I Feel Pity, Mostly

Thanks to a twitter post, I found this article about MeMe Roth discussed on Life on Fats.  Bree discusses how MeMe has gone so offensive as to compaire eating with rape.  There are more offensive things to say, but ths is pretty offensive.

What I want to discuss though is towards the end of the article. 

When I ask her if she’s ever been anorexic, she gasps: “No! I’ve never even been on a diet!” So I ask her what she eats in an average day. On this, Roth is reticent. She now runs a private nutrition counselling business, she says, and because of that, “I don’t spend a ton of time telling people what I do personally. What works for me may not work for other people.”That’s fine, I say, but just as an example?

“I eat beans like nobody’s business,” she says hurriedly. “I eat more black beans than anyone else I know.”

I try to pin her down to something more specific. Let’s just do a sample day, I say. What about breakfast? Roth grimaces. “I hate to say this, because I think it’s counter to what most people should do, but I never in my whole life have enjoyed breakfast. For me, it doesn’t work as well as other things.”

Right, I say. So how about lunch?

She squirms visibly. “You’re taking me where I don’t want to go … What works for me doesn’t work for a lot of people.”

Well, you’ve said that, I insist, so taking that into account: lunch? Roth hesitates. “I discovered when I was in college that I work best when I get a workout in and eat after that. Sometimes I’ll delay when I eat until I get a workout in. But I don’t let a whole day go by without running four miles.”

OK, I go on, but supposing you couldn’t work out until four o’clock in the afternoon – would you not eat until after that?

“I might.”

I look at my watch. It’s 3.30pm. Alarm bells start to ring in my head. How about today, I ask. Have you eaten at all today?

Roth is a little quiet.

“No,” she says.

There is a pause.

“But I feel great!”

She’s never been on a diet, but when pressed about what an average day of eating looks like, she starts feeling uncomfortable and doesn’t want to answer the questions.  Earlier in the interview, it’s stated that her whole family is fat, and she tells a story about how embarressed she was as a child when her fat mother was bringing cupcakes to her class for her birthday.  She was embarrassed because everybody would see she had a fat mother.  And while she’s never even been on a diet, she uses techniques to keep her away from food that would grace lists on a pro-ana board.

I can’t hate her when I see how screwed up she is.  I feel pity for her.  I want to see her get into counseling and learn how to love herself.  And I want to see her retract all the insulting and offensive stuff she’s ever said (natch). 

Hate her?  How can I when she appears to hate herself so much more than everybody who is already hating her combined could.


Oh, and this is just my opinion, but people sending death threats and hate mail saying they hope MeMe’s children get cancer?  If it’s true, if she really is getting death threats and people targeting her children and wishing horrible life threatening diseases on them?  It’s not going to help.  Hate can only lead to more hate.  Sending things like that to her is just feeding the hate fire she already has going.  The only way to combat hate is love.  Whether it’s internally (combat self-hate with self-love) or externally (every time you want to send something nasty, send something telling her how she’s okay just as she is), repaying hate with love is the only way to maybe help somebody stop hating.


A Day of Remembrance

arlington_national_cemetery-memorial-day As I sit here, reading my email and blogs, I hear jets flying overhead.  The Air Force Thunderbirds are practicing their stunts for the Academy’s graduation on Wednesday.

Living in a town that is close to a bunch of Military Installations, the Air Force Academy is only one of four different Military Installations nearby, I see men and women in uniform all the time.  I am constantly reminded of the sacrifice people from all branches of the military make so we can continue to enjoy what freedoms we have.

Today though, I find myself remembering my Grandfather.  He taught me about patriotism, about nationalism, and a whole bunch of other things. 

He enlisted in the army right out of high school, as part of what is now the Air Force (it was the 101st Airborne unit at the time), but was “borrowed” by the regular Army after he’d gone through basic training.  It was WWII, and they needed all the boots on the ground they could get.  My Grandfather was in the “Battle of the Bulge”, was part of the troops that actually liberated Paris (and had to wait around for a week, camped outside Paris due to General Patton having to be the “first” American in Paris — truth was the soldiers were going in and out of Paris all week before General Patton arrived), and was part of a troop that liberated a concentration camp (unfortunately, I don’t remember which one).

When he left for the War, he left his high school sweetheart (my Grandmother) and told her that if she found somebody else while he was gone, he’d understand.  After all, he was going to war, who knew if he’d return, and if he did, what kind of condition he’d be in.  My Grandmother loved him, and so waited for him.  They were married one month after he got back from the War (and didn’t the tongues wag and people start counting months).

As part of his duties as a soldier, he had to do things he never would have done in civilian life, and see things he never would have seen in civilian life.  Things that ended up haunting him his entire life.  But he was there to do a job (which included killing other people) and he did what he had to do.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn’t something that was known about right after WWII, and psychiatry was something that “nuerotic women who had too much money paid to charlatans to get over imagined illnesses”.   Needless to say, Grandpa never sought any help for the nightmares he suffered from all the times, the memories and flashbacks he had.  He just did what he had to do in order to keep going.

He returned from the War without a scratch on him (which is very impressive, considering the battles he was in), and started a life with my Grandmother.  They had a house built in a suburb of Chicago, put down roots, raised a family in that house. 

He taught his children many lessons in patriotism.  By his actions, he showed us (because my grandparents raised me for 14 years of my childhood) what it meant to support the country and the constitution.  He showed us by being extremely proud of relatives who joined the army (rather than being drafted) during the Vietnam Era, even though he was glad none of his children ever joined up.  When I was thinking about it in High School though, he never told me not to do it.  He did tell me once that if it were up to him, he would not join the military, but it was my choice to make.  That whatever decision I made, he was proud that I was even thinking about joining the military. 

Some of the lessons he gave us:  

He was pro-gun ownership, but hated guns personally.  He hated guns so much he never even allowed any of us kids to have water pistols.

He showed us what it means to “support the troops” while not supporting the engagement they were involved in.  During the Vietnam War, he wrote to the President and to his congressmen time and again, urging they get the troops out of Vietnam, and yet he and Grandma sent things to the troops:  candy, cookies, stuff like that. 

In our first engagement in Iraq, Desert Storm, he and Grandma went around to stores and private homes, collecting soap, toothpaste, deodorant, playing cards, candy, and other things to send off to the troops.  They sent off quite a few boxes of stuff.

He showed that patriotism meant standing at attention and saluting the flag as often as it went by in parades, as well as being quiet during the playing/singing of the Star Spangled Banner.  And that it also meant being active in working towards creating better laws for everybody, more inclusivity for everybody, and lobbying against unjust laws.

By his actions, he taught that it’s not “United States: Love it or Leave it”, but rather, “United States:  Love her enough to make her better.”

By his actions, he taught us that there’s enough room in this country for people of opposite opinions and ideologies to not only exist, but co-exist (relatively) peacefully.   After all, the occasional debate with people who hold a different ideology than you might get heated, but in the end, if it didn’t get made personal, it opened one up to seeing how the “other side” saw things, and may even give you food for thought.

I mean, he even “allowed” me to be a Republican, when he was staunchly Democratic.  How much more open minded could he be?

My Grandfather passed away in 2001, after losing his battle with senile dementia, but he left a legacy for his children that we continue today.  

I hope, those of you who are reading this and who live in the US, that while you enjoy your day off, and your picnics and time with friends and family, that you will remember those who have served and who are serving.  Have a moment to reflect on the sacrifice they have made and are making.

Simple Pleasures

These past four days have been wonderful for me.  My MiL decided to go visit her sister, which left me mostly alone in the house.  I say mostly because while Conall was in the house for some of the time, he’s working the 4pm til midnight shift, and either sleeping or working while I’m awake. 

The house has been quiet, no sounds except what I make, except for a few hours a day.  For somebody who enjoys quiet but never gets it anymore, this is a true luxury.

I’ve been enjoying the simple things these past few days:

  • Only having to deal with what noise I want to deal with
  • Playing with my puppy
  • Having my puppy curl up on my lap and snuggle in with a happy sigh
  • Making food without interruptions
  • Taking my time in getting the chores done
  • Getting some things off of my long-term to do list (like polishing the silver)
  • Made soap for the first time in months
  • Made some jewelry, and did it without any interruptions
  • Ate sandwiches for dinner
  • Didn’t have to listen to anybody telling me I eat too many cherries (is that possible?)
  • Sleeping as long as the dog would let me, and not having to worry about why MiL wasn’t up at her usual 9am

Tomorrow, I go to pick MiL up in the afternoon.  I’ll be happy to see her again, but I do have to say, it’s been nice to have these three days alone.  I feel recharged, and able to face the world again!

Friday Series – Dreaming the Impossible

It’s amazing how serendipity happens sometimes.  I’ve been thinking of things to write for today, and couldn’t come up with anything that sounded good to me.  A lot has been happening, my understanding of things have cleared in a lot of ways, but not enough in some areas for me to write about it.  Let me tell you, as a writer, I hate when that happens!

I decided to do my morning ritual (when I can, sometimes I’m too busy, then morning ritual becomes evening ritual, or next day ritual) of reading blogs and twitter and email.  One of the things I found in a twitter update started me thinking.  The Power of Dreams is an eight minute video from Honda, and of course it’s about Honda products, but it’s also about working through failure.   It’s about letting your dream drive you to greater things (pun not intended).

All the demands from Soichiro Honda were to take risks and fail.  The idea is you can fail 100 times as long as you succeed once.  “Trial and Error” sums up Soichiro Honda’s ideas.  We can only make fantastic advances in technology through many failures.  I think that’s what he wanted to say.
Takeo Fukui, President and CEO, Honda Motor Co., LTD. (Global Honda)

They end the video with a quote attributed to Thomas Edison, talking about inventing the electric light bulb:  “I never failed.  It just didn’t work 10,000 times.”

Then I went and read Pie in the Sky, and Dave Hingsburger was also writing about dreams in Moment By Moment.

Roll play: woman says to staff ‘this is my dream’ staff says ‘I don’t believe in you, you can’t do it.’ 50 people with disabilities surround the two with the low chant ‘Believe in yourself, believe in yourself, believe in yourself’. It seems almost a magical and mystical moment. I hear such gentleness in their tone, I feel the meaning they put into the words, I know the faith they have in the gesture. More, I see the one in the roll play close her eyes and let the words of reassurance and faith rain down on her, she is not now in a roll play, she is now getting what she needs.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my dreams lately.  I found that, a long time ago, I put my dreams into a locked glass cabinet, in a locked room.  I was told so often that I wouldn’t ever become anything, or make anything of myself, I believed it.  Why try to succeed, indeed, why have any dreams at all, if you are only going to fail at everything you ever attempt, if you are a failure just for being alive?  Right?

So I locked my dreams away safely; from myself and from anybody who might ever try and stop me from reaching my dreams.  Every so often I’d go and look at my dreams.  I’d turn on the light in the cabinet, and the dreams would glitter and sparkle, like fine leaded swarvoski crystal.  The sparkle would reflect in the tears I wouldn’t allow myself to shed, and I’d turn the light back off, and close myself off from them, from their allure, from their promise of eventual success (after a bunch of failure). 

I kept my dreams so safe, I kept them safe from me as well.  I wouldn’t risk touching them, after all, I was a failure, so anything I touched was doomed to failure, including my dreams.  Even my dreams.

The past few months, a lot has been changing in my emotions, in the way I’m looking at everything.  All of a sudden, the groundwork I’ve been laying for the past two years in therapy has finally kicked in.  I’m having revelation after revelation after revelation.  I knew if I kept pounding at it long enough, the breakthrough would happen, and it has.  It is still happening.

One of the ways this breakthrough is manifesting is that I’ve gone into my dream room, and I’ve turned on the light in the cabinet.  I’ve seen that my dreams, while they still sparkle, are covered with dust, and so I’ve unlocked the cabinet, and taken them out of their safe place.  I’ve dusted them off.  I’ve looked at them, to see which ones have already been accomplished (yes, even though I wasn’t trying, and never acknowledged I’d done it, I managed to acheive some of my dreams already), and which ones no longer serve me. 

After retiring, with honors, the previous dreams, I still have a lot of dreams.  Some of my dreams are pretty risky.  I’m going to have to learn new skills.  I’m going to have to learn to network, to speak up, to stop putting myself down all the time.  I’m going to have to learn how to accurately evaluate my own stuff, and if I can’t learn that, I’m going to have to learn to trust other people when they tell me my stuff is good.  I’m going to have to develop relationships with people I respect to give me an honest answer when I ask what they think of my stuff.  And most of all, I’m going to have to learn to trust myself, and my ability to do my stuff.

That last is the hardest and riskiest of all the new skills I need to learn.

In the movie Meet the Robinsons, Lewis (the hero who’s traveled to the future) learns that his arch-nemesis — Bowler Hat Guy — is his roommate from the present.  Lewis single minded focus on making his inventions would keep Goob up during the night, every night.  During the big baseball game, Goob could have caught an easy fly ball out, but didn’t because he was asleep standing up.  Instead of the fame and fortune he would have had for catching the ball, he got beat up by his team mates and let that failure eat at him for his entire life.

Lewis: Look, I’m sorry your life turned out so bad. But don’t blame me you messed it up yourself. You just focused on the bad stuff when all you had to do was… let go of the past and keep moving forward…
Bowler Hat Guy: Hmm, let’s see… take responsibility for my own life or blame you? Dingdingdingdingding! Blame you wins hands down!

It’s not as easy to get over a traumatic past as that (I’ve been actively working on it for 19 years now!), but that little snippet does have some value.

I’m not a failure just because I was born.  And yes, I can focus on all the bad stuff in my past, and keep believing the message that I’m not good enough, that I’m a failure, and leave those dreams locked safely in their lighted cabinet.  Or, I can work on seeing myself as I really am, keep moving forward through all the failures and setbacks, and take those dreams out, dust them off, and see what they — and I –are made of.

To be here today, looking at and starting to pursue my dreams, is actually something 2 years ago I would have said was impossible.  Since I’ve successfully completed one impossible dream, I’m sure I can make some of the other impossible dreams come true for myself as well.

Where is the logic, part 2

Later on in the thread mentioned here, another person started complaining about how much fat people cost him.  His insurance premiums went up all the time because of all the injuries and diseases that fat people are getting, because of fat people’s “lifestyle choices”.

My answer to him (and yes, I’m block quoting myself):

So, what about all the athletes (weekend and amateur and professionals) who blow out their knees climbing mountains, get into biking accidents that cause well over $1 million in allowed payouts before it’s all over, and broken bones, twisted ankles, torn muscles and ligaments.

I mean, come on man, their lifestyle choices are making your health insurance premiums go up! Down with the athletes! They are just making it all harder on everybody else!

Do you see how silly this whole line of reasoning (fat people make my health insurance go up) is? The skinny cancer patient makes your health insurance go up. The person with anorexia and kidney problems makes your health insurance go up. My mother-in-law’s sister, who has kidney and liver problems from being on prescription pain relievers for too long, and who has been in the hospital 5 times since the beginning of the year, makes your health insurance go up.

Oh, wait, that last example I used, my MiL’s sister, is also overweight. So I guess her breast cancer (which she survived but only due to having both her breasts removed), and her other problems (which are not fat related) go to prove your assumption that OMG! THE FAT PEOPLEZ IZ DRAINING MY MONEY!

It’s not just fat people. It’s everybody who ever gets sick, or needs more than just going to the doctor for a physical and maybe because they get the flu.

Fat people are getting blamed for everything these days.  We are blamed for causing global warming, for using all the resources of the planet, for making every body’s health insurance go up. 

The reality is that it’s easy to scapegoat one segment of society than to try and actually fix the problems that are facing the planet as a whole.

To the claim that fat people are making insurance premiums rise:  In an article in USA Today (in 2006) it was reported that 46.6 million people were without insurance.  Having been a person without insurance for a very long time, I can tell you what that means, and how it effects your health premiums, or at least, your tax money.  Because I didn’t have the money to go to a doctor when I wasn’t feeling right, I would wait until things were catastrophic.  That bladder infection that could have been taken care of immediately ended up being an emergency room visit after I’d had a fever of 103+ for 7 days straight.  The sinus infection became a reoccurring thing, and ended up in another ER visit.  For both of those visits, I didn’t have the money to pay an expensive hospital bill, so the state had to step in and help out (costing the tax payers money).

Then there was my knee injury.  If I’d been able to have insurance, when I mucked up my knee mountain hiking, I could have gone to a doctor and gotten it taken care of before it got as bad as it did.  Yes, by the time it got to be so bad I had to take care of it, I finally had insurance again.  Even still, the total the insurance allowed was $20,000 (surgeon, anesteseologist, hospital, physical therapy before and after the operation).  Had I been able to go at the beginning, I doubt it would have resulted in such a high tab. 

I didn’t have insurance because my husband’s work supplied his insurance (a generous benefit to be sure), but didn’t have the option for “employee and spouse”, having the only option available “employee and family” which cost over $300 a month.  That was $300 a month we didn’t have to spare.  So I did my best to not get sick, and only went to the ER when it was a true emergency (above mentioned UTI and sinus infection and the day I needed 8 stitches in my thumb because I’d cut it washing a glass).

Besides all the people who are uninsured, all the people who are normal sized who get cancer and need expensive treatments, who have heart attacks (even though they don’t deserve them), who have gallbladders that need to be removed, or whatever else may be wrong, and you have increased insurance premiums.

Then, there are the athletes who get injured while doing whatever athletic activity they are doing.  Bicyclists have bad accidents, weight lifters tear ligaments and muscles so bad they can only be repaired by surgery.  People who jump out of airplanes sometimes have their parachutes fail, and yet survive the fall and then have a humongous medical bill to get them as ambulatory as they can be again.  

All of these instances affect both the doctors charges and the insurance premiums.

Global warming being blamed on fat people only works if you have statisticians doing mental masturbation with numbers.  To assert that fat people use 18% more resources (food, energy, etc) just because fat people are 18% larger than normal sized people shows that they just don’t understand the complexity of the issue.

Let’s look at fuel consumption.  One article I read last year stated that fat people used 1 tank more fuel a year in their cars than normal sized people because it took more energy to get all that extra weight in the car going.  The article never addressed people in their Hummers and sports cars, which get 7 mpg city/12 mpg highway.  It didn’t adress farmers and construction workers with trucks (whether economical or not) with the beds weighed down with equipment.  It didn’t address the average workers commute to and from work.  It didn’t address the difference of fuel consumption in economy cars and regular cars (not even luxury models).

For instance, to show how complicated this issue gets really fast:  When Conall and I lived in North Carolina, we lived approximately 50 miles away from any of the three major cities near us.  The nearest town that had a grocery store in it was 10 miles away, the next nearest town was 20 miles away (they actually had a theater, and restaurants that stayed open after 3 in the afternoon).  Conall’s work was 30 miles away, and, when I was working for the evil insurance company as a phone slave, mine was 59 miles away (one way).  When we were both working, it would take 5 tanks of gas to fill our cars per week, just to commute to work and back (two tanks for Conall’s car, three for mine). 

Both of our cars were Escorts, ie, very economical cars.  One car, the wagon, got 33 mpg highway, and the hatchback got 35 mpg highway (these are actual numbers, not factory numbers).  The first year we had the wagon, we put over 50,000 miles on the car because of how far away from everything we lived.

Compare those stats to now.  We have a new mini-van, which gets 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (again, actual stats we’ve calculated ourselves, not factory projections).  We’ve had the vehicle for 18 months now, and have only put 22,000 miles on the vehicle.  See, we live closer to town now (still on the outskirts, but the other side of town is only 20 miles away).  Conall’s work is only 10 miles from the house, the nearest grocery store is only 2 miles away, the nearest movie theater 7 miles away.  We have to fill up the tank about once every week and a half.

Even with using one more tank of fuel each year, I’ve cut my fuel consumption by 7/8 due to where we live now.  Even using a less economical vehicle.

So, to say that my fat ass is causing the fuel shortages is pretty much admitting you don’t even begin to understand the complexity of the problem.  I can categorically say I don’t even begin to understand the complexity of the problem, yet even I can see how there are many things to factor in before blaming one segment of the population for all the worlds woes.

Again, there is no logic to people’s assertions that fat people are to blame for all that’s going wrong.  There is no logic behind the thought that fat people make insurance premiums increase, or that we collectively are fully responsible for the problems the world we live on is experiencing.

People like to say they are logical (it’s everybody else who’s illogical).  Maybe faced with their own non-logic they will start to realize what they are being fed in the media, on TV, and elsewhere isn’t exactly correct.  Or, maybe not.

Where is the logic?

I read a lot of message boards and blogs online, and one social networking site I visit has a “rant” section.  Recently, another member on that site ranted about how women who are obese should not claim to be BBW (Big Beautiful Women). 

I tried to stay out of the thread.  Really, I did.  But I lost that Will roll (gamers will understand that reference).

Over the course of a few days, the responses to that rant have been about 50/50 between “Yah, how dare fat people think they could be beautiful” and “who are you to say I’m NOT beautiful”.  Of course, there’s shades in between, but I was actually pretty surprised there were so many people standing up for themselves.

Well, the guy who started the thread said tonight:

Do some research, there’s no secret to losing weight, regardless of how old you are or what kind of genes you have. If you are burning more calories then you are consuming, you’ll lose weight, period. If you want to argue against that… you’re beyond help.

Now, if it’s true that America has the distinction of being the “fattest nation” and that over 60% of Americans are obese (which I’m not saying it is, hear me out here), then what this guy is saying is that over 182 million US citizens are … what?  Lazy?  Stupid (because we don’t know that eating a “healthy” salad but drowning it in dressing isn’t “good for you”)?  Want to be subject to ridicule for our whole lives?  Want to hear “you’d be so pretty if you just lost weight?”  Want to have total strangers say, “You have to get off the couch and eat less”?

I mean, where’s the logic in this?  We are bombarded daily with messages on TV, on the internet, in print, and on the radio about the “death fats” and how “fat leads to” all these bad health problems.  We are bombarded daily with stories and articles telling us what food is “good” for us and what food is “bad” for us.  Do people really believe that we “don’t know” that eating 10 cupcakes in one sitting is probably not healthy (definitely not healthy for me, as eating 10 cupcakes at one time would make me physically sick)?  We are bombarded with all this advice, from exercise gurus like Richard Simmons, Bob Green, and others, telling us how much we need to exercise because Americans just don’t get off the couch enough.  We are bombarded by nutritionists and chefs who tell us don’t eat eggs because it will raise your cholesterol, don’t eat fat because it makes you fat, don’t eat carbs because that’ll turn to fat, don’t eat meat because it’ll lead to heart disease and heart attack (so what can we eat?). 

Do people really think that that 182 million people, just in the US, are really that stupid?

Where is the logic in that? 

I get told all the time that my belief that correlation does not equal causation is illogical.  That the death fats really does cause diabetes and heart disease and stroke and high blood pressure, and when I point out that all my tests come back firmly in the normal ranges, I’m called a liar.  But, the guy who started the jogging craze in the 70’s, Jim Fixx, died of a heart attack while jogging, and nobody claimed it was his “lifestyle” that caused it.  A high school basketball player died of a heart attack in 1999, and being healthy and playing a fast paced game weren’t blamed for his death.  Lot’s of normal size people die young, from complications of diabetes, and people don’t say they brought it on themselves by making the wrong choices.

Am I saying that exercising and being healthy will cause a heart attack?  No, that’s as silly as saying that being fat WILL cause death by heart attack/diabetes/stroke/whatever.

What I’m saying is that death is inevitable.  Healthy, “normal sized” people die of so-called fat related diseases every day.  So why don’t we hear about the dangers of eating broccoli, spinach and tofu?  Why don’t we hear about how physical exercise causes death?

There is no logic in this selective blaming.  To bad people can’t see how they are being so illogical.

The Gruen Transfer, and my take on it

All around the internet, people are talking about that ad from The Gruen Transfer, the one that wasn’t aired.  They are doing an excellent job of discussing why nobody wins in the “Oppression Olympics”.  I want to talk about the one that was aired.

The ad that was aired starts around 15:50 of the first link there.  It only take about three minutes for the whole segment.  I’ll wait ’til you’ve had a chance to see it.

Now that you are back, I want to start off with a little information about the show (as I was given it from a friend who lives in Australia).  The Gruen Transfer is a weekly show about advertising, how it works, why certain ads don’t work.  Every week they have a challenge they put out to different ad companies to “sell the unsellable”.  This episode’s challenge had to do with “Fat Pride”.  Only two advertising companies took up the challenge.  One did the commercial that was banned from airing, but which you can see at the link above (along with the full reasoning of the creator of that advertisement), the other was aired, and won the challenge.  Note: Neither of these commercials were ever to be actually shown on TV for anything other than this challenge.

The second one that was aired was just as offensive as the one that wasn’t, and, in fact, proved one of the points of the creator of the banned commercial.

The commercial that was aired starts out with the creator saying, “Being in a recession, we thought we need more consumers.  Fat, might just be the thing to get us back in the black.”  The commercial talks about the stock market, unemployment, housing prices all pointing out that “we” are in recession.  That the thing that can save us is “super consumers” (cue male obviously fat belly walking — yes, we’ve graduated from the “headless fatties” to now JUST being about our bellies) .  They have “statistics”: “fat people consume 18% more than thin consumers.  Because of you,  farmers grow more food.  Because of you, xxl clothes get made.  Because of you airlines burn more fuel to get you off the ground.  If everyone upsized like you, Australia would already be in recovery.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, you super sized, superheros!”  It ends with a slide that reads, “Australia’s success depends on your excess.”

Now, of course, people were laughing at all of the “jokes”. 

In the critique of the ad that wasn’t aired, the creator said his take was “End Fat Discrimination,” and went on to tell a story about how he was in a pub, and he and his friend watched a “fat chick” go to the bathroom.  The friend made a derogatory joke about fat chicks, and the creator started to laugh.  And it coalesced for him.  If they try to do “end fat discrimination” in a humorous manner, they are making fat people the butt of the jokes.

The commercial that did air proved his point.  Now, I’m not arguing that the commercial that didn’t air wasn’t offensive.  It was.  It was supposed to offend. 

But what everybody seems to be forgetting here, is that both sides failed the challenge.  If the challenge was to help overweight Australians have more pride, the first commercial fails.  They used tired stereotypes  (fat people eat more, fat people use more resources, fat people are hurting the environment) to get laughs at fat peoples’ expense. 

While the unaired commercial was condemned, and is still being condemned all over the world, as being offensive, this commercial, the “super sized, superheros” commercial, is just as offensive. 

Yes, nobody wins in the “oppression olympics”.  But we are focusing on that to the exclusion of discussion, or even seeing, how offensive “thank you, super sized superheros” is.  Where is the pride in being told that you eat more, that you use more resources, that you are the cause of global warming and are going to destroy our planet (none of which assertions are true, by the way)?  Just because it’s turned around into a joke, we’re supposed to think it’s funny? 

I don’t think so.

So, here’s you you, you prejudiced ad companies:  Because of you, stereotypes continue about fat people.  Because of you, fat people get ridiculed whenever they leave the house.  Because of you, the rest of the world can rest easy knowing they don’t have to stop buying gas guzzling Hummers(TM) or taking 5 over-packed bags on airplanes because they don’t destroy the world near as bad as those fat people.  If everybody thought like you, a lot of fat people wouldn’t want to ever leave their houses. 

Oh wait.  That’s the real point, isn’t it?  Let’s shame the fatties even worse using the guise of making them feel pride in themselves.

And that’s not offensive?


Edited to add:  I was in a hurry before, and forgot to thank my friend for showing me this material, and giving me the links for it.  Ravenari is a wonderful artist, and helped me immensely by giving me the link to The Gruen Transfer, antiprejudicead.net, and a bit of the background on the show.  Please go see her artwork on deviantART.  It’s amazing.  One of these days I will own a Ravenari original. 🙂