It’s not easy being MeMe

What is there to say about MeMe Roth that isn’t obvious to the point of boredom? A new Guardian profile calls her “the woman who hates food,” and I think that’s about right, if you add “fat people, women, and herself” to the end of the phrase. (Check out that article for the “I don’t have an eating disorder even though I obsessively exercise and don’t eat” anecdote at the end, but be warned that there’s some obesity panic in the article itself.) But just when you thought Roth couldn’t get any more a) offensive, and b) wrong, she goes and says this:

“The defence has been made in the case of sex criminals that there is pleasure on the part of the victim. The same is true with what we’re doing with food. We may abuse our bodies with food, but it’s incredibly pleasurable. From a food marketer’s point of view, when your quote unquote victim is so willing and enjoying of the process, who’s fighting back?”

Clearly, MeMe Roth is a one woman army of failure. Everything is wrong with this statement, on both a factual and rhetorical level. Let’s make a list.

  • Classic straw man: “The defence has been made.” Oh yeah? By whom? Nice passive voice.
  • More passive voice to defend rape as not-rape: “there is pleasure on the part of the victim.” Roth is saying that people like being raped. Only she’s too chickenshit, or possibly too stupid, to say it that way. And of course, the rapist is disappeared from this sentence.
  • Also note that she is claiming that we should use, as the logic behind deciding the single most crucial thing we do every day of our lives—i.e., eating food—the kind of logic that would let rapists stay out of jail.
  • Ill-defined terms: “We may abuse our bodies with food, but it’s incredibly pleasurable.” If it’s incredibly pleasurable, MeMeMeMe, that means it’s not abuse.
  • Victim blaming: “quote unquote victim.”
  • Again with the victim blaming and the complete fucking misunderstanding of what sexual assault is. Hint to MeMe: if someone “is so willing and enjoying of the process,” that person is not being raped. That person is having sex.

So in using rape as her metaphor for what happens when you eat an Oreo, MeMe Roth demonstrates yet again that she literally has no idea what she’s talking about. If we stick with her horribly ineffective metaphor, what she is suggesting is that when you are having an “incredibly pleasurable” time having consensual sex with someone, MeMe should break in and yell “Rape” to save you from your quote unquote victimhood.  MeMe Roth wants us all to live the plot of Atonement.

Note to journalists or anyone else who would ever consider consulting Roth as an “expert”: this woman believes people like being raped, just like you like to eat a cookie. She is the wrongest person who ever wronged. Please, do us all a favor and just leave the woman to her self-loathing.

Asshole of the Day

That would be Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Regarding the so-called “Obesity Paradox” (one of them anyway)—that obesity is correlated with an increased risk of heart disease, yet fat people seem to recover from cardiac issues better than thin people—Lavie says:

It’s well-known that obesity leads to heart disease, and that’s a big part of the paradox. These people wouldn’t have developed heart disease in the first place if they weren’t obese. A thin person is getting it [heart disease] for a different reason, so he or she is getting a worse form of the disease, getting the disease despite being thin.

OK, seriously. “These people wouldn’t have developed heart disease in the first place if they weren’t obese”—immediately before you talk about thin people getting heart disease? And thin people get “a worse form of the disease” because… you think it’s unfair that they got it at all? Fuck the what? 

Here’s what else this DIRECTOR OF CARDIAC RESEARCH AND PREVENTION AT AN ACTUAL HOSPITAL has to tell us about obesity and heart disease.

Obesity in the United States is a major problem. It is increasing in skyrocketing proportions.

Evidently, he missed the good news from the CDC. A year and a half ago.

Also,

There are several possible explanations for the paradox, Lavie said.

One is that obese people visit physicians earlier than others because they develop symptoms, such as fatigue and breathing problems. Heart disease is more treatable if identified early.

Evidently, he also missed the studies showing that fat people do not seek medical treatment as quickly as thin people, because they are so terrified of being mistreated by fatphobic doctors.

Let me help you out, Dr. Lavie.

Two studies in the journal Obesity Research in 2003 found that many physicians harbor negative attitudes toward fat people: A University of Pennsylvania study of 620 primary care physicians found that more than half reported viewing obese patients as “awkward,” “unattractive,” “ugly” and “noncompliant”; a Yale study reported that health professionals strongly associated being overweight with being “lazy” and “stupid.”

Such negative views, some experts charge, may be helping to drive patients away: These experts point to a 2000 study of 11,425 women, which found heavy women less likely to obtain cancer screenings such as Pap smears and mammograms even though they’re at higher risk of dying from cervical cancer and breast cancer. Newer research has produced similar findings: A 2006 study of 498 women, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that obese women delayed cancer screenings more than other women. Negative attitudes of health-care providers and disrespectful treatment were among the reasons cited for postponing care.

Negative attitudes? Such as?

[Lavie] wanted not only to remind doctors of the paradox, but also to warn them and the general public that it offers no excuse for being fat, he said.

That is the whole thing in a goddamned nutshell. The director of cardiac research and prevention at an actual hospital—like entirely too many of his colleagues—believes fat people are looking for excuses to stay fat, as opposed to looking for compassionate, realistic, trustworthy medical care. I can only guess he assumes we’re having such a grand old time being fat—what with all the donuts and relaxing, the totally never suffering any discrimination or humiliation because of the size of our bodies, the being blissfully ignorant of/willfully blind to the daily screaming headlines about how we’re gonna drop dead any minute—that we’re simply not motivated to go out and get permanently thin, which is totally possible. (Second link is a PDF.) He believes we might just be in the doctor’s office all the time, following up on minor symptoms that could portend larger problems, instead of putting off treatment until we’re so sick we can’t stand it. Instead of dying alone because our doctors told us not to come back still fat. He believes obesity is “skyrocketing,” when the last NHANES results told us there’s been no change overall since 2003-2004, no change for women since 1999. And he believes that fat people who have heart disease have it because they are fat, while thin people who have heart disease have it despite being thin. No possibility of a common cause. Fatties are a different breed. Hell, it’s a different disease altogether in thin folks! A thin person is getting it for a different reason, so he or she is getting a worse form of the disease.

And the fact that fat seems to have some protective value in terms of surviving potentially deadly illness? Bah. You wouldn’t get the illness in the first place if you weren’t fat! I mean, unless you were one of those thin people who got a worse form of the disease, like I mentioned, but… wait, shut up. You just want an excuse to be fat!

This is the logic, y’all. This is the science. This is the director of cardiac research and prevention at an actual hospital. 

This is why fat people are afraid to go to the doctor. This is why we advise people in the book to seek out a fat-friendly health professional instead of putting themselves through the torment of being naked and vulnerable in front of a “professional” who takes one look at a fat body and sees someone ugly, lazy, stupid, and non-compliant.

This is why shit needs to change.

Shut up, Bob Greene

A couple people have e-mailed me (thank you) about Bob Greene saying on Larry King that it’s healthier to yo-yo diet than stay fat. Specifically:

King: Is fluctuating weight like Kirstie Alley bad, Bob?
Greene: Well, there’s two sides to that story. First off, if you remain heavy, that’s when the most damage is done to your heart and the excessive health ramifications from keeping overweight. So as long as you’re watching, even if it’s yo-yo dieting, that’s healthier than the person that remains heavy.

Except for how that’s probably the opposite of true. I’m too distracted for a full rant right now, but Shinobi’s on it, and I’ll tell you what I just told her in comments. I just re-read the big 2007 UCLA metaanalysis of weight loss studies (PDF). They recommend further study on weight cycling, because the current data is (or was) inconclusive — but it doesn’t look good at all. Money quote:

“In sum, the potential benefits of dieting on long-term weight outcomes are minimal, the potential benefits of dieting on long-term health outcomes are not clearly or consistently demonstrated, and the potential harms of weight cycling, although not definitively demonstrated, are a clear source of concern. The benefits of dieting are simply too small and the potential harms of dieting are too large for it to be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for obesity.”

And here’s what comes right before that:

It is also possible that weight regain leads to health
problems of its own. An analysis of the benefits and harms
of dieting must consider the potential harms of weight
cycling. Weight cycling, the repeated loss and regain of
weight, is commonly observed in dieters (Brownell &

It is also possible that weight regain leads to health problems of its own. An analysis of the benefits and harms of dieting must consider the potential harms of weight cycling. Weight cycling, the repeated loss and regain of weight, is commonly observed in dieters (Brownell & Rodin, 1994; National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, 1994). There is evidence from largescale observational studies that weight cycling is linked to increased all-cause mortality (Blair, Shaten, Brownell, Collins, & Lissner, 1993; Lee & Paffenbarger, 1992) and to increased mortality from cardiovascular disease (Hamm, Shekelle, & Stamler, 1989). In addition, weight cycling is associated with increased risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, and diabetes (French et al., 1997), increased highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol (Olson et al., 2000), increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Kajioka, Tsuzuku, Shimokata, & Sato, 2002), and even suppressed immune function (Shade et al., 2004).

It has often been suggested that the harmful effects of weight cycling result from unintentional weight loss (i.e., from smoking or illness) rather than from intentional dieting (French & Jeffery, 1994; National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity, 1994). However, at least two large-scale studies that controlled for unintentional weight loss still found that intentional weight loss is linked to mortality risk (Andres, Muller, & Sorkin, 1993; Pamuk, Williamson, Serdula, Madans, & Byers, 1993), and the balance of evidence does seem to implicate intentional weight loss in adverse health outcomes.

 

Shut up, Bob Greene. Shut up a lot.

Faith 21: I give it 3 months

Faith 21, the new “plus-size” line from Forever 21, is out.

The bad news: The goods pretty much range from “meh” to “WTF?” (I realize I’m like 20 years older than the target market here, but still: Not a dress, not a dress, not a dress. I would consider buying this AS A SHIRT.)

The good/bad news: It probably won’t fit you anyway. 

When I first heard about Faith 21, I noted that they only planned to go up to a junior 2X, which is not so much “adding a plus-size line” as “expanding our range of sizes all the way up to roughly a standard XL!” Now, having seen the size chart, I can say it’s even worse than I thought:

Are you fucking kidding me? For the record, I often wear the smallest plus size available in actual plus size stores, and I can still wear some straight XLs, at least on top. (My ass is pretty consistently an 18W these days, but in tops and dresses with full skirts, I’m usually a 14W.)  And my measurements are 43-38-48. Ergo, I am pretty much sized out of this line. The only other ostensibly plus-size line I know of in which I wear a 3X is Stop Staring, which is well known for running — as Fillyjonk puts it — “criminally small.” 

As I said before, this is great for true in-betweenies, who often really are screwed when it comes to finding clothes that fit. But it’s not so great that this is being heralded as a “plus-size” line when it’s anything but. It’s bad enough that “junior plus” sizes further confuse the issue of what a “2X” (etc.) is to begin with, but when your junior “2X” is more like a usual junior “1x,” which is already like a plain old “X” (edited to fix arithmetic fail), who the fuck are you trying to kid? And what the fuck is the point? You are setting yourself up to fail, when all those girls who wear a Torrid 2X and were stoked to be able to go to (a few) Forever 21 stores with their friends find out that they still can’t wear your shit, and even if they could, they’d need to carry all of their weight somewhere other than their thighs in order to pull half of it off. (Unless, of course, they’re rocking massive body confidence, which would be fantastic — but I’m thinking that segment of the teenaged fat girl market is pretty damn limited.)

Between designs that are only meant for basically thin girls with bellies, sizing that still excludes a great deal of the junior plus market, and the decision to only offer the line in a handful of bricks-and-mortar stores, I give Faith 21 about 3 months before it folds, the company sends out a press release saying “the market just wasn’t there,” and Forever 21 once again becomes a Thin Girls Only store. Awesome work, guys. Just terrific.

Welcome, CNN Viewers

You’re gonna want to check out the comments policy before you try to join the conversation. Short version: I don’t publish comments from people who are promoting weight loss, insulting me, or insulting fat people in general. Don’t waste your time. 

If you’re interested in more of my thoughts on United’s policy, you can go here for the expletive-laden version and here for the relatively clean one.  (Note that “clean” relative to how I usually write around here is, uh, still not that clean.)

Regular readers who missed the segment, we should have video of it sometime in the next day or two. Meanwhile, here’s a pic my friend Jo took of her TV:

kateoncnn

That was the purple dress, despite how blue it looks! And I’m really not digging how it coordinates with the cami in this lighting, but whatever. I had 110 lbs. of make-up and hairspray on, so hopefully, people were distracted by that.

Also, I would be psyched that Jo caught me with a total “bish, plz” face on, except I’m slightly afraid I was making it the whole time.  I’m waiting to see the video as much as everyone else. Eep!

Oh, last thing…  About 5 minutes after I finished, I got this:

Your arguments were ridiculous and you just made a fool of yourself.
Mike

Hey, thanks for writing, Mike! It’s so great to know that there are strangers who care enough to let me know they think I’m a fool. Because there is totally nothing foolish about taking the time to send a drive-by insult to a stranger from the teevee. That is the behavior of a reasonable, intelligent, all-around awesome person, right there. I have so much to learn from you!

Next they’ll print one about airplane food

Ah, the New York Times. The old gray lady, the paper of record, the practice workshop for standup comedians. If the latter strikes you as out of place, just check out this article (title: “What’s the Skinny on the Heftier Stars?”), which basically amounts to the author, Michael Cieply, saying “Fat actors! What’s the deal with that?”

Honestly, I have no analysis of this one; I’m just here to mock it. It was apparently written by a man who has literally never once thought about body size before in any context, much less film. We start off with obligatory fatphobia, which Cieply assumes is shared by all his readers:

Two men. One notebook. Four chins.

Hollywood’s pool of leading men is getting larger — and not necessarily in a good way.

Four chins?!? My god, has a double chin ever disgraced the screen like that?

Cieply goes on to note that some male film stars, like Russell Crowe, John Travolta, Hugh Grant, and Denzel Washington, now appear to be bigger than they once were. It’s crazy because they’re only around 50! How could this happen? Tom Hanks was totally skinny in Castaway when he was playing a man stranded on a desert island, but now he looks different! He doesn’t have a beard or a volleyball or anything.

My absolute favorite sentence of this article is about The Ladies.

Hollywood’s women may have weight issues of their own. But it is somehow less noticeable, possibly because actresses who expand do not often get roles to showcase that growth.

This honest to god made me LOL. This right here is a stunningly great example of the male gaze and how it is founded on male privilege. There are two parts of this sentence that are more or less factual: 1) “Hollywood’s women may have weight issues of their own” (depending how you define “issues,” of course), and 2) “actresses who expand do not often get roles to showcase that growth.” But it’s the hinge of these facts, that wonderfully clueless phrase “But it is somehow less noticeable,” that makes me want to put this article in a textbook under “Male Gaze 101.” See, there’s a phrase missing from this sentence, an important one. The sentence should read: “It is somehow less noticeable to me.” I guarantee Michael Cieply that the absence of fat women, or even size-6 women, or even very thin women who are not shockingly beautiful, onscreen is eminently noticeable to women moviegoers. To girl moviegoers. To fat moviegoers. To anorexic moviegoers. To flat-chested moviegoers. And so on. Behold the grammar of privilege: it rests in the absence of the phrase “to me” and the presence of the word “somehow.” The “somehow” is the male gaze. If you are a straight man, women onscreen are selected for your visual pleasure, and the camera acts as a proxy for your point of view.

“Desire […] is a property of men, property in both senses of the word: something men own, possess, and something that inheres in men, like a quality.” –Teresa DeLauretis, “Through the Looking-Glass: Woman, Cinema, and Language”

The reason it is “somehow less noticeable” to you that there are no fat women onscreen is that the entire history of cinema is designed to reassure you that you don’t have to look at fat women. Thin women are the default; they are how the cinematic world is populated, so they look normal to your eyes. You don’t notice the absence of fat women; you notice their rare presence, when the camera deviates from your point of view long enough for you to say “Whoa, fattie!” But every single woman who sits in a movie theater is forced to inhabit that male gaze, too, forced to watch how the camera treats women of rare beauty and slenderness as the only kind of women who exist. This is how it is possible for women as small as Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Simpson to be “Hollywood fat.” For women moviegoers, the “weight issues” of “Hollywood’s women” are one of the *most* noticeable things about movies — sadly, for some of us, the primary fact of movies.

(This matter of gaze and representation, incidentally, is why so many fat people and fat allies were angry about Wall-E. Here is one of the very very very few instances where the world is not populated only by very thin people… and it’s the dystopic future of the human race.)

Okay, it turned out I had some analysis in me after all. Back to mockery!

Cieply points out that the male actors of yesteryear, like Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, stayed skinny well into middle age. Of course, they smoked like chimneys and also survived the Great Depression… but seriously, you didn’t see them letting themselves go! That Denzel, he just needs more self-discipline.

Cieply saves the biggest laughs for the end, though, like any good comic.

He might want to get some diet advice from Jason Segel.

Mr. Segel, 29, was fairly hefty in “I Love You, Man,” a comedy released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks in March. But his face looked surprisingly thin on billboards advertising the film.

The advertising photos were done some weeks after the film shoot, with a slimmer Mr. Segel, said Katie Martin Kelley, a publicity executive with Paramount. “There was no retouching done,” Ms. Kelley said.

There is nothing I can say about this that would be funnier than it actually is. No retouching!

Since Mr. Cieply and his editors at the NYT clearly need a lesson in human biology as well as rhetoric, feminist theory, and film studies, I am offering myself up as an object lesson. Shapelings, I, like poor John Travolta, have gotten a lot bigger in the last 20 years. A LOT. It’s like my whole body has just ballooned outward in every direction, and I can’t control it, and no matter what I eat or how much I exercise, I just can’t get back to my old shape. I think you can see what I mean. (Edited to include funnier picture.)

Sweet Machine 20-ish years ago

Sweet Machine 20-ish years ago

Sweet Machine today

Sweet Machine today

There was no retouching done.

F.U.nited

I’m busy as hell and really don’t feel like ruining my day by thinking too hard about this, but I can’t ignore the news that United Airlines is pulling a Southwest and instituting a Fatties Pay More policy. 

Under the new policy, obese passengers — defined as unable to lower the arm rest and buckle a seat belt with one extension belt — will still be reaccommodated, at no extra charge, to two empty seats if there is space available.

If, however, the airplane is full, they will be bumped from the flight and may have to purchase a second ticket, at the same price as the original fare, Urbanski said.

So, it’s not even just that you’ll have to pay more for a second seat, unless you’re lucky enough to be on a half-empty flight. If the flight is full — which they ALL are these days, because hi, we’re in a recession and airlines have been cutting flights like mad — and the attendant at the counter decides you’re too fat for one seat, you won’t be allowed to fucking fly. You’ll pay more for the privilege of missing your flight and having to wait around for one that’s not already overbooked, which… good luck with that. 

Craig Newman at the Chicago Sun-Times’s Shiny Objects blog offered this surprisingly good response:

Here’s the big question, especially for gate agents: How do you determine who’s too big to go in one seat? Are they supposed to pull people out of line who look a little too hefty? Will calipers and Body Mass Index charts be issued and hanging next to the luggage check scale? Are there measurements involved? How soon til the first discrimination lawsuit is filed? And will there be discounts for the svelte fliers?

Who’s next on the target list? People who snore while sleeping are charged extra to be put in a seclusion zone? People flying with crying children charged extra for a blast of thorazine and noise dampeners? Where does it stop?

I mean, seriously, they’ve got this handy definition of who’s too fat for one seat all ready to answer that inevitable question — anyone who can’t lower the armrest and buckle the seatbelt with only one extender — but how are they supposed to determine that at the gate? Is there going to be a mock seat set up for fat people to try out, the same way they’ve got those little metal cages to measure carry-on baggage? Will fatties be allowed on the planes, only to be removed if they flunk the test? ‘Cause boy, both of those sound like terrific options. 

Furthermore, before I get to why that definition of “obese” is total horseshit, I’d just like to point out that it’s hugely fucking sexist. Fat men are more likely to carry their weight out front, and even with a pretty substantial gut, you can get a seatbelt buckled underneath it. The armrest and seatbelt restrictions are mostly going to affect people with wide hips — i.e., women, a hell of a lot more often than not. Al is a full foot taller than me and outweighs me by close to a buck — he takes up a LOT more space than I do, and is a lot more uncomfortable flying. But my hips spread out underneath the armrests and run the risk of accidentally touching the poor slob next to me. His don’t. I wouldn’t have to gain too much weight to have trouble lowering the arm rests. Al would either have to gain a shitload of weight or get an entirely different body shape. I realize not every woman is pear-shaped and not every man is hipless, but on average, it’s just common sense: who’s more likely to have broad hips? 

As for why it’s total horseshit, the kind of people who call an airline to complain about sitting next to a fatty (more on them in a moment) are not just complaining about people who can’t lower an armrest and get buckled up with a single extender. They’re undoubtedly also complaining about fat people who don’t need extenders at all, fat people who can lower the armrests, but not without their hips and thighs squishing out under them, fat people who can pretty much fit in the seats yet still stubbornly insist on being fat at everyone around them. Al and I both meet those standards, but that sure doesn’t mean we can actually confine either of our bodies to the precise dimensions of a single coach seat. So it also sure doesn’t mean nobody’s ever called up an airline after being stuck next to us for a few hours — or that nobody ever would, if they haven’t already. Many of the people I hear from who need even one extender are already in the habit of either buying two seats or not flying at all, because it is fucking painful, physically and emotionally, to deal with wedging themselves in between those narrow armrests, and potentially between two narrow-minded strangers. How many people will actually be affected by the armrest and multiple extenders rule? The number of people who buy a single coach ticket without being able to lower the armrests or get by without multiple extenders has got to be tiny, relative to the number of assholes who rant about getting stuck next to Fatty Fatty 2 x 4.

Which is absolutely not to say that anyone, of any size, should have to buy more than one seat — Canada’s got it right — just that when you take the number of people whose bodies don’t meet that particular standard and subtract the number of people who already routinely buy two seats, fly first class, or find alternate transportation, how many are actually left? My fat gut says probably not that many. Which means that, even with this policy, the same people who are outraged about having to sit next to fatties will continue to have to, and continue to be outraged about it — only now there’s a discriminatory, humiliating policy in place that will A) penalize a number of fat people in the first place, and B) encourage those assholes to make a public stink about how their fat neighbors should have to buy two seats, regardless of whether said fat neighbors technically qualify for that penalty under the airline’s guidelines. Which are horseshit and sexist, if I hadn’t mentioned that.

Not to mention, as we’ve discussed here before, very tall people or very broad-shouldered people are just as miserable in those tiny seats themselves and just as likely to encroach on their neighbors’ space as fat folks. But making them buy two seats would be discrimination! Making fatties buy two seats is merely offering us extra motivation to lose weight, which is healthy! It’s totally for our own good!

Fillyjonk just made a point in an e-mail to me that I can’t BELIEVE I have never thought of or heard before. To wit:

What we end up hearing every time this comes up is “they should sell wider seats at a premium instead.” (Or, as Dan rather adorably put it, “if airlines want to sell seats based on space, they need to offer a distribution of seats with a distribution of prices, with a mean seat width based on the mean width of the population.”) Of course, they already do that — it’s called first class, and saying that fat people should pay extra for it is no less problematic than saying they should pay extra for another seat. What gets overlooked is that, while there already exists an option that accommodates a fat ass at a premium, there also already exists an option that GUARANTEES THAT A FAT ASS WILL NOT IMPINGE ON YOUR SPACE at a premium. Why shouldn’t people who want breathing room on an airline be the ones to pay for the privilege? In economy, you pays your money and you takes your chances. Want to take fewer chances? Pay more money. Can’t pay enough money to be comfortable? Welcome to American capitalism.

Fillyjonk is so smart. If you’re so terrorized by the thought of having your thigh touch someone else’s (and don’t get me wrong — I don’t LIKE that anymore than anybody else does, I’m just realistic about why it happens, which is that THE SEATS ARE TOO SMALL FOR PRACTICALLY EVERYBODY), just buy yourself a first class ticket! Or two seats for yourself! What? You say you can’t afford that? NEITHER CAN THE FAT CHICK NEXT TO YOU. What? Being next to her means your ride is uncomfortable? SO IS HERS, and you’re not the one sitting next to a total asshole!

As it turns out, that fat chick is a human being who paid for her coach seat just like you did, which means you are entitled to precisely $0 worth of extra comfort and/or services, and precisely no guarantee that you will find the person sitting next to you delightful in all ways. You want more, pay for more. You can’t afford it, take the train; Amtrak’s coach seats are significantly wider, with loads more leg room, plus you can get up and walk around or go sit in the lounge car if you’re disgusted by your seatmate. What? You don’t have time to take the train? You’re busy? You’re important? You have places to be? SAME GOES FOR THE FAT CHICK. This, “just pay more or find another option” shit sounds terribly classist and let-them-eat-cakey, you say? IT DOES TO HER, TOO. Get it?

No, of course you don’t get it. You never will. Because your answer to all of that is, “But I’m a thin person, which makes me good! If some individual must pay a penalty because the airlines are so goddamned cheap they insist on cramming ten pounds of passenger in a five pound bag, it should obviously be the fat person, who is fat and therefore deserving of punishment! Duh!” 

Here’s the most heartening note I can think to end this on. A United spokesperson told Reuters UK, by way of explaining the new policy, “Last year we had 700 complaints from passengers who had to share their seats.” And although my first response to that was, “Christ, I hate people,” my second was, “Wait, only 700? In a year? And that’s enough to change the policy?”

Shapelings, I bet we can get 700 complaints to United in a week. Go get ‘em.

Your hairy legs could be mass murderers even now

In the spirit of “Obese blamed for world’s ills” comes this little ad video that shows what happens if you fail to shave your legs to absolute smoothness every single day: utter chaos. Not only will dudes be grossed out, but they could DIE! Here’s the link: click “watch film” to see what I mean.

Look, ladies, here’s how it is: even if you’re white and thin and traditionally feminine, and you wore your sandals and your cute sundress with the cleavage and you have no problem with your boyfriend groping you on public transit, if you forgot or, heaven forfend, chose not to shave the invisible stubble from your legs, YOU HAVE DOOMED ALL AROUND YOU TO MISERY. A woman may be pinned on her back under a stranger (god, it’s almost like you WANT her to be assaulted), and a perfectly innocent man who just wants to enjoy his perfectly healthy apple despite the fact that you’re not really supposed to eat on the bus will choke almost to death AND THEN EVERYONE WILL GLARE AT YOU AND YOU WILL GET A TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOUR FUTURE SELF OR SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.

Here’s the thing: this ad would be kinda cute, in its Rube Goldberg-esque way, if it didn’t start from the premise that all women should be available to groping by men at all times. No matter how much you doll yourself up, if there is any part of you that is not sufficiently hairless and smooth, you are persona non grata in terms of beauty. Stubble turns you from a hot chick into a chick so disgusting that men actually leap away from you. You’ve ruined everything by failing to meet the endlessly exacting standards of beauty, which you can only hope to meet by buying our extra-fancy new razor or beauty creme or undergarment.

And remember, even if you look hairless, since your body is available to be groped at any time, your True Hairlessness is subject to scrutiny. If you are cursed with thick body hair, or dark hair against pale skin, you should probably just carry your fancy-ass razor along with you at all times, since your stubble might be noticeable under fluorescent light or when caressed by a (male) baby.

Because I am, as you know, a humorless feminist and a noted misanthropist, I am about to do something that is so dangerous to the fate of dudes everywhere, it will probably cause the dystopian women-only future that right-wingers have nightmares about. I live in Chicago, where it fucking snowed this morning, which should give you a sense of how many months it’s been since I showed my bare legs in public. Also, I am a very pale white woman with dark, thick hair. By now, you’ve sensed what’s coming: tell the menfolk to hide in the storm cellar lest they catch a glimpse of this, my real leg:

Behold: My hairy damn leg

Behold: My hairy damn leg

I have not shaved in WEEKS. Sometime I go the whole winter without shaving at all, and then I have what I think of as a Deforestation Session in March or April. It’s odd; I’ve lived with a man for six years, but he’s never mentioned the horrible chains of events that must happen to him every day because of my hirsute natural state. He must be suffering in silence, the poor thing.

This is what the beauty ideal is designed to erase: the reality of our bodies. This is what is so scary to proponents of fancy razors, diet pills, fake tans, and all that bullshit: the fact that women have hair on their bodies, just like they’re people or something. Some women are fat and some are thin. Some women have straight swingy hair and some have kinky hair and some have frizzy hair and some just stick what they’ve got in a damn ponytail. Some women have big pillowy lips and some don’t. Some women have curves and some have rolls and some have both and some have neither. Women, just like men, live in human bodies, and human bodies are incredibly diverse. We all know that, even the most brainwashed of us: but we also know we’re not supposed to know it. If we all just said that women are real people — if we said that out loud — what on earth might happen?

Chaos would ensue. Dudes might be harmed.

(Via Feministing.)

Read ‘Em

There are about a gazillion things we’ve missed in the last week, so it’s round-up time.

First, though, I have a favor to ask of anyone who can swing it. Al’s friend Peter lost his job last July. He and his partner of 20+ years, Ericka, are now in danger of losing their house — foreclosure proceedings have begun, and a sheriff’s sale has been set for May 8. Making matters more difficult, in this case, saving the house isn’t just a matter of keeping a roof over their heads. Quoting Peter:

Ericka has multiple, chronic, life-altering diseases and Peter is her primary caregiver. We have modified our home to handle her medical equipment and power wheelchair, etc. Things like the added and increased voltage electrical system, the ramp, the bathroom, the enlarged doors and added bedroom door (so the wheelchair and ambulance gurneys can get through) are just some of the things that have been adapted so that Ericka can continue to live in our home.

Peter recently got a temporary job, and they’ve received some donations already, but they’re still going to need more to keep the house. I know everyone is struggling right now, but if any Shapelings have a bit of cash to spare, please go here and use the donate button or bid on one of the items other friends are auctioning off. A bunch of small donations could make a huge difference. Also, if you’re in the Twin Cities area and know of anyone looking to hire a webmaster/information architect/business analyst (I don’t even know what two out of three of those things mean), Peter’s resume can be found here.

Now, on to the round-up.

The Meghan McCain thing
Backstory here. FJ e-mailed about it this morning and all she said was, “Just in case you needed another reason never to pull that “last acceptable prejudice” shit…” No kidding.

Nevertheless, I replied that I was reasonably pleased with McCain’s response, overall — although yeah, the “last acceptable prejudice” thing NEEDS TO FUCKING DIE, and it also seemed like there was a little too much, “But I’m not fat!” going on, even though she had the decency to acknowledge that the criticism would be bullshit even if she were. I also admitted that a small part of me quite likes what I’ve seen of Meghan McCain (which is not that much, I hasten to note) — that is, the part of me that thinks deep down she’s a Democrat who’s just a little too green to get why her youthful energy and optimism almost certainly won’t make the Republican party any less hateful in the next few generations — so I might be giving her too much benefit of the doubt. FJ is not similarly impressed. What say you, Shapelings? Is her message refreshing to see, or undermined by the way she articulates it? Or both?  

Attack of the fat babies
There are reports out today about a new program  designed to keep pregnant women from gaining too much weight. Once again, the reporting suggests that fat moms have fat babies because their fat uteruses are fucking obesogenic environments, not because fat is hereditary. As I’ve said before, I don’t think genetics are the only reason why some people are fat, and I don’t entirely discount the possibility that a woman’s fat cells themselves could potentially affect her eggs or fetus(es). I do, however, think that when we’re talking about fat moms having fat babies, and no one ever says, “Hey, you think maybe that’s because fat is hereditary?” William of Ockham starts spinning in his goddamned grave.   

Also, check out Lauredhel on how the supposed upward trend in babies’ birthweights is horseshit. 

Brain surgery to cure teh fatz
Today, BFD  got around to highlighting Withoutscene’s fabulous rant on the brain surgery for obesity story we still haven’t gotten around to discussing. Discuss.

A good old fashioned blood-boiler
(via Shapeling Judith) Please enjoy this essay, in which Mindy Laube compares fatness to crime AND admits straight up that health is beside the point: Her whole argument is that fat people should rightly hate ourselves on aesthetic grounds alone. Money quote:

When teenage girls are willing to flaunt their oversize bellies in bikinis only one conclusion can be drawn: human nature is in flux. At some point during the last couple of decades, we seem to have misplaced one of the healthiest of human traits: vanity.

Yes, folks, once again, fat is fashionable and thin people are being persecuted by the millions and millions of fat-accepting folks, who are drowning out the noble few still fighting for a thin beauty standard.

The louder crowd insists that slender women are bizarre anomalies who ought to be force-fed into obese conformity because the rotund figure of the average Australian woman is “normal” and thus ideal.

Wow. I know American public schools don’t do such a great job of teaching geography, but I am 34 years old, and until this moment did not even realize that Australia IS ON ANOTHER FUCKING PLANET.

If you’re fat, you should be standing up to burn calories anyway. (If you can’t stand up, fuck you.)
A fitness club in The Netherlands has installed these high-tech bus shelter ads with a scale in the bench that produces a digital readout of your weight up in the usual ad space, where everyone can see it. As Liss says, “Not only fat-hating/shaming, but deeply hostile to the physically disabled, who have to exchange their privacy and dignity for their basic comfort just to wait for a bus.”

Leave more in comments, y’all. Self-linking encouraged.

Part Two

OK,  the second statement up my ass yesterday was Kenan Thompson’s commentary on Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna. Asked whether Saturday Night Live would ever invite Brown back, Thompson said:

It’s not up to me, but I’m sure we would if he had another hit single. We don’t care about scandal. We just care about what brings us ratings!

I don’t know if I’m more disturbed by the fact that he saw nothing wrong with saying that — because hey, what’s a little domestic violence, besides an embarrassing scandal? — or the fact that it’s probably true. I do, however, know what I’m most disturbed by, which is how he followed that up:

I don’t know the whole story, but I know how women can get when you get a text message from another female, so I’m just saying, you have to learn that you can’t put your hands on a female.

I don’t even have words. “You know, I understand how tempting it is to beat a woman when she’s acting all nutty because she found, you know, evidence that you cheated on her or something — but you just don’t do that, dude! LOL!”  

Not to mention the “I don’t know the whole story” part. YOU GENERALLY DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WHOLE STORY IF YOU KNOW THE END OF THE STORY IS THAT A MAN BEAT A WOMAN. 

I mean, if I thought people were saying shit like that just to cover their asses in the very unlikely event it’s proven that Brown’s violence was in self-defense, I could understand, even though it would still make me angry. But it’s clear that that’s not why. It’s clear that way too fucking many people, who are getting way too fucking much press, believe that there is an entire range of things women can do that would justify an assault. They’re not just acknowledging that a woman might, in some rare cases, physically attack a man in such a manner that the only way for him to protect himself would be to keep fighting back with his fists. They’re saying — openly and unashamedly — that sometimes, you know, women really deserve a beating. Period. And the implication is that guys who don’t give into that overwhelming temptation to attack their wives or girlfriends deserve a goddamned cookie.

Need another example? Jezebel provided a sickening one this morning. Ne-Yo, after noting that the leaked pictures of Rihanna “really hurt me to my heart, man,” went on to say:

I’m not going to crucify [Chris]. I’m not going to do that. That’s still my homeboy at the end of the day. For it to go to that level was wrong. I won’t say who was responsible. I won’t pick no sides. I’m just saying it was wrong it had to happen like that, and I’m praying for the both of them.

Emphasis mine. Remaining loyal to a friend who’s committed a crime is one thing. Acting as if it’s impossible to determine who’s responsible for a man assaulting his girlfriend is fucking perverse. ONE PERSON COMMITTED VIOLENCE ON ANOTHER PERSON. There is so far nothing to suggest that it was in self-defense — and you can bloody well bet we would have heard about it by now if anyone were advancing that argument, even half-assedly. Ergo, THE PERSON WHO ASSAULTED THE OTHER PERSON IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE. 

It is so profoundly sickening and infuriating to me that we keep seeing quote after quote from celebrity after celebrity suggesting that it’s impossible to know whether Chris Brown is truly at fault for committing a violent crime, because we don’t know how Rihanna acted leading up to it, or whether this had happened before, or what. As if there is some amount of anger, some amount of yelling, some amount of freaking out that could ever, ever justify assaulting another person. As if it matters whether this was the first time or the hundredth time, in terms of determining whether Brown is the kind of guy who would beat a woman, or a guy who just happened to beat a woman. As if a woman who goes and gets “how women can get” clearly bears some responsibility for a man attacking her.

As if we all agree that wanting to beat a woman is quite normal and understandable, but acting on it is… unseemly. “You have to learn that you can’t put your hands on a female.”

I’m out of words for this. Have at it, Shapelings.

ETA: While we’re on the topic, look what I just found at Feministing:

Wife-beaters.com, a Dallas-based business that sold wife-beater T-shirts, has been shut down after a San Antonio man complained to the company hosting the site.

…The Web site sold white tank tops, commonly referred to as “wife-beaters,”and gave a discount to anyone who could prove they were convicted of wife beating.