Tag Archives: UK

Hippocratic Hypocrisy?

An article recently released in Lancet magazine calls out some prominent researchers who presented at the Association for the Study for Obesity conference on September 16-17, 2014 in Birmingham, UK.  Apparently they served up their research papers on how to “help people with obesity” with a hefty side dose of sarcasm, stigmatizing comments and downright nastiness towards people of size.  I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am glad that they are getting called out on some of their nonsense.

The article stopped short of naming names, which I found disappointing.  But I am glad that somebody is taking the time to point out in print that there’s not a lot of do no harm and an awful lot of hypocrisy going on at these conferences.  For one thing, these “obesity researchers” know better.  If they have done any homework at all, they know that stigmatizing overweight and obese people does not lead to better health outcomes.  In fact, it causes overweight and obese people a lot of stress, leads to poorer health and actually tends to increase weight–the very thing they are making fun of fat people for in the first place.

Want to know what I’m talking about?  TRIGGER WARNING–I’m going to share some serious fat shaming stuff here.  If you don’t want to read some really icky stuff that people said, skip down until after the video, okay?  As one researcher criticized a media source that suggested exercise isn’t particularly good for health exclaimed, “Exercise is rubbish?  That is precisely the message obese people want to hear.”  This exploits the stereotype that fat people hate to exercise and are lazy.  I think many of the thousands of people in our Fit Fatties Forum, you know the ones who are training for marathons and triathlons and Ironman competitions, the ones that did TWO 5Ks over the Thanksgiving break just because, I think they might take issue with this stereotype.  And if we want people to exercise more, I think a very brief search of the literature would indicate that shaming folks is not an effective tool to increase exercise adherence.

Then out of the mouth of another researcher who has published researcher on weight stigma and it’s effect on fat people, we got this little gem.  She said if people lost weight, “They would have a lot of sex, which is probably good as they won’t have had it for a while.”  Hmm. I wonder where in the body of research on fat people it suggests that fat people don’t have much sex?   A pretty brief search indicates that some studies show that larger people, are often more attractive to the opposite sex, have more sex and have the big O more often than their thinner counterparts.  But yes, the way to help people live a better life is to convince them that they are utterly sexless and unworthy of sex as they are.  NOT!

Finally, we have the researcher who was receiving one of the “best practice awards”.  She stated that the work they had done in reducing the weight of some of their patients, “provided more space for commuters on the London tube.”  Insert rimshot here.

END TRIGGER WARNING.

Look, when we talk about “best practices” for researchers, we are looking for people who not only seek to eradicate bias from their work, but also have enough self awareness to recognize their own bias.  I ask you, when researchers who are RECEIVING AN AWARD FOR BEST PRACTICES feel it’s okay to round out their acceptance talk with a cheap joke at the expense of the subjects they are reportedly trying to help, I call foul!  When you have somebody who has published research on weight stigma, demonstrating some malicious and completely unfounded stereotypes about fat people at a professional conference, I think we really ought to step back and take a look.  This not only calls into question the researchers who presented these horrible slurs, but also the committee that selected them to speak and the organization who decided to give one of them an AWARD for best practices in research.

This is something that I find deeply frightening.  The notion that the people who claim to dedicate their lives to “helping” us, hold us fat people in such deep-seated and largely unquestioned contempt.  The truth is that we all hold bias in some form or another against some group or another.  But it is only when we choose to or are forced to confront it that we can move forward without damaging those we claim to wish to help.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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New Study Finds Shaming People Doesn’t Help Them Lose Weight: Confirms Ursine Creatures Poo in Forest

Bear poops in woods.  News at eleven!

Bear poops in woods. News at eleven!

Yet another study came out this week confirming that perceived weight stigma does not help overweight get thinner people.  In fact, weight discrimination is more likely to make them gain weight. 

Participants who experienced weight discrimination were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese by follow-up (OR = 2.54, 95% CI = 1.58–4.08) and participants who were obese at baseline were three times more likely to remain obese at follow up (OR = 3.20, 95% CI = 2.06–4.97) than those who had not experienced such discrimination.

In other news, a study confirms the pope is Catholic.

It’s possible by now you are well and truly sick of hearing me say that fat shaming people does not help them lose weight.  I know I’m a little sick of saying it.  But as long as the world takes this “fat shaming doesn’t work but let’s try it again” approach, I’ll feel honor-bound to keep repeating it.

On the same day that I came across this new research, I came across this gem (warning, serious asshattery) touting some new “hard-hitting childhood obesity ads” out of the UK.  While the article on Buzz Feed praises the ad for not showing pictures of fat kids looking miserable (as in the Georgia Billboard campaign), the author clearly needs a delivery from the clue department.  Because, even if you use kindergarten level graphics or an image of an overflowing urn, shaming people is shaming.  And shaming people doesn’t work. Shaming people doesn’t work.  SHAMING PEOPLE DOESN’T WORK.  *Grabs paper bag and starts breathing into it…*

Despite all the evidence mounting from all the studies about shame and obesity, the anti-fat people regularly demonstrate the qualities of insanity by trying the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  I think the reasoning goes something like, “Even though it didn’t work last time, fat-shaming gets government and organizational funding like nobody’s business.  Let’s get a grant to do it a little bit differently than we did it before and spin the results like a Maytag washer.”

So it seems that folks are going to continue to spend money on ineffective and dangerous fat shaming.  And I’ll continue to write about it.  It’s the circle of blog life I guess.

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Fashionably Impoverished

AppleCharlotteSo I ran across THIS story this past week about Charlotte a fashion student in London who dared, DARED to make a plus-sized collection for her graduate project.  Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) she received a lot of resistance from her school about her decision to create a plus-sized fashion line and use plus-sized models.  At least initially she was told that she couldn’t show her collection in the University’s London showcase.  She was told that she would have to source all her own models for her own showcase and create all of her own pattern blocks.  All this because she dared to suggest that perhaps some designs should be created for the 50 percent of the female population that can’t wear “straight sizes”.  (Hmm, isn’t “straight sizes” an interesting term in itself?)

All of this in the same week that we’ve seen the brouhaha over Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries and his hateful comment that his clothes are for the “cool kids”, and that he really doesn’t offer plus sizes because he really doesn’t want fat people wearing his clothes.  Why does Mike do that?  Simple.  He says that because he believes it will further endear him to his target market of young, thin, privileged, white kids.  And he says that because he really didn’t believe there would be any problem with it.  Oh after all the yelling Mr. Jeffries apparently made a half-hearted apology just to keep his name in the papers.  To which I say, F-you Mike Jeffries.  Oh and please enjoy this special video response to Mr. Jeffries recorded on the streets of my beloved Hollywood…

However you slice it, Mike Jeffries got a publicity bonanza for his brand as a result of this whole thing.  And while the surprising backlash probably prompted this apology, the reality is, all publicity is good publicity if they spell your URL correctly and drive traffic to your facebook feed.

But there is an aspect to this whole thing that puzzles me.  The scorn of the fashion industry to anyone who wears over a size zero is hardly new.  But we’re still climbing out of a worldwide recession.  You’d think fashion companies might be a tad more interested in making money.  You’d think that they’d want to give a little more attention to the basic principles of supply and demand.  And no matter how you slice it, the place where the market is under-served, the place where there is more market share to be got and less competition to fight is in plus-sized fashions.  Seriously.

Don’t believe me?  Do this experiment.  Go to any mall in America.  Count the number of clothing stores for women.  Now count the number of clothing stores for women that carry plus-sized fashions.  Let’s take the Fashion Square Mall in Los Angeles as an example.  There are 40 stores that carry women’s clothing.  The only two that offer any plus-sized clothing in the store are the two major department stores, Macy’s and Bloomingdales.  In both cases, the plus-sized clothing departments are a small fraction of the overall floor space.  Two stores at the mall offer plus-sizes via their web sites (J Jill and Forever 21) but not in the stores at this mall.  So of the 40 women’s clothing stores in this mall you can try on clothes over a size 14 at two of them.  This despite the fact that about half the female population of our country wears a size 14 or over.   Now I don’t have an ivy league MBA degree, but even I can figure out that the business opportunity lies with the plus-sized crowd.  So why oh why is the university discouraging the amazing Charlotte from creating clothes for the half of the population that is actively crying out for new clothes?  In this world of ballooning student loans and massive unemployment, why would they discourage a student from focusing on a market which A) the student has a great passion to serve, and B)The student might actually make some money?

The only answer I can come up with is stigma, pure and simple.  Charlotte has expressed pride at graduating and some consternation that she won’t know her final grade for some time.  But I for one, would be pretty indifferent to the judgement of any institution that taught me to be fashionably poor.

Love,

The Fat Chick