13 April, 2008

Public Anti-fat Prejudice is Contagious

WARNING: this post may be damaging to your self-esteem and/or put you in a really bad mood for the rest of the day. Don't click on any of the links if you can't cope with this stuff. It's a wonder any of us have any self-esteem at all, with the likes of these opinions out there and unchallenged in the mainstream press.

This has not been a good few weeks recently for fat people, in the UK press.

First there was an interview with Anton Du Beke, who is apparently a dancer who appears on TV, and the Daily Mail quoted him as saying (emphasis mine)

Diets are all nonsense: they don't work. Just don't get fat in the first place.

I've no time for fat people, they should all be shot.

What really upsets me is when I see fat kids. They've invariably got fat parents and they're the ones who are to blame. They need a good slap for having forced their bad ways on their kids.

When I was at school, there would be one fat kid in the class. Now there are hordes of them. I don't understand the psychology of fat people, nor the flip side of that, size zero.

I once taught dance to a girl with an eating disorder. I had to send her back to her mum because she had no stamina.

I don't mean to sound like a body fascist. In fact, it can be quite pleasant to have someone with a bit of wobbly flesh dancing with you.

I'm in two minds about whether very overweight people should be refused surgery unless they slim down. They have paid their taxes and they're entitled to treatment. But maybe they should be shoved to the back of the queue if someone comes in with a condition which isn't the result of eating themselves to 400st.

Then we had that hateful little piece by Monica Grenfell, who is one of the health police (wrote a crash dieting book amongst other things). Monica wrote complaining about Chloe Marshall, a beautiful teenager who is now "Miss Surrey".

...Chloe boasts she wants to be an "ambassador for curves".

Who on earth does she think she's kidding? What she's demonstrating isn't bravery but a shocking lack of self-control.

Instead of flaunting her figure, Chloe ought to own up to the truth. She is fat and she got that way by over-eating.

I don't take any pleasure in attacking Chloe - after all she's only 17.

What Monica is actually complaining about is difficult to tell really, since all she is doing is projecting her own prejudices and assumptions and dislikes onto poor Chloe. She assumes without a scrap of evidence that Chloe must be lazy, must be lacking in self-control, and must eat a lot. Why such characteristics, even if they were true of Chloe, should be considered so abominable that they merit a personal attack in a national newspaper, I don't know, but Monica sure is mad enough about fat people to complain as if these were heinous crimes against humanity. These assumptions about fat people are so strongly ingrained in people's prejudices, how on earth do we begin to get rid of them when any protestations to the contrary will result in accusations of denial - one of these convenient "Heads I win, Tails you lose" arguments.

Thirdly, we have another opinion piece from another health nazi who wants to show her hate to the world, in the Guardian of all places (usually the Guardian is above printing hate pieces). From Ruth Fowler:

I'm a fattist. I think fat people are just wrong.


How does anybody increase their body mass to 16 stone [=222lbs] "by accident"? These kinds of weight entail industrious and committed eating. It's eating as a career. It involves the consumption, python-like, of about six whole rotisserie chickens a day washed down with 16 pints of double cream, half a cow and probably the entire produce of Ireland's potato farms, deep-fried and with a coating of beer batter.

Sixteen stone is, by itself, evidence of amazing willpower. To have pushed one's body to the extremes of existence by diligently ignoring the little switch in the mind which triggers the "full" button after a hefty meal, and to have done this so impressively as to have assumed the epic proportions of a killer whale, is a feat one surely must applaud.


What is wrong with a society where so many people feel the need to channel their energy into the consumption of as many bumper packs of Wotsits as possible? Why is it so impossible for many of us to simply cut down on food? Walk around the block a few times? And where do people get the money to feed what equates to a small African village every day? Beth [Ditto]'s monthly food bill would probably pay my mortgage for a year.

Apparently the Guardian usually shut comments down after about 3 days, but this time they couldn't even make it to the end of the working day before closing comments. And unlike the balance of pro/anti-fat comments in the previous two articles, there is a sickeningly huge proportion of the commenters who agree with Ruth.