Fat shaming vs. necessary dialouge on obesity

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Jun 5, 2013
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This is a sensitive topic for a lot of people, so I'll try to be both delicate and a little indelicate, as feelings sometimes do need to be hurt.

Basically reddit and youtube are all over a 'new' obesity PSA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUmp67YDlHY

and a news article:
https://www.yahoo.com/health/shocking-anti-obesity-psa-sparks-debate-94551060722.html

I've read comments on Youtube, reddit and Yahoo but I honestly can't for the life of me see the 'fat shaming' people claim the video portrays. I struggled with being overweight in High School. I joined cross country, ran 6-10 miles every day, no matter how slowly, for almost three years. Fat problem melted away. It was hard work, my feet bled, my bones broke, I cried and wanted to quit. But it wasn't an insurmountable obstacle.

So my question would be this: where/what is the line between fat shaming and the necessary harsh words that people need to start working out/eating healthy food? Is it 'get off your fat ass and workout!' or 'you WILL die from preventable complications if you don't lose weight'? I get that for a lot of people weight is very personal and leads to mental disorders, but as the PSA demonstrates, is there such thing as too much coddling? Not being tough enough or just saying 'NO! No more McDonalds! You get steams carrots and baked chicken!'
I know I always hated eating peas and broccoli as a kid. But now as a mid-20s adult, broccoli is one of my favorite foods!
 

shootthebandit

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I dont condone people being fat and I dont promote people to be fat but if you make the choice to be fat then thats your problem. Im a relatively skinny guy thats a fairly heavy smoker and drinker I cant really say anything because the choices I make are equally damaging as being overweight. The only difference is that being overweight is physical.

You maybe overweight for a multitude of reasons. Overeating could be to relieve depression/stress or a poor diet/lifestyle could just be a force of habit. It could even be an addiction

I class it along the same lines as smoking and heavy drinking. I cannot judge because I fall into this category but somehow we have this culture "dont make fun of fat people" and on the flip side "smokers, drug users and drinkers are the spawn of satan". We are all still poisoning our own bodies but we just have a different poison. That's their choice to make, you should be concerned as a family member or close friend but if someone has nothing to do with you then leave them alone. Shaming people into doing something is not effective its just a "look how much better I am than you" attitude and its incredibly patronising. On the flip side being over sensitive to the point where you are basically encouraging someone is not good either. If someone has a problem with being overweight then there should be a level of support similar to those with drug or alcohol problems because it is as much mental as it is physical (in many cases)
 

keniakittykat

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I think you shouldn't treat people like babies. There's no point in tip-toeing around the subject, but just be classy and genuinely concerned about it.

For example, if you see an obese stranger, you have no business telling them to lose weight. It's not your problem and you should let them be. It's rude to tell people you have no connection to what to do. Whether you don't like gay people kissing in public, a woman breastfeeding a baby, someone wearing clothes like they were dressed by a colorblind grandmother, it's not to you to say anything about it. It's simply none of your business.

But if it's someone you care about, you could say that you are concerned for their health and offer a helping hand if they need one. You wouldn't let someone who's close to you destroy themselves because of other destructive behaviors, would you?
(Like alcohol, drugs, hoarding, dangerous driving, etc.)

It is that easy.
 

Shock and Awe

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Sep 6, 2008
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If you ask me obesity is nothing more then a disease and should be treated as such. The only difference that it has when compared to others is that the best treatment is not drugs, or surgery; its effort to make good nutritional choices and to exercise. This is the problem. There are people who think that society should have to accept and accommodate a problem that could be solved if they had any self discipline or will to help themselves. The fat acceptance movement is nothing more then people trying to justify their sloth and find excuses not to cure themselves.

This is all coming from a person who used to be borderline obese in highschool(I was a weight lifter, but it was still excessive) to being in excellent physical shape in the span of two years. What did it? Discipline to eat right and exercise more. These people just don't want to do that and like saying that they cant. Are there really people who have some medical problem preventing weight loss? Yes, but that is a small minority.

In short, we shouldn't make people hate themselves for being overweight, but we need to push them toward health like any other patient. If someone is trying to fix themselves then its fantastic. If someone is making excuses they're wrong. If they are spreading lies they are disgusting.
 

senordesol

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It seems like a rather strange obsession.

I'm a rather rotund gentleman myself, and I recognize that is going to be a medical issue at some point. That said, I'm able to function normally in every day society, I work, I go home to my family, I contribute, and I pay my taxes.

The hell are people so concerned about my waistline for?
 

Lilani

Sometimes known as CaitieLou
May 27, 2009
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I think everybody has their issues, and any amount of shaming for any reason is just unnecessary. I absolutely abhor smoking, but I work with a few smokers. They go outside, smoke, and come back in with little fuss or fanfare. They know I dislike smoking and I've spoken about it in front of them on occasion, however I never made any statements about smokers specifically. I talk about how much I dislike the smell, but I don't say anything like "Smokers are selfish" or "Smokers are morons." I dislike the action and its effects, but not the people, and I do not direct my abhorrence toward the individuals.

Fat shaming, however, directs all that vitriol at the individual. Not the unhealthy lifestyle, not the potential addiction or disease causing it. The person. It's showing a person your disdain for an aspect of them, with the perverse notion that by making them feel bad you're helping them out. It's the Westboro Baptist Church approach to helping people: insult and shame them until they change. And I think given the WBC's results from this strategy, it's clear that's not a very effective strategy, unless the only thing you want is to be able to insult people and tell yourself it's for a good cause.

The way to help an overweight person out is to support their health and happiness. I've gotten back into running this summer, and my primary motivator for getting my ass out of bed at 5:30AM to run before work is the thought of the good feelings I will have when I'm done. Not the shame of being overweight. I am driven by pride in my body, not hatred toward it. When I feel proud of my body, I want to do better for it. When I feel ashamed of it, I want to give up because I don't feel like I deserve better.
 

Foolery

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Jun 5, 2013
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Eh, there's a world of difference between overweight and obese. Obesity is caused by a level of self-destruction I can't understand.
They bring it upon themselves, almost like someone deciding to chug a 2 litre of chocolate milk in one sitting.
 

manic_depressive13

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Dec 28, 2008
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Yeah, it's really fucked up to stereotype all obese people as lazy slobs who sit on their ass playing video games, hoarding food like animals and never eating a vegetable in their life. If anything all the obese people I know pay way more attention to what they eat, and eat far healthier, than their thin counterparts. They think eating a single chocolate biscuit counts as a treat, whereas I eat whole packets of those things at a time and never have to think twice about it.

On the other hand, as a smoker I'm quite used to ignorant and patronising PSAs, so I say shrug it off.

Welcome to the club my friends.
 

cypher-raige

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manic_depressive13 said:
Yeah, it's really fucked up to stereotype all obese people as lazy slobs who sit on their ass playing video games, hoarding food like animals and never eating a vegetable in their life. If anything all the obese people I know pay way more attention to what they eat, and eat far healthier, than their thin counterparts. They think eating a single chocolate biscuit counts as a treat, whereas I eat whole packets of those things at a time and never have to think twice about it.

On the other hand, as a smoker I'm quite used to ignorant and patronising PSAs, so I say shrug it off.

Welcome to the club my friends.
What's ignorant about smoking PSAs? Cancer sticks are 100% bad for you.
Not just a little bad. They are terrible for you.
I'm glad smoking isn't "cool" anymore.
 

manic_depressive13

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cypher-raige said:
What's ignorant about smoking PSAs? Cancer sticks are 100% bad for you.
Not just a little bad. They are terrible for you.
I'm glad smoking isn't "cool" anymore.
A lot of them are ignorant because they don't try to understand people's motivation for smoking. They reduce it to peer pressure and addiction, even though peer pressure very much goes in the opposite direction these days, and the role of the chemical addiction is greatly exaggerated. The majority of these ads thus end up being dehumanising and smug.

Luckily for me, the shifting attitude has turned smoking into one of the most effective methods of douche repellant known to mankind.
 

senordesol

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manic_depressive13 said:
cypher-raige said:
What's ignorant about smoking PSAs? Cancer sticks are 100% bad for you.
Not just a little bad. They are terrible for you.
I'm glad smoking isn't "cool" anymore.
A lot of them are ignorant because they don't try to understand people's motivation for smoking. They reduce it to peer pressure and addiction, even though peer pressure very much goes in the opposite direction these days, and the role of the chemical addiction is greatly exaggerated. The majority of these ads thus end up being dehumanising and smug.

Luckily for me, the shifting attitude has turn smoking into one of the most effective methods of douche repellant known to mankind.
You know, I've seen a few anti-smoking PSAs that made me want to smoke just out of spite for precisely those reasons (mainly the 'truth' campaign).

What's that? Tobacco companies want to downplay how bad their products are? No fuckin' shit!
 

MysticSlayer

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senordesol said:
The hell are people so concerned about my waistline for?
Well, there are the economic [http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/economic/] and environmental [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/global-shift-obesity-packs-serious-climate-consequences/] problems associated with obesity, and those aren't limited just to being personal affects. In the long run, they have the potential to affect the entire human population, including those who chose to live healthier. Sure, one person being overweight isn't going to contribute significantly enough, but just like people who waste electricity and water add up to have negative effects on carbon emissions, the millions of overweight and obese people begin to add up. It also doesn't help when you consider that people in wealthy nations are eating themselves to death while people in poorer nations are starving. Granted, I doubt most people caring about obesity really know about these issues. They are probably just very concerned for people's health or they are just judgmental jerks that enjoy sticking their noses into other people's business.
 

viscomica

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I don't care if people are fat, and for whatever reasons they are fat nor do I support fat shaming. But the thing is, I hate, absolutely hate whenever some expert on nutrition appears on T.V or on a magazine recommending certain stuff for putting off weight or promoting healthy snacks or whatever and then a looooooooooooot of people just go berseck and attack them for "fat shaming". There is a difference between fat shaming and providing awareness on nutritional facts and some people just don't seem to get it.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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michael87cn said:
Silentpony said:
Lemme make this simple for you. Something being "not impossible" doesn't mean its something everyone should do. Joining the military and becoming hardened to kill people isn't impossible, should I be made fun of, 'shamed' called female genitalia because I don't 'man up' and learn how to kill? It's a choice.

Becoming fat, is a choice. People know when they over eat. They go "oh well." or "I don't care, I want this". It's no different from smoking, or drinking alcohol, or whatever endorphin-high you depend on to get through this life. You think you're a saint? You're perfect? Guess what. You're. No. Better. Something is wrong with you because you know what you are? A fucking human being, with flaws. Fat people are at a disadvantage, people are vain. People are judgmental, people suck. Fat people wear their problems on the outside for everyone to see, but smokers? Nobody sees how diseased and fucked up their lungs are, if they COULD? Well guess what would happen. Use your imagination. People make fun of anything and everything they can. Lifes too short for me to care what people fucking think. Have all the PSAs you want, I have my problems (you probably realize what) and I am working on fixing it my own way. Take your judgmental attitude and shove it, and while you're at it work on fixing your own issues before you point the finger.

Why does a human being have this sort of obligation to be VISUALLY flawless to the public perception, but its acceptable to be all kinds of screwed up in other ways. Look at hitler, I would call him a handsome gentleman. Oh he fills people into chambers and gasses them all to death? Apparently, tons of people could get behind that-- OH LOOK A FAT GUY. LETS INSULT HIM UNTIL HE HOPS ON A TREADMILL AND BREAKS DOWN AS A HUMAN BEING IN A PILE OF SHAME AND HUMILIATION! GOTTA USE THEM HARSH WORDS SOMETIMES-- AFTER ALL, PEOPLE AREN'T SOMETHING TO BE RESPECTED... IF YOU SEE SOMEONE YOU DON'T LIKE, YOU GOTTA HURT 'EM TILL THEY CHANGE! YEAH!

Weird, abstract example but it comes from a famous quote I read once. You walk into a forest, you see a bunch of trees. Your mind doesn't judge the trees 'fat' 'skinny' 'tall' 'short'. You don't see them as flawed but as what they are. Trees that have gone through different struggles in their plant-lives to grow how they've grown. Their individual experiences made them what they are. People, honestly, aren't much different.
So wait, you're saying that fat shaming is comparable to the Holocaust? Maybe even worse because at least Hitler was thin?
Also, in point of fact, obesity is not so much a 'choice' for children. I don't know many 6 year olds who say 'oh yeah, I accept that I might have a heart attack at 30 if I continue to eat the pizza and cupcakes my parents give me. Its MY choice'
The PSA, which to be clear I'm not saying isn't offensive, points out that obesity isn't an adult choice. It starts as a kid, when you're a toddler and your parents take you to get ice cream or some shit. Something completely out of your control! Something that isn't a choice. Is it hypocritical for parents to feed kids ice cream and then call them fat? Yes, of course. The parents are to blame! I'm not defending them. But what I am saying is it feels like a cop-out to just shrug and go 'well that's that' on life and the topic in general. Fat people are fat, and there's nothing anyone anywhere can do at any time. Never, ever EVER.
And yes, I do consider smoking and drinking and drug use to be harmful. And guess what? If parents were giving toddlers booze or cocaine, I'd be against that too!
If, as you say, being fat is a choice then how about this. A fat eating age. Buying cigarettes is 18. Buying booze is 21. Lets say, as responsible adults who in NO way believe obesity is a problem and think our culture is just shameful, we make the eating of fatty foods like ice cream and cakes and pizza age restricted. Say...18. Same as smoking. If it IS a choice, then lets make DAMNM sure kids, being legally separate from adults as kids can't make choices, don't have access to fatty foods.
That a good compromise?
 

Ihateregistering1

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Honestly, I think this is a superb PSA, it doesn't mince words and it's actually willing to call a spade a spade. Shocking images and not tiptoeing around are sometimes the best way to get the point across.

Now, for all of the people who keep saying "well it's none of your business if someone is fat or not!": sorry, but BS. If you live in any modern nation on the planet, tax dollars help pay for your healthcare (and yes, this includes the United States), and in some they literally pay for all of it. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more established and well-documented scientific fact than "obesity increases the risk for multiple diseases and health issues". The obese rack up larger medical bills than the non-obese (yes, even with shorter lifespans), they are twice as likely to file disability claims, and miss an astounding 12 times as many work days as the non-obese (US data at least). Everyone pays taxes, therefore it is everyone's business.

That being said, that doesn't mean fat shaming should be encouraged. In fact, most research has shown that it has the opposite effect and actually makes things worse. But there is a very large difference between saying "you shouldn't be cruel to overweight people", and saying "you can be healthy at any size", "obesity is never a choice", or using anecdotal evidence (ie. "I knew a fat person who ran marathons, therefore all that research is incorrect!"). You can be encouraging without being cruel, but lying to people and denying established science does no one any favors.
 

Thaluikhain

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What is this "necessary dialouge" the title mentions? That fat people are a disgusting blight on society and shouldn't exist? Cause that's what most dialogues about the subject tend to boil down to, and fat people have heard that one once or twice already.

Shaming people for being fat is not going to suddenly start helping fat people lose weight after all these years.
 

Flutterguy

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Making somebody not continue a knowingly suicidal binge is probably going to take a lot more then "Your family took the lazy route and you're fat as a result".

Testing on rats and other mammals shows that some naturally want to consume themselves to death. Whether they be tested using food or drugs their is always a minority, that even in excellent conditions (Plenty of mates, exercise and freedom) a minority of them will still over-consume and die young. Unless you have some sort of annual ethnic cleansing for fat people it will not go away. Acceptance can taste like death, but sometimes you just have to accept it.
 

senordesol

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MysticSlayer said:
senordesol said:
The hell are people so concerned about my waistline for?
Well, there are the economic [http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/economic/] and environmental [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/global-shift-obesity-packs-serious-climate-consequences/] problems associated with obesity, and those aren't limited just to being personal affects. In the long run, they have the potential to affect the entire human population, including those who chose to live healthier. Sure, one person being overweight isn't going to contribute significantly enough, but just like people who waste electricity and water add up to have negative effects on carbon emissions, the millions of overweight and obese people begin to add up. It also doesn't help when you consider that people in wealthy nations are eating themselves to death while people in poorer nations are starving. Granted, I doubt most people caring about obesity really know about these issues. They are probably just very concerned for people's health or they are just judgmental jerks that enjoy sticking their noses into other people's business.
Well, shit. Using that logic; any risky behavior whatsoever is a threat to the human species if expansive enough.

Silentpony said:
So wait, you're saying that fat shaming is comparable to the Holocaust? Maybe even worse because at least Hitler was thin?
Also, in point of fact, obesity is not so much a 'choice' for children. I don't know many 6 year olds who say 'oh yeah, I accept that I might have a heart attack at 30 if I continue to eat the pizza and cupcakes my parents give me. Its MY choice'
The PSA, which to be clear I'm not saying isn't offensive, points out that obesity isn't an adult choice. It starts as a kid, when you're a toddler and your parents take you to get ice cream or some shit. Something completely out of your control! Something that isn't a choice. Is it hypocritical for parents to feed kids ice cream and then call them fat? Yes, of course. The parents are to blame! I'm not defending them. But what I am saying is it feels like a cop-out to just shrug and go 'well that's that' on life and the topic in general. Fat people are fat, and there's nothing anyone anywhere can do at any time. Never, ever EVER.
And yes, I do consider smoking and drinking and drug use to be harmful. And guess what? If parents were giving toddlers booze or cocaine, I'd be against that too!
If, as you say, being fat is a choice then how about this. A fat eating age. Buying cigarettes is 18. Buying booze is 21. Lets say, as responsible adults who in NO way believe obesity is a problem and think our culture is just shameful, we make the eating of fatty foods like ice cream and cakes and pizza age restricted. Say...18. Same as smoking. If it IS a choice, then lets make DAMNM sure kids, being legally separate from adults as kids can't make choices, don't have access to fatty foods.
That a good compromise?
I read the post twice and saw no reference to the holocaust there, Godwin. But, since you brought it up; fascistic restrictions on food do smack a bit of totalitarianism.

What is it you're tying to accomplish, precisely? So, what? A kid scores some ice cream and you're going to arrest him? Arrest the person who sold it to him? Treat the dairies like hooch houses? Kid grows a paunch and it's off to foster care?
 

Colour Scientist

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Jul 15, 2009
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Lilani said:
They know I dislike smoking and I've spoken about it in front of them on occasion, however I never made any statements about smokers specifically. I talk about how much I dislike the smell, but I don't say anything like "Smokers are selfish" or "Smokers are morons." I dislike the action and its effects, but not the people, and I do not direct my abhorrence toward the individuals.

The way to help an overweight person out is to support their health and happiness.
I imagine if you were to talk about how you think overeating or not exercising is disgusting in front of an obese person on occasion it wouldn't do much to encourage their health and happiness.

I'd find it a bit rude, personally.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

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Some people's weight issues aren't easily solved. When you're younger weight can be manageable if one takes steps to do so, but as one gets older its harder to lose weight consistently. Like it or not, weight problems can be genetic. One can eat healthy, exercise and still not meet the target weight for one's age/height.
However if one chooses to ignore one's health, does nothing to at least mitigate it, then one must accept the consequences. Consequences being overweight and unhealthy. No one should be shamed into losing weight, but a healthy dose of reality checks and constructive criticism is not wrong.
It all depends on the person, but if that person's diet is junk food then you are what you eat.
I've no respect though for people who blame society for their weight problems. No one is forcing fast food down one's throat, that is a choice. We all have choices to make in life, and learning everything one can about one's own metabolic rate, proper diet and self-control is the best choice one can make to be healthy.
Beyond any of those points, it is up to the person to get help for their problems. I have a friend who would complain about his weight all the time, how he can never get a girlfriend because of it, then he would go and order enough food to feed 3 people and eat it all in one sitting. After the first time I saw him do that, I told him straight up if he ever bitched about his weight to me again I'd smack him upside the head because he was just being stupid. He did nothing to change his habits, just wallowed in self-pity. I've no time for people who complain about the hand dealt to them instead of doing something about it. As I say, we all have a choice. Making the wrong ones then acting shocked over the consequences of said choices is the wrong attitude to have.
I'm bipolar, while that isn't a weight issue its still an issue. I don't use my illness as a crutch to be an asshole to people, I do everything I can to mitigate it and own up to when it gets the better of me.

Advice for overweight people, going off the same model I use for my illness:

1. Get a support group. Not necessarily joining something like overeaters anonymous, but people who care about you and who's opinions you respect. People who aren't afraid to call you out on your bullshit when you're lapsing into old habits. Having others you trust to be your sounding board is immensely helpful as being human we tend to ignore things about ourselves.

2. Set small goals for the present and near future that add up to one larger goal. Do not set unreasonable expectations on yourself, thats just setting you up for failure.

3. Keep a journal about urges or bad feelings that may cause you to relapse, then contact your support group if those feelings/urges become overwhelming.

4. Change everything you do, eliminating as many bad influences as you can. Whether its people you hang around that contribute to your poor habits, or just the route you take to work or school that passes by temptations to relapse. By making small changes like those mentioned, you may find your life is already changing. Also check your kitchen for food that is high in fat and sugar content. Don't drink diet soda, that does not help at all. Instead find a healthy alternative, like fruit juice (real not the "fruit" juice that is mostly sugar, flavoring, water and dye). Also carry healthy snacks with you to cut down on eating urges, again fruit is a great substitute and it is a "good" sugar type.

5. Accept that you may never be thin, and that is ok. But you still can lose weight and be healthy without being thin.

6. When deciding to exercise, it would be a good idea to set aside the money one would normally spend on junk food, fast food, etc. for a visit to a professional nutritionist. Not one of these "I'll make you thin" charlatans, someone who knows how to tailor your diet per body/blood type.

----6a. Blood type diets may not help you lose weight, but they can help mitigate cholesterol buildup in the body. There are various resources out there to help you figure out what foods are best for your blood type. You may also find you feel better once you're used to the diet.

7. Unless you're in absolute medical need, do not get any elective surgeries to "cheat" your way thin. This can lead to complications down the line and it also doesn't change your overall habits. There's no fast fix for anything health related, especially weight.

8. You don't need fad diets either, nor specialized foods to help you lose weight. Anything you can buy at your local market can work, but be proactive and read the nutritional values printed on pretty much every food item out there. Stay away from frozen foods unless its meats that you're sure won't cause heavy weight gain.


My examples: I do have weight issues, but not obesity. I was underweight for years, possibly anorexic (wasn't diagnosed, not a doctor) but I was disgusted with myself when I was in middle school because I was chubby, so I would starve myself to the point of sickly thin (think Christian Bale in the Machinist). Incidentally its how I found out I have an extra pair of ribs, but I digress. When I woke up and realized how dangerously thin I was, I found a diet to match my blood type (O+). It consists of mostly lean, white meats (chicken, fish, pork with little to no extra fat) veggies (I love me some good veggies in hollandaise sauce) and light grains, beans and dairy (I love butter but I take it easy on that). As it stands now I'm 165 (fluctuating up and down) but its the healthy weight for my height and muscle mass. I feel a lot better, but I admit I cheat... I love bacon and eggs, so not healthy but I also don't eat them all the time (though bacon would be my all time favorite meat).

I don't expect my experiences will change people's perspectives but if I can help one person, then I am happy.

Ending note: If any of you feel you have weight issues and need someone objective to talk to who won't put up with self-shaming and excuse-making (stinkin' thinkin') I don't mind lending an ear and giving advice if asked. PM me if you feel you need a friendly "ear" to talk to. I'll do my best to help, and be warned; while I won't shame you for your weight, I will call you out on bullshit. So if you're too sensitive to someone giving constructive criticisms, and sometimes kicking you in the metaphoric ass, then it may be best to find someone else. However beware of enablers, they aren't helping you. Feeling sorry for someone and standing idly by as they destroy themselves is almost as bad as if you'd done it yourself.

EDIT: Also go through your wardrobe and find clothing that makes you feel good about yourself, don't concern yourself with fashion statements (but if you can pull it off, by all means do so). A good self-image goes a long way to recovery.