Weight Stigma: Yes, It’s a Thing

[Content Notice: weight loss, weight and body issues]

As I found from various awesome folks I follow, this week is Weight Stigma Awareness Week; people are submitting their personal stories about it. Before I contribute mine, I would like to make a case for weight stigma.

Simply put, it exists.


Every fat kid’s fear: This game.

I’ll leave aside those who insist that fat people just need to “calories-in calories-out” themselves into a more socially-acceptable body type. I’ve found that those types will persist in their belief that people who don’t fit their standards of thinness are eating themselves to a death of teh fats no matter what evidence is available to the contrary (does Amber Riley look like she’s going to die after that vigorous workout?)

The trouble I find with talking about weight stigma is that, like many other forms of societal oppression, its very existence is nigh incessantly denied. There are those who believe that any kind of anti-fat behavior can be explained away by the poor attitude of the fat person in question despite all evidence to the contrary, evidence that points to spreading worldwide stigma. The denialism can go as far as to reject the fact that misused medical tools can be used to discriminate against fat women. Institutionalized, society-wide oppression doesn’t disappear because a fat person decides to, say, smile more and stand up straighter.

Another problem with talking about weight stigma is that thin women sometimes claim that they are as equally discriminated against for their body size. While women of all sizes no doubt have their bodies policed, fat women demonstrably face discrimination of the kind that thin women simply do not face, from the doctor’s office (no, really, there could be a reason besides fat that fat women experience poor health outcomes) to the courtroom (male jurors are more likely to hand a guilty verdict to fat women) to the office (overweight women are paid less). There are countless anecdotal lists containing examples of thin privilege at places such as Dances with Fat and Everyday Feminism. It’s not that fat women win some imaginary competition against thin women in the Oppression Olympics, it’s that we need to pay attention to the harmful ways in which they are discriminated against, ways that are particular to their body type and not simply a product of generalized misogyny.

And no, telling your fat friend you think she’s cute is not a magic solution to fat stigma. In fact, it’s pretty condescending given all that she’s up against.

Fat yoga is A Thing!

Even if you disagree with the research in favor of the idea of Health at Every Size, shaming fat people does nothing at best and, at worst, is associated with weight gain (original study). Even when people lose weight, the stigma isn’t quite eliminated and, indeed, lingers.

It helps no one, least of all fat people, to enforce weight stigma. It’s about time we admitted that fat-shaming isn’t the same as encouraging health, cruelty doesn’t help people to become thinner, and thinness isn’t always the best course for all fat people.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. September 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm —

    I remember when Rex Reed’s awful diatribe about Melissa McCarthy made a splash and the look of rage on my friend’s face upon reading it. You could see she took it very, very personally, and the pain was so visible it made my heart hurt.

  2. September 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm —

    There are two components to weight, one of them is social, the other is biological. The biological one, unfortunately, can **in some cases** predispose someone to have more bulk, but it also prevents someone that has become overweight from easily, reliably, or successfully, losing it. I pity the ones that want to change themselves, and have it derailed due to this, and I wish, much like drug addictions, we had some way to “reset” the biology, so that the body didn’t react to trying to lose weight by changing muscle type (converting faster, less efficient muscle into slower, power muscles, which use less energy, which is a consequence of “most” forms of exercise used to try to lose the weight, which is.. needless to say, counter productive), and rejecting the effort, by going into ‘starvation’ mode.

    Its the social thing that pisses me off. Because you can’t tell me that every single person that comes through a line where I work, and is clearly larger than “average”, though.. what that means today has itself changed, are not doing it to themselves, especially when you see behavior like telling their kids, every single time they are in line, “Pick out which candy you want,”, while the counter is covered with a collection of some of the worst foods we sell in the store, and in larger amounts that anyone else buys, instead of the usual behavior of, “Mom! Mom! Can I have this?”, followed by, “No, you don’t need that right now.” I have **absolutely** no sympathy or respect for the ones doing that to their own kids, then turning around and claiming that its their “body type”, not learned behavior, combined with a direct sabotaging of themselves, by gaining it in the first place (and, teaching their kids to do the same thing). Those people should be ashamed, because they might never have “been” overweight, they have obviously never even tried to eat healthy, and they are teaching their own kids to grab anything they want, when ever they want it, just like they did.

    • September 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm —

      My mother let me have candy sometimes. I guess I did end up overweight but that had more to do with me eating to deal with mental health problem. I eventually lost the weight, but I still eat candy sometimes. Sometimes I still have trouble with binge eating, but again that’s not because of anything my mother did (or at least not with my diet, if you aren’t feeling very forgiving, but that’s not entirely fair).

      Not knowing someone’s situation I think you do not have the right to judge them. The social factors can be very complex as well, so it doesn’t make sense to say that only certain kinds of health issues are valid. You also can’t entirely blame individual parents: knowledge about nutrition is very low and there is all kinds of conflicting information even from “official sources”. If someone never learned good nutrition how can they teach it to their child?

      I do disagree with some things in this article (*eg I think “calories in calories out” is a valid starting point with weight if not with health), but I think they are overshadowed by the issues with discrimination and prejudice.

      *See “the twinkie diet”: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.htmln0QvhGu5ftqF

      • September 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm —

        To be clear, the study I cited re calories-in-calories-out was on long-term lower-weight-promoting habits rather than on simple, short-term weight loss. You sure can lose weight by eating fewer calories of anything, but doing so is far from an effective long-term strategy to keep the weight off. It’s simply not doable for most people for a variety of reasons. That’s not even to mention the health issues, i.e. that eating nothing but Twinkies is probably a recipe for some sort of deficiency and/or malnutrition.

        • September 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm —

          Thanks for the clarification. I guess to me calories can be a good starting point and the scale can be an external way of keeping track of what I’m doing since I have trouble telling if I am hungry or how much to eat. I’ve eaten both too much and too little at different points in my life. To deal with that I can say “Okay, I’m going to eat this many calories” and once I get that working I can expand to eating high fiber foods, trying to work fruits and vegetables into my diet, etc. I will say that my weight tends to fluctuate and I have body image issues to some degree so I’m maybe not someone who people should be emulating.

          “eating nothing but Twinkies is probably a recipe for some sort of deficiency and/or malnutrition.”

          Yes, definitely. The person in question was even also taking vitamins and drinking a protein shake every day, which gives one a lot more leeway to do less than ideal things.

      • September 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm —

        I am not talking about people giving their kids candy “sometimes”, I am talking about the ones that hand the kid a candy bar **every single time** they are in line, and, to top it off, always seem to have a grocery basket full of potato chips, fast food, cookies, etc. You know, the ones that cheer when some idiot claims that Hillary Clinton wanted to steal their food from them, by taking soda pop and vending machines out of schools, and worse, “Gasp!”, recommend that the cafeterias stop selling things that are more often seen at McDonalds than in a restaurant. Its those people I am talking about. Not the ones that “sometimes” give their kids candy.

        • September 26, 2013 at 6:14 am —

          So, you follow those people around during their days and make sure you stand in line behind them every single time they go shopping?
          Apart from that, even if they do, how many times do they go shopping? Twice a week? Three times a week?
          I’m not saying there aren’t parents who stuff their kids with really shitty food most of the time, but seriously, your comment is pretty arrogant.

          • September 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

            Sigh. No I don’t, but I can see a kid that is already overweight. And, no, that isn’t usually the way things work for kids. My mother, and both my nieces have problems with weight, and all three of them have health issues from it, and.. all three of them where “normal weight” for most of their lives. In fact, my mother was quite skinny, up until her 40s. My nieces seem to, instead, take after their mother, but I am not at all sure how much of that is a result of biology, and how much of it was because of the combination of stress from the divorce between their mother and my brother, or how much of it was bad eating habits, picked up from their mother, who was.. quite frankly, a totally idiot (a highly intelligent, well educated one, but still an idiot with a lot of seriously WTF ideas). Its likely a combination of factors, of which *might* include a predisposition to gaining weight. But, my brother, despite being also quite smart, has a really shitty attitude about people’s personal choices sometimes, being in the camp of people that think, for example, that addiction is something you can just “quit”, and people who can’t are simply guilty of not trying hard enough, so I seriously doubt he was much help in curtailing poor choices, instead of just adding more stress to the situation. In any case, knowing my own families history with these things.. I find it a bit hard to look at a kid that is like 6 and half way between skinny, and the size of both parents, in terms of weight and not think, “Wow.. he is starting early…” From my, admittedly entirely personal experience, its rare, to the point of something being seriously wrong, when “kids” are overweight, even before they hit puberty, and there “might be” some legitimate changes in metabolism that could trigger, in many of them, significant weight gain.

            And, yes, I could be absolutely, completely, truly wrong, and they really do have some sort of glandular issue, which happens to run through the whole family, but.. at the same time, its quite clear that, as a nation, this is becoming more common, and it worries me, a lot, to see what may be long term harm, happening, right in front of me, and not only being unable to do anything about it, but, worse, told that its not my business in the first place. We all get the same thing from religion all the time, ‘Its not your business that I fill my kids head with nonsense and misinformation.” This is different, how exactly? I shouldn’t be worried about someone else’s kids, but the health issues my nieces, and my mother, have, due to the same thing, that I can worry about?

            I am sorry for being.. stupid about it, and stating it in ways that offended people, and just plain being dead wrong, in one of my replies, but its an issue I think we “need” to care about, and not just in terms of one side of the issue, and.. maybe I literally don’t know how to get the point across without inadvertently pissing someone off, and appearing to leap into the same camp as the people that say, “Its all your fault!”, instead of understanding that the issue is more complicated than that.

        • September 30, 2013 at 3:14 am —

          Yep, never ever give a kid who’s possibly overweight a sweetie. Really, teach them fat-shaming and body-shaming young.
          I remember oh so well how I was fat as a kid. Only that looking back at pictures of that time I wasn’t fat. I was a bit chubby, probably slightly overweight. I was also active and healthy and practised 2 different sports. I would probably have grown out of it with the next growth spurt. Or remained slightly chiubby for the rest of my life. But everybody and their dog needed to tell me that I needed to stop eating this and eat more that. Salads, especially. I can’t stand them to this day, but I HAD to eat salads. For my own good.
          The resuts were that I thought “well, I’m fat, totally worthless and really not lovable anyway. Why bother?” The results were that I actually became fat intead of chubby. The results were that I stopped doing sports. Nobody wants to see the fat girl do sports. The results were an eating disorder.
          Yes, really that approach is so very helpful.

          • September 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

            Yea, by all means, keep harping on the bit you don’t like, and ignoring everything else. Quote mining is a perfectly sound way to have a conversation with someone. The only people I “shame” if I do, are in my own head, not in pubic, out loud. I would probably even give the kid a damn sweet, even while worrying about them, because to treat them different than any other kid would in fact be wrong. Its not my job to figure out *why* they are that way, but that doesn’t mean, as you seem to think that shouldn’t either a) be worried, or b) try to have a discussion of how much of a damn mess the medical system is, when dealing with this problem, c) how much everything, including many school programs, are stacked against sane health practices, or anything else that complicates the matter, including, yes, some people not just assuming they know what the problem is. But, I never said I do know, just that I worried about a lot of things that confuse and complicate the issue.

            But, yeah, lets keep quote mining those bits of what I wrote that make me out as some sort of monster, instead of having a $#%$#%$ conversation, which actually gets some place constructive…

        • September 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm —

          “You know the ones”

          “Those people

          What is the formula that you are using to identifye “the ones” and “those people”, exactly?

          You know, if you have to be SUPER VAGUE and have to use such langauge as “those people” to identify a group of people … your argument is seriously poorly thought out and you should not leave it.

          “Those people.”

          Yeah. THOSE PEOPLE ARE EVIL!

          Who the fuck are “those people”? YOU HAVE NO IDEA, do you? You just sort of identify them randomly as you’re going about your shopping. “I SEE A BASKET FULL OF GOODIES! “THOSE PEOPLE” have problems, man! We need to fix “those people!”

          What a duhumanizing and shitty way to talk about people.

          “Those people.”


        • October 1, 2013 at 9:21 am —

          If you’re only shaming “those people” in your head, why can I read it on the internet?
          Your concern is damn useless as it comes worded in the same, crappy body-shaming language as all the others who do so use. I know, I know, it’s for our own damn good.

          • October 2, 2013 at 12:13 am

            You are absolutely correct. I also, somewhat, resent the idea that “a basket full of goodies” represents a valid response from Marilove though. It misses the point, intentionally, just to salt the wound. There is a bloody difference between, “We have having a birthday”, and, “We are doing weekly shopping”. The former.. I am fine with, while the later… curse me, call me an ass, or what ever you want, it makes me uneasy, and not because of fear, but because I see people in my own damn family make stupid choices between things they know damn well they shouldn’t buy, versus what they need, like buying a box of cookies, instead.. just about anything else they might choose. If there is “fear” in me, its that other people are making the same choices, not because they won’t make good ones, but because they don’t even know what the good ones are, or worse, can’t afford them. So, yes, I was a damned idiot, and unclear, and, do to being a bit annoyed by the whole thing, still less coherent than I needed to be in some posts that followed.

            That being said.. I still don’t like having my sentences cut off, intentionally, so that only the “worst parts” are presented. We are supposed to be (albeit still human, so really..) better than that.

          • October 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

            Kagehi, the main point it seems you’re missing here is that nobody owes it to you or anyone else to eat foods you approve of them eating. Nobody owes you or anyone else an attempt at thinness. Behaving as if they do, which is what you’re doing, is fat shaming. You are, right now in this very thread, the subject of which is the pain and anger which comes from actual human beings being fat shamed, condemning folks you don’t know as well as folks you do for their food choices as if they owe you a kagehi-approved diet due to their appearance. Because they are fat. This is harmful behavior on your part. Then you double down that there’s some fat people you can sympathize with, that it’s not them you have no respect for, it’s those other fat people, as if that would be an acceptable line of argument if you were engaging in it for any other form of discrimination. You know it wouldn’t if the topic was another social attitude with causes harm to marginalized folk. It isn’t here, either.

          • October 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm

            You are, right now in this very thread, the subject of which is the pain and anger which comes from actual human beings being fat shamed, condemning folks you don’t know as well as folks you do for their food choices as if they owe you a kagehi-approved diet due to their appearance.

            I don’t give a damn about their appearance, beyond the fact that it can mean losing a gall bladder (like my niece), or being barely able to walk (like my mother), or diabetes, like a few people we know, and all the other things that come as a consequence, not of not being “thin enough, as you seem to think my issue is, but not actually being fraking healthy. So, no, I am not missing your point, but you keep ignoring my attempt to apologize for being an ass about it, while basically denying that the first damn thing, frankly, any competent doctor would do seeing the same person is say, ‘So.. lets check a few things over which might be common problems in someone of your size.”

            I made a mistake. I admit to the mistake. I won’t do it again, but I am **not** going to play the game that somehow no one, including themselves, are owed an attempt to eat healthier. What that means, you are correct, isn’t up to me, but them, and heir doctor, assuming they have one. But, hopefully, someone *is* actually making sure they are healthy, what ever their weight, and hopefully, they are listening, if they are not healthy. I wish some of the people you think I do have some vast respect for would bloody listen, including the ones that is on oxygen, but insists on still smoking (different issue, obviously, but.. damn its hard to keep my mouth shut over that insanity.) You can keep insisting that I am missing the point if you like I don’t give a damn. I care that we have a bloody issue in this country, and that some people deny it even exists, and that *some* of the people being shamed need help. They need that help, to be quite honest, probably not from me, in the frame of mind I came into this thread. I hope, the one I leave in is a better one, but.. you don’t seem to think so, and.. I am not sure I particularly give a damn any more.

            Ok.. Not really, I do give a damn, anyone would. However, you are right, I have no business jumping to conclusions without knowing anything about them. My only excuse is that I have, I just now realized, seen some people as the “flip side” of the ones that come into line claiming their great and wondrous health is due to the latest idiot herbal supplement, or vitamin cocktail, something that, unknown to them, may either being doing nothing at all, or, possibly killing them (like taking massive doses of vitamin C almost certainly induced, and accelerated, the cancer that killed both the man that advocated its “lack of side effects”, and his wife). But, its not the same thing, at all. Or, when it is, I am not qualified to be able make even guesses at it.

            Nothing I am likely to say, at all, seems likely to change your minds about what I do think, say, or would say, to real people, never mind, in any future discussion on the subject.

          • October 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm

            Ur.. That didn’t like the blockquote..

    • September 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm —

      I can’t tell you that every single person, without exception, is not responsible for their own weight. But I can tell you that the additives in our food do us no favors, and in fact can cause a person who is eating virtually nothing to still gain weight.

      Take for instance antibiotics, which are given to livestock to make them gain weight. It’s not to keep them from catching diseases (although that helps). Antibiotics have a direct, non-mediated effect of causing weight gain. Then we eat those animals and eat the antibiotics secondhand and surprise! gain weight, because that is the effect of eating antibiotics.

      There are many, many other things in our diets that do this. High-fructose corn syrup is another guilty culprit. BPA messes with the endocrine system and causes weight gain in many people. That stuff is everywhere, in contact with our foods. Our freaking drinking water often contains hormones, or compounds that mimic hormones in the body, again causing weight gain. How do you possibly escape that? Bottled water has BPA! (not to mention it is environmentally hostile)

      Some people are like air ferns – they grow and grow even though they are agonizing over their food choices, trying their hardest to select only good and healthy foods and exercise regularly. I have a friend who, for more than a year, ate about 800 calories/day and remained over 200 lbs. Your judgmental attitude does not help people like my friend lose weight, it just causes them mental anguish for no useful purpose whatsoever. Is it really your intention to be consciously and deliberately cruel?

      • September 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm —

        Uh.. Do you have a real citation on “antibiotics cause weight gain”, or did you get it out of an altie-med journal. Also.. Its been shown, quite clearly, over and over again, that BPA **does not leach out of bottles**. In fact, since its a component of the plastic, pretty much by definition, if it did leach out, in anything at all like the levels needed to cause any problems, the bottle would disintegrate. It would be like suggesting that you where losing calcium from your bones, but not making the bones weaker. Also, people blame “High-fructose corn syrup”, but.. chemically, it breaks down into the same things that every other sugar does, with only small variations in the levels of each component, so it is, at least chemically, nonsensical to suggest that this is the case, which leads to the question, “Who did the studies that claim this, and how good are they?” The answer, sadly, is that most of them are done for people working in the $34 billion dollar altie0-med industry, they often lack sufficient numbers of test subject, or controls, or anything else required by a usable study, to get any believable results, and then.. they interpret the results to fit their premises, way too often. About the only thing you mention that isn’t questionable is the presence of a lot of things in the water supply, and even then.. the data is fuzzy as to what the result is.

        However, what is not fiction, or backed by questionable studies, or defies the laws of chemistry, is that too much food has high salt, and higher sugar content, and our labeling has, if anything, become worse in the last 20 years, instead of better, such that, while they need to list the contents, they are not legally obligated to, for example, test for safety, never mind place a warning on, things like.. the Stevia sweetener, that it can cause fever symptoms, and/or bleeding, or how much you need to take for that to happen. You know, the one that is supposed to be “safer” than all the “artificial” ones, who, again, chemically, all break down into the same things, all of which are produced through the break down of “other foods”, like tomato juice, anyway…

        But, its truly amazing how bio-chemistry magically works “differently” according to so many of these studies, because the chemical came from a tomato, instead of a test tube…. Or, rather, amazing that people can get by with claiming it does, because they published a shitty study with 100 people in it, and then ignore everything that follows, which contradicts the original result.

        • September 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm —

          I don’t know what an “altie-med journal” is. I know that animal science journals have looked at this for decades and it’s been pretty thoroughly established that antibiotic use leads directly to weight gain in livestock. Here, for instance is an early set of trials: http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/13/1/3.full.pdf+html

          This is from 195-freaking-4. This has been known for literally decades. How is it that you think this is something “altie”?

          “Its been shown, quite clearly, over and over again, that BPA **does not leach out of bottles**.”

          Okay then, how does it get into people and their urine? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241312/pdf/ehp0111-000101.pdf

          I mean, if it is firmly affixed into the plastic, how exactly does it get into urine? What mechanism do you propose for how it gets there?

          “Also, people blame “High-fructose corn syrup”, but.. chemically, it breaks down into the same things that every other sugar does, with only small variations in the levels of each component”

          So calling it “high-fructose” is completely meaningless? Again, science disagrees with you: http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/

          Sorry, couldn’t find the article itself in a journal, so maybe you’ll think this is “altie-med” too?

          It’s pretty interesting that you’re on a skeptical website, and demanding research from me, while spouting off without any links to research of your own.

          • September 26, 2013 at 12:49 am

            Hmm. Any idea of the mechanism? I wasn’t aware of the anti-biotic issue. And, is it all of them, or just some of them?

            I may be mistaking in that BPA was the ingredient I read recent things about. It can be hard to keep track, given that, in some circles, just about anything gets labelled as “dangerous”, even if found in trace amounts even in soil.

            And, no, I don’t dispute that there is an issue with sweeteners, all of them, even sugar. Some studies say one thing, other say something else, but.. there is a definite categorical issue with the, I think Pen and Teller called it the “self-helpless” industry, which includes the vast majority of magazines people read, which will happily misunderstand studies, not just be unaware of some of them, as I seem to be, and drop everything into either “category A – things that are bad”, and “category B – things that will cure cancer, make you younger, and possibly make you immortal”.

            Thank you for correcting me on these issues.

            Small note – while I shouldn’t have lumped high-fructose corn syrup in with the rest, there is a huge issue with the confusion between sugar, and “artificial sweeteners”, where the studies really often are sloppy, the results contradictory, and the trend to, as with so much of this stuff, claim that anything that “grows in the ground” is somehow safe, while thousands of biochemists have no clue what they are doing.

            Hmm. Ok –

            “7). Additionally, freezing water in plastic bottles does not appear to pose any known health risk.Halden notes that, “freezing actually works against the release of chemicals” (8). Therefore, it appears to be a safe practice to freeze water bottles from the perspective of chemical release from the plastic, such as dioxins. Heating plastics appears to pose more of a health risk, as it is more likely for chemicals to be released from plas-tics under the condition of heat than that of cold (8).”


            So.. yes, it may be an issue, but only if you “heat it”. Likely, this is what the article I previously ran across was talking about, but.. probably in something like Discover magazine, or something, where.. honestly I should know better than for them to always get all the facts right. :(

          • September 26, 2013 at 7:12 am

            Re: BPA and “it’s only harmful if you heat the plastic,” you are advancing a position not in evidence. Or do you seriously not know what the words “more of a health risk” imply? (just in case you don’t, it means there is already a health risk and you are increasing it if you heat your plastic)

            The FDA thinks BPA is safe in small quantities. The science on this is evolving, and compounds that mimic hormonal action can have long-term adverse health effects even in small quantities. It very likely that BPA, especially in combination with all of the other compounds with hormonal action in our environment, is fattening you.

            You’re free to believe that BPA is totes fine and drink all of it you want. It certainly won’t kill you. But you’re VERY cruel to lay all of the blame for someone else’s fatness on their own moral failings when there are many compounds with hormonal action that are inescapable. My friend ate 800 calories a day for a YEAR and lost about 5 lbs.

            Re: antibiotics. I have no idea what the mechanism is and I can’t be bothered to look it up for you. If you’re that interested, look it up for yourself. Small doses of antibiotics in livestock feed increase the efficiency by which the animals convert feed to body weight, so that the same caloric intake, ceteris paribus, raises weight gain. That is well known, well documented, and farmers would not use antibiotics routinely if it didn’t increase their bottom line in the end.

            Penn and Teller are libertarians and there are many, many problems with libertarianism as a political philosophy. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that you cite them! I wouldn’t be surprised if you also claimed to be a libertarian, given everything you’ve said. Maybe later when I have more time I’ll go into that more, but the short version is that libertarianism presumes that there is a level playing field, and anyone with any amount of knowledge of social dynamics knows this is utterly and completely untrue.

            All sweeteners, natural or artificial, have problems, but they are not all created equal. Fructose is an especially bad one. It is used by diabetics sometimes because it breaks down to glucose fairly slowly (much more slowly than sucrose, which is part-glucose and part-fructose) and thereby makes blood sugar easier to control. It used to be highly recommended to diabetics for this reason. Then we learned that a high fructose diet leads to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and suddenly it seemed less awesome. So before you start claiming that “all sugars are equal” you might want to actually check into that a little.

          • September 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

            “The FDA thinks BPA is safe in small quantities. The science on this is evolving, and compounds that mimic hormonal action can have long-term adverse health effects even in small quantities. It very likely that BPA, especially in combination with all of the other compounds with hormonal action in our environment, is fattening you.”

            Toxicity is “always” about “how much”, not just “presence” (except where the substance is highly reactive). To say otherwise… So, what level actually has an effect? Seems the FDA at least thinks it higher than you get from drinking a lot of bottled water. As for combined with other things… possible, but there are, as you say, a lot of mimics out there, and probably higher levels of them from “other sources”. For example – a lot of pesticides. And, yes, the science is evolving on it. But there is a difference between, “A lot of this is bad.”, and, “Any at all is bad.” And the later isn’t just being skeptical (never mind scientific), any more than I was being so, by failing to have read good sources of information on the subject.

          • September 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

            If you would have come to me 20 or 30 years ago, I would have told you that fructose is actually amazing and everyone should replace all of their sucrose with it because its glycemic load is super-low. I would have also told you that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie and it doesn’t matter where you get your calories, only how many you get and what kind of nutrients come along with them.

            Today we know that both of those statements are bad ones. Science evolves. We know that BPA is an endocrine disruptor (the term I was groping for yesterday) but don’t know exactly how bad (or not-bad) it may be. We know that triclosan, another common household compound that nobody intentionally ingests, is an endocrine disruptor, as are many phthalates. We know that there are measurable amounts of hormones in the water supply in many municipalities. All of these things can make people fat through no fault of their own.

            I’m not saying you need to believe that weight gain/loss is totally explained by environmental causes in all cases, and I’m not saying you should turn off your brain and accept, uncritically, the latest health scare.

            What I am saying is that you should CUT SOME PEOPLE SOME SLACK and not jump to the worst possible conclusion about all the people you see, knowing jack-all about those strangers’ lives and circumstances, and smugly sit in judgment on them. Smug and ignorant judgmentalism is not a good look for anyone.

    • September 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm —

      FFS. How is anything you wrote remotely kind, helpful, or not fat shaming? Especially awful that you would respond with such utter hatefulness toward these straw images you’ve built of fat people who dare buy foods you disapprove of at the grocery store in response to a post on the harm that fat shaming does to other people. Or is it only the “good” fat people who are trying to not be fat anymore whom you feel deserve to be treated like human beings, vs. the “bad” fat people who haven’t earned any of your carefully guarded empathy?

  3. September 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm —

    Further, intentional weight loss is not necessarily healthy and nobody has an social or moral obligation to prioritize their health in the ways that anyone else prefers. A really good, peer-reviewed article that compiles a lit of data on how pretty much everything we think we know about weight and health is wrong: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/10/1/9

    • September 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm —

      Anyway, thank you for posting, Heina. I’m surprised not to see skeptics and feminists paying greater attention to, promoting, and educating others about HAES.

  4. September 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm —

    Kagehi – You have your anecdata (grocery line), and we have ours. I too know someone who was pressured as a child into going on the MOTHERFUCKING cabbage soup diet, among others. Someone who has always been overweight. Someone who fantasized as a five year old about cutting their belly off. Someone who still feels too ugly to be seen in public and can hardly bear to leave the house. Someone who for a ten months exercised two to three hours a day while eating 900 to 1200 calories with the RDA of all nutrients carefully stuffed in there,

    and couldn’t get below 200 pounds. Plus the dieting triggered going on three years of constipation-styled IBS, for which they’re now experimenting with federally illegal drugs to relieve.

    Anyone who thinks all weight gain is CICO can EAT EVERY FUCKING COCK THAT EVER EXISTED, YOU FATPHOBIC PIECE OF DOGSHIT. I could have gone through my whole life not knowing the agony of body image problems, if I’d never gotten to know any victims of it. But now that I know the deepest saddest everyday thoughts of someone like that, I cannot stifle my rage about it.

    LIVES ARE RUINED CONSTANTLY BY FAT SHAMING and every form of it – even medical concern trolling motivated by genuine compassion – cause a certain percentage of recipients to WANT TO KILL THEMSELVES. That’s real as motherfucking death, motherfucker.

  5. September 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm —

    That comment may have been too much. I didn’t read every comment that came before I saw Kagehi’s and flipped out. That said, I think CICO doesn’t even work in the fucking short term for weight loss for some people, and that should be acknowledged. The sad person in my life got down about ten pounds over three months, then stalled out completely no matter how much exercise they did or how low they experimented with going, including alternate day fasting and so on.

    • September 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm —

      I don’t think it was too much at all.
      People should mind their own motherfucking business, not use the checkout line as some kind of morality meter to give them a reason to point and cluck their tongue.

      • September 25, 2013 at 7:05 pm —

        The comments on these food articles this week are full of smug, casual cruelty and judgement.

    • September 26, 2013 at 12:12 am —

      I have been reading the replies through email and.. was in the middle of posting something less than charitable about your reply to what I said as well. Both issues, the ones you witnessed personally, and the ones I do, are part of the same problem. A public, which literally, in 1994 actually got conned into making congress pass a law that all but said, “We don’t want to know if any of these new food products, supplements, ‘natural’ remedies, etc. are safe, never mind do what they claim.” When presented with the idea of removing fast food, soda pop, and candy bars from schools, the same “food industry” rushed to try to keep that from happening. The corporations don’t give a damn about anything but their bottom line, and not being able to sell crap to people would effect their bottom line. The medical industry is only slightly better. On one hand, there “is” definitely a certain desire on the part of big pharma to push drugs, instead of solutions, they have that in common with magazine writers, who still push crap from Dr. Phil (or ex-doctor, since he no longer has a license) and Dr. Oz, who simply hasn’t done something sufficient stupid in the operating room, while performing heart surgery, to have his revoked. Aroma therapy, and ‘healing crystals’, as well as the promotion of every bit of useless bullshit imaginable, apparently doesn’t constitute “malpractice”). Numerous idiots promote everything from cabbage diets, to who the fuck knows to try to cure people of problems, and in fact, when it doesn’t work for problem (a) some other ass is waiting around then next corner, to revive it, to cure (b), (c), and (d), and the fools who, thanks to the law as it exists now, and corporate interference, and cowardice on the part of people that know better, in many cases, fall for it one time, will fall for it, or something else identical, tomorrow.

      And yes, mixed into this bloody mess are **both** real people, with real conditions, that make it “impossible” for them to ever not be “average weight”. But.. the only “diseases” that afflict 60%+ of the population of the US, or what ever the number is up to now, are called “availability”, “high sugar”, “high fat”, “misinformation”, “lack of information”, “corporate greed”, and “ignorance”. And, it is just as ignorant, and just as deadly, for someone to promote bad habits, which lead to diabetes, heart disease, and possibly even higher risks of cancer, etc., as someone trying to “cure” people that can’t help but being bigger than everyone else. The problem is.. ***The Difference Between The Two Actually Matters*** And the “cure” for both is the same thing – better information, better understanding of health, and biology, less shitty choices, especially for poor people, and getting fingers of the damn corporations out of the doctors offices, political offices, and the beds of all the people whose job is to actually provide us with bloody information on this stuff. Something that is even worse because the human body never evolved to “lose weight” after its gained it. It evolved to react to a drop in calories as a sign of famine, which means that, even if someone doesn’t have a problem “before” their eating habits get screwed up, how ever unintentionally, by the time they realize those habits might be killing them, there is no known medical way to stop their bodies from fighting their attempts to correct it.

      This, is a massive, and currently unfix-able problem, just as unfix-able as your own is, and the only way to avoid it, is to ***never have it in the first place***. But, you don’t get there by cursing at people who point out that it is real, and exist, and one of the reasons that it may be happening, just because you have a similar, related, condition, which a lot of people make you go through hell trying to fix, using absolute bullshit solutions, that neither recognize what is really going on, nor actually, in any way at all, help you, or anyone else like you.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/27/health/biological-changes-thwart-weight-loss-efforts-study-finds.html?_r=0 – Metabolic changes, which render “dieting” pretty much worthless.
      http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1827342,00.html – More on the same subject, but specifically talking about how you have to spend twice as much effort to get “rid” of, fat, as you need to not get it in the first place.

      Theirs is a study I can’t find that actually goes into why, and a lot of it has to do with your body reducing energy use, apparently quite permanently, in reaction to the sudden “famine”, which means, in effect, it become, ironically, more efficient at using the energy it does have, to the tune of cutting the energy needs “in half”, and making it so that someone who, before they gained weight, might have stayed thin on normal exercise, and/or a 2,000 calorie diet, needing to double their exercise, and cut their calories by nearly a quarter (1,500 calories), just to “sustain” their new weight, after losing any weight. That is why I say its a bit like alcoholism. We don’t know how to “reset” the switch, so the physiological changes appear to be “permanent”, for anyone that hits the high mark then tries to “go back” to what should have been “normal” for them. Once the breaks are broken, we don’t know how to fix them, but.. you will find a new “solution”, every damn week, with some idiot smiling on the cover, on half the magazines in a store, conveniently placed near the candy…

      There is no “shame” in your problem. The shame should be in the food industry, the government, and most of the blasted media. But, everyone that buys, without thinking, what the first one sells, believes what the last one tells them, without even checking the facts, or refuses to so much as sign a petition to try to get the damn government to do something about it (or worse, imagine some other, non-existent, or powerless, something will fix it instead, and the government shouldn’t be deciding such things…), share in the blame, and I don’t give a damn if they are feeding you cabbage soup, or buying 4 bags of potato chips, along with the 8 frozen pizzas they have in their basket. Some, tiny, how ever small, amount of responsibility rests in the hands of them too. Or, do you think otherwise?

      Sigh, sorry.. some of that might come off as a bit.. rougher than intended, but.. hell, your comment didn’t exactly leave me in much of a mood to be even as nice as I tried to be in the above…

      • September 26, 2013 at 12:26 am —

        I think you and the vegan from the other thread should get together.
        Don’t injure your wagging finger, there. Nobody’s responsible to you, nobody’s harming you, nobody doesn’t know what they’re putting in their cart.
        You’re accomplishing nothing for anyone else, but getting the gratification of a smug feeling of superiority and a sanctimonious spleengasm for yourself.

        • September 26, 2013 at 1:16 am —

          Noting that I have already replied to the original post above, where I admit to many mistakes… We do actually give a shit if someone admits to mistakes and correct them in skeptical communities, right?

          I shouldn’t care that, if I have a problem the only solutions will be crap, I shouldn’t care if I see other people making choices which are bad ones, for what ever the reasons, I sure as hell shouldn’t recognize that there is a very real problem in the US, and everyone from the media, to food companies, to the government is screwing things up more, I just shouldn’t give a crap, at all. Right.. got it. Its almost libertarian – no one is responsible for anything, except for the people making the choices, and we have no right to question them, even if it might be hurting other people, including their own kids? Less than a month ago we had people saying, “Children don’t belong to parents, they do, in a very real sense, belong to society, and society should have some say in the harm that come to them.” And here – you are calling me sanctimonious for saying that “some parents” are doing a bad job at keeping their children healthy, and its not just ignorance of what is healthy and what isn’t? That none of us should either give a damn, or have any right to say anything about it?

          Hell yes I refuse to agree with that. Why don’t you think something needs to change? A lot of things, in fact…

          • September 27, 2013 at 11:57 pm

            What’s keeping children healthy, Kage? My sad person was on diets at age nine, never allowed to feel normal, always shamed and abused about his eating habits, which didn’t even fucking include regular candy until he was in high school, and he’s still never been slim, and all he got for it is the ability to have suicidal thoughts hundreds of times on a bad day.

            And what weight did he end up after a lifetime of woe and horseshit? Of always eating less than I did and always weighing more? Much the same build as both parents. Could it be that weight can have other causes, like fucking heritability? Naw, it’s the kids with the candy.

          • September 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm

            Nothing is keeping them healthy. We won’t spend money on gym, but we will on sports programs, even the the later bankrupts schools faster than failing tests scores and pulled government funding ever could. At the same time, we let for profit food makers, including fast food, and off the shelf crap food, fill in for real food programs. No one, quite honestly, who has the power to do something real to address the problem, instead of just small scale, in their own community, where some ass from higher up the food chain can screw it all up again the next year, gives a damn what the real issues are, instead catering to “profits”, or “costs”, or “ending government over spending (like they have ever been willing to spend shit in the first place on kids), and even when someone has an issue, such as your own, its not recognized, because everyone is lumped into one idiot mess, which doesn’t include the *ability* to recognize that someone might have genetic reasons for being the way they are. And yet… in there, among all the rest, is the very clear reality that we are failing, not just to deal with people who are “naturally” heavier than everyone else, but ***everyone else*** as well. So, answer your own question – Who is actually keeping kids healthy? It certainly isn’t politicians, who undermine food programs. Its not schools, who are cutting out everything they can, including exercise, to try to keep running. I suppose, you might say the parents, except, that requires that the parents have the expertise, and education their even their own kids do not, and that they are not getting their information from magazine racks, clowns like Dr, Phil, or Dr. Oz, or myriad other sources who often don’t care if everyone they welcome “is” someone that truly fits into their group, but, ironically, simply “looks like they do”.

            The medical community has had periods where they did that, out of similar ignorance, and killed people, because they treated them for things that “looked” the same, but required different treatment. Reality matters. But, so many people, including, unfortunately, medical doctors, refuse to listen to reality, in favor of fads, personal theories, crazy ideas that people claim will fix problems, or following some set of “standards” created by people decades ago, who didn’t know a damn thing about some of what has since been figured out, that its both horrifying, and, sadly, all too plausible, for a nine year old to be stuck into a diet program, which has more to do with what people “want” to be true, than any understand of what “is” true.

            I never intended to advocate for “assuming” someone is wrong, or doing wrong, by how they look, or, at least not intentionally. But, I do believe that, never the less, it is as much of a mistake to assume that nothing is wrong, and its not anyone else’s business, as to assume that there **is** something wrong, and it needs to be fixed. We need to fix the whole system, which includes, as with pretty much every other issue that we screw up in the US, by getting corporate money out of politics, and letting the professionals actually do their damned jobs, which includes, BTW, making sure that said professionals actually know what the hell they are doing in the first place, and don’t get to keep practicing on one hand, while using their supposed professional life, and a doctorate, to promote absolute bullshit. I am somewhat less certain about needing more advocacy groups, since.. with respect, not all of them, never mind their members, are necessary prone to bothering to understand things any better than the paid politicians. How are people bombarded with such things supposed to tell which ones are telling the truth, and which ones are promoting dangerous nonsense, especially when, frankly, even I can make mistakes about what I know, and don’t, and which sources I have listened to? The amount if gibberish out there, on all subjects, scares the hell out of me some days. And, it makes me perhaps “too” skeptical (in the sense of distrusting without clear information, not in the sense of **having** the information to make a clear choice on the matter) about some things. This.. I am sorry to say, has tended to be one of them, and I fully apologize for being such a completely idiot about “some” parts of it. But only some, because, I don’t think anyone is likely to disagree, with the other parts, even if they continue to ignore those things, in favor of what I got wrong (or, in your case, insist I still have wrong).

          • September 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm

            “I never intended to advocate for “assuming” someone is wrong, or doing wrong, by how they look, or, at least not intentionally. But, I do believe that, never the less, it is as much of a mistake to assume that nothing is wrong, and its not anyone else’s business, as to assume that there **is** something wrong, and it needs to be fixed. ”

            WOOOW that is a bunch of word salad. Wilted, slimy word salad. UGH.

          • October 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

            You have a better way to say it, by all means, try doing so, instead of just whining about my grammatical choices.

      • September 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm —

        Are you still talking about “THOSE PEOPLE”?

        • October 1, 2013 at 11:55 pm —

          Actually, no. That **was** a bloody stupid, totally insensitive, way to put it. Too much reality TV, and the sort of narrow, shoehorning, you get from that on such subjects.. Not that ‘that’ is an excuse, at all, for my putting it that way, or not being clearer about what I meant. I realize that I chose my words badly. What is annoying me though is the unwillingness to do anything *other* than just talk about that and nothing else, however, and someone else put it, “just having half formed opinions that make no sense”. Well, if that is the entire conversation, then I apologize for both being such a complete idiot, and not realizing how big of one everyone thought it made me. Mea culpa, But, then what, if anything?

          • October 2, 2013 at 12:00 am

            Right.. sorry, some someone.

            Possibly the reason it seemed to not “make sense” though was that I didn’t stick with just the one specific issue, and instead attempted to point out that its a lot of issues, and that I understand that, even if I stated it horribly? Guess I just tend to look more at “big picture” and have a harder time focusing on the parts, sometimes, which doesn’t make for as focused a discussion as people want.

    • September 26, 2013 at 10:11 am —

      Please don’t fight fat-shaming with homophobia. Eating dick has nothing to do with being a bad person.

      • September 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm —

        Good point. Dicks are delightful. Sorry, Marc. Maybe Kagehi should eat all the cockroaches in NYC instead.

        I can’t be bothered to read a wall of text taking counterpoint in the fight against my sad person’s right to live in peace, so srry about that, John Kage. I agree that medical woo is horrible, and would gladly see Oz and Phil fight each other to the death with knives, but the medical establishment and industries are actively fucking over fat people so hard it’s disgusting. People are told to lose weight for any and every health problem by lazy shit doctors. People are denied life saving preventive medicine and told they are liars when they say what they’re eating, and shit like that.

        So to FUCKING HELL with mainstream doctors too. BTW, anyone with pain or nausea from digestive disorders caused by the diet merry-go-round, we just recently discovered cannabis is great for that. Go get some!

        • September 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm —

          Yes, because nothing “in” that wall of text could have possibly admitted you where correct, or been intended to try, how ever badly, to explain what I really meant.. I can’t say I have much hope for your reading my new wall of text either then.

          I personally hate it when people advocate the TL DR attitude. Its like if something isn’t said in two sentences, it can’t contain anything useful, or have any meaning. And, of course, no idea should have to “require” explanation, or involve more information than might be dispensed in the same size chunk as, for example, a news anchor’s sound bite.

          Oh, and it makes it so much easier to continue to misunderstand the other persons positions, and keep hating them too, which is always convenient. I for one.. ***never*** ignore someone’s “wall of text”, if for no other reason than, if they are wrong, it makes it impossible for me to actually address why. But, hell, I guess I am doing that wrong too?

          • September 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm

            “Yes, because nothing “in” that wall of text could have possibly admitted you where correct, or been intended to try, how ever badly, to explain what I really meant.. I”

            IT’s not tl;dr — it’s that YOU MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE. Not to mention the little that *does* make sense is seriously underdeveloped. You just have some opinions based on assumptions about people you don’t know. That’s it. Ugh.

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