Whom we talk to when we talk about fat

I would really love to ignore PETA, just in general, and their latest fat-hating billboard in particular.

peta-save-the-whales

But there’s something about this one I haven’t yet seen addressed in the various denunciations of it*: the language. Specifically, that the “lose the blubber” bit is talking to fat people, but the “SAVE THE WHALES” bit is talking about us.

So it’s not only that it’s complete bullshit that vegetarianism = thinness, as the many fat vegetarians and vegans in this community know too well. It’s that they’re furthering the idea that thin people have a duty to stop fat people from being fat, even though the solution they propose could not remotely effect that change anyway. The point of the billboard, in theory, is to tell fat folks to go veg and “save” ourselves, one by one. But that’s not what it fucking says. It says “save the whales” — as if, once again, fat people are a problem to be solved, not actual individual human beings capable of caring for our own damn selves.

The following line might indicate that it’s a campaign aimed at fat people, suggesting that vegetarianism would make us thin and therefore improve our lives (both specious premises, even setting aside the wisdom of trying to appeal to a demographic by insulting it), but the overall message is clearly aimed at people who are not fat. People who hate, fear, and ridicule fat. People who, in their most “charitable” moments, assume we’re a bunch of ignorant slobs who need to be rescued from our own lack of discipline, because they can’t be bothered to think about fatness in anything but the most simplistic and prejudiced terms.

In other words, the language doesn’t make any fucking sense. If you’re talking about the “whales,” not to us, then there’s no way that a thin person’s individual decision to stop eating meat might “save” us. If you’re talking to us — “lose the blubber!” — then what the hell is the point of recycling a 40-year-old slogan that indicates fatties are not, in fact, whom you’re addressing?  “Whales, save yourselves” would have been far more logical — and clever, for that matter — if no less offensive.

So, basically, this billboard is not merely fat-hating and based on false premises, but completely nonsensical. And in its nonsense, it’s echoing a trend in most of the public discussions of fat, food, and health that take place in this culture — speaking about fat people as if we’re not in the fucking room and have nothing to say on the matter. As if we’re merely a problem for thin people to solve. The only time journalists and advertisers speak to us is when they’re trying to tell us how to lose weight. When they’re discussing THE OBESITY CRISIS in the abstract, then fat people ourselves get abstracted, too — every article and advertisement presumes that the reader/consumer is someone concerned about the existence of fat people, as though fat people aren’t part of the fucking audience.

Which is especially hilarious when half of these discussions start with a reminder that two-thirds of Americans technically qualify as “overweight” or “obese.” I suppose if only the thin third are reading newspapers, that might explain why the industry is dying, but I kinda doubt that’s the whole reason. We’re all just so used to the framing of fatness as “other” that no one bats an eye when people who are actually speaking to fatties only speak about and around us. So the assholes at PETA don’t even notice the logical inconsistency of a directive that goes, “Save the [other]“: “[Take action for yourself.]“

Not that I expect them to notice something that subtle, when they apparently haven’t noticed that fat vegetarians exist, that women are animals deserving of ethical treatment, that immigrants might have greater concerns than potential dietary changes, etc. I mean, railing against PETA is about as useful as railing against right wing radio hosts: There’s no cure for proud jackassery, so you might as well not waste your breath. That’s why in general, I choose to ignore them. But there are a lot of other people out there playing the same game this billboard plays, of humiliating and othering fat people while pretending to be offering us health advice. And some of those people, unlike the PETA folks, might actually have an interest in not being reprehensible fuckwits.

So to them, I say: Fat people are listening when you speak. We read papers and watch news and listen to the radio. We are your fucking audience – two-thirds of it, anyway. So if you’re really so concerned for us, you might try talking to us. You might try recognizing that you are addressing the very people you’re writing about, instead of gearing all of your remarks toward some imaginary audience of The Thin and Deeply Concerned.

I’d suggest that you try listening to us, too, but that might just be too much.

*Note: I started this post a couple of days ago, so people might have made this point 100 times since then. I’m making it again anyway.

191 thoughts on “Whom we talk to when we talk about fat

  1. *applause!*

    Thanks for pointing that out. I had something approaching the same thought, but I could not have put it as well.

  2. I wrote an email to PETA telling them what I thought of the billboard and what I would like them to do about it. I got a reply today, but it would make a very long comments post. Would anyone like to see it?

  3. YES!!! I actually wrote to PETA complaining about this and it seems they already have an automated response to negative letters clearly directed at this campaign:

    Hello,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on PETA’s “Lose the Blubber”
    billboard. We apologize for any offense we may have caused; that was not our intent. We agree that a world where self-esteem is unrelated to body size would be a wonderful place. Our aim is not to insult people who are overweight but to persuade them to make a simple, positive change for their health.

    While many people have found our billboard humorous, we take obesity very seriously. We want to encourage overweight people to go vegetarian to protect their health. Researchers have found that a higher body mass index is associated with a greater risk of premature death from all causes. For example, according to the American Heart Association, obesity contributes to heart disease, America’s number one cause of death. The American Dietetic Association says that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity than meat-eaters do.

    Studies have shown that “weight loss” diets don’t work long-term-but
    going vegetarian does.
    [Gee, is this like suggesting a lifestyle change?] Studies published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the New England Journal of Medicine have found that vegetarians are far less likely to be overweight than meat eaters are. By encouraging people who want to lose weight to go vegetarian instead of resorting to unhealthy diets, we hope to offer them a choice that the multimillion-dollar diet industry won’t give them: a long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.

    Certainly not every single vegetarian is at a healthy weight, as some
    have suggested our billboard implies, but there are many more
    meat-eaters who are obese and unhealthy. For most people, eating
    vegetarian meals is an effective way to achieve and maintain a healthy
    weight. But weight loss isn’t the only reason to try a vegetarian diet;
    we also promote going vegetarian as a great way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of many diseases. For most people, a vegetarian diet is an effective prevention strategy.

    Our billboard is just one of the many ways that PETA promotes healthy vegetarian living. Other efforts include distributing free copies of our “Vegetarian Starter Kit,” hosting free public food tastings, offering meal plans and thousands of meat-free recipes at
    http://www.VegCooking.com , and educating people about the meat industry’s disregard for animal welfare (http://www.GoVeg.com/factoryFarming.asp) and its devastating effect on the environment (http://www.GoVeg.com/environment.asp).

    To read more about how obesity can be addressed by going vegetarian, please go to http://www.GoVeg.com/obesity.asp. To read vegetarian weight-loss success stories, please visit
    http://www.GoVeg.com/f-veganweightloss.asp. You can order a free
    “Vegetarian Starter Kit” for yourself or a friend at http://www.GoVeg.com/order.asp to learn even more.

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and for giving us the
    opportunity to share ours.

    Sincerely,

    The PETA Staff

    (All emphasis mine.)

    Yeah, ’cause making fun of fat people is SO funny! They also fail to mention that among female teenage vegetarians, there is a very increased instance of eating disorders. Being at a “healthy” weight doesn’t exclude an eating disorder.

    I have plenty of respect for people who choose to be vegetarian, but it’s not something that would ever be the right choice for me. I need more variety in my proteins than is easily available from a vegetarian or vegan diet.

  4. THANK YOU. That’s been bothering me about this through the whole dustup – I couldn’t figure out exactly who it was supposed to be aimed at, the fats or the others, for those very reasons.

  5. I can never understand who PETA thinks their audience IS, anymore. They’re surely aware they’ve alienated vast swathes of the populace already, but seem intent on outrageousness for its own sake.

  6. Maybe I’m presuming too much of the intelligence of PETA ad campaign creators, but I think they noticed the disconnect between addressing thin people then switching to addressing fatties, but decided to do it anyway because they wanted to use some cute slogan and the desire to shame fat people trumped the grammatical imperative of avoiding faulty parallelism. (Though I agree, Kate’s “Whales, Save Yourselves” is cleverer.)

    Also, there’s the implication that thin people, unless you want to become fat and be treated like a whale, go vegetarian. Or: thin people, you have blubber and are one cheeseburger away from becoming a whale, so if you don’t want to be like those disgusting gross people (bc that would the teh wrost thing evr!!!) you better do everything in your power to distance yourselves from them by not eating meat. It’s like an extra layer of fat fear and othering, a way to keep fat people taboo and thin people kosher and not touching the fatties.

  7. Threnody,

    HELL YES please tag it up!

    PS–I freaking hate PETA, always have. Their SVP is an insulin-dependent diabetic who wants to prevent OTHERS from getting animal-produced insulin, but she justifies HER using it because “that way she’ll stay alive to save millions of more animals.” Note that like most religious cults, the leadership carves out exceptions for themselves because they’re doing the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Sacred Work or whatever.

    AIDS/cancer patients who need drugs based on animal research models? Fuck ‘em, all we have to do is eat wheatgrass like the pretty horsies and we’ll never ever get icky diseases like cancer or AIDS (sidenote: If I wear a face filter and eat krill like a whale, will that make me able to hold my breath underwater for an hour)?

    As someone who would be dead a few times over (and/or missing a leg) without modern, next-generation antibiotics, all I can say is that I didn’t think it was possible for me to hate PETA more but now I do.

  8. Thank you for this, Kate!

    The blatant ignorance and hatred of that billboard made my head asplode.I’m looking forward to the righteous rage that will occur in this thread and elsewhere in the fatosphrere.

  9. @threnody: let me guess– “our extreme tactics are worth it if we can save an animal’s life, and until animals are treated better than women by society, we will keep doing it”

  10. You always express what I’m thinking so much better than I can! I guess that’s why you’re a writer and I’m not.

    I don’t think anyone seeing this ad will walk away with the message that being a vegetarian will help animals. Isn’t PETA’s goal to help animals?. It is just reinforcing the message that fat is bad, so do whatever not to be fat.

    Ah well, it’s only PETA and I don’t know of anyone who takes them seriously anyway.

  11. The last paragraph of this is so ace. It’s what we should be shouting from the rooftops. WE ARE HERE AND WE MATTER.

  12. Thank you for writing this. I put the picture on my blog. I have no words for these people. They are for protecting animals but being hateful to human beings. I do not understand the logic. But who ever said that Peta was logical these days. And yes I would love to see the response!

  13. When they’re discussing THE OBESITY CRISIS in the abstract, then fat people ourselves get abstracted, too — every article and advertisement presumes that the reader/consumer is someone concerned about the existence of fat people, as though fat people aren’t part of the fucking audience.

    Because we’re treated as a hive mind. All fat people think the same and act the same, no consideration is taken into us as individual human beings and other factors that shape each and every one of us. We’re all overating, non-exercising, resource-sucking, cost-rising monsters.

  14. This ad campaign bother me to no end. Thanks Kate for explaining why so smartly.

    When I first saw this billboard, I said “Oh look, another headless fatty”. While I had suspected that PETA hated humans before the ad, that fact that this campaign was aimed at 2/3s of the American population just proved it for me. It really shows their own monovision that only deepens my uncomfortable feelings about PETA.

    I guess the thing that PETA doesn’t realize is, that because they used a picture of a non-person (aka Headless Fatty), the ad further alienates and distances our concern for actual whales. But even worse, it perpetuates the belief that all we fatties need to do to be “thin” is eat a salad. Nevermind the actual facts and research that says otherwise.

    On a side note…that woman is rocking that polka dot swimsuit!

  15. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years, and this ad campaign is so damn offensive it makes me want to go out and eat a big steak, just so I won’t be associated with these tools.

    Aargh.

  16. I am a strict vegetarian and I am almost as fat as that billboard. When I was vegan for several months I GAINED weight from eating all those beans and nuts to meet my protein requirement. My sister’s best friend is a strict vegetarian and is exactly as fat as that billboard.

    My primary beef (haha pun lolz) with PETA is not their shitty attitudes towards women, etc. (though that’s huge), but that they undermine their own message. For every person that goes veggie because of them, there are probably a dozen that don’t because they associate animal rights with PETAs jackassery. Any time I try to explain to someone (who asks why I’m veggie) why animal cruelty matters, they make PETA jokes and shut off their brains.

    Me: “Well, you see, chickens are kept their whole lives stuffed into these tiny ‘battery cages’ with a bunch of other birds, and sometimes they even die of suffocation and get left there to rot for profit margins…”
    Friend (interrupting): “Oh yeah like that fucking PETA Holocaust ad. Man that was fucked up! The problem with you people is that you think animals are more important than people!”
    Me: “…”

    Also they’ve made statements that all pit bulls should be euthanized. Fuck off, PETA.

  17. I get distracted here because, in fact, blubber is a useful, important thing to whales. Vital, in fact. (It’s also a useful thing to people, which is one reason they’re been extensively hunted, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    Whales live because they are fat. Blubberless whales are non-insulated whales, and non-insulated whales are hypothermic whales, and hypothermic whales are dead.

    It’s like telling me to give up my big fluffy sweaters, goretex, thermacheck, faux down stuffed jacket, and felt mittens in February. Save yourself! Go naked into the blizzard!

    So I get all distracted by that, and by the time I’ve finished that train of thought, I just find the campaign dull. If you must insult fat people, be original, folks.

  18. Fat people are listening when you speak. We read papers and watch news and listen to the radio. We are your fucking audience – two-thirds of it, anyway.

    *Wild Applause*

  19. “In other words, the language doesn’t make any fucking sense. “

    *snort*
    You’re assuming this is something that matters to a propagandist?
    The monosyllabic muttering at PETA didn’t just start this morning.

  20. I’m confused…..is PETA an organization that works for the ethical treatment of animals? Or are they working to wipe out OMGZ TEH OBESITY EPIDEMIC?

    That letter totally detracts from their cause…someone needs to tell them that NOW!

  21. (sidenote: If I wear a face filter and eat krill like a whale, will that make me able to hold my breath underwater for an hour)?

    All I have time to say right now is: Jenonymous, this made me laugh like nobodies business!

  22. On a side note…that woman is rocking that polka dot swimsuit!

    Hah! That’s exactly what I thought. So minus a million points, PETA, for resorting to tired old fat-hating tropes, but minus several billion more for doing so with an image that this member of your target demographic, at least, thinks is pretty smokin’ (and therefore unlikely to send me into a haze of self-hatred and vegetarian dieting despair).

    I’m probably not going to eat any less meat, but I am gonna go find myself a pink polka-dot bikini now.

  23. Which is especially hilarious when half of these discussions start with a reminder that two-thirds of Americans technically qualify as “overweight” or “obese.” [...] We’re all just so used to the framing of fatness as “other” that no one bats an eye when people who are actually speaking to fatties only speak about and around us.

    …and they reinforce this to use pictures of people like, oh, ME to illustrate studies and pronouncements on people who are overweight or slightly obese because if they admitted that only 5% of Americans are in the “death fat” category they might have problems justifying the panic.

    Meems – It’s a wonder PETA’s statement didn’t say fat vegetarians would be FATTER if they weren’t vegetarians.

  24. Thanks for this! Glad the grammar angle was a part of your response, too. As an old teacher of mine liked to say, “To write clearly is to think clearly.” And, clearly, PETA* doesn’t think too much.

    *or as they like to put it, “PeTA,” for some stupid reason.

    [][]
    On a more serious note, the “third-person fattie” is an excellent insight, and one I’ll continue to chew on, hardy har, as I read some of these obesity-scare stories.

  25. I know! That entire campaign is a hot, stinking mess of phail.

    Then again, considering the carefully crafted mass response to the response PETA has come out with, I’m not surprised. As an organization, failure to logic is epidemic in PETA.

  26. It’s a skeezy “persuasive” tactic. Make people scared or upset (or insecure), they are more likely to do what you are telling them to do. It’s along the lines of telemarketing and debt collecting.

  27. Here’s the thing. Columnists and opinionators don’t speak directly TO fat people because they truly adn most sincerely believe that fat people are, in fact, not reading, because fat people are stupid and illiterate. See, anyone with two IQ points to rub together would know that eating less and exercising more makes you thin, and would have the sense to just do it, and therefore would be thin.

    Fatness is associated with lower class and nonwhite skin, and, whether consciously or subconsciously, the opinionocracy doesn’t think very much of those groups’ intelligence and literacy.

  28. The one good thing that came out of this ad for me was a comment today from a co-worker who has slowly been listening and contributing to my rants/discussions about Fat Crisis BOOGA! crap.

    Co-worker: “Did you see that ad from PETA?”
    Me: “The one about save the whales, lose the blubbler?”
    Co-worker: “Yeah! I mean…but that woman isn’t even FAT!”

    Which, while admittedly kinda missing some of the point of why the billboard sucks all kinds of rotten krill, was a bit of a head-nod in the right mental direction for a woman who has spent the entire time I’ve known her dieting to “not be fat”.

    I think a better tag-line for the image in that ad would be something along the lines of:

    “Save the worry…for some other day! Today, you and that pink polka dot bikini are going to rock that beach!”

    Or…well I fail at snazzy jingles but I’m sure someone else has something good to add ;)

  29. I am a vegetarian and I am fat. It’s true that when I first stopped eating meat (which was not to lose weight, I hasten to add) I lost about 15 pounds rather quickly, but then as my body adjusted to my new eating habits, my weight came back up to about what it was before.

    I’m mostly ranting just to rant – I have nothing to say that is going to be original or insightful. I apologize for this, but I feel that:

    PETA makes all animal welfare activists look like assholes. They manage to offend so many with their preaching and sensationalistic campaigns/publicity stunts. At the same time, they do put out some helpful info for people who are trying to be more compassionate in the choices they make. But, every time something like this comes out I just cringe. I love animals ( and people too! ) and I hate being insulted by fellow animal lovers just so that they can get some more publicity. Also, in my opinion, they are taking a pretty serious issue, and the campaign that was built up to bring awareness to this issue, and kinda crapping on it. Saving actual whales is pretty important stuff.

    And though I’ve tried to block it out, I’m fairly certain that some schmuck made a Save the Whales crack at me when I was young. Seeing the slogan used in this context, in billboard size even, is a little traumatic. And a lot hurtful.

    F.U. PETA.

    and thanks SP and Shapelings for giving me a safe place to say all of that :)

  30. Thank you for this post. You brought up a point I hadn’t even thought about when reading this ridiculous billboard. Yeah, quit talking about us as if we aren’t in the room. Talk TO US. I assure you, we can handle it.

  31. @Qbertina — I think you’re right about the “opinionocracy.” I wish that *didn’t* ring true for me, but it does indeed.

    It’s kinda like, when you read NYTimes “trend” pieces, it’s as if presume their readers are all upper-middle-class people who live in ye olde major metropolitan areas. I paraphrase: “‘YOUR’ nanny might be poisoning your kids with non-organics!”

    What I mean is, it makes sense that the commentariat (brainwashed-ly) imagines their readership to be thin, or at least fat-phobic, just as they seem imagine that their readers have certain types of class and ethnicity privilege.

    (Does this comment stray too far off-topic? If so, my apologies — I’m kinda new to this site and might be getting over-enthusiastic.)

  32. Go Kate! In all the teeth-gnashery about this billboard, I haven’t seen anyone make a comment quite of this nature. It feels good to have that ‘othering’ effect pointed out. I think some intent behind it is that “oh no, YOU, person in the audience, YOU are okay. It’s all THOSE OTHER PEOPLE that suck and have problems… so here’s what we must do about THEM” *dramatic chord* …because it’s easier to get people on board with an idea if it’s all about THEM and not all about YOU.

    …and I’m just getting all… spitty, reading the PETA boilerplate response. Myself, I’ve made an executive moral decision to remain an omnivore, and I strive to be a responsible one. I think some of my bristling at the idea of going veg is related to the teenage vegetarian/eating disorder link. I’ve got a dear friend who has a semi-veg diet, and while half of it is due to allergic restrictions, the other half strikes me as controlling and food-phobic. Her cooking is delicious and I’m eager for her to teach me how to make more neat dishes. I just wish she’d stop getting riled up about how meat is poison that will end us all. I can’t help but feel that she’s judging ME when she’s off judging everyone else, even though she’s nothing but sweet and kind to me.

  33. @Lynn and Qbertina: I think part of it has to do with the othering that is illustrated in the ad: fat ppl have been made so “other”, that they couldn’t possibly be part of our audience. Being fat is for “other” people, not for you good listeners/viewers/readers out there.

  34. @Regina T- No, no, don’t you see? PETA is working for the ethical treatment of animals BY stopping the OMGZ OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!1!

    Go with me on this: All us fat fat fatties are so OMGZOBESE because we eat all day, every day, non-stop, right? And what are we eating? The animals! All of them!

    It’s true! What do you think happened to the dinosaurs? Fatties ate them all. Endangered species? Those are the creatures we are currently snacking on. You know all those Headless Fatties on the news about the OMGZ EPIDEMIC? They never show their heads, because each fatty is at the very moment of filming stuffing a whole zebra or water buffalo into his/her mouth. If everyone knew that the DETHFATZ get that way by eating the contents of an entire zoo every day, instead of by being bad and undisciplined, the diet industry and society itself would be destroyed!

    So you see, by preventing us fatties from eating all the world’s animals, PETA will cure TEH OBESITY EPIDEMIC! And save the world! Also, being vegetarian/vegan makes you thin and sexy, so all the thin and sexy ladies can come to the PETA Bikini Jello Wrestling event which is completely respectful of women and will somehow help animals.

  35. <em"As if we’re merely a problem for thin people to solve. The only time journalists and advertisers speak to us is when they’re trying to tell us how to lose weight. When they’re discussing THE OBESITY CRISIS in the abstract, then fat people ourselves get abstracted, too"

    This is true, and incredibly insightful, and not something I’d really put my finger on, given that I try to mostly ignore media coverage of fatness to spare my sanity.

    I wonder if it could be because, even if 2/3 of their audience are considered overweight and above, most of those people are self-hating enough to 1) accept the message non-critically, and 2) to even be actively abstracting themselves.

    Which is to say, a lot of fat people might believe that being fat is not their “real” identity — it is something other, even when it is a part of their daily physical and social experience. The Thin Person Inside and all that.

    Which gets me thinking — fat acceptance is not just accepting the fact that your weight may never change, but it’s the willingness to incorporate that physical fact into your identity as a whole person. The willingness to not violently divorce yourself from your body at every verbal and mental and social opportunity.

    Or perhaps it just means it’s time for me to switch to decaf.

  36. So, PETA people are all thin? Is that what the ad is supposed to make us believe? Do they believe it themselves? It is a stupid and mean-spirited billboard. It moralizes (falsely, to boot) thin/vegetarian into “good and worthy” and fat/carnivorous into “bad and unworthy.” Great job in showing, in your post, all the ways in which it the whole premise is stupid and mean-spirited.

  37. Wow, I’m naive, I thought the campaign was about actual whales. I could see PETA-logic (which is not like earth logic) that a healthy environment is good for whales, that more people eating vegetarian is better for the environment, and that fatties would make a bigger difference than anyone else. Still insulting, but I honestly thought they were being insulting on behalf of aquatic whales.

  38. So, if 2/3rds of this country qualify as “overweight” AND there was a study just released that showed that Americans are living longer than ever, what’s the bloody problem? I think a majority constitutes “normal” in this case, don’t you? And if we’re living longer than ever, then apparently teh death fat isn’t killing this country off.

    Grrrrrrrrrr.

  39. Meems – looks like we got a form letter! That’s exactly what mine said! I’m glad that you were able to post it since I got called away from the computer to do work….grrrr.

  40. When I first saw the picture, I thought that the logic was something like: going vegetarian is good for the environment, and if it’s good for the environment it’s good for endangered whales, so going vegetarian will in some way save whales. Then I had to sit for a minute and think if there is a direct correlation between, I don’t know, overgrazing land and harming whales….and then I realized that I was giving PETA too much credit: “save the whales” is just name calling, isn’t it? Their response letter posted above doesn’t mention any specific concern for whales, at any rate.

    Thanks, Kate, for explaining the confusion that the lack of parallel between the two lines put me in.

  41. I have a very close family member who is visiting from T.O., one who is slightly slenderer than I am but who has been dieting since my earliest memory. There’s very little positive she has to say about herself, really, ever.

    So I talked a bit about HAES with her, since she’s on the weight gain side right now and might be more into it. I crushed a soap box to powder with all the same conviction of selling a new diet.

    And I think the Fat Nutritionist has got it spot on. My family member sees fat as something happening to her thin self. This is exactly the sort of message that reinforces that, divorces a person from themselves – obvy they’re passing a message to you, the possible new veggie convert, but your fat self is OTHER, not really you. It’s crazymaking.

  42. Jenonymous – I’m curious as to your screen name. Where does it come from? (My middle name is Jenon).

  43. Yes, Kate, thank you.

    And FatNutritionist–I agree. The idea that “my fat is not me” it is something that is happening to me–definitely. Thus, the whole, “I got my [real] body back” trope we see everywhere.

  44. Amen, Kate!
    Not only is PETA degrading people (yet again), they made me AGREE WITH FOX NEWS!!!!!!! Some of their anchors found this ad insulting, and I must concur.
    Damn you, PETA!!!!!!!!

  45. Kate, brilliant point about the othering of fat people! I agree with Lampdevil that part of what’s going on in the third-person discourse is due to a misguided and frankly offensive sense of politeness. Fat people are “other,” not just because they’re so scary and non-human, but also because being fat is such a horrifying thing that we would NEVER EVER assume it of any of the lovely and intelligent people we’re talking to! I’m reminded of an exchange between Dwight and Michael on The Office that went something like this:

    Dwight: Maybe you should just assume everyone’s gay and not say anything offensive.
    Michael: Oh yeah, Dwight, I’m sure everyone would love it if I treated them like they were gay.

    Part of the reason people feel comfortable being offensive in public statements about obesity–or at least clinical and impersonal–is that there’s an unspoken sense that it wouldn’t be polite to assume the people you’re talking to could be fat. That would be (gasp!) *insulting* them. If you say offensive things about fat people, on the other hand, then it sounds like you think your audience must be thin, which is of course a high compliment.

  46. I suggest PETA break their smug vegan stance to EAT ME. 85% kill rate at PETA run shelters. ‘Cuz killing animals for your convenience is okay as long as you don’t eat them. They fill me with the fury of one million burning suns!

  47. @FatNutritionist — I just long-handed your paragraphs 4 and 5 into my journal.
    @Jenny — another excellent insight.

    Now, backing away from the internets … thanks to Kate & everyone.

  48. Well it is a good thing that all PETA members are thin and that they only get donations from thin people because this could really hurt their cause!

  49. Thanks for this, Kate. The preaching-to-the-Worthy-Thin-about-the-Lamentably-Fat thing really grates my cheese big time. I’ve pointed it out to numerous journos, editors and radio talk-show hosts that fat people are listeners/readers/ consumers too and yet it never so much as makes a ripple.

    I think it somehow ties in with the view that only 5 fat people in the entire world didn’t “choose” to be fat. The rest of us are just so so dumb, irresponsible and morally bankrupt we couldn’t possibly have taken time out from shovelling deep-fried butter down our pie-holes to learn how to read.

  50. @threnody, yeah, it read as a form letter to me when I got it. But the fact that they even have a form letter shows the sheer volume of negative mail they’ve gotten about these ridiculous billboards.

  51. Hey, PETA: I’m a vegan, and I’m fat! What the hell happened?

    Kate’s comments remind me of a WTF moment I had not too long ago — having drinks with two friends, a guy and a gal. The gal was attempting to set up the guy with one of her friends, and the guy asked the Required question, ‘is she fat?’ I’m like, dude, I’m RIGHT HERE. You’ve known me for, like, twenty years. It just didn’t occur to him to class me in with the fat that he feared, because the fat that he feared was OTHER. Never was it more clear to me that ‘fat’ is some kind of code word for something aside from actual fatness.

    The final irony, to me, of the PETA ad is that by ‘saving the whales’ (i.e., becoming magically thin via vegetarianism), we are actually KILLING the whales, because then we would no longer be ‘whales.’ So WTF are we supposed to be ‘saving?’

    I’m of the opinion that PETA is not really interested in animal welfare, they are only interested in profiting from the Springerization of the media — i.e., shock value to raise their own profile. If they really cared about animal welfare, they wouldn’t be advocating vegetarian diets for cats (vegetarian diets kill cats, who are obligate carnivores).

  52. Saying that PETA has done/said something offensive is like saying rain is wet. So I have a hard time getting angry about this. I have to admit though, I’d like to meet some of the people who work for that organization. Do they hide the crazy well, and so their office appears normal? Doubtful–they must be amazing, but not in a good way. I can’t believe after years of doing this sort of thing, they still think offending people is a good way to get their message across.

  53. Twenty years ago I was purchasing some groceries fron the local coop and a fellow shopper asked me a question about vegetarian cooking. I answered her question and then she looked at me and said” I didn’t know there were fat vegetarians”. I guess we haven’t progressed very far. I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons. I must still be fat because I didn’t do it for my health.

  54. In the 7 years that I was a vegetarian, I was not thin.

    I was a teenage vegetarian swimmer. I was not thin. I was maybe a clothing size or two smaller than I am now, as a non-vegetarian-who-still-doesn’t-eat-meat-that-often.

    I’m sure some people do lose weight when they stop eating meat. I’m just as sure that some people stay exactly the same and some may even gain weight. I can’t imagine why, except that little thing called WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS AND DO NOT REACT IDENTICALLY TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES. *ahem* Was I shouting again? Sorry.

    On a side note, I fucking hate PETA. Obvious reasons include their ads and their misogyny. Less obvious reasons include their domestic-terrorism-style actions (I heard a story about a woman who ran a rehab kennel for a specific kind of working breed of dogs to train them to perform the duties they were bred for and then find them homes where they could do these things and PETA vandalized her kennel and let many of the dogs free because they didn’t think that animals should be trained to work. Now I’m all for pampering your pet – lord knows I do exactly that – but most dogs are happiest performing the duties that they were bred to do. My urban Min Pin is happiest when she gets to chase a squirrel because her breed was originally bred to hunt rodents. I digress.), which give people like me, who believe in animal rights, a bad name as some sort of psychopath. I also hate their stance on pit bulls – they want to see the breed banned and put euthanasia programs in place. They make over $30 million a year but their “shelters” euthanize about 80% of the animals that come in – I worked at a Humane Society shelter that had far less revenue and the euthanasia rate was MUCH lower. It was well under half, and those were compassionate killings – for illness or temperament issues that couldn’t be solved. I can’t believe that 80% is because of compassionate euthanasia. Certainly not when they easily have enough money to provide care that small shelters can’t afford.*

    I’m going to go snuggle with my rescued dog now.

    *Longest “side note” EVER. Sorry. :)

  55. I made the same mistake as a couple of you guys and read, “lose weight and save the planet,” not “lose weight and save the fatties.” They both make no sense at all!

  56. I am not a vegetarian. But I wish I were just so I could organize protests/pickets outside of their offices and near these billboards.

    Will PETA ever get a clue?

  57. why don’t they just put up “If you are the fats you hate the cats”? PETA is completly rude and offensive with this ad and I read it no other way than
    to insult women and my body. when Fox News presents a dietician who starts by yelling at the BOY from PETA that the ad was demeaning to women, you know PETA has problems.

    still recall with glee the time I phoned them to ask what I should feed my cat because he needed to eat lamb and i was conflicted because I had to participate in the killing to feed my cat. they just babbled.

  58. It’s rude and insulting towards us, then on top of it, I get lumped in with these people everytime anyone finds out I’m a vegetarian.

    When I became a vegetarian 5 years ago, we discussed it in one of my classes when we covered culture and the first thing anyone said was, “Are you doing it to lose weight?” So thanks a fucking lot PETA, now everyone thinks I’m an asshole, who makes a lifestyle change to lose weight rather than because of my convictions. Go to hell.

  59. Maybe it’s just me, but my first thought was “Oh, great, so now PETA is telling me that if I go in the ocean I’m going to displace enough water to kill a whale..”

    Then I realized they were referring to me as a whale– which would explain why I have barnacles and a sudden craving for plankton.

  60. I get distracted here because, in fact, blubber is a useful, important thing to whales.

    Exactly! Save the whales, lose the blubber? How long are the whales going to last without it?

    LEARN TO BIOLOGY AND WRITING

  61. I read an article about PETA recently. According to the article, when PETA endorses a company they take a small percentage of the profits, and then they run the competitor into the ground.

    In my opinon I don’t see now PETA is any different than any other corporate entity when it comes to dealing in suspicious business practices. They have lost a lot of credibility in my eyes.

    An organization to armed for the purpose of preventing animal cruelty has no business telling overweight people they need to be saved. Really, who supports them anymore besides the celebrities that pose for their advertizement’s.

  62. “On a side note…that woman is rocking that polka dot swimsuit!”

    YES.

    I was a vegetarian for seven years. I convinced myself that it was for animal rights purposes, but in reality in was just another form of restrictive eating, a symptom of my eating disorder. The other day I overheard my boss telling someone that his about-to-be-wed 22 year-old daughter was going vegan “because she had recently gained some weight.” Now, I don’t have anything against vegetarianism and veganism. I went back to being an omnivore because of health reasons. One problem with the vege/vegan fad is that it has become another form of disordered eating for some people. For a self-sufficient adult who has the time and money to figure out how not to eat meat in a healthy way, it can work great. For an adolescent whose brain is not fully developed and who has limited funds and resources, it can become less healthful, even harmful. It can become the first seemingly healthy step on a slippery slope to more and more restriction.

    On a side note, I think the current trend toward a gluten-free diet * could also become a gateway to disordered eating. When I saw that whatshernameMcCainlover from The View had written a book on gluten-free eating, I wanted to vomit. It’s like “You can be as pretty and thin as ME if you severely restrict your eating!” Glurp.

    *I recognize that people with Celiac disease are medically required to eat a gluten-free diet. This comment is focused on people who take this approach who physically don’t need it.

  63. If we’re supposed to not want to be the fat chick in the bikini, maybe they shouldn’t have drawn her to be so completely HAWT! I wonder how many people are driving/walking by the board and thinking “yum!”

  64. PETA remains high-profile, I think, because they remain the go-to animal rights/animal welfare group for mainstream media. I’ve an hypothesis that this is true because batshit is what the MSM *want* from AR, because otherwise folks might well take animal welfare and rights seriously and that would harm the bottom line.

  65. why don’t they just put up “If you are the fats you hate the cats”?

    I laughed at that. Snorted right out loud. Maybe it’s a sign there’s something wrong with me. Or maybe I read too much Dr. Seuss as a child.

  66. I’m vegan despite PETA, not because of them. Their attitude annoys me and if they were around back in the day when I was considering going veg*n, they might actually have put me off. That billboard is disgraceful. And it’s stupid too. Anyone who goes veg*n in some foolhardy attempt to lose weight is only going to change his or her ethical situation, not the size of his or her body. Veg*nism is generally healthier than meat-eating because (again, generally) eating plant-based foods is better than eating animal derivatives. Plant-based foods are higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and lower in cholesterol than meat-based ones. But any change, up or down, on one’s weight is beside the point, just as it is in HAES… In conclusion, PETA’s aims might be virtuous but the end does not justify the means.

  67. Gah! I’m not sure there’s anything more to say about this, but I had to chime in and point and say, argh! Yes! What she (they all!) said!

  68. Apologies if this has already been said somewhere in here, but I feel the need to point out some very soft logic in PETA’s response letter: “Certainly not every single vegetarian is at a healthy weight, as some have suggested our billboard implies, but there are many more meat-eaters who are obese and unhealthy.” Perhaps. But that’s because there are many, many more meat-eaters than there are vegetarians in this country. Are we talking numbers or percentages here? Is the PERCENTAGE of fat meat-eaters versus thin meat-eaters any higher than the PERCENTAGE of fat vegetarians versus thin?

    Anyway, none of this is really the point – I just hate it when organizations spew flimsy science to support their bigotry. This ad is, obviously, disgusting and dehumanizing in ways that have been pointed out beautifully so far in this post and the response thread.

    I will say this, though: whenever I see a cautionary ad that features an OMGAPOCALYPTICALLYOBESE woman, I always find myself thinking how lovely she looks before I realize, with dismay, that I’m supposed to be laughing at/fearing becoming her. That bikini looks awesome on her! Beach party! Makes me wanna gather all my friends for a renegade chunky dunk.

  69. PETA is a bunch of media whores who don’t care about animals at all, only about making more money. They are criminals and fools and do much to discredit the environmental movement.

  70. “They make over $30 million a year..”

    That’s a lot of cash, whatever they are doing seems to be working because they have been pulling this crap for years and are pulling in cash like that? I’m a big time meat eater and nothing would make me stop, especially junk like this.

    The “other” thing Kate wrote about was an interesting take. Good job Kate.

  71. Feministing had a great piece about this too: http://www.feministing.com/archives/017289.html

    I agree the language is confusing but I wouldn’t think too deeply about what they meant. After all, I don’t think they did!

    Being PETA, I think they were talking about saving actual cetaceans as much as fat people. They thought it was a clever pun, which of course it isn’t.

  72. Kate, even though I mostly lurk and rarely comment, I cannot thank you enough for clarifying and putting into words why this ad campaign fails on so many more levels than it initially appears to do. PETA’s official response claiming that they are trying to “help” people by encouraging them to become vegetarians is completely lost in this insulting mess. As an illustrator, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to re-draw and turn this into something positive… but am completely stumped on how to turn a headless fatty compared to a flabby whale into a different message.
    I can hardly wait for the Pig and Cow versions!

  73. You just put your finger on exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out how to say about this stupid billboard. I think I was so flustered by everything about it that the linguistics fail was just extra dissonance. :)

  74. I don’ t know why this still shocks me, but the people defending this billboard are doing so on the grounds that fat people are unhealthy and disgusting. I’m willig to bet that most consider themselves “progressive”.

  75. Dear @ Amanda –
    Oh no, no, no, no, no! Peta would NEVER have thin women in bikinis jello-wrestling!…. AGAR wrestling, dear – agar wrestling!

  76. @ Gwenny

    Speaking as a professional phone sex operator, I beg you not to use the term “whore” to lump sex workers in with PeTA. The things we do and/or talk about for money are a lot more fun and always consensual.

    (/straight face off)

  77. Also, this:

    Also, there’s the implication that thin people, unless you want to become fat and be treated like a whale, go vegetarian. Or: thin people, you have blubber and are one cheeseburger away from becoming a whale, so if you don’t want to be like those disgusting gross people (bc that would the teh wrost thing evr!!!) you better do everything in your power to distance yourselves from them by not eating meat. It’s like an extra layer of fat fear and othering, a way to keep fat people taboo and thin people kosher and not touching the fatties.

    whom I think may be the intended audience for those doing the “talking past”. A group of people being used as an example — to be spoken about, but not spoken to.

    (Kind of like bullying and ostracism in high school. Or college. Or … *sigh*)

    Which gives particularly the last parts of your post that much more urgency, IMO.

  78. @liz Most Excellent!! You’ve really transformed this into a HAES message yet kept the same look (Photoshop?) The HAES listserv I belong to posted a link to your work too, and now that I’ve had a chance to open all my email I’ve seen it twice today! thanks

  79. My family is vegetarian and has been vegetarian 15 years. We dislike PETA since we find them to be extremists: this adds to it. I’ve gained weight since I’ve become vegetarian and my man is still big – the death fat, big. I believe vegetarian and vegans to be healthier than the average meat eater, but I don’t think weight is a factor. Vegetarians tend to care more about their health as a rule. It’s not a simple equation. Just because a number of vegetarians are thin becoming vegetarian won’t make one thin. PETA is lying to imply otherwise.

  80. “There’s no cure for proud jackassery, so you might as well not waste your breath.”

    This sums up PETA so well. To think I used to excuse their “edginess” because I am pro-ethical food.

    So I’m thinking. Who is likely to see this billboard and convert to vegetarianism?

    Either a Hater, or someone so terrified of being FAT they would do just about anything to desperately attempt to avoid being FAT – someone who would feel smug if they were not fat, or if they were LESS fat than the “whale” pictured, or whatever their personal standard of Terrible Fatness is. Oh wait, that’s kind of a version of Hater, isn’t it?

    Pro-veggie, FA, HAES signing off.

  81. Interesting reply from PETA there, hmm.

    I was waiting for your post on this, and I did not disappoint.. thank you, you summed it up perfectly!

    ‘becoming a vegetarian’ – in some people with eating disorders is just one more way to control their food – ad campaigns like this are just making that so much worse.

  82. I initially thought that PETA billboard meant whales as in Free Willy type whales, too.

    Rudeness aside, the logic escapes me entirely. Isn’t it the eating behavior that is relevant to their mission (don’t eat meat = save animals), not the size of the person doing the eating? What does the addition of fatness bring to this message? Oh, I’m so confused. Please look away from your monitor while my head explodes.

    I have hated PETA officially since they were stupid about pit bulls – we have a pit bull and like pit bull owners everywhere I can tell you he is the best tempered dog ever, bar none – but now I hate them twice. Pfui.

  83. @ Harriet, I think the fact that they’re using fatphobia to turn people vegetarian is insulting in itself. The implication is so condescending–“WE’RE in this for the protection of animal life, but we know something so morally lofty would never appeal to you selfish plebians, so we’d better play on your selfishly motivated fear of fatness to get you to do something good for the world!” Which, I’d wager, was their actual logic. I mean, they probably phrased it better. By which I mean more hypocritically.

  84. when Fox News presents a dietician who starts by yelling at the BOY from PETA that the ad was demeaning to women, you know PETA has problems.

    Yeah, when FOX is telling you you went too far? Dude, you went. too. far.

    DRST

  85. Because I will *totally* turn vegetarian if you make fun of me in a rude, nasty, condescending way! Oh, PETA, I was just waiting for someone to show me the light. I feel so gosh darn uplifted right now. I think I’ll go euthanize a pit bull to celebrate this little epiphany.

  86. You might want to warn that in the comments in a couple of the links you posted, there’s quite a bit of fatphobia, yammering about BMI, etc.

  87. @camerynmoore LOL well I did say “media whore” . . and besides, I don’t consider consensual sex acts of any variety, whether it involves the exchange or cash, goods or other intangibles, to be whoredom.

    Of course, I’m weird. I consider professional athletes and models prostitutes.

  88. GAH I hate PETA.

    They think that being my service dog is cruel to my dear Hudson. Ha. No, what would be cruel to this sensitive, sociable dog is to leave him out in the yard all day while his person is at work. He would be lonely and sad – of all the things he likes, being near me has to be the top of the list. I can’t imagine taking that away from him. (and they make ridiculous claims, like that he is in harness and working 24/7, with no play time and no petting – bullshit, I pet him all the time, and he gets several hours a day to relax and play!)

    Ahem.

    I’m sorry, I know I was off-topic. This ‘save the whales’ crap is just another one of their campaigns where they have decided something stupidly incorrect is true. Whoever does PETA’s research needs to be shot, because I have seen few organizations that so consistantly present specious, ill-supported, misleading claims and campaigns.

    I do honestly feel sorry for the people who believe PETA does good things. PETA’s a terrorist organization.

    ~Kali
    http://www.brilliantmindbrokenbody.wordpress.com

  89. Go get ‘em, Kate.

    And this:

    Which is to say, a lot of fat people might believe that being fat is not their “real” identity — it is something other, even when it is a part of their daily physical and social experience. The Thin Person Inside and all that.

    YES YES YES YES YES. Boy, do I ever see a lot of that. Every time there’s some shitstorm about someone making a fatphobic content, I guaranfrickingTEE there will be several fatties who show up and say, “I thought it was funny, I know I eat like a pig and I have to stop, etc.” It’s easy to forget sometimes, hanging around these here parts, that most fat people don’t think of themselves as fat — not so much that they are not fat physically, but that their “real self” is thin and they just need enough motivation to get there, which the constant fat japes are supposed to provide.

    (You wonder where all the extra “motivation” they need to slim down is actually going to come from, if the current social fabric isn’t doing the trick — does there have to be an actual pogrom, or will having eggs and butter thrown by passing cars every day be enough?)

  90. I’m dropping in a link to my post from yesterday suggesting a “fuck you PETA” campaign, which has sort of blown up on Twitter a little.

    Glad you did that! Meant to add it to the post, but then went out for hours.

  91. Oh, and these ads are aimed at shallow thin and average-sized people (especially teenagers and young adults) who are terrified of joining our ranks, not actual fatties. They’d probably rather the fatties keep (or go back to) eating meat, it’s better for their image. Ingrid “Insulin For Me, But Not For Thee” Newkirk has been told over and over again that there are millions of fat vegetarians and vegans. They know. They’re not talking to us. We’re not people.

    And they’re not much for autistic people either, BTW. (Yes, they actually think veganism is the route to neuronormativity, which is not only a gross oversimplification of what a gluten and casein-free diet is supposed to be for, but doesn’t even recognize that eating gluten AND casein-free AND vegan simultaneously basically means you never leave your house. Oh, and also, that you pretty much eat nothing but carbs. Which is a greeeeat diet if you’re an insulin resistant fatty — FOR ME TO POOP ON.)

  92. Here’s my response to the fake form-letter apology they sent me:

    “I am even more offended by your fake apology. Using women’s bodies as something for others to laugh at is despicable. This is not the first time, nor even the fifth, that you have objectified women’s bodies to garner attention. It is, in fact, the only sort of advertising you seem to know how to do. Take your fake apology and send it to someone who might actually believe it.”

  93. I hate Peta with all of my animal loving heart. Seriously, I never in my life, before I started hearing about these people, thought that anyone could turn such a noble and righteous cause into something as vile and despicable as they have. Sadly, whatever they do resonates more than any good real organizations may be doing.

    Peta ads always remind me of an interview I saw of a woman who was part of anti-Vietnam war movement in the 60s right before the up rise of feminism, saying that the men did all the talking in the meetings and women only served the coffee and later they’d have sex. That’s kind of what I imagine Peta meetings to be, a bunch of douchebags thinking of shocking, disgusting and misogynistic ad campaigns, laughing at their astute and witty selves with satisfaction, and then someone yelling “ok, now bring in the women!” and the orgy unfolds.
    Ok, maybe I’ve just seen too many “evil genius” films…

  94. MMM..you just gotta “love” the smell of misogyny in the morning….

    Forestroad and threnody had it right:
    “@threnody: let me guess– our extreme tactics are worth it if we can save an animal’s life, and until animals are treated better than women by society, we will keep doing it”

    I think you hit the nail on the head. No one is telling whales they are too big…but yet they are saying, “lose the blubber”..what? I’m getting a mixed message here. I don’t see PETA turning the other way when whale hunters slice the blubber off……C’mon PETA..doesn’t that make you happy..the whales are losing fat to become more desirable for other people…just like you want humans to do. Why not take it one step further and dress them up in high heels and pose them in bikini’s on a billboard with a digitally enhanced before and after pic in order to further your cult agenda! That would be almost as hypocritical as, oh, I don’t know…using naked-air brushed-meat eating-celebrities, that wear leather, sell leather or play with leather on a billboard saying, “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

    Makes me A: want to eat a whale burger and B: get all my friends in polka dot bikini’s to picket that billboard!

    Thanks Kate…usually I am a lurker and have never responded but this struck a nerve!!! Great post!

  95. Gwenny, those words mean things other than how you may have intended them. The generally accepted meanings determine their impact on other people, not the meanings in your head.

    Hey, can we please stop with the “I believe vegetarians eat healthier” stuff? I know most of you aren’t trying to sound holier-than-thou, but well, you kind of do. There’s not a lot of evidence for that and it’s not very fair to the rest of us.

  96. Vegetarians tend to care more about their health as a rule.

    @Lillian, this is a huge exaggeration. Being vegetarian may make you more conscious of what you eat because you have to be in order to avoid meat products, but that doesn’t necessarily mean more health conscious. I have plenty of friends who are vegetarian (for either religious or personal reasons) who are far less conscious of their health than plenty of meat eaters.

  97. Makes me wanna gather all my friends for a renegade chunky dunk.

    I want to find a reason to work the phrase “renegade chunky dunk” into my daily vocabulary.

  98. LEARN TO BIOLOGY AND WRITING

    OMGLOLWTFBBW. I never get tired of that locution. Fillyjonk, you have a particular flair for it.

  99. @volcanista I’m unclear with how the words I used have different definitions to others than myself. I think we can agree that a “whore” is typically a slur directed at someone who sells sexual activity for money (I would extend that to mean any exchange of goods/services/other considerations for sex, which makes wives whores in many cases). A media whore is someone who will do anything to get in the news. A prostitute is someone who also offers sexual gratification in exchange for money . . .although athletes and models do not actually commit any physical sex acts, they often sell fantasies. If you prefer “trades their bodies for money” that also describes the activities of not only athletes and models but many other performers.

    To me, there is absolutely no difference between selling a man a fantasy and giving him a blowjob other than the woman giving the blowjob is giving a more valuable service for her money. The only reason I can see that anyone might think otherwise is because they still buy into archaic misogynist “moral” codes devised by perverted dirty old men centuries and millennia ago.

  100. “There’s no cure for proud jackassery, so you might as well not waste your breath. ”

    This is a slogan if I ever saw one.

    You’ve ranted better than I could. I couldn’t even get words to form.

  101. I think we can agree that a “whore” is typically a slur directed at someone who sells sexual activity for money

    That may be partially true, but whore is also were we get the lovely “ho” epithet. Neither of them necessarily refer to women who sell sexual access, and they can frequently be used towards women who simply are open about their sexuality as a way of denigrating a woman who sleeps with more than one man or who sleeps with any man who turns out not to be a decent human being.

    More importantly, “whore” is a gendered insult, almost always used against women – to the point where to use it about a man you have to actually append the word “man” onto it: “manwhore.”

    It’s yet another in a long list of derogatory comments that are etymologically and practically used to attack women for being sexual in any way (paid or unpaid), not attack “people.” Women using these comments against other women only reinforces their power, and it’s why calling another woman a whore, slut, etc. isn’t acceptable. You’re furthering the judgment of women based on their sexual availability, which is actually quite patriarchal and misogynist of you.

    It’s particularly loathsome when you use it in some “my feminism is holier than yours” crusade to attack voluntary sex workers in an attempt to derail the discussion here. If you have a problem with voluntary sex workers (not the sex trade, which is a different thing), this isn’t a suitable place for you to air your indignant righteousness.

    DRST

  102. @DRST EPIC FAIL! First of all, you didn’t bother to read the entire thread to understand W T F we were talking about. Second, you ASSumed I’m a feminist, which I haven’t been since the 1970s. Third, you ASSumed I have any problem with sex workers, which is ludicrous considering I rail against misogyny and archaic moral systems. I’m actually a fat, middle aged, bisexual, poly humanist who has posed nude and in lesbian scenes and vocally defended sex workers for decades. So get over yourself.

  103. Oh, and DRST, whore is gender neutral according to the dictionary I used, also referring to males who sell services to males.

  104. Hey, can we please stop with the “I believe vegetarians eat healthier” stuff? I know most of you aren’t trying to sound holier-than-thou, but well, you kind of do. There’s not a lot of evidence for that and it’s not very fair to the rest of us.

    Thanks for posting that, volcanista. Perhaps for some people, a vegetarian diet works wonderfully. That’s not true for all of us. When I don’t get animal protein I get very run down and get sick easily.

    One of my favorite parts of HAES and intuitive eating is how we all get to figure out what our own bodies need best. The idea that any one way of eating is good for every human is shortsighted.

  105. This billboard sucks. I’m a vegan and am generally supportive of the work that PETA tries to do, but this really ruffled my feathers.

  106. Veg*nism is generally healthier than meat-eating because (again, generally) eating plant-based foods is better than eating animal derivatives.

    This isn’t true. There’s absolutely nothing inherently unhealthy or less healthy about animal-derived foods, nor are those derived from plants inherently more healthy. What this is, is long-time health-faddist propaganda, and I think veg*nism as a whole would do well to drop it by the wayside. There are good arguments for abstaining from animal-derived foods or reducing ones consumption of them for ethical reasons, but this isn’t one of them.

  107. Appropriately, The Onion has a new video called “Advocacy Group Decries PETA’s Inhumane Treatment of Women.”

    Unfortunately, I’ve known a higher up at PETA who, of course, always made positive comments about my lunch choices if they were vegetarian.

  108. Peta breaks my heart. They do so much bad alienate so many people from caring. Peta is the face of something I believe in (Saving wales, anti-fashion fur, pro learning about going vegetarian, anti animal abuse, anti-cosmetic animal testing) but they take it so far and make it a joke while being very very offensive.

    That ad is something, it’s go’s off point (I also don’t see how going vegetarian would save the Wales) is wrong ( There is no for sure out come with going vegetarian, you could lose weight, gain, feel great, cure ailments, feel sick, get sick) plays up the “obesity epidemic ” crap and Kate’s got the offensiveness of it down.

    I’m a vegetarian, and I credit it with keeping me away from most of the diet world because, I myself had this view on food “Eating makes you feel good and gives you the energy you need to go out and play with your dogs” I should say I was really young when I decided I just didn’t want to eat meat.

    But one good thing is they have her in a two piece. And if the wording was making fun of the old “lose the blubber” saying it could be a good ad from a FA view point.

  109. Emma, PETA is NOT the face of animal welfare, animal rights, or environmentalism. The MSM treats them as if they were, but then, they’ve also been known to quote Chevron as an authority on ANWR.

  110. Ok, seriously, this whole tangent about using the word “whore” is beyond off topic and undermines the whole point of this post. For fuck’s sake, drop it.

    Oh, and Gwenny, having been called a whore repeatedly by someone who is harassing me online, I don’t give a fuck if the word is technically gender neutral. In the vernacular, it is almost always gendered unless modified by the prefix “man-“

  111. This campaign certainly exposes how the intersection of oppressions operates. PETA is insulting fat people by stating that they are like non-human animals (whales) — an insult that is only intelligible if one believes non-human animals to be inferior to human animals! They are *perpetuating* a human – non-human hierarchy by invoking fat hatred. Don’t they see this?!?!?
    If we existed in an non-anthropocentric cultural system (some day!), a statement like ‘fat people are like whales’ would be met in return by uncomprehending glares or, perhaps, a “Oh, you mean I’m a lovely, powerful creature who swims well? Thank you!”
    Fatphobia is working against the very cause that we vegans are fighting for!

  112. Except to come back and offer sniper baby donuts. Thanks. I know I drive Kate and the mods a bit nuts sometimes with my pugnacious commenting, but I appreciate the support.

  113. One of the really weird things is the whole “save the whales” idea — because if someone who is deemed whale-ish loses weight, they are no longer a whale.
    More logical (by only a fraction) would have been:
    Transform yourself from a whale to a dolfin.
    Go from whale to shark.
    Turn your manatee-like personage into a moray eel-like thingamabob.
    Tired of being an elephant seal? Go vegetarian and become a harbor seal.
    Would you rather be a trout than a walrus?

    These things would require magic. Similar to how becoming vegetarian would transform a fat person into a slim one would require some magical powers (in the vast majority of cases, I’m sure there are a handful of people for whom this has happened.)

    I did blog about this myself last week.

  114. Gwenny: your definition easily includes phone sex workers. A phone sex worker pointed out that she found your comment personally insulting. You responded that by your definition, phone sex workers aren’t whores, so you weren’t insulting her. I pointed out that in the vernacular, the word could easily include her, whether or not you intended to, so her feelings were valid and you were being insensitive/insulting. And now you’re insulting long-term community members.

    The major derail you’ve accomplished makes this all kind of troll-y of you. Seriously, wtf? A simple ‘oops sorry’ might have been a more gracious response when someone pointed out you had said something insulting.

  115. Eucritta: Yes that’s what I should have said, the mainstream media acts like theses people are the only ones for animal welfare.

    I wonder if writing letters to the company’s Peta endorses would do anything. Do they really give Peta money and then in return Peta go’s to war with their rival company? Like someone posted?

  116. “doesn’t even recognize that eating gluten AND casein-free AND vegan simultaneously basically means you never leave your house.”

    THIS.

  117. With the amount of money PETA makes and with their intentions, you’d think they’d educate drivers about preventing roadkill, raise money to ship beans and rice to poorer countries who have primarily vegetarian diets, or sponsor after school programs where kids care for animals, but no. They had to go and create this crap.

  118. Krystal, with the amount of money PETA has they could take in and adopt out a massive chunk of the homeless animal population in this country, but instead the euthanize 80% of the pets that enter their “shelters” (I have to put it in quotes because I don’t believe a facility with such a high euth/low adoption rate can classify as a shelter).

    They could teach military families about not abandoning pets upon deployment (this is a hot one for me as I worked in a shelter in a military-heavy area). They could teach college students that adopting a cat for the semester and then dumping it at a shelter is NOT OK. They could teach parents how to teach their kids to respect animals and that having a baby is NOT a valid excuse for dumping your pet at a shelter.

    They could do so many good things. Things that help both people AND animals. Things that educate people ABOUT animals.

    But they focus on misogyny and terrorism. How fun for them.

  119. My last word on this, I swear:

    Meems, if you go to the Online Etymology Dictionary and look up “whore” you’ll see it is definitely gendered in origins, association and usage, all of which points to why straightforward dictionary definitions aren’t enough when you’re arguing about language. (this probably doesn’t make you feel any better about that asshole using this word against you, I know.)

    DRST

  120. Yeah, we’re done talking about “whore” now. (DRST, no prob with anything you’ve said to now, I’m just fucking done with the derail.)

    Gwenny, you ASSume you’re not seriously getting on the moderators’ tits. That is a bad assumption to make.

  121. Whales live because they are fat. Blubberless whales are non-insulated whales, and non-insulated whales are hypothermic whales, and hypothermic whales are dead.

    Anita, I’m not sure if you meant this to be so funny, but I snorted out loud. My dog thinks I’m crazy. :D

  122. So if you’re really so concerned for us, you might try talking to us.

    The obesity crisis has got nothing to do with fat people, if it did it would not work in anything like it’s current form.

    There is no point in listening to us, we just completely undermine the wilful delusion, you cannot strain to maintain a delusion and be in touch with truth, that won’t work.

  123. …no cure for proud jackassery? Maybe this should where our government healthcare plan comes in. “President Obama demands that doctors, first and foremost, focus on a cure for proud jackassery!”

    Wouldn’t that be nice/

  124. PETA make my blood boil. They state that their ambition is to abolish pet ownership because it’s morally wrong to own and control the life of another species, yet, as others have said, they think nothing of euthanasing dogs by the truckload – and abandoning their bodies – rather than giving them a chance at a new life. I don’t see how being dead can be better than being rehabilitated. Personally, I can’t think of a much better life than being a well-cared for pet – no responsibilities, every day a day of pleasure and enjoyment with the ones you love. They seem to overlook the detail that domesticated animals would not be alive at all in the first place without human care and intervention. Animal rights extremists often seem to be capable of acts that defy normal comprehension – like the group in the UK who dug up a dead grandmother’s body to intimidate her grandchildren into abandoning their business, which was breeding guinea pigs for research – and to alienate themselves from the mainstream of public opinion thereby. So I am sorry to say that this advert does not surprise me at all, although I can’t imagine how anyone ever thought it would further their cause.

  125. Kate, you are a person after my own heart. Not only do you place grammatical errors and poor writing among the most mortal of sins (where they belong), but you have cut right to the center of how fundamentally STUPID this ad is, even for PETA. Putting the billboard’s putative “message” aside, its nonsensical and confusing language renders it incomprehensible even to its target audience of idiots, making it a complete fail (beyond the whole “whales=fat=funny=hahahahaha=I’m-so-glad-I-don’t-have-the-fats-cuz-that-makes-me-better-than-someone!” thing, which just never gets old, right?). As an ethical vegan. and a feminist, and a mom, and a thinking, opposable-thumbed HUMAN BEING, I am ever more offended but, alas, seldom surprised by the depths to which PETA will sink, and resentful of the harm they do to the animal rights movement by insulting people’s intelligence with this crap. Thanks for giving them a big, FAT, eloquent finger!

  126. Ingrid Newkirk is something. In addition to being a total hypocrite on insulin and on animal euthanasia, did anyone else catch how a few years ago she basically said that bestiality can sometimes be okay?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/09/arts/09TANK.html

    Really, the organization has so little to do with the welfare of animals anymore. It should stand for People Endlessly Talking out of their Asses.

  127. I tried being a vegetarian for awhile, I was a bit too picky so I got very ill but even then I did not magically become thin.

    This campaign is the most immature ranting I have ever seen. Other than when they were outside of macy’s several years ago protesting fur and I noticed most of them wearing leather shoes.

    Leather, it isn’t grown on trees people.

  128. I was going to chime in with Gwenny on the point that PETA has zero ethics or integrity and will do anything, absolutely anything, to get media attention, which they believe will garner them more dollars to continue their antics. They don’t care about anyone or anything that gets caught in the crossfire — “negative attention,” any kind of protest of their tactics, feeds right into their mission.

    My company was the subject of a PETA “boycott” — we produce nothing that has anything to do with animals or animal byproducts, but we are a respected national brand and they chose to use us to get media attention. Our strategy, to refuse to engage them and to respond to media inquiries with a short, simple, boring, consistent statement, seemed to work, but I still resent the time their little scam cost me and my staff. It was refreshing, at least, to see that we got very few “bites” from reporters OR complaining consumers. PETA has gotten in their own way so many times that their own brand may be tainted beyond effectiveness.

    I make this point aside from the semantic discussion which targeted a specific word used in Gwenny’s comment. I know this type of interchange can be common to this site, but it’s a little dissonant amidst what is otherwise such an amazing, supportive environment. As a reader I wish a standard response or simple statement in response to use of offensive terminology could be provided once (by any commenter) to enlighten a poster in these situations, without it devolving into vitriol and defensiveness (on either “side”), which doesn’t have much to do with the original topic.

    In most cases, prescriptivism makes me cringe — I understand and respect that in this forum, I hold a minority view, but it took ME a little time to catch on to what’s acceptable here, and I can’t be the only one.

  129. Somewhere around WellroundedType2’s post about other sea creatures whales would become if they could somehow lose their blubber, this thought occurred to me:

    “Hey, NOT ONE of the animals mentioned is a VEGETARIAN.”

    So, not only would blubberless whales be dead, but so would vegetarian whales … because whales eat other animals.

    So, now I’m really confused about the billboard, as one won’t “save” whales by either taking away their blubber or having them become vegetarians. Does PETA actually have some secret plot to have the title of “largest animal” taken over by some vegetarian animal, like elephants? Does Greenpeace know about PETA’s anti-whale crusade?

    Anyway — thanks to Kate for an awesome post and for all of the thought-provoking, snort-enducing comments. Good way to start the morning.

  130. @Anita – “I get distracted here because, in fact, blubber is a useful, important thing to whales. Vital, in fact. (It’s also a useful thing to people, which is one reason they’re been extensively hunted”

    HAHA – the first thing I thought is, why are humans extensively hunted?? Because of course the protective health effects *for people* of our own adipose tissue are well known … at least here at the mighty SP they are. Thanks for the chortle!

    Note to PETA douchebags: If you can’t be bothered to actually fucking read (or quote) the ‘researchers’ who have definitively proven in your closed and lazy minds that the deth fatz will kill us all!!1!!1, who on earth do you think will take your word for it when you report your sometimes-accurate facts about how poorly animals really are treated in factory farms? As someone who is deeply in sympathy with how awful conditions are in those farms and slaughterhouses (for people as well as animals, of course – talk to a Human Resources director at a slaughterhouse, or read an interview with one), I still identify you as a boil on the ass end of intelligent debate.

    PETA: winner of the Total Failure To Identify Audience by appealing to only the extremely rare asshats in this world who care deeply about animals but don’t give a shit about people unless they’re straight, white, thin, vegan, privileged, cisgender (&etc.) soapboxers like you. That is why your group is so small, and so ineffective. Do you really care about animals? Then wake up to the fact that it is human beings that you need help from, and treat us all like we’re intelligent and feeling creatures just like the animals you want to help. Dividing people into a bunch of groups who criticize and loathe you doesn’t further your cause and is an enormous waste of human creativity and potential.

  131. @DRST

    The other person said, and I quote:

    “Speaking as a professional phone sex operator, I beg you not to use the term “whore” to lump sex workers in with PeTA. The things we do and/or talk about for money are a lot more fun and always consensual.

    (/straight face off)”

    She was being sillyl

    @Kate Harding

    Laters. LOL I’ll be sure to delete all the links I’ve made to you as well so none of my thousands of contacts over a dozen social networks bothers you either . . .

  132. Mike R: Calling hate speech what it is does not mean making false equivalencies between racist and sizeist speech. See Rule 11.

    Gwenny: So long. Sorry you’re more interested in your god-given right not to think of a better word (Rule 10) than in listening to why people found your usage of “whore” problematic.

    JustMe People who haven’t caught on to what’s acceptable here have two choices. 1) Listen when people politely tell them something is unacceptable, and not do it again, or 2) Just read and don’t comment until you’ve got the hang of it. That actually gives people plenty of room to not show their asses.

    If you’re not going to read the comments policy and lurk long enough to have a pretty good idea of what won’t fly here, then you might get called out at some point. There’s nothing wrong with that — nobody’s going to get banned for making a mistake. But if you react to being called out with defensiveness, derailing and semantic gymnastics, you won’t impress the mods, to say the least. I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out.

  133. I’m already feeling the effects of Gwenny’s scary threat. Where am I? What’s this I’m reading? Kate who?

    Everyone has made such great points about PETA already. In my own brief experience with someone who was active in the group, I got to have firsthand facetime with the most fauxgressive dood I’ve come across in a long time. He was white, cis, hetero, vegan, currently abled, and totally convinced of his own awesomeness. Very tiresome. PETA seems to attract folks like that. I guess it’s easier to be a fake activist than a real one.

  134. As an aside, I’ve long held a personal belief that the organization PETA is a bit hypocritical in their tactics. They engage in what could be considered assault by accosting people in the street. They damage public and private property, place graphic billboards in public areas where children and minors can happen upon them without regard to the damage they could cause. The list goes on.

    I find them hypocritical because while they claim that animals are being slaughtered and treated poorly for fur and food yet ignore the fact that we are ‘all’ animals! Humans are among the animal kingdom and PETA disregards that, across the world, other defenseless animals ( [i]children[/i]) are being slaughtered, terrorized and mistreated everyday.

    They would rally for the rights of a fish before a child and so their campaigns are head-scratching to say the least.

    And to be frank, people are entitled champion the rights of what they choose and I’d have nothing to say about it if they weren’t doing things like the billboard and ect.

  135. Also, JustMe, I wanted to point out something that you said:

    I know this type of interchange can be common to this site, but it’s a little dissonant amidst what is otherwise such an amazing, supportive environment.

    This is *why* it’s important to call out problematic words and phrases. Some of our readers have done sex work themselves or care about someone who has. What you are describing is what they experience when they read “whore” tossed around casually. It’s what I experience when someone having a “progressive” discussion says something is “retarded.” And it’s, in fact, not that different from PETA’s use of misogyny and fat hatred in the service of animal rights.

  136. Kate,

    I actually very much appreciate you replying to my post. One of the great things about this site is that the people who run it are very much involved in the discussions.

    Excluding the (possibly offensive?) analogy, my point is still that hate speech is hate speech. Why is hate speech wrong? I can give you 100 reasons. But the real reason is that hearing it is like a swift kick to the gut. That the supposed liberals on the PETA blog would support such a thing is just depressing.

    My usage of the racial analogy was for the same reason that a similar comparison was made at the end of “A Time to Kill”. I realize that in the SP community, fat hatred is taken as a given, but in other communities, the need to draw parallels and to shock people is required, or they just won’t get it.

  137. Sweet Machine,

    I would never directly compare the experience of being fat to being a minority, or for that matter, to being, say, French. I agree with the ideas presented in your link. However, amongst liberals, there are two things that have become more than words and that have become symbols. Those things are “the n-word” and Nazis.

    You know, even as I just typed that, I just realized that what you’re arguing against is using people of any type as symbols. That it somehow undermines their individual experiences. I’m not convinced of that yet, but I’ll let it marinate for the rest of the morning.

  138. My usage of the racial analogy was for the same reason that a similar comparison was made at the end of “A Time to Kill”.

    Written by a white dude. :)

    I understand where you’re going, Mike R., but we think there are better ways to make the point, even to the uninitiated, than co-opting another group’s legacy of oppression. Especially when plenty of fat people are also African-American and have a very different view of the parallel than white people do.

    ETA:
    However, amongst liberals, there are two things that have become more than words and that have become symbols. Those things are “the n-word” and Nazis.

    That’s exactly why people should think twice, three times, ten times before trotting those words out when discussing any other form of oppression. Which you seem to have half-figured out by the end of your last comment.

  139. @Jmars It’s kinda beside the point but plenty of whales are actually vegetarian. It depends on the species but the blue whale for example – the biggest of them all – only feeds on plankton. I guess there might be zoo-plankton mixed in with the phyto-plankton but I’m not sure that is equivalent to eating meat. Then again for the zealots at Peta it probably is!

  140. @AnnieF: I’m already feeling the effects of Gwenny’s scary threat. Where am I? What’s this I’m reading? Kate who?

    It’s almost as if this website is evaporating in front of my eyes to reveal that scrolly green Matrix code…..

    Or, y’know, not.

  141. Kate and others,

    I just drove to our other office and the entire way I’ve really been wrestling with the idea of symbols.

    Symbol that always pisses me off:”fat and happy”

    I’m wondering if the analogy that I made could have similar implications.

    There’s a lot of power in symbols. By using symbols, I can express an entire idea, including magnitude, into 4 words and a few colons. And I can do so without invoking memories of the horror that was jr. high. (Of course, now I’m spending paragraphs explaining why I tried to summarize my thoughts in only 4 words.)

    There’s also a lot of power in analogies. When I taught engineering students some fairly advanced concepts, I found that choosing appropriate analogies was the key step in achieving real understanding. Perhaps in this case, analogies can best be used on a more personal basis, rather than in a public forum, in which more “universal” analogies must be made.

    The counter argument, is of course the one that you and SM have made.

    I’d like to think that my analogy was not as much about comparing experiences as it is about comparing reactions. I do think there’s a difference.

    But I’ve heard what you’ve said and understand where you’re coming from. I can’t claim to agree yet, but have faith that you’ve nudged a neuron or two to think in a slightly different way.

    (And to keep on topic, the stupid whale billboard still sucks.)

  142. Man, just when I thought that PETA couldn’t get any more offensive.

    Just FYI, PETA is not an “animal welfare” organisation. They are an “animal rights” organisation, and they are domestic terrorists. I’m a pro-animal welfare vegan and it bugs the heck out of me when people lump me in with PETA people. The fact that I’m training my dog as a service dog makes me as abusive as dog fighters in their minds. Maybe more so, since dog fighters kill pit bulls, which they PETA is all for. That’s just fucked.

  143. @auntiehallie – Oh, crap. Modifying phrase fail. That’s what happens when I don’t double check stuff.

    And while PETA may not include microbes as animals, they certainly capitalize on the “gross” factor to try to get people to stop eating cheese and yogurt and eggs and things. Which pisses me off, since it increases the idea that only sterile food is good food, and that’s not only silly and harmful, but a logistically impossible goal.

    I’m sure that’s what Ashley was referring to, and she was not, in fact, being completely dismissive of other people’s choice to eat mostly plants and microbes.

  144. I can understand the exasperation with people who have failed in their responsibility to read up on the rules, or just chill out, and completely agree it’s important to call out these instances. But your community will continue to get newbies, who are perhaps initially just drawn to what they understand as a very basic idea of FA, and in many cases challenging them in a way that makes them think, “hey, I never thought about it this way before,” vs. “geez, I’m being attacked and I’m out of here” could ultimately be positive for the individual, who could even virally affect others, as opposed to having a chilling effect. Speaking as a relative newbie who is a little scared she’s worn out her welcome…the culture can be intimidating; but you’re all doing amazing work here, and I’d like to see the message reach as many people as possible.

    Anyway, yeah — I’m lucky to work in a place where ethics, humanity, responsibility are the norm, not the exception, and when marketing, I reflect that. But even if agencies/companies/orgs decline to make that “effort”…from a strictly mercenary perspective, why leave so much money on the table from prospective customers? The “invisibility” factor just fails the logic test, completely — these people have all kinds of access to market research and consumer spending trends…why the reluctance to acknowledge the majority population? It’s disheartening.

  145. This ad from PETA was amazingly ignorant. in this ad, “Save the Whales?” is a derogatory statement that insults all women. I’m the owner of Kingley&Posh, a fashion label that caters to curvy women and it’s appalling that PETA would scoop so low in an effort they thought would reduce animal consumption. Vegetarianism and veganism don’t equate to thinness and even if it did, how dare an international organization that promotes itself on a platform of supposed decency and humanity marginalize a group of people? We don’t need salvation but demand respect. This ad on all levels was tasteless.

  146. PETA is NOT AT ALL the face of vegetarianism. It’s kinda like the Dianetics of Vegetarianism. Only the rich really are wanted amongst their ranks. Or whoever will commit cultish devotion to them.

    Of course, they have used their money to make themselves a mainstream-media “face” of Vegetarianism by hogging the billboards and the airwaves, giving people plenty of reasons to poo-poo the veg lifestyle.

    Shame and double shame on PETA. If anything, they work to turn people OFF to vegetarianism. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re funded by the oil industry to serve just that purpose- keep people eating animals by using reverse psychology.

    It could happen. Srsly.

  147. JustMe, I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think this is the place to allow people to spew out their prejudice while they’re learning. As Kate said, one of the best ways to figure this stuff out is to be quiet and listen for a while. And if you do accidentally say something offensive while you’re stil learning, the correct response is “oops, sorry,” not, “well screw you, I’m right and you’re wrong blah blah blah.” In my experience, this community is actually very forgiving of accidental douchbaggery if it’s accompanied by an “I didn’t know” or an “I’m sorry.”

    And speaking as someone who is recovering from years of dieting and an eating disorder, I am totally not interested in hearing someone here talk about their diet and how it’s REALLY WORKING, for example. And as a woman, I’m not interested in hearing any sort of anti-woman speech. I come here because, among other things, it’s an amazingly safe space, free of the hate that I encounter in so many other places.

  148. @Kate Harding

    Laters. LOL I’ll be sure to delete all the links I’ve made to you as well so none of my thousands of contacts over a dozen social networks bothers you either . . .

    Oooh, Epic flounce, Gwenny. She’s going home and taking her *thousands* of virtual friends with her.

  149. I’ve been vegetarian for about 8 years and in that time have gained about 20 pounds. Ha ha.

    And I really HATE when it’s assumed that because you’re vegetarian and speak up for animal rights more than the average person you are a follower of PETA.

  150. @ The Other Caitlin: also totally beside the point, but blue whales eat krill, which are crustaceans. “Plankton” just means small organisms that float around. Krill are planktonic, but you’re right, they’re zooplankton, not phytoplankton. Omg, I’ll STFU about it now.

    As for othering fat people; I hadn’t explicitly considered just how much fat people will participate in this process (the fat me isn’t the real me, the thin person trapped inside, I’m not that fat). Hell, even the debate over whether we should use “fat” when talking about fat acceptance (a la WATRD threads). We’re bombarded with the message that no one has to be fat, so why the hell would anyone choose to identify as such. This is why I call myself fat out loud, no matter how many times people act like I’ve just said something embarrassing, or will protest, “Oh, no! You’re just, um, tall, and, um, robust!” (which is true, I am both of those things, and also fat). Maybe, someday, it won’t be a transgressive act to use an accurate descriptor.

    And PETA can kiss my robust ass.

  151. @ krismcn – “As for othering fat people; I hadn’t explicitly considered just how much fat people will participate in this process (the fat me isn’t the real me, the thin person trapped inside, I’m not that fat). ”

    Yes – I think this had a lot to do with the dissonance in the ad. Fat people are being spoken to and told to “lose the blubber” and yet we are told to “save the whales” because we aren’t fat, not really… And it’s easy to participate in that othering.

  152. I floors me when I read that “2/3 of the population are overweight”. What I think they really mean is that 1/3 are underweight, 1/3 are average weight and 1/3 are overweight.
    But if they actually do mean that 2/3 of the population are above what they consider normal weight … then we are the majority and this means that we are NOT overweight … we are becoming the norm!

  153. I think the most annoying thing that’s been said to me since I’ve been a vegetarian is “Oh, you’ll lose a ton of weight now!” or “Aw, but you don’t need to lose weight!”. Ugh.

  154. fuck PETA, i hate them even more now, and i’m vegetarian, mostly vegan, OH, AND FAT. i have rarely seen their efforts to promote a vegetarian lifestyle as productive. once again, they have wasted millions of dollars only to offend people with misinformation and insults. gah.

  155. “PETA: A fraternity for vegan guys who dislike people in general and women specifically.”

    -O.M.G. ROFLBATTLECOPTER

  156. It’s kinda beside the point but plenty of whales are actually vegetarian. It depends on the species but the blue whale for example – the biggest of them all – only feeds on plankton.

    A bit late but … this isn’t true. Blue whales – along with other baleen whales – primarily feed on krill, which are planktonic crustaceans very like shrimp. Krill, in turn, feed on phytoplankton, and likely zooplankton as well. And yes, zooplankton do qualify, at least in biological terms, as ‘animal.’

    So far as I know, the only herbivorous marine mammal is the manatee.

  157. JustMe: But your community will continue to get newbies, who are perhaps initially just drawn to what they understand as a very basic idea of FA, and in many cases challenging them in a way that makes them think, “hey, I never thought about it this way before,” vs. “geez, I’m being attacked and I’m out of here” could ultimately be positive for the individual, who could even virally affect others, as opposed to having a chilling effect

    That was actually what my initial comment to Gwenny was mostly trying to do. If you go back and read it, I spent the first portion of the comment explaining why that particular word is problematic. The last paragraph, I took on her tone, which I found offensive. I provided an explanation, I provided links to other sources, trying to help her and anyone else grasp some stuff that was at play there, and translate her tone in a way that would make obvious why it was problematic.

    And her immediate response was to start shrieking at me.

    If she’d replied with anything other than an immediate attack on me, anything that indicated she was at least trying to reflect on what she said and how it was interpreted, there wouldn’t have been a Thing. We can’t control how people react to being confronted, so I don’t think imploring others to be “nicer” is really a useful strategy. Anyone who flips their shit the moment they get questioned is probably not going to last here, and my patience, at least, is not infinite.

    So much of your (generic) worldview can get challenged here, you have to come to the SP comments with a sense of humility, I think. Which means when someone calls you out, you don’t go right to attack mode, you stop and think.

    Also I understand that no matter how long I’ve been here, people should and will continue to call me out when I mess up. *g*

    DRST
    Who was so totally told by Gwenny, she will now go jump into a Christmas tree.

  158. Dear PETA,
    Your ad fails to make sense. Fail again.
    Love,
    Sarah

    It seems to me that if PETA spent more time worrying about their own image, rather than alienating people, they’d fare a lot better.

    This billboard made me just about as angry as finding out that Cookie Johnson’s new line of “real jeans for real women” only goes up to a size 18. So, everyone who wears a bigger size than that is fake, really? Or maybe we’re just too busy “being fat” to wear jeans at all?

    As a side note, I’ve been reading this blog for awhile, but never felt really compelled to post before. I just know that it’s made me feel infinitely better about my body, and my life. Thank you everyone just for being here!

  159. So, PETA pulls something offensive, disgusting, and degrading out of their asses and generally acts like fuckwits. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green. Way to call out their ridiculous, disgusting, and inaccurate campaign. Kate for the win, PETA for the fail. Sorry, I just really, really despise PETA. I’ve always liked to say I am a proud member of PETA- People Eating Tasty Animals. I have nothing against vegetarianism or veganism- as with so much else in life, live the way you want to, it certainly doesn’t hurt me. In fact, PETA makes me angry on behalf of the sane, rational vegans and vegetarians who are the majority of such folks. As a Christian, I get very sick of getting lumped in with the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robinsons of the world when my views couldn’t be more different then theirs are. (I support gay rights, believe in “judge not, lest ye be judged”, all that kind and forgiving stuff that they always forget.) I assume that 90% of vegans and vegetarians hate getting the same “eewww” reaction to their lifestyle because of a few assholes that the media likes to portray as entirely representative of the group, and so I empathize.

  160. Kat recorded the Headline News segment on Issues with Marilyn and Ingrid, and I watched it when I got home. The saddest thing for all involved is, I would be inclined to support even some of the more militant things PETA does, and Kat indicated the same. She was vegetarian for a time, and she said there was a time she would have sent money to PETA. But never now, not after this.

    It reminds me of a time a fellow NAAFAn sent me a clip from a Seattle newspaper where one vegetarian, in response to an article about animal testing of artificial sweeteners, pretty much blamed fat people for the research. I was still at Berkeley at the time, and brought this to some buddies in ALF and asked them about this, and they all said they didn’t for once believe that fat people as a group were to blame for these tests. And these were people who rescued animals out of the Life Sciences Building!

    As for the HLN segment, oh my, Marilyn got tag-teamed. Were I in her seat, I think I would have just gone all hammer and sickle on these two. Why? Because the host used the fact of the farm bill’s priorities being perverted by the ag industry to the benefit of the fast food industry in order to promote the anti-public-care line of the health care industry, while same host simultaneously positioned herself as a player in the reduction industry the line of which PETA insists on continuing to tail. “I’ve got it, let’s try to make medicine out of the mechanisms of capital to cure ills born of capital!” How many of us here would love to see the farm bill divert some of those subsidies from chem ag and the big five to organic agriculture? There are things that could be done with that legislation to assure that more nutritious and humanely raised MEAT gets on American plates!

  161. This is one of the form letters I got after I wrote to the peta pricks. I broke it down, replied, and sent this back. I’m sorry it’s so long. I didn’t include all of their letter because it was just too much, this is long enough as it is.

    – – – – – – –

    We agree that a world where self-esteem is unrelated to body size would be a wonderful place, but we also know that most people feel depressed and embarrassed about their weight and often need some tough love.

    ~NO THEY DO NOT. They need you holier-than-thou shitheads to recognize them as human and not some kind of inferior sub-species. And how dare you call a campaign that promotes hate and junior high school epithets “tough love”? How is making fun of a whole class of people based on their looks any kind of love? Can you please explain that?~

    Our aim was not to insult people who are overweight but to get people talking-and then persuade them to make a simple, positive change for their health. We have heard from people who were offended by our
    message, and we have been yelled at on talk shows, but we have also heard from overweight people who expressed support for our tactics, including some women whose vegetarian weight-loss journeys we plan to chronicle on our Web site.

    ~Soooo because some fat people supported your message of hate that means we all do? There were some women who wished the equal rights movement would just hush up too, that didn’t mean that treating women like they didn’t have the same rights and dignity as men was oh so cool and should have been allowed to continue.
    And how dare you insult me by thinking I would be stupid enough to believe that your goal with that ad was to get people talking. Your goal was to promote your agenda by blatantly making fun of people you deem inferior. You also expected this back-fat, back lash so that you could garner more publicity for your lame and misguided organization. Hell I bet you had your calm-the-poor-screamin-fatties-down form letters ready to go before you even put that billboard up!~

    While this billboard has caused some people to “shoot the messenger,” it has also created a great debate about the message: that people are eating themselves to death. Americans now eat more than 1 million animals an hour-animals who are raised and killed in appallingly cruel conditions. Something drastic must be done to shake up society’s
    complacent acceptance of the national obesity epidemic, and we want people to know that they have options: Pills and procedures are not the solution. The human illnesses and animal suffering that a meat-heavy diet causes are completely unnecessary: a pure vegetarian diet is the optimum diet.

    ~It is none of your business what I eat or do not eat you sanctimonious assholes. It is none of your business if I am healthy or unhealthy. And don’t give me that health care cost crap. You aren’t paying a damn dime for me, and even if you were so what? Suppose you suddenly woke up with cancer, people do you know, even the holy vegans. I wouldn’t care that I was paying into a system for you. Or say you got AIDS and happened to be gay. I would not hate you for that and wag my finger at you for having same-sex relationships BECAUSE IT’S NONE OF MY DAMN BUSINESS.~

    We take obesity very seriously indeed, which is why we think it would be cruel not to tell people about how, by going vegetarian, they can help themselves, animals, and the Earth. If change is going to come, someone must stir things up. PETA won’t shy away from doing so. Unless they are truly among the few with an irreversible medical condition, there is no
    reason for people to be carrying around extra weight.

    ~What?? Please tell me you did not just say that. Please please please? Maybe I just have no desire to look like you think I should you idiots. Is that so hard to grasp???~

    By encouraging people who want to lose weight to go vegetarian instead of resorting to unhealthy fad diets, we hope to offer them a choice that the
    multimillion-dollar diet industry won’t give them: a long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.

    ~If fat people want to lose weight that’s their business and none of yours. It is our choice and none of yours. We are not mentally challenged children who need guidance from YOU.~

    Research has shown that higher body mass index is associated with a greater risk of premature death from all causes. For example, according to the American Heart Association, obesity contributes to heart disease, America’s number one cause of death. The American Dietetic Association says that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity than meat-eaters do. Reputable studies have shown that fad “weight loss” diets don’t work long-term-but going vegetarian does. Studies published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the New England Journal of Medicine have found that vegetarians are far less likely to be overweight than meat eaters are. Obesity is an epidemic,

    ~An epidemic is something you can catch and you assholes are so afraid of catching fat disease that you ignore all the real data for sensationalist media bullshit that is paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.~

    not something that children should grow up accepting as perfectly normal.

    ~It is perfectly normal to be fat you morons. 2/3 of people in this country can be defined as fat by one system or another. You should think about that. Not only are their more of us, but we are BIGGER than you. I would keep that in mind.~

    We want a healthy, humane world, and we think everyone else does too.

    ~No you do not. You want a world where everyone celebrates diversity, as long as each difference is cleared by YOU. If people want to be different, fine. But they better look, talk, eat, breathe, fuck, sleep, dream, and live just like you or it’s not okay.~

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and for giving us the opportunity to share ours. Not everyone can agree on everything in this world, and, again, if you were offended, we regret that.

    ~Offended? No. Morally outraged and ready to go to war? Hell yes. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I expect the common respect due to me as a human being no matter what your small little minds think of me. I know I will always be hated, ridiculed, and vilified for how I look and I know that people like you will make sure of it.~

    Sincerely,

    The PETA Staff

    http://www.PETA.org

    ~Fuck you very much,
    Victoria Gail Journigan~

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