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  1. Snuffycup
    Snuffycup September 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm |

    Your entire post is very size-ist, privileged and reeks of concern trolling. You seem like someone who has little to no knowledge of Fat Acceptance, Size Acceptance or Heath At Every Size, not exactly the person I would have picked to write about BMI on a feminist site. For example:

    “In all, this demonization of the BMI is odd. I’m outside my normal BMI range, but I’ve never had a doctor say, “Boy, are you overweight!” ”

    Although you say a doctor has never weight shamed you, it’s a well documented fact that this does routinely happen to fat, and even not-so-fat, people on a regular basis. And it’s not just at the doctor’s office that BMI is used as way to discriminate against and shame people. Higher BMI’s can make it difficult or impossible for people to get health insurance, to gain employment, to adopt children, to gain access to reproductive assistance, and the list goes on. If you had more understanding of SA, FA or HAES, you’d know that. Instead your post comes off as dismissive, belittling and fat-hating.

    I thought this site was a place I’d want to become a part of, a place where feminism was represented, written about and discussed proudly. Instead this post points to the site being more reinforcement of the old chestnut: patriarchal “body shame good”. I think I’ll pass, thanks.

  2. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin September 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm |

    We have been led to believe a lot of things that are either untruthful or inaccurate about our health over the years. The best example that comes to mind is that of moderate drinking/drinking red wine. For a while, it was bad for us, according to the experts. Then it was good for us. And they went back and forth and back and forth.

    In this country, we use science as the ultimate means of discernment/measuring stick, and it’s not nearly as exact a discipline as we wish to believe it is.

  3. Jess
    Jess September 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm |

    I think it irks some people because of fatphobia and stories like these experienced by people who have not been so lucky to have positive stories about their doctors:

  4. Vellum
    Vellum September 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm |

    I think that the reason why the BMI is so often vilified is twofold:

    The first is because of what it does to the individual’s perception of hirself. For a lot of people who are just naturally heavier in body type, the bar is set such that it labels them as overweight. Over what weight? Over a healthy weight. And quite often the BMI misses the mark on what is a healthy weight. And so we’re telling people they’re unhealthy, when quite often they aren’t. You might not care that you’re overweight according to the BMI, but someone who actively worries about hir body image (and in western society, bombarded by imagery that tells us that anything that isn’t thin is awful, it’s hard not to) sees that they’re “overweight” and it’s just another voice telling them something negative about their image.

    The second is the scientific view: because it’s not an accurate measurement of percentage body fat, and thereby obesity, it’s not very good science. It’s lazy. So instead of doing more work and finding out what the actual numbers are, they poll about age and height and weight and say things so general as to be fairly useless. Yes, it’s good for generalizations, but since when have generalizations been good for much (except for snazzy rhetoric — see what I did there?)?

  5. Monica
    Monica September 1, 2010 at 7:41 pm |

    It’s true that health news and new studies are often overblown. But it’s usually the media who translate that into absolutist messages about what to do and not do. It’d not scientsts.

  6. Charlotte
    Charlotte September 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm |

    Have you ever read anything by Kate Harding or visited Shapely Prose? Because she elucidates a lot of these issues.

  7. Maggie Gordon
    Maggie Gordon September 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm |

    Weight is a contentious issue because, as a society, we do not deal with it well. Judgement is dealt out by people on the street, family members and even doctors about weight, even when said the weight is not effecting health. Weight has been demonized by so many and it is caught up in so much privilege as to present extreme harm to many people beyond the fear of what it can do directly to a person’s health.

    Also, your comment about there not being an epidemic of fat joggers in the world is rather harsh. I’m not that overweight, but even I feel as if I shouldn’t been seen in public while exercising because of my minor flab. I have been in gyms in which it was made quite clear that I was not wanted and I know of many fitness classes that refuse to work with fat bodies.

    The push back against the “obesity crisis” is because it is harming people in tangible ways, even if supposedly it is trying to help.

  8. Megan
    Megan September 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm |

    I don’t see anything in the Jezebel article that implies “using your weight as one of the things that assesses your health isn’t useful at all.”

    She says “Basically, trying to judge the health of an individual using the BMI? It’s bullshit.” Pretty clear, I think.

    Also, you say it’s obvious that BMI isn’t intended to be a measure of personal health. But that fact isn’t obvious to everyone. That’s the problem. And the reason it matters that doctors come out an explain what BMI means and what it doesn’t.

    We can trade anecdotes about doctors and BMI, if you like. Here’s mine: my mother has struggled with her weight for 30 years. She’s been on every diet you can think of. Only in the past few years has she begun to concentrate on health and fitness as priorities rather than trying to get to a certain dress size. That made her happier and healthier than ever.

    Until last month when she went to a new doctor. The first thing he said to her told her “based on your BMI you’re overweight, bordering on obese. That’s something you need to work on.” He then told her that getting older (she’s in her late 50s) is no reason to let yourself go. This was all before any conversation about her health or physical activities.


  9. iiii
    iiii September 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm |

    Monica – the 101 reading list starts here:
    (The rest of the archives at Shapely Prose are also worth reading.)

    I envy you your positive experiences with doctors. Not all of us are so privileged:

    You might also find the archives and links at Fatshionista, The Rotund, and The Fat Nutritionist of interest:

    This is just a starter list, off the top of my head. There’s much more out there.

  10. Brigid Keely
    Brigid Keely September 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm |

    You’re very lucky that you’re able to go to a doctor and not get harranged/harassed about your weight. Most women who are heavy, fat, or obese aren’t that lucky and many are actively denied care or their concerns are dismissed. Conditions like chronic bronchitis, asthma, cancer, recurring sinus infections, and torn tendons are dismissed as “nothing” and a recommendation is given to lose weight.

    The current obsession with fat as the be-all end-all evil thing is not doing anyone any favors. I’ll confess: I have a player in this fight. I’m a big fat fatty who’s gotten substandard medical care since I was a child based solely on my weight. My “numbers” are good (blood sugar, heart rate, cholesterol, blood pressure), I had a very healthy and incredibly uneventful pregnancy, but I get hassled by my DENTIST, let alone every other doctor ever other than my ob-gyn because I’m fat. I can and do walk 3-4 miles in Chicago’s summer heat, yet according to the BMI I’m going to fall down dead any second.

    Meanwhile, people who are slender don’t get screened for diabetes or high cholesterol, and slender people who are completely sedentary aren’t vilified or scolded, while fat people who engage in any form of activity are labeled “outliers.”

    “Excess” weight can signal a lack of activity, “too many donuts” (hur hur binge eating hurr all fat people just shove donuts into their mouths constantly amirite?), genetics, illness, hormonal imbalance, a number of things. Yet it is routinely presented as only sloth or gluttony, a moral failing and weakness.

  11. Meredith
    Meredith September 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm |

    Oooooh, I can see the possibility of a flame war coming. I agree with you in that the BMI isn’t meant for people on an individual level per se. However, people do use it that way and I think that’s where all the hatred comes from. I know I have gotten laughable results from it before (I am absolutely tiny and it said I was hovering close to overweight) and if we as a culture stopped thinking about the BMI on an individual level, we could maybe *start* thinking about our health instead.

  12. Anne Bonney
    Anne Bonney September 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm |

    Can you please kill that last comment for the formatting fail? I will fix it and resubmit. Thank you and sorry.

  13. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm |

    Wow, I’m going to come back here later and come up with a better response.

    But right now I am literally shaking from anger.

    You clearly did very little research before writing this. You haven’t read what us very fat people have to say, fat people who dance and run and weight lift and walk and have active jobs and eat our broccoli, for what it’s worth. You have taken your experience, it seems as a modestly fat person, and generalized it to the experience of all fat people.

    Well fuck that. The BMI chart says that I’m going to die tomorrow because I’m “morbidly” obese. Fuck that too. You’ve never gotten harassed by the doctor because of where you fall on the BMI chart? That’s why it’s called privilege.

    Fuck the 50 lbs I lost in 2 months because it was so important for me to be “healthier.” That rapid weight loss that permanently damaged the muscles and tendons in my arms.

    Fuck the people who told me that I was doing a great job during that diet and that I looked great. Including my parents. Including my friends. Including my doctors. Especially the doctor who didn’t connect the muscular injury with rapid weight loss, because I didn’t look like I was starving.

    I’ve seen a number of possible explanations for increasing BMI in the US beyond “Americans are fatter and this is terrible!” handwringing. Which you would have known, if you’d bothered to read the critiques of BMI and the current war on fat bodies.

    I didn’t expect to see this on Feministe. I am angry and I am disappointed.

  14. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm |

    Also, I am a scientist. A chemist, to be precise. And scientists get stuff wrong ALL THE TIME. Even in fields where there’s not a big political cause with lots of government money involved. Or sociological bias. For the record.

  15. Asinknits
    Asinknits September 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm |

    There are better individual measures of appropriate weight than BMI. And of course, there is a lot more to health than merely weight. There are people who are healthy and above the BMI dictated ‘healthy weight range’. And there are people who are healthy and below the BMI dictated ‘healthy weight range’. And there are people who lose weight so they fall in the healthy weight range due to serious illness. Just for starters.

  16. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm |

    Seriously, Monica? That’s what you got from my comment? I just think that you should listen to what fat people say about their own freaking bodies before you write about how we’re being ridiculous, with gratuitous comments about doughnuts and “large” puns, of course.

  17. Liz L
    Liz L September 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm |

    To be honest, I was ready to debate you on the merits of your argument, but this line continues to bother me: “…there’s not an epidemic of fat runners out there.” (My 260 lb ass that dragged itself out of bed today at 5am to go for a run before work disagrees! And if we’re using the ‘my one experience with a doctor means that medical professionals use BMI in a scientifically appropriate manner’ logic, I get to win as well.)

    To be honest, why should I or anyone else bother to give fat 101? Relying on sloppy science, generalizations, and fat jokes makes for a poor start to an interesting and necessary conversation on health issues particular to industrialized nations.

    Americans of all shapes are making lifestyle choices (depending on who you are, of course, choices may be limited). As you correctly note, choices deemed to be unhealthy are made by both fat and thin people. So why not target the behaviors? If this is really about health, we would measure how many Americans get a recommended amount of cardio activity every week or how many Americans have access to and take advantage of fresh, balanced, and wholesome food.

    “But, by and large, (pardon the expression) weightier people suffer health problems…” Hardy har har. Really? This is not the insightful and critical sort of writing I have come to expect and enjoy at feministe.

  18. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    The BMI chart says that I’m going to die tomorrow because I’m “morbidly” obese.

    Look, I think that’s the problem. The BMI chart doesn’t say anything about you because you are not a population. When people start applying the chart to individuals as if it has any predictive power, that’s when the stigma and the bullshit begins and the science goes out the window.

    The public really needs better science education, because science about biology and populations is super picky and way too easily hyped by the media. Even if everyone understood the difference between looking at a trend and looking at a point, that would go a long way towards putting BMI back in its place as a useful but very limited scientific tool.

  19. Anne Bonney
    Anne Bonney September 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm |

    So what you’re saying that I’m generalizing from my own experience, and telling me I should generalize from the experience of people who write about their personal experiences instead?  

    Oh dear. That is just a wildly inappropriate response. The tone of your article was condescending and smug, what with the donut eating and the exercising “outliers”. The idea that a person whose doctor would even notice a 10 pound weight change (when I loose 10 pounds, my doctor still berates me for how fat and unhealthy I am) shows that while you are not a “normal” BMI, you certainly are experiencing thin privilege. Therefore what your doctor tells you and what fat women’s doctors tell them have very little in common. You blogging from personal experience doesn’t erase the anti-fat valence from that experience, and it certainly doesn’t make your experience authoritative on anyone else. What is just incredible disrespectful is that you did not even bother to think about anything regarding other people’s experiences with BMI, doctors, donuts, etc. You talk about fat people like they’re not listening, or like they have to agree with you because you are the non-fat Arbiter of Truth.

    I’m not going to rewrite what I screwed up the tags on, mostly because a lot of it was about negative personal experiences I have had with doctors and I feel you’ve shown in how you responded to Shoshie that you will not respect them and I don’t have the capacity tonight to fight about whether things that have happened to me are actual. However, I think this needs to be said.

    I’ve only ever heard doctors talk about the BMI in public health contexts (emphasis mine)

    Is isn’t how the doctors or CDC or other reasonable public health sources are using BMI that concerns me: it’s all the lay people who are short on the science and long on prejudice are. I first heard about BMI in the 10th grade at a school wide “fitness testing”; the slightly older student who was taking the measurements and writing it on our sheets didn’t have to shout out the number, which he said was “what percent fat you are”, to everyone, but he did anyhow. Concern-trolls and body-shame apologists use BMI as a weapon, as a definitive yardstick to prove how unhealthy, how unattractive, how lazy, how abnormal, both groups and individuals are. I’m not worried about my doctor talking about my BMI, but I sure as shit don’t appreciate you doing it.

  20. Miss S
    Miss S September 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm |

    I think we need to find a way to discuss weight as it relates to health as opposed to beauty and image. I don’t know if that’s possible because women are especially sensitive to body image.

    I smoke. I harbor no illusions that this could likely cause me health complications down the road. Every time I go to the doctors, they tell me to stop. Every. Single. One. Because it’s their job to dispense medical advice and it would be pretty ridiculous if they knew something could cause me health complications and failed to warn me.

    Every single woman in public is being policed and monitored. And I think that this constant monitoring and policing of women’s bodies, behaviors and actions make women particularly resistant to anything that comes close to body policing.

    I absolutely believe that some doctors are less than kind/sensitive to weight issues, because I abolsutely believe that some doctors are less than kind and sensitive. But I don’t believe for one minute that every single doctor is brining up weight issues because they’re fat phobic.

    Is there a way to discuss weight without making people feel bad about their looks or body? (Genuine question).

  21. jules
    jules September 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm |


  22. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm |

    I’m aware that the BMI chart isn’t meant to be applied to individuals, and I can scream that until I’m blue in the face. But it doesn’t change the fact that doctors, who theoretically have decent science education, will tell me that I’m morbidly obese and will provide inferior treatment because of it.

  23. Miss S
    Miss S September 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm |

    Also, it’s worth discussing weight trends as it relates to the food we consume. Much of what we consume doesn’t provide us with the nutrients that we need. Why? Alot of it has to do with government subsidies. We should be looking at the kinds of foods we consume and the effect it has on our bodies.

    BTW, I haven’t read anything that said “obese people are going to die tomorrow.” Research indicates that obesity causes health complications. Just like smoking cigarettes, drinking massive amounts of alcohol every day, etc. But I want a healthy society, so I think this stuff matters. Wasn’t there a post here recently about how black women have more health complications, maybe as a result of social factors? I didn’t take that post to mean that all of us women of color were just going to die the next damn day. I would like to know the causes because these problems deserve solutions.

    How often do we call for public health awareness and support?

  24. Ashley
    Ashley September 1, 2010 at 9:08 pm |

    Hi Monica,

    As a personal trainer, I can tell you that the gym I work for makes me figure out people’s BMI as one indicator of their fitness when I give them a screening. Because I have some familiarity with the HAAS movement, I am aware that BMI is not a good indicator of health or even body fat percentage, and I tell my clients to ignore it. However, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the very few people who would think to do that, and that most of the trainers probably do the opposite.

    I spend a lot of time talking to people about their habits, and I agree that Americans have serious problems with overeating, eating overly processed foods and not enough produce, and sedentary lifestyles. But the fact that those problems are so widespread shows that they are social problems that reflect something beyond individual “failings.” And the way to solve those social problems is definitely not by demonizing fatness–something that cannot possibly be done without demonizing fat people.

  25. Jadey
    Jadey September 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm |

    Holy shit, I really thought this was a prank. I wanted it to be a prank, cruel as that would be.

    Instead, I will just post some links. And maybe a recipe or two!

    First, Do No Harm (because that’s what doctors are supposed to do, right?)

    The Fat Nutritionist (Don’t miss the science on the sidebar – Evidence & Articles.)

    Junkfood Science (Moar science!)

    Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts (Mmm, brussels sprouts for people who hate brussels sprouts)

    Now I will go sit quietly somewhere else on the Internet until I stop feeling ill.

  26. annalouise
    annalouise September 1, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    I hate this post. I hate you for writing it. I pretty strongly hate feministe for posting it.

    I hate most of all the way it tempts us fatties into to going down a self-destructive path of good fattie/bad fattie, and one that is also destructive to other fat people. What I ate today is none of your business or the business. My athletic endeavors are not to please you. I know that you hate us and won’t believe us anyone, or will dismiss us as outlier good fatties to hate on people just like us who don’t feel like presenting you with a report card of our healthy habits.

    So, to other fat people reading this post, can we try to stand together? Can we try and make this time and just this time, a time when we don’t fall into that trap? It doesn’t serve us, ever.

    It will make some of us feel terrible for not being athletes and some of us feel awkard and ashamed that something we *love* is being twisted to appease a fatphobe. It will make some of us feel guilt for eating dorittos for dinner and for others of us it’ll ruin the taste of that delicious organic meal because it won’t be enjoyed on it’s merits but as a badge of acceptability.

    Fuck. That. Shit.

  27. Jadey
    Jadey September 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm |

    Oh wait, I’m still here. In addition to the science linked above debunking the much acclaimed link between obesity and health, couldn’t help but mention that obesity stigma is rampant, including among the medical professions. Look – even moar science (and more to be Googled, for the daring)! Aren’t we all learning?

    Maybe us fatties would go to the doctor more often (for un-weight-related health needs, even) if the shaming weren’t quite so predictable. (Oh, and don’t forget the internalized self-loathing. I sure don’t.)

  28. Jadey
    Jadey September 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm |

    And oh my god, I just cannot help myself, but re: health. You know, amandaw has said it all:

    Health, then, is not merely a personal state, but rather a cultural fulfillment. Health (of whatever kind) is expected of you, expected by the people around you. Your health is not your own, but instead belongs to your family, your community and your wider culture. You must achieve and maintain (whatever kind of) health, not because it benefits you personally, but because you will have deeply failed your fellow members of society if you don’t.

    I would quote the whole damn thing, but you can read it here: Gender, health, and societal obligation

    (s.e. smith also wrote and amazing post on the relationship between size acceptance and disability activism that is getting a little off target on this very special post – though not entirely – but I will link it because it is beautiful and because it is an important read for anyone who has read the stuff I’ve linked above and gone WHOA GAME CHANGER.)

  29. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm |

    Annalouise- Hear, hear! Being fat does not give you an extra obligation to eat healthfully! Being fat does not give you an extra obligation to exercise! My health is my business and my doctor’s business and my husband’s business (because he loves me and wants me to be as healthy as possible). None of yours.

    Jadey- I just found a wonderful, non-fat shaming doctor. After six months of avoiding the doctor for a medical condition, I met with her, and now I feel OK to e-mail her about my concerns. Whereas my previous doctor would just tell me to lose weight. Now I’m getting the treatment that I need. :)

  30. Grace
    Grace September 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm |

    I read this on my Google reader and it was one of the few articles I felt compelled to read the comments for, specifically because I agreed with the overall sentiment (if all of the language) but I wanted to read the disagreements.

    The fact that stuck with me was not that Monica’s doctors noticed her slight weight gain at her yearly check up, but that she had a yearly check up at all. I think this is the overall problem with a lot of discussions about health – we rely overwhelmingly on reports from doctors about what healthy means rather than individually going to doctors unless something is wrong. I consider myself a healthy person, yet I fall into this pattern as well. (This point admittedly glosses over the other important conversations about access to health care and doctors’ sensitivity to issues regarding weight).

  31. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm |

    @24 Yeah, absolutely the problem is how BMI gets applied. My beef is not with people who say their doctors are misunderstanding/abusing BMI because I know that happens. (I’m not saying doctors are often privileged ignoramuses, I’m just saying I’m going for a Ph.D. instead. ;p)

    But I hate it when people start throwing out the baby with the bath water and claiming that BMI has no function. Like comment #4 where the use of BMI was attributed to “laziness” as if scientists had all just collectively said “fuck it!” and didn’t give a damn about their research. I think it’s easy for liberal and/or feminist types to swing too far in that direction, where resistance to BMI-as-personal-health-indicator turns into resistance to BMI-as-anything-ever-STFU.

    BMI is, but shouldn’t be, personal at all. …But the OP did a pretty miserable job of avoiding turning this whole talk personal. Shame, ’cause it’s an important and interesting topic.

  32. Anne Bonney
    Anne Bonney September 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm |

    I hate most of all the way it tempts us fatties into to going down a self-destructive path of good fattie/bad fattie, and one that is also destructive to other fat people.What I ate today is none of your business or the business. My athletic endeavors are not to please you…So, to other fat people reading this post, can we try to stand together? …Fuck. That. Shit.  

    Hear hear. I hate hate hate that that because fattness is sometimes highly related personal choices — complex and situated within coercive social structures, like you know, the patriarchy — people think my body, even as an abstraction, earns them the right to speculate on and judge me and my life. It’s not your body, not your life, not your business how or why or wherefore I am fat. And it is exhausting that feminists and allies who wouldn’t dare criticize the motivations or mechanisms of other kinds of choices women make so conveniently reuse oppressors’ language and logic to bash fat bodies and people.
    I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand that my actions don’t cause your prejudice.

  33. Lasciel
    Lasciel September 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm |

    “But let’s be honest, there’s not an epidemic of fat runners out there.”

    I have to say, this line really upsets me. :/ You don’t know how many overweight girls I’ve known that have tried to clean up their diets and walk/jog/run to lose weight. And then… they get shouted at. They get called pig, and fatass, and all sorts of vile shit.

    You’d think that with all the “fat people should just exercise!” slogans that are in the mouth of most of our society; that people would not then turn around and shame and harass fat people that actually are exercising.

    But you see, that’s not okay apparently. You can’t be visible. Go hide in your basement and work out. We don’t want to see your rolls jiggling while you try to make yourself perfect for us. Maybe we’ll even drive at you like we’re going to run you over as punishment for making us look at you.

    I have plenty of issues with other things in your post Monica, but I’m not even going to try to address them since you haven’t said anything in the least credible or factual.

    My apologies if your post was intended as a satire/parody of medical ignorance and fat intolerance.

    Also; thanks for posting some good links y’all <3

  34. Maggie Gordon
    Maggie Gordon September 1, 2010 at 9:50 pm |

    To all the fabulous commentators on this thread promoting HAES and the like, I want to thank you all for the amazing responses I am seeing. I read this piece, was furious, but also terrified of saying very much because this is a topic that tends to slap people back in the face when they try to defend themselves and point out the issues in society’s discourse around weight.

    To the author, this is one of those times to step back, read, think and review for yourself your own internal conceptions and see if they are as free from privilege as this post originally implied. At the very least, you have hurt people specifically with your words and that should say something about the premise of your post.

  35. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 9:50 pm |

    OK, that’s fair. I get BMI’s value as a statistical tool, though I think the labels and cutoffs are complete bunk, even from a statistical perspective. It makes more sense, to me, to frame the categories in terms of, I don’t know, vertical density. But I like nice, non-judgmental terms in my scientific literature. I once knocked someone off a bunch of points because they called their chemical reaction “bad.” Boo to value judgments in science!

    Also, rock on, PhD students. Aaaand, back to working on a poster. Not about fat.

  36. KK
    KK September 1, 2010 at 10:02 pm |

    I enjoyed your post. Thank you for writing it.

  37. annalouise
    annalouise September 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm |

    Lasciel: “But let’s be honest, there’s not an epidemic of fat runners out there.”I have to say, this line really upsets me. :/ You don’t know how manyoverweight girls I’ve known that have tried to clean up their diets and walk/jog/run to lose weight. And then… they get shouted at. They get called pig, and fatass, and all sorts of vile shit.

    Yes this. As much as I’m sure as fuck not going to go there with my own habits, It is so important to acknowledge that yes, indeed there are great deal of fat runners and fat dancers and fat triathaletes who in addition to performing awesome athletic feats, also have to overcome fatphobic prejudice.

    That’s why the convention weight/health connection is so incredibly, dangerously wrong. It means that people with no risks factors are being subject to brutal completely unnecessary surgeries that kill them at rates higher than that of open-heart surgery. It also means that people with serious health problems are denied care because it assume their health is related to their weight. It even allows thin people to go undiagnosed with genetic health issues that our fatphobic culture thinks of as a punishment for fatness.

    Using BMI as a barometer of health kills people. End. Stop.

  38. Millicent
    Millicent September 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    I’ve never posted here before, but I had to comment on how disappointed I am in Feministe for publishing this. I guess the author thinks she’s funny or something. I’m not laughing.

  39. LB
    LB September 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm |

    I understand both viewpoints, but as a demographer, I’d like to reiterate that BMI (as well as other indices in population health) are crude measures that are used to assess obesity at the population level. Yes, BMI has always been problematic. Waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, etc, are in some ways better than BMI. When gathering data for national surveys, it would be extremely hard (and costly) to assess people’s weight by more sophisticated means. But, in the end, the link b/w obesity (specifically a BMI above 30 and via larger waist circumferences) and poor health is too strong to be overlooked. There are even some health demographers who in fact believe that obesity will eventually lead to a decline of our average life expectancy.

    Of course the DEXA scan is better, but how many of us have access to that around the crib? Yes, there are better measures but I hope people don’t forget that there are no real benefits in being significantly overweight.

  40. Roxy
    Roxy September 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm |

    There are so many online activists ready to go to bat about how healthy everyone is. But then there is everyone in my life.

    My whole family, myself, my friends. The people I work with. All eating fast food on a daily basis, practically afraid of turning on the stove. My brother eats fast food 3 times a day, often leaving the house to “pick up dinner” and appalled when I suggest I cook something for him. But this seems “normal” to everyone I talk to, from my co-workers to my students to my neighbors, friends and family. Me too. I do it too.

    I am very proud of all of you people who run and eat right on a regular basis. Take care of yourselves. That’s wonderful. But most Americans do NOT take care of themselves. And many Americans consume very bad food and exercise very little and the result is — FOR THE POPULATION, NOT FOR YOU VERY GOOD PEOPLE — expanding waistlines, increased cancer, increased heart disease.

    Do not turn a blind eye to the way most Americans live. Heart disease is the #1 killer for women, but feminists don’t seem to care. McDonald’s and Burger King are profitable for a reason. Americans live busy lives and have little time for cooking, etc etc etc. There are always a million reasons to say no to making healthful dinners and yes to the $5 burger. And we all do it from time to time.

    Let’s not all pretend that we aren’t eating candy bars and donuts and burgers. Because we are. If you aren’t specifically, then your neighbor is and your coworker is. Your friends are. Statistically, we are eating more crap, sitting for longer hours, and growing more sideways than tall.

  41. shhhk
    shhhk September 1, 2010 at 10:45 pm |

    what the fuck is this post

    what the fuck are your responses to people’s legitimate anger about the legitimately douchey and wrong things you said in this post

    what is going onnnn

  42. kung fu lola
    kung fu lola September 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm |

    I am really disappointed to see this. Feministe and other blogs have been opening my eyes to anti-oppression work for about a year now, and one by one they have all let me down by showing underbellies of racism, transphobia, privilege-obliviousness and now, this complete and utter fatphobic garbage, here. As of right now, the only person who hasn’t hit a bingo square is Kate Harding. I hope the author of this post gets a fucking PhD in HAES and restores balance to the Universe.

  43. Roxy
    Roxy September 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm |

    Also, keep in mind that a lot of this sort of talk about body size and diet and exercise makes Americans comfortable with being more sedentary and eating junk. “I’m healthy just the way I am,” eating 285 pounds of meat per year. Allowing only 7% of my diet to be vegetables other than potatoes.

    Americans have problems with diet-related cancers, sedentary-related cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc etc etc. I understand the need in our feminist business of creating safe spaces to fight prejudice and shaming, but we also have the need to take care of ourselves. And for every person who keeps fit and eats right, there are 10 who breaks a sweat once a week and considers it working out regularly, makes a salad once a week and forgets their daily take-out from Appleby’s.

    Why can’t we balance positive acceptance with practical solutions about medical problems??

    (and don’t tell me they are linked permanently. That’s just the weak way out, the excuse to give in to my disability. And don’t call me ablist, because I’ve got two disabilities and I OWN THEM. “Own your condition” support groups say. Lazy people just say “accept me the way I am.” Stop confusing healthful suggestions with 100% shaming. There can be two different things there.)

  44. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz September 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm |

    I’ve never had a doctor say, “Boy, are you overweight!” I have had doctors ask me what’s happening when I come in for my yearly check-up and my weight’s gone up or down. They’re never concerned when I’ve put on ten pounds; they’re concerned when I tell them it’s because I’ve stopped exercising. Likewise, no doctor talks about my weight when she does routine blood tests, listens to me breathe or feels my glands. I’ve only ever heard doctors talk about the BMI in public health contexts; when they talk about groups of patients or populations as a whole.

    And it would be nice if your experience were typical, but it’s not. Doctors aren’t somehow magically immune to society’s fatphobia or sloppy thinking about how BMI is meant to be used. I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences with “well, your BMI is X and that means…” and I’m so far from alone that it’s depressing.

    I cannot stand BMI as a metric (and personally feel like I wind up getting defensive over it) because of the “Oh, over 25 means overweight” with an implication (or outright statement) that having a BMI over 25 is bad and you’re a bad person.

    For the love of god, look at Wii Fit (a game that’s meant to improve fitness!) when you step on the board, it calculates your BMI and then in this little sing-song voice says “That’s obese!” (or whatever). It then tells you to shoot for a BMI of 22. It’s not like Wii Fit is medical advice, but it’s certainly a popular representation of how it’s abused.

  45. notemily
    notemily September 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm |

    I agree with every single thing Snuffycup said in the first comment.

  46. Jadey
    Jadey September 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm |

    Fine, I can be more direct. From the Fat Nutritionist sidebar link above (and just a *taste* of what is in store there):

    Our results are similar to those from other recent studies, confirming that underweight and obesity class II+ are clear risk factors for mortality, and showing that when compared to the acceptable BMI category, overweight appears to be protective against mortality. Obesity class I was not associated with an increased risk of mortality.

    From the abstract of BMI and mortality: results from a national longitudinal study of Canadian adults, published in June, 2009 in PubMed.

    And, of course, correlation does not prove causation – alternative theories may apply.

    And in case anyone needs a reference point, this is what the BMI looks like, people style.

  47. Gentleman Cambrioleur
    Gentleman Cambrioleur September 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm |

    I’m going to chime in with the HAES people, and you know what else –

    SO WHAT if some fat people are unhealthy.

    SO WHAT if science could prove (with actual solid proof here, not just vague anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking) that being fat correlates directly with unhealthiness.

    So what if one given fat person is fat because of “too many donuts” or “not enough exercise.” So what if they then have to use a stroller or wheelchair or mobility aids, or develop health problems or have to stay at the hospital.

    It’s ok to be unhealthy.

    It’s ok to be disabled. Because, underlying all those criticisms about fat, is also an underlying criticism about disability, particularly when it’s being perceived as a choice.

    Fat people do not have a Duty to Society to be healthy. No one does, actually. The problem with BMI, is that it IS used in order to make fat people, and fat disabled people in particular, feel that they have such a duty, and turn privileged people into enforcers.

    Not to mention that there are so many issues with the BMI from a scientific point of view. It doesn’t take into account muscular or bone mass or water retention, for example – so very athletic skinny people will often clock in as “overweight.”

    I’m skinny due to a chronic illness, and I have an extremely unhealthy diet because I am incapable of digesting fruits and vegetables properly. Making the leap from fat -> poor diet and skinny -> good diet is a leap of faith.

    But most of all, people’s bodies and their health are nobody’s business but their own.

  48. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm |

    BMI categories correlate really strongly with a lot of things (including various health outcomes), so I’m fine with them existing, but I imagine that more precise measurements of body fat, fat intake, weight distribution, etc. might correlate even more strongly with some or all of these outcomes. (I don’t actually know…) Not to mention that “correlation” != “causation” by any stretch of the imagination. Thinking of possible 3rd variables is trivially easy, although testing them is trickier.

    But as for the categories’ names — OMG does BMI need some serious rebranding. “Over” and “under”weight and “morbidly” obese all have value judgments built right into the title. (Plain old “obese” has come to mean “anything I think is tooooo fat” as well, now.) Of course labels like that seduce people (including doctors) into thinking about the categories as innately or personally meaningful when they aren’t. It’s much better to treat these categories as statistically important but value-neutral measurements — they should have much more boring names, and be treated as exactly the not-at-all-personally-exciting groupings they are.

    And I should get back to work too. ^^;

  49. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable September 1, 2010 at 11:00 pm |

    Roxy: Heart disease is the #1 killer for women, but feminists don’t seem to care.

    Wait, what? Who said no one cares about heart disease? I’m pretty sure we can talk about how to address heart disease without being like “fat people rarely jog.”

    To all commenters – I have thin privilege and have had an eating disorder at least partially because I internalized a lot of fat phobia growing up. I’m still trying to unlearn these issues (especially because I really dislike how much I can contribute to the hurt of overweight people), and this comment train is incredibly helpful. I am very sorry you have been triggered by this post, but want to thank you for getting through to someone who is working on their issues.

  50. cathy
    cathy September 1, 2010 at 11:00 pm |

    “BMI was attributed to “laziness” as if scientists had all just collectively said “fuck it!” and didn’t give a damn about their research” Actually, I think it is a result of adjusting the science to suit already existing social heirarchies and standards of beauty. Despite the fact that it has been shown over and over again that BMI does not give an accurate measure of body fat percentage, that it is standardized based on white, western, cis males, that it is used primarily as social policing, that there is no evidence that it gives a better indication of population fatness than older height/weight charts, that BMI is not a good predictor for health problems, that BMI is not a good predictor for mortality, etc., people continue to ignore the flaws and treated it like the greatest thing since sliced bread. That level of deliberate self deception and ignorance isn’t the result of laziness, it is the result of prejudice. BMI is the same sort of bad science that gave us ice-pick lobotomies, lysol douches, and scientific racism-the kind that arises from a group absorbed in bigotry and privilege wanting to perpetuate its bigotry and privilege. This kind of body policing and sexism isn’t accidental, it is a tactic of the privileged against the unprivileged (also, btw, surprise, surprise, BMI hits poor women harder, in part because they do more physical labour and hence have more muscle on average).

  51. Johanna
    Johanna September 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm |

    Fuck you, Monica. Fuck your arrogant tone and FUCK your dismissive attitude.

    “I’m always an asshole” is NO excuse for body shaming. I’m astounded at how you can call yourself a feminist. I can’t believe feministe would allow this shit.

    Maybe feministe isn’t the site for me then, huh.

  52. G.D.
    G.D. September 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm |

    That’s why the convention weight/health connection is so incredibly, dangerously wrong. It means that people with no risks factors are being subject to brutal completely unnecessary surgeries that kill them at rates higher than that of open-heart surgery. It also means that people with serious health problems are denied care because it assume their health is related to their weight. It even allows thin people to go undiagnosed with genetic health issues that our fatphobic culture thinks of as a punishment for fatness.

    when you read stuff like this, it’s hard to miss the race and class blinders people have on when it comes to movements Healthy At Any Size. There aren’t poor folks dying because of bariatric surgeries, and the staggering whiteness of the pictures on Kate Harding’s BMI Project slideshow are also fairly telling.

    the way fat-shaming plays out for white women is markedly different than it plays out for nonwhite women. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen in communities of color, but it definitely has a different texture to it.

    And yet. black women are much more likely to be considered obese than white women, and twice as likely to die from heart diseases or strokes, two diseases that correlate pretty closely with obesity. That isn’t because they’re being discriminated against by fatphobic doctors, because they’re less likely to have doctors and medical care in the first place.

    it seems like what HAAS folks are trying to do is move too far the other way, to argue that obesity is unrelated to those things. it’s an attempt to untether the social stigma from obesity by going after the science around it. But as both the OP and other commenters have noted, BMI is a limited tool, but plenty of health researchers — including those concerned about issues of stigma — will argue that it has an important, if limited and qualified, role to play in discussions of public health.

  53. isidore
    isidore September 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm |

    I thought that the guest blogging would be an opportunity to hear from people with other identities that intersect with feminism which are so often overlooked on this site. Instead we get this post on an -ism where the writer clearly fails to grasp even the basic 101 principles. Don’t these articles have to be approved by the editors before they go up? Because this is shameful.

    Also, I know lots and lots of fat athletes, and lots of thin people who couldn’t run a block without wheezing. They are not outliers.

  54. toto
    toto September 1, 2010 at 11:05 pm |

    I think there’s a societal problem where women who are not carrying 30, 40, 80 extra pounds of fat are demonized as being “fat”.

    However, if you’re carrying 80+ pounds of extra fat, maybe you should stop eating a whole pizza at a sitting, and exercise. That exhaustion you feel when you walk up 3 flights of stairs isn’t shame. It’s your body telling you you’re eating too much. Likewise if the ground shakes when you walk.

  55. Rebecca
    Rebecca September 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm |

    This post is so disappointing. I expect a lot from Feministe and this was incredibly offensive, smug, and fat hating. Stopping the policing and shaming of deviant bodies is a feminist issue, but this post just wholeheartedly regurgitated the non-feminist, mainstream view of how to talk this topic

    There are so many things wrong with this post, but let’s just start with the final paragraph: “At the same time, I hope a doctor would tell me if I’ve put on too much weight and it should cause concern. That’s what doctors are for. Counseling you on the health risks of, whatever. Weight can signal a lack of activity or too many donuts, and that shouldn’t irk anyone. Yet, it does.”

    Much as we may wish they did, doctors don’t work from a place that is strictly evidence based and they don’t exist outside of our culture, a culture that hates fat people and constantly says that you can read the health of a person on their body. Doctors are just as prone as everyone else (maybe more so) to attribute health problems to a factor they can see, instead of actually figuring out what the problem is. Also, stating that you think fat is caused just by eating too much or not enough activity means you have bought completely in to the idea there is one right body and we can all control whether or not we fit in to that body type perfectly. There are lots of reasons people are fat, do some work to learn about them. Read the blogs other people have linked to, and please stop responding to comments in such an obnoxious offensive way.

    Feministe, you should be ashamed of yourself for putting up this post.

  56. G.D.
    G.D. September 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm |

    cathy: (also, btw, surprise, surprise, BMI hits poor women harder, in part because they do more physical labour and hence have more muscle on average).  

    hey, could you provide a link to this?

  57. toto
    toto September 1, 2010 at 11:19 pm |

    I hate most of all the way it tempts us fatties into to going down a self-destructive path of good fattie/bad fattie, and one that is also destructive to other fat people. What I ate today is none of your business or the business.

    No, but by the fact that you’re eating more calories than you’re using, you’re defacto taking food from people that are going to starve to death.

    There’s two categories here: Women who feel societal pressure to be skeletons, and women who are carrying a lot of stored calories, who are consuming food that other people need to live, for no good reason. America is the fattest country in the world, because we can be. How am I supposed to feel about that?

  58. shhhk
    shhhk September 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm |

    one more question, I promise:

    what the fuck is wrong with you

  59. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable September 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm |

    toto: However, if you’re carrying 80+ pounds of extra fat, maybe you should stop eating a whole pizza at a sitting, and exercise. That exhaustion you feel when you walk up 3 flights of stairs isn’t shame. It’s your body telling you you’re eating too much. Likewise if the ground shakes when you walk.  

    Can someone please explain to me how when every one of my comments gets kicked to moderation, this shit is allowed to pass through?

  60. Collie
    Collie September 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm |

    Well, after this childish display, I will no longer have any of the “big” feminist blogs in my feedreader, and I can’t say I’m at all sad about it. Monica, you may be a feminist, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t also a bigot.

  61. casey
    casey September 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm |

    Poor women die of heart disease, cancer and stroke, whether you want to believe it or not.

    Someone please explain to me how the fuck it is so hard to care about women’s health issues without being A RAGING FATPHOBE. Monica, you have CLEARLY crossed many lines here. I am honestly more incensed that you are making this about you, and oh bawwwww meany fat acceptance feminists on the internet want to take away my feminist card!

    You obviously didn’t read very much or study very hard when you googled fat acceptance. Please learn your shit, fatphobia is an INSTITUTIONALIZED FORM OF DISCRIMINATION AND OPPRESSION. And you are perpetuating it, whether you want to admit it or not.

  62. Rebecca
    Rebecca September 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm |

    I never said you weren’t a feminist. I wasn’t talking about your identity. I said this is a feminist issue and deserves to be thought about in a way that isn’t uninformed or hateful. It deserves to be talked about in a way that doesn’t further the cause of policing deviant bodies. I said I expected better of Feministe, and your comment only cemented that feeling.

    “Poor women die of heart disease, cancer and stroke, whether you want to believe it or not. They die because they don’t have medical care at all.”

    I agree, and fat shaming has only made it harder for poor women to access good medical care or even good public health information. The BMI isn’t helping anyone get medical care, nor is talking about how people who are fat are lazy and eat too much. That’s hateful, but posted in what is barely disguised as concern for other women.

  63. Anne Bonney
    Anne Bonney September 1, 2010 at 11:32 pm |

    Roxy: Americans live busy lives and have little time for cooking, etc etc etc. There are always a million reasons to say no to making healthful dinners and yes to the $5 burger. And we all do it from time to time.

    But only the ones who have “proof” of their poor eating habits hanging around their “expanding waistlines” are obligated to account for their diet and exercise regimens publicly and submit themselves to the scrutiny of both well-meaning and hateful strangers.

    Roxy, in #47 you raise a valuable question and then immediately shut down any honest answer. In most conversations about obesity and health today, it is impossible to separate out what is meant to be shaming and what is actually constructive concern for larger public health issues; we hardly have language to discuss fat without it being automatically stigmatized and vilified.
    Your points about bad foods and eating habits aren’t without scorn or shaming.

    And truthfully, those conversations do happen, where people, both fat and thin, feel comfortable honestly discussing these highly-charged aspects of their lives without being judged and made to feel like examples of horrible deathfatties who are dragging down the life expectancy of the entirety of a population with their selfish, selfish potatoes. In other words, constructive conversation can occur where nobody thinks the admirable goal of good health overrides anyone’s right to make (even bad) choices about their own body without scandalized tsking and shrieking about how benighted they are. I.e., not here, not tonight.

  64. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable September 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm |

    Maybe you can comment on this because I think a few of us have had questions about it. All of my comments are posted with a sign saying something that I might be paraphrasing: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” In the past few nights, it’s taken up to a few hours to go up as visible to everyone – tonight I’m getting that message but it’s getting dropped pretty fast. I just assumed all comments were going through moderation and getting approved and tonight happened to be a quicker night than others (that is, maybe there’s a mod who is available to approve comments tonight).

    If this isn’t the case, I apologize for being all wtf re: comment approval, but do hope that maybe someone can strike toto’s comments from this thread. There’s a difference, IMO, between accidentally offending someone and learning from it and what toto’s doing which is just trolling. Or being an asshole. To be honest, I don’t really know the difference between the two.

  65. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm |

    GD @ 54: I really like your comment. That’s the basis for a lot of my leeriness around ever-so-slightly-woo-full ideas like HAES — it’s the trend towards outright dismissing research/results you don’t like rather than analyzing them or seeking to refine them.

    You don’t have to be anti-science to be anti-oppression; in fact, it’s hard to be effective in either science or social justice without an understanding of the both. I don’t want ideological passions obscuring good* science in any direction, no matter how well-intentioned.

    (Gah. Totally lied about getting back to work… In all fairness, this is very peripherally related to stuff a coworker is looking at right now. That’s my excuse. ^^)

    *I know there is more than a little crappy science about this topic, as well as a ton of science-ish sounding bull. That doesn’t mean there is no good science.

  66. Jadey
    Jadey September 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm |

    Can someone please explain to me how when every one of my comments gets kicked to moderation, this shit is allowed to pass through?  

    I’ve been on total mod for the last few weeks at least and I’ve noticed a few other people mention it too – I feel like the site policy or modding protocol has changed? I’m getting the feeling that all comments are modded now.

    As for comments being released, I’ve seen it explained in other threads that guest posters mod their own threads for the most part.

    Re: problems of intersectionality in FA and HAES, yes. Absolutely, yes. And I apologize that the visual example I had on hand reflected this, but it is very much an issue.

    Honestly, I think the BMI debate is largely a red herring. The BMI would be a hell of a lot less problematic in a social context that did not so badly abuse it, but that’s not the context we have. In this way, there are a lot of similarities to IQ tests – a flawed (what isn’t?) but not entirely useless instrument with a history of stigma, shaming, discrimination, and abuse such as to render them inappropriate, inflammatory, and prone to further misuse.

    The original post is still full of crap and misinformation, and it breaks my heart. Monica, angry snark aside, I actually think you are amazing and was very much looking forward to your next post here. I shared those links for a reason – they are genuinely excellent resources. I hope you are able to read them.

  67. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable September 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm |

    ** on second reading, was it sarcasm? If so, apologies to toto and to all for my derail. I suppose I applied the tone I was expecting.

  68. Shoshie
    Shoshie September 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm |

    I actually think that’s more attributable to the poverty itself.  

    I am privileged enough to have very good health insurance. This meant that I was able to go to 4 or 5 different doctors before I found 1 that would treat me as a person with medical concerns, not just a fat body that needed fixing. If I had to pay out of pocket, I wouldn’t have been able to find a doctor to meet my needs. I just wouldn’t have had the money.

    These are interrelated issues! Stop shutting down the conversation with your heavy-handed ignorance! You say that you’re a feminist, but you are hurting women. Please stop.

  69. Watch the Toes
    Watch the Toes September 1, 2010 at 11:44 pm |

    Wow… classy Monica, classy…

    I was about to get on the defensive, but then I read annalouise’s (first, I think) comment and realized just how right she was.

    I mean, who the fuck are you that I need to defend my size, my eating habits, and my exercise regiments to, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy they may be. My size does absolutely nothing to hurt you or affect your daily life, and if it offends your senses, well than that’s just your fucking problem.

    Would you write a post about group such as rape victoms or survivors of domestic violence that essencially says, “Well, I know “some” of you didn’t do anything wrong, buuuutttt…. lots of you brought this shit on yourself, so as an entire group, all of you should just suck it up and change.” I sure as hell would hope not. Because that’s essentially what this post was.

    I have no problem reading about fat issues on a feminist site, but for God sake, atleast dive into the real issues surrounding what’s causing people to become more and more fat – medical issues, lack of money to buy healthier foods, a society that makes shitty foods too convenient and makes it mandatory to be sedentary for 40 hours a week so that we can make money to live, the entire health industry that tries and sells us the miracle pill to lose weight but ends up killing our endocrine systems, the FDA allowing all this steroids to get fed to our livestock, etc. Don’t just state the age-old cliche – “Wow, fat people really should lose weight because they’d be so much “healthier”.” It’s just lazy writing (so wow… by your logic you give in your article, you must be a fat fat fattie…)

    Also, if we wanted to read about way to get healthier, because believe it or not becoming healthier is a goal for many people of all sizes, we’d go to, oh I don’t know, a website that is specifically for health advice…

    And oh, that “apology” with the flippant remark about “I’m an asshole, so sue me” (paraphrased) to explain your tone problems (and honestly, the tone of this piece was the least of your problems, it was the whole damn content of it) – yeah… go fuck yourself and don’t come back until you have a genuine apology and realize how hateful this piece was. I would also suggest to Jill and Cara and the gang to not only respond to this mess, but also kick Monica off the panel of guest bloggers. She’s not being subversive, she’s being hateful.

    To all the others who have rallied against this post – thank you. Our lives and choices shouldn’t be dissected just because society wants everyone to fit into these square pegs. Nobody’s weight is their worth, and I hope someday society can see that.

  70. Rebecca
    Rebecca September 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm |

    Seriously? Did you think I was saying fat shaming is THE reason poor women don’t have access to good medical care? That’s just an obnoxious response, and “I’m generally an asshole” isn’t an excuse, it’s bullying.

  71. evil fizz
    evil fizz September 1, 2010 at 11:50 pm | *

    Pretty Amiable, I just checked the spam and mod queues and everything looks like it’s moving along okay. Since I’m not part of the regular crew and this isn’t my thread, I’m not doing any moderation, but I can at least assure you that there’s no tech issue.

  72. Anne Bonney
    Anne Bonney September 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm |

    I actually think that’s more attributable to the poverty itself.  

    You actually have shown that you are in no way unbiased in this issue. We saw it in the original post, and you confirmed it when you admitted you “disagree vehemently” with fat acceptance. It is possible to not agree with FA or HAES for non-bigoted reasons, but you haven’t given us any indication that that’s true for you.

    As for poverty, of course it is an impediment to health care access, and good arguments can be made that it is more of a barrier than fatphobia. That doesn’t mean there is no such thing as fat people who don’t get adequate health care because of that prejudice.

    You want to focus on any given problem (like poverty and healthy) and find solutions, good, go for it. But that’s not the post you wrote. Bringing it up now is pure misdirection, and you’re basically a Walter Sobchak: you’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.

  73. Tasha Fierce
    Tasha Fierce September 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm |

    Wow, the fact that this is on Feministe is amazing and extremely disappointing. I definitely won’t be supporting the author’s other projects and unless Jill or the OP or someone issues an apology I don’t think I’m coming back to Feministe. This is more than offering “different viewpoints”. This is just bigotry masked in concern trolling and self-righteous fat shaming. What’s worse, I’m sure the author thinks her post was witty and well written, when clearly it is not — it simply relies on fear of fat and a dose of fat stereotypes/puns to provide its humor.

    Hell fuckin’ no.

  74. Lasciel
    Lasciel September 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm |

    “No, but by the fact that you’re eating more calories than you’re using, you’re defacto taking food from people that are going to starve to death.”

    I lol’d. Oops, I’ve consumed 50 more calories than I needed today! Better call the police cause I’ve murdered a hungry child somewhere. If only I’d saved that soda for tomorrow… a child’s life would’ve been saved. Except, yanno, you can both live in poverty and be obese. (Plus, you know, everyone has instantaneous knowledge of how much calories they need to consume daily)

    “””However, if you’re carrying 80+ pounds of extra fat, maybe you should stop eating a whole pizza at a sitting, and exercise. That exhaustion you feel when you walk up 3 flights of stairs isn’t shame. It’s your body telling you you’re eating too much. Likewise if the ground shakes when you walk. -toto””””

    And you’re little remark about how being 80+ pounds over some arbitrary standard means you make the ground shake. I make the ground shake. And if I lost 80lbs, I’d be quite underweight and probably in need of hospitalization. My sis thinks I walk so noisily because I put my heel down hard first. I’m forbidden from walking around once everyone else has gone to bed because of my stomping. IDK, but my mom weighs 240 and walks like a fucking ninja. You never hear her coming. I’ve also never eaten a whole pizza in one sitting, so I’m not sure what that has any connection with walking loudly…

    But you might want to make it a little more obvious that you’re joking toto. Some people might take what you’re saying as being serious.

    And Monica… I didn’t catch the “I’m always an asshole” line of yours, but I will give you some sage advice: assholes on the internet are a dime a dozen, hell a dime a dozen thousands. Gotta bring something to the table other than being able to act like a jerk.

  75. thedrymock
    thedrymock September 1, 2010 at 11:58 pm |

    Plenty of people have quite rightly pointed out how fucked up it is, in many different ways, to claim that “there’s not an epidemic of fat runners out there.” But you know what else? “Epidemics” are bad things. I assume you didn’t consciously intend to associate the idea of a bunch of fat people exercising with things like malaria, cholera, and smallpox, but, uh, your Freudian slip is showing. In fact, that one little off-handed comment is like a microcosm of the entire fat-hating mindset: The explicit claim that most fat people don’t exercise, which requires the assumption that fat people who don’t exercise in obvious ways and in public never exercise at all; the further embedded assumption that fat people who don’t exercise [in public] are simply lazy and not prevented from doing so for legitimate reasons (e.g. health conditions which aren’t caused by their weight; assholes harassing them or refusing to let them join gyms; et motherfucking cetera) — and then to cap it all off, the extremely telling word choice suggesting that a bunch of fat people exercising would be tantamount to a fatal disease decimating the population. In other words, I think I got bingo three times just in that one sentence.

  76. LizardOC
    LizardOC September 2, 2010 at 12:01 am |

    A poorly conceived and poorly written post, alas. The author’s understanding of the issues is shallow at best, and her responses to various commenters indicate that she’s not particularly interested in moving beyond that. (I get the sense, perhaps wrongly, that she’s congratulating herself for sparking a lively discussion rather than examining why her words have hurt so many readers.) Feministe’s standards are usually much higher.

  77. BHuesca
    BHuesca September 2, 2010 at 12:02 am |

    Wow, never have I seen such disrespect towards a guest blogger- especially after the Feministe editors were very specific in advance that diverse perspectives would be offered. Feministe commentariat, I’m ashamed of you.

  78. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp September 2, 2010 at 12:05 am |

    Really, Feministe? Really? I understand that you peeps like to host discussions from a variety of perspectives, but blatant sizeism and dismissive thin privilege? I expected better.

  79. Johanna
    Johanna September 2, 2010 at 12:08 am |

    BHuesca: Wow, never have I seen such disrespect towards a guest blogger- especially after the Feministe editors were very specific in advance that diverse perspectives would be offered. Feministe commentariat, I’m ashamed of you.  

    Of course, why wouldn’t we welcome body shaming opinions on a feminist blog? There’s just no reason for such offensive comments expressing one’s own hurt feelings.

  80. April
    April September 2, 2010 at 12:11 am |

    Monica, I’ve been looking for a way to respond to this post privately, but have had little help in finding your contact information, even after extensive Googling.

    I think that you worded some parts off this post callously, but that you did so with sound logic and honorably intentions. I appreciate your post, and think that the naysayers should attempt seeing your perspective before deciding that you are the devil.

  81. Mandolin
    Mandolin September 2, 2010 at 12:11 am |

    Can we have those “report to moderator” links back so I can report this post?

  82. April
    April September 2, 2010 at 12:12 am |

    *honarablE intentions.

  83. Mandolin
    Mandolin September 2, 2010 at 12:13 am |

    “Wow, never have I seen such disrespect towards a guest blogger- especially after the Feministe editors were very specific in advance that diverse perspectives would be offered.”

    Yes, poor privileged blogger. Those mean fatties should be ashamed for being both fat and not taking bigoted comments quietly. I mean, if we’re going to be fat, we could at least *shut up* about it while the thin people are talking.

  84. Rebecca
    Rebecca September 2, 2010 at 12:17 am |

    This post makes me love the commenters. Go commenters! You consistently have such smart, thoughtful responses to a badly informed, hateful post that is pretending it’s about caring for women! You’re so good at calling Monica on her hypocrisy, like when she suddenly cares about poverty and access to medical care, when the original post just blamed everything on bad personal choices instead of examining any larger factors. I love the commenters.

    And I’ll second that this isn’t just offering a different opinion, this is surprisingly hateful and I’m hoping for an apology from the main writers too.

  85. Everett Maroon
    Everett Maroon September 2, 2010 at 12:27 am |

    All I know is I want some doughnuts now. This article is bunk. I’m 300+ pounds but ever since I had a sex change, my doctors don’t lecture me about my weight. What the hell is THAT about?
    That shit is called privilege. That’s what you have, Monica.

  86. April
    April September 2, 2010 at 12:32 am |


    A poorly conceived and poorly written post, alas. The author’s understanding of the issues is shallow at best, and her responses to various commenters indicate that she’s not particularly interested in moving beyond that. (I get the sense, perhaps wrongly, that she’s congratulating herself for sparking a lively discussion rather than examining why her words have hurt so many readers.) Feministe’s standards are usually much higher.

    I’m glad this ended up on Feministe. The author outed herself as an asshole, so what’s with the beef? For some strange reason, people decide their ‘feminist values’ based on pop culture and mass media. We at ethecofem don’t relate to that; try harder. Dear mainstream connoisseurs of media, get with it. We’re either equal, or we’re not.

    The end.

  87. notemily
    notemily September 2, 2010 at 12:34 am |

    To Roxy and LB:

    I don’t see what weight or size has to do with your concerns. There might be a CORRELATION between average level of fatness and average health, but so fucking what?

    I’m being absolutely serious here. If the problem is that fatness is correlated to health problems, then DEAL WITH THE HEALTH PROBLEMS. If the problem is that people eat junk, then DEAL WITH PEOPLE EATING JUNK. The ONLY reason to bring body size into it is for shaming. If eating better and exercising will make people healthier, it will do so REGARDLESS of body size.

    Especially since, as Kate Harding and others have pointed out time and time again, nobody knows how to make people lose weight. There is no reliable method for losing weight and keeping it off in the long term. And we KNOW that thin people can be just as unhealthy as fat people. So why the fuck would you suggest that if every fat person just somehow stopped being fat, their health would magically get better? Why not focus on the health issues instead of the fat? If you want to eat healthier, do so. If you want to exercise more, do so. Whether you lose weight or not is irrelevant to everything but your wardrobe.

    (By the way, Roxy, having a disability doesn’t preclude you from ableism any more than being a woman means you can never say anything sexist.)

  88. Holly
    Holly September 2, 2010 at 12:36 am |

    The BMI was normed on young white insurance holders.

  89. Mama Mia
    Mama Mia September 2, 2010 at 12:37 am |

    When my friend took her 5 year old for her annual check up with the pediatrician, the doc told her that the 5 year old was at risk for obesity based on her BMI and she should cut back on treats. She said this in front of the child. My friend is actually kind of overboard on NOT allowing treats.

    I told my husband that the doc was concerned about the 5yos weight, and he said he always knew she was too skinny, and he has been concerned about that, too. He wasn’t being ironic or sarcastic- we have both always thought this child is underweight.

    Fortunately, our pediatrician was better, but BMI was still pointed out to us about our active, healthy, normal looking kid.

    Doctors DO use the BMI about specific people.

  90. whatsername
    whatsername September 2, 2010 at 12:37 am |

    totoThat exhaustion you feel when you walk up 3 flights of stairs isn’t shame. It’s your body telling you you’re eating too much.

    No it’s not, it’s your body telling you you’re out of shape, and that doesn’t necessarily have ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with your weight.

    I would know, because I have a precisely healthy BMI and am by most people’s definitions “thin” if not “skinny” and after three flights of stairs I’m winded.

    If I lost “80 pounds” I would probably DIE. And that’s not hyperbolic. But I am also not in great shape and that’s a fact.

    This is the whole problem with equating weight with health, it’s quite simply NOT AN EFFECTIVE MEASUREMENT TO GENERALIZE WITH. Which is something both the original post and you and quite a few other commenters as well as lots of people in the lives of fat people do.

    Quite simply, OUR BODIES ARE UNIQUE and an unhealthy amount of weight on one body is not going to be an unhealthy amount of weight on another body.

    If we really want to talk about health, weight shouldn’t even come into it.


    Because if a person has healthy habits, and their body is carrying weight it considers “extra” it will go away. If that person with healthy habits’ weight DOESN’T go away then their body thinks it needs it, so let’s assume that’s correct!

    The far more important question, imo, is: do we as individuals and as a population HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHY HABITS?

    Cuz you know, what I see, is that MOST of us don’t. Really don’t. We’re too goddamned tired to put in the WORK (and it is work) to make 3 healthy meals a day. We’ve not got any time to spare to just take a walk or go to the gym. And we’re too goddamned poor to go to the co-op or the localvore restaurant instead of McDonald’s.

    These are STRUCTURAL issues, and isn’t that what we as feminists are supposed to be concerned with? Instead of just class and/or fat shaming individuals for “letting themselves go”?

  91. RJ
    RJ September 2, 2010 at 12:38 am |

    The last time I checked, regurgitating the same bigoted, body-policing, fact-ignoring sermons reminiscent of trolls in dire need of a 101 education on oppression is not a “diverse perspective”. It’s the same shit the kyriarchy throws at us every day.

  92. isidore
    isidore September 2, 2010 at 12:39 am |

    Monica: I greatly resent the idea that I’m not a feminist because I don’t tow the line on the fat acceptance movement. […] The idea that worrying about women’s health in a way that acknowledges that obesity correlates with diseases that kill women and that fat acceptance may actually harm them — because despite the fact that posters are operating under the belief I’m unaware of the movement I’m actually very much aware, and disagree vehemently with it — is anti-feminist, is really offensive to me.

    I was trying to be polite when I assumed you were ignorant of the fat acceptance movement and not just someone who hates fat people. But in that case, why does a post about fat hatred belong on a feminist website? And don’t say because it helps women.

    One of the core principles behind fat acceptance is that there is no overwhelming scientific evidence that obesity correlates with disease, outside of extreme obesity. Also, that women receive substandard healthcare because of their weight and are driven to diets which don’t work and are proven to cause health problems.

    And if you’re offended by us questioning your feminism, then how did think your fat readers would not be offended by you suggesting we’re just in denial about the number of doughnuts we’ve been eating and that we aren’t receiving subpar healthcare because you as one person have never had that happen to them? But we should just shut up about it because of rape! starvation! slave labor! (Classic response – maybe you should re-read feminisim 101.) If those issues are so much more important, then you should have written a post about them instead of hating on fat people.

  93. Maia
    Maia September 2, 2010 at 12:40 am |

    [Note I have posted this twice, as while it was sitting in moderation I noticed that I hadn’t finished one of my sentances could hte mods please delete that other post]

    Wow Jezebel is too fat accepting for you?

    What I find most ridiculous about this post is how inane it is. There are lots of very long detailed arguments about the ridiculousness of writing about the way health and fat are linked in debates, and about the problematic ways health of individuals are treated as public property (not usually on Jezebel). I get that people disagree – and some people can construct arguments about that. However, my doctor doesn’t use the BMI in a way that there is heaps of documententation that lots of doctor’s use the BMI is not an argument. Let alone an argument that justifies the conclusion that fat people just need to put down the donuts.

    For example:

    The BMI is a useful indicator of the prevalence of illness in society, and that’s really important.

    Could you at least make an arugment, or provide any evidence of this. Rather than just state it. What is the illness in society that the BMI is a useful indicator of?

  94. notemily
    notemily September 2, 2010 at 12:41 am |

    toto: No, but by the fact that you’re eating more calories than you’re using, you’re defacto taking food from people that are going to starve to death.


    Yes, because the distribution of food is SO EQUAL in this world and everyone would get as much food as they need IF IT WASN’T FOR THOSE DAMN FATTIES. Christ.

  95. Mishi
    Mishi September 2, 2010 at 12:45 am |

    I was just wondering if you were aware from your high tower of fat shaming and OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA -ing that the health risks associated with ‘obesity’ are actually more closely related to yo-yo dieting and the rapid losing and gaining of weight over a period of, let’s say, 5 years (because 90%+ of the people who lose weight from dieting will gain it back within 5 years) where-as fat-bodied people who practice health at every size over that time period have actually seen an increase in their health from blood pressure to cholesterol, etc.?

    Just wondering.

    (source for this would be lessons from the fat-o-sphere, my copy is not with me right now so I can’t look up the research at the moment)

  96. Lillian Behrendt
    Lillian Behrendt September 2, 2010 at 12:47 am |


  97. Nora
    Nora September 2, 2010 at 12:51 am |

    “Points about the tone are well taken, fwiw. I’m always a [s?]lightly assholish, but it’s not particular to any topic. -Monica”

    I have no idea who you are (guess I must have skipped over your intro post), but you should know that when you belittle and mock marginalized people, your assholish behavior is experienced as oppression.

    Intelligent conversations about fat and health are worthwhile (and EVERYWHERE! What kind of research were you doing that you find one?), but your post amounts to little more than some blathering on about your own thin privilege* and a few fat jokes. Did you even read this before you posted it?

    *It’s a pretty obvious logical fallacy to say that no one has experienced harassment solely due to their weight, simply because *you* haven’t experienced harassment because of your weight.

  98. Roxie
    Roxie September 2, 2010 at 12:52 am |

    Wow, Monica. I’m struggling to be civil here and not insult your person, even though you have insulted mine with your condescending ignorance.

    Crap, did I just fail? Honestly, this post is as bad as an MRA troll or someone who has had no racism 101 reading. Your post & responses lack any sort of thought or research or consideration for anyone’s feelings or experiences. You fail to respond to any points or links that actually address your argument.

    I want to point you to things that would correct your ignorance, but that’s already been done (and you’ve given no indication that you give a shit or have any intent to read them), so all I’m running on are fumes of anger. I really don’t know how you fixed your fingers to type such hateful, stereotypical, insensitive, ignorant mess.

    I mean did you want to be ally with HAES or anything similar? Cause this post is chock full of fail just as the banana chocolate donut I had the other day was full of awesome.

    Oh, you have an assholish tone? Oh! OH! So I just misunderstood you then? Cause this is just how you are all of the time? I should just lighten up? Right? Fatty can’t take a joke!

  99. iiii
    iiii September 2, 2010 at 12:55 am |

    Monica, I’ll put this another way.

    You know those proselytisers who show up in the comment threads over at Pharyngula and Venganza and such? The ones who seem convinced that the only reason a person could fail to accept Christ in her heart is that person has literally never once heard the Word, and so explain and re-explain doctrine as though talking to naughty children? The ones who react so badly when informed that many of the regulars spent decades singing in the choir, can recite Scripture backward and forward, and still have rejected the Christian version of Salvation? Who can’t seem to wrap their minds around the reality that they aren’t informing the ignorant, but are in fact just annoying the apostate?

    That’s you.

    Your facts aren’t facts. They’re articles of faith drawn from drug company press releases dressed up as journalism.

    Please, take this opportunity to do some reading, do some thinking, and maybe chip away a little at your ignorance.

  100. Camie
    Camie September 2, 2010 at 1:23 am |

    You know what? This post is fatphobic bullshit. YES, all human beings should have health care. But how does a fat-shaming post contribute to this better world?

    Two of the women dearest to me in my life— my girlfriend and a beloved friend— are polar opposites on the body spectrum. My girlfriend is a gorgeous size 0. My friend is a beautiful size 18. The difference between them? My girlfriend has Chron’s disease. Yes, you made the token protest “oh, well, thin doesn’t always equal healthy,” but it does for most everyone in America. No one is going to shame my girlfriend for treating herself to In and Out Burger, but my dear friend who weighs quite a bit more will (and has) get muttered at.

    The solution to getting all women health care is not fat-shaming. Another friend has a hard time going to doctors (she’s disabled) because she knows she may get shamed and be treated for weight and not for the problem she came in for.

  101. RacyT
    RacyT September 2, 2010 at 1:30 am |

    “Feministe commentariat, I’m ashamed of you.”

    Wow. There have been times where I was saddened and upset by how guest bloggers were treated, but this is certainly not one of them. This post is so offensive, I can’t believe you were chosen to blog here. I think after five or so years I am done with this site. Really disappointing.

  102. Chally
    Chally September 2, 2010 at 1:50 am |

    There seems to be some confusion about Feministe moderation and posting protocol, so here are the facts again: guest posters are responsible for their own moderation, though we help out. Comments are often automatically sent to pending, where we have to manually deal with them, sometimes they are automatically published. We do not review posts before they are posted, so it’s not a case of ‘Feministe publishing this,’ it is a case of us inviting people to blog for us.

    A personal note: I am not supposed to be moderating right now. I am having substantial personal issues. I am only here because someone called my attention to the thread and I knew no one else from the mod team would be here right now. I am going to be emailing Monica and I am sure we will all come to a resolution (I hope a satisfying one!) in the US morning. Your comments are unlikely to get through until US morning, unless someone else from the mod team arrives, as I have to go deal with my life stuff. I am sorry for this inconvenience and for the more general upset.

  103. KW
    KW September 2, 2010 at 1:57 am |

    As a fat feminist, never have I felt so out of place on a feminist website. I appreciate the fact that the owner’s of Feministe invite guest bloggers who don’t all present the same views and opinions, but this is terribly disappointing.

  104. Athansor
    Athansor September 2, 2010 at 2:00 am |

    I actually think that’s more attributable to the poverty itself.  

    Not always, I just don’t want the damned lecture from my gyn about how fucking fat I am at 171 lbs and 5’7″. That’s all. I am forty fucking three and my metabolism has been ruined by my medications. I need these meds to stay alive, so shut the fuck up. I eat 1100 calories a day and lose not one god-damned ounce. Damn, I must be a fucking disgusting pig. This post pisses me off more than anything I’ve ever seen on this site,

  105. Spacefall
    Spacefall September 2, 2010 at 2:10 am |

    I’m kind of surprised at all of the people who are hanging in the towel here because of one bad post. As for the original poster, well, it’s obvious her piece was in very poor taste and she’s wrong about a number of things, but she does sound quite a bit like *most* people who realize that there are problems with certain (possibly more extreme) parts of the FA movement, and don’t quite understand how to tackle the issue without causing offense. Clearly creating a way to discuss this rationally is an important goal, as this post proves.

    Diabetes runs in my mother’s family; diabetes, make no mistake, caused by eating way too much of the wrong kind of food, and never working it off. And they *are* fat. It does me no favours to pretend that fatness and ill-health aren’t ever correlated, as a few people upthread seem to want; if I start gaining weight around the middle, it’s not aesthetics I’m concerned about, it’s suffering from a devastating disease that has caused all manner of sad side effects in people I love. I am fully aware that many fat people are healthy and many thin people are not, but let’s not ignore correlation where it does exist.

    Actually, I think the most sensible take on the subject I have seen comes from Greta Christina; nobody should be judged or shamed or forced into a weight-loss plan they don’t choose, but at the same time we’ve got to acknowledge many of the things causing obesity in westerners are also causing serious and tragic health conditions.

  106. Corey
    Corey September 2, 2010 at 2:16 am |

    Mandolin: Yes, poor privileged blogger. Those mean fatties should be ashamed for being both fat and not taking bigoted comments quietly. I mean, if we’re going to be fat, we could at least *shut up* about it while the thin people are talking.  

    But the original post is about how BMI is not utterly useless (at the population level) even though it is of questionable value at the individual level. Monica is *not* condoning fat-shaming or endorsing people who misapply BMI to individuals (ignoring other, important factors). I would think that sentences like these make that clear: “I’m with people who argue that we shouldn’t focus solely on weight in public health debates, and that we should be talking about eating better and exercising as a way to promote health without reinforcing, intentionally or not, the notion that some body types are better than others.” (emphasis added) There’s also her earlier statement where she agrees that “of course” BMI is useless as a measure of personal health. So no one should be talking as if Monica thinks BMI is useful indicator for any *individual*.

    What’s so bigoted about arguing that weight is (sometimes!) the cause of negative health issues, so we should not consider weight irrelevant or BMI useless (at the population level!)? How is Monica trying to shame someone? When she says “Weight can signal a lack of activity or too many donuts, and that shouldn’t irk anyone. Yet, it does.” some commenters have taken that to mean “Put down the doughnut, fatty, and hit the treadmill!” But she writes “that shouldn’t irk anyone.” And why not? Because it’s not something we should shame people for! Why does it irk (many of) us anyway? Because we’ve been shamed by other people in the past! People who (wait for it) AREN’T MONICA! Do you have several conditions that prevent you from “eating healthy” or metabolizing calories the way that some other people do? Then, obviously, your weight issues aren’t directly connected to other negative health issues you might have. There’s no argument to be had there, at least not from (ANOTHER HUGE SURPRISE THAT WILL LEAVE ALL BUT THE STRONGEST AMONG US GASPING FOR BREATH)…Monica (!), mostly because her post was not about shaming fatties.

  107. Bri
    Bri September 2, 2010 at 2:17 am |

    Monica would you care to explain why you ‘vehemently’ disagree with the FA movement? I find your analysis and opinion to be superficial at best and bigoted at worst. Your privilege is showing in more ways than one (ie thinking that poverty is the only reason fat women won’t see a doctor) and your whole post is demeaning and patronising. Get a clue before you start spouting off about something you obviously have no idea about.

  108. Sarah
    Sarah September 2, 2010 at 2:40 am |

    Congrats, Monica! You are the Tool of the Patriarchy of the Week.

    Also, it is so heartening to see that most of the commenters aren’t having any of this shit.

  109. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan September 2, 2010 at 2:43 am |

    One of the core principles behind fat acceptance is that there is no overwhelming scientific evidence that obesity correlates with disease, outside of extreme obesity.

    This is kind of a meaningless statement, though. And, I think, representative of some of the problems I see with movements like FA (which I support on principle, generally)… particularly, an unwillingness to really dig into the science that exists. A core principle that flat out denies results that don’t sit well isn’t a movement I can fully get behind. I think there is substantial correlative evidence, at least in the opinion of most of the scientific community (“overwhelming” isn’t a very clear bar) and I’m not sure what you mean by “extreme obesity” — for some disease/health problems the risk increases as BMI does, so the risk that the population with BMI > 30 faces might be less than that of the population with BMI > 40 but it still all correlates and is significant.

    I’m being absolutely serious here. If the problem is that fatness is correlated to health problems, then DEAL WITH THE HEALTH PROBLEMS. If the problem is that people eat junk, then DEAL WITH PEOPLE EATING JUNK.

    Well… there is some evidence that fat itself can cause health problems. Fat cells engage in signaling and interact with the body just like any other cell, seems to be what scientists are finding now (it had been regarded as a sort of passive tissue previously) and research is starting to tease out some actual potentially causative relationships. Obesity is often not a person’s only/main health problem (or even much of a problem at all for a lot of individuals) but weight and fat can cause some problems (even just on the obvious fronts, such as mechanical joint strain, strain on airways, etc.)

    So, increasingly, it’s not just correlation. But none of this research is at the point where doctors can start making the wild leaps some of them are so fond of. And obviously none of this should reflect poorly on actual fat people, who are still people who just now maybe have slightly more complicated health problems/an extra factor when they do have health problems. It needs a lot of work before anyone even pretends they have some sort of definitive answer — none of it translates into actions that people should be scolded into taking.

    And none of it excuses this poorly written post!

  110. Amadi
    Amadi September 2, 2010 at 3:45 am |

    You know, I’ll accept it that there are objections, even a vehement objections, to the Fat Acceptance movement. And I’ll read critically and accept and debate in good faith when that objection is presented based on something more than “I don’t like it, people are too fat.”

    But that’s what this post boils down to. People are too fat and aren’t doing enough about being fat and need to be less fat, with some gratuitous insults thrown in, just for good measure. And yes, in case anyone was confused, “here’s not an epidemic of fat runners out there” and “too many donuts” are insults.

    This ignorance-born display of privilege, conflating causation and correlation, confusing Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size (which are not synonymous and clearly not understood by the author, or a number of subsequent commenters) is an act of bigotry and offense.

    It would be a very important (and wise) thing for the moderators to provide a substantial explanation of why this post was permitted to be published on the site.

  111. minna
    minna September 2, 2010 at 3:52 am |

    I’ve had doctors go from implying I have an ED to trying to get me to diet in the time between when I’ve walked into the room and when I’ve stepped off the scales. More than once.

    I have known far, far too many people whose health issues remained undiagnosed because that their doctors focussed so hard on the BMI number of their unfluctuating weight instead of the symptoms they were reporting. Or even worse, in the case of their weight fluctuating as a symptom, being told to either a) be glad they were losing it or b) just diet the gains away, with no further investigation.

    If you’ve never had doctors focus on your weight to the exclusion of all else, then I am glad for you. But yours is not the entire realm of human experience.

  112. QoT
    QoT September 2, 2010 at 4:27 am |

    The BMI is a useful indicator of the prevalence of illness in society, and that’s really important. Monica

    1. You are, in fact, completely wrong and any one of the many excellent links provided by previous commenters would serve to educate you. One suspects that getting educated on this topic isn’t high on your list of priorities.

    2. How sweet fucking dare you hide behind rape victims and other oppressed groups of women in your comment at #58. Are you fucking kidding?

    Look, it’s always really horrible to be called out on your privilege. And defensiveness is always the instinctive response. But you are seriously going to crack “large” puns and then say WELL SOME WOMEN GET RAPED SO HDU QUESTION MY FEMINIST CRED?

    I mean, I was *pondering* removing Feministe from my Google Reader after your post. After that bullshit? GONE.

  113. JustDucky
    JustDucky September 2, 2010 at 4:28 am |

    I hike up mountains on average once a month, walk EVERYWHERE, and bike regularly. I eat fresh veggies at every meal, am vegetarian, and drink the supposed requisite 64 ounces of water a day. I rarely, if ever, eat potato chips, candy, fast food, or soda.

    My cousin, on the other hand, sits on her ass all day, eats potato chips and drinks soda, and smokes. Exercise is a foreign word, and I don’t think she’s used her kitchen for more than leftover take-out storage in the eight months she’s been in her apartment.

    One of us has a BMI of 40.3.

    One of us has a BMI of 20.5.

    I’m not the skinny one.

    So explain to me why, when I go to the doctor (I don’t have insurance any more, so I go where I can afford, which is not the doctor that actually treats me like a human being), why weight is the only thing brought up? You’re wheezing? Lose weight. Back ache? Lose weight. Fatigued? Exercise more. Depressed? Lose weight AND exercise more.

    I think I get where you were going with this – Americans are getting fatter. Yup. They are. With the grocery store deserts and ease of access to McDonalds, along with damn near no money to get TO the grocery stores or buy healthy food, there’s a serious problem. Something that needs to be addressed, both by society at large, and governmental nutrition programs. But making the claim that ALL fat people are unhealthy; making the claim that “Weight can signal a lack of activity or too many donuts, and that shouldn’t irk anyone. Yet, it does,” seems as though you’re attributing the problem to two very simple issues when its really very complex.

    When I had my kind, compassionate doctor, and she took the time to talk to me, we talked at great length about the fat thing. All my blood tests came back well within where they were supposed to be. And I showed her pictures of me in my winter hiking gear, climbing a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. She pronounced me one of the healthiest patients she’s ever seen.

    Nothing’s changed but the doctor, and now my weight is the biggest problem I have – even after I showed up with my medical records from my previous clinic.

    Unfortunately, Monica, the attitude projected in your article, whether you intended it or not, came across as abrasive and completely unaware of the situations of a whole lot of larger people out there. And when the media constantly bombards you with messages of how unworthy and less-than-human you are because you don’t fit into the standard of beauty they’ve created, it’s no wonder hostilities run a little high on this topic. I’m certainly not one to question your feminism based on this issue, but I do question your credibility if you’re not willing/able to consider both sides of the equation before writing a post – especially one that, at least in the United States, tends to run closely with the issues feminism tends to address. I question your credibility if you’re not willing/able to answer criticism of your post with rational responses, understanding that this is a heated issue for people.

    (oh, and iiii: superplusgood for the Pharyngula analogy. <3)

  114. becca
    becca September 2, 2010 at 4:35 am |

    Normally I hate boohoo-you-offended-me-so-i’m-leaving sort of comment posts, but this is absurd. I await however this is handled in the morning with great anticipation.

    You know what the fascinating part about this comment thread is?* It really demonstrates how the irrational moral panic of the “obesity” epidemic is truly a bipartisan issue. On the traditional spatial model, all the conservatives bitch about self-control, with vaguely classist/racist/sexist insinuations about certain demographics, but on the other, the liberals and leftists argue that fatness demonstrates the gluttony of the modern west/late capitalism/whatever-catch-phrase-here. It’s particularly interesting that people are arguing for fat stigma on the basis of helping people of a lower socioeconomic class.

    I say interesting only in the sense that it is pretty abhorrent. Even if BMI in particular and weight in general do have some sort of relationship to health (I am not saying they are, just that other commentators have done that work already), the stigma that BMI is heavily implicated in does more harm than good. Fatness, and by extension the demonization of certain BMIs, has been linked to suicidal ideation and attempts in teenagers, decreased wages, decreased ability to find and retain a job, among many, many other measures of social exclusion. Doctors are more likely to dislike fat patients and minimize their time with them, thinking that consultations are a waste of time. I read a case of a man in England who for two decades was told he had to lose weight when he complained of abdominal pain, until the doctors finally realized he had a fifty-five pound tumor.

    There is this persistent narrative that we have to stigmatize people to make them healthier, which is like saying we should kill them, given the effects of it. And, given all the socio-economic effects of anti-fat sentiment, makes all the arguments about helping the poor through stigma particularly ridiculous.

    And don’t even get me starting on the problems of structuring social policy on the basis of a conception of health, a concept which is inherently normative and biopolitical. Jesus Christ, I thought this was supposed to be a progressive site or something. You’d think that this sort of shit was rocket science.

    *By the way, humor me: I’m an academic. I’m horribly offended at my shattered little piece of safe space, but at the same time, I can’t help but make analytical observations.

  115. The Voracious Vegan
    The Voracious Vegan September 2, 2010 at 4:41 am |


    I think this is time to bring out my tried and true FAT RANT –

    “So if you are one of those people who cluck and moan over fat people and their supposed ill health – shut up. You don’t know what you are talking about, and you sound pretty ignorant and obnoxious.”

  116. Work Out At Home And Get A Lean, Toned Body | Heavy Bag Stand

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