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16 Responses

  1. Emolee
    Emolee March 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    Great post. I especially liked this:

    Hunger is normal. Even for fat people who, believe it or not, cannot comfortably live on their fat stores alone.

  2. Crys T
    Crys T March 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    Seconding what Emolee said. I so wish that these resources had been around when I was a kid.

  3. Andie
    Andie March 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    Good post, I wil be checking out some of those links for sure.

  4. Katya
    Katya March 15, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    Love this post, especially the point about focusing on the healthy activity rather than the weight loss. All kids should be eating healthy food and getting exercise, and parents should be modeling these healthy behaviors (which include not obsessing over one’s weight).

  5. LR of The {No Longer) Frozen Midwest
    LR of The {No Longer) Frozen Midwest March 15, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    Originally read this post on Body Impolitic, but thank you for including it here as a guest blog; it’s well worth spreading the word as far as possible. QFT:

    … Do not, ever, sit your child down and start a dialogue with any variation of, “Sweetheart, we need to talk about your weight.” No matter how many times you tell your child that you’re doing this for their own good and because you love them, and indeed no matter how much you love them, this will do far more damage than good. Every. Single. Time.

    I’m certain no good has ever come from speaking those words.

  6. Meera
    Meera March 15, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    “Even for fat people who, believe it or not, cannot comfortably live on their fat stores alone.”

    It’s unbelievable how many people seem to actually believe that fat people can just live off their reserves until they reach a culturally ‘appropriate’ size. Under conditions of severe food deprivation, many bodies simply shut down their vital systems before they ever consume much of their fat stores. It’s perfectly possible to die of starvation without ever becoming thin / un-fat, and people of any weight who survive often have serious permanent organ damage.

  7. Stephanie
    Stephanie March 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm |

    That Disney stuff and the Georgia billboards are scary. You’d think it would be possible to promote healthy habits without saying “fat is bad,” yet that rarely happens. I really think they’d get better results emphasizing healthy habits without stressing the weight angle. Might annoy the “fat is bad” people, but I’m fine with that.

  8. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve March 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

    I always ask “who benefits” from any given “social problem.”

    I don’t know about this rule…the same exact logic is used by people who claim that climate change is invented by people who are in ‘green industries,’ in order to sell their alternative energy sources.

  9. Shoshie
    Shoshie March 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

    You’d think it would be possible to promote healthy habits without saying “fat is bad,” yet that rarely happens.

    QFT. I had an incredibly frustrating conversation with a friend of mine who’s a naturopath and just. couldn’t. get. it.

    “But, my patient! He really needs to lose weight!”

    “Why don’t you try talking to him about increasing a physical activity that he enjoys. You said he plays tennis once a week, why don’t you encourage him to take a class or learn squash or play three times per week instead of just once?”

    “But he’ll still be fat!”

    “That doesn’t negate the fact that he’ll be more active.”

    “But fat!”

  10. Darliene Howell
    Darliene Howell March 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    I would like to recommend the free NAAFA Child Advocacy ToolkitSM which lists resources available to parents and educators or caregivers for educational materials, curriculum and programming that is beneficial for all children. It can be found at:

    1. Lynne Murray
      Lynne Murray March 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

      I totally agree, Darliene, a great resource!

  11. Lynne Murray
    Lynne Murray March 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    Thanks for the positive comments, Emolee, Crys T, and I would have liked these resources to be available when I was a little fat kid decades ago, and they are till waaay to little-known, hence the post.

    Andie and Katya, thanks–I agree good behaviors for all kids, no singling out anyone as a target!

    LR, true, it is so important to get the message across that telling child his or her body is wrong can only have negative results matter what the intention.

    Meera, I think that the “fat people should just stop eating” is a variant of demonizing fat and punishing fat people “for our own good” which is just awful and the opposite of helpful.

    Fat Steve, you make a good point, and skepticism can’t hurt so long as we examine the motives of everyone (e.g., the global warming deniers who have a religous agenda that involve either profit or trashing the planet because of some dubious permission from a diety).

    Stephanie, no matter how well-intentioned (giving these organizations the benefit of the doubt they may not deserve) I think that the Georgia and Disney images contribute to the dehumanizing of fat children, attacking them “for their own good”–very dangerous!

    Shoshie, it is frustrating to deal with, but a very clear example of how fat hatred exists separate of actual health concerns.

  12. Carol
    Carol March 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    The scariest thing I’ve seen so far about the campaign to decrease obesity in children is school systems in Long Island and elsewhere to have kids wear electronic bracelets that track their heart rate and activity (all day and night) for teachers to upload onto a computer, and presumably tsk-tsk them from there.
    So we not only have fat-shaming, but shaming of sedentary kids (who, if they are like I was, could be book-loving and very healthy!), in addition to invasion of privacy.

    Second annoying thing is Obesity Panickers have taken one major study that claims that breastfeeding a child lowers their chance of obesity later (I’m not even sure if they have addressed all the confounds of this, given that women who have the luxury to breastfeed the longest are higher-income, higher-educated, and more likely to be choosy about a child’s diet later), so now we get adoption-shame, and working-mothers shame, along with fat-shame. Yay!
    p.s. Little correction–it’s Ellyn Satter, not Ellen.
    p.p.s. Links are great, especially anything by Linda Bacon.

  13. Tina
    Tina March 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

    I always ask “who benefits” from any given “social problem.”

    I don’t know about this rule…the same exact logic is used by people who claim that climate change is invented by people who are in ‘green industries,’ in order to sell their alternative energy sources.

    Yeah, but if you look at who really benefits from arguing against climate change, it’s the oil companies. They receive govt subsidies for oil and the average amount oil companies pay in taxes is 9%. You just have to look at who funds scientists who claim that climate change doesn’t exist/isn’t caused by man. Oil companies.

  14. wriggles
    wriggles March 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |

    Any truly efficient method of changing body size would put them out of business, but since none exists, they can keep making money as long as they can keep the hysteria flowing.

    True, but how can you leave out the ‘obesity’ industry formulated by scientists and doctors-which arguably saved the slimming industry in the 1990’s?

    The slimming industry did not direct my adventures in weight gain-a cycle includes loss presumably- and left on its own would have died on its arse long ago. Unless you’re saying that the take over of the study of weight in the last say, 30 or so years is by people bought and paid for by them.

    Either way, that still wouldn’t explain doctors (scientists intense collusion with this). The former recommending and sending their patients to slimming companies “They’re the experts”. And shoring up the illusion of efficacy to this day.

    My route was a product of my own desire to be thin, which was probably culturally influenced-including from feminism, plus the edicts of the medical profession and scientists who insisted at press conferences announcing their findings. “Don’t give up your diets, don’t stop dieting” every time they discovered another “obesity paradox”.

    I did not use the word “fat” in the title of this post because fear of becoming fat opens up profits from populations that do not qualify as fat by any objective measurement. The latest group under attack is fat children and their parents.

    I can agree with this until the last sentence, for me it refers to people who aren’t. Until they were persuaded to feel they too needed to be restricting their diets/calories and increasing their exercise-in order to avoid fatness/be “healthy” the vicious fat hating climate of today could not get going.

    Because it’s those behaviours which either alter people to a fat hating mindset or make them susceptible to it.

    Children have always been under attack. There are generations of adult fat people who were fat children and can tell you about pressure from their families, doctors, teachers, seeing professionals and nutritionists in the media insisting they participate in restrictive eating. And that weight cycling was your “fault” when it was already known to be intrinsic to calorie restriction induced weight loss.

    The idea that nothing counts until its on billboards etc., is the same erasing mindset which says what fat people did of our own volition and agency didn’t happen.

    1. Lynne Murray
      Lynne Murray March 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

      I can relate to your comment, Wiggles! I look at pictures of my father from the 1930s, myself in the 1950s and my brother in the 1960s–all fat kids, later fat adults, and fighting prejudice despite, in my father’s case, five decades of yo-yo dieting of one sort or another. I escaped from the dieting and still battle the self-hatred part (the price of self-esteem in a society that deems you “wrong” the minute you show up is eternal vigilance!). My father was a scientist but in the 1990s when I showed him the scientific research proving the futility of diets it was new to him but he “got it” as soon as he read it. That evidence was there for those who looked for it not well known then and it only starting to reach general awareness now–and meeting great resistance for many reasons.

      Fighting a deeply engrained prejudice is hard work–especially when it is reinforced by those who profit from it. Questioning popularly held assumptions requires the mental equivalent of heavy lifting. Many of those who urge weight loss even as they also acknowledge that it’s highly unlikely to be successful include medical professionals, who are as brainwashed as the public in general.

      As Mark Twain said, “It “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, “Mark Twain said. “It’s what you know for sure that ain’t so.”

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