent study is obviously building on his previous work, and his previous work is at the heart of any fat rights social justice agenda, isn’t it?

  75. Glenn Beck is a grade-A asshole, so I’m not surprised

    That was pretty much my response, too.

    Dani, no kidding. And yes, congrats, Kristin!

    I think it is important to note that Mark Roehling has previously done some very interesting research

    Ooh, it does sound interesting. Thanks, sgbato.

  76. Kateharding- I freaking love Mad Men. Yes, Yes, Yes to everything you said. I love how common place it is for the shrink to tell the husband every thing his wife says in therapy. I think I actually gasped out loud when I saw that for the first time. Also, I would like John Hamm to become Mr. Vivelafat (if I didn’t already have a wonderful Mr. Vivelafat)
    Buffy- I saw that same article and immediately sent out a nasty letter to RD and canceled my subscription. The next day I went to the ermmm “reading room” to throw the magazine out, and my husband had written all of the cover: he put thought bubbles coming from the Dr.’s mouth saying, “I’m not a real doctor” and “I don’t have valid opinions” and “I’m prejudiced” It made me feel good to look at it, and it made me think what a great hubby I have.

  77. Psst: this entry just appeared on my WordPress dashboard as the “hawt post” of the moment. Seeing the giant FJ icon was kind of startling at first. “Hey, I know that face!”

  78. I was going to point out that I thought we were supposed to be jolly, but I see I was beat to it. :D Though being forced into starvation and confronted with disgust at every turn has probably taken its toll on us happy fatties…

  79. This is way OT but I’m not sure where else to post it. It doesn’t really deserve its own post but I’m curious about it, so comments seem like the right place!

    SO I’m moving, and I just got a handy Protect Your Family From Lead Paint brochure from the federal government. One of the tips for protecting your family is, “Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium, such as spinach or dairy products. Children with good diets absorb less lead.” (sic on the bold text)

    Is this… true? The crazy good/bad food language notwithstanding, what actual science are they going on here? I’m really curious. Anybody?

    (Incidentally, this bullet point immediately follows the very handy tip, “Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted services.“)

  80. “Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted services.”

    But kids love the wall candy!!

    Honestly, I’ve never heard that kids who get their iron and calcium absorb less lead. I do know that I wouldn’t rely on a childs’ passionate love of spinach to protect him/her from lead exposure. “Mom, Jimmy’s chewing his windowsill again!” “It’s okay honey, he had creamed Swiss chard for dinner.”

  81. a child’s

    I know how to indicate possession properly.
    I know how to indicate possession properly.
    I know how to indicate possession properly….

  82. Woah. Cala. I think we might indirectly know each other. I too had a college friend who typed up a gay agenda ending with “Cocktails!”

    That or our two friends think frighteningly alike. Was his name Jeremy?

  83. Also, Mr. vivelafat wins my “awesome person of the day” award for today. I, too, wrote RD an angry letter.

    Bet they ignore it. Douchehounds.

  84. (Incidentally, this bullet point immediately follows the very handy tip, “Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted services.“)

    This may be why the previous advice — what they’re describing here is pica, and it can be a sign of iron deficiency.

  85. Let me just say (late as always) that in my field, the corresponding example of “research dispelling bigoted conventional wisdom” that comes to mind is on kids of gay and lesbian parents. And there have been YEARS of study on hundreds and even thousands of families, just to prove things like “gay parents don’t make kids gay,” “kids with gay parents don’t kill themselves from shame,” “boys don’t grow up as mincing effeminate interior designers without a father in the home,” and so forth.

    But it’s been necessary to do so that people like me can stand up in front of state legislatures, when there is a bill introduced to allow second-parent adoption, and say “RESEARCH SHOWS that gay parents don’t screw up their kids.” To me, this equals DUH. But without the research? Hopeless. (And even WITH the research People of a Certain Generation or Affiliation sometimes turn around and say “well TOO BAD WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU.” But it’s better with the science.)

  86. Elusis, there are countless of studies proving that straight parents screw up their kids. If the Gays wanted to, I’m sure they could say “Well with all the straight parents messing up their kids, maybe straight people shouldn’t be having children!”

  87. And I love the idea that rather than trying to reduce sources of lead in the environment, let’s use this as an opportunity to cram in another message about low-fat diets for kids.

  88. It’s from the EPA.

    And Eucritta, it may be pica, that’s a good point. But most of the bullet points seem to target common child behavior, like licking their hands and putting things in their mouths, so they might not have intended it that way. Who knows!

  89. wellroundedtype2, this brochure is for people moving into old buildings that may or may not have lead paint, so they can be aware and be careful. generally, removing lead paint is more dangerous than leaving it in place until it starts peeling or flaking. fwiw.

    but using it to promose a particular kind of diet for kids is just so bizarre to me. i was wondering if maybe there was some research relating ingestion of fatty foods to higher retention of lead? still, it’s so weird!

  90. Elusis, see, I don’t really see that as parallel. I would see this as parallel to “research shows that gays aren’t fruity little bitches.” Is anyone doing that research? Would anyone?

  91. Re: lead, some doctors believe lead is stored in fat. Those who think that tend to try treating lead poisoning by putting patients on a low fat diet, having them take a lot of vitamins and drink lots of water, and maybe doing some sort of chelation therapy. I guess whoever wrote the brochure is in the “lead is stored in fat” camp.

  92. but… eating fat doesn’t make you store fat!! that’s stupid!

    oh right, other people don’t think of that.

  93. Cala, I was part of a forum that had a whole uproar about The Gay Agenda, They’re Converting Our Babies, etc, in response to which my friend made an avatar saying

    My Gay Agenda:
    1. Equal rights
    2. Spend more time with friends and family
    3. Buy milk

    I am in love with both that and your friend’s one. Oh, life.

  94. Hey, guess what I just saw on the news for the first time today? A headless baby fatty segment! Seriously, they were talking about how to prevent obesity in kids, and showed a headless video of a obese toddler.

    What the heck does this mean now? We’re telling parents that they need to make sure their babies are Anorexic for their “health”. *headdesk*

  95. But I do think that historically, one way prejudices start to break down is because the dominant group realizes a marginalized group has cash value — either as consumers or producers. … And the more you interact with people, the harder it becomes to dismiss them.

    I have to disagree very throughly with you here Kate.

    First, marginalized groups have often been used for their cash value. For instance, African slaves and forced Chinese laborers in the American West. (forced prostitution of women would also work here).

    Second, one of the things about bigotry is that it does not make any kind of logical sense. It’s bigotry. Bigots lose money all the time due to their hatred. They don’t care. Taxi drivers lose money by refusing to pick up customers who are black. They don’t give a shit. They have bigoted rationalizations on why this is OK.

    Another example would be fashion. Given the OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC idea that huge numbers of women are fat, you would think that we would therefore see the clothing industry leaping to sell us clothing. They’re not. Ads and editorial content in fashion magazines are still about skinny women. Or think of the sad tale of the late lamented Mode magazine.

    Fashion doesn’t just ignore fat consumers, it ignores consumers who aren’t white. Flip through a mainstream fashion magazine (Cosmopolitan, Glamour, etc.) nd count the number of people of color in the issue. Notice how overwhelmingly white everyone is. See if there are any photo spreads that focus on a model who is a woman of color. If there is one, is the piece all about “exotic fashion” or travel?

    “Vogue” Italy is doing a special issue for July that features all black models. At $16-$20 an issue, it has sold out all over the country and is being reprinted. (http://adage.com/bigtent/post?article_id=129759 and http://jezebel.com/5024967/italian-vogues-all-black-issue-a-guided-tour).
    The issue also includes a photo spread with Tocarra, aka “the plus size girl on American’s Next Top Model.” And yet, the fashion industry insists that they can’t use black models because they don’t sell.

    By saying “oh but they’ll stop being bigoted if they can make money off you” you are looking at one symptom of oppression. Fixing that symptom, if it is even possible, doesn’t do anything to change the structural systems of oppression.

  96. By saying “oh but they’ll stop being bigoted if they can make money off you” you are looking at one symptom of oppression. Fixing that symptom, if it is even possible, doesn’t do anything to change the structural systems of oppression.

    Julia, I actually agree with your comment, and I don’t think I said anything approaching “they’ll stop being bigoted if they can make money off you.” I said it’s ONE way prejudices START to break down, which I stand by. But that still means a hell of a lot more needs to be done, on a whole lot of levels.

  97. Well, you know, one of the sad things is, is that people are trying to show that fat kids don’t do as well in school. So there is a need for research to show fat people are normal.

    http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n7/abs/oby2008254a.html

    My guess, fat is a proxy for economic status, which is well-known to predict problems with academics. It’s tough to help your kids with homework when you’re working all hours just to pay for food.

  98. Kate I’ve been thinking about issue of capitalism, marketing and bigotry.

    I think there are two ways that companies and markets work.

    1) A company sees a market to serve. They may be part of the market, or have someone they know in that market. They probably don’t have many negative stereotypes of this group. One great example of this would be Lee Lee from Lee Lee’s valise. She is excited and jazzed about servign the market of fat women. People who try to serve a market are likely to generate positive publicity.

    2) A company sees a market to be exploited. They don’t see the market as individuals, but as a collection of traits, or stereotypes, to make money off. This is negative and regressive. This is an example of making money while keeping toxic viewpoints of the market. Good examples would include the “bouncy castle” lady in England who ran a plus size clothing store while hating fat people. Or the ways in which cigarette and alcohol companies target communities of color.

    For myself, most of the times I see negatively stereotyped groups I’m in being marketed to, it’s the second type. It’s negative commerce. In general I think businesses are set up to exploit markets, not benefit them.

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