Tag Archives: Weight Watchers

If you’re happy and you know it, Weight Watchers says you probably shouldn’t be…

When Can I Get Some Food Around Here_MASSIVE MEGA TRIGGER WARNING.  I’m going to be talking about an unbelievably annoying Weight Watchers ad.  If you don’t want to hear about a lot of icky concern trolling, food phobic, fat phobic nonsense, please skip to the bottom and look at the video with the Sparta the fighting Kitty in it.  (‘Cuz Sparta rules!)  Otherwise read on.

Scrolling through my facebook feed, I saw a post from a friend of mine calling out a recent ad from Weight Watchers.  Here it is, watch at your own peril…

Okay, let’s break this down.  Weight Watchers took a happy little children’s song that happens to be all about being happy right now as you are and letting everybody around you know the same thing and turned it into a fat-phobic hate fest.  It basically says, if you’re happy and you know it, and you happen to also, you know, eat something, then you are bad.  If you are sad and you eat something you are bad.  In fact if you are doing anything in the whole wide world other than calculating the WW Points value of anything you are eating to eight decimal places, you are bad.  Because clearly, experiencing any emotion at all at the same time means you are EMOTIONALLY EATING.  (Well at least emotionally snacking to be precise about the lyrics.)  And everybody knows emotional eating is bad, right?  RIGHT?!

Except kind of not.  Just because we are eating an ice cream cone or potato chips or broccoli while we are sad or happy or lonely or angry or bored doesn’t mean we are eating those things because we are daring to have feels while we are putting food in our mouths.  It doesn’t mean that that food has no nutritional value or we are somehow not allowed to eat those things while we are feeling all the feels.  It’s the whole correlation versus causation argument demonstrated using snack foods and a rhyming children’s song.  I simply refuse to submit to the notion that the only feelings I am allowed to feel while masticating my meals is either:

1.  Guilt because clearly I am ingesting too many WW (TM) points, or

2.  Smug righteousness because I am ingesting the proper number of WW (TM) points.

Because, best I can tell, the commercial indicates that I shouldn’t eat when I am:

happy

sad

angry

bored

sleepy

human

Which pretty much covers all of the things.  Which means I am not supposed to eat any more ever.  (Which is kind of counter intuitive, because then how could I buy all the WW frozen, tasteless, low-points, you know, THINGS?)

No freaking way.  Sometimes when I am happy I will eat ice cream.  Sometimes when I am happy I will eat salad.  These conditions are also true if I am sad or lonely or bored or angry.  I am an emotional  person.  Hell, sometimes I dance around the living room at the mere thought of ice cream.  I have a special SONG I sing almost every night to signal that it is time to wear my jammies.    If I find that I am using food as a primary method for avoiding the feeling of any of these feelings, I may or may not choose to find some help to change that.  But I guaran-freaking-tee you that I won’t be seeking help from the double doubleyou.  But there is no way at all, that I’m going to let some company tell me that it is not okay to have feelings and eat at the same time.  Because I want to live!*

*Oh, in the interest of full disclosure, while I am from a “Jazzed Up Generation”, I haven’t killed anybody and most of my friends are pretty good.  Just so you know.

I want to live.  And I refuse to let a weight loss company tell me how I can live, including when I can be happy or when I can eat.  Or when I can look at ADORABLE CAT VIDEOS like the one below.

Enjoy!

Love,
Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to talk about intuitive eating at your school or organization? Click HERE!

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When the Fat Chick Sings…

Sad, but oh so true.

One thing that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree in Opera Performance.  Yup, at one time, I was a budding opera singer.  But after I failed to land one of the 5 paid positions in America for opera performers but did land venture capital for a software company, I decided to put aside my operatic aspirations.  Nevertheless, I feel compelled to jump in on the current kerfluffle regarding reviewers commenting on women who dare to sing while fat.

This all came to a head recently as a pile of reviews from a gang of privileged old white guys surfaced in London.  The reviewers skewered Irish mezzo Tara Erraught’s performance as Octavian in the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier at the Glyndebourne Festival not because of her performing or even her singing, but rather how she looked in a dress–and pants (Octavian is a pants role after all).  Any of us who have had any kind of presence online ever might recognize some of this “troll tripe”:

“It’s hard to imagine this Octavian as this willowy woman’s plausible lover.”  The Guardian, Andrew Clements

“Unbelievable, and unappealing.” The Times of London, Richard Morrison

“a chubby bundle of puppy fat…” Financial Times,  Andrew Clark

These are not troll fodder screen captured in the comments section.  These are quotes taken from “professional music reviewers” in arguably respectable publications.  While one of the reviews mentions in passing that the role is “gloriously sung” most of them focus exclusively on this performer’s looks.  There is a lot of outrage over these reviews, which I share.  There is also a fair amount of surprise that this sort of language is being used to describe singers in one of the most glorious art forms on the planet.  Unfortunately surprise is something I cannot feel about that.

Irish mezzo soprano, Tara Erraught

As a chubby, budding coloratura soprano, I was told at both the undergraduate and graduate level that I would never have an opera career unless I lost weight.  Professors shared their tips for which Weight Watchers meetings I should attend along with my vocal and theater training.  Because even twenty years ago, when I was in college, we in the biz knew that fat female opera singers were enduring caricatures but not successful performers.  Some of us back then called it Kathleen Battle syndrome.  She wasn’t much of a singer.  She wasn’t bad, but she certainly was far from the best.  Working with her was an absolute nightmare.  But she made huge bank back then for two reasons–she knew how to build her fame by building scandal and keeping her name in the press and she looked great in a dress.

No matter how great your singing voice, fail to look great in a dress and you might get the axe.  I certainly remember singing sensation Deborah Voight’s triumphant review in the New York Times for her role in Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss.  I also remember her getting fired by London’s Covent Garden because she “was not appropriate because of the costume that Ariadne was meant to wear in this production.”  In other words, Deborah did not look good in the dress that was selected for the role, therefore Covent Garden would need to select another singer.  Voight has since had weight loss surgery and is often heard “singing the praises” of this procedure.  Naturally since her weight loss, many believe she looks better in a dress. And actually the whole issue of her weight loss has helped to stay in the press–helping her meet both requirements of “Kathleen Battle syndrome”.  Naturally, her bookings have skyrocketed.

And the desire for our divas to be thin is hardly new.  Histrionic diva Maria Callas is well known for being stick thin.  And rumor has it that she resorted to many drastic measures–including swallowing tapeworms to maintain her tiny waist.  Gone are the days when a truly great soprano might hope to have a great dessert (Dame Nellie Melba) or a pasta dish (Luisa Tetrazzini) named after her.

Luisa Tetrazzini was the only soprano that Caruso felt could match him in tone and volume. Too bad she’d be fired today for failing to look desirable in a dress.

I think one of the things I find most appalling about the whole thing is the argument by some of these critics that fat, female opera singers just aren’t believable.  They imply that somehow we can get audiences to suspend their disbelief to the point that they accept:

A husband won’t recognize his wife at a party if she’s wearing a tiny mask over her eyes.  He can hold her hand, flirt with her for hours but not recognize her at all.

Men return from war, disguise themselves with hats and very fake mustaches, call themselves “Albanians” and their girlfriends have no clue it’s them.  In fact the girls fall for each other’s boyfriends and nobody is the wiser until the finale.

An angry dwarf steals a ring and the world ends.  Ends!

A man turns into a swan.

A man falls in love (for reals) with a mechanical doll.

We can accept all of this?  And we can accept that while these folks are doing these things they burst into song SOMETIMES FOR HOURS.  But somehow we can’t accept that a plus-sized gal can love or be loved or be sexy?  Or…

Are we dealing with an increasingly elitist art form that enforces male privilege and classism?  Are we creating spectacle purely to allow rich people to wear designer gowns and reenforce their position as arbiters of culture?  Are we proving yet again that even a woman who can sing for four hours in French and belt out high F’s night after night while wearing a corset and dancing in stiletto heels has no value unless she is also considered appropriately F#%$-able by aging frat boys?

I am deeply grateful that I had an opportunity to study and perform opera.  I still love singing very much.  And I still do, publicly, every week.  But thankfully, I no longer have to diet, wear a corset or worry about not being able to pay my heating bill because of how I look in a dress.  I am The Fat Chick.  And I have sung.  Therefore this blog post has come to an end.  See  you at the curtain call.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

The Body’s Battle with Weight Loss

slide33.033I recently ran across this little gem on Cracked.com entitled “Fat is Officially Incurable (According to Science)” which offers a surprisingly accurate portrayal about just how likely those “before” and “after” shots in advertisements are to reflect the long-term experience of real, live people.  While proceeding with tongue firmly inserted in cheek, the author offers a nice summary of some of the scientific evidence offered regarding long-term weight loss:

  • Probability of long-term maintenance of very modest weight loss (10-15 pounds)–Very low
  • Probability of a fat person becoming (and staying) a thin person–Practically Non-existant.

One of my favorite things about this article (besides David Wong’s deliciously snarky attitude) is the plethora of links to some other wonderful content that I’ve read, but probably forgotten about.

For example, a lot of the math about Weight Watchers “success stories” (including why you may be 20 times more likely to survive being shot in the head than you are to reach and maintain your WW “goal weight”) is derived from this wonderful blog post by fat fu.

And David also references this comprehensive NY Times Article in which Tara Parker-Pope breaks down a lot of the recent research about why permanent weight loss can be so difficult.  She talks about a lot of the physiological changes that can happen with weight loss including:

  • Increased hunger hormones like ghrelin that make us feel more hungry.
  • Decreased leptin and peptide yy in the body which help to signal when our bodies are full.
  • Lowered metabolism.
  • Increased percentages of slow-twitch muscle fibers that make our bodies use calories more efficiently and burn fewer calories during physical activities.
  • Increased “reward response” to food in the brain leading to more intense cravings for and obsession about food.

Tara also reminds us that these changes in the body are often long-term–lasting months or even years after the dieting has stopped.  And while both she and David Wong admit that there are some “rare creatures” found in the National Weight Control Registry who have maintained significant weight loss, the vast majority of us are unlikely to experience the same results.

I don’t say this to depress you.  But I do feel very strongly that those of us who work in the health and fitness industries have a responsibility to help our clients to build realistic expectations.  Very, very few of us will lose a lot of weight and keep it off.  A very slightly larger number of us will lose a little bit of weight and keep it off.  But most of us will neither lose a significant amount of weight nor will we keep it off. Does that mean we need to give up on either wellness or well-being?  Nope!  As it turns out, bodies respond very well to healthy behaviors regardless of whether or not they are accompanied by any weight loss.  We can choose to de-couple wellness from weight loss and focus on simply doing the things that make us feel well.  So in my mind, it really makes more sense to take this Health At Every Size(R) or HAES approach and let the body’s weight settle where it will.

And even though telling the truth has seriously blunted my book sales and ruined my chances of ever starring in my own late-night, cheesy infomercial, I still must tell it.  Oh well, I’m more of a morning person anyway.

Love,

The Fat Chick