Archives

Disney Disappoints Again: Leave our Fatty Villains Alone!

I know that I likely shouldn’t be surprised that Disney has managed to disappoint me yet again.

There are so many ways that they continue to support the girl-only-as-worthy-as-her-man crap. This is all in addition to the many other ways that Disney is known to be pretty awful in their lack of support for creative, intelligent, non-man-hunting women.

Brave is different but then, you’ll notice, they didn’t come up with that idea.  Perhaps buying Pixar was one of the best things they could have done. I’d love it if future films continued in the vein of Brave, supporting heroic, intelligent and independent girls and women.  Maybe in the future of movies there will even be a fat heorine for once!  A girl can dream, right?

Even the few fat characters that Disney has are conspicuously absent from their merchandise. I still can’t find or get them to want to sell merchandise which highlights the awesome fat fairy tinker: Fairy Mary. Can’t the fat characters get some love?  I mean, Fairy Mary is the freaking lead Tinker Fairy for crying out loud!

So I was immediately intrigued when I noticed that there was a new collection of dolls that Disney was promoting: Villains!  Ursula!!!  Fat, evil, amazing, octopus, Ursula from The Little Mermaid!  Oh man if I could get something like that, buying online would be so fun!

I had high hopes but thought I was being cautiously hopefully instead of idealistically unrealistic.  Turns out, I have to admit that I still was shocked and saddened when I saw the dolls in the “Disney Villain Designer Collection” and realized that while they DO have the awesome Ursula from The Little Mermaid….they made that giant, fat, amazing character…into a waif-like representation not at all like the original.

I mean, seriously????  Come ON.  So, what are they saying?  That you can’t be “Designer” without being straight-sized-model thin and posed in a seductive manner? Freaking….I mean, aside from light purple skin you tell ME how this even remotely resembles the original fat, octopussy character (While loooking for pics, I realize that Jezebel also points out this unfortunate change):

Even the Queen of Hearts is reduced to the same, boring, nearly duck-faced, pouty, seductress posed and super-thin sized body doll.  *sigh*

It’s sad when the biggest thing ON these dolls, who are supposed to be glam-styled representations of evil villains of various sizes and shapes but nearly equivalent levels of malevolence; is their poofy skirt.

It’s bad enough that us fatties have only ever had villains in our body size but for Disney to erase even that has given me a huge sad, as an LOLCat might say.

When is a calorie: not?

Apparently when Harvard puts the time and energy into “discovering” that a “study” (which used ‘state of the art measures’) of a whopping 21 people for a few WEEKS shows that diets concentrated on fats versus carbs versus glycemic index are not all created equal! The human body apparently processes fats, carbs, proteins, etc DIFFERENTLY. At least, this obviously meaningful and rigorous study seems to think so.

In other “news”, the human body is not a bunsen burner. But, perhaps, I digress.

I think one of the most “amusing” parts of this is how they take this quote in the beginning (emphasis is mine):

Weight re-gain is often attributed to a decline in motivation or adherence to diet and exercise, but biology also plays an important role.

and yet go on to detail the virtues of non-biological means of making fatty people better able to STICK with those pesky diets. *eyeroll* It’s like they’re ALMOST there, ALMOST at the logical mind-step of realizing all this dieting crap is NOT a matter of simply willfully unmotivated people giving up…and then shake their heads against the logic anyway and go “Well, we’ll just have to try more ways to get those lazy bastards to keep on dieting”.

*le sigh*

OH: by the way: I’m back! :) Happy Summer/Winter y’all!

But, isn’t “Mental Health” also a vital, important part of “Health”?

As many, if not all, of us know: January (aka Dieting Frenzy Re-boot Month) is here. The holidays of last year have passed and commitments to a “New You” are promoted everywhere.  Largely this translates, often-times not even subtly, to “The THINNER You”.  There are many things to hate about this month of resurgent interest in Whipping Off the Pounds that the hopefully restful holidays may have Put Upon You.  One happening that ends up making my very sad and wistful however is hearing/seeing people say/post things which reference actions they are doing or foods they are eating that they don’t LIKE (or even actively HATE) but which they follow-up with “but I suppose it is good for me”.

That’s just so sad to me.  Not only does it immediately buy into this idea that obviously what is “Good” for you is either Not Easy or is going to be something you’ll HATE; it also sets people up for a cycle of failure. How can you possibly want to continue behaviors that you’ve decided are “The Good Ones” if you’re already firmly set against them: because what you’ve chosen as Good is so despicable to you?

I’m firmly against the idea that anything (and everything) Good for you is difficult and undesirable; and that anything Bad for you is easy and the path to true darkness.  This isn’t the Force folks.  Foods and activities aren’t a cut and dry metric by which your moral values could (or should) be measured.

I understand that, especially after a few weeks of a tacitly “allowed” festive mentality that there is this incredible pressure to feel guilt and “pay” for such sinfully decadent behavior.  I can understand how much easier it is to give in to the pressures and put your body and mind on a diet of what is perceived as Good as a sort of punishment for allowing yourself to feel good for any length of time.  I don’t support it; but I sure as heck understand it; having fallen prey to these exact ideas many times myself over the years.

However, if having one fat woman declare it gives you the peace of mind to even consider an alternative, think on this:  your Mental Health is just as important as your physical health.  Even if you refuse to believe me when I assert that physical health and fatness are not intrinsically linked in an inverse relationship; please allow that there is a direct correlation between your mental well-being and your overall wellness.  If you are already mentally trudging at the idea of the behaviors and foods you’ve put in front of yourself as the Grail to Thinness, then the increasingly bitter resentment you will feel towards these actions and nutrients will only serve to reinforce your hatred of them and make Being Good seem like an even more distant possibility that ever before.

Break free of the chains of This Is Good For Me Even If I Hate It.  If you MUST attempt a Change of Lifestyle; I’d personally suggest Health At Every Size: where internal hunger cues are rediscovered and our own bodies become the competent devices they were created to be from the start.  Where “Good” depends on what works for YOU; where mental health his JUST as vital as the perceived “good” value of what you next hope to eat.  Don’t do what you SUPPOSE is good for you (especially if it is distasteful or even hateful to you).  Do what feels right; what you learn means your body is happy.  Yes, it IS a scary proposition to trust your own body and learn to listen.  To me, though, it is a far better venture than to select purported Good Foods and Good Activities to punish yourself for daring to have enjoyed the recent holiday season.

Happy New Year and Happy Same Awesome You!!

PS: Those who read on the site may have noticed the updated look.  Just playing with themes and running with a pink theme that tickled my fancy.

Being Fat: Just like being a child-hating puppy-killer. Yeah!

Some days I just want to “AAaaaarrrrg” over all the many and sundry places in which one so readily encounters fat hatred.  The latest spy-with-my-little-eye was on, of all things, the Shelfari blog.  I was just reading along a rather interestingly written piece on how to write a villain into your story when BAM I am mouth-gapingly drawn to this little gem:

One of the greatest challenges for writing memorable villains is how you signal to the reader the depth of your villain’s depravity. In the most base of cases, villains are fat, ugly, murderous, rapacious, child-hating, puppy-killing monsters who dress in all black and use too much eyeliner and from whom even the insects flee. You show they are evil by having them look physically vile, and have them do something horrific to lose them the reader’s sympathy. (emphasis mine)

Yep.  That’s right.  Being fat renders a character not only physically vile (yeah, thanks for that) but also helps create an impression of a depraved soul so without redeeming features that a reader should be 100% certain that they are never to send a sympathetic glance their way.  The fat hatred isn’t even sugar-coated here folks!

Me and my depraved fatness

Me and my depravedly evil fatness, being all physically vile at you!

I suppose I really shouldn’t feel surprise.  We’ve discussed (here even and recently) the way that fat is the fall-back trope, the short-hand descriptor, for anyone looking to instantly create an unsympathetic character in written works.  Still, seeing this as just a throw-away line in a long article on how to make a good evil character really just makes me incredibly frustrated.  Can’t we move beyond stereotypical tropes about fat being as evil as murdering freakin’ puppies*?!??

That is all for tonight’s rants.  Comments?  Additional thoughts?

ETA: Check the comments below for a rather decent response from the article’s author!

*And, apparently, wearing too much makeup.  Not even sure where to go with that one. Is it a mark against anyone who identifies as goth/emo/counter-culture? A slut-shaming point against women who dare to move beyond an “appropriate” level of face-painting?  What??

Long-Term Weight Gain: Studies show that “Eat Less, Move More” too simplistic

lemur dancing

Not as simple as Calories In, Calories Out? Don't worry; I'll figure out a way to bring it all back around to that by the end. Never doubt the Leaping Lemur my dears.

In case you haven’t heard the news yet; there was a recently released set of results from a set of three prospective cohort investigations.  The study’s aim?  Find out why that deceptively simple “Eat Less, Move More” mantra fails to explain the general human-wide tendency to gain about 1 pound of weight each year as we age.  So, for 20 years researchers followed over 120,000 US men and women to find out what was up.

While I have to almost laugh at such long-range work to find out why human bodies dare to have the audacity to gain an average of less than 1 pound of girth a year; I mostly wanted to point out a few things I noticed when flipping between an article describing the study and the actual study abstract.

Firstly, here’s an article that led me to the study: “Changes in Specific Dietary Factors May Have Big Impact on Long-Term Weight Gain”.  The sub-line actually really takes the credit for drawing me in: “Weight-loss Strategy to Only “Eat Less, Exercise More” May be Overly Simplistic”.  Huh!  Actually looking at how telling people they are just lazy food-stuffing assholes is useless, perhaps?  No.  Silly April.

In a series of three separate studies looking at how changes in multiple dietary and other lifestyle factors relate to long-term weight gain, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that modest changes in specific foods and beverages, physical activity, TV-watching, and sleep duration were strongly linked with long-term weight gain. Changes in diet, in particular, had the strongest associations with differences in weight gain. (Emphasis mine)

Turns out it is just a re-packaging of the same mantra; with slight modifications to insist that (and I quote):

“The idea that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods is a myth that needs to be debunked.”

When has the idea of no moral judgments on food been something proposed seriously by anyone outside of this small realm of the internet known as the “Fat-o-Sphere” and related books?!

Not only that, but I point you again to that last line, which I’ve bolded.  Here’s where I take an even larger glance askew at this article.  Only 5 days out in the New England Journal of Medicine (despite these studies ending in 2003 and 2006; but I’ll leave more intense ripping apart of the study’s mechanics to others for now.  You know, where someone actually gains access to the entire study paper to read into the hows and whys, etc.  Is this self-reported data every 4 years?  Why so long a gap between the studies and the results being released?)  and already authors are clamoring that changes to diet and exercise were the most strongly correlated with that distressing 1 pound per year weight gain.  Here’s the kicker though.  Even taking just the information from the abstract I am currently able to access, Long Term Weight Gain is NOT highest for the demonized eaters of more potato chips and drinkers of more soda.  It is highest for newly quit former smokers.  And, depending on the number of drinks per day, alcohol drinkers.

Interesting how the focus, despite what the numbers show, becomes the way that we in the US are somehow Almost Unknowingly eating enough additional chips and sodas each year (yay!  Let’s look forward to more “Don’t you realize how much you’re eating, Fatty?!” initiatives to come!), bit by bit, to merit gaining an average of nearly an extra pound of weight each year. Perhaps this has a slight something to do with a few of the supports of the grant funds given towards funding this research?  (GlaxoKlineSmith, Aramark) Or perhaps a bit of conflict of interest might be seen in one of the researchers

“being listed as a coinventor on a provisional patent application filed by and assigned to Harvard University for the use of trans-palmitoleic acid to prevent and treat insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and related conditions” (emphasis mine)

Related conditions?  Like… obesity? Which is always fronted as the dreaded boogie-man of type 2 diabetes?  Maybe I’m digging too deep here.  Surely studies aren’t done and promoted as drastically important when they barely show the results you’re looking for; simply because you have a vested interest in studies confirming that levels of obesity are threatened (with risk of RISING) by that pesky 1 lb per year phenomenon.  Surely… right?

Wording is everything.  Here again we see that in a study focused on such a minute (in comparison with, say, the weight change needed to move from one end of a BMI range to another) gain of weight across human beings over time; the results can even indicate that bodies are not as simply broken down as “Calories In, Calories Out” and STILL the focus by the end of an article highlighting these results will boil it all down to :

“Overall, the weight-changes associated with any one lifestyle change were fairly small. However, together they added up, especially for diet. “Small dietary and other lifestyle changes can together make a big difference – for bad or good,” said Mozaffarian. “This makes it easy to gain weight unintentionally, but also demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for prevention. A handful of the right lifestyle changes will go a long way.”

That’s right.  The effect of any of the actions examined individually was small; yet cumulatively the effect can be monstrous! (Bring to mind the initial article’s declaration of changes leading to a “Big Impact”) Like… a whole pound a year people!  Change your ways before it is too late!!!  Isn’t it so wonderful that the researchers are optimistic that these studies reveal such great chances out there for more prevention initiatives?  Opportunities that no doubt they’d be willing to throw themselves out there under the push of well-funded initiatives to encourage and promote?

Perhaps I’m too cynical.  Still, anyone have any delusions that this will stop people from pinning weight gain on a laundry list of “wrong” lifestyle changes since obviously weight gain is not as simple as In/Out? Yeah.  Me neither.

Your fetus, your diet, and you

I’ve been quietly (or not so quietly as my husband who has to listen to my various outbursts and scornful scoffs as I read) taking in the latest news on the dieting front.  Mainly the news of a new trial study to put overweight pregnant women on a drug intended to prevent their fetus from gaining too much weight.

I think Dances with Fat really did a fabulous look into the many reasons that this entire concept is just entirely disturbing.  A bit of that post which really keeps resonating for me is this:

Weight and Health are two different things and cannot be freely substituted for one another.  Health is multi-dimensional and includes things in our control and things out of our control such as genetics, environment, access, stress and behaviors, and being healthy is not the same as being thin. There are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size. (emphasis is mine)

I think that in all the fervor to ensure that our children and our general population masses stay healthy; we’re really focused on weight because it is perceived as far easier than focusing on the multi-dimensional reality of health. If you prepare a program intended to create weight-loss; that is far more easily measured than, say, determining all of the many variant factors tied into the concept of Good Health. Yet, as Dances with Fat and many others have pointed out time and again, Thin(ner) is NOT, nor should it be, a synonym for Healthy.

So much gets missed when size is  pushed forward as the best, nay the ONLY metric for measuring a body’s health.  My fear is that in this zeal and zest (and other “z” words) to Think About The Children, we’ve actually gone and forgotten all about them.  Children are merely another pawn in this War on Fat being waged.  Like the rest of us; they only stand to lose from such a position.

I don’t see how this sort of fetus-dieting study can possibly benefit anyone; let alone our children. These initiatives to drastically attack a body’s fat (or in this case a fetus’ potential to gain fat) can only serve to further reinforce already damaging stereotypes about  fatness, health and worth.

Michelle Obama’s “Fight the Fatties” mentality in addressing the United State’s “Obesity Problem” via the Let’s Move campaign seems ripe to instead (or additionally?) help INCREASE bullying and increase the prevalence of destructive behaviors (such as disordered eating); all in the name of fixing a purportedly drastically growing problem that DOESN’T REALLY EXIST!!!

In case you don’t click that last link, it leads to the CDC’s own admission that childhood obesity levels have LEVELED OFF. Since 1999! “Between 1999–2000 and 2007–2008, there was no significant trend in obesity prevalence for any age group”  Despite a recently released letter from the same CDC advising immediate actions to fight this disastrous scourge on our nation that is a fat body, there is NO EPIDEMIC of an increasingly fat nation. (PS: this rate has also been level for adults for a while now.)

Lifespan is at an all-time high in the US, and is increasing. Has been for nearly a decade.  Yet, why use such a silly measure of health as Life Expectancy?  That’s not a quick and dirty way to quantify an individual’s unique health profile! Weight is by FAR easier to track. Less work, easier to assign blame on the individual when efforts fail rather than on the initiative itself.  Hmm.  Some might think researchers and obesity experts were lazy or something?  Nah.  Only us fatties get that moniker: Lazy.

Deaths associated with fatness are being revealed to have less direct one-to-one Fat-to-Death correlation than assumed: “Overweight was not associated with excess mortality. The relative risks of mortality associated with obesity were lower.” Yet, despite studies cropping up with these and similar findings about the intricate (at the least) relationship between body size and health; initiatives continue to crop up destined to give us all the quick-fix marketers seem to feel we crave: that Get Thin Quick scam that we all know deep down (skin deep at least) is based upon shallow measures of appearance; not true measures of health.

Children, like adults, are not just bodies to be measured and judged.  They are people.  We are people. People  should not be judged Healthy or Not based upon the size of the bodily container they inhabit. Health should not be a metric by which a person’s worth is measured.

Ages 4-8? Sure, heap on the fat hate. Never too young!

I just got this book listed in my Reader queue: My Dog Jack is FatFor ages 4-8.  The entirety of the product description for this rousing tale for our youth? “Carson gets fatter as his dog gets thinner from diet and exercise”.

If you’re so lucky as to find a few pages using the “surprise me!” feature of the “Look inside this book” function; you’ll find that the boy keeps encouraging his dog to set aside his lust for fried chicken (seriously?) and constant snacking and canned fizzy drinks so that he can better chase after tennis balls (while the dog rather cleverly responds that the task might actually be easier instead if the boy learned to throw the ball straight…still; as we know this “hero” of a dog ends up with the Fairy Tale thinner body from simply working out and eating better; I don’t have much hope that the story is at all a positive reinforcement of the idea that body sizes and shapes are not determinants of ability or health). That’s right.  Let’s make sure kids from as early an age as possible begin to realize that moving for fun is not the point if you’re not losing weight.

Yeah, so if anyone out there is under the delusion that we’re making fast headway against this ideal that if anyone “over” an aesthetically defined “weight” simply stopped shoving cakes into their lazy mouth and moved off their gelatinous butts for more than a refill on their sugar-laden sodas they would quite magically and wonderfully have a “normal” body shape/size, let this be a very quick reminder that we are SO not over this moralistic concept as a nation (world?) yet.  Despite mounting evidence that it is nothing more than bullshit; flashy, quick-sensationalist headline-creating, easy bullshit sells and difficult concepts take much longer to take hold. The world still does not want you to find happiness in the self you have; unless that self is already (or has become) thin(ner).

So with that lovely reminder that Fat Hate is still alive and well in the “duh, just fucking move around more and stop eating so much you fat bastards/bitches; I’m sick of looking at you” and marketing happily to our children to indoctrinate them early into the marvels of hating themselves and others based upon the amount of certain cells in their body, I’m off to meet the ‘rents tomorrow and enjoy my Graduation weekend!