Ode to Joy

I love Joy Nash. Seriously. I mean, maybe it’s because we have the same body type, or maybe it’s because she reminds me of what I once wanted to do — act in, write, and produce films of my own. Maybe she reminds me of WHY I didn’t go into the film industry — because I was constantly told that I was *too tall* to act, *too fat* to act, and would never gain any ground in the industry.

Well, there you have it. Guess all those theatre academies and praise from improv instructors doesn’t matter for squat.

But mostly, I think it’s because Joy is an unafraid artistic genius. And fear, as all artists know — mostly fear of rejection, or misunderstanding, or mockery — can drive artistry into a deep, dark little hole where you engage in it only privately, and fear displaying your art publicly. Joy is unafraid. And because of that, I reserve the highest praise I can give to her.

At any rate, here are Joy’s films. She’s so wonderful. As I commented on her latest, they really should be required watching in the body image section of middle-school health classes.

A Fat Rant.

Fat Rant 2: Confessions of the Compulsive

Fat Rant 3: Staircase Wit

Google Image Meme, BL-style

So Sarah posted this Google Image Meme post, and I thought I’d join in the fun! The rules are simple. Google Image Search the answers to the questions below. Then you much choose a picture in the first page of results, and post it as your answer.

1. Age at next birthday:

2. A place you’d like to travel:

3. Your favorite place:

4. Your favorite object:

5. Your favorite food:

6. Your favorite animal:

7. Your favorite color:

8. Town where you were born:

9. Town where you live:

10. Name of a past pet:

11. First name of a past love:

12. Best friend’s nickname:

13. Your screen/nickname:

14. Your first name:

15. Your middle name:

16. Your last name:

17. Bad habit of yours:

18. First job:

19. Name of grandmother:

20. College/grad major(s):

Welcome Integgy and “Fabulously Fat College Student” to the Fat Liberation feed!

I just want to submit a (long overdue…sorry, life has been hectic!) welcome to Integgy and her wonderful “Fabulously Fat College Student” blog to the Fat Liberation feed.

Now, since you’re a sociologist, can you recommend me a good computational sociology text for my school next week? 😉

A great post of note:

Prove it to Me

Until someone can actually prove that what the mainstream media spouts about the obesity epidemic is true (and if they can prove it all, I’ll eat my hat), I’ll stick by FA, thanks.

Cheers to that! (does happy dance) Please read the rest by clicking on the link, and watch for future posts by Integgy on the Fat Liberation feed.

Fat Liberation feed updated

Hi all! Just wanted to let you know that I updated the Fat Liberation feed so that I can publish an unlimited number of feeds, yay! So all of you that know of an FA-ish blog out there that doesn’t allow diet talk or food scare talk, or isn’t overrun by trolls, and especially if it doesn’t yet have a voice on any of the existing feeds, please let me know at big dot liberty at gmail dot com. Or even in the comment form, below. 🙂

And cheers to the whole FLFeed community who has made the feed such a big success so far!

Welcome “Intelligent Protocol” to the Fat Liberation feed!

I just wanted to heartily welcome “Intelligent Protocol” to the Fat Liberation feed. Here are some posts of note:

Is Fat O.K.?

Diet can prevent or cure disease? Nice try, but–

Gastric Bypass Surgery as Type II Diabetes Cure?

Cannot find the absolute risk figures for a treatment? Go to the NNT!

…and many others. Please enjoy this blog, I have very much, so far! Observer does *not* mince words, as she admits on the front page of her blog, and I for one, very much appreciate that. 🙂

A Nice Follow-Up – Obesity Epi-Panic

If you haven’t already, please read Sandy’s “The sky is not falling” post over at Junkfood Science. I think it serves as a great follow-up to my post this week on the Obesity Epi-Panic.

Summary: A new study came out: Americans are living longer and are healthier than ever before. We are not dropping like flies due to obesity. Fat kids aren’t dropping dead from heart attacks in their teens. Fat young adults aren’t dropping dead from heart attacks in their 20s, 30s.

One of the most important parts of a moral panic is called “Disproportionality.” That is, the reaction to the current folk devil is highly disproportionate to the actual threat that folk devil poses. This could also be in the form of some “looming threat lying down the road,” i.e., that this current generation of kids is going to die in hordes in their 50s.

Dang, I had no idea fifteen extra lbs of adipose tissue was so toxic, did you?

The point is, we all need to TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Shut off the local news. Stop reading the health columns of the NYTimes. Ignore water-cooler diet comparisons. And USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.

It’ll be okay, I swear. 🙂

Moral Panics, Moral Crusades, and the Obesity Folk Devil

I’m currently doing research into moral panics and moral crusades, partly because they’re interesting on their own merits (and a hell of a good way for a writer to get some meta-knowledge of societal movements), and partly because as time goes by (and I do more research), I realize that we’re both in a moral panic AND and moral crusade.

Moral panics are characterized by exaggerated responses to perceived (sometimes not even real) threats to society, with a necessary, stereotyped “folk devil” scapegoat who can do no right. Here’s a link to the Wiki article on moral panics.

Our folk devil is the fattie.

That’s not to say other forms of prejudice don’t exist, but that we are in the midst of a moral panic that is the “Obesity Epidemic,” and the moral crusade that is “The War on Obesity.” Never in history have they been spelled out so transparently.

Though I’m going to post in more detail on it in the future, how well does the “Obesity Epidemic” fit the model of a moral panic? Judge for yourself. Here’s a quote from the Wiki article:

Characteristics

Moral Panics have several distinct features:

  1. Panic/anxiety: This is often very intense and there seems to be no problem greater than the subject of the panic.
  2. Short lived: The Panic lasts for only a few months at the most and can recur.
  3. Emotive language and images: Phrases such as “monsters”, “decay”, and “crisis” are used to emphasize the acuteness of the problem. Medical language can also be used out of context such as the word “epidemic”.
  4. Case Studies: These are often dramatic and unrepresentative.
  5. Statistics: Often misused or written in such a way that makes the reader think the problem is worse than it is; for example, “400% greater” may mislead some into thinking that something is 400 times higher rather than 5 times.
  6. Demonization of a group: Sometimes the chosen group does not even exist[citation needed] and those that do are mostly socially or economically marginal. Often the media can portray a group in a way that they don’t really exist and the group will eventually live up to the stereotype created for them.
  7. A Media led or generation phenomenon: Printed to start with and then TV and radio follow amplifying the panic which is then reflected elsewhere such as politics. Even in Victorian society moral panics were seen to be adopted by the media in the form of pamphlets, handbills and newspapers.[5]

With the exception of the Wiki’s reference to a necessary short-lived character to the moral panic (which is contested as not necessarily true by one of the leading experts in the field, N. Beh-Yehuda, in his book, “Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance” ), what do you see paralleling the common fears created by/associated with the “Obesity Epidemic”?

Also, a point that Ben-Yehuda touches upon is that some moral panics can be accompanied by moral crusades, which is the torch-carrying by activist groups to eliminate a group or behavior deemed to be the “root of all society’s ills” by those same activists. In a moral crusade, moral entrepreneurs jump on the bandwagon of a moral panic for profit. Media, the government, etc all take part in the propaganda associated with the perpetuation of the moral crusade.

More and more, I’m beginning to believe that, in fact, we are in the midst — I’d argue even not at the peak, as of yet — of a moral panic and moral crusade against fatness.

What has been so fascinating to me, reflecting upon this possibility, is the fact that moral panics and moral crusades often have a catalyst, an overreaction to which begins the panic and/or crusade. Sometimes the catalyst seems far removed from the panic itself, like the anxiety towards privileged youths which caused the Mods and Rockers mess of the 1960s in the UK.

I’m positing a possible catalyst to the “Obesity Epidemic” moral panic and the “War on Obesity” moral crusade: an aging population who is afraid to die, and are desperately seeking a Fountain of Youth for both themselves and their children. Weight gain is associated with increasing age (at least until about 60-65), and that’s right about where the Baby Boomer generation is, now.

For you see, at the bottom of the “Obesity Epidemic” and the “War on Obesity” is a movement called Healthism. Drink one glass of wine a day, for optimal health! No, two! And don’t eat broccoli. Wait, remember to eat your broccoli! Buy this anti-aging anti-cellulite super-sunblocker cream, and make sure to go tanning before you hit the beach in your tankini! Spend at least 90 minutes a day in a gym, but don’t get water-bottle wrinkles around your mouth!

The ultimate goal of Healthists is, in fact, the Fountain of Youth. Tall order, you say? No kidding. Then again, the ultimate goal of Prohibitionists was a familial Utopia, where all families had doting dads and innocent fathers. The ultimate goal of the War on Drugs people is similar. But now that our nation isn’t in such a crisis over families (my theory is the War on Drugs was a response to the growing number of divorces and the increasing acceptability of the legitimacy of non-hetero relationships), our aging population has begun to panic over impending death.

Why do you think age-related diseases are the ones that they believe “curing” obesity will exterminate? Obesity is just a stand-in for their own terror at the inevitable. And millions of people are paying the price — such is the stereotyping, scapegoat-making nature of the moral panic and moral crusade.

What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m way off the mark here? Or do you think some of these ideas hold water?

Is this a form of plagiarism, or am I reading into it too much?

Hi all,

I really need your help. Recently Carrie at ED Bites posted: “Overheight Epidemic.” Of course, many of you will remember my “The Tall Epidemic” post from March.

While my post is longer, with many more links, hers seems like merely a summary of mine, with nearly identical phraseology in parts (especially in how it begins. Hers:

“My friends, we are in the midst of a tall epidemic.”

(notice saying “tall epidemic” instead of “overheight epidemic”), and mine:

“We are in the midst of an epidemic.

I’m not talking about the Obesity Epidemic…no, I’m talking about the Tall Epidemic.”

And while she brings up a few different examples (I never mentioned basketball players), underfeeding children, the genetics of height, surgery to “correct” tallness, are all included in my post, at about the same points. The satiric voice is nearly indistinguishable. Even my mention of people breaking bones from being too tall because they’re farther from the ground — included in a *comment* on my post, not in the body — was nearly hijacked word-for-word.

What do you think? Is it paraphrased plagiarism? It seems way too close to a summary of my post with a few different “In your own words” moments, like how a teenager would paraphrase Wikipedia for a report.

Please check out my post, and then read what I’ve quoted below (just in case Carrie changes it at some point, I wanted to have it quoted here):

Monday, June 9, 2008

Overheight epidemic

America is having a massive overheight problem. Our children keep getting taller and taller. Even just 50 years ago, adults were, on average, one to two inches shorter than they are today.

My friends, we are in the midst of a tall epidemic. Too many of our children are too tall. We must do something about this. All of this additional height is wasting thousands of yards of fabric as we try to cover these too-long limbs. Children are being injured every day as their too tall heads crash into doorways that were perfectly fine only a few decades before. Look at school photos. Kids were much shorter–and much healthier–when I was a student.

But don’t despair. There are real solutions to this overheight problem. Only mate with short people- tall people are contributing to this problem and your kids are much more likely to be overtall if your mate is also overtall. Height is contagious. Do not doom your potential offspring to a life of ridicule and ill health by having a child with someone who is tall.

Should you accidentally have a child with a tall person, feed them formula with supplements designed to slow the secretion of human growth hormone. This will keep them from getting tall, and give them all the benefits of being short. As well, if your child begins to show signs of becoming too tall, drastically reduce their food intake. A good supply of nutrients is associated with extra height. By not preventing the consumption of nutrients, this extra height should not be a problem.

If you or your child has already begun to suffer the ill effects of overheight, do not despair. Doctors have also researched various surgical options to combat this growing problem. Portions of your limbs can be surgically removed and then you will be sewn back together. You might not have the same mobility or quality of life, but you will not suffer from the health dangers of being too tall.

Insurance companies will be penalizing tall people for things like head injuries from walking into doorways, broken bones from falling further when they hit the ground, and sports injuries sustained by basketball players (who we all know are especially at risk for overtall disorder).

This is an epidemic that must be taken seriously. Too many of us are just accepting this extra height without considering all of the health risks that tall can bring. You can do something about this. You must. Our society can no longer afford an epidemic of tall people.

(And I’m not the only blogger worried about this epidemic. Recently Big Liberty posted about these worries here at her blog.)

EDITED to mention: Carrie only put a link onto her blog — her parenthetical statement at the end — after I requested she did so, and then denied she’d ever read my “Tall Epidemic” post:

BL,

Hey, great minds think alike, huh? I didn’t read your post, and if it seemed like I copied, it was totally inadvertent. Thank you for sending me the link, and I will add it to my post.

Usage per pound doesn’t make good economic sense

So a lot of people in FA have been talking about this article: “Airlines Might Start Treating Passengers ‘Like Freight.'”

I don’t get the reasoning behind charging people per pound. Say that we just accept that people think it’s okay to discriminate against teh fatties. This policy, however, discriminates not just against teh fatties, but any body who is naturally heavier. That includes:

* most taller people
* most men
* some ethnic minorities and majorities
* people on medication with a side-effect of weight gain, i.e., depressed people, people on some other psych meds, and a whole lot of other potentially disabled people who are being helped by their drugs
* disabled people who can’t physically spend hours in the gym every day trying to conform to a thinner ideal

Regardless of what economic “sense” they think it makes to treat people like freight (should heavier people pay more for public transportation, too? To walk on public streets (since their heavier bodies wear the streets down faster, yanno!)? A fat tax for wear and tear on the floors of public places?), at bottom, it doesn’t make true economic sense.

Do the airlines really want to start alienating gigantic portions of their customer base? Do you think most women in our fatphobic culture, even thinner ones, want to be weighed in public? Also, how long before other groups who are less acceptable to discriminate against, like some of the groups I mentioned above, start hiring lawyers and filing anti-discrimination class action lawsuits?

It’s a stupid, stupid economic policy to treat people like freight. If the airlines are having a passenger weight problem, perhaps it could be mitigated by stopping trying to cram in more and more rows and seats every year on planes that already can’t even fit peoples’ carry-ons anymore. And blaming heavier passengers for the increase in fuel costs is insanely stupid and incorrect. Oil per barrel is at record highs. Not wanting to raise ticket prices (though they’re caving to that already) in order not to lose passengers, airlines are cramming more and more seats and rows into too-small planes. People are getting heavier — 15 pounds/person (average) in thirty years — but they’re getting taller, too, which means that people are more uncomfortable now in planes than they’ve ever been.

Is discriminating against huge chunks of your customer base going to solve your financial and comfort problems, airlines? I think not. Time to start looking for other solutions, you irresponsible, lazy-minded idiots. Fire your marketing people too, while you’re at it, because they’re doing a piss-poor job.