The Rotund in The Guardian!

Hey, look who’s giving fat-hating British politicians what-for in The Guardian today! It’s my lovely co-author, kicking ass as usual. Go read.

ETA: Sanity Watchers warning on the comments there. It’s like the British Broadsheet in that respect. Don’t bother.

65 thoughts on “The Rotund in The Guardian!

  1. Beautifully articulate piece by TR.

    It occurred to me some years ago that if there *were* a way to get un-fat permanently, WE WOULD ALL KNOW IT. If there were a diet or a drug or a technique or a workout that really worked, there wouldn’t be many fat people beacuse most of us would be doing it!

    We fat people know more about this shit than anybody. I’m sick of hearing, “You should try ______ .” It’s condescending and insulting. Don’t you think there’s anything I haven’t tried?!

    It’s not ignorance that made me fat.

  2. Yeah, I was just going to say: avoid the comments there if you can help it. That’s generally good advice on ANY Guardian Comment Is Free pieces.

  3. There’s a tragedy of the commons joke about free comments invariably leading to despair, but I don’t have it in me today.

  4. One comment that IS worth laughing at is one that claims the only reason a MAN would ever need to lose weight is to make his tackle look larger.

    But, you know, fat isn’t a feminist issue at all.

    *dies*

  5. Great article, Marianne. You’re doing an awesome job of patiently discussing your points in the comments, despite the totally horrible “discussion”!

  6. Great article, and I’m glad that for whatever reason the comments won’t load for me. They never have whenever I’ve checked articles there.

    Also, randomly, I can once again access Shapely Prose at work. For some reason the internet filter here was blocking it as pornography. *snort*

  7. Hey, wow! I didn’t realize I was about to keel over dead. I’m SO GLAD the commenters over there said something. I might’ve just gone on living like a….like a….normal person, or something.

    HUGE kudos to you, TR, for tackling those bastards in the comments, too. Ovaries of steel!

  8. Ugh, those comments. Same shit, different day. It’s like talking to a brick wall. The usual asshats shooting off their mouths like they’re experts on the subject, because EVERYBODY KNOWS it’s calories in/calories out. It’s a dead give-away that commenters like that are suckers for whatever the media spouts out and have no capacity to question what’s being delivered– would never even *think* to question it.

    Their opinion is worthless to me.

  9. Great article, TR.

    Hitori: Also, randomly, I can once again access Shapely Prose at work. For some reason the internet filter here was blocking it as pornography.

    I was getting blocked for about three weeks by my workplace’s filter and thank gravy it decided SP was okay to read again. I didn’t like not being able to see what was going on during the day.

  10. The comments are horrifying. I got to the one accusing me of eating buckets of chocolate, and lost the last of my Sanity Points for the day.
    Although it makes an interesting mental exercise. Does the commenter imagine me sitting on the couch, shucking Hershey’s of their foil, dropping them into my five-gallon food grade pickle bucket (all cleaned out)? And then . . . what? Eating them from the bucket? Heating the bucket over a flame to make a giant fondue pot? Stomping the chocolate like grapes? Plopping my face into it, a la bobbing for apples?
    Hmm. I wouldn’t refuse that experience for the novelty value, but as a lifestyle it’s a bit wearisome. No wonder I don’t have time to exercise.
    It’s so frustrating to have experience of being fat, but being told that I must be having a different experience. Fat: I’m Doing It Wrong.

  11. It’s so frustrating to have experience of being fat, but being told that I must be having a different experience. Fat: I’m Doing It Wrong.

    OMG, that is hysterical! :) Thanks Anita :)

  12. Rosezilla, I DO think it’s worth it – those people may never come around but at some point, because EVERYTHING is archived on the internet, someone is going to read this discussion and realize that “calories in/calories out” is the last resort of people who simply don’t want to think critically or step outside of their safe little world view and realize that some things are a bit more complex.

  13. I thought it was absolutely hilarious how one commenter said that metabolism has absolutely nothing to do with fatness.

    Even going by the calories in – calories out model, if your metabolism is worse than average, you’re going to have to do quite a bit more exercise to burn the same amount of calories.

    Some people burn calories simply by existing, it seems. Others don’t. Humans havn’t survived for so long by being all the same in terms of body types – it takes all kinds.

  14. To add to the second paragraph of my previous comment:

    People with slower metabolisms simply may not have enough time in the day to exercise enough to burn a similar amount of calories as the people with faster metabolisms. I hope that came out the way I meant it.

  15. CIF is the most horrendous troll-fest, comments-wise. I have written for more than one political website in the UK, where the comments box can be a bit of a bearpit, but I have never seen anything like CIF. A friend of mine writes for the Guardian blogs a lot and she has learned not to look because the comments can really upset her.

  16. It is lovely when writers interact with their readers, especially online, and it’s nice to see there’s a few non-trolls in the audience. Brava, TR.

  17. I just looked through the comments and you are doing really well. The editors were definitely right about participating in the comments. A lot of the CIF writers are print journalists who’ve just started dabbling in blogging, and they tend not to react terribly well to real-time criticism of their oeuvre…

  18. Awesome.

    I stepped in it earlier this week when I said something in an online journal about how there is no way to permanently make a fat person thin and a friend of mine lost her shit at me. “Also, as a fellow fat chick, thanks a lot for saying it’s hopeless. Really… totally awesome attitude. If that’s what makes you feel good, good for you. But seriously? There’s no chance of a fat person getting thin??? Thanks”

    *sigh* She went on to the “blame you mom” psychology reasons, that “sure genetics are a part of it but fatness runs in families because we learn bad eating behaviors,” etc.

    I think I’ll post a link to this as a follow up.

    I had no idea how hard it would be to start talking about fat acceptance to a group of people who are, by and large, progressive liberals, fangurls and have been deeply supportive of me in most other respects for over 10 years. It’s like my life suddenly becomes a minefield when this topic comes up.

    DRST

  19. It’s like my life suddenly becomes a minefield when this topic comes up.

    True that. I have had arguments with my closest friends over this, ’cause I’m “taking away their hope.” I know, I’m such a bitch that way.

  20. Aaahhh, the stupid, it burn. And the hatred evidenced in the comments is just ugly. The Guardian is supposed to be a left-wing paper full of liberal types, but the fat hate in the comments is foul. There go my sanity-watchers points.

  21. To be fair, the people who comment on the Guardian, like the commenters on Salon, tend to be a lot more towards the narrow-sphincter Victorian types than probably the whole of the readership. IOW, the readers who are reasonable, open-minded human beings probably don’t bother commenting. But yay Marianne for a great piece. The editors at the Guardian obviously think there’s a place for writers like you and Liss, so yay for them too.

  22. Oh, and TR, your responses to the trolls are truly a gorgeous thing to behold. And YAY too for all the skinny commenters who back us up by saying, “She’s right, I’m thin and eat all day and never gain an ounce.”

  23. Meowser, that’s true for me and I never know whether to say it. I think it’s a strong piece of evidence. My eating habits have been all over the place, and my weight has been within the same 3-4 pound range for gosh, 8 years now. Pigging out doesn’t make me fat. I know. I’ve done it. (Nor do I lose weight if I eat less or exercise a ton. I have the stablest set point ever!) But I also hesitate to bring it up, because I don’t want to be like “lalalala I’m thin and I don’t even try,” you know?

  24. The article is brilliant. Though the take on fat as a “moral issue” makes me wonder if these guys really think that thin people are inherently more “moral” by virtue of fitting in single-digit sizes (or however one defines “thin”). Thin serial killers, anyone?

  25. YAY too for all the skinny commenters who back us up by saying, “She’s right, I’m thin and eat all day and never gain an ounce.”

    Yeah – and did you notice how none of those arsewipes responded to any of those posters? They are so heavily invested in wanting to believe we’re a load of dumb, shiftless lazy gluttons it’s unreal. Ypu know when a certain kind of troll says, “The thing I hate about FA types is that they just won’t admit they eat lard and sit on their arses all day. I they did I’d have much more respect for them”? I’d actually prefer it if these wankrags just came right out and said, “I just hate all fat people because I don’t want to shag them”. All this calories in calories out bollocks is the nearest they can get to finding a “reason” to legitimise their bigotry.

    I know I’m preaching to the converted. But they just pissed me off soooooo much.

  26. The lack of comprehension and thinking ability there is astonishing, really. Or maybe not, since the relative anonymity of the interwebs seems to bring out the stupid in people.

    I mean, I know people who would consider me and them friendly accquaintaces at least, I’m obviously Very Fat, and yet they now and then say or write something anti-fat a la online idiots and it just doesn’t occur to them that I am the fat person they’re talking about. The disconnect is…well, I’m sure there’s somebody’s psychology thesis in that.

  27. Meowser, that’s true for me and I never know whether to say it. I think it’s a strong piece of evidence. My eating habits have been all over the place, and my weight has been within the same 3-4 pound range for gosh, 8 years now. Pigging out doesn’t make me fat. I know. I’ve done it. (Nor do I lose weight if I eat less or exercise a ton. I have the stablest set point ever!) But I also hesitate to bring it up, because I don’t want to be like “lalalala I’m thin and I don’t even try,” you know?

    No, no, no, it is so important. I have spent the vast majority of my time in coming to FA questioning whether it’s true that different bodies really do respond differently to food intake. Yes, it’s depressing that I would have to work so hard and suffer so much to achieve the kind of societal acceptance that others do effortlessly, assuming I want that (which I’m not so sure that I even do anymore anyway,) but it’s a thousand times worse to be continually questioning my own sanity.

  28. I spy with my little eye in that comment thread several trolls with usernames that have been previously banned from Shakesville.

    In particular, CommanderKeen. I loved those games when I was a kid and I really doubt Keen had a ‘normal’ BMI. All those muscles, you know.

  29. Also, can I just comment on the bizarre idea that is zero-sum nutrition? Where do these people get the idea that healthy living requires subtraction? ‘MORE exercise’, ‘LESS food’, of which calories ‘IN’, calories ‘OUT’, is a pernicious derivative.

    Recommending less food as a matter of course assumes as a matter of course that people are already eating too much to exercise.

    What?

    How do they arrive at such an asinine assumption? Is it a case of thinking that by cutting out food, there’ll be more room in our oh-so-empty brains for exercise? More of that healthy pollution to be sucked into your lungs since you’re saving so much space there by eating less?

    The generic advice I hear when it comes to exercise and nutrition from those who do not subscribe to zero-sum nutrition tends to be along the lines of ‘if building muscle, add protein’, ‘if building strength, add leafy greens’, ‘if feeling a little down (not depressed, just down), think more positive thoughts'; ‘if tired, go to bed early and sleep more’. There is no subtraction, and there needs be none.

    The idea of eating less and exercising more is nothing more than idiocy; and the idea of calories in, calories out nothing more than false equivalence.

  30. And triple-posting:

    What is this continuing conflation of ‘weight’ with ‘circumference of clothes’, and how do we get it to stop?

  31. Why oh why am I still reading the CiF comments?

    I really want to add to the Sanity Watchers — these are absolutely hideous. Well-written, the majority of them, and it doesn’t cover the hideousness of what they’re saying. Verbatim, I swear to all that’s holy, verbatim: “You’re just not trying hard enough.” Christ’s apostles.

    I’ll stop posting now. Promise.

  32. Meowser, that’s true for me and I never know whether to say it.

    I say go for it, Emilymorgan! But I’ll tell you, pretty much anyone who waits tables (other than in fancy-pants restaurants where only the Beautiful People can afford to eat and most of them spend the meal pushing around their food without eating 9/10s of it) could tell you there’s not a shitload of correlation between eating habits and body weight in most people. I can’t fathom these assclowns who say they never see thin people tucking into big plates of ribs or heaping hot-fudge sundaes, or loading up their shopping carts with beer and chips; I see them all the frigging time. And good for them. Everyone should enjoy their food.

  33. That was sheer awesome, TR.

    You know, today I saw someone I haven’t seen in a year, and I realized in the old discussions brought up again, this year has marked the biggest loss of psychological weight of my whole life. I mentioned something about my sister talking about what sort of fashion Fat Me might find, and she recoiled – oh, that’s horrible!

    And I realized that no. REALLY. It’s not. It was hard at first to say “I’m fat” without it sticking at the back of my throat like a pebble I had to talk around. Now, I just say it, because it’s true!

    She said, “But you’re gorgeous!”, and I said, “Yah? Thanks. I’m FAT and gorgeous!”

  34. If you come back, DRST – what’s hugely helpful, I’ve found, is sending people to the Fantasy of Being Thin post.

    Most fat women who don’t want to give up the idea of possible maybe someday somehow weight loss think saying “no way to make a fat person thin” is equivalent to saying “no way to make a fat person happy/sexy/desired/confident/vibrant” … etc.

    And WE know you don’t mean that, but she probably doesn’t.

  35. IOW, the readers who are reasonable, open-minded human beings probably don’t bother commenting

    No doubt in part because it’s such a hostile place to comment. This is my ongoing frustration with Salon (and anywhere else that won’t ban assholes because they’re too afraid of losing the page views). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: giving fuckwits free rein alienates the good, reasonable commenters. It baffles me that some publications are so afraid of losing clicks from people who aren’t genuinely interested in the product to begin with that they’re willing to sacrifice those who are.

  36. Kate,

    Thank you for that explanation, I had always wondered why those fucking MRA’s get to pretty much run the Broadsheet letters page. Now I understand.

  37. I think the Guardian might have backed itself into a bit of a corner on moderation by calling its site “Comment Is Free”. That makes it very difficult for them to moderate heavily. They do moderate overt racism and abuse, but other than that it’s pretty much a free-for-all.

  38. I read the guardian but never (anymore) the comments on CiF because it is always filled with idiots. The kind of people who try so hard to offend and belittle that I suspect that they do nothing else with their lives.

    I know though that it is partly my responsibility for not commenting. But I really don’t have the emotional strength. It’s a shame because then those kinds of people are “winning”. Thank goodness for people like you Rotund and others who are brave enough to take them on.

  39. I think the Guardian might have backed itself into a bit of a corner on moderation by calling its site “Comment Is Free”.

    Yeah, I’ve wondered if that didn’t play a part, too. :)

    But really, I think the problem is clueless old-media types just not getting the comments thing. Specifically, not getting the trolls thing — i.e., that these are people whose entire objective is to piss other people off, and most importantly, they are not actually your market. I was just reading this post the other day, which kinda sums up the fundamental disconnect for me. I’m inclined to agree with J.D. Roth when he says that false ad clicks (or, presumably, a high volume of page views that don’t translate to revenue for the advertisers) will eventually lead to advertisers getting wise and pulling out. And with GalleyCat when he says the goal should be the most robust content environment. Provide content that creates loyal readers, and give them a space where they can comment without being steamrolled by assholes, and you’ve got a real niche market/community that should appeal to advertisers. Let your community be taken over by shit-stirrers, and you’ve got a high-traffic site, but the actual market that represents is nowhere near as big as the traffic numbers. Which your sponsors will eventually figure out.

  40. I used to comment a lot at CiF, btu can’t bear the tone of the comments any more. Every article with a feminist viewpoint is followed by reams of comments from misogynist idiots who think women (especially feminists) are responsible for all the ills of the world, and I find I’ve lost the energy to try to try to reason with them. Commenting only makes them think their ideas have some validity.

    It used to be quite a fun place to comment – lots of lively argy-bargy, some people I disagreed with root and branch, some people I really liked and agreed with most of the time, but a good mix. There were always a lot more right-wing commenters on CiF than there were among real-life Guardian readers, but it’s got out of control. Now I find reading the comments depresses me – it makes me think how horrible some people are, how much they hate women, how wilfully ignorant and rude they are. All of it that makes me start to wonder about society as a whole, and I can’t quite manage to contemplate what that would say about the world, so I’ve stopped reading and commenting as much. As T.S. Eliot wrote, “human kind / Cannot bear very much reality” – I don’t want to be confronted with the full horror of the Patriarchy every day, thanks, Guardian.

    I have a friend who writes for the Guardian and she says that most of the newspaper journos don’t read the comments as they’re too vicious (particularly to female writers – quelle surprise). She says many of the commenters are the modern day equivalent of the green ink brigade.

    I made a pledge to myself this week that I would still read the CiF articles, but not the comments (god, I wish you could turn them off so you don’t see the five most recent ones under the article every time), and I certainly wouldn’t comment. I broke that pledge for The Rotund’s piece, but I’m going to try to stick to it next week.

    If you’re running a political site like that, heavily-modded content with a clear comments policy that includes your political stance (as you do here) is the only way to keep it bearable.

    Are any of the Shapelings commenting as Sheba on CiF? If so, you’re doing an amazing job. Just wanted to say that – I keep recommending your comments too!

  41. For whatever it’s worth, I get the impression that most of my friends (the non-Internet ones) don’t actually read comments on articles like this anyway. That those of us used to commenting on the Internet a lot go for them first thing, but people who aren’t just take the article as a static thing. Wonder if anyone’s done a study . . .

  42. There were always a lot more right-wing commenters on CiF than there were among real-life Guardian readers, but it’s got out of control. Now I find reading the comments depresses me – it makes me think how horrible some people are, how much they hate women, how wilfully ignorant and rude they are.

    I’ve noticed this with my local papers, too. I live in one of the more liberal regions of California, the North SF Bay, and yet if you went by newspaper comments on-line you’d think the locals were mostly vicious right-wing reactionary louts with IQ scores somewhere between ‘ball-peen hammer’ and ‘compost bin.’ And one of the things that does disturb me about it is that it *does* erode my perception of safety within my own community — unfairly, given that I’ve rarely encountered such bile here in real life.

  43. Eucritta – I deeply love that your scale of IQ scores includes both ball-peen hammer and compost bin. I’ve decided it’s because there is some intelligence, however rudimentary, in the bacteria in compost.

  44. I thought the article was great, and admired the Rotund’s patient arguments in the face of misogyny and asshattery. And one or two other supportive posters incl. Sheba.

    About 3 years ago I used to post on CiF all the time. I wonder when it became so vicious?

  45. Arwen – that was the post I quoted and linked to in reply. It just pissed this person off more. *facepalm*

    *hugs all the supportive Shapelings*

  46. Does the commenter imagine me sitting on the couch, shucking Hershey’s of their foil, dropping them into my five-gallon food grade pickle bucket (all cleaned out)? And then . . . what? Eating them from the bucket? Heating the bucket over a flame to make a giant fondue pot? Stomping the chocolate like grapes? Plopping my face into it, a la bobbing for apples?

    I’m honestly pretty convinced that this is exactly what they imagine. And they seem really weirdly determined to hold onto this image, too, even when directly told “that’s not how it is”.

    I don’t know. I’m… chubby. I don’t know if I count as “fat” or not, but I’m definitely not thin. And I am willing to bet that I have a healthier diet than 90% of the commenters there. Seriously. I don’t eat junk food, ever, because I’m allergic to a lot of food colourings and flavourings, and in the end it’s just easier to cut out anything processed. I’ve tried calorie counting, and I rarely go over 1200 calories per day. Not because I’m depriving myself, but because I naturally don’t have a big appetite. And I am so sick to death of people not believing this, of the “stop kidding yourself” and “just put down the doughnuts!”

    Even when they do believe you, you can’t win. I’m also, while I’m here, thoroughly sick of having (or hearing or reading) the following conversation:

    “OMG FATTY, put down the doughnuts and eat healthily!”

    “Actually, I have a very healthy diet. I don’t eat any processed food and I don’t eat a lot of ANYTHING.”

    “Maybe you’re eating too much fruit! There’s a lot of sugar in fruit! Have you tried giving up bread? You don’t drink whole milk, do you?? Did you know there’s a billion calories in a banana? Have you tried the South Beach diet? Also, I read that lettuce is actually bad for you now!”

  47. (Oh, and I meant to add onto that last comment that even if I did lie around wallowing in a bathtub full of cake all day, I don’t really see why anyone else should care. I don’t see why that image seems to make people so angry in the first place. It’s not as if anyone is force-feeding them, or legally requiring them to sleep with fat people; it is, in fact, none of their damn business.)

  48. C: Because it’s a criminal waste of cake, that’s why. Eat it, don’t wallow in it. Ew.

    A.
    (who really, really likes cake).

  49. there is no way to permanently make a fat person thin

    There is no known way.
    Maybe it’s the way I’m saying it, but I’m getting fed up with this assumption, that only men define reality, it’s hardly feminist is it?

    A group of people who feel that they alone have the right to define what reality is i.e. mainly men, have failed with an idea, and failed to accept reality. Why is our failure our own, and their failure our own as well?
    If we complain about priviledge, then why do we keep giving them this one?

    Can we please stop pandering to their belief in their innate superiority?

  50. I have seen forums and opinions posted by such unabashed fat haters, it’s heartbreaking. I could only read a few of those comments before I gave up. I’ve read it all before, there’s no point in it anymore. And those people won’t ever change their minds. They love how they feel so much, and they love crapping their opinions out like that.

    As for the diet/weight thing, after reading this page, I did some aerobic exercise, because I HAVEN’T been doing it enough, and there’s no excuse for that. I eat (kinda sorta) well. Am a vegetarian, eat lots of veggies, etc. Based on my own past history, I can probably expect that regular, healthy exercise will result in my body going down a few sizes. But if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. Eating well and exercising are something I owe myself, because it’s good for me.

    I had a drastic weight loss some years ago. I call it “The Dead Dad Diet,” because after the sudden death of my father I fell into a deep depression and ate almost nothing. I don’t recommend that method for weight loss. Even so, I leveled off at a size 14/16 (which seems to be the norm for the females in our family) which still made me “fat” and “not finished dieting” in the eyes of much of society. But to me, I was DONE. I ate well, I exercised, and that was the weight I was at, and I think I looked pretty normal and healthy. The hell with anyone who tells me that it’s not enough.

  51. wawona, there are plenty of “excuses” for not exercising, and here people try not to judge some foods as “good” and some as “bad.” The evidence for what is healthy and what is not is just too contradictory and unknown to say one diet is healthy and one is unhealthy. I don’t think eating almost nothing in your depression means you “ate well,” either – I’m glad you were able to recover so that now it sounds like you are able to eat again.

    wriggles, what? i don’t understand what you’re saying. Why are data showing that permanent weight loss is impossible “defined” by men? I think they are just evidence that arose from a lot of studies. Are you saying only men did those studies? Well, arguably that’s been true of all of science, though at least in the past decades more women have been involved. There were probably some women scientists involved in the more recent studies. Or do you mean only men fail at dieting? That’s a really strange thing to say! Fyi, women “fail” at permanent weight loss, too.

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