Sunday, July 28, 2013

Media - Shaming leads to Slimming? As if!

I found a couple of articles online today that I feel the need to share because they're true.

The first one is about how discriminating against fat people just makes them feel worse about themselves and, rather than encouraging them to go lose that weight, it makes them turn to emotional eating and more.  

I completely agree with this. I have been made fun of a lot over the years.  Growing up obese was not a picnic (and often didn't involve picnics), and after a while I got used to the insults, whispers, and stares. I became really great at ignoring those to the point where someone has to be pretty overt or I have to be really aware of my surroundings to notice these days.  But when I do notice it makes me angry, annoyed, upset, and most of all defiant.  You want to glare at me while I'm eating with my friends in a restaurant?  Fine! I'll order a sundae and give you something to really glare about while I silently fume and emotionally eat my way towards an early grave.  Honestly, I probably would have ordered that sundae anyway, but thanks to you - judgemental stranger - I'll feel both awful and smug while eating it.  

The next article is about an anti-obesity campaign that features fat parents with fat kids realizing they are setting a bad example for them.  While in some situations this is kinda true (like mine), it's not because they are trying to set a bad example by eating crappy food because not all fat people do and most people I know don't encourage their kids to be fat - often the opposite - but they do teach acceptable of people who are and what they look like, at least in my case they did.  More on this subject later because it's complicated and hard to explain.  

This article talks about the same ad campaign in a slightly different light, agreeing with the message (which I do agree with to some extant) but not being too sure about the imaging.  The second article also has all the ad videos which the NPR article does not (or at least the link to the ad with the mother and daughter was broken when I tried it).  I stand corrected - for some reason the grocery ad is not available there either.  So here's a photo of it from the same site.

My problem with these ads is not that it targets fat people, or fat children or that I don't like the message, it's that they are completely unrealistic.  I have never in my life seen or heard two fat boys comparing how much their dads can eat or saying that someday they'll be able to eat more.  The only conversation I can even imagine being close to this is how much spicy food their dads could eat.  

The grocery store ad appears to show a fat mom filling up her cart with unhealthy food then noticing that her daughter's cart is full of the same kind of sweets and junk food.  This ad is realistic in the sense that a child is likely to fill up their own mini-cart with junk food and sweets because kids fill their own carts with what they want to eat which, let's face it, is not always the best stuff.  If you let my niece or nephews (6 yr old and under) pick the food that goes in the cart they are going to choose ice cream, chocolate, potato chips, and candy as I suspect most kids would do.  

However, they also put bananas, yogurt, mixed nuts, and juice in the cart so they're putting in what they like - good and bad.  It's up to the parents to make sure they don't buy it all.  And while a fat parent may be more likely to let the kid gets more of the junk food than a thin person because they like to eat it too, they are just as likely to not get a lot of junk food because they don't want their children to be as fat as they are. If the ad had showed a fat mom putting cookies and chips in her daughters cart that would be awful and also unrealistic. 

I think one of the biggest hurdles for eating healthy isn't just wanting to eat what tastes good, which is what most people seem to think, it's eating what you can afford and what you have time to cook.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive, and I while I agree that there are chemicals in processed foods that are bad for you, there are people like me who just can't afford to buy organic.  The same thing goes at fast food restaurants.  The burgers are $1, the nice salads that come with protein are $5. 

America, if you really want people to lose weight make the premium salads $2 and the burgers $10, or make a gallon of ice cream more expensive then a large bag of apples or a bag of potato chips cost less than a bag of carrots.  (actually carrots might be less expensive come to think of it.  Celery's pretty cheap too).  

The majority of food purchases, in my experience, are not just about taste or quality they're about price.  

Just my $0.02 worth on the subject.


  1. When I feel sad or angry or bored, I most often turn to food for comfort. I imagine this is a pretty common problem (honestly, if I only ate when I was physically hungry, I'd probably be as slim as Jen). And you know what else makes me seek out comfort foods? Feeling bad about my weight. It's so painfully counterproductive, but there it is. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this kind of reaction.

    I think one of the biggest hurdles for eating healthy isn't just wanting to eat what tastes good, which is what most people seem to think, it's eating what you can afford and what you have time to cook.

    Argh argh argh, you are so right. There's a reason obesity is so common among lower-income families. Well-off people can afford fresh organic foods and gym memberships and taking the time to cook and exercise every day.

    (That said, this gives me pretty much zero excuse for my weight since I have a gym membership and a personal trainer and a husband who cooks for me, but my personal shortcomings have nothing to do with why other people are obese.)

  2. True dat. True all dat. I turn to comfort food for all kinds of reasons, including feel bad about my weight which is dumb, but totally true. What I suffer from most, however, is the Inner Food Rebel that when I feel down about my weight or life or calories or whatever says:

    "You know what? You SHOULDN'T eat that food! But you know what else? WHO CARES! It's YOUR body, eat whatever the hell you want! You think eating this cookie is going to kill me? Guess what??! Nomnomnom! BOOM! I'm still alive!"

    So yeah, that would be me. And although I don't have a gym or a personal trainer, I do often babysit three younger and very active children so I get at least some exercise that way. Plus, I pretty much live on top of a mountain, so if I take a walk in either direction it's gonna be a workout coming back.