Text a Fatty for $16,352

facepalmThe UK city of Stoke on Trent has decided to spend over $16,000 in a 10 week period to insult the intelligence of 500 fat people.  Fabulous.

The city is running a program to send “motivational” texts to fat people with such amazing tips as:

“Use the stairs more”

“Eat fruit and veg”

“Keep a check on snacks and drinks”

“Breathe 12-16 times a minute”

Ok, I made up that last one but you can hardly tell.  This program is optional, people sign up for it under the guise that it will help them lose weight and become healthier (though, as usual, there is absolutely zero proof of either of those claims.)  I can’t find any information about how they will judge the success of this intervention, but I won’t be surprised if they don’t measure anything about the participants and call it a success if they manage to successfully send the text messages.

Ostensibly these would be healthy habits for everyone but, again as per usual, they’re just going to go ahead and assume only fat people need texts from #ShitMyStereotypingCityCouncilSays

It doesn’t say how many texts each of the participants will get each day- there’s absolutely no research to guide them so I would imagine they’ll be choosing based on rectal pull – but if they want to send one intelligence-insulting text to each of the 500 fat people every day for the whole 10 weeks it will cost them almost $0.50 per text per person.

What could we do with $16,352 that does not include telling fat people to take the stairs (even if they are disabled or taking the stairs is not the best exercise for them for any number of reasons)?  They could pay for 769 months at Pure Gym in Stoke on Trent for those who are interested in going to the gym but can’t afford it.  They could join the Ponies for Fatties Initiative and buy miniature ponies for 80 fat people.  Or, for all the good I think it will do, they could set the money on fire.  Why do I care that a town across an ocean from me is wasting $16,000?  It’s because it’s part of this constant message that if someone is fat it’s a signal that we need help managing basic things in our lives.

Fat bodies are not a representation of failures, sins, or mistakes. Fat bodies are not an indication of health or fitness. Fat bodies are not up for public discussion, debate or judgment. Fat bodies are not a signal that we need help or input to make decisions about our health or life. Fat bodies are not an indication that the city council needs to tell us to eat our vegetables – next year they’ll want to do a fat person “here comes the airplane” intervention and spoon the vegetables directly into our mouths.   There aren’t separate sets of healthy habits for for fat people and thin people, so if texts telling us to limit our drinks actually help people be healthier (and let’s be clear that I have serious doubts that they do) then we should be sending them to people of all sizes, not trying to score political points on the backs of fat people. Until then, I’m blocking their number.

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Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 11:49 am  Comments (41)  

41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow, they’ve hit a new low on that one in the UK. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Ragen.

    • Stoke on Trent isn’t the only council to be patronising either its residents or employees. My employer is a local council, and it has chummed up with the government’s Change4Life “initiative”, and is encouraging all of us to sign up to get truckloads of “advice” on how to make “healthy” swaps i.e. don’t eat evil, wicked butter, have some ghastly fake spread instead. I signed up to see if it really was going to be as awful as I thought (and to get a number of discount coupons!!), and alas, I haven’t been disappointed. I didn’t realise, though, that it meant that I get texts every week to remind me not to buy sugary soft drinks – not that I ever have. I get emailed, too, with suggestions for swaps. One email told me that I could always choose water, as, out of the tap (faucet?) it’s free. Well, I’m afraid that my water company insists that I pay for the water that comes out of my tap, so I emailed back and told them that. I’ve not had an email from Change4Life since then! It is all seriously patronising, and the implication is that all of us are ignorant idiots who can’t make choices for ourselves. I’m just hoping that my employer asks for feedback on the Change4Life thing – I will have some choice comments to make!

      • In line with that whole “advice I don’t need” thing, I just found out that my husband and I will be paying extra for our gym memberships this year — possibly a total of $50 more. This is because of the Obamacare “tanning” tax.

        Not that I use the tanning beds at the gym, mind you. (You don’t get this pale on accident, I promise.) But, you know, I *could*. Which is apparently reason enough to tax me to “helpfully” stop me from doing something I wasn’t doing in the first place.

      • “implication is that all of us are ignorant idiots who can’t make choices for ourselves.”

        Exactly!!!! That’s what I’ve been saying. This puts “health initiatives” in the same guise as cults or religious sects.

  2. Stoke-On-Trent is my home town. While I live in London I’m a regular visitor there to see my mum.

    Everyone I’ve spoken to in S-O-T thinks the idea is pants (totally rubbish). What a ridiculous waste of money!

    • I’m glad to hear the lovely residents of Stoke-On-Trent recognize pants when they seem them. ; p

      Seriously, I’ve been trying in my small way to introduce that bit of slang here in California, but as per usual, I’m completely out of step with where I am.

      (Longs to go back to London which felt like Home)

      • Come to Edinburgh Twistie! You’re a Fatosphere person who I’ve been following for 8 years or so now, would be lovely to meet you and your husband. Goes for you too Ragen!

        • I we ever manage to get to Great Britain again, I’m totally taking you up on that, Liz!

  3. I clicked on the link to claim my pony… where is my pony! Waaa! :-D

    • I know! I’d totally rather have a pony than a series of nannying texts! And I still would rather have the pony even if I had a cell phone!

  4. I live only 30ish miles from SoT, they have totally lost the plot if they think this is a good idea. It is discriminatory – presumably only people who are fluent readers of English will be able to receive them, what will the cut off point be, and suppose someone does actually lose lots of weight, and falls below the cut off point!

  5. Surely if they’re that worried about the OMGDEATHFATZ there, people should be willing to text the fatties on their own, as community service, and save the government the money…

    I’m wondering about the logistics of this. Are they going to make sure the people who sign up really are fat? And how fat? I mean, we wouldn’t want to be bull– er, I mean, “helping” people who already meet the societal standards for thinness and we want them to stop just as soon as they’re as thin as we want them. Else we’ve got the BL controversy all over again, amirite?

    I’d love to talk to the doofus who thought this was a good idea, although my blood pressure probably couldn’t take it.

  6. What if they gave a bullying and no one came? If it’s truly voluntary (as opposed to “voluntary”) and the wise people of Stoke-on-Trent all think it’s a pants idea (one of my favorite adjectives!) than someone in the city government is going to be charged with sending a daily text message to thin air. Or rather, FAT air, because thin air obviously doesn’t need it. Oh the stupid! It burns, it burns!

  7. Speaking of voluntary, Ragen, did you know that your comments section takes out the double spaces I choose to put between sentences? I didn’t know blogs could DO that!

    • ‘Tis WordPress. Used to drive me crazy when I ran my company’s website, until I had to let it go. I love that second space, but I’ve given up on it as digital media goes. Sigh…

    • Double spaces were only appropriate for typewriters. With fonts on computer now, that double space is obsolete and considered improper by style guides like the MLA Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style. Still boils down to preference, but with the non-monospaced fonts out there now, it’s simply not truly needed anymore.

      • Depending on the font used, I find that single spaces between sentences make the text denser and harder on my eyes. Spacing increases legibility.

        • Just quoting the style manuals. I used to write for newspapers. It may be easier on your eyes with double space, but double space is now considered “wrong” by the people who put out the “rules” of writing style.

          Personally, I don’t find it any help to double space. I can’t even tell when someone has or hasn’t. What makes things illegible for me are walls of text without breaking it down by thoughts. Like what I did up there. Talked about style, started new paragraph about my personal thoughts. I keep them short and if I start a new thought – new paragraph.

          • As far as I know, university papers still require double spaces. SBL style guide requires it too.

  8. Can one receive a cat instead of a pony?

    • I want a unicorn!

      • As cool as ponies are, I think I’ve changed my mind. I want a three-toed sloth. They always make me smile.

        • I love sloths. And Newfoundland dogs, which are about as big as ponies anyway.

          • I also love Newfoundlands & sloths, Twistie, & my totem animal has always been the turtle. I am not able to be a flash of lightning in this world, & I have to keep reminding myself of things such as that not ALL good things come in small packages & that slow & steady wins the race….at least sometimes.

        • And I just realized that went out under my other handle. It’s me, Twistie.

          • Er… that showed up as Gileswench.

  9. OMG! This is great! Sign me up right now!

    For the pony, I mean. The texts from Big Brother just look like a waste of time. Popeye already told me to eat my spinach, and at this point, I trust Popeye more than the minds behind the “War on Obesity.”

  10. Sooo, how quickly do you think bullies at school will be signing up their victims of all sizes for this?

    I’d like someone to tell me I’m being overly cynical..

    • You have every right to be cynical, because that was my second thought.

      My first thought was “how could anyone be okay with spending money on this when they complain that fat people are taking their tax dollars?”.

  11. I’m kind of shocked that there are people who’d be okay with this kind of spending of government money while complaining that fat people cost them money, often within the same conversation. And like many people have said, eating more fruits and vegetables and finding some physical activity that they like and can and want to do daily is good for everybody. But like all of these initiatives, they’re misguided because they assume that only fat people need to do these things.

  12. I would love to be able to apply for assistance in paying for a gym membership instead. I truly would. You help me be able to pay what I can afford per month, I’d be doing that in a heartbeat.

  13. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    Let’s see, I’m feeling snarky, so I’ll break these tips down.
    “Use the stairs more”
    And exacerbate the problems I have with my right knee. If I really push it, maybe I can find myself unable to work. Spectacular advice.
    “Eat fruit and veg”
    I already do, you scrote. I have to be careful with the fruit part, because I’m diabetic. Which I’m sure I’ll be told I brought on myself for being such a horrible fatty.
    “Keep a check on snacks and drinks”
    Do I have my nuts, cheese, and beef jerky with me in case I need a snack?
    Check.
    The last thing i need is some random butt wipe sending me sanctimonious, concern troll texts. Urgh!

    • Amen, Cie!

      I almost never take stairs, for two very good reasons:

      1) Congestive heart failure

      2) Osteoarthritis in my knees and hips

      Re 1), I follow the exercise plan that my cardiologist and I have agreed on as safe for me. I walk 30 minutes a day, more when I’m doing well and I can. Rarely, when I feel that my breathing is up to it, I take stairs — and I feel a real sense of triumph when I do. But days when I feel up to stairs are fairly rare, and straining my heart and lungs by climbing stairs on a day when my body is telling me “don’t” is a really, really, REALLY bad idea. Twistie will understand, since I think she has said that Mr. Twistie also has congestive heart failure.

      Re 2), I can almost never take stairs *down*. My knees can’t stand it. So yes, I get the glares people give a fat woman when they see her taking an elevator DOWN. But here’s the thing. The medication of choice for osteoarthritis is Celebrex. But — someone with congestive heart failure can’t take Celebrex. It increases fluid retention (edema), and edema is THE enemy if you’ve got CHF. Edema is why I have to weigh myself daily, and alert my cardiologist if my weight has risen by more than 2 pounds. If you’ve got CHF, edema can kill you.

      So — no Celebrex for me. Also no NSAIDs such as Advil, Aleve, or even aspirin. I’m left with Tylenol for pain, and Tylenol doesn’t do much for osteoarthritis.

      So, yeah. Chipper little text suggestions like “take the stairs more” would drive me into a rage, quite apart from their condescending assumption that I haven’t already heard all that advice 98 million times.

      • Yep, Elizabeth, I know whereof you speak. Mr. Twistie does have CHF and a tendency to assume that if he doesn’t take the most arduous rout to any and everything he’s a slack slacker who is slacking.

        And considering he recently spent three nights in the hospital with pneumonia and severe edema, I can’t think of anything more poisonous to him than someone chirping at him to always take the freaking stairs in ‘helpful’ little text messages.

        I can do stairs all day if I please, which I sometimes do. Guess what? I’m still deathfatz. If my husband took as many stairs as I do, he wouldn’t be thin, either, but he’d either be in the hospital or the morgue, so I’d rather he didn’t.

        • Oh, Twistie, I am SO sorry your husband was in the hospital. I hope he’s much improved now.

          Your statement that he always thinks he has to take the most arduous route reallly resonates with me. When I was diagnosed with the congenital heart defect that in my case eventually led to CHF, the first thing I said to the cardiologist was “You mean I’m not just lazy?” I’m not freaking kidding — all my life I had assumed my fatigue, and getting out of breath, and moving more slowly than anyone else, meant I was “lazy” and bad bad BAD. Er, no — it means I had a defective heart that wasn’t pumping enough blood to the rest of my body.

          But even now, even knowing that, it’s still hard not to feel the “do this or you’re a slacker” pressure. I’d always thought the more fatigued I was, the more I had to push myself and it is really hard to make the shift and realize that with CHF I have to pay attention when my body says “I can’t do this right now.” I wish Mr. Twistie all the very best in learning to push back against those “slacker” thoughts.

          • Thanks, Elizabeth. It’s been a few months now, actually, and he’s doing fine. But the hospital stay happened after his primary care physician diagnosed severe edema in a man with CHF and a scary rattle in the lungs that became an inability to breathe when he lay down as heartburn caused by overeating because, fat.

            I have never wanted to bean anyone with a brick so badly in all my life.

            But Mr. Twistie has a long history of assuming his own laziness, slackerdom, and general unworthiness. I’ve been trying to make him see the light for nearly thirty years now. Unfortunately, I can’t just see it for him. Only he can do that.

            But I can tell him that it’s okay to use elevators and escalators, and I can do my best to remind him he actually deserves that handicapped parking placard he has and get him to use it sometimes. Every twice in a while I’ll even play extra tired to convince him the elevator is for my benefit.

            Hey, if it works, I’ll do it.

            • About 6 months before my grandad died, he got CHD. He ended up with a walker and couldn’t walk more than a short distance (like 25m). The night before he went to the hospital for the last time, he slept in a chair since he couldn’t lie down without the fluid covering his entire upper lungs. He died in hospital a few weeks later.

          • It’s even harder when doctors and family don’t believe you, and you’ve have troubles your whole life. I thought it was asthma, but maybe it’s asthma and a defective heart? Both run in the family, but everyone just says “you’re so goddamnfat” and “get off your butt”. I always failed at gym class (not a failing grade, but not getting to first base ever, or not being to go a dead run for 5km or 1km).

            I thought there was some failing that was my fault, and now I’m hearing stories of everyone else going through the same. I doubt I’ll be able to get medical help for it though, since my country sucks at helping fat ppl. :(

            • Mich, I’m sorry about your grandfather. If you possibly can (and I hear you about the difficulties of medical help), get a chest x-ray to make sure your problems aren’t connected to Congestive Heart Failure. EVEN THOUGH I had a diagnosed heard defect that could lead to CHF, I spent seven years misdiagnosed with asthma and my primary care physician only agreed to do a chest x-ray and send me to a cardiologist when things got so bad that I had to sleep in a chair most nights for a month and had started coughing up bloody foam. Before that, my doctor just kept saying “your asthma is worse.” Turns out I never had asthma at all — it was slowly developing CHF all along. That’s not to say at all that I think all cases of asthma turn out really to be CHF!! But if you can possibly get your heart checked out, it would probably be a good idea.

  14. Damn. From the title, I thought that I COULD text a fatty and get $16,352. I was going to text my husband and 4 of my friends – law school would be paid for. I am crushed, I tell you. Crushed.

  15. The UK (my country) are already wasting loads of money on the Change4Life campaign. £Millions are spent by our government on patronising adverts telling us to eat less, move more & not let our children spend hours on video games. They even use play doh models to illustrate their point.

    I would rather the money was spent on vouchers for low-income families, so they can afford healthy food or on gym membership, if they want it.


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