Quick Hit: Body Dissatisfaction Increases Suicide Risk in Girls

Body dissatisfaction — independent of actual overweight status — has an impact on suicidal behavior in U.S. girls, researchers said.

The researchers found the perception of being overweight among girls raised the probability of suicidal thoughts by 5.6 percent, the probability of a suicide attempts by 3.2 percent and the probability of injury causing suicide attempts by 0.6 percent. [Link.]

Did you note that it’s the perception of being overweight — “independent of actual overweight status” — they’re talking about here? OK, good. Now check this out.

The researchers found the risk of suicide by adolescent females has the potential to add about $280 million to $350 million to the costs of adolescent obesity, including the direct cost of illnesses and premature mortality.

“If being overweight not only imposes the usual healthcare and labor market costs, but also increases the risk of suicide, we need to take these costs into account when offering solutions,” [study co-author Inas] Rashad said.

It all comes back to the “costs of obesity.” Even when what we’re talking about is girls wanting to kill themselves because they think they’re fat. WTF?

I wish I were less cynical, so I could believe that “tak[ing] these costs into account when offering solutions” might actually mean “making an effort to improve girls’ self-esteem and body image.” (So they don’t try to off themselves and drive up healthcare costs. Ahem.) But since they’re lumping this in with all the usual alleged costs of fatness, I have to assume the logic here is, “This is one more reason to insist that fat girls must become thin! If they don’t, they’ll be suicidal!” Even though the study showed that poor body image independent of weight is what causes the suicidal thoughts, and one reason why so many girls hate their bodies and think they’re too fat even when they’re thin might just be that PEOPLE ARE CONSTANTLY TELLING THEM THAT FAT IS HORRIBLE, UNHEALTHY, AND SHAMEFUL, AND GOOD, RESPONSIBLE, HEALTHY PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE ANY VISIBLE FAT ON THEIR BODIES.

128 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Body Dissatisfaction Increases Suicide Risk in Girls

  1. Does this count as a spurious correlation or is it more indicitive of extreme short term memory loss?

  2. Somewhat off topic, but once again, Dr. Sharma is leaning our way. Today’s National Post (Canada) carries this article: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1398519 . Of course, they still refer to “the epidemic” but are actually scientifically backing up the idea that there are a lot of “healthy obese” people out there who should not be trying to lose weight. What a shock!

  3. “Interventions that identify and assist these youths and educate them regarding a healthy body image will succeed in lowering suicide attempts.”

    I’m reminded of the Ozols piece: “If the going gets tough, remind yourself: every person is beautiful on the inside, provided that they are also extremely attractive on the outside.”

    Seriously, that quote from the researcher was like a punch in the gut. Fuck.

  4. I hate to state the obvious when it’s mooning in my face but … exactly how much money is a successful suicide going to cost the government? And precisely what difference would it make if said suicide was fat or just thought she was? Sorry but huh?

  5. Buffpuff: the difference is that if the suicide was fat, it’s obviously not as much of a loss to the world as if she only *thought* she was.

    *is very fucking bitter*

  6. Suicidality is totally under-researched, and there’s no really good established way to treat it. But I’m just going to guess that making young people feel even more anxious about their health isn’t going to work.

  7. HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADDESK HEADDESK

    In my worst moments (let’s all read that as “most suicidal moments in an entire lifetime of anxiety and depression” so we’re all clear), calling myself fat, derisively, as justification and outer evidence of my utter worthlessness, was always one of the first things out of my mouth when the stream of self-deprecating shit poured out. Always always always.

    (I kind of wish I had more to say about how much I wish people would TRY TO UNDERSTAND PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY DIFFERENT TO THEM but I am frankly fucking tapped out of energy for that shit right now. People are such assholes.)

  8. This is like being told that over wight people don’t have disordered eating – unless of course you’re binging.

  9. I had some serious emotional issues when I was in high school, and part of my nihilism was in the form of hating my body. As in, “I will never be as thin as I want to be; what is the point of living?” Now, this was not my only emotional issue, but it is seriously messed up that at that time being thin was so important that I didn’t think life was worth living.

    The worst part? I was, for all intents and purposes, thin. Just not as thin as women in magazines and on TV.

  10. Wait, so…

    1) Girls who are NOT fat get anxious and depressed about being fat, even though they’re NOT FAT
    2) These girls are then more likely to attempt suicide

    Therefore being overweight increases the risk of suicide?

    Oh hell no.

  11. “Wait, so…

    1) Girls who are NOT fat get anxious and depressed about being fat, even though they’re NOT FAT
    2) These girls are then more likely to attempt suicide

    Therefore being overweight increases the risk of suicide?

    Oh hell no.”

    Well DUH – Get rid of all Teh Fats and they won’t have anything to be afraid of. Clearly, being fat is putting other people at risk of suicide.

    *nod*

  12. This is why I am so absolutely petrified for my daughters and why I’m hellbent on teaching them size acceptance (FA, too, but as part of the whole picture).

    But my six year old STILL told me that she thought she was going to be thin when she grew up, not fat like me. I shrugged and told her that we didn’t know what size or shape she would be yet (I went through a few of our diverse family standards) , but that the best way to be healthy and happy no matter what she looked like was to eat when she was hungry and stop when she wasn’t hungry any more, and no one should decide that but her—not even grownups. She nodded and went to sleep.

    I left her room and started beating my head against the wall, more or less metaphorically. She’s SIX FREAKIN’ YEARS OLD.

    I can’t fucking wait for her teenage years.

  13. oh my god, LOGIC FAIL.

    I really can’t contribute anything more coherent than that. Thank you thank you thank you for pointing this stuff out, Kate.

  14. Those of us who have had treatment for eating disorders know that even girls who are literally starving themselves to death often want to kill themselves because they feel fat.

    So, no, this issue is not correlated to the actual number of fat people in the population. At all.

  15. 1) Girls who are NOT fat get anxious and depressed about being fat, even though they’re NOT FAT
    2) These girls are then more likely to attempt suicide

    Therefore being overweight increases the risk of suicide?

    In practice, worse — it’s more like “therefore we must redouble our efforts to make sure that our children understand that BEING FAT IS UNACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.”

  16. Maybe they’re trying to attribute the extra dollar cost to obesity so when they want funding for anti-obesity programs (hopefully helpful, body-image reconstructing ones) they’ll have more ammo for why the cause needs to be addressed.

    And can I stop saying overweight? Who chose the “weight” that I’m over? Am I only over-weight b/c there is a “weight” that’s been set as baseline? Is it the BMI b/c that’s bogus. Can’t I be at weight and others be underweight? And underweight will be the nasty moniker. Yeah, right.

  17. Hey, everyone, let’s take this fact that’s marginally related to obesity and twist and turn it to fit what we want it to!

    *facepalm*

  18. “Those of us who have had treatment for eating disorders know that even girls who are literally starving themselves to death often want to kill themselves because they feel fat.”

    Yup. It was at my lowest weight that I had the highest levels of suicidal thoughts. That was, you know, the reason why I was starving myself?

    Yet another group of researchers who apparently skipped class the day that basic research protocols were being discussed.

  19. I find the notion that the greatest cost to society of any given state, condition or illness can be measured in economic terms so fucking despicable, I can’t adequately express it.

  20. Spoonfork, I was around six or seven the first time I lied about my weight. I know it was in first grade, when our project of the day was to write up a little certificate of sorts that had our name, height, and weight on it, and we were to decorate it. I was working on mine and looked around, noticing every other girl there was writing a weight that was significantly below mine, so I shaved a few pounds off before I wrote it down.

    I remember vividly the shame I felt then.

  21. What loathsome madness this is! What kind of heartless, twisted logic makes monetary conclusions about obesity costs from the misplaced despair of young women and girls? How does insanity like this even get published?

    I guess I should know- it’s one more piece in a plan designed to get funds for moronic interventions disguised as compassionate care for the fearful fat.

  22. One of the best ways to improve girl’s self esteem is to get their minds off their body image and onto the things they can accomplish. Usually this is done with sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities, of the sort that schools are being forced to cut because of dramatically shrinking budgets. Clearly the ticket is to waste money on anti-obesity campaigns that direct girl’s thoughts right back to their bodies. We couldn’t have them feeling any sense of accomplishment, that might make them realize they’re human beings worthy of respect!

    I’m reminded of the quip from an MST3K short: “People will like you more if you’re pretty.”

  23. This reminds me of a conversation I had once with a very fat-phobic self-proclaimed “health nut”. We were in a bit of a debate over an article about a couple in the UK being denied by an adoption agency and she said among other things, “obesity is unhealthy, aside from the fact that it generally tends to add on a nice heaping dollop of depression and/or low self-esteem…” I wish I would have responded, “gee, don’t think that could have something to do with society telling them they aren’t fit to take care of a child?” But I figured it would be useless, she was also generally the type to rarely accept the fact that the environment one grows up in generally tends to have a big influence on how you turn out. *sigh* I really hate the fact that people still so easily buy the “It’s not society, it’s YOU!” bullshit. What is so wrong about even contemplating that there *might* possibly be something wrong with the way hings are? If nobody’d ever thought things could be different, we wouldn’t bother learning history, because everything would always be the same.

    /end ramble

  24. Okay, if nothing else proves this blather is utter baloney, this line does: “the costs of adolescent obesity, including the direct cost of illnesses and premature mortality.”

    Uh, the costs…of premature mortality? Doesn’t fatties dying off nice and early *save* the thin people money and the grief of having to look at us every day?

    There aren’t enough self-harm cutisms to describe my exasperation.

  25. Clearly the ticket is to waste money on anti-obesity campaigns that direct girl’s thoughts right back to their bodies. We couldn’t have them feeling any sense of accomplishment, that might make them realize they’re human beings worthy of respect!

    Yep, because we all know shaming those gross fatties down to beautiful thin people works oh so well.
    Not to mention that ranting over the so-called obesity pandemic makes it easier to get government and private foundation money these days. They cut after school programs for kids and reduce public transit, yet there’s suddenly enough money for what is basically trying to perform an exorcism on fat. Makes you wanna twist your head around and vomit pea soup on these so-called “professionals.”

  26. I have no idea why any of these people thinks it’s possible to be thin enough not to hate your body.

    Or, “the ‘costs of obesity’ are really ‘the costs of the WAR ON obesity.'” Pretty much right down to the last nickel.

  27. Really? Really? I’m not shocked by much that comes out of researchers’ mouths, but I am genuinely stunned that social scientists could be this dense. In one of the unquoted sections of the article, the author even directly states that there are youth who are dissatisfied with their bodies even though their weights fall within a “healthy” range (her terminology, not mine). How then do you suddenly make the leap from “poor body image is associated with suicide” to “being fat is bad for society.”

  28. @spoonfork – you are a great mother! I wish my mum had told me something like that, just once. Yes, your daughter is getting a lot of other messages, but what you say (and do) will really stick with her. Keep going!

  29. Anyone notice the link at the end of the story:
    “Next Story: Obese women less likely to get mammography”

    Uh, I wonder why that might be?

    Oy this:
    “If being overweight not only imposes the usual health care and labor market costs, but also increases the risk of suicide, we need to take these costs into account when offering solutions”
    Gives me a big headache.

    Economists.
    Does anyone have any economist jokes?

    There are other groups that have high suicide rates, and one of the contributing factors in these groups is hopelessness about the future, it’s not so hard to see that there’s a societal element going on. I think that for girls who believe they are fat, there may be hopelessness about the future.

    Which is why Shapely Prose works as a suicide prevention intervention.

  30. Oh, and I love how the implication is that for those girls who believe they are fat, are suicidal and actually are fat, these costs are due to obesity — how do we explain the ones who believe they are fat, are suicidal, but aren’t actually fat? Oh, it’s “bad body image.” And the fat girls who aren’t suicidal — what is up with their body image? It’s only unhealthy to have an “unhealthy body image” if you aren’t actually fat. If you are actually fat, and you have a “healthy body image” — that’s unhealthy.

  31. Gee. I think they missed the day in health class where they taught that Anorexia Nervosa is a potentially terminal illness with deaths resulting most often due to suicide, organ failure coming a close second. I’m sure the millions of recovering anorexics around the world would happily explain the difference between
    “perception of overweight” and the state of “obesity”.

  32. That is just so blatantly illogical that it makes me sad.

    Godless Heathen, I love your point that the best thing to do is get their minds OFF their bodies and onto other stuff, not keep dragging them back to it, whatever their size.

    And yes, even as an adult, in my very down times, which are happily few and far between compared to my youth, in my head I still list being fat as one of the reasons why I should be dead, even if my little FA-trained bit of brain does kick in and point out the silliness of this to me immediately. Maybe if I keep reading the fatosphere long enough, I won’t even think it to start with.

  33. The … grotesque and bloody mangling of logic is just … staggering.

    Suicidal ideation in girls goes up independent of weight.
    What level of mental contortion had to go on to determine that that was a … cost of obesity?

    *runs screaming*

  34. Speaking of studies — there’s another one in from the UK: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090318/ap_on_he_me/eu_med_fat_shortened_life. It mentions the standard lines about being obese is worse than smoking, yadda yadda yadda, and BMIs of 40+ are deadly.

    But, they also mention in passing — almost as if they were ashamed of it — this tidbit:

    “British researchers at the University of Oxford analyzed 57 studies mostly in Europe and North America, following nearly one million people for an average of 10 to 15 years. During that time, about 100,000 of those people died.

    The studies used Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement that divides a person’s weight in kilograms by their height squared in meters to determine obesity. Researchers found that death rates were lowest in people who had a BMI of 23 to 24, on the high side of the normal range.

    Health officials generally define overweight people as those with a BMI from 25 to 29, and obese people as those with a BMI above 30.”

    Hmmm. So “the high side of normal” is actually, even according to these folks, the best place to be.

    Back during our grandparents’ time, people who were thin typically got dinged, sometimes heavily (pardon the pun), in mortality tables. Thinness was a sign of susceptibility to charming things like consumption, whereas fatness meant you had the bodily reserves to fight off illness.

    (By the way: If you want to lose weight but are a heavy drinker or recreational drug user, you might want to consider easing up on the booze and drugs before working on losing weight: Fat acts as a storage spot for toxins; once the fat’s burned, the toxins get released back into the rest of the body. Several drugging and drinking fat folk have gone on diets, only to wonder why their livers suddenly started acting up when they lost weight. Now you know why.)

  35. This makes me so sad and angry.

    I spent years of being mostly trim and actually quite conventional-pretty but convinced I was obese and hideous. I never wore anything that showed my belly even though I longed to. I was ashamed of my body. I was convinced I was too ugly for boys to look at twice. I was shamed by my failed attempts to lose weight and any gain sent me spiraling into intense self hate.

    Now that I’m truly fat I want to kick myself for wasting all those years I could have worn a bikini WITHOUT glares from the masses. I also wish I could have been brave enough to wear one at last summer’s family trip to the beach but my family acted as though a tummy-covering number was really the only way to go and I didn’t want to get into it, I just wanted to enjoy swimming (and then of course had nothing but trouble with the suit… next year, freaking full-on bikini… if anybody’s lookin’, fuck ‘em).

  36. Apparently the whole point about anorexic and extremely eating-disordered women and girls being the most depressed and suicidal subsets of humanity completely missed these sorry excuses for scientists. Guess what? When I was anorexic and a size 2, I contemplated suicide about every day. At “overweight” nearing “obese” at a size 14, I haven’t though about suicide seriously for years.

    Being overweight caused my depression, obviously. Lol wut? Seriously, if size 2 me was “normal” and size 14 is me is supposed to be “suicidal”, you’d have to lock me up in a padded room lest I hand myself with dental floss right now because of the ghastly specter of DOUBLE DIGIT PANTS and LOVE HANDLES. Oh sweet Jesus!

    Thanks scientists! Obviously my GP’s recent decreasing of my Zoloft dose was totally in error and I’m actually really truly horribly suicidal because the Twinkies I consume three times an hour have seeped into my cranium and killed all my happy synapses.

    (I wonder how much Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig is paying these morons to do “research”? Wait, that was being too optimistic. It appears that “educated” scientists do bad logical all by themselves. FAIL)

  37. FFFFFFUUUUUUU!!!!!!!

    Or more coherently, what you’ve all already said. This is the most epic fail I have seen in a very long time.

  38. Fat acts as a storage spot for toxins; once the fat’s burned, the toxins get released back into the rest of the body.

    And of course, SPENDING YOUR WHOLE DAMN LIFE TRYING TO BURN FAT couldn’t possibly cause any sort of hepatotoxicity. Noooooo. Weight loss is always TEH HEALTHEEE. Always. (It’s a funny thing, when I took my 30-pound cat to the vet, he specifically told me not to let the cat lose weight too quickly, and to always make him try to eat something, for that very reason: Rapid fat loss could damage his liver. If this very same process happens in humans, why doesn’t anyone bother to mention it? Oh, wait, don’t answer that.)

  39. “This is one more reason to insist that fat girls must become thin! If they don’t, they’ll be suicidal!”

    Indeed, they’ve already done this with ‘obesity’ in general. Using the results of stigma (i.e. depression anxiety etc) as part of it’s purported list of (innate ) pathologies.

    Even though the study showed that poor body image independent of weight is what causes the suicidal thoughts,

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe the concept of thin privilege works.

    What I’m curious about is how the rate of suicidal ideation – in the non fat – compares with the same in those who actually are fat.

  40. In these kinds of studies, the conclusions they always seem to draw is “people need to chang their bodies” rather than “society as a whole needs to change their attitudes.” It’s really depressing after a while, but totally unsurprising at the same time. No one, apparently, can count on getting funding by concluding that society is fucked up.

  41. Just so I’m clear: we need to continue stigmatizing fat people as being “expensive” … because girls who are not actually fat want to die because they feel fat???

    ASS-backwards.

  42. Even though the study showed that poor body image independent of weight is what causes the suicidal thoughts,

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe the concept of thin privilege works.

    Uh, what?

  43. Is anyone surprised? Hello?? We live in a culture that worships an impossible body type, to the detriment of everyone. And there are two types of people: 1) people who delude themselves into thinking they have or can get this body type, and 2)people, like these girls, who realize they can’t live up to these impossible expectations.
    We’re all to blame for this.

  44. This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe the concept of thin privilege works.

    Yeah, wriggles, I’m going to need you to explain that out for me there.

  45. “One of the best ways to improve girl’s self esteem is to get their minds off their body image and onto the things they can accomplish. Usually this is done with sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities, of the sort that schools are being forced to cut because of dramatically shrinking budgets. Clearly the ticket is to waste money on anti-obesity campaigns that direct girl’s thoughts right back to their bodies. We couldn’t have them feeling any sense of accomplishment, that might make them realize they’re human beings worthy of respect!”
    Excellent point.

    And, just another reason to be depressed in this world. And another reason that I shouldn’t have wasted time on college and should have just moved to Mexico! or some other country where I can’t understand the language…haha.

  46. This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe the concept of thin privilege works.

    Yeah, because thin girls who are suicidal because they think they’re fat are going to be treated EXACTLY the same as fat girls who are suicidal because they think they’re fat. *eyeroll*

  47. The concept of privilege, as I understand it, requires you to gain at least what you have lost by buying into it.

    I don’t see what ‘privilege’ the girls in this survey have.

  48. Buying into it? What? You “buy into it” by being born into this society with all of those advantages, it’s not something you choose.

    The thin girls who nonetheless think they are too fat and are at higher risk for suicide because of it are hurt by fat hatred. But not as much as the girls who are in fact fat.

    This is a PHMT argument. Might want to read up on that.

  49. The economist wrote back to me right away. I didn’t ask her permission to quote her so I don’ t know what’s fair use, but she said the standard things about obesity: it’s on the rise, it’s urgent, that those of us whose families have always been fat are in the minority of fat people.

    (I’d mentioned we’d always been around and that nothing would make us go away. I hadn’t put in the numbers, but even just looking at the straight CDC data and accepting it looks to me that if there 20% more of the population is “fat” given BMI, there was still 40% fat people in the 60s….)

    But she also mentions that she’s aware of the cost of stigma and the need for science about what’s successful, and mentions that she’s unsure of the damage that might be done by BMI report cards.

    So; I don’t know.

  50. The thin girls who nonetheless think they are too fat and are at higher risk for suicide because of it are hurt by fat hatred. But not as much as the girls who are in fact fat.

    You have summarized it beautifully, volcanista.

  51. Also, this:

    The concept of privilege, as I understand it, requires you to gain at least what you have lost by buying into it.

    sounds off to me. I don’t think you DO completely understand it.

  52. lilacsigil: Thank you very, very much for the confirmation!

    It’s just so difficult to know the right things to say to my daughter, since I’m pretty much the lone FA voice in my household (Fat=Unhealthy is still the given for my husband and MIL).

    I’m thinking of bringing my kids to live in Ailbhe’s commune, if she’ll have us.

    Kathy A: I think I was in junior high when I told my science class (for a class project) that I weighed 105, because that was the top weight that had previously been said. I honestly didn’t know what I weighed at the time, but there was no way on God’s Earth I was getting on the scale at the front of that classroom.

  53. Wriggles, I think the fact that some people fail to take full advantage of a privilege doesn’t actually mean the privilege doesn’t exist.

    For instance, my brother didn’t get any college scholarships…but only because he never applied for any of them. They were still there and he had every chance to get one. He was identified as gifted, but failed to take advantage of the privileges available to him. Then he sat there wondering why nobody gave him a scholarship when he was smart. In the end, he took it as proof that he was put upon when he was actually failing to take advantage of the opportunities before him. I believe it was one of the first signs of the depression he’s struggled against all his life.

    These girls have the same problem. They can have every advantage offered by society to those who are thin, but they fail to recognize those advantages are theirs pretty much by default. Unfortunately, they are stuck in a mental quagmire of self-loathing that won’t allow them to see a) that they aren’t fat and b) that THEY WOULD STILL BE WORTHY EVEN IF THEY WERE FAT.

    Depression and body dysmorphia are problems in and of themselves, but they do not negate the existence of thin privilege, nor does it mean these girls don’t have it going in.

    I hope that helps.

  54. Wow, Twistie. Your response is so perfect I can’t stop reading it. A fantastic analogy.

    I’d only add that rampant fat hatred is probably doing nothing if not adding to those girls having said problem.

    *claps*

  55. Wait, you’re kidding me, girls who feel like they’re “failing” at something that determines a huge chunk of their personal worth in a patriarchy actually try to kill themselves? Who could have predicted that one?

    *drinks*

  56. wriggles, having privilege doesn’t mean things don’t suck. It means things suck for other people in ways that you don’t have to bother thinking about.

    The thin girls in this study are growing up in a seriously fucked-up society. That sucks and we all wish it otherwise. But when those thin girls go to the doctor and say “I’m so fat I want to die,” they can probably expect the doctor to give them support and antidepressants, rather than a scolding and a diet sheet.

  57. These girls have the same problem. They can have every advantage offered by society to those who are thin, but they fail to recognize those advantages are theirs pretty much by default.

    I think this is a little more complex than you’re making it sound. It’s certainly entirely possible to be ‘thin’ by most people’s definitions, and to still be the target of fat shaming from one’s family, peers, random strangers, etc – and that’s before unrealistic body image standards from the media even get a look-in.

    I’d go so far as to argue that one of the more insidious offshoots of fat-hating culture is the fact that almost *any* woman can be called ‘fat’ at almost any time, and that (as this post argues) many of us are conditioned to respond to it as though it’s the worst insult in the world.

    This absolutely is a Patriarchy-Hurts-Men-Too argument, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing in this context. The fact is that, as the findings of the study discussed above suggest, fatphobia *does* hurt women of all sizes. All the more reason to get behind the FA movement, as far as I’m concerned – ousting fat hatred is not a zero-sum game!

    Depression and body dysmorphia are problems in and of themselves, but they do not negate the existence of thin privilege, nor does it mean these girls don’t have it going in.

    I’m more inclined to agreee with this point.

  58. Also, this:

    The concept of privilege, as I understand it, requires you to gain at least what you have lost by buying into it.

    sounds off to me. I don’t think you DO completely understand it.

    So off, in fact, that I officially let everyone off the hook for trying to explain privilege to wriggles if you don’t feel like it. This is a 101 concept and this does not need to be a 101 space. It’s not our job to demystify privilege for people who willfully misunderstand and misrepresent it.

  59. Scarlett, I agree that I didn’t try to cover all the possible complexities of the situation. I was trying to do privilege 101A, so I figured I would try to keep it very, very basic. There are a great many subtleties as you rightly point out.

  60. The fact is that, as the findings of the study discussed above suggest, fatphobia *does* hurt women of all sizes. All the more reason to get behind the FA movement, as far as I’m concerned – ousting fat hatred is not a zero-sum game!

    Absolutely! And I don’t think PHMT-type arguments are necessarily a bad thing, as long as they are of the form “patriarchy, which is designed to hurt women, in some ways hurts men too.” Fatphobia, body shame, public opinion on women’s bodies, etc. absolutely do collateral damage to the self-esteem and happiness of women who are not fat. We can certainly say “jesus, isn’t it shitty that anti-childhood-obesity campaigns make even thin girls feel awful about themselves.” But realistically, the rest of the sentence has to be “… when they were only supposed to make fat girls feel awful about themselves.” That has to be taken into account — that the problem of thin girls being hurt by fatphobia is treated differently than the problem of fat girls being hurt by fatphobia. The latter, as any stroll through this blog makes clear, is often seen not only as a virtue but as a public responsibility.

  61. But realistically, the rest of the sentence has to be “… when they were only supposed to make fat girls feel awful about themselves.” That has to be taken into account — that the problem of thin girls being hurt by fatphobia is treated differently than the problem of fat girls being hurt by fatphobia. The latter, as any stroll through this blog makes clear, is often seen not only as a virtue but as a public responsibility.

    Absolutely 100% agreed!

  62. The researchers found the perception of being overweight among girls raised the probability of suicidal thoughts by 5.6 percent, the probability of a suicide attempts by 3.2 percent and the probability of injury causing suicide attempts by 0.6 percent.

    The percentages are so low (I was surprised they were so low), that I suspect data-mining.

  63. Right, I mean of course, patriarchy DOES hurt men! And making that point is not even all that out of place in response to this post, which is kind of about that to begin with. So it wouldn’t even be a derail here. But wriggles said this was why ze doesn’t think thin privilege EXISTS, which is like, wha??

    Okay, I’m glad you don’t think we should try to explain it, because as soon as wriggles’ comment went up I felt almost too tired to even try. Almost.

    Nancy, I haven’t looked at the actual original study, but do you know how big the sample size was? Because 5-6% isn’t that low, and it could be significant. (I’m not against data-mining to the same extent some people are, because statistics can be useful; it’s the assumption of causation that’s usually a much bigger problem IMO.)

  64. Ugh.

    I really, really hope none of this translates into standard practice for treating suicidal girls.

    “Well, little Susie, I see you’ve been feeling pretty badly about yourself lately. Did you ever consider that maybe YOU’RE FAT???!!”

    I’d roar a giant roar if there wasn’t all this bile backed up in my throat.

  65. @ Elle – hilarious!

    @ Nancy: from the researcher’s response to me on their methodology – “So we run a simultaneous equations model where actual overweight status has an effect on overweight perception, and overweight perception in turn has an effect on suicidal thoughts. While overweight status per se does not directly affect suicide, it does so indirectly.”

  66. I’d go so far as to argue that one of the more insidious offshoots of fat-hating culture is the fact that almost *any* woman can be called ‘fat’ at almost any time, and that (as this post argues) many of us are conditioned to respond to it as though it’s the worst insult in the world.

    Scarlett, not trying to dismiss anything you’re saying, but if “fat” were not a huge insult then other insults would probably step in to fill the void. They may or may not be as personal, but they would be there.

  67. “jesus, isn’t it shitty that anti-childhood-obesity campaigns make even thin girls feel awful about themselves.” But realistically, the rest of the sentence has to be “… when they were only supposed to make fat girls feel awful about themselves.”

    I don’t think that’s entirely true. Actual fat people are the Cautionary Tale by which thinner people are constantly reminded: Don’t get fat or this [stigma] could happen to you. A little anxiety will motivate you to stay at what we call your ideal weight.

  68. “Actual fat people are the Cautionary Tale by which thinner people are constantly reminded: Don’t get fat or this [stigma] could happen to you. A little anxiety will motivate you to stay at what we call your ideal weight.”

    Indeed. We must be kept around as ‘the other’ onto whom fears and anxieties may be projected, thus preventing such feelings from threatening one’s own ego.

    Up until recently, I kept asking how *any* reader of such new stories could really fail to see the utter lack of logic behind the conclusions drawn. However, after grading my freshman students’ essays last term, I’ve become convinced that illogic is by far the predominant variety of thought today. :-(

  69. Mulberry, I don’t really see how that is exclusive of the claim that anti-fat initiatives are meant to make fat kids understand that their bodies are unacceptable.

  70. It is not at all exclusive. It was your line about only making fat girls feel awful about themselves. My point is that the anti-fat messages are meant for us all in one way or another.

  71. Volcanista – I went in suggesting to her that she was maybe seeing the cost of the War on Obesity, not the cost of Obesity; that even the perception is scary because in this society, being fat carries a horrible stigma.

    I think she was agreeing that the stigma against fat people that makes people want to kill themselves is worse for fat people than for thin people who are worried they may be fat. I don’t doubt there’s some truth to that: everyone’s afeared of fat these days, but likely it’s only actually fat people and body dysmorphic thinner people who are driven to self harm.

    She also says that they focused on perception, because the perception hurt everyone. Which is a PHTM argument and I think a bit valid.

    Then I went a bit crosseyed. She started with OMG obesity, there are only a few of us genetically heavy, and she understands all the alarms and urgency about the anti obesity agenda.

    Which may be important for funding depending on where she’s researching.

    But then she morphs into someone concerned primarily with the stigma.

    Here was the hopeful bit:

    “But as you said, in trying to make it so urgent, we are demonizing fat, and magnifying the stigma associated with being fat, which has huge costs in itself. Which is what my co-author and I try to point out in our research. Few studies have actually measured the effectiveness of various solutions to obesity. One proposed solution — BMI report cards in schools — may have very negative mental health consequences, and these costs should be taken into account in calculating the cost-effectiveness of various solutions. We don’t want to “address” one problem (which I’m not even sure BMI report cards do) whilst creating or exacerbating another one.”

    When I wrote back, I thanked her for noticing the stigma that this war on obesity was creating, and the lack of science behind any “solution” proposed, but also challenged her idea that I was one of the few fat people who are genetically fat. Because if 40%ish of the population of the 60s were “overweight”/fat, and 60%ish now, that means that 2/3 of the targeted fat population probs already was.

    IE: Maybe there isn’t a “solution” to “obesity”. I did sneak in some HAES suggestions.

    I also tried to suggest the idea that my experience that dieting adds weight to my frame might add to the obesity issue – my chub is chubbier than it might otherwise have been. But I didn’t go into meds.

    Because seriously: meds and dieting.

  72. My point is that the anti-fat messages are meant for us all in one way or another.

    Gotcha — yes, but the explicit target is fat people. It’s still an example of thin privilege that the message directed at fat people (“you are gross and inhuman”) and the message directed at thin people (“don’t become fat, you’ll be gross and inhuman”) both have vilifying and dehumanizing fat people as their explicit objective.

  73. Thanks for the details, Arwen. I was more concerned with the fact that the description of the actual statistics you reported meant almost nothing in words. A simultaneous equations model? How is that not just… a model? Also, are they looking for correlations between overweight “status” (ugh) and suicidal thoughts, AND between overweight perception and suicidal thoughts, and comparing the two? That would be relatively robust, but that’s not what she says. HER words imply that since there is a correlation between overweight status and overweight perception, and between overweight perception and suicidal thoughts, thus fat people want to kill themselves. That is a bias-induced and lazy connection if they didn’t actually run the model for all of these possibilities and compare them.

    I was pretty sure the 40% to 60% shift in BMI categories was hugely impacted by the definition change, and that the change in actual population body size was much, much more minor than that.

  74. if “fat” were not a huge insult then other insults would probably step in to fill the void

    Read Anne of Green Gables to see some examples of girls being shamed for being “too thin” by their society’s standards (also “too red-headed” and “too eager” and various other things).

  75. Read Anne of Green Gables to see some examples of girls being shamed for being “too thin” by their society’s standards (also “too red-headed” and “too eager” and various other things).</i.

    What struck me about that is, late in the series (the 7th or 8th book), Anne and Gilbert go visit a woman who Gilvbert used to be involved with (or something like that; it has been a LONG time since I read it), and Anne is jealous/insecure. And when they get home, they somehow get on the subject of her insecurities, and Gilbert says something to the effect of “She got fat! And you didn’t!” It seemed like one of the reasons Anne didn’t need to be insecure was because she was still thin (even after having kids).

    For some reason, that scene has haunted me for years, even if it has become fuzzy in my memory.

  76. Well damn. That hit home. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been fat a day in my life, by all available (and ridiculous) standards, but I have sure experienced the self-destructive need to be THINNER. I’ve dieted myself to the point of starvation, got some therapy, started eating again, and you will not believe how many years it took for me to accept looking like 120 pounds without feeling like a pathetic, depressed failure.

    Of course there were other factors that contributed to my self-hate, but isn’t it curious how all that self-hate was so easily projected onto my body/appearance?

    It’s a bit like what Lindsay said, but self-imposed: “I feel like crap, my life isn’t working the way I want it to – I must be FAT!”

    And while I am relatively sane now (and definitely never dieting again, or forgoing bikinis, or sucking in my gut), a bit of self-reflection has me admit that I still don’t know if my acceptance of my body is really unconditional, or whether it depends on whether I’m still on “this” side of 60 kilos. Because “I am sad, that must mean I’m fat!” has neatly translated into “I might be fat – compared to every billboard I pass on my way to the sandwich shop- therefore I must be SAD!”

    What is certain is that it’s not weight that makes girls depressed, it’s the internalized prejudices against women’s bodies (of all sizes really, but moreso bodies “of size”). It’s even more f*cking depressing if you’re considered to be on the “right” side of the BMI index! For a teen as intensely insecure as I was, being even moderately “chubby” was almost unbearable.

    I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but I just needed to get that off my chest. Even women on the edge of the “underweight” (ha!) category of the goddamn BMI index have trouble accepting their “fat.”

    I’m just glad I can be angry about it now, instead of sad.

  77. Plus any discussion of fat and depression must take into account that medication for depression can add weight too>

  78. Hey all, this is off-topic, but does anyone know where the term “fatophobic” originated? Was there a specific individual, or did it arise organically (say, in the fat-o-sphere?) I’m working on a project and want to make sure I give credit (or, conversely, do you think that credit is unnecessary because the term has made its way into the lexicon? I feel like my paper’s audience [academic types] will see that word and go, WTF?)

    Thanks so much!

  79. Gilbert says something to the effect of “She got fat! And you didn’t!” It seemed like one of the reasons Anne didn’t need to be insecure was because she was still thin (even after having kids).

    It shows how narrow the margins are, yes? “Too thin” was mockworthy as was “too fat”. Hence the advertisements of that era selling weight-gain pills AND “reducing cream,” bust pads AND “stylish stout” corsets.

    That said, I never read the ones after Anne and Gilbert got married because I always hated him.

  80. “Plus any discussion of fat and depression must take into account that medication for depression can add weight too>”

    Oh yes. 25 pounds in a MONTH on Remeron. And, guess what was causing the anxiety necessitating the Remeron?

    Yeah. That went well.

  81. it won’t involve trying to make girls feel better about the bodies they do actually have as that would just rip a huge hole in the fashion/ diet/ let’s fuck em up young industry. What it will mean is more Fat Hate, more Obesity Is The Devil advertising…. More money being pumped into making young girls hate themselves because they’re fat…

    Oh. Wait.

    That makes sense, doesn’t it?

  82. I was very suicidal in high school because of all the lookism. The message was clearly no matter how smart, good, kind or talented you were you had to be “pretty” or the rest didn’t matter. In time I was defiant. I wasn’t going to just fade away for some entitled twit’s viewing pleasure. I decided as a person with human status I deserved human treatment. I didn’t have to do anything special, I didn’t have to be the best at anything, I was here and that was enough. If it was enough for everyone else out there than it was enough for me too. I decided I was entitled to good music, good food, good books, and fresh air and sunshine. I was also entitled to make mistakes. I gave myself credit for trying and not giving up. Living well IS the best revenge. I recognise I see the world through a blue lens and it tints my perceptions so I am skeptical. I will never be thin but I am strong and my body serves me well. As far as this society goes “the secret of joy is resistance”. I refuse to believe we’re all suppose to have the same build anymore than we all have the same height.

  83. sadly, fat is the last acceptable prejudice and governments feed this (no pun intended) by funneling millions into anti-obesity programmes designed to vilify and humiliate young people under the cloak of Teaching Self Control. I saw a magazine ad a few days ago which had a 7 or 8 year old girl holding up a bakewell tart and smiling. The copy read ‘Does premature death look so appealing now?’- and I blew a week’s worth of Sanity Watchers points in one go…

  84. ooops, just reread the comments policy and now wish to say that fat is NOT the last acceptable prehudice but is however sadly something deeply ingrained into the prevailing culture in which we find ourselves living, and may therefore feel oppressive to those who have the attributes which are seen as undesirable…

    phew, think I got away with it…! :D

    And I still think that the advert I mentioned before was just plain nasty..!

  85. She started with OMG obesity, there are only a few of us genetically heavy,

    OH MY GOD WILL PEOPLE WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GENETICS STOP TALKING ABOUT IT I DON’T GO AROUND PRETENDING TO UNDERSTAND PARTICLE PHYSICS AAAAAGH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH

  86. I just posted a little rant on something like this over on LJ: http://genievrestela.livejournal.com/733521.html

    But to break it down without folks having to read it:
    (From a health assessment survey I took at Anthem)
    “Risks, Conditions, and Costs

    Many of the risks we take day-to-day, such as smoking, overeating, being inactive, having a high blood pressure level, and etc., are associated with a much greater likelihood of future health conditions and increased health care costs. Certain behaviors can increase your health care costs significantly:

    Health Behavior % Higher Health Costs Each Year
    If you suffer from frequent bouts of depression
    70%

    If you have a high level of stress on a regular basis
    46%

    If you have a high blood sugar level
    35%

    If you are overweight
    21%

    If you regularly smoke cigarettes
    20%

    If you have high blood pressure
    12%

    If you don’t exercise regularly
    10%

    SOURCE: Goetzel RZ, Anderson DR, Whitmer RW, Ozminkowski RJ, Dunn RL, Wasserman J. (1998, October). The relationship between modifiable health risks and health care expenditures: An analysis of the multi-employer HERO health risk and cost database. Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine, 40(10):843-54.

    Take action now to reduce your risks and give yourself the best chance for a longer and healthier life. ”

    See that? Yeah, 21%. Having a HIGH STRESS LEVEL AND BOUTS WITH DEPRESSION ARE WORSE THAN BEING FAT when it comes to COSTS on the system.

    So next time someone brings up how we fatties suck so much from the tit of the “system”, I’m gonna ask them how that anti-depressant is working.

    So it’s the fucking psychological shit, NOT the ACTUAL fat. fucking a.

  87. Well, also, Gin, the ways people generally calculate health “costs” associated with particular risk factors are kind of crap. And besides, if you have an inherited risk factor, and it might cost you (or your insurance company/everyone else) extra money because of the slightly elevated risk that you will get sick, well, uh, you inherited it. We all inherit some things that are advantageous and some that are not so favorable. Because we are complex animals, not robots. What is with the desire to analyze risk as though it is deserving of blame? Also, what do people think health insurance is FOR?? If you’re so goddamn healthy and have such low risk factors that you don’t think you’ll ever get sick, you apparently don’t need insurance anyway! But clearly you ARE more virtuous. (And please, everyone note that having a risk factor just means you have a slightly elevated chance of developing a health problem – not that you WILL get it, or that people who do not have that additional risk WON’T. You can have zero risk factors and still have a heart attack.)

    And of course, you know who costs everyone the most when it comes to insurance premiums? Those damn people who live the longest! Oh wait, those are “overweight” people. They ARE costing us more! By being so damn healthy!

  88. Volcanista,

    Having a hard time looking at your use of “you” and not taking it personal. I am unsure if you are attacking me– because for one I’m not virtuous nor was my post saying anything of the sort or attack you. It was actually pointing out a health care provider puts something else above being fat, meaning when people look at me any say “you cost us sooo much!”, I have ammunition–knowledge– to correct them. I apologize if you took it as some sort of attack rather than just information.

    And frankly when it comes to health insurance i don’t see if as a “are you healthy?” or “are you not?” if you need it. While California offers low income residents like myself free reproductive health care, a lot of places don’t. And we all know that if women aren’t having Pap Smears there is an increase in cost because what if cancer is there and no one knows until it’s “too late”. I see going to the doctor as preventative, same as when I take my car in. (if it’s “time” for a new timing belt, then lets put it in before the care stalls and I have total engine failure). My research has illuminated this as being the main factor with the whole “fat folks costs us more” myth– this meaning people not going to the doctor because of experience with size discrimination or fear of it. As we see on First, Do No Harm, it is the Size discrimination that leads folks to not see a doctor for YEARS, meaning no preventative measures (like the Pap). Educate more doctors (who us terms like “lazy” to describe us…) and nurses (who report being repulsed to the point of not wanting to touch fat patients) on the matter and hopefully ease the fear, “society placed guilt”, and overall tension of going to the doctor. I fail to see why only non-healthy people would need health insurance or health care, I feel we all need health services and should be seeing doctors annually if not more depending on the problem. Had I not returned to see another doctor, had I not at the time had the FREE health “insurance” to do so, after my experience with size discrimination in the clinic my HPV turned cervical cancer would have been larger. (the doctor never even told me what I had… so you can imagine how excited I was when I went to planned parenthood to figure my “health issue” out).

    We’re on the same team.

  89. Gin, I was agreeing with you! And adding more information! And I don’t really like to use “one” as a pronoun, because it’s awkward. I wasn’t being remotely personal.

  90. (Also, healthy people DO need health insurance, because anything can happen at any time. But people who are healthy with no apparent risk factors tend to complain about “unhealthy” people or people who DO have risk factors raising their premiums. I tell those people to STFU.)

  91. HA! I always have this problem when I see the “you” in comments and never know what to do outside of the “no no! we’re saying the same thing!!”.
    I, personally, am trying to get the “You Guys” out of my vocabulary right now which is hard when you teach college kids who use it. Being southern allows me the luxury to say “ya’ll” without sounding forced, but I’ve found my best “you” is to make it a “you all” and then say “folks”. “One” should only be used in papers by high school seniors, so i tooootally get you on that!

  92. (Just stuff a baby-flavored donut in their mouths and let them enjoy the sweet, yummy goodness…. they will join us… oh yes… they will…. ;-) )

  93. zestarrest, on March 20th, 2009 at 9:08 am Said:

    Sigh. Thought that you should see this:

    http://www.dlisted.com/node/31179#comments

    I’m devastated!

    Oh, that is just awful. She’s supposed to be a little kid, little kids have short bodies, and yes, often they have a little fat, because they actually need it to grow. Shameful.

    Sanity Watchers warning on about 50% of the ignorant comments on that page, btw.

  94. Adolescent girls who view themselves as too fat may display more suicidal behaviors than those who are actually overweight, according to a study by Inas Rashad

    This was my reading of the study’s results. It certainly rings true in my experience. You cannot weigh weight despair.

    But wriggles said this was why ze doesn’t think thin privilege EXISTS

    Nope, I’ll quote myself:

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe the concept of thin privilege WORKS Only one.

    Yes, thinness has become the required or preferential state, but the idea that fat people suffer the most and the thinnest the least that doesn’t hang together; IMHO.

    The concept of privilege, as I understand it, requires you to gain at least what you have lost by buying into it.

    sounds off to me. I don’t think you DO completely understand it.

    Note, I was defining an aspect of privilege .

    If you can be in receipt of privilege without any overall gain, that must be unique enough to point out, go on fillyjonk, just a link will do.

    Buying into it? What? You “buy into it” by being born into this society with all of those advantages, it’s not something you choose.

    The modern diet imperative/ obesity crisis doesn’t go back that far.

    To move your sense of worth from your basic humanity to your weight, is a loss that no ‘thin privilege’ that I can think of could compensate for.

    Thin people need to realise that this isn’t about being nice to fat people. Their own self worth is on the line.

    The point is though, this is appalling . Apart from Arwen, are any of us going to complain about this to anyone?

  95. wriggles, we are already under advisement not to go to great lengths to derail and explain 101 social justice concepts to you on this thread. I really think you’re not understanding how privilege works, period, not just thin privilege. And it just takes too much energy to have this argument AGAIN, FFS.

    And while the insane levels of the current diet push are pretty recent, the ideal of a thin body CERTAINLY goes back far enough that most people on this site were born and raised with that ideal quite central to their experience. Just ask most of the commenters here about their mothers’ attitudes about body size when they were small children. And if you move your sense of worth from your basic humanity to your weight, as you say, AND that move is predicated on the assumption that some weights are BETTER THAN OTHERS, there is a big difference in how that is experienced based on, you know, your WEIGHT. That’s pretty damn straightforward.

    Oh and keep being snarky to FJ, I’m sure that will turn out well.

  96. If you can be in receipt of privilege without any overall gain, that must be unique enough to point out, go on fillyjonk, just a link will do.

    Oh what? Let me list for you just a few of the things thin people “gain” just by being born with a different set of genes. They can:

    – get more moderately priced health insurance, or indeed get health insurance at all
    – raise children without fear that passing on their adipose-accumulation genes will lead to them being accused of child abuse and/or having their children taken away by the state
    – adopt children
    – fly without having to buy a second seat, or indeed fly at all
    – eat in public without judgment and/or abuse from every fuckwad with an opinion
    – buy fashionable clothes for reasonable prices
    – see the doctor without being told that ANY and EVERY ailment is due to their weight (regardless of the actual underlying cause)
    – get higher wages and better jobs than an equally-qualified fat person.

    And that is just off the top of my fucking HEAD. Jesus. What are you even doing here?

  97. Word, Caitlin. But I’d add that even if a thin person chooses not to get health insurance, have children, fly, eat in public, wear clothes, see a doctor, or seek employment, ze would STILL have thin privilege.

  98. Oh aye. Those were just the first examples that came to mind. There are about a million more, and most of them far more insidious and harmful.

  99. Having a HIGH STRESS LEVEL AND BOUTS WITH DEPRESSION ARE WORSE THAN BEING FAT when it comes to COSTS on the system.

    Well, one reason why depression might increase one’s medical costs is that depressed people tend to live longer. But I’m glad to see that sensible people/medical professionals do acknowledge that fatness in itself doesn’t increase your health care costs all that much. It’s really the confluence of behaviors (poor diet plus the lack of exercise) and health outcomes (high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides) — that most people associate with obesity — that makes the real difference.

  100. I think self-esteem IS a form of privilege. Obviously, a girl who thinks she deserves to live is better off than someone who doesn’t, just on that objective measure.

    But while self-loathing and the tyranny of diet culture can limit thin privilege, sometimes by a lot (particularly with interpersonal stuff), it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Building off Caitlin’s list: also, you can apply to rent an apartment or get into college without worrying that your weight will keep you out; you can place a personal ad without worrying that the person who shows up will be angry that you turned out not to be thin (I had a friend this happened to despite her going out of her way to accurately portray her body size before meeting); you can be reasonably certain that any concert, reading, lecture, or sporting event will have seats big enough to fit you; you can get together with a group in a restaurant and not worry that you won’t be able to fit in the booth; you can accompany your children in public without them requesting not to be seen with your big fat ass. I’m sure people who are much fatter than I am (BMI 40+) could make this list even longer.

  101. Meowser – your parents are more likely to treat you well and care about your health and self-esteem if you’re thin. Don’t forget that one. From pretty much day one, your weight can determine how your family decide to show their love.

  102. following Caitlin and Meowser-

    you can go to a hair salon and get the cut you want, and not their standard issue ‘fat woman hair cut’- I had murder with Toni &Guy as this was what happened to me.

    you can do your weekly shop without other people peering into your trolley and raising their eyebrows if there is anything in there other than veg.

    people won’t make the assumption that you are essentially asexual; or if they do accept your sexuality they won’t find it repulsive or humorous that you could experience sexual feelings.

    you could reasonably expect to have those sexual feelings reciprocated and not laughed at.

  103. Can I suggest that those with daughters teach them EXPLICITLY about what’s going to attack them as they grow up, rather than more indirect methods like improving their body image and telling them about diversity being a good thing.

    They need to know explicitly that the media and people they talk to are going to be trying to brainwash them (whether consciously or otherwise) into hating their bodies. Everything they see is going to be aimed at convincing them that a thinner body is better. They have to know that the healthy attitude is to be positive about your own body just like it is good to be patriotic about your own country, and they have to be taught to see the subtle body propaganda for what it is. How are they ever going to resist it if they don’t know that they are under attack? The persuasive brainwashing is subtle, relentless, and seems so REASONABLE when you first hear it because you’ve no idea the science is being misrepresented.

    Once you’ve been exposed to the idea that this is going on, it is a lot easier to see it and a lot easier to prevent yourself getting influenced by it. Surely we owe it to our children to be as clear as possible to them about the (certain) dangers they face?

  104. Meowser.

    I think self-esteem IS a form of privilege. Obviously, a girl who thinks she deserves to live is better off than someone who doesn’t, just on that objective measure.

    Indeed, my changing level of self esteem, as a fat woman has made such a difference to the way I feel that I no longer feel confident about assuming that thin people have more self esteem or are better off, which is what I just used to assume. In fact I was convinced, I saw evidence to the contrary, but I just felt like others that they were not realising the full gain out of the favouring of thinness.

    Now, I even wonder whether that thinness; at least for women, is actually real, or just a theoretical thin state that they can never access, even when they are actually thin.

    That might sound a bit strong, but things like this study are making me explore this thought.

    I used to assume it was collateral damage as well, but there’s just seems to be so much of it, that I don’t know whether it’s less than that of fat (women) or just different .

    I actually do feel better off compared to slim people who hate and loath their bodies. I know what it felt like to feel that way 24/7, the effects on me were physically as well as mentally debilitating in ways that I could not have understood previously.

    I also suspect that’s the case with other’s too, although my case might have been due to the interaction between my mind and body.

    Ironically it’s exposure to accepting myself that has given me more doubts.

    I’m sure people who are much fatter than I am (BMI 40+) could make this list even longer.

    I think this is in a way what I’m getting at, that differences in experience are as much about how fat you are, as they are between fat and thin. There is a difference between those who are less fat and those who are fatter, that might be greater than the former group and slim people.

    A lot of the things listed don’t apply to me anymore than they do a slim or inbetween person to be honest. (Some of them are more specific to the US).

    I know there are differences between the treatment and experiences of fat and thin, I’m very interested in fat people’s experiences, I’m just no longer convinced that thin does better than fat. Maybe they are just pinched in different places.

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