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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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18 Responses

  1. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    I’m a teaching assistant for a speech class at a US university, and for the persuasive speech round, I constantly get topics about eating healthier food and obesity from my exchange students. Most of these students are Chinese or Korean, though, and not the cultures identified in the article, so there’s probably different reasons for this trend (maybe an internalization of the US perception that Asians are always smaller and healthier than USians?)

    I let my students discuss health issues if it’s really important to them, but when they start focusing on obesity, I generally say, “Look around at your peers, the ones who will be hearing this speech. Are any of them obese?” Maybe we have one or two fat kids in the class (who will then feel targeted by this speech), but these are mostly white, skinny students. I don’t do as much as I could, like arguing with them over the true causes of obesity, the problems with BMI, the idea that fat =/= unhealthy because of the politics of being a TA, but at least this gets them thinking.

  2. Personal Failure
    Personal Failure March 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm |

    There is this bus driver that likes to opine about the “fat kids” as we pass the school (it pisses him off that it takes so long to get past the high school what with all the kids being dropped off. mind you, we have one high school for a city of 100,000, so the vast majority of the student body is not within reasonable walking distance, but I digress).

    There are a few kids that regularly take the bus that are overweight, and I always cringe when he starts in on “fat kids”. Well, today, one brave girl interrupted him and said, “Hey, fat girl right here, maybe you could wait to talk about me until I’m gone?”

    He did shut up.

  3. Mo
    Mo March 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm |

    I can’t even post a comment on that article, reading through the comments was making me sick. I noticed all the typical ideas coming through: if you work hard enough and actually care, you’ll lose weight. ZOMG, you’re gonna die early, in pain and alone! You’re gonna drive up my health care! You’re lazy and greedy and eat crap. etc.
    I find it interesting how many “overweight” people I know, myself included, that those descriptions don’t fit. But do they want to listen about how I’m 5 feet tall, 200 lbs, was vegetarian for 3 years, love hiking, and visit the doc 2x a year for necessary checkups? No. Do they want to hear about two of my dear friends who are taller AND easily twice my size and still go on 50-mile bicycle rides for FUN? No. Do they want to hear about my co-worker, the successful social worker who’s getting married to the man of her dreams this summer? No. Do they want to hear about my internet friend who’s a size 30, but that doesn’t bother her getting a degree, being an excellent writer, and working in a library? No. They only want to hear their own self-righteous narcissistic whining.

    Oh, and I’ve never spilled into someone’s airplane seat, I don’t smoke, I drink wine maybe twice a year, and I still look the 5 generations of stocky farmers on both sides of my family. So screw them and their obesity scare. They’re full of it.

  4. Jadey
    Jadey March 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm |

    I’m stuck on how annoyingly globalization is talked about in that article. I’m not going to argue that cultural imperialism doesn’t happen (and, hoo boy, medical imperialism *definitely* happens), but the way it gets talked about sometimes makes it sound like the cultures of other countries are just completely over-ridden and negated by whatever the US/the West thinks is cool rather than this being just one influence among many, and ignoring the way that cultural “exports” as it were are negotiated and adapted within other countries. Not to mention the plethora of local factors that also go into constructing and maintaining culture. Globalization needs to be talked about on the scale of all nations and culture groups, where the US is just one (albeit disproportionately powerful in some areas) cultural influence among many and trends are emerging based on all of these factors. Globalization isn’t just a big ole Product of the USA feedtube crammed into the gullets of the other poor passive nations.

    Related interesting article, posted on Racialicious a little while back, on a Korean woman’s experience with her body and weight stigma in the US and Korea.

  5. Lu
    Lu March 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    Hi, Jadey, I’m interested in reading that piece on Racialicious, but your link goes to the NYT article. I did go to the Racialicious site and searched on the word Korean, but I didn’t see anything in the results that seemed like it would be the right article. Can you help? Thanks.

  6. RenKiss
    RenKiss March 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    I’m with Mo. Those comments were so disgusting and despicable. All ignoring that socio-economic factor has contributed to people being obese. Some of those people actually said it was a good thing this “fat stigma” is beginning to spread.

  7. Miss_Led
    Miss_Led March 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm |

    The Racialicious article is here:

  8. Miss_Led
    Miss_Led March 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

    Wow that didn’t work :-(

    http://www.racialicious.com/2011/03/02/small-in-america-large-in-korea/

    “Small in America, Large in Korea.”

  9. Lu
    Lu March 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    Thank you so much, Miss_Led.

  10. Jadey
    Jadey March 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm |

    Lu:
    Hi, Jadey, I’m interested in reading that piece on Racialicious, but your link goes to the NYT article. I did go to the Racialicious site and searched on the word Korean, but I didn’t see anything in the results that seemed like it would be the right article. Can you help? Thanks.

    So sorry! I just finished my work day and was clearly not paying close enough attention to what I copy and pasted. Thanks for sharing the correct link, Miss_Led.

  11. Claire N
    Claire N March 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm |

    I’m with you Jadey.

    I’m sure Hollywood does have an influence but my parents are from a Global South country and the culture has been very fat-hating for a long time; most people there–especially the women–are not fat apparently.

  12. Tori
    Tori March 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    I just… the day has been too crap for this.

  13. Synna
    Synna March 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    Mo, there are lots of people who are fat and NOT fit/healthy/able bodied/mentally well and they don’t deserve to be stigmatised either (I’m not saying that’s what you were intending but it is a consequence of playing the ‘healthy fatty/unhealthy fatty game).

    And there are fatties who engage in the behaviours you describe but they don’t deserve stigmatisation either. My fat arse definitely spills over, in fact I’m about 20kg heavier now than the last time I flew, and I’m so scared I won’t fit or get kicked off that I don’t want to have to fly anywhere. THAT is stigmatisation in action right there, and you don’t need no government campaign to begin it (it just reinforces it).

  14. Ms. Rev.
    Ms. Rev. March 31, 2011 at 10:35 am |

    This is beyond gross.

    And of course the very first comment on the article is Jack, from Boston MA, who says, “It’s logical to sustain this change in attitude when becoming newly aware of what we Americans have been all too aware for years: fat kills.”

    Um, right, that is why there are no fat people anywhere, because they are all automatically dead. OBV.

  15. Liz Farsaci
    Liz Farsaci March 31, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    I’m reading The Beauty Myth for the first time, and found this sentence (from the chapter on hunger) especially relevant: “A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.”

    I’ve recently written an article on beauty, body image and female sexuality: http://lizfarsaci.wordpress.com/beauty-diary/

  16. Elee
    Elee April 1, 2011 at 3:23 am |

    Synna I <3 U. so tired of being mocked, looked over critically, not being taken seriously, having to hunt for clothes, that don't look cheap etc etc. My fat doesn't bother me as much as most of these faux-helpful people, and if someone seriously wants to tell me what an unhealthy menace I am, I just have to count all the alcoholics and drug abusers I have worked with who had numerous stay in rehab and are still heavily addicted. At least I am able to work and pay my own health insurance and don't condescend to addicts with an "you can change if you want it just enough"-attitude (obviously wanting is a big part, but it is not easy as that).

  17. haiaha
    haiaha April 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm |

    Fat stigma might be an introduced disease but so is diabetes. We have serious health problems in the pacific because of European food we didn’t have these problems before colonisation. Obesity is a new development, it is way more serious than self-esteem or media issues. People are actually dying in our communities because of western diets not western media. Fat stigma doesn’t help with this problem but it is nothing to celebrate.

  18. saurus
    saurus April 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |

    haiaha:
    Fat stigma might be an introduced disease but so is diabetes.We have serious health problems in the pacific because ofEuropean food we didn’t have these problems before colonisation. Obesity is a new development, it is way more serious than self-esteem or media issues. People are actually dying in our communities because of western dietsnot western media.Fat stigma doesn’t help with this problem but it is nothing to celebrate.

    Uh…

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