01
Aug
08

People For the Ethical Treatment of People

In the wake of the election I have been thinking a lot about the media. The more I think about it and observe things the more I realize how much influence the media has on our cultural ideology. This is a scary concept. Mostly because the media, in my opinion, is so far removed from real life and this imaginary ideal is what people are judging themselves by.

But I think what scares me most is the response, or lack thereof, on the part of our culture. I wonder if I was just naive before or if I missed something. But at what point did racial slurs, misogynist language, and fat hatred stop setting off the radars of journalistic integrity?

It seems that every journalistic piece concerning weight loss or the so called”obesity epidemic” includes some horrific headline. Take this one, for instance. Regardless of what terribly biased and unresearched material may exist in the article, look at the title. Who’s your fatty? When did name calling take the place of truly witty headlines. And what does this say about the publication. When did mean spirited journalism become okay?

But again, what frustrates me more than anything is that true criticism of the media rarely goes beyond water cooler talk and a few radical (and awesome and necessary) blogs. At what point did people just begin to ignore these terrible stereotypes and allow slurs to become a part of everyday news reporting?

So, in my revolutionary thinking, I have committed myself to always look for a larger forum in which I can voice my criticism and my refusal to allow the media to determine how I judge myself and others. But the one thing I wish I was better at is getting other people to do this with me. Its important to put the financial pressure on these television networks and newspapers and radio programs to get some of their integrity back and stop perpetuating slander and prejudice against already marginalized groups.

That was such a soap box. I suppose I have even my own special form of idealism. Maybe its my pessimism that prevents me from being more effective.

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15 Responses to “People For the Ethical Treatment of People”


  1. 1 yellowhammer
    August 1, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    That article… vomit.

    Does anyone honestly think that you can put on fifty pounds and not notice? If some one came up to me, even if it was my best friend, and said, “I’ve noticed you’ve put on some weight,” I would say, “O rly? Well guess what, I’ve noticed that too! Thanks for pointing it out, though, you’re a pal!”

    Its NOT a conversation you need to have. Seriously. PEOPLE DON’T GAIN LARGE AMOUNTS OF WEIGHT AND NOT NOTICE. THIS IS SERIOUSLY A TIME TO MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

  2. 2 goodbyemyboy
    August 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I love it how people seem to think that their friends wouldn’t notice that they were fat if no one told them. “Oh my God, when did all that fat get here? I swear I was thin yesterday!”

    Mean-spirited journalism is okay, of course, because they’re just concerned about our health! If they were nice about it, we might–dear God!–stay fat!

    I hate concern trolling.

  3. August 2, 2008 at 7:23 am

    “Maybe its my pessimism that prevents me from being more effective.”

    Recently my daughter called my husband a “pessifist”. She was going for pacifist and missed, but he is such a pessimist we all agreed we liked her word better. He proceeded to define it as: I believe in non-violence, but I don’t think it will work.

    So maybe you’re an “actimist” or perhaps a “pessivist”.

    Seriously, though, your points were well made. So how DO you propose we stop preaching to the choir and get the word out that this is NOT OK? I’m relatively new to the world of size acceptance blogs, so maybe this has been discussed ad infinitum in the past, but I just don’t know and I’m finding it to be frustrating.

  4. August 2, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Holy cannolli, Batman! Didja take a look at the page for Country Bands Together, the “anti-obesity” country-music-based “campaign”. Gah, I think my quotes key just broke, and I didn’t even use as many as I wanted to. Funded by the makers of Lap-Band! I love how that isn’t mentioned in the article. But it’s okay! Because they’re motivated by concern for our health, and not in any way profiting from fanning the flames!

  5. 5 wriggles
    August 2, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I love your title, I think you should consider starting that society, I’d be happy to join.

  6. August 2, 2008 at 8:11 am

    *head desk*

    Where to start? The title? The picture (headless fatties never looked do good)? The couch? The no-pun elephant pun?

    I reminded me (only vaguelly) of an article I recently read about how men really feel about their bodies. Two thirds in, you get the following:

    “Man, you look like Big Pun,” Meador’s friend said, referring to the obese rapper who died of a heart attack. Meador laughed off the comment, not letting on that it hurt. That same weekend, his daughter said, “Dad, you look like you’re having a baby.” Fortunately for Meador, the gentle pokes inspired him to change. He dropped junk food, started Tae Bo, and lost more than 40 pounds.”

    If you love your fatty, mock them.

  7. August 2, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    What the hell!!??? What is that picture supposed to be saying? I agree, a headless fatty would have been better. Argh!!
    We should be harassing our friends until they have WLS??? It’s all about the health…riiiiight. And why is this in the ‘entertainment’ section?

  8. 8 cynic
    August 2, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    So, let me summarize what your post seems to be about:
    “You believe that the media influence people to hate obese people, and you think that’s not ok.”
    Well, the media certainly has a lot of influence, but I think you are a bit paranoid! Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that you wrap your “the media makes us hate fat people” complaint into a “terribly biased and unresearched” article yourself. From the point on where your post reaches your real topic of concern, which obviously seems to be the often negative perception of obesity, the post turns into the usual blind activist hypocrisy that you can find pretty much anywhere, where an allegedly unrightfully oppressed minority struggles for “freedom”. This is dull and will frustrate anyone who otherwise might be willing to listen, in the same way the media in general seem to frustrate you. So why don’t you “eat your own dogfood” and stop preaching to the choir, and instead think up some real arguments and base them on some serious “research” on the matter?

  9. 9 intellectualfeminist
    August 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Cynic, clever name. I reread my post just to make sure that I was clear here. I don’t think that the media causes people to hate fat people. I think it influences people’s perceptions of themselves and others in general. Thank you cynic, for illustrating my point that when prejudiced language is used in the media people think nothing of it and treat people like me as “paranoid”.

    I’m not a scientist, I’m a blogger, so I don’t find it necessary to include research in this particular post. Not to mention, I find prejudiced language to be something so obvious that I am no longer willing to believe that people need research to be able to understand it. In which case they would be as blind as you say I am.

    “An allegedly unrightfully oppressed minority struggles for freedom”????

    And I’m being dramatic???!!!! Although this has been said time and time again, fat people are not a minority and are not struggling for freedom. Your criticism is dull and your failure to recognize your own privilege and maltreatment of others makes you mean spirited, ignorant, and no longer worthy of any more response from me. So, there.

  10. 10 intellectualfeminist
    August 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks to everyone else who responded. Tammy, I am not completely sure how to curb the media’s treatment of marginalized groups. What I think is lacking is a media outlet to counter this type of journalism. I’m a believer in free speech, therefore I think that everyone has the right to an opinion however ignorant (see above), but I think it’s important that there is a balance of opinion and a balance to the methods used to report the news and right now I don’t think that balance exists. So maybe that means that more FA activists should get into journalism?

  11. August 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I’m totally with you on trying to find better avenues for getting FA ideas out. However, I don’t think you should let this article get you down. We’re talking about the New York Post here — it’s a tabloid, not a credible news source. I’m not saying that makes it OK for them to promote fat hatred, but what concerns me a lot more is the anti-fat stuff that appears in the Health sections of “real”, mainstream publications like Time magazine. It’s less overtly mean, but it reaches and persuades more people.

    If there were a medical expert writing a widely read health column that said some more rational things about fat to counter the crap we get from people like Sanjay Gupta, now that would really be something. For example, imagine if Sandy Szwarc from Junkfood Science had a weekly column in the New York Times.

  12. 12 buddingstarlit
    August 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Woman! I’m feeling that post…but you already knew that I would.

  13. 13 scotlyn
    August 3, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Mary

    “but what concerns me a lot more is the anti-fat stuff that appears in the Health sections of “real”, mainstream publications like Time magazine. It’s less overtly mean, but it reaches and persuades more people.”

    Yeah, if you scratch the surface of any “healthy eating” message, it is pretty much a front for fat hatred (both of the delicious and nutritious fat in food, and of the fat that is found as part of the genetic “body maps” of some very gorgeous people). Such messages are fuelled, in my opinion, by two things – neither of which is science or evidence-based. 1) waylaid puritanism. As a society, we “freed” ourselves from sexual “good/bad” messages, but needed somewhere to dump all that angst – and we found it in fat – food as a moral issue – “good foods/bad foods.” The war on fat people has all the hallmarks of a morality crusade. There are all the familiar themes – the reclothed Sins of Gluttony (presumed comfort eating, over-eating, illicit desire for junkfood) and Sloth (presumed laziness, drive-everywhere-gameboy-thumb-couch- potatoes), Temptation (“be bad and have a dessert,” angel/devil-themed food ads), Redemption through Penance (severely restrictive diets/ punishing exercise regimes) and the Mortification of the Flesh (that peculiar form of medically-induced malnutrition known as bariatric surgery) and even Public Penance (reality “body-fix-it” television shows)… 2) marketing dressed up as science. Basically, the definition of an “obesity” researcher is someone working for a company that makes money from the never-ending story that is “weight loss.” Their pronouncements, designed as they are to keep themselves in business and their companies in the black, are therefore suspect, and are easily and effectively debunked by unaffiliated researchers such as Paul Campos and Sandy Szwarc.

    Hide and Seek, just point me at your “wider public” and pull the trigger. No problem. (speaking as a country girl living in the back of beyond!)

  14. 14 intellectualfeminist
    August 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Scotlyn, I think you are on to something. “Weight loss” crazes are exactly like a morality crusade. I would say they are more related to the sexual messages than we think. After all, this supposed sexual freedom that we have endured is somewhat misplaced anyway. And physical aesthetics go hand in hand with weight and sexuality according to the media. Not to mention, the Dr. Ian million pound challenge is currently being marketed to churches drawing some connection to religion/spirituality and weight loss. Which is really scary and not going to a god place.

  15. 15 scotlyn
    August 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Didn’t know about the Dr Ian thing – but then haven’t darkened the door of a church since I read the Bible – and I mean READ it… but yes, I do believe a lot of this is based on how suspect people seem to find it when ordinary people take simple pleasure in simple things – food, sex, love, companionship – especially if they haven’t first at least worked themselves to the bone, suffered, or experienced some guilt or shame in order to “deserve” it.


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