Friday, May 8, 2009

Morbidly Obese People Want "Rights" (read: special priveleges)

This post is entirely too long, but it comprises a point-by-point response to a Reuters article that is entirely too long. Sorry about that. Complain to them. In a futile attempt to make this shorter on your screen, the article text and mine are the same width. My comments are in this color. I have also inserted inline links to some of the things Reuters didn't bother hot-linking, and compressed some of the article to cut down on the number of one-sentence "paragraphs."

Response to Obesity becoming U.S. civil rights issue for some, By Edith Honan, Monday, Apr 27, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kate Harding has spent most of her life on one diet or another, losing weight but always gaining it back. Determined to improve her quality of life, she joined a fast-growing group of anti-dieting activists promoting overweight people's civil rights.

Lacking the inclination to continue down the hard road toward self-improvement, she gave up and decided to join those who want special consideration from governments and companies -against you- to accommodate her fault. We're off to a great start, let's see where it goes.

Launching an anti-dieting blog called Shapely Prose, Harding and other fat-acceptance advocates online -- calling themselves the fat-o-sphere -- are also educating one another about how to improve overweight people's health.

Fat people can be in great shape, aside from the shape they are in. That said, many of them are a deep fried hamburger away from sudden death. I'm for everyone being healthy, but why get all bound up in how fatassed you are, to the extent that you want me to tell you that you are not a freak show?

She and other bloggers with names like FatChicksRule and Big Liberty say society's "war on obesity" makes overweight people hate their bodies and suffer from low self-esteem.

If your body is a ginormous fat-body that can't fit into a chair designed for people who are "merely" twice their optimal body weight, you should hate that. There is no "war on obesity" there is a "bunch of people who know you could do better for yourself" and you are included in their number, which is why your self-esteem is low. Respect is gained through achievement. Lack of respect comes from lack of achievement. If you daily fail to do what you know you could, to make yourself less overweight, you will have low self-esteem. Don't blame society, blame yourself.

"Being fat doesn't make me lazy or stupid or morally suspect," said Harding, 34, of Chicago, who also has written a book, "Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere."

Being fat is a pretty strong indicator that you are lazy, stupid, or morally suspect. It is not definitive, but it's pretty close.

"The message we're promoting is health at every size."

Good. Health is good. Forcing an airline to make less money because they had to install fat people chairs and lower a plane's capacity to carry large numbers of people, is not health related.

Her blog entries criticize dieting obsessions and ponder coverage of weight issues in the mainstream media.

Obsessions are bad. Healthy food intake is good. They do not need to go together.

Since launching her blog, Harding, who says she is 5 foot 2 inches tall and about 195 pounds (88 kg), says her body image has improved. But she admits wearing a bathing suit in public "can still throw me for a bit of a loop."

Congratulate yourself long enough for being wrong and you'll feel better about it. Right. Until you take a peek at reality and realize how fat you truly are.

Fat-acceptance advocates are starting to organize to promote anti-bias laws, encourage tolerance in health care and the workplace and help retailers recognize the profit potential of catering to plus-size customers.

Profit potential? The radio news last week put out a story about fat people in UK being upset that they have to pay more for clothes with more cloth in them! How is taking in less money per unit of material profitable?

"People are just beginning to think about being empowered," said Lynn McAfee, director of medical advocacy at the nonprofit Council on Size and Weight Discrimination. "The emphasis has just been 'lose weight and everything will be fine,' and it's becoming really clear that people aren't losing weight," she said. "So we want to shift the emphasis to making us as healthy as we can be at whatever weight we are."

Sorry, I'm going to have to throw a flag on this one. What you want is to shift the emphasis to forcing people not to treat you like the sack of flab you know yourself to be. You want us to assuage your conscience for you.

Activists say the movement is beginning to amass some victories, from larger seat belts in cars to a decision by the Supreme Court in Canada that obese and disabled people traveling on airplanes can't be forced to buy a second seat.

Larger seat belts help me move televisions safely. If you are so close to the steering wheel that the airbag can't go off, but you think it's okay because you can strap yourself in, you have another thing coming. Also, the government of Canada has never been real clear on that whole "property rights and capitalism" thing, so you're not winning any points with US Americans there, either, you fascist.

The Fox television network is developing a reality show featuring "average looking" people called "More to Love," billed as a "dating show for the rest of us."

People will watch this show for the same reason they watch car crash shows. I don't watch Fox much, and this is another reason not to.

The National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, a "civil rights" group formed in 1969, has found new life as fat-acceptance advocates gain force online. There are now more than 50 fat-acceptance blogs and more than a dozen books promoting the idea, from Linda Bacon's "Health at Every Size" to Wendy Shanker's "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life." There are even romance novels featuring plus-sized characters with names like "Dangerous Curves Ahead." (by Pat Ballard)

Does anyone else notice a recurring theme of conflating "healthy at any size" with "forcing other people to accommodate my big butt?"

But the dominant view remains that overweight people should be focused on losing weight.

That's good, if it's true.

Some two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Cities across the country have declared wars on obesity, calling it a costly public health crisis that increases the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes and certain cancers. Obesity-related health care cost upward of $100 billion a year, research shows.

"He ain't heavy, he's my brother!" If you can fit in a regular chair, this "war" is not directed at you. Those who require a wider-than-normal hospital bed, will be using it. This should not be such a hard concept to grasp. Excuse the rest of us for not wanting to foot the bill for your diseases that could have been prevented by your NOT doing something you like to do.


There are no U.S. laws prohibiting weight discrimination, and only one state, Michigan, has an anti-weight bias law. Legislatures in Massachusetts and Nevada have taken up size-bias bills, but similar efforts have failed in recent years.

You say that like it's a bad thing. You keep using that word, but I think it does not mean what you think it means. Discriminate: TRANSITIVE VERB: "1. To perceive the distinguishing features of; recognize as distinct. . . 2. To distinguish by noting differences; differentiate. . . 3. To make or constitute a distinction in or between. . . . "

Weight discrimination is pervasive, said Rebecca Puhl, director of research at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

Yes. People can tell the difference between the skinny and the morbidly obese. And?

An "obesity wage penalty" -- larger employees getting paid less regardless of job performance -- is widespread, and research shows overweight people are less likely to land a job or be promoted than a non-obese worker, she said.

That's like saying women make less than men. Sure, somebody who is bed-ridden due to being overfat will contribute their $0 and pull down the average. Somebody who stays home with her beloved children will contribute her $0 and pull down the average. And?

"We do need to fight obesity, but not obese people," said Puhl. "Individuals ... who are discriminated against because of their weight are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors and avoidance of physical activity."

If you fight obese people because they are obese, that's dumb. If you eat a gallon of iced cream because somebody called you fat, that's dumb, too.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests overweight people avoid trips to the doctor out of fear of being mocked.

Either get over a fear of something that won't happen, grow thicker skin, or get a different doctor.

According to NAAFA, about 70 percent of overweight and obese women have experienced bias from doctors. Others complain of being turned down by health-insurance companies.

Your gynecologist has a hard time seeing (and treating) your nether-regions because they are . . . hidden. A slender patient is easier to work on. A doctor of all people knows that you could be less difficult to treat. OF COURSE they want to work on slender people more than fat people! Once again, let us not be unclear when we use words: Doctors have a bias against treating fat patients. Bias: NOUN: 2a. A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment. Health insurance companies turn down people who have had heart attacks and cancer, as well. They are actually not in the business of helping you, they exist to make money. Underwriting policies on people almost guaranteed to cost more than they pay in premiums, is not the way to make a profit.

Bloggers in the fat-o-sphere track cases of discrimination they say go uncovered in the mainstream media. Just recently, United Airlines, a unit of UAL Corp, said it will require obese passengers bumped from full flights to purchase two seats on a subsequent flight. That would match the policies of other carriers, including Continental, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.

If you can't fit into accommodations designed for regular fare-paying customers because of your lifestyle choices, why should you be given a seat that could otherwise be contributing to the bottom line of the airline with a skinnier person in it?



Deb Malkin, 39, considers herself a fat-acceptance advocate but leaves the political battles to others. Instead, in what she describes as a labor of love, Malkin has opened ReDress, a plus-sized vintage clothing boutique in New York's Brooklyn borough. Housed in an airy 3,000 square-foot (280 square meter) space, ReDress sells frilly dresses, formal gowns and jeans, all in size 14 and up.

Fine. There is a market and an entrepreneur has stepped in to cater to it. This is capitalism at its finest and I am all for it. May Deb Malkin's enterprise be successful beyond her wildest dreams.

One recent afternoon, shoppers carried armloads of clothing to spacious dressing rooms, while sales assistants compared the comfort of ReDress to the more typical shopping humiliations of plus-sized consumers.

Catering to a market. Once again, as a Capitalist pig this does not bother me.

"There's a whole indy fashion world that we don't have access to," said Malkin. "I think women just come in here and are so excited."

That's nice.

Bevin Branlandingham, who considers herself a fat activist, has worked in Malkin's store since it opened in November. Sorting through lingerie, a frock from the 1960s and a colorful size 22 dress by Calvin Klein, Branlandingham said she likes to help women overcome hatred of their bodies.

Nobody hates their body. Some people's love is unhealthy.

Branlandingham, who is partial to dresses with plunging neck lines, says she discourages women from buying so-called goal outfits that are too small and instead pick out things that flatter their figures.

Just so long as you realize there isn't much effective flattering that can be done to a size 33 . . . .

"I feel like my life's mission is to make the world safer for people to love themselves no matter what their differences," she said.

Aaaaand the article ends on a completely meaningless quote. Edith, way to go. Except that you forgot to mention anything about civil rights. Oh well.

Afterword/even MORE commentary:

There are a few people with health conditions that prevent their having a healthily-low body weight. They are excluded from any and all criticism of fat people. If you have not been diagnosed as one of those people, having first given diet and exercise the old college try, do not claim to "have thyroid problems." Nobody believes it is your thyroid when you are mentioning it to them around a mouth full of triple-cheeseburger, sorry.

Fat people know they are fat, and they know everyone else knows they are fat. Furthermore, most of the two-seaters suspect, and know that you suspect, that they could be much smaller, given a systematic application of willpower on their part. They have no respect for themselves because they know they are constantly letting themselves down. They strongly suspect that everyone else has no respect for them, for the same reason. So instead of making the -admittedly extremely difficult- effort to keep the weight off, they want you to accommodate them when they give up.

That is, I should have to spend money out of my pocket, to make life easier for them, when they will not do it for themselves.

Thanks for thinking of me, but I'd rather have it the other way 'round.

Full disclosure: I am what our parents would have called "normal-sized" back when the mean and median weights of Americans were much, much lower. I stand six feet tall and for the last decade or so I have weighed in at +/-5lbs. of 155lbs. I cannot "pinch an inch." With a full set of clothes, shoes, gun, PDA, knife, wallet, keys, and hat, I'm still under 170 on most days. I maintain my low weight by never being completely still (even sitting down I move my hands & feet a lot), eating a light breakfast, working every day at a physically active job until after lunch time when I am no longer hungry (read: ignore appetite until it goes away) and then have a light lunch. Maybe a piece of fruit for a snack in between meals. Chase it with a light supper, hours before bedtime. I drink water almost exclusively, except for a tall cup or two of coffee during the day and an occasional glass of a real-fruit-juice or milk. When I get full I stop eating. Try it some time. It sucks, but it works.


Anonymous said...

I'm 5'4 and a little over 200 myself and I hate it. I gained 50 of it during pregnancy...and my child is 7.

I am trying to change things though. I don't eat as much fast food. The most I ever weighed was 235 and I've since lost 20 pounds. What's challenging for me is having a bad ankle...of course, weighing this much isn't helping it any. Even with a bad ankle I won't get another handicapped placard and I make myself walk. I only use a scooter if my ankle is hurting REALLY badly.

One thing that doesn't help is the medical community giving bad advice. They tell you to avoid saturated fat and that polyunsaturated is okay--and I've since found that the reverse is true. Polyunsaturated fat isn't good for your heart or anything and should be consumed sparingly.

Soy is also bad for you as it damages the thyroid. On the flip side, coconut oil is REALLY good at helping you drop weight.

Now, back to the subject...I don't think morbidly obese people should have special rights/privileges. No way. That's just their way of avoiding responsibility for their situation. Once upon a time, a morbidly obese person could be found in a sideshow. Now they're everywhere. They're overworking the motors on those electric scooters at Wal-Mart. I had a really obese relative sit on my toilet and wind up breaking the seat off it. It seems that every classroom in my son's school has at least one or two overweight children in it--it's obvious from the yearbook pictures (my son is at a normal weight for his height).

People need to start educating themselves on what they're eating. There are so many things, such as MSG, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, etc., that will make you pack on the pounds--instead of eating whatever they feel like and expecting everyone else to carry them.

Vote For David said...

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in solving it. You also seem to be on the right track laying off eating poison. The next step is fixing your ankle so you can take more and faster steps ;-)

If you have a problem caused by a recent injury, let it heal. If it is a chronic thing without an obvious cause, purchase a copy of Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. If you are willing to put in some time, you may be able to fix it yourself, for the cost of the book. He has a radio call-in show and I've heard several testimonials from people who tried the book and feel better, despite being overweight.

Read some of the reviews and then order a copy: link