Results Typical

I'm still stuck watching commercials so that means being subject to the Valerie Bertanelli tear-jerker. In high-def, no less. Whee.

We open with a very telling sight. Valerie is in the middle of the screen with the Jenny Craig logo in the lower left corner and the words "Results Not Typical" in the other. Its an important phrase and keep your eyes out because you'll see a lot of it as diet-ad season heats up this week.

You'll find it at the totally not a diet Weight Watchers website. You'll find it at Jenny. You'll find it attached to Nutrisystem's ads. If a diet claims it caused people to lose weight, you'll find it. The all-important "product doesn't work" disclaimer. Of course, its worded obscurely enough and buried under asterix aplenty so no one ever needs to confront that message. Results not typical means the product doesn't work. See, even the diet companies can admit that diets don't work.

Anyway, back to the emotionally manipulative ad. after Bertanelli apologizes for still needing to lose a few pounds (actually, that might "test" better) she explains whats so wonderful about her diet. Seems the best thing is that this New Year's she's going to wake up for the first time and not think about her weight. And she doesn't have to make a resolution about losing weight. Thanks, Jenny!

Funny thing, though, is that I know something else that will do that. Its called fat liberation. I'm going to wake up on New Year's Day and not be thinking about my weight. I won't be making any resolutions about losing weight. Fat hatred isn't inevitable. Self-loathing doesn't have to be a way of life. Everyone has the capacity to liberate themselves from fat hatred. Everyone. I don't buy into the notion that self-love should be withheld from people if they really don't want to. No matter how certain you are that you can't accept your body. No matter how much self-justifications you make for self-hatred.

"I just want to lose some weight. I don't expect to be thin."

"I'm not comfortable at this weight."

"I need to get healthy"

These aren't mandatory. You can be comfortable, healthy, and accepting at the size you are NOW. Really. You ARE okay in your body. It doesn't have to be anything else. You can come to feel this way. No one is too far removed from self-love. Believe me, these results are very typical.

Not that its not without challenges. Emotionally manipulative TV commercials extolling the virtues of thinness, for instance. Openly hostile TV commercials decrying the horrors of fatness for another instance. But self-acceptance is a sure way to stop hating your body and a good deal more reliable than trying to remake your body into something acceptable. These results are typical.

Diets REALLY don't work

Diets don't work.

Really. Don't be afraid to say so. Like I said when bashing WW, this is a message that is important and will resonate. If Weight Watchers can figure that out, so should Fat Acceptance.

Diets don't work. They don't work if you hate being fat. They don't work if you can't be fat. They don't work if you don't want to be fat. They don't work. I've said this before, but it does need to be said again and again and again. Because diets don't work.

I know some people don't want to hear this. That's not a reason not to say it. Its a reason TO say it. Because diets really don't work.

Do some people lose weight? Heck, everyone on diets loses weight. But nearly everyone gains it back. The fact that disordered eating induced initial weight loss isn't proof that the diet works, though. It is the way fat people are made to feel like failures, though. It is the way the diet industry is able to stay in business after its customers have had their products not work time and time again. That is EXACTLY why diets don't work and why someone needs to actually say so. Fat people are being lied to. All people are being lied to. The initial weight loss isn't proof that diets work. The inevitable regain is the proof that they don't. Disordered eating cannot be sustained. Only 5% of people at best actually sustain the disordered eating and maintain the weight loss. No, that's not working.

I've repeated this before, but its a good illustration of the point. Losing weight is as easy as holding your breath. Keeping it off is as easy as continuing to hold your breath. Diets are made to seem easy, achievable, but its all a fraud. It doesn't work.

Someone needs to keep saying it. That someone shouldn't be Weight Watchers.

Diets don't work.


Diet's Don't Work (You, too, WW)

I'm back home for Christmas and stuck watching commercials without my TiVo. I see that the annoying faux-fat lib Weight Watchers campaign I discussed earlier has some TV spots to support it. The message is the same "Diets are crazy and stupid! Good thing we're totally not a diet" found in the billboards and web ads I've seen. Oddly enough, they illustrate their point by doing a web search for diets and mocking the results.

So, just to check....

"Weight Watchers" + diet = 594,000 results

I guess they must all be talking about how they aren't a diet.


Diets are mean!

"Diets are mean"

I'm sure the diet acceptance crowd is sething right now at such an awful sentiment. How dare I call diets mean! What an awful lack of compassion for people trying to better themselves! Bad me!

No, not me. Well, okay, I do think diets are mean, but I don't think I've had occassion to say that. No, I read that on bus stop billboard.

"Live or Diet"

Saw that one on a Taxi-top. Agree with it, too. Its a good distillation of the options available to fat people.

"People don't fail. Diets do."

Right on! The failure of diets is always turned into personal failures which just perpetuates fat hatred and turns fat people themselves into eager advocates of fat hatred.

"Stop Dieting. Start Living"

Saw that one on a website. Some fat liberation group taking a long-await defiant stand against dieting? Gosh, no.

Its Weight Watchers.

See, "diet" tests poorly. I guess something about them never working has harmed the "diet" brand. That doesn't deter Weight Watchers, though. They were one of the first diets to insist that it isn't a diet. "No, no. We're not a diet! Diet's don't work, after all. We're... a lifestyle choice! A whole new way of living! Gosh, no, we're not a diet."

Not coincidentally, this all started around the time fat acceptance first started agitating back in the 70's. It freaked out the diet industry much more than it did the rest of society. While the Fat Underground was struggling for any acknowledgement from their progressive peers, Big Diet saw the movement turning into the feminist movement or civil rights or the also burgoning gay rights movement. While those groups all had powerful cultural opposition, fat acceptance had a somewhat different foe. Oh, sure, there was cultural opposition, too, but fat lib also had to deal with a wealthy industry whose financial interests demanded that fat acceptance be suppressed. While products existed that fed off other forms of bigotry, they weren't really centralized in one industry like Big Diet. This was a product which existed by promoting fat hatred and they had a powerful monetary motive to silence the young fat liberation movement. So they did so in the most insiduous and effective way possible.

They stole our voice. They co-opted our vocabulary, repurposed our slogans. The failure of diets was no longer a call to advocacy, but a sales pitch for repackaged diets. Before fat acceptance could be heard, our message had become synonymous with the industry we needed to stand against. It was an awful blow, and in many ways fat acceptance still hasn't recovered. While it is bigger in numbers, its message has suffered. Its never been able to reclaim opposition to diets from the diet industry itself. Its never been able to assert itself over the marketing might of an industry who rightly sees us as its biggest threat. Fat acceptance can't by bus-stop billboards. It can't buy taxi-tops. No civil rights advocacy can, really. Not on this scale. But Weight Watchers can. So it uses it to dilute our message and confuse it with their corporate brand. Here are a few more of their co-opted fat liberation used to promote fat hatred...

"If Diets Work Why Do We Need a New One Every 5 Minutes"

I don't know, WW. Maybe we should ask the thousands (millions?) of Weight Watcher drop-outs? (That ought to be a song)

"Expecting a Sleep Deprived Mother to Go on a Diet is Cruel But Not Unusual"

Yes. Its cruel for mothers to be forced into Weight Watchers and its ilk to meet physical expectations that are sadly all too common in our culture.

"Diets Take Away the Things that We Love"

Yes. It takes away joy, self-acceptance, comfort in ones body. It replaces it with a constant focus on maintaining expectations, doing whatever is necessary to attain an arbitrary physical goal. It takes away our friends, our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. It takes away ourselves. Diets aren't bad because it takes away food. They are bad, because it takes away OURSELVES.

"DI*T is a four letter word"

Really reaching back to the 70's on this one. Another four letter word? Lying F*CK.

Weight Watchers does this because discontent with diets is a powerful force in our society. Playing against diets sells for them, because it is a message which resonates with so many people. Fat Acceptance shouldn't give up, though. This IS a powerful and important message that people need to hear and at some level want to hear. The solution isn't to play nice with diets. For goodness sake, even Weight Watchers gets that.


Who wants a kidney? (Not you, fatty)

MSNBC reports that fat people who need a kidney transplant are far less likely to get one than thin people. People who were 100lbs over the weight they are presumed to have been meant to be are 44 times less likely to get a need transplant. People somewhat less fat were still 28 times less likely to receive the medical treatment they need.

The reason? Well, evidently its super hard to treat to fat people and that costs money so... well, you know. Its totally not conscious, though. The doctors swear. Must be subconscious or something because they TOTALLY wouldn't deny medical treatment to fat people. No, that never happens.

Except, the story also says that fat people are routinely denied organ transplants. I mean, its just obvious. So why would they need subconscious meddling to deny treatment to fat people? Seems the problem is that some doctors are promising kidney's to people on spec. Lose weight, get a kidney. If like 95-99% of dieters, you don't lose weight? Well, sorry, no kidney for you fatty. I guess they used to just never pretend they were going to treat fat people so they didn't have to deal with uncomfortable statistics showing how medical indifference is costing the lives of fat people.

I guess this proves that it is unhealthy to be fat, though not really in the way we keep getting told. But I'm sure fat people being 44 times more likely to be denied this treatment doesn't really mean anything. I mean, they swear its subconscious and all. Besides, haven't you heard how horribly unhealthy fat people are! Why, we're two times as unhealthy as perfectly healthy people. That's 1+1, people! That's huge. You can totally see how that justify denying us treatment at a rate of 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1. I mean, look at how similar the math is! Totally the same thing.


The only good fat person...

... is evidently one who'll scream out to strangers how much they hate being fat.

So says San Francisco Chronicle columnist Richard Torregrossa. Very much into the war metaphors, Mr. Torregrossa. He's clearly an expert on the subject, what with being the author of such relevent tomes as "Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style" and "Fun Facts about Cats". He illustrated the last one, too! What a learned scholar on the subject of fat people.

Such knowledge came in useful when Torregrossa writes a column about he is coming to really admire fatties. See, usually he just hisses at us (silently, of course) but just look at his progress. As long as we're trying to lose weight, we have his respect. What progress! I think this qualifies as a huge victory for fat acceptance. We'll be tolerated while we do what we're told to do. Let's throw a party! No cake, though. We're dieting for fat acceptance!

The patronizing brand of tolerance here is not what we're fighting for. Well, its not what I am fighting, anyway. For all his talk about admiration and respect, he seethes with demeaning contempt. But this is precisely the attitude a lot of fat bigots have and they all act so proud for themselves. So self-righteous that they've been able to dress up their resentment and bitterness so it looks like respect. But the reality is that this is no fancy costume. Its a dollar store smock and plastic mask. Good enough for pretend, but its not fooling anyway. This is fat hatred.

Fat bigots want to be thanked for coming "this far" and I know there are plenty out there eager to congratulate them, but they don't deserve. They've done nothing but play pretend and we'd be fools to play along. Torregrossa's words are in a column, so its easier to see through the facade. He has the space all to himself, and he can't help but let his true colors shine through. Be mindful that this same attitude will look less obviously hostile when delivered in little bits and chunks. The simple truth is that if you feel the need to say you admire fat people, you almost certainly don't. You just want to give us a pat on the head when we do what we're told. We're not dogs being trained. We don't have to like a belittling pat on the head.


Fatgate continues

I was impressed that celebs spoke out in favor of the evidently fat Jennifer Love Hewitt. It was a pretty low bar. I mean, all they are doing is saying that a thin women is thin and not fat. Hardly challenges the system, but given how advantaged that system is, even the slightest pushback comes as something of a surprise. I mean, there WERE people insisting she was fat to begin with, after all. That's how screwed up things are.

Which brings us to Janice Dickenson, the former supermodel, who "defended" Hewitt by using it as an excuse to pick a cat fight with Tyra Banks by calling HER fat. You may recall in January that Tyra was defiantly accepting of her post-modeling body and insistant that it wasn't fat. You may also recall in May when she was on magazine covers boasting of her amazing weight loss. Mixed signals, there. Doesn't excuse Dickenson's insane use of defending someone from petty nitpicking about a thin woman being fat to offer her own petty nitpicking about a thin woman being fat.

Even more stunning is where this happened. Was she at some mindless industry photo-op where she was asked by the fine reporters of Extra or E!News about Hewitt? Nope. She was on the freaking Today Show. Admittedly not a bastion of serious news reporting, but not really E!News, either. First off, why are they covering a silly gossip story like "JLove is a fatty"? Secondly, why would they bring on the notoriously trash talking and notoriously superficial Dickenson on to discuss the issue? Oh, right, because they wanted this sort of thing to happen because cattiness and fat mocking makes "good TV". I guess maybe Extra and E! are actually a step above Today.


Dan Savage picks fights with fat people. Again. *yawn*

You know those people who whine on Craigslist about how some fat woman squashed them on the train and go on and on about how awful stupid fatties are sitting on him. Yeah, yeah, I know some people feel the need to validate the "seacow" crowd by lecturing their straw fatties not to sit on people, but you know the truth of these whiners is that they are just outraged at having had to sit near a fat person. That indignity ferments in their mind and they lash out in exaggerated terms online because its the only outlet they have for their fat hatred. Then they go back to their daily lives until their fat proximity alarm next goes off and they post another angry screed.

I'm increasingly convinced Dan Savage is one of these people. Only he has a nationally syndicated column instead of Rants and Raves.

How else do I make sense of his regular fascination with picking fights with fat people? Its not on a regular schedule, but he always comes back to it. And when he does, he never lets it go. He just keeps on going after them. Again and again and again. What else but to conclude he's just generally offended by fatness and whenever he has to confront the existence of a fat person on the subway or at a show, he picks a fight in his column. And he won't let it go. How many follow-up attacks on fat people is he going to do? Near as I can tell this isn't a regular feature of his column. Its usually just a normal weekly column which devolves into a never-ending fat bashing escapade when he picks a fight with the fatties.

A couple weeks ago he wrote a phenomenally cliche column telling a husband to trash his wife for getting fat. Same nonsense that's been written by "edgy" and "conventional" advice columnists alike for years. They all act so smug and satisfied with their daring for encouraging confrontation with a fat person because they all buy into the notion that we've never heard we're fat before and just need someone to be "honest" with us. They all live in this fantasy world where most fat people aren't horribly self-hating over their bodies, but rather blissfully unaware of our offending adipose. Without fail, they all seem to think they are the first person to think of this. And whether they counsel compassion or bluntness, they all say the same damn thing and then congratulate themselves for their originality.

Dan does the spiel and justifies the fat hostility on the basis of the woman owing it to the man to be attractive to him. Its just being "honest" Dan, says. Yeah, you know what? I'd like all of those advice columnists to respond to the man who is upset that his wife has LOST weight and see if they are just as favorable to his point of view. Can you imagine that? One of these boring-ass advice columns comforting a man whose wife has abandoned fat acceptance in favor of weight loss? I can't. So they can shove their honesty up their ass, for all I care. They are just buying into fat as a crime, sin, moral failing, healthy crisis, etc. Fat is a state of wrongness. Fat is without privilege. Not fat is privileged. I'm sure the husband/wife/boyfriend/etc who wants his fat betrothed back would get lectured, not supported. Every time someone justifies fat hatred on the grounds that its not "fair" to a loved one to be fat and ugly, don't think for a second that goes both ways. Its justification that goes in one direction only. You want your special someone to be fat, I have no doubt that you'd be called a monster while even the most mean-spirited who wants their wife to diet will still get supported in their ultimate goal.

ANYWAY, in spite of his cliche advice, he was spoiling for a fight. Well, two fights, I guess. After teasing a follow-up in the subsequent column, he devote his entire column last week to a follow-up. His enemies? Stupid women who want honesty and, of course, the damn fatties. Given his past habit of not letting it go, I guess he won't let this go, either. He spent the whole thing insisting that he wouldn't have given the advice he did, yet also constantly validating it. See, it really WAS the advice he'd give, he just tried to be comically blunt about it to show the folly of "honesty". But the truth is, its still what he was trying to say. He'd just have made it about "health" or "maintenance" or some such. He teases that he'd offer the reverse advice to chubby chasers, but I don't buy it. Now, maybe, because he has "cred" to preserve, but nothing in the hostility he expresses towards fat people suggests an honest acceptance like that. All the same "stuffing Twinkies in your mouth" garbage that's fat trolling 101. Well, I think so anyway, and it seems that when Dan Savage, says it, at least, others agree.

Anyway, I guess Savage isn't good at letting things go either. He's still ranting about this on his blog. I am mildly amused that the response he's getting as a columnist is much harsher than he'd have gotten saying the same things as a commentator, but mostly just bored. Every time he sits near a fat person on a bus, we're going to have to deal with the same damn shit. Someone tell him about Craigslist, already. Its a much more receptive audience for this stuff.


Jennifer Love Hewitt is fat

I mean, they are saying so on the internets so it must be true. Jennifer Love Hewitt is evidently a big ol' fatty. I mean, just look at her! How dare she not be a size 0. What kind of a role model is she? Doesn't she know there is an epidemic of fat kids she is encouraging by being so fat?

The first story I read about this had the usual vagueness that comes from the respectable press when they don't want to call someone out for being fat. They simply suggested that there were unflattering pictures of her in a bikini and had accompanying quotes from Hewitt supporters saying that they were concerned that girls were being told they needed to be super thin. Naive as I am, I actually assumed that the problem was that the pictures showed how THIN Jennifer Love Hewitt was and she was concerned about being held out as an example to strive for. I mean, its Jennifer Love Hewitt for goodness sake. The problem couldn't possibly be that SHE was too fat.

But, no, that's what all this fuss is about. I guess its even on the cover of People this week. Hewitt has come out and said she's happy with her body. Though it had the usual tone of "Dude, I'm NOT fat" kind of self-love, its better than a lot of what see, so good for her, I guess. I sought out the pictures (no, I'm not linking; find them yourself) and am really stunned at what passes for fat these days. Her stomach wasn't concave, though it could have just easily been muscles at fault an wasn't much to begin with, and her hips are, I guess, wide if you think Olive Oyl has an achievable body. Oh, and she sorta has flesh on her ass so no hip bones are in sight. What a fatty!

Its nice to see some stars rally around her and denounce the absurd expectations placed on women's bodies.
I don't really expect a more critical examination than the "Dude, that's not fat" from those speaking out, though it'd be nice if once someone would try to discuss the problem in more depth. For the next starlet deemed unacceptably not-thin, I guess. Yes, its a problem that size 2's are now being ridiculed as fat, but without tackling the hysterical fear of fat our culture fosters, we won't really change that.