Mamamia – What a Bigot

An article that I will not be linking to called “There, I said it…I’m Glad My Kids Aren’t Fat.” by Alana House appeared on Australian website Mamamia.  While I appreciate the ability to pack that much punctuation into the title of one article, the rest leaves something to be desired.

To summarize – she’s glad that her kids aren’t fat because then they would have to deal with the actions of bigots like her.  She talks about shuddering at the sight of fat kids.  She doesn’t understand the difference between correlation and causation but she’s happy to make completely incorrect declaratory statements predicting doom anyway. She goes on and on about wanting to lose 10kg, swearing that she will lose it even though she’s promised “sooooo many times before, but I really mean it now”. She assigns moral value to gnocci (it’s evil, in case you were wondering) and she freely admits that her kids eat junk but since they stay thin that’s just super cool.

It’s everything that this ridiculous war on childhood obesity leads to – it’s overstating, hysterical, completely based on “everybody knows,”and dangerous to kids.  It would be nice if, instead of wringing their hands and screaming “WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN,” someone would actually think of the children.

Newsflash Alana:  If you let your kids eat what you describe as “junk,” then you call that food evil, your kids are likely headed toward an unhealthy relationship with food.  If you obsess about your own weight, promising over and over again that you are going to lose “that last whatever the hell number of pounds” and you never feel that you are thin enough, that’s what you are modeling to your kids.

If you feel like being proud that your kids aren’t part of a group of people who are stigmatized and oppressed “feels like some shameful secret” then maybe instead of writing an article full of bigotry and assumptions, it’s time to stop and think about why it feels shameful.  I’m just spit-balling here but maybe it’s because you’re a massive bigot and, try as you might to justify it as “concern for health” or whatever, deep down you know that you are a bigot – that you are contributing to the shame, stigma, and oppression that is heaped onto fat people because of how we look and you’re teaching your kids to do the same. Maybe, just maybe, if feels shameful because it IS shameful.

We must, we must, WE MUST remove weight from the discussion about health, especially kid’s health. We have to stop trying to build public health on a foundation of stigmatizing, shaming, and oppressing a group of people for how they look. Bigotry is the opposite of public health, not the foundation of it.

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Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 10:46 am  Comments (25)  

25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I will make a longer comment when I’m not horribly tired/slightly sick…but it’s writers like her that make me ashamed to be a journalist.

    What an absolute load of fat-shaming drivel. Her poor kids.

  2. Sad thing is that so many that get off on the hype of “for the poor children” are really worrying about how they appear; not the actual well being of their children. God forbid they have fat kids, how would that make them look? So let’s put down our children for the sake of us looking like we’re good parents and role models. Can’t tarnish mommy’s stellar reputation for wholesomeness, goodness and being the model parent. Oh no…that would look bad for mommy.

    It is horrid when we cannot see our children as our children but only extensions of our own shame and fear.

  3. I shudder to think at what articles like this do to parents and kids in families where one child takes after one side of the family in terms of weight, and another takes after the other.

    After all, my father’s side of the family tends to start off thin and blossom into fatness somewhere in the early to mid twenties. That’s the side I took after. My mother’s side tends to start fat and stay that way. My two brothers I grew up with (long story, but there is a third) took after that side. We all ate the same food, participated in a lot of the same activities, etc. but we had different body types from day one.

    Now we’re all in our fifties and we’re all fat, because that’s what happens biologically on both sides of the family. But when we were kids… yeah, not so much.

    Luckily for us, our parents weren’t terribly concerned with whether or not we were fat. They were concerned with whether we were happy, doing healthy things for us, and developing into thoughtful, generous, interesting human beings.

    If one of this woman’s kids starts getting fat – whether from biological imperative, a medical issue, or whatever possible cause – her prejudice will be beyond painful for all parties concerned. All the kids wind up damaged by this kind of bile.

    When the hell ARE we going to think about the children? When are we going to care more about who they grow up to be than what they look like while being those people?

  4. Ugh. An adult woman ‘shuddering’ at the sight of kids. Unacceptable. Kids pick up on their parents’ attitudes and pass the bullying along to others, unafraid to say aloud what adults only say behind closed doors.

  5. I hate to say it, but I, too, am glad that my daughter isn’t fat – but not for the reasons she listed.

    My mom’s side of the family is almost all fat. My mom has weighed around 300 lbs throughout my entire life – she’s never gotten much bigger or smaller (she still wears some of the same clothes she did when I was a kid – but that’s a whole other matter!) They tend to have short, wide fingers, thicker bone structures, oh, and plenty of fat to go around.

    It just so happened that, growing up, I took after my mom’s side of the family. I was thin for my first 9-10 years and then, wham! Fat! On the other hand, my brother and sisters took after my dad’s – they were all thin, no matter what they ate. I didn’t eat any more or less than they did, and I rode my bike EVERYWHERE, even as a teenager, when I reached up to a size *gasp* 18!

    The thing is, growing up fat, I got teased. A lot. And it wasn’t all from outside my home. My brother, especially, was extremely vocal about how disgusting I was. My mom constantly pushed me to exercise, to do crunches or something, to try and lose the weight, or to “tighten the muscles in [my] stomach.”

    Now, as adults, both of my sisters are fat. One is fighting it, and one is very much size positive. My brother, on the other hand, is a maniac about weight – he and his wife are constantly on diets, even though they’re both thin and very active. They constantly talk about having to lose weight. Their daughter, only 3, has been known to talk about how she’s fat, or how she has a fat belly… And I know that they limit what she eats (which is probably part of why she loves coming here!) Just last Thanksgiving, I had an argument with my brother’s wife about whether fat people can be healthy (she’s a nurse – supposedly she thinks she knows EVERYTHING), which left me in tears in the bathroom, because she refused to listen to anything I had to say. The pair of them are, honestly, the worst people I know when it comes to fat shaming (among other prejudiced, hateful things.)

    On the other hand, my daughter is, somehow, very thin. She’s active, but she’s a picky eater, and I worry about that… But she’s thin, and being thin means she’s not being bullied about her weight. Now, she’s almost to the age where I started gaining weight, and I know there’s every chance that she could wind up fat – and if she does, that’s perfectly fine… But if I could spare her the pain of breaking into tears after being picked on, and then being teased more for crying… If I could spare her the looks from not just strangers or schoolmates, but from family as well… I would.

    She’s why I care so much about changing people’s perceptions of fat people – about ending the hatred. Because I’ve been there, and I don’t want her to go through the same things I did. Because I don’t want to see my niece & nephew go through life thinking that there’s no way to be happy if they wind up larger than their parents.

    But, here’s the difference. If my daughter does start to gain weight in a year or two (or before – or not at all!) I’m NOT going to put her on a diet or make her feel bad about it. I’m not going to preach about good foods and bad foods, about calories and fat, about shoulds and should nots. I’m going to talk to her about all the same things I already do – about loving herself just how she is, about being kind to others, no matter their size, gender, race, sexual preference, or level of ability. I’m going to continue to love her no matter what – as any parent should.

    So, yes, I’m glad my daughter isn’t fat. I’m glad she hasn’t yet had to deal with the hate and shame. But I’d love her just the same, even if she was, because she’s my daughter, and she’s beautiful, and… I think I’ve ranted enough for one day.😉

    • pipsknits, I think your daughter is a very lucky girl to have such a loving, passionate, caring mother. With you as a role model, chances are good that she’ll be okay in the longrun, no matter what her size.

      If only all children had parents whose priorities were as rational and grounded as yours.

  6. Weightist bigots have no clue what they’re doing to their kids. I have two stories about that.

    I was a skinny child, but both my parents were obsessed with weight, both anorexics.

    My father hated fat people and warned me NEVER to “get fat” because essentially, I would become a worthless POS.

    Well, for whatever reason, I’m overweight now. Last time my father saw me, he said “Oh my GOD! She’s as wide as she is tall!”

    And then there’s my husband, also raised in a rabid weightist family that unfortunately I have to deal with. I’ve been putting up with their abuse for years.

    Well, as a direct result of his upbringing, he developed what I would call a “fat fetish.” Whenever he looks at porn, it’s always BBW. He isn’t cheating on me anymore, but when he was, it was with women who were fatter than me.

    Of course his family blamed ME for his infidelity, after all, I’m fat and “refuse to do anything about it.” But, that’s not the reason at all.

    All that to say. Her kids are being taught sick and twisted body image lessons, and she will probably not be pleased with the results when they are grown.

    • This would be my father except he is the “scale tipping” 350lbs and inactive. Meanwhile I was the thin child who grew into a fat teen/adult and I still get the snide comments despite having a stable weight and am active.

      The most common one is “You’re eating again?!?”

      The most scarring was when I was 12 and he said to me “Holy your thighs are bigger then mine! What do you think covering them with a blanket is going to hide your fat?”

      People need to learn how not to hate fat, they really do, there is nothing wrong with us, just the mind sets of a lot of people.

    • Sorry, but I actually have a slight problem with you describing your husband’s kink as a “direct result” of this negative experience. There really isn’t any conclusive evidence on where this stuff comes from, and although I’m sure you don’t mean it this way, talking about kinks as if they automatically arise from past traumas or negative experiences tends to be one of the ways that people with sexual kinks end up getting shamed as “perverts” who can and should be cured of their proclivities.
      I understand you’ve had a really hard and negative experience with fat appreciation as a kink, and I’m sorry that happened to you.

      • It depends on what the “kink” (sexual deviation) is. If the kink could result in behavior that hurts other people, then that person certainly must find a way to live with the kink in a way that doesn’t hurt other people (usually by seeking medication and counseling). For example, there is overwhelming evidence that pedophilia is an inherent (and possibly inborn, but probably not genetic) condition. Just as you can’t change most heterosexual or homosexual people’s sexual orientation, a pedophile’s sexual orientation is unlikely to change. However, a pedophile can have a “chemical castration” (take medicine that dramatically reduces libido), participate in abstinence training and counseling, and avoid working with or around children, all of which will prevent him or her (usually “him”) from becoming a child molester. So while I agree that having a “kink” doesn’t make a person bad, sometimes acting on it does, and in those cases, we CAN insist that the person get help (but they probably won’t be cured).

        • This article describes the need for treating pedophiles with compassion (while of course, still requiring that they resist harming children) so that they are not too afraid or ashamed to seek help: http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/21/opinion/cantor-pedophila-sandusky/index.html

          • And just to clarify, a pedophile is not the same thing as a child molester. A pedophile is sexually attracted to children. A child molester has acted on that attraction and harmed at least one child.

            • Some things that make me uncomfortable to see in the same sentence, pedophilia, sexual kinks and homosexuality. I don’t think pedophilia is a sexual kink, there is a community of people that enjoy several kinds of sexual kinks and none of those are pedophilia. Just because someone mentioned sexual kinks it doesn’t need to become a conversation about dangerous behaviours and attractions like pedophilia and sexual abuse (I consider any sexual behaviour that hurts someone without consent abuse).

              • Alicia: I am not an expert in sexology, but borrowing from Wikipedia: “In current usage, the term “kink” has often come to refer to a range of objective and objectifying sexualistic practices ranging in degree from the playful to the paraphilic.” (This definition has no citation, so someone please speak up if it seems incorrect.) Using Wikipedia further, paraphilia is “sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation.” The DSM-IV-TR (the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Brain Disorders) lists pedophilia as a paraphilia, along with sadism, masochism, and voyeurism. Sadism, masochism, etc., aren’t “bad” just because they are in the same list as pedophilia. Pedophilia is “bad,” because it may lead to sexual abuse of others (if it is untreated), or cause emotional distress for the person suffering from the disorder, or both. Again, even though our society reviles pedophiles, and sometimes uses the word “pedophile” to mean “child molester,” pedophilia is not a behavior; it is a sexual orientation. It is the hope of researchers that in the future, every single pedophile will be able to live his/her (usually, “his”) life without becoming a child molester (i.e., without EVER having any kind of sexual encounter with a child, because a child cannot give consent). This will only be possible if pedophiles feel like they can seek help, which means that to lessen the incidence of child molestation, we as a society might need to develop a more compassionate attitude toward those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from pedophilia.

                OF COURSE (and I can’t emphasize this enough), pedophiles are fully responsible for their behavior. What I was trying to communicate in my original post is that although someone’s sexual preference for something might be innate, they are still responsible for their behavior. We don’t have to tolerate or accept harmful sexual behavior from people just because they are predisposed to that behavior. I used pedophilia as an example because it is obvious. However, I also feel that if a couple gets married or are in a relationship, and they both agree to be monogamous, then if a partner breaks that agreement, s/he is committing harmful sexual behavior (but not sexual abuse), and should not be excused because of a possibly inherent predisposition (e.g., kink, sexual addiction, etc.) to that behavior. Of course, that doesn’t mean that that the unfaithful partner doesn’t deserve sympathy or forgiveness. In some cases a couple could even rework their agreement, but the faithful partner shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or unaccommodating if s/he isn’t comfortable with the other partner’s behavior.

    • Do men who only like to look at skinny-women porn have a “thin fetish”?

      • Depends. Do you call the status quo objectification of women who fit the mainstream model for what our culture calls sexy a fetish?

    • (Gaaah! I tried to delete my response to Alicia, because it is so inset that there is only one word per line, but I don’t think I can. This is the same response, not inset, so it is easier to read.)

      Alicia: I am not an expert in sexology, but borrowing from Wikipedia: “In current usage, the term “kink” has often come to refer to a range of objective and objectifying sexualistic practices ranging in degree from the playful to the paraphilic.” (This definition has no citation, so someone please speak up if it seems incorrect.) Using Wikipedia further, paraphilia is “sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation.” The DSM-IV-TR (the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Brain Disorders) lists pedophilia as a paraphilia, along with sadism, masochism, and voyeurism. Sadism, masochism, etc., aren’t “bad” just because they are in the same list as pedophilia. Pedophilia is “bad,” because it may lead to sexual abuse of others (if it is untreated), or cause emotional distress for the person suffering from the disorder, or both. Again, even though our society reviles pedophiles, and sometimes uses the word “pedophile” to mean “child molester,” pedophilia is not a behavior; it is a sexual orientation. It is the hope of researchers that in the future, every single pedophile will be able to live his/her (usually, “his”) life without becoming a child molester (i.e., without EVER having any kind of sexual encounter with a child, because a child cannot give consent). This will only be possible if pedophiles feel like they can seek help, which means that to lessen the incidence of child molestation, we as a society might need to develop a more compassionate attitude toward those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from pedophilia.

      OF COURSE (and I can’t emphasize this enough), pedophiles are fully responsible for their behavior. What I was trying to communicate in my original post is that although someone’s sexual preference for something might be innate, they are still responsible for their behavior. We don’t have to tolerate or accept harmful sexual behavior from people just because they are predisposed to that behavior. I used pedophilia as an example because it is obvious. However, I also feel that if a couple gets married or are in a relationship, and they both agree to be monogamous, then if a partner breaks that agreement, s/he is committing harmful sexual behavior (but not sexual abuse), and should not be excused because of a possibly inherent predisposition (e.g., kink, sexual addiction, etc.) to that behavior. Of course, that doesn’t mean that that the unfaithful partner doesn’t deserve sympathy or forgiveness. In some cases a couple could even rework their agreement, but the faithful partner shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or unaccommodating if s/he isn’t comfortable with the other partner’s behavior.

  7. I completely agree with the sentiment above. I don’t want my daughter to have to grow up the way I did and wind up, at 41, STILL unable to look in a mirror. But if she gets heavy, I will do everything in my power to help her love herself. If she stays thin, I will do everything in my power to help her love herself because I keep coming back to something you said two entries back: if you’re heavy, you spend your life trying to be thin. If you’re thin, you spend your life worrying about becoming heavy.

    In my view, you get one go on this earth…why spend so much time being so unhappy??

  8. Does it mean anything interesting that the mother in the linked article is defensive about being pleased she has thin children? It sounds as though fat acceptance is starting to get a tiny bit of traction.

  9. Dear god what a horrible woman. What if her children DO become fat? I wish her shameful feelings had stayed where they belong – hidden inside her bigoted head.

    I have a fat baby. He’s 16 months old. He came out of the womb in the 99th percentile and has stayed that way. His pediatrician is already talking about how she’s “concerned about his weight”. I don’t wish that he wasn’t fat. I wish that people wouldn’t be such assholes, and I worry about what kind of treatment he’s going to receive from those assholes, but I would never wish his body away.

    Alana House is a terrible person, and I hope, somehow, this nasty little catharsis of hers brings about the wake-up call she needs to get over herself.

  10. I don’t understand, even if fatness was a disease it’s not okay to hate sick people. IF fatness was an illness, discrimination based on health is wrong, so there is no logic in this, you can’t discriminate based on size or health.
    It’s prejudice to say you don’t like looking at fat people and think they deserve to be treated badly and it’s prejudice to belive those same things about people that are sick or have a chronic illness, even if people think fatness is some kind of epidemy it doesn’t make sense to be a bigot about it because it’s bigotry to treat sick people badly.

    I don’t think Fatness is an illness and I know that fat people and people with chronic illness are oppressed and face discrimination, I was just trying to show that the logic of treating fat people badly because it’s a health problem doesn’t make sense, authors like this and people that talk about health and worrying about children as reasons to discriminate are just trying to make excuses for their prejudice.

  11. This makes me sad. This kind of mentality is poisoning our children… I already see these seeds of self loathing trying to take root in my 9 year old son, and I am not happy about it! Yes, he is a little thicker than other kids, but his growth rate has been constant since he was born, and his doctor is not concerned about it as long as he is getting enough activity time and eating ok.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think a week goes by where he doesn’t mention not liking the way he looks or asking if he is overweight. He gets plenty of exercise, eats well (actually has a pretty diverse taste in food for a kid) and predominately drinks water rather than sugary sodas.

    I just don’t know what to do to help him understand that his genetics are dictating his size and that he should love himself just as he is. Both his father and I are ‘overweight’ (PCOS in my case), and our family members have a tendancy to run large both in height and width. All I can do, I guess, is keep encouraging self acceptance. That and pray that the narrow-minded fat-bashing cretins will not thwart my efforts to raise a healthy child, both physically and mentally.

  12. I love gnocci. I make my own sauce to go with it, and it’s delicious. Nothing evil about it. What a sad woman. I’ll bet I enjoy my food a lot more than she does hers.

  13. One part of your response raises some questions in my mind. We shame people who shame people to prove that shaming people is bad. If that sounds familiar, it’s not an accident. I’m not sure it’s the best tactic. I hear protesters yell “SHAME” at the people they want to convince to change. And I’m not sure if that is effective. I have long held a suspicion that those we feel really deserve to feel shame are unlikely ever to do so, and in fact all too often make the wrong people feel shame themselves for even speaking up for justice. I think what you wrote at the start may hit home more, a variant of the same analogy: does it make sense to regularly cause to someone the pain you want to spare them? Not a matter of shame, just a matter of logic.

    • If those who deserve to feel shame are unlikely to do so, then where’s the harm in shaming them? I would like to learn their secret, since I sometimes tend to be ashamed of something that I need feel no shame for.


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