Friday, January 25, 2008

Let's play "Spot the Cliché"

Here is your assignment: Read this article on CNN.com and see how many worn-out stereotypes about fat people and weight loss you can find. I count at least 30 of them. Perhaps I'll enumerate them in a future post, but I wanted to let you all have a crack at it first!

I do have to say one thing, though: if this woman at 5'9" and 250 lbs. felt that "walking in the shopping mall" was difficult and that life was "a constant struggle", I'd say she had some serious problems going on, independent of being fat.

15 comments:

meg said...

Going to the shopping mall is certainly difficult for me. It often results in a raging case of mall fever.

Melissa said...

I agree, weight is never the problem initially or even the cause of anything!
Usually if someone says they have trouble even going to a mall because of their weight- then the weight is a symptom of a more deeply rooted problem!

Sdswmr said...

I have to say, I don't understand why that comment is a problem. Since I gained weight, my knees hurt all the time, I hate walking, I'm always hot ... all things she mentioned. Overweight causes these kinds of problems, though being in shape helps with the knee pain.

Melissa said...

sdswmr definately has a good point about how weight effects the physical!
I was thinking more on an emotional basis, that sometimes people use the physical to cover emotional problems they may or may not know they have.

Mary said...

I'm sure if you gain a lot of weight rapidly, then it's quite possible to feel like doing everyday things is harder. But does this mean that being fat itself is responsible for all those problems (as opposed to whatever caused the rapid weight gain) or that every fat person will have these problems?

The main reason I objected to the point is that I am very similar in size to the woman in the article, and I have none of those problems or any other "problems" caused by my size. I am not hot all the time (in fact, I am often colder than other people), I don't have trouble going up stairs or to the mall (except that I share Meg's feelings about malls), I enjoy walking and I walk to work (and lots of other places), and I also enjoy running. I do have back trouble occasionally, but no more often than I did 10 years ago when I was thinner.

I have always been fat except that for a few years in college I got down to about 70 pounds lighter than I am now (which is also how much I weighed in high school, though I'm smaller now because I think more of me is muscle). I could certainly run faster when I was thinner, but I wouldn't say that everyday activities were radically easier. In fact, contrary to what the diet gurus will try to tell you, my life then was a lot like my life now: most days I'm happy, some days suck, most people are nice to me, some people are jerks, some days I look in the mirror and think I look good, other days I don't. The most significant differences between now and when I was thinner are that (a) now I am not starving myself all the time; and (b) I think I am a more interesting person because I am not spending so much mental energy on calories and fat grams.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,
I'm enjoying your blog, but I have one comment. You say you're more interesting because you're not focusing on fat and calories anymore yet you have devoted yourself to an entire blog about weight. The focus is the same whether it's fat and calories or acceptance. It's still a focus on the physical aspects of yourself. I'm guessing you were just as interesting when you were dieting.

Mary said...

Hi anonymous, thanks for your comment -- you make a very interesting point. But I think it is quite different thinking about very mundane things like "OK, I have to measure out this 1/2 cup of skim milk to put in my cereal so that I can accurately record the 45 calories in my food diary" (I actually used to do that), as opposed to deeper questions like "What does it mean to say that obesity is an epidemic?". Not only do I think that the latter type of issue is far more interesting, but it also doesn't take up my whole day the way that obsessing about calories and fat grams can.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I hate how you pro fat bloggers rarely post of a picture of your proud bodies. Give me a break.

Mary said...

Hello Anonymous #2 -- the reason I don't post pictures of myself is that I prefer to keep my identity at least partly to myself. Mary is my real name, but I don't necessarily want to associate my professional identity with my blog. I'm not sure how I feel about your deep desire to see a picture of my body anyway, but we'll put that aside...

As for "pro fat", I think you're on the wrong blog. I know that was the way the NYT talked about fat blogs, but if you read my blog I don't think you'll see me trying to talk people into being fat. I'm just trying to get people to think about the ways our society discriminates against fat people and forces a huge percentage of the population, fat or not, to obssess about their body composition in extremely unhealthy and destructive ways.

And ditto about "proud bodies". Again, I know the NYT article used the word "proud", but you're not going to get that here. I am not "proud" of being fat just like I prefer not to associate with people who are "proud" of being thin. People should just be allowed to be the way they are. It is true that I am "proud" of my body when it finishes a 5K, but I don't think that's what you meant.

If you object to "pro fat" and "proud bodies" but you are genuinely open to becoming more accepting of fat people, you may actually enjoy this blog if you take the time to read it.

Whatever said...

Anonymous is Awsome!!! It is funny how people today will make excuses for themselves because they can't deal with the responsibility of doing what needs to be done.

Mary said...

Yeah, totally Awesome!!! OMG what a fucking insightful comment!!1!!!1

I can see that "what needs to be done" is for me to turn on comment moderation now that the trolls are starting to come out of the woodwork.

Mary said...

Apologies to my regular readers, but I've decided to turn on comment moderation, so now your comments won't appear immediately after you post them. I'll probably get rid of the moderation after all the "fatosphere" stuff blows over.

I will still approve critical comments, and dumb ones too, but probably not ones that are just inflammatory without having any content whatsoever.

Lis said...

Funny how the annonymous posters question "pro fat" people not posting their picture when they can't even post their real name and stand behind their own negative mindset!

Sad that you have to set it to moderation mode too, because I accidentally posted two posts on one blog thinking something was wrong lol.

I've been blogging alot about dieting and how it doesn't work and about self acceptance and achieving slow natural weight loss, it's a shame to hear people like that.

Not just fat people have dislikes about themselves, so do thin people- they just handle it and show it in a different way, maybe they smoke, or drink, or troll and post nasty messages on other peoples blogs!

GoRedForWomen said...

Just wanted to remind everyone that February is an important month and that it is a great time for everyone to take a look at their numbers. http://www.goredforwomen.org

AnnieMcPhee said...

So, a woman was stuffing herself for some time and gained weight that likely was above her natural, general setpoint, so she felt bad physically. Then when she put on the "good old willpower, determination, etc" she dropped it all just like that! (Naturally she cut ice cream and white foods out of her diet, too, like a good girl.) And went back down to what is probably a much more natural weight for her body.

The other impetus? She couldn't find cute, fashionable clothes for fat women. See, what'd they tell us - we mustn't be encouraged by having nice clothes available - then how will they shame us into losing weight? Hm? Heh.

That means that all fat people have the same physical problems and that all are capable of losing all that weight without starvation. And if they can be sure and stop clothing designers from coming out with anything that fits us or looks nice on us, they will have the motivation they need to make us all DO IT. The good, old-fashioned way. By having a genetic predisposition. I mean, by working hard and exercising. And not eating white stuff. Or something.

Gah, that article was like playing fat hatred bingo.