All Right, Fine, I’ll Talk about Dan Savage

Several years ago, my mom was out to lunch with some friends, and she started telling a story about a new hairdresser she’d been to. She embellished this story, as even reasonably liberal people of her generation so often did, with the standard lisping and wrist-flopping to indicate he was a male hairdresser, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

One of the friends gave her the stink-eye and said, “Oh, come on, Pattie. He wasn’t really like that, was he?”

Mom, mortified, had to admit he was not. She was just, you know, trying to be funny… and no, now that you mention it, being gay really isn’t intrinsically funny, but… well, people usually laugh when you do the lisping, wrist-flopping thing, so that’s something like funny, isn’t it?

There was no point. She was busted, and she knew it. The friend in question was one of the funniest women she knew — and that’s saying something, because my mom was the funniest woman most of her other friends knew. The joke utterly failed the funny test, which was almost as bad as the fact that it was homophobic. But not quite as bad.

Because the friend in question was Dan Savage’s mom. She wouldn’t stand for that shit.

I’ve never met Dan Savage, but the few times I met his mom, I adored her. So did my mom — I heard Judy’s name constantly while I was growing up, as well as updates on all four of her kids (none of whom I’ve met), which led inevitably to this conversation:

Mom: Danny Savage’s column is all over the place now!

Me: Yeah, Mom, I know. And, um, I’m gonna suggest that you just be happy for him and not go looking to read it, okay? Trust me on this.

Mom: Why don’t you have a nationally syndicated column?

Me: I don’t know, because I just started college?

Mom: You can already write circles around 95% of the writers in the Trib! You could have a Pulitzer by the time you’re 25 if you’d just get off your ass–

Me: Okay, I’m hanging up now.

So for the last 12 years or so, he’s loomed in my mind not as Dan Savage, Well-Known Sex Advice Columnist but as Dan Savage, Judy’s Kid Who’s a Real Writer, and What the Hell Am I Supposed to Tell My Friends Who’ve Been Waiting for You to Publish a Novel Since You Were Six Years Old, when You Never Send a Goddamned Thing out?

Even almost seven years after my mother’s death.

Which means I read everything he writes, and I really sort of want to hate him, but 99% of the time I can’t, ’cause he’s smart and funny and deserves everything he’s achieved.

Then there’s the other 1% of the time, when he talks about fat people.

When I read The Commitment last year, I got to enjoy 17 whole pages of not hating him before I got to this:

Two days later, in a water park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I came to a couple of realizations: First, anyone who denies the existence of the obesity epidemic in the United States hasn’t been to a water park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (The owners of water parks in the U.S. must be saving a fortune on water and chlorine bills; floating in the deep end of the wave pool with D.J., Terry observed that there was an awful lot of water being displaced. If the South Dakotans floating around us all got out of the pool at the same time, the water level would most likely have dropped six feet.)

And when I read that, I really wished that I had met him, so maybe we could have lunch and I could give him the stink-eye and say, “Oh, come on, Danny. It wasn’t really like that, was it?”

Not to mention, that quote’s awfully mild, compared to say, this, which came after he wrote some fatphobic comments about “Girl Love Handles” and heard just what an asshole he was from a lot of readers:

Secondly, I’m sick of talking about GLH and obesity. I would dearly love to move on, but the mail–oh, the mail!–keeps pouring in. Some is from folks who’ve got my back (thanks, gang), but most is from ticked-off women like LARDASS. As of this writing, I’ve received exactly 10,547 pieces of e-mail–yes, that’s the actual tally–complaining that my refusal to take the self-esteem-boosting/public-health-shredding position that you can be obese and healthy somehow oppresses women. Interestingly enough, I haven’t received a single piece of e-mail about how, say, the Food and Drug Administration oppresses women.

“LARDASS” was the clever name he assigned to an anonymous woman who wrote in to say she was offended. (That’s why they pay him the big bucks, I guess.) And where he’s going with that last line is that we shouldn’t be concerned about fat hatred, because there are better things to worry about, like legislation surrounding Plan B. Because no one person could possibly have two concerns simultaneously, for starters. And no one ever dismisses people who concern themselves with social justice on the grounds that there are “better things to worry about.” Certainly, I’ve never once heard that there are more pressing issues facing the world than, say, gay marriage. Hey, what are you homos doing about the situation in Darfur? Huh? How about Iraq? Poverty? Animal cruelty?

And how about fat rights, you fucking bigot?

I will not make the argument that being fat is the same as being gay in this society, because fat people are not murdered by strangers for being fat, nor beaten up by cops for being fat, and fat people are free to marry each other in all fifty states. But you know what? That’s about where the dissimilarities end.

Here’s a partial list of fat sterotypes and arguments used to justify fat hatred:

  • It’s a choice. (Never mind that diets have about exactly the same long-term success rates as ex-gay ministries.)
  • It’s a sin. God hates gluttony. It’s right there in the Bible.
  • It’s unnatural.
  • It’s disgusting.
  • You could change if you really wanted to.
  • It will kill you.
  • It’s creating a public health crisis.
  • Being attracted to fat people is not normal.
  • Only perverts could want to have sex with fat people.
  • It’s fine if you don’t make a big deal about it — live and let live — but why do you feel the need to flaunt it? (Girl Love Handles, anyone?)
  • Fat people (especially women) are oversexed, want to fuck every thin person they see, and will not take into account whether those other people express any attraction to them; all they can think about is getting teh sex.
  • Fat people should not be allowed to adopt children.
  • Fat people who already have kids should have their children taken away from them.
  • Fat people make irresponsible “lifestyle choices.”
  • People would stop treating you like shit for being fat if you’d just stop being fat.
  • People get fat because their mothers fucked them up when they were children.
  • We need to make sure our poor, innocent children don’t grow up fat, so they don’t have to endure the suffering that comes from being around bigoted assholes fat.

Do I need to go on, or are you getting the picture?

Fat hatred exists because most people in this culture react with visceral disgust, based on Puritanical values, to who we are because of our genes. Sound familiar?

Yes, some people get fatter than their genes alone would make them, because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough, risking disease. I’m not sure if you know this, Dan, but I hear some gay people have anonymous sex with no protection, risking disease. That’s not the choice I would make in their position, but it doesn’t make them any less deserving of personhood, of civil rights, of respect as human beings. Health is not a moral imperative. And more importantly, wearing condoms and/or getting into a monogamous relationship would not make them any less fundamentally gay. Likewise, if you were born to be fat, you can choose to live as healthfully or unhealthfully as you like — you can even join an ex-fat church (literally) and spend a few years living like a “normal” person — but you are never gonna be permanently unfat. It is just what you fucking are.

So all that’s background to this: Dan Savage recently wrote a column about fat people that wasn’t completely hateful. People are e-mailing me about it left and right. Some people are cheering. Yay, Dan Savage stood up for teh fatties!

Other people are not impressed. And I gotta say, I’m with BStu on this one.

Here’s another quote from The Commitment:

If I weren’t so attracted to tall blond guys who look good in Speedos, I would probably have grown up to be an insufferable, judgmental prude, instead of the insufferable, judgmental libertine that I became — and yes, it is possible to be an insufferable, judgmental libertine. Respecting the rights of others to make their own choices doesn’t mean you can’t make judgments, or form and share opinions. This sometimes makes me insufferable…

No fucking argument there, dude.

(Cross-posted.)

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189 Comments

Filed under 09_kate_harding

189 responses to “All Right, Fine, I’ll Talk about Dan Savage

  1. Dear Dan Savage,

    I don’t actually give a shit if being gay is in your genes or if it was a choice you made as easily as what to eat for dinner tonight. I’d fight for your equal rights and against your marginalization via legislation, “tradition,” or ridicule until my dying breath either way.

    So how about doing the same for my fat ass in return?

    Deal?

    Love,
    Lissie the Lardass

  2. Kate Harding

    Dear Dan Savage,

    Also, what Liss just said.

    Love,
    Kate

  3. Rock the fuck on both of you! Savage is somewhat of a sacred cow in “progressive” circles, I’m thrilled to see Shakesville taking him on.

  4. Dear Dan Savage,

    And how about writing something about how shallowly focusing on looks, thinness, youth, fashion, and how much a guy makes leaves out a whole legion of funny, smart, sexy, underprivileged, older fat queer guys? Like my totally awesome ex in San Francisco?! (Whose fashion sense actually rocks.) Isn’t it time for teh gay male community to evolve?

  5. The thing that really got to me reading back through his columns on fat is that sense of accomplishment he has about berating the fatties. Its not an uncommon tactic, but seeing it in someone so widely revered was annoying. Like a lot of people who hate fat people, he’s really smug and self-satisfied about saying so, relishing the opportunity to put fat people in their place because he completely accepts the notion that the problem with fat people is that they have it too easy.

  6. Pingback: All Right, Fine, I’ll Talk about Dan Savage « Shapely Prose

  7. Holly in cincinnati

    I am fat and this doesn’t bother me at all. There are certainly more important things to worry about than whether some sex columnist I rarely bother to read is fat-phobic.

  8. oljb

    Just one point… I’m pretty sure in Savage’s column, the acronym nicknames are witticisms that the person writing in makes up, not Savage. Am I wrong about this? A person calling herself “LARDASS” is a lot different than someone calling another person “LARDASS”, so I thought it would be worth clarifying.

  9. Kate Harding

    Just one point… I’m pretty sure in Savage’s column, the acronym nicknames are witticisms that the person writing in makes up, not Savage. Am I wrong about this? A person calling herself “LARDASS” is a lot different than someone calling another person “LARDASS”, so I thought it would be worth clarifying.

    In the paragraph before the one I quoted, he says,

    First off, LARDASS, you neglected to include a sign-off, forcing me to create one for you. I tried to create one that captured the spirit and tone of your letter, and I think I did pretty well. Too bad about the acronym, though, huh?

    Which kinda goes to what BStu was saying above.

    And Holly in Cincinnati, the real question is, HAVE YOU WRITTEN TO THE FDA?

  10. I “voted with my feet” long ago re: Dan Savage. Yes, he has mad wit-demonz, but privilege is privilege is privilege.

  11. He’s not just a “sex columnist” either. He’s also the longtime editor-in-chief of The Stranger, one of Seattle’s altweeklies, and thus has some pretty serious lefty-media clout.

  12. There are certainly more important things to worry about

    I certainly hope you’ll send me a list, Holly, so I can disseminate it to all the contributors and make sure we only blog on the Most Important Things As Subjectively Defined By One Reader.

  13. I sort of have a love-hate relationship with Dan Savage. On the one hand. he can be totally fat phobic and it pisses me off to no end. On the other, he does once in a while discuss the whole phenomenon of “I like fat chicks but never date them because my buddies will rib me” and points out the personal and societal problems with said phenomenon.

    I guess I’ve gotten to the point where every time I crack open a Dan Savage piece, I ahve to remind myself that my mileage may vary and that chances are that i am going to have to throw him across the room at least once a month.

  14. Pingback: Big Fat Deal » Or Maybe Not?

  15. Wow, awesome tour de force. And yes, you really can write circles around 95% of Trib writers. More like 99%.

  16. oljb

    Thanks for the explanation, Kate.

  17. Dan

    I was recently sitting with a woman at a sidewalk cafe’on a hot summer day. As an overweight man walked by us, she joked that he must hate hiself and how disgusting he was. As she said this, she curled a Marlboro to her lips and took a drag.

    Now I’m an off and on smoker, but the foot in her mouth was about a size 30.

    Moreoever, I’ve only been coming here a short while but what exactly are you trying to do Holly in Cincinatti? You obviously are trying to get a contrarian point of view across but you never say anything ie. no facts, no discussion. Am I missing something?

  18. I will not make the argument that being fat is the same as being gay in this society…

    I have to add that when a gay man gets fat, he becomes a “bear.”

  19. Holly’s drive-bys now include a second cryptic sentence, but it’s progress. If you care what she thinks.

  20. Constant Comment

    Dan: No sense in trying to figure out Holly. She claims she’s a Democrat but usually pops in and offers one line of unprogressive viewpoint with no substance or anything to back it up, then disappears. While there is no expectation that everyone who comments here has to be in lockstep with Melissa or the other posters, I’ve never seen anything in Holly’s comments that wasn’t contrary just for the sake of being contrary. I mean WTP?

    As far as Dan Savage goes, all I have to say is that it never ceases to amaze me how those who have been on the receiving end of bigotry can be that way to others…

    Don’t. get. it.

  21. Those who have been hurt the most are often the ones who know how to inflict the most hurt.

    Just because you are a member of a group that is oppressed does not mean that you are enlightened enough to know better than to contribute to the oppression of others.

    All that said and done: i’m not overly familiar with the chap or his writing. I can’t say i’m impressed by what little i have seen – regardless of what stance he takes, there’s entirely too much unnecessary vitriol for me to be comfortable with anything he says.

  22. I continue to read Dan Savage, because he is brilliant and correct whenever he isn’t talking about fat. And he is clearly immovable about fat. And an asshole about it.

    Sort of like the Randi Rhodes conversation from last week. I don’t expect the people I admire to be perfect in all things; I am okay with them sometimes being infuriating assholes. I mean, I’ve been married twice, I know my infuriating assholes (and I know how to continue to love them, despite the little detail about the divorces).

    I feel for you with the mother issue. I had a Dan Savage in my own life, the daughter of a friend of my mom’s who over-achieved me in every way, was prettier than me, went to Oberlin, made interesting career choices, the whole nine yards. Couldn’t STAND the thought that mom would mention Cindy again, and was relieved when she had a falling out with Cindy’s mom and I stopped hearing about it.

  23. Fritz, I am so hot for bears. I wish there were bear websites for straight guys and the girls who love them.

  24. Kate Harding

    I have to add that when a gay man gets fat, he becomes a “bear.”

    And when a gay woman gets fat, she becomes a Portly Dyke!

  25. R. Parker

    Yeah, well, I stopped reading Dan Savage after he said “People should be treated with suspicion when they claim to have been raped—always gently, and in varying degrees based on the particular circumstances—because, uh, people are innocent until proven guilty. And, yes, that includes accused rapists.” Before his promoting that survivors of rape should be treated with “suspicion” I always thought he was fun and sometimes educational to read. But now I’m not so keen on tolerating the crap that he likes to spout off.

  26. I wish there were bear websites for straight guys and the girls who love them.

    http://www.shakesville.com

  27. Deborah – I am so with you on the bear website for straight guys and the girls who love them! I had a delicious little flirtation going with a yummy yummy amber bear at the Ren Faire this weekend, until his female companion gave me the wooly eye and the quirked eyebrow. *sighs*

  28. Kate Harding

    LOL, Liss!

  29. Arkades

    I read Savage only once in a while… he’s witty and funny, but he also lives up to that surname a bit often for my tastes. When he’s ripping into a clueless prude or ‘phobe, it’s a delight to behold. When he’s tossing withering disdain toward gay men or women who aren’t young/buff/rich/wealthy/fabulous enough, well… I can do without that kind of attitude, thanks. We get enough of that from mainstream culture and don’t need to reinforce it ourselves.

    Onward toward more fun topics and (meta-)commenting…

    I have to add that when a gay man gets fat, he becomes a “bear.”

    Though I am indeed fat, gay, and bearish, I hasten to point out that being a fat gay man does not automatically make one a bear.

    For that matter, not all bears are fat. There are some truly tasty musclebears out there… *swoon*

    I do agree that RenFaires (and re-enactment crowds more generally) seem to have a high proportion of straight bearish men, though. Tasty eye candy! (Frustratingly, few of those hunky RenBears play on my side of the fence, as it were, but I certainly won’t begrudge my sisters their share of the hunky guys!)

  30. tharine

    i second the lol at melissa. love it!

  31. Only perverts could want to have sex with fat people.

    I read that and then something popped into my head that I hadn’t thought about for a while. I was working on a film shoot recently, and practically fell in love with one of the actors. He was incredibly tall, and pretty heavy as well, and older than me, but he was by far one of the funniest and nicest people I had ever met.

    Of course, I told myself that “I shouldn’t be liking him”. And then I thought… why? So now I still have an unabashed crush on him.

    Sigh.

  32. Dear Kate,

    I’m all for fat rights.

    What I’m against is the notion that pretending obesity is healthy is somehow a “right” to which fat people are entitled, or that it’s some sort of social justice issue. It’s not. Also, people are not violating your “rights” if they don’t find you attractive for whatever reason.

    And regarding LARDASS… you neglected to include LARDASS’ letter to me, which isn’t fair. I wasn’t responding to “readers,” I was responding to one reader. And here’s her letter:

    “You ASSHOLE. I’m a large woman. I read your two incredibly offensive columns about ‘girl love handles’ and the supposed ‘health risks’ of obesity. How dare you oppress women, large and small, with your judgments! Maybe if you enjoyed putting something in your mouth every once in a while that wasn’t cock, Mr. Skin and Boners, you would see things differently. At least food is supposed to go in our mouths. Food, it’s what’s for dinner. For some of us, anyway.”

    Uh… gee. Who started the name calling here? I was just giving it back, as good as LARDASS was dishing it out. It’s not like some nice respectful member of NAAFA sent me a note and I jumped down her throat and called her names.

    Thanks for the nice thoughts about my mom, and sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. My mom is with me now, on vacation, and I’ll ask her about your mom when she gets back from — no shit — picking blueberries with my boyfriend.

    Dan

    P.S. You seem to have an issue with homos. I mean, we can all play the “more important things” game. Gay marriage? Sure, maybe it’s less important than Darfur. But so is blogging — and so are fat rights, immigrant rights, global warming, blah blah blah. There’s always something more important out there.

  33. What I’m against is the notion that pretending obesity is healthy is somehow a “right” to which fat people are entitled, or that it’s some sort of social justice issue. It’s not.

    Oh, okay, then. Guess we’re all wrong. Thanks for stopping by and clearing that up, Dan.

    Now, I also advocate on behalf of the gay community, which I’m pretty sure you believe is “some sort of social justice issue,” so we’re cool there. What about trans advocacy? Is that cool with you? How about race issues? Disability rights?

    Do you think you could just make me a list of the things that are “some sort of social justice issue” so we know what to write about here at Shakesville?

  34. Kate Harding

    You seem to have an issue with homos. I mean, we can all play the “more important things” game. Gay marriage? Sure, maybe it’s less important than Darfur. But so is blogging — and so are fat rights, immigrant rights, global warming, blah blah blah. There’s always something more important out there.

    Dan, you might want to read it again. That was exactly my point. I was taking you to task for playing that game in the column. The Darfur thing, etc., was sarcasm. (Also, I absolutely think gay marriage is worth fighting for.)

    As for not quoting “LARDASS’s” letter, I linked to the column, so people could go read the whole thing.

    Fat people absolutely can be healthy. You’re just fucking wrong about that. Seriously, before you spout off about that again, read The Obesity Myth, by Paul Campos, or Rethinking Thin, by Gina Kolata, or Fat Politics, by J. Eric Oliver. (Note: none of those authors are fat.) Or at least this post.

    And tell me why, exactly, it’s not “some sort of social justice issue?”

    Oh, also, thanks for the cheap shot about how I’m concerned with my “right” to be found attractive. What a load of horseshit. Nobody has a right to be found attractive, and I’ve never argued otherwise. Nor have I complained about people not finding me attractive, since plenty of people do, most notably my boyfriend.

    Say hi to your mom. I hope she’s doing well.

  35. Kate Harding

    Oh, also?

    It’s not like some nice respectful member of NAAFA sent me a note and I jumped down her throat and called her names.

    Marilyn Wann’s a nice, respectful member of NAAFA. You didn’t exactly call her names, granted, but “Oh, Marilyn, please. If you’re happy fat, that’s fine, and if your fat ass isn’t getting in the way of your joy, have a Snickers bar.” isn’t exactly nice and respectful, either.

  36. What I’m against is the notion that pretending obesity is healthy is somehow a “right” to which fat people are entitled…

    My maternal grandmother was obese and she lived to 98. She was never sick a day in her life. Her oldest daughter inherited the fat gene and she’s still going strong at 88. She’ll probably live past 100 like all of Granny’s sisters did.

    So, I know from personal experience that many obese people are healthy.

    My grandparents came from Bavaria, where being plump is quite common. It is the result of their ancestors surviving the Ice Age and the cold Alpine winters (and a love for beer).

  37. Uh… gee. Who started the name calling here? I was just giving it back, as good as LARDASS was dishing it out.

    Does that mean I should have shouted the n-word at the black guy who called me “whitebread” a few weeks ago?

    Tit for tat, right?

  38. Dan, you might consider rereading Kate’s post to see what she has actually said. Because, you know what? It IS possible to be fat and be healthy. And it IS possible to be fat and be attractive. No one is saying YOU have to find fat people attractive. But maybe we’d like to walk down the street without being harassed, just like you. Maybe we’d like doctors to take our medical issues seriously instead of blaming it on our weight, just like you. Maybe we’d like our basic personhood to be acknowledged instead as serving as fodder for bigoted people who can’t wrap their brains around the idea that different is not automatically bad.

    And, you know, this whole situation IS a social justice issue. Because, geezus, Dan, the more people it is okay to humiliate for not being a part of the dominant social paradigm, the narrower that definition gets. The shallower and cheaper our society gets. The crueler it gets.

    You make your living writing acerbic and biting responses to people who truly do have problems. I often appreciate that you do not mince words. And so I will not mince words with you, Dan. If you want to pretend that going to McDonald’s will net someone some free feeder porn, you go ahead. But you also ought to realize that you have internalized every message about fat=evil that your reader with the thing for thick girls has internalized. You are no better than your readers who are ashamed of loving fat bodies.

  39. I don’t think I have the “right” to be found attractive. However, I do think I have the right to live in a world where someone who does find me attractive is not treated like a leper.

    Dan, it appeared from your column that you were getting that point, and for that I applaud you. But you’ve also been presented with evidence over and over and over again that fat does not necessarily equal diseased or eating oneself to death, that fat people are not ipso facto self-destructive (although of course individual fat people can be), and you refuse — gleefully refuse, it seems — to take in this more complex, shades-of-gray reality. Still.

    Fat rights people and gay rights people are natural allies. Why go out of your way to alienate us? I was fired from my first job as a teenager, in 1980 — before you even knew you were gay — for saying gays should have the right to marry. And I’m not even gay myself. If I can grok that basic right at the age of 16, you at more than double that age ought to be able to understand the difference between feederism (which fat rights people almost universally deplore, BTW) and fat working class people simply enjoying their KFC.

  40. Or there’s the mere existence of bisexual folks, which seems to be problematic also. (At least it was back when Mr. Savage’s column was still “Hey Faggot!”) I wish I could say that I’m surprised that when Kate’s being told off for not concentrating on the right issues, she’s being told off by a white guy. Or that the right issues are those that are closest to white guy’s heart. I’m a big supporter of marriage equality. But I’m not about to suggest that nobody should work towards fat acceptance because we don’t have marriage equality.

    Hell, I’d settle for fat acceptance within my marriage. (It’s my wife, and she’s not comfortable with being fat. It makes me intensely uncomfortable sometimes, like while watching Shaq’s Big Challenge.)

  41. Gee, thanks for regarding our rights as playing “pretend”. Gosh, why could we possibly have a problem with a guy who views our position as make-believe.

    Really, though, this is the essential problem fat acceptance faces. How to get over a hurdle so absurdly high? How do you hope to start a discourse when so many people see your position as literally a joke and feel entitled to treat you accordingly? There are so many people who hold out the false promise of support as long as we stop being “extreme” and accept the status quo justifications for bigotry against fat people. Sure, they’ll back fat rights, as long as they are the rights they want to give us. They don’t think we should be discriminated against and are happy to help as long as we agree that every justification for discriminating against us is 100% correct. Yeah, that’s a winning strategy. This has happened before with other civil rights struggles and I fear there is no easy way over this hurdle. You just have to keep at it and not back down and be patient as people slowly peel off the “I don’t take you seriously” bandwagon.

  42. For years now Dan has reminded me of someone that I just couldn’t place. But I think I figured it out.

    1. Dan takes comments out of context in order to admonish someone while wagging his finger at others who do the same.

    2. Dan whines about his rights if he feels his civil liberties are being violated and then goes on to whine about others who want the same for themselves.

    3. Dan misquotes others in order to make a bigoted and ill-conceived point and then cries if someone does the same to him.

    I have it! Dan is the liberal Bill O’Reilly! The Savage Factor! The Other No Spin Zone – um no…. The Spin Less Zone? Spineless?

    Really Dan. It isn’t really like that, is it?

    I do not suggest that I have a right to be found physically attractive by every human being on earth. But I am pointing out that many people do find me beautiful, such as my husband. Not that I have a right to be found beautiful, or even that my rights are somehow being violated if someone doesn’t find me attractive. NO that is not what I am saying. I am saying that just because someone isn’t your type doesn’t automatically mean they deserve to be treated poorly.

    I do not suggest that all fat people are healthy. Obviously, fat and thin people can have health issues. I am merely pointing out that fat does not equal sick. Every medical report confirms this. Really. Read Sandy Swarc’s excellent blog http://www.JunkfoodScience.com and find out for yourself. She is an honest to goodness medical professional. Maybe you’ll believe it coming from her.

    Thank you Kate for taking this subject on. It isn’t really just Dan and his personal point of view. You are really taking on the hate mongering in the media that makes it easy for someone with Dan’s point of view (i.e. obesity=death/misery/shame/ugly/lonely, etc.) to say such bigoted comments and no one will blink an eye. It is a calmly accepted lie.

    I’m thrilled that we are talking about it in a public forum and I hope that we remain friendly and keep the trash talk to a minimum even while we are disagreeing. I married a Republican and I have some practice with this!

  43. Kate Harding

    You are really taking on the hate mongering in the media that makes it easy for someone with Dan’s point of view (i.e. obesity=death/misery/shame/ugly/lonely, etc.) to say such bigoted comments and no one will blink an eye. It is a calmly accepted lie.

    Yep. That’s what I do. It just gets me even more irate when it comes from progressives.

    As for keeping it friendly, I do hope Dan noted the part where I said I enjoy his work 99% of the time.

  44. Kate Harding

    Oh, and how the hell have I not busted out with The Campos Quote in this thread yet? I’m disappointed in myself.

    Remember that particularly clueless right-wing acquaintance of yours? The one who believes that anybody in America can become rich, because he thinks about poverty in a completely unscientific, anecdotal way, which allows him to treat the exceptional case as typical? The one who can’t seem to understand the simplest structural arguments about the nature of social inequality?

    The next time you see some fat people and get disgusted by their failure to “take care of themselves,” think about your clueless friend.

  45. Benjamin

    Apologies in advance for the length. If brevity is the soul of wit, I was born with a dunce-cap 😉

    The “more important issues” stance is, yes, absurd. I spend a fraction of the time that Kate does on body issues, a fraction of the time that Dan does on sexual rights and psychology, and I think it’s fair to assume they spend a fraction of the time that I do on intrareligious dialogue. The simple fact is that as there are a geometrically increasing number of people, with an even sharper curve of increase in their rate of communication, there will be a comparable rate of increase in awareness of (and arguably generation of) social justice issues. Specialization is absolutely necessary for individual effort to make any real impact. The funny thing is that the diversity and complexity of social issues are rarely validated as such. The expectations that society projects on us regarding how we should react and engage with these issues is more “fuzzy”, a demand that we care about “things” in general without any sense of purpose or focus (and certainly not specific enough focus that a course of action is presented). I’m reminded of the “save the whales” monologue from American Psycho: compassion without faces does more to shape our table conversation than our actual actions. Do you like Huey Lewis?

    Kudos to Kate, Kudos to Dan. You’ve both done a great deal to foster dialogue on your respective points of focus. Kate, I’ll be looking for your name on the bookshelf in coming years.

    On a tangent:
    It’s fascinating to me that the rate at which the FDA and CDC are cited in mass media seems to grow in inverse proportions to their working budgets and staff size. Both organizations are a shell of what they were ten years ago (one of the seldom-seen costs of our war efforts).

    Last year there was a mass exodus of CDC staff. Many of the departees said they were leaving due to their experience that they were becoming a mouth-piece organization, lacking the resources necessary to adequately investigate the issues put before them and put under tremendous financial and professional pressure to produce conclusions based on budgetary deadlines (rather than time tables determined by the progress of the study). A knot of FDA employees quit three years ago over concerns that they were becoming a rubber stamp instead of an investigatory and enforcement authority. Both organizations find themselves in the position of responding to the demands of or investigating the claims of organizations with far more money to throw at the problem than they do.
    Between these events and some meager inside insight into the workings of these organizations, I’m not inclined to take a statement including “FDA” or “CDC” as Gospel. My first inclination is to listen for coins and figure out whose pocket is jingling.

    A deeper look at fat and health research paints a very different picture than we see on news-lite: while the health effects of being overweight are still a subject of some debate, the health effects and success rate of most weight loss efforts are not. If you’re interested, Dan, I’d be happy to provide some links on the subject (though I think Kate could probably do a better job).

    When I see the state of public health authorities, compare their current declarations with what was produced when they had the budget to support serious research, and take it in the context of media coverage on the issue, my reaction is a mix of horror and awe.
    The ambiguities of endocrinology, genetics, and psychology (hint: the DSM diagnosis with the highest mortality rate is anorexia) are swept aside to produce a tidy, marketable justification for a conclusion that most people already agree with, though their reasons for believing it in the first place are rooted in revulsion and cultural aesthetics. Kids don’t make fun of other kids for “Hiiiiiigher risk of dia-beeee-teeeees”, adolescents don’t agonize over “becoming a burden on the already over-taxed healthcare system”, yet we are expected, as adults, to forget that this “new” information is perfectly congruous with the irrational cruelty we received and practiced earlier in life. We’ve been given a perfectly adult justification for continuing to think what we thought as children: fat is BAD (though it’ll still get you laid in eastern Europe, Africa, the Asian islands, etc).

    We are simultaneously presented with an alternative, the good to seek as we reject the bad, that is increasingly dependent on photoshop. We don’t even need to get into the issue of the degree of saturation: the fact that we rely on digital manipulation AT ALL to produce the icons representing beauty is horrifying. We differ from every prior era in that we have abolished the distinction between idealization and representation. We have the power to manipulate a representation of what is into a representation of what we think it should be. The societal and psychological power of our ability to alter images is staggering. The invention of the photograph afforded us the power to mechanically record the world without preference. While a camera was only as honest as the photographer, the medium provided more accountability in visual representation than had ever been possible. We are working overtime not to undermine that accountability, but to appropriate it. Humanity has lived with idealization of its own nature, its motives, its flesh. Since Herodetus we’ve had a clear idea of the differences between an attempt to record things as they are and an attempt to use what is as a springboard for what might be, what should be. The manipulated image, that which appears true, is the first viable tool for destroying that distinction, and can do so at a level of cultural saturation that dwarfs the “Histories”, Kant’s objectivism, and all other advocates for remembering that a thing is as it is, regardless of how we want it to be. It’s an astonishing affront to clear thinking, and the real beauty of it is that the capacity to recognize it as such cannot be imparted as quickly as the deception itself.

    The problem posed by applying this sort of confusion to our own bodies is evident in countless weight loss studies. Even operating from pure theory, imposing subjective criteria to the objective operation of our genetics, metabolism, etc can only be described as self destructive. Above and beyond the clear and immediate consequences to the body and the impact on nebulous aspects of personhood like “self-image”, this manipulation of perception undermines the methods and mechanisms of apprehension itself. Consciously believing a lie, which we know to be a lie, compromises our ability to recognize lies.

    That’s enough rambling for one day 😉

  46. I’m all for fat rights.

    What I’m against is the notion that pretending obesity is healthy is somehow a “right” to which fat people are entitled, or that it’s some sort of social justice issue. It’s not. Also, people are not violating your “rights” if they don’t find you attractive for whatever reason.

    You know, I went back and read the original column, and I’m seeing where this whole thing went off the rails.

    The original letter complained about Girl Love Handles from too-tight low-rider pants. Given that women have, you know, fat deposits on their hips as a feature and not a bug, this is really a problem that occurs because the pants don’t fit correctly and fat will squish when constricted. And it’s something that occurs to even thin women if their pants squeeze them in the wrong place.

    And from the sound of it, the original letter-writer was complaining about this phenomenon on relatively thin women (the kind who would be “otherwise attractive” if only they didn’t remind him that their bodies contain lipids).

    Dan responded by going off about obesity.

    Because, of course, not model-thin = obese! And nothing less than perfect disdain for the fat, lazy, unwashed masses forcing poor Dan to look at their aesthetically unpleasing selves is warranted.

    And now here he is, defending his disdain for the bodies of women by yammering on about how he’s *really* just *concerned,* you know, for their *health,* these 450-pound tubs of goo who are just so stupid as to think that they might be healthy, or that they have any right to be seen in public without wearing a circus tent. Or any right to be in public at all.

    Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d think Dan Savage were MeMe Roth, who displayed a similar line of thinking when she went after Jordin from American Idol.

    WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

  47. Apologies in advance for the length.

    Long comments are encouraged at Shakesville, and need no apology. 😉

  48. Kate Harding

    Benjamin, please feel free to ramble in my threads any time. Thank you. 🙂

  49. WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

    Too right.

    Thanks for reminding us what’s really important, Zuzu, my darling.

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  51. t87

    Kate, why do you think the American Medical Association has stated that obesity “kills more Americans every year than AIDS, all cancers and all accidents combined. And it’s causing problems in children that were unthinkable 20 years ago. That is why the American Medical Association (AMA) is working to halt the spread of obesity.”

    I know you mentioned earlier that you last took a science class in high school, so I am just wondering why you think that this organization lacks your understanding of medical issues. Do they just hate fat people?

  52. Kate217

    I know you mentioned earlier that you last took a science class in high school, so I am just wondering why you think that this organization lacks your understanding of medical issues. Do they just hate fat people?

    It’s not that they lack her understanding of medical issues, it’s that she lacks their financial stake in maintaining the status quo.

  53. Kate217

    Poop. I fogot to close the blockquote. That last paragraph should have stood by itself. *blush*

  54. GiniLiz

    t87, I’m not speaking for Kate, but I will say that she is not alone in her views and is joined by many others, including many professionals with doctorates and other high and mighty degrees (see the book Big Fat Lies for an example), and when one digs around, one even finds dissent about these matters in the medical journals such as JAMA. I actually do think many doctors lack a proper understanding of these issues. If you talk to them, you will discover that they get confused when you ask about the health risks of “healthy” weight loss attempts or pull out one of the studies supporting a HAES approach. Why? Because there are politics and biases involved in medicine. Do they just hate fat people? Probably not all of them. Some, yes, have come to hate all that fat people represent to them. Others are simply drowning in the prejudice that pervades our society and unable to see the light above the surface. You might recall that medical associations used to have a clear “scientific” consensus about the diseases of masturbation and homosexuality, too. I’m perplexed by how otherwise good researchers forget basic tenets of causal inference (using nonequiv control groups, not considering reverse causation, failing to control for obvious confounds) when it comes to areas of high cultural bias, but it happens far too often.

  55. Meowser

    The AMA has shown itself to be as blatantly for sale as any other organization in recent years. Doctors need to get paid. Insurance companies (upon whom most American doctors are umbilically dependent) and pill companies and medical equipment companies have a financial stake in squeezing and baiting them. It’s not so much their “lacking medical knowledge,” to paraphrase your snark, as the financial wherewithal to bring impartiality to such matters. But many individual doctors do understand the complexity of the issues involved quite well regardless, and know that dieting causes a lot more health problems than it solves.

  56. t87

    It’s not that they lack her understanding of medical issues, it’s that she lacks their financial stake in maintaining the status quo.

    Could you expand on this? Why do you believe the AMA has a financial stake in the status quo?

    The AMA has shown itself to be as blatantly for sale as any other organization in recent years. Doctors need to get paid. Insurance companies (upon whom most American doctors are umbilically dependent) and pill companies and medical equipment companies have a financial stake in squeezing and baiting them.

    A few questions here. Do you believe that the AMA profits somehow from making false statements about the dangers of obesity? Do you have anything to back that up?

    I am especially confused by your remark about insurers. How exactly (or even approximately) do insurance companies profit from creating obesity hysteria. Several people have posted that there is no relationship between obesity and health. I agree that insurers are motivated solely by money, but since there are no health effects of obesity – why do they care one way or another?

  57. t87

    And is the World Health Organization equally as for sale as the AMA?

    The WHO website states:

    Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than 1 billion adults overweight – at least 300 million of them clinically obese – and is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability.

  58. Meowser

    Sure there’s a relationship between obesity and health. If you’re fat, your medical care is likely to suck, either because you’re too poor to afford it, you can’t get a job that offers it, you’re not allowed to buy it because insurance companies screen out fat people, your doctor won’t treat you for what you came in for and hands you a diet and thus lets whatever problems you legitimately have fester and get worse, you’re pressured relentlessly to diet diet diet and maybe even get your digestive organs surgically tinkered with…get the picture?

    And that’s not even factoring in the stress that comes with discrimination and being underpaid solely due to weight and how that impacts a person’s health. The few fat people who are so because of a binge eating disorder pales in numerical comparison to the millions and millions and millions who are screwed over by the other stuff.

    As for insurance companies’ role…well, you can start here, and I’m sure others here will point to more.

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/05/hug-your-doctor-today.html

  59. t87, the American Cancer Society says that there 553,400 deaths from cancer in 2001. The CDC, after embarasing themselves by suggesting that 400,000 people died from being “overweight” or “obese”, eventually had to concede that its numbers (which may still be flawed) only showed about 112,000 excess deaths among “obese”. Which is pretty close to the 111,000 deaths caused by accidents in 1999. Which still doesn’t actually show that any of those deaths were caused by being fat. And doesn’t even count the fact that there FEWER deaths among those classified as “overweight”. That would bring the number of deaths among fat people to only 26,000. Which, while a little higher than AIDS deaths today is still much lower than its peak in the 90’s. By even the CDC’s blatantly dishonest numbers, though, its fewer than cancer deaths alone. Much less Cancer AIDS accidents.

    So, if the American Medical Association said that “obesity” caused more deaths than AIDS, cancer, and accidents, then I guess they don’t have more knowledge than a high school science class can impart. For the record, though, it actually wasn’t the AMA who said that. If you had honestly repeated that quote, you’d have noted that the AMA was actually themselves quoting George W. Bush appointee Richard Carmona.

  60. Anne

    Well, Dan, you whine about how giving so much attention to body image issues is baaaad because there are ostensibly so many “better” causes out there, but you know, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t be spending this time talking about it. Perhaps if you, in your self-deified delusion, hadn’t gone and said some stupid shit about fat people, we’d be having a conversation about something that you deem “important.” Don’t blame us for your public displays of ignorance. The problem isn’t that you don’t care enough about body image issues, the problem is that you’re hostile to fat people. On my blog I mainly talk about gender and sexuality, and I probably could talk about racism more. But at the same time, I’m not going to go around saying racist shit on my blog, and if I do, people damn well have a right to call me out on it. We’re not asking you to become a fat acceptance activist, Dan. We’re just asking you not to say nasty shit about fat people (and women, and rape victims, etc.) It doesn’t take a bloody second of your precious time to do that, does it?

    And oh yeah, I agree that the things that homophobic woman wrote to you were completely wrong and vile, but this is what I don’t get about people like you — somebody has an idea that’s so imbecilic, ridiculous and easy to attack, yet you attack the person’s size, not their stupid-ass ideas? What the fuck? It’s not her size that makes her a homophobe, it’s her fucking ideas, dude. Is it that hard to understand? A comeback like that makes it look like you’re incapable of refuting her ideas, or that her ideas are irrefutable, and you’re trying to divert the issue. You and that woman both need to learn that fights for equality and respect will go nowhere if you expect that equality to come at the expense of another marginalized group.

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  62. Benjamin

    The WHO is not for sale, but it is NOT comparable to the CDC or AMA in that it is a secondary research authority, i.e. the majority of its function is to correlate existing research and coordinate public responses (i.e. advisory or coordinating relief efforts) based on it. Check the public chairs of the WHO: you’ll find a lot of overlap between WHO and CDC or AMA. These are NOT independent bodies.

    Endocrinology and metabolic chemistry are some of the last great frontiers in medicine. We haven’t even identified the chromosome pairs that determine fat cell size, much less consistent calorie to therm/second metabolic rates. That’s one of my big issues with the “obesity scare”: so much of the material assumes we have definite answers for questions we’ve only barely begun to ask.

    I have a vested interest in this issue. Several, truth be told.

    I am overweight according to the BMI. My wife, Lindsay (yep, poster above. Pity her: I talk like this during dinner) is obese according to the BMI. Here’s the punchline:

    She is a big lady. I, on the other hand, am a tiny man. For context: I’ve got a 26″ waist, about 6% body fat, and most of my weight comes from very dense muscular structure. Shows how much the BMI tells you.

    The BMI ALSO doesn’t tell you that I have to eat about 8000 calories a day to maintain that weight. I have a rare subtype of hypoglycemia (type 3), also known as Aggressive Metabolic Disorder, which basically means my metabolism doesn’t slow down as well as yours probably does. My body does exactly the same thing as yours if deprived of nutrition: it switches into “starvation mode”. Neurological, circulatory, and endocrine function suffers dramatically, general health deteriorates, it becomes impossible to concentrate, etc. The difference is that while it may take you several days or weeks of starvation to reach this point, it takes me a few hours.

    There is currently no known treatment for this. In point of fact, there is very little data about why the hell it happens at all. Given that medical science has little to no explanation for why I have to get a “midnight snack” that consists of half a pizza, I am a little skeptical when I see news reports making vague references to the “absolutely certain” correlations between body weight and some of the more ambiguous aspects of health.

  63. Elusis

    t87 – I’ll just address your question about insurers.

    If you can’t see why charging people vastly inflated rates for being members of an “at risk” group makes the insurance industry money, you’re not looking very hard.

  64. Man, am I glad that I followed up on this. It’s not every day that the author of an article in question actually responds to the criticism being given to his/her work. For that, I appreciate Dan’s bravery.

    Still don’t agree with him, but, hey, this is a public forum for those who argue respectfully, I suppose?

  65. Dan

    Off topic… how awesome was that? Kate takes on Savage and he directly responds, and we get to witness the corresponding debate.
    Whatever side you fell on, you walked away with something even if it was pissed.

    Bravo Shakesville/Kate/Melissa, and more of it!

  66. I know you mentioned earlier that you last took a science class in high school, so I am just wondering why you think that this organization lacks your understanding of medical issues.

    t87, other people have responded to your points pretty thoroughly, and you and I have had this conversation before. My answers haven’t changed.

    So I’ll just say this: if you’re going to try to undermine my credibility, you’d probably be better off focusing on limitations I haven’t admitted freely on the blog we’re all reading. I mean, what’s next, calling me a fat bitch? We’re all well aware that I’m both of those things, too.

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  68. So let me say right at the beginning that I have nothing particularly invested in defending Dan Savage. The guy is clearly a jerk, and this is what makes him charming, and as a recovering (or perhaps merely self-hating) charming jerk I have no particular use for this personality trait, but there’s much to be said for it regardless. And I do read him regularly, although to be fair I also read Ask Amy, and she has never ever been right. (Dan Savage of course has been right, and I really like the way he writes about social issues that he recognizes as social issues.)

    That said, it’s true that as far as Savage is concerned, there are much more important issues than body positivity. While I’ve been a gay rights activist much longer than I’ve been a fat activist, one could certainly argue that, since I am a straight fat woman, fat rights are more personally important in my life. That is, they have more personal impact on me. Savage, as a thin man with a thin partner, can afford to have even less invested in fat rights than I have in gay rights. And of course, societally-mandated fat hatred, fatphobia, and body shame are all designed so as to obscure the fact that “fat rights” and “fat positivity” are not oxymorons. So Savage can be forgiven for just not realizing that there is a serious social issue going on.

    And I will confess: Just a few years ago, I was Dan Savage. I mean, I wasn’t actually him; I know because I didn’t have any money. But I was convinced that “fat activism” was just another word for “having gluttonous orgies and then dropping dead of diabetes.” Every message I got was telling me that fat was terrifically ugly and unhealthy, so I assumed that organizations like NAAFA were all about promoting ugliness and unhealth. Even while I was coming to believe that it was maybe okay to be fat, I thought it was terrifically irresponsible to tell people that fat itself was okay. Of course it wasn’t okay; it came from gluttony and sloth and it would kill you. Never mind the fact that I wasn’t particularly slothful (college athlete) and only gluttonous when my eating disorder swung that way. Cognitive dissonance wasn’t enough to dissuade me. In short, I was not that different from the people who think that “gay rights” means “unabashed libertinism, pedophilia, and bareback disease transmission.” I let my prejudices stand in for actual information.

    So again, I can completely understand where Savage’s attitudes are coming from. He’s not even being THAT much of a jackass about them, if you consider that he has no reason to realize that he’s being a jackass. I mean, the guy is brusque, no question, but at least he’s not pushing stomach amputation, you know? The question is whether he takes this opportunity — that is, the opportunity to rub shoulders with and learn from some of the most eloquent, brilliant, and well-informed fat activists out there, not to MENTION the daughter of someone who was besties with his mom — as a chance to educate himself. He no longer has the excuse of just not knowing that there was more to the story. He has the chance to acquit himself very well — to read Campos and Oliver and Kolata, to talk to Kate without sniping, and to set an example for other progressives.

    Unfortunately, I’m inclined to think he believes he’s said his piece and won’t be coming back to this thread.

  69. Riotous applause, Jess.

    And it’s worth pointing out that I used to be exactly the same way, too. For years, my grasp of fat acceptance amounted to, “It’s not good for people to be mean to anyone because they’re fat, but it’s also not good for people to be fat, either.” Wasn’t good for me, for my family members, and especially not good for fat women who had the audacity to wear tight clothes in public.

    Then, even after I started reading more, the penny still didn’t drop for years. The next hurdle was, “It’s fine for other people to be fat, but not me. I still need to get thin.” Campos convinced me the risks of obesity were way overblown, and I totally committed to the concept of fat acceptance intellectually — but I still could not accept my own fat. I still could not imagine looking at myself naked and thinking, “Yep, you’re fine.” That took a couple more years. I’m still kind of stunned that it happened at all.

    The people who keep trying to shame us don’t seem to get that most of us became fat acceptance activists because we spent so fucking long crippled by shame. Because the quality of our lives was severely compromised not by being “obese,” but by despising ourselves, fearing our own bodies, feeling unworthy of love, feeling the constant need to apologize for our very existence. It’s not as if we somehow never the message that people don’t think fat is okay. We got it, and we fucking rejected it — after years of extraordinary conscious effort.

    Fat-shaming is completely unsupportable, both scientifically and ethically, yet it is still an incredible act of will — much greater than what it takes to diet — to make yourself really believe that in this society. I’m not surprised that so many people, both fat and thin, aren’t up to battling their way through the cognitive dissonance. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed in people who claim to be committed to social justice and won’t even try.

  70. t87

    If you can’t see why charging people vastly inflated rates for being members of an “at risk” group makes the insurance industry money, you’re not looking very hard.

    Is tha really going on. In my experience insurers deny coverage to the obese rather than jacking up rates. Which is very strange, if you think about it. If – as many herein assert – obesity doesn’t have anything to do with health, you would think that insurers (who make a living calculating risk) would be happy to insure as many obese people as possible at the same rates.

    t87, other people have responded to your points pretty thoroughly, and you and I have had this conversation before. My answers haven’t changed.

    Actually, we have never discussed anything about the motivations of the AMA or WHO. Before my post in this thread, I had never even mentioned either of those two organizations. But if you don’t want to discuss the issue, that’s fine.

    So I’ll just say this: if you’re going to try to undermine my credibility, you’d probably be better off focusing on limitations I haven’t admitted freely on the blog we’re all reading.

    I am just trying to understand why organizations of doctors and health professionals believe that obesity is a public health issue while you do not and, specifically, since the evidence is sufficiently clear and understandable that a lay person without any scientific education can understand it, I guess I don’t quite understand why so many doctors are so easily misled. A couple of other posters have advanced a “they are just in it for the money” theory, but the factual support for that seems to be a bit lacking.

    I mean, what’s next, calling me a fat bitch? We’re all well aware that I’m both of those things, too.

    Actually, if the pictures you’ve posted are accurate you’re not really that fat, so please, don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”. That is almost as tiresome as straight people who presume to lecture about the how tough it is for gay folks.

  71. t87

    oops, 3rd paragraph from bottom should not have been in italics.

  72. Fat-shaming is completely unsupportable, both scientifically and ethically, yet it is still an incredible act of will — much greater than what it takes to diet — to make yourself really believe that in this society.

    Yes.

    And because I can’t say it enough, I’ll say it again: It remains a radical act to be fat and happy in America, especially if you’re a woman (for whom “jolly” fatness isn’t an option). If you’re fat, you’re not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society’s disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cow-calls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don’t deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery.

  73. don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”

    Huh? Your opinion of what she calls herself is a reason she can’t speak out against fat shaming? In what universe?

  74. I’m sorry, did you just tell Kate, a woman who not only identifies as fat but has worked both here and in here personal blog to promote body and fat acceptance that she needs to stop talking because she isn’t THAT FAT?

    Oh, holy hell. Rather than deal with the rest of your points because I am not a stats machine (other people do that MUCH better than me), I want to explain to you that you are not the arbiter of who is fat and who is not fat. You’ve seen, what, one picture of Kate? Have you really considered that one picture might not be the best thing on which to base your invalidation of her identity as a fat person?

    Also, do you really think that a thin person couldn’t advocate for fat rights? Are you seriously implying that straight people can’t or shouldn’t work toward gay rights? Should we all pursue only our own interests as solely dictated by our body types and sexual preference and other abilities?

    That’s a bullshit.

    The fat experiences of someone on the smaller end of fat might be different in many ways from the fat experiences of someone on the higher end of fat. But they are both fat and there are some experiences – fat shaming among them – that most of us share.

    You don’t have to like fat people but you really ought to reconsider the idea that fat people are bound only by YOUR definition of what is and is not fat. Your experience is not universal. Nor is your opinion.

    You saying Kate ought not “presume” to speak on behalf of fat people means either a) that you are fat and speaking for the entire group with is bullshit or b) that you are thin and speaking for fat people which is exactly what you just accused Kate of doing.

    I am fat by anyone’s standards and I hereby give Kate permission to speak about fat issues all she wants. Not that she needs that permission.

  75. I am fat by anyone’s standards and I hereby give Kate permission to speak about fat issues all she wants. Not that she needs that permission.

    Hear, hear!

  76. Kate217

    Yup, I’ve been called a cow, a whale, a slug and numerous similar epithets based on nothing but a photo of me posted on the internet. I hereby give Kate my proxy to speak (as she does it so much more eloquently than I ever could) for me.

    Anne, may I say “BRAVA!!!!!”?

  77. Arkades

    don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”. That is almost as tiresome as straight people who presume to lecture about the how tough it is for gay folks.

    …yet still only fractionally as tiresome as listening to someone lecture others on what issues they are and are not allowed to speak out.

    The oppressive elements of this society would *love* it if we all spoke our pieces about our own little issues (only) and had nothing whatsoever to say about things outside our direct personal experience. They’d much rather battle us when we’re fragmented, pre-occupied, and too self-absorbed to leap to the defense of others. That path leads to irrelevance. If we don’t look out for one another, who will?

  78. If we don’t look out for one another, who will?

    I emphatically second that, Arkades.

  79. Just because insurance companies “make their living calculating risk” doesn’t mean they’re actually good at it. For example, they’re happy to insure smokers, even two-plus-pack-a-day smokers (albeit at a higher rate) while excluding “obese” people entirely, although smoking is measurably far more dangerous than being fat. (The statistics I saw in Paul Campos’s book put the risk equivocation of being a “light smoker,” i.e. half a pack a day or less, to being 150 pounds “overweight.”)

    Like all other institutions, insurance companies get stuck on stupid, not unlike the state of California not allowing people to keep gerbils as pets because they’re “endangered species.” (No, I am not joking; I wish I was.) It’s not as if they’re not being exposed to the science out there; it’s because someone made a decision about something and carved it in cement, and damn it, we just can’t break up the cement. We just can’t.

  80. Not to mention the fact that insurance companies depend upon the notoriously flawed BMI — which was actually developed to determine insurability. 170 years ago.

    Incidentally, the distinction between fat people being overcharged for insurance and denied insurance is specious. Fat people are usually denied the insurance they apply for, but can get insurance at a much higher rate. Anybody CAN get insurance; it’s just a matter of how much you are able and willing to pay, which is particularly significant given the relationship between fat and class. And by the way, if this were really about health, our troll friends might be oh-so-concerned about the fact that fat people can’t get coverage and therefore can’t get treatment; they might even recognize that this has a lot to do with fat->unhealthy conclusions. Not really happening, huh.

  81. Actually, Jess, it’s not true that anyone can get individual (as opposed to group) coverage. Marilyn Wann, for example, says she is not allowed to buy individual health insurance at any price although she has never had any health problems or familial risk factors at age 40 and 270 pounds. She pays $900 a month for group coverage through a union she belongs to. Nine hundred! I know other fat people who have reported similar stories.

    But ITA about the rest of it. Most fat people who are denied health coverage don’t have the $900 a month, or whatever ridiculous sum they’re being asked to cough up, so whether coverage is technically “available” to them or not is largely irrelevant.

  82. Kate217

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller

    This just seemed appropriate.

  83. Kate217

    Or, if you prefer the Toad the Wet Sprocket Version:

    Amnesia
    (Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips and Toad the Wet Sprocket)

    Here, I need your help
    Deliver me from myself
    Take me where I’m wanted
    Or make me someone else
    Never mind what they said
    Forget about the things you read
    It was something you’ll never know
    Never see, never understand
    Just leave it now if you can

    Tell me
    When they come for you
    Who will there be to speak
    And when they come for you
    Who will there be left to speak for you?

    The final solution’s back in style
    We are the ones letting it ride
    I never knew we were so blind
    Amnesia in comfort, so unkind

    Tell me
    When they come for you
    Who will there be to speak
    And when they come for you
    Who will there be left to speak for you?

  84. Meowser, yes indeed, I didn’t think to make the distinction between individual and group. Very true.

  85. The funny thing is that the people who tell Kate she’s not fat enough to have a valid opinion are the same who’d turn around and tell people who are “fat enough” that they are too fat to have a valid opinion. Trust me, the disenfranchisement will be universal. If your opinion is “wrong”, there will inevitably be a reason you’re not allowed to have it.

    By the way, t87, have you acknowledged that your quote about fatness causing more deaths than cancer, AIDs, and accidents combined is completely and verifiably untrue? Or is there a reason I don’t have a right to point out a non-factual statement you made?

  86. Oh, but BStu, the Surgeon General said it! It must be true! Isn’t this also the guy who said “obesity” was a bigger threat to the nation than terrorism? I guess we can all look forward to some Gitmo, then.

  87. t87

    By the way, t87, have you acknowledged that your quote about fatness causing more deaths than cancer, AIDs, and accidents combined is completely and verifiably untrue? Or is there a reason I don’t have a right to point out a non-factual statement you made?

    If you are talking about the quote that I posted yesterday, it came from the first page of the AMA website as of yesterday.

  88. t87

    Whether or not it is true – I don’t know.

    I am just trying to understand why so many doctors and other health professionals are blind to facts that are, apparently, obvious to people without any scientific training.

    So far, the only thing I’ve heard is that doctors are in it for the money. I guess that distinguishes them from say, Paul Campos or Gina Kolata, who are only interested in truth and don’t care about promoting their books.

  89. You know, back in my day, concern trolls at least bothered to read your refutations. They still insisted on bucking reality, but I’m pretty sure they put the words into their eyeballs, even if they missed the brain. t87 is but a pale imitation, really.

  90. Benjamin

    Oh wow… if Kate’s not fat enough to speak on the issue, I’m even MORE apologetic about rambling so long. I’d better just pack up and move on outta here…
    Oh, wait. That’s right. The idea that experience is inherently authoritative is ridiculous. Maybe the monstrous manipulation of media representations of beauty, the desperate need for something new to scare people about, and the lack of coherent thought in the vast majority of public discourse (especially anything that comes across as pulpit-pounding) are blatantly obvious.
    Maybe I see what I see because I’ve got a pair of good, working eyes in my head, eh?

  91. t87

    if Kate’s not fat enough to speak on the issue,

    I know that its always easier to come up with good rebuttals to things you make up yourself, but . . .
    what I actually said was that she shouldn’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people”. They/we are not a monolithic group. She is entitled to whatever opinions she has, of course, but it is just sort of tiresome to see again, and again, and again, and again posts in which she makes these generalizations about “fat people” and how “fat people” act and think.

    And she posted or linked to 3 or 4 photographs of herself that show that she is would not have any problem fitting in an airline seat.

  92. what I actually said was that she shouldn’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people”. They/we are not a monolithic group.

    Which assumes that she says speaking for all fat people, which of course she hasn’t. Is saying that fat-shaming is pervasive in out culture, and calling it out “speaking for all fat people”? Is speaking out against homobigotry “speaking for all lesbian and gay people”? Would you say that fat people, for the most part, are against fat-shaming? You, if you consider yourself fat, may think it’s all okay, but many of us don’t.

    And she posted or linked to 3 or 4 photographs of herself that show that she is would not have any problem fitting in an airline seat.

    This is still your opinion of what “fat” means. You are trying to say that Kate doesn’t have the right to believe that she belongs to a particular group, the constituency of which is not defined but by opinion. You want to say that she cannot speak for all “fat people” because it is your opinion that she is not “fat”, but since she never claimed to speak for all “fat people”, there’s nothing to your argument. One must assume another motive, therefore, if one is to assume good faith and intelligence on your part. Maybe that is where we erred…

  93. If you are talking about the quote that I posted yesterday, it came from the first page of the AMA website as of yesterday.

    You still altered the quote to imply that the AMA said all of it. Most of it was the AMA quoting someone else.

    Whether or not it is true – I don’t know.

    I do. It isn’t true. Even by the dishonest exaggerations that have since been discredited. That’s why I explained why it isn’t true. Kinda of damages your point about why we should all be beholden to whatever the AMA says, if the AMA is wrong.

  94. t87

    JackGoff – I guess when somone posts “fat people . . . .” again and again, one could be excused for believing that is a generalization.

  95. t87

    You still altered the quote to imply that the AMA said all of it.

    Here is where I got the quote: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/11759.html

    They mention Carmona in the previous sentence but they are not quoting him.

    You might want to be a bit more careful about accusing people of “altering” quotes – its pretty easy to check on those things nowadays.

  96. t87, your real problem doesn’t seem to be that these things are being said – you don’t seem to have any argument with what Kate is saying so I’m not sure your argument with her “generalizing” (and, again, she has never said she speaks for the treesunified fat population) holds water. Because if she were 50 pounds heavier we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    You may not think Kate is fat but the clothing industry thinks she is fat. You may not think she is fat but our weight-obsessed culture thinks she is fat.

    You are certainly entitled to your personal aesthetics and definitions – there are tons of people who identify as fat that I don’t immediately scan as fat because my definition is different. But you know what? My definition is not the universal one. My definition doesn’t change anyone’s life experience.

    Kate is fat because she continues to this day to experience fat discrimination against her.

    Now, if you’d like to take issue with any of her “fat people think xyz” statements, let’s move on to those and have an actually useful discussion – because debating the relative fatness of a person and whether or not that makes them a worthy commenter on fat shaming isn’t getting us anywhere but railroaded into the conclusion that you are full of it.

  97. t87

    And a quick search of other AMA literature shows that they do not rely on Carmona for their positions:

    Obesity is the fastest-growing health problem in the United States, and one of the most serious chronic conditions of our time. During the past two decades, obesity prevalence has increased dramatically. Approximately 64% of the adult population is either overweight or obese.

    These statistics herald potentially devastating health, economic, and social consequences for our Nation. People who are overweight or obese have a greater probability of developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or other lipid disorders, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. In fact, overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease and death as cigarette smoking. Approximately 300,000 U.S. deaths
    a year are associated with this condition. The total direct and indirect costs attributed to obesity amounted to $117 billion in the year 2000. Clearly, the impact of this disorder cascades dramatically.

    That from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/433/booklet1.pdf

    Do you believe 1) that these statements are incorrect and 2) Do you attribute the error to a money-driven conspiracy between doctors/big pharma/insurers or do you think it has another cause?

  98. t87

    BStu – I put up two posts re the AMA quote but those have vanished in the past 15 minutes.

    If they don’t reappear somehow, I will try reposting later.

    The Rotund – well I think there is a world of difference between people who are fat (even those who jump at the chance to call themselves that) and people who are very seriously overweight. I was, and am, in the latter group.

    I think the experiences of those in the former group are not the same as those in the latter and that is why I took issue with her postings – I don’t think that people who do 270 minutes of yoga a week typify the life experiences of the truly obese. But, you’re right, this is a side issue.

  99. Jess

    This, kids, is the REAL meaning of “begging the question.”

    t87 is convinced that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. Kate is not lazy. Therefore Kate can’t be fat, because if she were, she would be lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. Of course, in order to conclude that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous from this syllogism, you have to assume that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. That works for t87, who’s apparently not much for rational analysis. It doesn’t work for me.

  100. t87

    t87 is convinced that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. Kate is not lazy. Therefore Kate can’t be fat, because if she were, she would be lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. Of course, in order to conclude that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous from this syllogism, you have to assume that fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous. That works for t87, who’s apparently not much for rational analysis. It doesn’t work for me.

    Well fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous.

    But, then again, so are thin people, too.

  101. To me, t87, that indicates that you cannot separate fat from health. They are two different issues. And maybe YOUR fat is connected with your health – because fat is complex enough an issue to have room for all sorts of permutations – but it isn’t true for all.

    I understand the frustration of having someone who has those “five or ten vanity pounds” as the weight loss drug commercials like to put it call themselves fat. But I can assure you that Kate is not in that category. She is a healthy, active, fat woman. And maybe that is different from your experience of fat – that is a totally valid observation. But it doesn’t make her not fat.

    I am very seriously obese. I am right there with you in that category. But I am active and healthy. If I lost half of my body weight, I would STILL be considered fat. But Kate and I still share experiences of fat-shaming. It doesn’t matter WHERE one falls on the fat scale when the message is “you are too fat to be a worthwhile human being.”

    Kate probably weighs more than you think – are you familiar with the ways in which people consistently get weight WRONG when it is based solely on visuals? That’s why the “guess your weight” booth at the carnival was always so exciting; most people are REALLY bad at it. Can you maybe try and allow for the possibility that Kate is both fat AND healthy and active and that her experiences have a lot of things in common with a lot of other fat people? I think you’d be surprised to find out how much her experience and your experience actually have in common.

  102. Jess

    Well fat people are lazy, unhealthy, and gluttonous.

    And this is a fallacy so egregious that it doesn’t even get a cute name. It’s just known as “being pigheaded.”

  103. Maybe I misread it, t87. You merely selectively quoted, you didn’t misquote. My apoloiges.

    When are you going to apologize for posting a lie? When you are you going to apologize for using a lie to suggest someone doesn’t have a right to express her opinion? When are you going to apologize for suggesting that an organization who lies to make their “point” has such authority that no one else has a right to speak anything else? I may have gotten a minor point wrong, but you’ve yet to take responsibility for the lie you used to make your point long after that was pointed out to you.

  104. t87

    When are you going to apologize for posting a lie? When you are you going to apologize for using a lie to suggest someone doesn’t have a right to express her opinion? When are you going to apologize for suggesting that an organization who lies to make their “point” has such authority that no one else has a right to speak anything else? I may have gotten a minor point wrong, but you’ve yet to take responsibility for the lie you used to make your point long after that was pointed out to you.

    I am not sure what “lie” you refer to, but if it is the assertion that obesity has negative health consequences (including mortality), that is not a lie.

    Nor did I ever suggest that “someone” doesn’t have a right to express an opinion. What “someone” doesn’t have the right to do is to speak for me or to speak on behalf of “fat people” generally.

    And again I never said that the AMA’s position on obesity (or the CDCs’ or WHO’s or anyone elses) means that nobody has the right to speak anything else. Nope never said that. All I dared do was ask why people thought that all of those public health professionals were so wrong about obesity. The only response I received to that – at all – was that there is some sort of conspiracy between doctors and drug companies and insurers. Such an unsupported assertion wings off into grassy knoll and black helicopter territory.

  105. Jess

    t87, people have repeatedly pointed you to sources throughout your many illustrious threads here. When are you going to shut up and read some? Your claims that others’ objections are “unsupported” is classic “if I didn’t see it, it isn’t there” behavior.

  106. GiniLiz

    t87, you repeatedly assert that you have only seen money and greed reasons cited here for the medical lies perpetuated about fat people. Apparently you didn’t read my earlier comment, so I’ll repeat myself – Bias occurs throughout science when dealing with folks that society is prejudiced against. Consider “drapetomania” for one extreme example. I do believe money plays into the obesity hype, but even more, I believe we are remiss if we ignore how societies construct illness and wellness. Consider the well-established, medically-agreed-upon diseases of the past: hysteria, masturbation, homosexuality. Now listen to Jess above and go read some of the resources you’ve been pointed to. And if you’re worried about those money-making books, then read articles by Linda Bacon, Steven Blair, Glenn Gaesser, and Paul Ernsberger published in reputable journals like the International Journal of Epidemiology, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Educate yourself, please, and then we can have a conversation.

  107. t87, I explained this to you earlier. You posted the AMA’s claim that fatness kills more people a year than AIDS, cancer, and accidents combined. This is a lie. Its also off by more than half a million so it really isn’t very close. Even when deaths from fatness were being exaggerated by the CDC, it would STILL be off by a quarter million. The AMA either cannot remotely do math, or are making things up. The facts don’t show fatness to be as deadly as they want to think it is, so they decide to make new facts to suit their position. Yet this false statement was used by you as proof that Kate clearly has no authority to discuss this topic. You ignored me completely the first time I posted this, and you still ignore the reality that you posted a lie. I don’t care if it was someone else’s lie. You were the one who gleefully tried to use it to badger someone.

  108. Jess

    The problem may be that we have read books, whereas t87 is apparently content to google “obesity.” t87, please level the playing field. If you’re not interested in doing that, then you should admit to being merely an agitator instead of pretending to be interested in discussion; then we can ignore you accordingly.

  109. t87, I’m thisclose to giving up on responding to you entirely, so this one’s gonna be long, and I suggest you read it carefully. In the future, if you ask a question that’s already answered in this comment, or my other posts, or in links provided by other commenters, I’m just going to ignore it.

    Do you believe 1) that these statements are incorrect

    Yes. Was I unclear on that point?

    The “300,000 deaths” statistic was debunked long ago. It is absolutely irresponsible of the AMA to still have that on their website, especially since the study debunking it was published in fucking JAMA. Look here. That reevaluation of the same data used to arrive at the 300,000 number determined that it’s actually more like 100,000. Other researchers are now suggesting it’s probably less than that, but that’s still the best study I know of. And I think being off by 200,000 is pretty significant. But then, I’m no statistician.

    Also, I know you have no interest in reading Gina Kolata’s book, but she takes a very interesting look at how Katherine Flegal was eviscerated in the obesity research community for having the gall to take a closer look at the data and arrive at a different conclusion.

    and 2) Do you attribute the error to a money-driven conspiracy between doctors/big pharma/insurers or do you think it has another cause?

    In part. I believe it’s largely money-driven, but not a “conspiracy” as such. I don’t think a bunch of men are meeting in dark rooms plotting to make the lives of fat people miserable. But a LOT of people stand to benefit financially from promoting the belief that fat is deadly and disgusting, and a LOT of those people fund obesity research. That’s fact, not speculation. In and of itself, it proves nothing, but it’s hardly tin-foil-hatty to speculate that when Weight Watchers or Roche funds an obesity study, they’re not going to be thrilled if the researchers on their payrolls turn up evidence that there’s no point in trying to lose weight.

    Here’s the thing about those books I keep recommending that you sneered at above: for the most part, they don’t discuss little-known studies that contradict the well-known ones. Like Flegal did, they evaluate the raw data used in the well-known studies and arrive at very different conclusions. They question the methodology used in the well-known studies. They rightly point to the studies’ funding sources as a very good reason for the original researchers to have manipulated the data. They also discuss what giniliz is saying above about how societal values influence research. They explain the concept of confirmation bias and how it applies here.

    And most of those authors I recommend constantly started out from a position of assuming that the prevailing wisdom about obesity was correct. They didn’t go looking to debunk. They were not fat people looking to “make excuses” for themselves. They just looked at the data and went, “What the HELL?” Because, as you would see if you read those books, or the sources people have provided links to above, “What the HELL?” is about the only appropriate response to the gulf between the raw data those studies gathered and the published conclusions about the dangers of obesity.

    As for my not being fat enough… that’s been well covered by other people. And while I agree with them that it’s utter bullshit that you’re demanding my fatty bona fides, I’ll give ’em too you anyway, for the record.

    I have a BMI of 31-32. I don’t know exactly what it is, since I’m not sure of my exact weight and not interested in finding out. I know I’m not overestimating it by enough to put me in a different BMI category. My waist circumference is under 35 inches, but only just. So according to the government, I am obese and have a “high” risk of getting sick because of it.

    I wear a size 16, which is on the low end of plus sizes, but is very much one of them.

    I have spent about $5,000 and lost 110 lbs. on commercial weight loss programs in the past. The weight came back. And not because I gave up and started eating from a trough positioned next to my recliner. So if you don’t think I have a dog in the “diets are scams” fight, you can piss right off.

    I have not personally experienced most of the horrible discrimination directed at very fat people. I’m well aware of how privileged that makes me. But one of the many things you don’t see in my headshot is that I am the smallest person in my family. One of my sisters is 5’4″ and weighs well over 300 lbs. She’s a compulsive overeater, and she’s not healthy. I don’t know how to help her, and it kills me. I have witnessed people shitting on her my entire life, and my fury over that is one of my primary motivations here. My other sister is 5’2″ and 250. She’s actually pretty healthy, but she has been emotionally crippled by hating her own body for over 30 years. My brother is 5’11” and hell if I know what he weighs, but he’s fat, and not just a little. He was always of a jocky bent and, as a man, not quite as tortured by body image issues as the rest of us, but I have witnessed him eating nothing but sausages for dinner, and telling me with a straight face that he was “just trying to stay healthy” — then telling me in the next breath that apples were “bad for” him. He was, of course, on Atkins.

    My maternal grandmother and mother were both fat, and both Type 2 diabetics. Grandma never got her eating totally in hand and ended up insulin dependent. But she was active and didn’t smoke and lived into her 80s. Mom started obsessively controlling her diet from the day of her diagnosis, lost a bunch of weight, and controlled the diabetes with food for the first ten years, then with a very small amount of medication for the next ten. But she never exercised — I mean, never — and smoked heavily. And her doctor didn’t get on her for that, because hey, she was a good girl who followed the prescribed diet to the letter and didn’t need insulin. She died at 64, just a few years after her own parents. I was 25.

    Are you getting a better sense now of my personal stake in challenging the “dieting = health” paradigm?

    Finally, I was consumed by self-loathing, about 98% because of my body for nearly 20 years, even though I’ve never been “fat enough” for you. It started when I hit 100 lbs. in middle school. Never mind that I was actually tiny. 100 lbs. was three digits! Breasts and hips were FAT! Even after I’d starved myself down to a size 4, I could not stand that I wasn’t a size 2. I could not stand that I was still short and curvy, while some of my friends were tall and willowy — and thus absolutely, unassailably NOT FAT. I could never be thin enough, never be good enough. And when I gained that weight back, I felt like the world’s biggest failure, completely unworthy of love, damn near unworthy of life. So I dieted again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    It stopped — or, well, it started to stop — when I read The Obesity Myth in 2004. I reference that book all the time because it changed my life enormously — it would just barely be overstating the matter to say it saved my life. Learning that the health risks of obesity are wildly overblown was the first step in understanding that I didn’t have to hate myself, didn’t have to starve myself, didn’t have to punish myself with exercise I hated — because I’d already found out that moderation would never make me thin; only going to extremes would. It made me realize I could just find some exercise I liked doing and eat normally and be a healthy fat person. (I do all that yoga because I LOVE it, and I wouldn’t run a mile for a million dollars, but I’ll walk 5 briskly for the fun of it.)

    The risks ARE overblown, t87. It’s not just a few nutjobs saying this. It’s the same goddamned research that’s twisted into “obesity kills!” messages that actually demonstrates that obesity, in and of itself, is pretty benign. All you have to do is look at the numbers instead of the rhetoric.

    And I keep harping on that message in particular, because it’s crucial to exposing fat hatred for what it is: raw, inexcusable prejudice against people who look different. “Health concerns” are used as a smokescreen for that hatred; as long as teh fatties are “unhealthy,” even progressives — as we’ve seen here — will keep thinking it’s okay to shame them and ridicule them. When people understand that obese people are not, by definition, unhealthy — and that the research has shown this all along — fat-shaming is exposed as the fucking ignorant bigotry it is. And then we can start to work on changing that, which is a whole other struggle.

    Have I earned my right to speak now?

  110. Jess

    Standing ovation, Kate!

    I want to add one (multipartite) thing:

    When people understand that obese people are not, by definition, unhealthy — and that the research has shown this all along — fat-shaming is exposed as the fucking ignorant bigotry it is.

    Yes. And eventually the following things also occur:
    – Fat people who are actually ill will be able to get treatment for the illnesses they have, instead of the non-illness that is most visually obvious.
    – Accordingly, fat people will not avoid doctors to the degree they currently do.
    – Furthermore, more fat people will have an easier time getting insurance, thus allowing them better access to health care.
    – Fat people with eating disorders will be able to get treated for those eating disorders, instead of having them written off as typical (compulsive eating) or healthy (anorexia) behavior.
    – Similarly, fat people with acute illnesses that cause rapid weight gain or loss will stand a chance of being diagnosed quickly, instead of facing praise or blame.
    – People of all sizes will be able to stop damaging themselves with diets.
    – Thin people with unhealthy habits will be able to recognize and address those habits (if they wish to), thus improving their quality of life, instead of overlooking them because they haven’t caused weight gain.
    – Children in desperate need of adoption will have a chance to be placed with loving fat parents who would otherwise have been deemed unhealthy and unsuitable.

    No question: fighting the obesity panic will save lives.

  111. Kate Harding

    Careful, Jess. You almost made it sound like a social justice issue.

  112. t87

    Have I earned my right to speak now?

    What is this bizarre compulsion that you (and at least three other posters) feel to assume the mantle of persecution and censorship.

    All I fucking said was that you do not speak for me and you do not speak for all fat people.

    I never never never never never never never said you did not have a “right to speak”. So why don’t you shitcan the phony martyrdom complex, ummkay?

  113. I think it’s awesome that after Kate’s entire huge awesome comment, t87 really seems to have finally gotten the point.

    🙄

  114. Kate, rewwwwwl.

    Jess, fahkin’ ay, and let me add yet another: People who say their medication is making them gain a bunch of weight will be taken seriously by their doctors and others, instead of being accused of having an evil twin who is pounding boxes of doughnuts. (I gained 65 pounds taking a certain SSRI for 7 years, before it was well known that this drug did indeed foster serious weight gain in many long-term users.)

  115. Jess

    I doubt t87 read more than the first line and the last line of Kate’s comment, Liss. That seems to be the pattern. Hey, I never said NO fatties were lazy.

  116. Jewel

    OT – Melissa, how’d you make that emoticon smiley thingy? I love it!

  117. Jess

    Also, Brian, did you see that the real source of the fallacious AMA quote is now HIMSELF saying that he is frequently a liar? Turns out the Surgeon General has to (or gets to, depending on your perspective) elide, ignore, and misrepresent a lot of good research if it conflicts with political or monetary interests.

  118. t87

    the real source of the fallacious AMA quote

    ?

  119. Nope, that wasn’t it.

  120. OT – Melissa, how’d you make that emoticon smiley thingy? I love it!

    It’s : roll :

    No spaces.

    You were close, Jack!

  121. Jess

    t87: Hey, a chance to test my new emoticon skills!

    🙄

    Take this opportunity to READ WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID TO YOU, before everyone catches on and starts giving you the cold shoulder you apparently warrant.

  122. t87

    Thanks for the tip Jess – I do read what people say.

    The problem is that you apparently do not.

    I never said any crap about Kate not having the right to speak.

    Nonetheless, Kate, and at least 3 other posters climbed up on their hobby horses and denounced me for saying she did not have a right to speak. Lots of artery clearing indignation on their part.

    So, my question to you, Liss, is why would you tell someone whose posts have been mischaracterized at least 4 or 5 times in the same thread that they need to work on their reading? Hmmm?

  123. Jewel

    Thanks Melissa!

    t87, maybe what you need to work on is not your reading, but your writing: if a number of readers all get the same message from what you wrote, perhaps you are not getting your point across as clearly as you think you are.

    (I say this not to be snarky or condescending, but because I see this kind of the *all the time* in student papers: they think they have been perfectly clear, but only because they are thinking in a certain way when they write and their thoughts, while clear to them, are not translating into the writing.)

  124. I had noted that Jess. Interesting that what the SG says is so blatently political. Maybe the AMA shouldn’t be so quick to use him as a jumping off point for lying about fatness.

    And to be clear, I’ve apologized for suggesting that Carmona was the source of that entire quote. While I thought I had read that, I cannot trace back and find anything to support that so I have to conclude I was mistaken. Last I checked, though, t87 has STILL not so much as acknowledged that the pithy remark they made to enter this discussion was, itself, fallacious even if the AMA was the source of the number. A number which was best case off by 82%, worse case off by 96%. All depends on whether you count the reduced mortality among a huge chunk of people who the AMA still thinks are gonna die because of teh fat.

  125. (I gained 65 pounds taking a certain SSRI for 7 years, before it was well known that this drug did indeed foster serious weight gain in many long-term users.)

    That happened to me, too. Three years, everything was fine, and then BAM! 30 pounds out of nowhere, in just a couple of months. Of course, going off the meds and struggling with depression while lacking insurance coverage and dealing with several giant life-altering-in-a-bad-way events plus an injury that derailed all my efforts to continue exercising didn’t help much, either.

  126. Also, FWIW, the AMA had “homosexuality” on its disease list until the 1970s, and disagreed with the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove it from the DSM. Here’s a little tidbit I turned up while Googling “AMA Homosexuality 1969.” I used that year because that was the year of the Stonewall riots, when the modern gay rights movement was “officially” launched. Link provided below quote. (Trigger warning: This link is NOT gay friendly.)

    Homosexuality was subsequently regarded as a variant of sexual orientation disturbance. The “nomenclature revolution” continued and in 1986 the last remaining term, “ego-dystonic homosexuality,” was removed from the DSM. This was done over the protest of many psychiatrists who preferred to label it a long standing disturbance originating in the early years of life.[48]

    The membership of the American Medical Association disagreed with the APA’s decision. A 1975 AMA membership survey found that 69 percent agreed that homosexuality is “pathological.”

    http://www.taconic.net/re-search/homoagenda.htm

  127. Jess

    @t87: Thanks for the tip Jess – I do read what people say.

    The problem is that you apparently do not.

    I never said any crap about Kate not having the right to speak.

    That’s got fuckall to do with MY reading comprehension; I never said you did. (If asked, I would have said that you told Kate not to “presume to speak” because she wasn’t fat enough for your personal standards, an incredibly egotistical and deliberately dismissive thing to say, and one that was clearly intended to shut Kate down so you didn’t have to listen to her. But I would never say that you actually used the words “Kate has no RIGHT to speak.”)

    Now, have you read any of those books yet?

    @Bstu: And to be clear, I’ve apologized for suggesting that Carmona was the source of that entire quote.

    Ah, now this DOES speak to my reading comprehension. Brian, I saw you say that and it totally slipped my mind. The Carmona thing is interesting regardless, of course, and is still a good illustration of how difficult it is to get pure science from mouthpieces.

  128. Kate Harding

    All I fucking said was that you do not speak for me and you do not speak for all fat people.

    I never never never never never never never said you did not have a “right to speak”. So why don’t you shitcan the phony martyrdom complex, ummkay?

    Boy, it’s a shame we don’t have a record of exactly what you said somewhere.

    Oh, wait…

    Actually, if the pictures you’ve posted are accurate you’re not really that fat, so please, don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”. That is almost as tiresome as straight people who presume to lecture about the how tough it is for gay folks.

    Gosh, I can’t imagine where we all got the idea that you were telling me to shut up because I have no right to talk about fat issues. How could they have misunderstood you like that? THE MIND BOGGLES.

    So, my question to you, Liss, is why would you tell someone whose posts have been mischaracterized at least 4 or 5 times in the same thread that they need to work on their reading? Hmmm?

    And I’ve got a “phony martyrdom complex.”

    So glad I know how to do this now:

    🙄

    I can tell it’s gonna come in handy.

  129. So, my question to you, Liss, is why would you tell someone whose posts have been mischaracterized at least 4 or 5 times in the same thread that they need to work on their reading? Hmmm?

    Oh, I dunno. Maybe because I don’t believe their posts have been mischaracterized. Hmm?

    Sorry–there goes that sarcasm thing of mine you don’t like.

  130. t87

    There is a difference between: don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”
    and
    shut up because I have no right to talk about fat issues

    and implying that you need to do something to

    Have I earned my right to speak now

    and

    she needs to stop talking because she isn’t THAT FAT?

    Were the difference not apparent, I posted yesterday:

    Nor did I ever suggest that “someone” doesn’t have a right to express an opinion. What “someone” doesn’t have the right to do is to speak for me or to speak on behalf of “fat people” generally.

    Please note that this post was at 10 p.m. last night – long before Kate’s post at 7:32 this morning plaintively asking whether she had “earned the right to speak”.

  131. t87

    last para should not have been ital.

    BStu – I responded to your post last night.

  132. Melissa, I think you need to ask Amanda if you can borrow some bunny videos.

  133. Please note that this post was at 10 p.m. last night – long before Kate’s post at 7:32 this morning plaintively asking whether she had “earned the right to speak”.

    Funny how we all “hear” things differently from the written word. What t87 hears as “plaintive,” I heard as a “totally fucking sarcastic rhetorical designed to point out what a condescending douchebag t87 was being.”

    Tomato. Tomahto.

  134. Actually, if the pictures you’ve posted are accurate you’re not really that fat, so please, don’t presume to speak on behalf of “fat people.”. That is almost as tiresome as straight people who presume to lecture about the how tough it is for gay folks.

    Well, Melissa is one straight person who is expert enough to lecture about how tough it is for gay folks. Why would it be tiresome for someone who knows and loves many gay people to speak up about the issue? I think not.

    Also, I think Kate’s opinions have been shaped just as much by being female as being fat. Face it, there’s much more acceptance for fat men.

    I’ve recently gained 60 pounds due to a medication I’m taking. No one seems to notice. People still tell me I’m handsome. No one makes comments about the size of my ass, or calls me thunder thighs.

    If a woman gains 60 pounds, her experience is far different. Just look at what the tabloids do to actresses.

    Matthew McConaughey packed on a few s last year and no one really cared. Except D-Listed:

    http://dlisted.blogspot.com/2006/07/fat-ass.html

    Even the snarky comments about McConaughy were tempered with:

    “Just kidding, he’s still hot and I’d still hit it. He can rest his gut on my ass anytime.”

    I’ve never met Kate in person, so I won’t make assumptions about her physical size. But, I know this. As a woman, her fat experience is far different from mine or any other man.

  135. Well, Melissa is one straight person who is expert enough to lecture about how tough it is for gay folks. Why would it be tiresome for someone who knows and loves many gay people to speak up about the issue? I think not.

    Thank you, Fritz. That’s very nice of you to say.

  136. t87

    Funny how we all “hear” things differently from the written word. What t87 hears as “plaintive,” I heard as a “totally fucking sarcastic rhetorical designed to point out what a condescending douchebag t87 was being.”

    When you make a rhetorical argument that rebuts a point that another person has not made that is called a strawman argument.

    It is odd that you find such a technique to be persuasive.

    And when, as here, the rheorical argument responds to a point that another person had specifically disavowed – that is just a sign of being lame-o. But then again, you think it is okay to make fun of drunks.

  137. NinjaGoat

    Can we just start calling him names yet?

  138. Complaining about me setting up strawmen in the same comment you’re saying I think it’s okay to make fun of drunks, when anyone with a functioning braing can read the thread to which you’re referring and see what patent bullshit it is, is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    And, btw, I see by your use of the term “lame-o” that you think it’s okay to make fun of the disabled, “lame” being a word that is recklessly used to mean “stupid” in the same way “gay” is.

    Also funny considering you did that in the same comment in which you’re accusing me of making fun of drunks.

  139. Can we just start calling him names yet?

    I started to and then thunk twice.

  140. Kate217

    But then again, you think it is okay to make fun of drunks.

    Only drunks who make a point of judging other people.

  141. Only drunks who make a point of judging other people.

    Technically, that would be making fun of hypocrites.

  142. Jess

    When you make a rhetorical argument that rebuts a point that another person has not made that is called a strawman argument.

    No, it’s not. That’s called a red herring. A straw man is refuting a point that you pretend is your opponent’s main point. You lose at logic again.

  143. spacedcowgirl

    t87 is just going to keep picking at irrelevant, tangential points and ignoring the amazing amount of substance that has been posted here refuting the “OMG OBESITY KILLZ!!1!! (and fat people are ugly and bad)” panic until the discussion is quelled, right? And he/she will also pretend to be addressing the main point by repeatedly asking “Do you really think the AMA can be bought?” and “Do you really think you’re smarter than every scientist in the world?” no matter how many responses are given, right?

    I just wanted to make sure that’s how it’s going to go. It’s a shame because there is SO MUCH great information in this thread–to those of you who take the trouble to dig below media coverage and spin and draw your own conclusions about data, thank you.

    At least, I really enjoyed it until the irrelevant “How DARE you, sir! I said ‘Don’t presume to speak for fat people,’ not ‘You have no right to speak for fat people'” argument started. Deep down you realize this point is not really that important, right, t87? For someone who’s so concerned about people’s health and boiling everything down to the One Great Truth about how obesity is going to kill us all, you sure are suspiciously fixated on derailing this discussion with semantics.

  144. t87

    Complaining about me setting up strawmen in the same comment you’re saying I think it’s okay to make fun of drunks, when anyone with a functioning braing can read the thread to which you’re referring and see what patent bullshit it is, is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Sorry if I was unclear. The reference to the strawman argument (and pace Jess it was a strawman argument) was to the one that Kate was erecting when she plaintively asked whether she had “earned the right to speak” when I had never said otherwise and, in fact, 9 or 10 hours earlier I had specifically disavowed any such misinterpretation of what I was saying.

    And, btw, I see by your use of the term “lame-o” that you think it’s okay to make fun of the disabled, “lame” being a word that is recklessly used to mean “stupid” in the same way “gay” is

    Two things here: if I call someone a dipstick, I am not making fun of dipsticks. Second, I think your excessive preening of your sensitivity antennae may have damaged them. The word “lame” does not only, or even primarily, refer to differently abled people. It can and does refer to horses and other animals. In fact, if you google the word “lame” you get about 33M hits. If you google “lame -Barbaro” you get only about 15M hits.

    Anyhoo – posturing that your sensibilities are offended when someone uses the word lame to refer to a “lame-0” argument makes about as much sense as writing the fire extinguisher companies to complain that their labels use the phrase flame retardant.

  145. t87

    Deep down you realize this point is not really that important, right, t87? For someone who’s so concerned about people’s health and boiling everything down to the One Great Truth about how obesity is going to kill us all, you sure are suspiciously fixated on derailing this discussion with semantics.

    You are quite right. It is just disappointing that when I dared to make the fairly innocuous point that nobody as a monopoly on the right to speak for all fat folks that the response from several posters is in effect “How dare you try to silence me.” Whatever.

    And I don’t quite understand what you mean by the second point. I don’t think obesity is going to kill us all, but I am troubled by the positions that some have advanced including a) there is nothing anyone can ever do to reduce their weight long term in a healthy way b) there are no ill-health effects for people who are seriously obese and c) any medical professional who says otherwise is probably just getting a payoff.

    Those positions are just absurd.

    Just as it is absurd to argue that obesity is a moral failure that will make you drop dead tomorrow.

  146. t87 — I already awarded you “Concern Troll of the Day” just yesterday.

    Don’t be selfish, dear.

  147. Don’t be selfish, dear.

    Hey, adulation has a way of making people just try harder.

  148. t87

    PortlyDyke- well since the Shakesville seneschal jumped in and made a very moving appeal to ban use of the phrase “lame-o” because it might cause offense to (as she put it) the “disabled” – I saw precious, precious concern troll award slipping away from my clutches.

  149. t87 is just going to keep picking at irrelevant, tangential points and ignoring the amazing amount of substance that has been posted here refuting the “OMG OBESITY KILLZ!!1!! (and fat people are ugly and bad)” panic until the discussion is quelled, right? And he/she will also pretend to be addressing the main point by repeatedly asking “Do you really think the AMA can be bought?” and “Do you really think you’re smarter than every scientist in the world?” no matter how many responses are given, right?

    By golly, its like you’ve gotten t87’s playbook or something.

    Still ignoring the fact that her initial “bow down before the AMA” quote was lie. Right out of the playbook.

  150. t87

    Bstu – see my post of 10:01 last night to which you never replied.

    I put up a quote from the AMA and asked Kate why she thought they said that. As I said yesterday – I have no idea whether that quote is correct.

    You took that quote and launched into some sort of bizarro tangent accusing me of making things up and altering quotes. You finally admitted that you were wrong. Good for you. But, excuse me if I do not appear overly concerned with living up to your standards for accuracy.

    I posted another quote from the AMA and, again, asked people why they thought the AMA was so very deluded.

    (And if you would pull your head out of your rear and stop fretting about who has and who has not apoligized – you might see that this is an interesting question.)

    The only response so far has been that doctors and drug companies are in it for the money and there is an implication of some sort of conspiracy. One – maybe more – poster pointed out that there were doctors who were funded by pharma who have an interest in peddling ever more expensive drugs. Agreed. But even accounting for the self-interest of some medical researchers, it strains credulity to suggest that there is some wholesale direct or indirect bribery going on of all the medical researchers, doctors, and other health professionals who assert that obesity has ill health effects.

    But I guess that is of less interest to you than whatever scorekeeping you are engaged in.

  151. Meowser

    And I don’t quite understand what you mean by the second point. I don’t think obesity is going to kill us all, but I am troubled by the positions that some have advanced including a) there is nothing anyone can ever do to reduce their weight long term in a healthy way b) there are no ill-health effects for people who are seriously obese and c) any medical professional who says otherwise is probably just getting a payoff.

    Those positions are just absurd.

    They would be, if anyone ever said those things. But nobody here did. That is highly selective inference.

    What WAS said — by KH and others here — is that trying to artificially force your weight down lower than it naturally would be with reasonable (not extremely restrictive) diet and moderate (not life-engulfing) exercise is, for most fat people, not sustainable and therefore not going to result in permanent attainment of an “ideal” weight, or even anything close to it. You see, KH and most of the rest of us are all in favor of quality intuitive eating and moderate exercise. We like it. It makes us feel good. It has improved health for many of us. But it hasn’t made us thin. Some people will get and stay thin as a result of the above behaviors, lucky them. But they are NOT the majority. Not even close.

    What WAS said was that the health risks of “obesity” are way overblown and that fat hatred and greed, not science, was behind most of the hype. Which does not equal “health risks do not exist at all for any fat person ever.” Which also does not equal, “if you have a binge eating disorder you should keep stuffing yourself so you can be fat like the rest of us.” If you do have a binge eating or a true compulsive overeating disorder (not rooted in restrictive dieting, which could cause anyone to binge), please get help. Preferably the kind that won’t shame you for being fat, because nobody deserves that. But not one person here — not one — is advocating that a BED or CED go untreated. You hear that? I’ll repeat it: Please don’t stuff yourself silly on a daily basis. It’s not good for you. If you can’t stop doing this, please get help. Got that?

    What WAS said was that the “medical establishment” can be very slow to catch up with research and that for many people there is a vested interest in not catching up. That does NOT mean “all doctors only care about money, not your health.” I happen to have a very good, thoughtful doctor, and have had others before him who were equally good and thoughtful. They know I have PCOS and was on a drug that made me gain significant weight. They take my concerns seriously. I want them to be able to keep doing this and not have to give in to the “pay for performance” trend that insurance companies are increasingly pressuring health-care professionals to follow in order to get paid. (“Pay for performance” means “get patients to fall in line with certain numbers on a chart, regardless of the actual state of their health, just because we said so.”)

    I am not being paranoid or making this shit up. This is really happening. If it continues a lot of people ARE going to have very fucked-up health, much more so than now, just because too many bean-counting types have screwed up ideas of what “risk factors” really mean and how much control people really have over them.

    If you don’t take our concerns seriously, then I have to ask: What are you doing here? Are you asking permission to go on a diet? You’re not happy with the fact that nearly every other Web site in the entire known universe will bless your desire to diet except this one? Well, you have my personal blessing. Diet away. Knock yourself out. You’ll probably lose bunches of weight, get an all-new Gap wardrobe, and have perfect health forever, and I’ll be dead next week because of my unrepentant fatassery. Happy now? The difference: I’ll die smiling because I got to do what I wanted to do that day. You’ll live to be 98 and still hate everyone and everything because no matter what you do or how hard you try, you still won’t fit society’s ever-narrowing straitjacket, because nobody freaking well does.

  152. GiniLiz

    The only response so far has been that doctors and drug companies are in it for the money and there is an implication of some sort of conspiracy.

    I’m feeling so terribly hurt and ignored.

  153. Bstu – see my post of 10:01 last night to which you never replied.

    That’s because you STILL weren’t addressing the lie you posted which I’ve explained very clearly numerous times. You just pulled a “What lie was that?” response. That isn’t addressing the dishonesty you apparently enjoy using to berate people you disagree with. I replied by noting that you STILL hadn’t addressed the lie you employed in this thread.

    One more time, the AMA quote you keep going on about was untrue. It was made up. No, not by you. By the AMA. The statistics they quoted were wrong. Off by 82% at least. They increased the deaths among fat people by HALF A MILLION to make their point. It was a LIE. Your lack of concern about that lie only proves what so many here had no trouble deducing about you. You’re only concerned with promoting hate and insulting people as you’ve repeatedly insulted Kate’s intelligence, tried to deny her right to express herself, and lied about that in spite of the obvious facts in front of all of us. You don’t care about truth. You only care about demonstrating your disdain and hatred for the people who have the audacity to disagree with you. A verifiably made-up statistic from a psuedo-authority is really the least of your problems, but its also the most objective of your problems and yet you repeatedly insist that you using factually vacant information to belittle others is not worth even the slightest concern on your part. That you have no issue with lying to berate people is a very important issue, no matter how many straw-men you obscure the discussion.

  154. t87

    B-Stu – seriously, dude, you need to take a breath and step away from the keyboard. “[T]ried to deny her right to experess herself”? You’ve beaten that horse to death and, what’s worse, it wasn’t even a horse – it was a llama or goat or something that you mistakenly thought was a horse before you started flailing away at it.

    Meowser – thank you for your post. We probably agree more than it appears. The one thing we probably disagree on is my belief that many many post I have read here in the past few days contain statements that fall into the a-c categories I mentioned. Just one example – there have been probably 50 or more iterations of the phrase “diets don’t work” and “it is impossible to lose weight.” I take it that you interpret these statements less literally to mean “trying to artificially force your weight down lower than it naturally would be with reasonable (not extremely restrictive) diet and moderate (not life-engulfing) exercise is, for most fat people, not sustainable and therefore not going to result in permanent attainment of an “ideal” weight, or even anything close to it.”

    If so, we are in total agreement on that point.

    But I would submit to you that there is a considerable differene between your nuance, precise statement and the simplistic catch-phrases in which it is often stated thereabouts.

  155. Pingback: Or Maybe Not? · Articles

  156. PortlyDyke- well since the Shakesville seneschal jumped in and made a very moving appeal to ban use of the phrase “lame-o” because it might cause offense to (as she put it) the “disabled” – I saw precious, precious concern troll award slipping away from my clutches.

    Hey, asshole: Pointing out you’re a hypocrite isn’t “concern trolling.”

    FYI: A disabled Shaker advocate made the request about the use of “lame,” so babble all you want about my alleged hypersensitivity, but there are real people who care about this shit, and you’re demeaning them with your flippant fucking attitude.

    (And, btw, just because it’s also applied to animals doesn’t undermine its definition, which does indeed mean “disabled.” And when you substitute a word meaning “disabled” for “stupid,” you’re absolutely doing the same thing as someone who substitutes “gay” for “stupid.” But yeah, yeah–I know it’s tiring that a straight girl like me would deign to lecture you about LGBT issues.)

    🙄

  157. t87

    GiniLiz – I went back and read your posts. I agree with the premise that bias does exist and that unacknowledged bias can hamper medical research.

    But I don’t think that such bias can explain away all the medical research and, indeed, my personal experience.

  158. t87

    Hey, asshole: Pointing out you’re a hypocrite isn’t “concern trolling.”

    FYI: A disabled Shaker advocate made the request about the use of “lame,” so babble all you want about my alleged hypersensitivity, but there are real people who care about this shit, and you’re demeaning them with your flippant fucking attitude.

    Speaking of hypocrisy and concern trolling – do you recognize any of the following:

    “Republicans are sick of Gonzo, and that inevitably helps Gonzo—not to mention his stupid boss, with whom the Grand Old Party is in lockstep once again, despite his being the lamest of lame ducks.”

    “I’ve heard some lame-ass reasons for pardoning or cutting back on Scooter Libby’s sentence, but this column by Richard Cohen takes the cake.”

    “Today in Lame News: In Rome, land of pet-law, where failure to walk one’s dog daily is punishable by a $700 fine . .

    “Apropos of the meme below, and The Heretik’s charming Vonnegut story, I thought it might be fun to share lame or maybe not-lame celebrity meeting stories”

    “. . . I never want to see one of your lame-ass commercials trumpeting the great work conditions for the elderly”

    The good news is that you didn’t write all of them. The bad news is that you didn’t seem to develop your concerns about use of the word “lame” until I used it.

    Please do tell me more about hypocrisy . . .

  159. I take it that you interpret these statements less literally to mean “trying to artificially force your weight down lower than it naturally would be with reasonable (not extremely restrictive) diet and moderate (not life-engulfing) exercise is, for most fat people, not sustainable and therefore not going to result in permanent attainment of an “ideal” weight, or even anything close to it.”

    Yes. “Diets don’t work” is, to my eyes and ears, simply shorthand for, “Diets have never worked for me on any permanent basis to make me thin the first 20 times I’ve tried them, they’ve just made me fatter and sicker, and the vast majority of people I know and know of have had similar results.”

  160. t87

    And you know – it is fine to disagree and make sarcastic comments – I am guilty of that as much as anyone and we are all grown ups here, but to use differently abled people as a prop to score debate points is not a nice thing to do.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  161. t87

    My 9:36 should have been above Meowser’s post – it wasn’t in response to her/him.

  162. Oh, and that medical research? If you know only what’s in the MSM, or even on PBS or NPR, you’re not getting the whole story. They are going to emphasize what their advertisers and sponsors prefer. It isn’t even so much that the “research is wrong” — it’s more that what’s reported often doesn’t tell you what the research actually found.

    Like that American Cancer Society study a few years ago which allegedly found that the fatter you are, the more likely you are to die of cancer? That may have been what was reported, but look at the original study, not the media reports of it. This actually found that people in the so-called “overweight” range (BMI 25-29), where most “fat Americans” reside, had lower cancer death rates than people in the so-called “ideal” range (BMI 20-24), and that in the BMI 30-35 range where most of the rest of “fat Americans” reside the difference between “ideal” and “category 1 obese” was small enough to be statistically insignificant. (We won’t even get into why someone with BMI > 35 might have a cancer go untreated for an unconscionably long period of time, until it’s too late to treat it.) But that is NOT what was reported. My local paper at the time, charmingly enough, led with the headline, “America is eating itself to death.” Niiiiice.

    Those books we keep recommending to you — not just the Campos and Kolata, but also those by Glenn Gaesser (Big Fat Lies) and Laura Fraser (Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry) and others, draw heavily on academic and medical journal articles and studies you won’t find out about from the usual sources, and give a far more complex and complete picture of the weight/health relationship. That’s what’s cool about them; they have all that stuff in one place so you don’t have to spend hours and days and weeks in a medical library looking for it. Plus they have interviews with some of the people who have done the research. Many of these books are widely available in public libraries. The Kolata book is even new enough that your local Borders & Noble probably has it and you can browse. (Some of the material can also be found in the NY Times archives, as Kolata is a Times writer.)

  163. t87

    Diets have never worked for me on any permanent basis to make me thin the first 20 times I’ve tried them, they’ve just made me fatter and sicker, and the vast majority of people I know and know of have had similar results.

    Meowser – a bit of background to let you know where I am coming from. I agree with much of what you say but one can’t just say “diets don’t work”. Yes “bad diets” or “unrealistic diets” or “diets without reasonable exercise” don’t work. I think one approach points to hope and possibility while the other does not.

    I, don’t think I have been on 20 diets but I have done all of yo-yo stuff and set unrealistic goals and failed at it. But I don’t think the answer is to just throw up ones hands and walk away from the possibility of living a different life. About 18 months ago I started taking reasonable moderate steps to improve my diet and activity level and it has not been easy but I feel so much better (the important thing) and yes have lost a huge amount of weight.

    I think even Kate would agree with me that people should try to eat properly and to exercise. She has said as much. But it seems that in the attempt to rise above the din, the sloganeering does a disservice to fat people.

    Take the term “fat acceptance” for example. Without more “fat acceptance” is a piss poor idea. I think that proponents of the concept (including Kate) mean to say something like “People should eat healthy food, exercise reasonably and not obsess over whether they weight conforms to a particular BMI number or other arbitrary standard.”

    I don’t think it means “It is fine to be morbidly obese, eat crappy food and not exercise.” But when people start throwing around slogans like “Fat acceptance” or “Healthy at every weight” – they intentionally or unintentionally open the door to such mindsets. I mean “healthy at every weight”? Okay, how about healthy at 700 pounds? No – I don’t think so.

    I do not doubt or dispute that there is a sinister profit motive at work for pharma and some doctors. I don’t want to get into who I work for, but believe me when I tell you I do not need to read any books on that subject. I deal with the sordid details on a daily basis.

    Perhaps another way to look at this is that obesity is a proxy for other things. Aside from those people with certain medical conditions, I doubt that most people who eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly are morbidly obese. Serious obesity is more often than not the result not eating a healthy diet and not regularly exercising. If you think I am wrong about that – please tell me which of those author’s works you mention dispute that and I will read it this weekend [seriously].

    So when we talk about fat, we are really talking about other things really. Fat is used to shame. It is emotional. And all that. But reacting in opposition to small minded (ha) attitudes should not necessary embrace advocating surrendering responsibility for one’s own health.

  164. t87 — you are riding my last nerve pretty heavily right now.

    Melissa said quite clearly that a disabled Shaker was offended by the use of “lame” as meaning stupid — and she has changed that in subsequent posts — because she paid attention, and raised her awareness — so quoting comments from prior to that time only demonstrates the fact that she actually changed her mind, and shifted her awareness — something you clearly refuse to do, imo.

    If commentors use it, she can attempt to help them raise their awareness (as she did with you), but she can’t control them.

    Seriously, you are on the verge of becoming a “scroll-on-by-nothing-to-read-here” commentor for me — and that’s pretty rare for me at Shakes.

  165. The good news is that you didn’t write all of them. The bad news is that you didn’t seem to develop your concerns about use of the word “lame” until I used it.

    From a post I wrote in April: “Recently, a Shaker emailed me to request that I shouldn’t use ‘McLame’ to refer to ‘McCain,’ because it could be offensive to some people with disabilities. It was a fair point. Naturally, I had intended it to mean ‘stupid,’ not ‘disabled,’ but it took me about a nanosecond to realize I was ignoring the etymology of the word in the same way as people who insist on using ‘gay’ to mean ‘stupid’ – so I jettisoned it from my blogcabulary. (And from my personal speech.) Done and dusted.”

    Should have done a better job searching my blog for instances of the word, I guess, eh?

  166. t87

    Melissa said quite clearly that a disabled Shaker was offended by the use of “lame” as meaning stupid — and she has changed that in subsequent posts — because she paid attention, and raised her awareness — so quoting comments from prior to that time only demonstrates the fact that she actually changed her mind, and shifted her awareness — something you clearly refuse to do, imo.

    Whoa. She didn’t say that in her first post. It was all snark.

    In her second she said that somebody had complained. From what you say that complaint apparently happened sometime in the past. I didn’t know that. And since she didn’t say that, I think I fairly assumed the complaint was directed at my post.

    So if there was some big ruckus in the recent past on the blog about the use of the word lame – I didn’t know about it.

    And while she can feel free to change her mind about it – I just disagree and think it is a perfectly fine and dandy word and referring to an argument as “lame” does not disparage the differently abled. And, in fact, shying away from using a word like “lame” in the context I used it, would imply a belief that the differently abled are so delicate and fragile that we have to tip-toe around lest we say something that just causes them to collapse in a heap. No thanks.

  167. t87

    And – FYI to Melissa and Portly – I was writing my 10:31 while Melissas 10:38 went up. I was unaware of the back and forth on this back in April. So while I think using the word lame is fine, I want to be clear that I did not intentionally choose that word for the purpose of stirring up that issue.

  168. t87

    Christ – I mean I was writing my 10:38 while Melissa’s 10:31 went up.

  169. I just disagree and think it is a perfectly fine and dandy word and referring to an argument as “lame” does not disparage the differently abled

    And if we know anything about t87, it’s that what s/he thinks is the most important thing.

    imply a belief that the differently abled are so delicate and fragile that we have to tip-toe around lest we say something that just causes them to collapse in a heap

    Except for that inconvenient little fact that it did actually offend someone. Not marginalizing people on the basis of intrinsic characteristics is a basic courtesy that I want to extend to everyone at Shakesville. A basic courtesy. It has nothing to do with surmising that anyone is about to “collapse in a heap” at any moment.

  170. t87 — she said this in her comment to you: “FYI: A disabled Shaker advocate made the request about the use of “lame,”

    Your cry of “I didn’t know that” is completely disingenuous, afaic, because you certainly found the where-withall to go back and search the fucking blog for references to defend your “Speaking of hypocrisy and concern trolling – do you recognize any of the following:”

    In my humble fucking opinion, you are acting like an asshole. I am now officially done with you.

  171. Your cry of “I didn’t know that” is completely disingenuous, afaic, because you certainly found the where-withall to go back and search the fucking blog for references to defend your “Speaking of hypocrisy and concern trolling – do you recognize any of the following:”

    Exactly. Too busy trying to prove I “should be ashamed” of myself.

  172. t87

    Portly – please go back and read the FIRST time that Melissa brought up the issue – July 11 at 4:07. Here is all she said on the subject:

    And, btw, I see by your use of the term “lame-o” that you think it’s okay to make fun of the disabled, “lame” being a word that is recklessly used to mean “stupid” in the same way “gay” is.

    Nothing about prior complaints.

    She did point that out in her second post.

    When I did my search I didn’t see the references to the whole McLame dust-up. I assume it didn’t come up because “McLame” would not show up in a search for “Lame”.

    So there – you can believe it or not.

  173. t87

    And, yes, the more I think about this the more fucked up it is. I mean someone didn’t see any problem referring to a famously wounded war veteran as McLame until somebody pointed it out. How fucked up is that.

    And then, Melissa get religion on this issue way back in April – nearly 3 months ago – never again will that fould word pass her lips. Okay – bully for her.

    When I use the phrase in July, she, with the zeal found only in the recently converted, jumps on my post. Curiously absent was any link or reference to her own conversion three short months ago.

    It is one thing to post the sanctimonious crap that she did initially and it is another to say something like “You know, I too used to used that word, but . . .”

    What is the way an adult posts?

  174. Take the term “fat acceptance” for example. Without more “fat acceptance” is a piss poor idea. I think that proponents of the concept (including Kate) mean to say something like “People should eat healthy food, exercise reasonably and not obsess over whether they weight conforms to a particular BMI number or other arbitrary standard.”

    I don’t think it means “It is fine to be morbidly obese, eat crappy food and not exercise.” But when people start throwing around slogans like “Fat acceptance” or “Healthy at every weight” – they intentionally or unintentionally open the door to such mindsets. I mean “healthy at every weight”? Okay, how about healthy at 700 pounds? No – I don’t think so.

    Because some people have hateful and bigoted attitudes about fat people, this is a reason NOT to advocate for fat acceptance? People think all sorts of negative things about gays. Should they not ask for “gay rights” then? By your logic, you being a bigot should preclude me from advocating against bigotry. If you’ve got preconcieved notions about what fat people are, I’ve no right to challenge that. Give me a break! You, like so many before you, is trying to define the terms of the discussion so that your prejudices are the only acceptable position.

    Every fat person deserves respect and dignity. Every fat person needs to stop being treated like their body is product and proof of a moral failing. Every fat person deserves to have their health needs met without demands that weight be lost before health care is provided. Yes, for your 700lb straw-men, too. Because even for the very fat, there still remains no proof that weight loss can be sustained or beneficial. There is no point where you get to shame fat people. You suggest 700 in the hope that no one objects. Then you push the line further and further back so it excludes all fat people from acceptance like you want. Well, I object to you drawing the lines of who is allowed to be acceptable. Fat stigmatization has been a complete and total failure for EVERY fat person. Stigmatizing a person because of the physical dimensions of their body has no reason to continue. Even if the dimensions really just don’t seem right to you. Stigmatizing the perceived limitations in different bodies has never worked. Enough is enough.

    Still no genuine reaction to you posting factually vacant remarks, I see. For all the distractions you want to discuss, it is hardly a shock that you’ve still not actually addressed the untrue substance of your initial foray into this thread.

  175. Jewel

    [i]What is the way an adult posts?[/i]

    Here I had the courtesy to point out that I was not being condescending in my one response to t87, and it turns out that s/he is the Monarch of Condescending.

  176. Jewel

    (oops. My attempt at italics failed…)

  177. Man, Jewel. You went and put Venture Bros. in my head. Better pull out the DVDs when I get home.

  178. When I did my search I didn’t see the references to the whole McLame dust-up. I assume it didn’t come up because “McLame” would not show up in a search for “Lame”.

    Except, ya know, that post does come up in a search for “lame.” So your assumption is wrong.

    And you continue to obscure the point that I brought up your use of “lame-o” not because I was being “sanctimonious,” but to note your hypocrisy with regard to your accusations of callousness against me. My point was that you were being insensitive while calling me insensitive–and it was a legitimate point.

    In trying to prove it wasn’t, you’ve made yourself look like a right knob. Give it up.

  179. t87

    Yes, for your 700lb straw-men, too. Because even for the very fat, there still remains no proof that weight loss can be sustained or beneficial.

    Okey doke – just so we are clear – you believe that there is no “proof” that weight loss would be beneficial for a 700 pound person?

    Still no genuine reaction to you posting factually vacant remarks, I see.

    Oh there was a genuine reaction – you just didn’t like it.

  180. t87

    Except, ya know, that post does come up in a search for “lame.” So your assumption is wrong.

    Well it didn’t when I did the search. Or maybe it came up downpage and I didn’t get to it. Actually, now that I think about it, when I searched for “lame” I got tons of posts containing the word “blame” (you might be surprised how often that word is used) and other noise so I switched over and searched for lame-ass and lamest, I think those were the terms. I didn’t see anything about your conversion to right thinking the language until you actually linked to it.

    But since you have said that using the word “lame” violates the rules of “basic courtesy”, let me ask you this – how long after someone objected to the use of lame did you reform? 10 seconds? A day? A week? Whatever it was, don’t you think that I am entitled to take that long – maybe even longer – experience the magical conversion?

    Right now – I ain’t feelin’ it. It seems like the worst sort of language police nonsense. But, you never know, someday I might get the religion, too.

    And you continue to obscure the point that I brought up your use of “lame-o” not because I was being “sanctimonious,” but to note your hypocrisy with regard to your accusations of callousness against me. My point was that you were being insensitive while calling me insensitive–and it was a legitimate point.

    One last point and I will let this drop – the hypocrisy charge only makes sense if, in fact, there is something callous about using the word lame-o. And, since you yourself were apparently unaware of this stricture for the first, what 30 or 40 years of year life until 3 months ago, do you really think the whole hypocrisy charge has much power behind it?

  181. Okey doke – just so we are clear – you believe that there is no “proof” that weight loss would be beneficial for a 700 pound person?

    Do you have any? The supposed health benefits of weight loss are always asserted rather than proven. There is genuinely no firm proof that weight loss actually improves health at all. No one bothers to look, for the most part, but when it has been studied the results have suggested that weight loss doesn’t impact health. For persons of any weight. Even less evidence that weight loss is achievable and sustainable. Again, of ANY weight.

    Oh there was a genuine reaction – you just didn’t like it.

    Still not true, but points for being committed to your lie. Your reaction was to pretend you didn’t know what I was talking about. So no. You still haven’t actually responded in any honest way to the dishonest quote you entered this thread with. You posted a lie which increased mortality in fat people by half a million. A lie which was off by at least 82%. I’ve explained the lie to you and you still avoid confronting that basic issue.

  182. T87, first find us a 700-pound person who lost 500 pounds and kept it off permanently (and no, I don’t mean someone who lost 500 pounds and gained 300 of it back), and then we’ll talk. K? Only you’re going to be looking a long time, because 700-pound humans are very very extremely rare, and those who have attained permanent significant weight loss rarer still. Therefore very little research on them has ever been done.

    I tell you what, though: there are Japanese sumo wrestlers close to that size — who in fact deliberately attained that size through many years of cycles of skipping meals to slow the metabolism followed by jaw-dropping sushi binges — and they could kick the asses of you, me, and everyone else here tied together with one leg tied behind ’em. And shockingly enough, they tend to have optimal health numbers on things like cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

  183. t87

    Still not true, but points for being committed to your lie. Your reaction was to pretend you didn’t know what I was talking about.

    It isn’t that I pretended not to know – its that I really didn’t care that much. I said yesterday or the day before that I had no idea if the AMA quote was accurate or not.

    Why you think that is a “lie” and a “dishonest quote” is puzzling – but I know that isn’t going to stop you from being Johnny one note on this issue so go ahead and toot, toot, toot away. I’m going to the shore.

  184. t87

    Meowser – when you have a minute please let me know what you think is the best article or book – if any – supports the claim that serious obesity does not have adverse health impacts. I won’t be able to pick it up for the weekend since I am out the door, but I will get it when I am back next week. (And – I don’t mean to put words in your mouth about that claim and I know that may not necessarily be your personal take on the issue but you seem like you have a knowledge of the literature.)

  185. Define “serious obesity” and I’ll let you know if I have anything. I don’t know of anyone, for the record, who says there are no health risks associated with BMI > 35. However, I do have books which state that the long-term mutability of one’s weight, even at high levels, is relatively limited. Some people can slim down permanently through making “lifestyle changes”; most can’t.

    IOW, whether there are “health risks” associated with being fat really doesn’t matter that much if there is no safe effective way to make most fat people permanently thin. And there isn’t. It’s a little like saying there are health risks associated with being homeless; even if they exist, unless you have permanent homes available and the means to afford to maintain them for everyone who needs one, it’s pointless to blame homeless people for the “health risks” associated with their condition.

    And if you don’t believe me, go ahead and go on that diet you seem to be itching to try, lose all the weight you want, and come back in five years and show us how you beat the odds. If you can do it, there’s probably a six-figure book deal in it for you.

  186. Oh, and here’s an article about Steven Blair, a groundbreaking researcher at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, who has found that fitness as measured by treadmill testing matters a lot more than weight when it comes to most health and longevity measures. He says his findings haven’t been extrapolated to people with BMI > 40 because “few of them are fit” by that standard, but again, that’s 2% of the population, not the 60% we’re constantly told are dying of their adiposity. (And again, he’s not saying those 2% can’t be fit, only that for whatever reason they tend not to be.)

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0846/is_5_23/ai_111518903

    And at no extra charge, a story about a 55-year-old man with a BMI of 40 who is a competititive athlete. Some more good stuff from Blair in there.

    http://www.beezodogsplace.com/Pages/Articles/FitandFat/FitandFat.html

  187. Finding one person who lost weight is too low of a bar Meowser. Every fraud of a diet plan has “success” stories. The problem isn’t finding one. Its repeating that with any reliability. People like to set boundaries for fatness. A line when the futility of weight loss doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Weight loss doesn’t work if you want it bad enough. It doesn’t work if you “need it” bad enough. It doesn’t work if you try hard enough. All of the supersize straw men just doesn’t change that. Isolated “success” stories doesn’t change that.

    Why you think that is a “lie” and a “dishonest quote” is puzzling

    Do I need to repeat myself again? I wouldn’t need to be so one note if you stopped pretending you can’t hear the song. The AMA quote you used to show that Kate was a fool for disagreeing with such a credible source was verifiably false. It claimed that there were more deaths from fatness than cancer, AIDS, and accidents combined. In fact, the deaths from fatness are more than half a million less than that. The AMA’s number is off by 82%. I know some prefer to call such things “misstatements” or “inaccurate”. But let’s call a spade a spade. It was a lie. It was dishonest. Either reckless or willful, but it was a lie. A lie you’ve now at least admitted you don’t care about. You’ll knowingly lie to make a “point” then? Or, will you just be reckless about it. You’ve racked up quite a streak of such “reckless iaccurracies”.

  188. Fair enough, BStu. I just thought finding even one would present enough a challenge, let alone establishing any kind of trend.

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