ONTD Political

A Case For Shaming Obese People, Tastefully

2:37 am - 01/24/2013
One bioethicist's modest proposal to combat obesity through socially motivated self-hatred

People don't hate being fat enough, basically, according to Hastings Center bioethicist Daniel Callahan. In an editorial published in the Hastings Center Report, he argues that nothing -- not diets, drugs, sugeries, nor appeals to our health -- is working, and goes on to make the case for fat-shaming people until they start eating more salad.

"An edgier strategy is needed," is his (earnest and entirely devoid of irony) way of putting it.



Said strategy entails "social pressure combined with vigorous government action." Callahan likens it to the campaign to end smoking: The combination, in his experience, of being criticized, sent outside, and taxed for his "nasty habit" was the motivation he needed to quit.

"The force of being shamed and beat upon socially," he writes, "was as persuasive for me to stop smoking as the threats to my health."

So imagine his surprise when the same social smack-down was actually discouraged when it came to obesity: "I had not realized that smoking was the exception -- that the public health community generally opposes anything that looks like blaming the victim." Like how angry we got when people were blamed for contracting HIV.

Obesity, Callahan implies, is something where the victim should be blamed. After all, we're already doing it unofficially. "The obese are said to be lazy, self-indulgent, lacking in discipline, awkward, unattractive, weak-willed and sloppy, insecure and shapeless." (It's not him saying that, he's only reciting what's already being said "among doctors and nurses.")

People who are overweight, he contends, remain hopelessly unaware of their plight. He references the study finding that Americans, as a whole, aren't aware that they're getting fatter. The obese majority of the public must understand that, "whatever they may think about the power and excess of government, it is inescapable in this case, as much as with national defense."

Callahan makes a case for himself not being that radical: he's only calling for "mild coercion" on the part of the government, in the form of Bloomberg-style bans and taxes, supplemented by what he calls "stigmatization lite." This low-cal, low-hatred version of stigmatization is edgy, just crazy enough to work -- so long as it doesn't lead to outright discrimination. It entails forcing overweight people to confront themselves in the mirror and ask themselves:

· If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way you look?

· Are you happy that your added weight has made many ordinary activities, such as walking up a long fight of stairs, harder?

· Would you prefer to lessen your risk of heart disease and diabetes?

· Are you aware that, once you gain a signifcant amount of weight, your chances of taking that weight back off and keeping it off are poor?

· Are you pleased when your obese children are called "fatty" or otherwise teased at school?

· Fair or not, do you know that many people look down upon those excessively overweight or obese, often in fact discriminating against them and making fun of them or calling them lazy and lacking in self-control?

So it's a special kind of internalized discrimination. One might even suggest -- as Callahan himself does -- that such an approach would actually be empowering.

That last question in effect aims to make people acutely aware of pervasive stigmatization, but then to invoke it as a danger to be avoided: don't let this happen to you! If you don't do something about yourself, that's what you are in for. Many of the other questions invoke vanity as a value, or the good opinion of one's neighbors, friends, or fellow employees, or the risk of illness. Use all of them together, carrots and sticks. That will not much help most of those who are already overweight or obese. But beyond marginal improvements, most of them are already lost.

Abandon the lost causes and embark on a new era of zero tolerance for body fat. I can't see how anyone could possibly have a problem with that.



Source


Ahahahaha no.
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moonshaz 24th-Jan-2013 03:56 am (UTC)
People who are overweight, he contends, remain hopelessly unaware of their plight.

*falls over dead at the sheer, unmitigated stupidity of this remark*
silmaril 24th-Jan-2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
The size of that assumption is causing a disruption in the Earth's gravitational field that I'm pretty sure the gravity research guys in the physics department here can register with their instruments.

(Edited to add: I mean the assumption in the utterly stupid remark.)

Edited at 2013-01-24 06:01 pm (UTC)
mollywobbles867 24th-Jan-2013 03:57 am (UTC)
Yeah, because I didn't contemplate slitting my wrists when I was 10 because I was bullied over my weight or anything.

eyetosky 24th-Jan-2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
Oh Weiner, why'd you have to go and goof up on twitter? I miss you.
mschaos Og F*CK that jackass24th-Jan-2013 03:58 am (UTC)
like that works

don't even think about the fact that 'diets' don't work 95% of the time and that shaming works so damn well

my mom has been trying that for years and folks know that mom guilt is pretty damn epic

*edited for spelling typo*

Edited at 2013-01-24 04:00 am (UTC)
nesmith 24th-Jan-2013 04:01 am (UTC)
Yeah, pretty sure my dad tried that method for fifteen years. Didn't start working until after he died and I realized I wasn't horrible and lazy.
poetic_pixie_13 24th-Jan-2013 04:03 am (UTC)
wikilobbying 24th-Jan-2013 04:16 am (UTC)
People who are overweight, he contends, remain hopelessly unaware of their plight.

because it's not like we're told over and over and over and over and over and over etc that we're fat, that we're all obese, that we're all whales. not like we don't constantly have to hear about the "obesity epidemic." not like we're constantly assumed to be a bunch of stupid, lazy, over-eaters who just turn our noses up at healthy foods. not like we're constantly assumed to never eat anything healthy, anyhow. not like when we develop disordered eating habits that we're congratulated on them as long as we're trying to drop pounds and "look good" by their standards. not like clothes shopping isn't enough of a pain in the ass already. not like we never lose out on job opportunities because employers don't think our fat asses look good representing their companies.

and that's all just the tip of the iceberg, would this jackass like me to keep going?

but right, i'm sure he's just concern trolling about the plight of our health like people aren't doing that to us constantly anyhow.

he can fuck off to the sun. sooner rather than later, please.
ahzuri 24th-Jan-2013 04:21 am (UTC)
I love everything this comment is.

My husband is astounded that I'm as overweight (309 atm Lost 11lbs over the last few weeks though!) as I am because I'm picky and tend towards lean meats, fruits, vegetables and other healthy food rather than junk. Thankfully he loves me and all my fat.
tilmon 24th-Jan-2013 04:17 am (UTC)
Why do people listen to these self-styled "ethicists"? They are always bastards.
ahzuri 24th-Jan-2013 04:18 am (UTC)
You know losing weight isn't exactly a walk in the fucking park. Almost everyone who does lose any large amount of weight ends up gaining that shit back if they slack on their "diet". I totally haven't been conscious of my weight and trying to do something about it for the last oh 5 years and yet here I am up and down with my weight the entire time. I hate people who think its as simple to lose weight as cutting calories, bitch please that shit doesn't do anything but fuck you up.
lone_concertina 24th-Jan-2013 04:00 pm (UTC)
I've lost almost 75 lbs in the past 1.5 years. Now that I'm "thin"(ish), I get people asking how I did it. I want to shake them and slap them for all I had to put myself through over that amount of time. I exercised almost two hours a day, six days per week, and meticulously monitored everything I ate. It's the only way to lose weight and keep it off and it's the hardest goddamn thing I've ever done.
kaelstra 24th-Jan-2013 04:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's not like we live in a culture where fat people are shamed every fucking day, or made fun of, or bullied, or our loved ones make shitty comments about how we're terrible people with no self-control or any of that. No, that's not where we live. We don't live in a culture that sells us weight-loss and surgical procedures constantly just so we can be thin and loved and so forth. Nope, nope, nope.

Fuck this guy
kyra_neko_rei 24th-Jan-2013 04:31 am (UTC)
On top of the multitude of other problems with bullying people "for their own good," there is the fact that, if on the odd chance it happens to work, the bully tends to be the one who gets---and takes---the credit for the accomplishment.

Say that a fat person is bullied, shamed, and otherwise coerced into dieting, bariatric surgery, some grinding starvation-fueled exercise regimen, whatever. Say that, despite all the misery it produces, zie manages to stick with it until zie loses enough weight to fall into an approved BMI category. What does the bully and hir apologists think? Not "excellent, formerly fat person, how strong and disciplined you are to have lost all that weight!" but "see, formerly fat person, I was right! all you needed was diet and exercise and the weight just came right off! good thing I gave you that push you needed, huh?" at which point hir victim is supposed to smile and say, "yeah, you're right! thank you for making me miserable enough to force me to do what you wanted! I feel so much better now that you approve of me!" And their very success is co-opted to bolster the call to bully other people in the same fashion.

Accomplishments made at someone else's vicious kick in the emotional vulnerability aren't perceived as one's own---one can't claim them and take joy in them as fully as one can when one has sought and made the accomplishments out of love. They also tend to be not the accomplishments one would have chosen for oneself---and given how many times thin is functionally a stand-in for happy, healthy, successful, in love with my body, fit, capable, beautiful, appreciated, loved . . . none of these inherently require thinness, and in the process of presenting thinness as the demanded goal, there has been created a system where people are driven to give up happiness, health, success, love for their bodies, fitness, capabilities, beauty, appreciation, and even love in the pursuit of thinness---it has been presented as the means to those ends, and has usurped them as the end, to the point where people call for bullying people into obtaining it and present it as "for their own good."

Meanwhile, the people so bullied will either fail to lose the weight, finding themselves mired ever deeper in the contempt of their self-appointed "advocates," or succeed in losing the weight only to discover that the deep insidious and ever-deepening wounds and hurts and triggers and self-hatred inflicted by bullying neither fade nor even stop upon achieving the theoretical status of "good enough now."
astridmyrna 24th-Jan-2013 04:35 am (UTC)
Y'know, it's bad enough when I scold the seven-year-old I babysit to not make jokes to me about fat kids in his class. However, I have faith that if I tell this kid enough that he's being hurtful, that there is not one perfect size, and that he wouldn't like it if kids made fun of him for being skinny, that he'll change his mind about body image.

This jackass I could scold until I was blue and it wouldn't matter since his head is so far up his ass.
kyra_neko_rei 24th-Jan-2013 04:41 am (UTC)
Are you happy that your added weight has made many ordinary activities, such as walking up a long fight of stairs, harder?

Um. Aren't the "fat people should lose weight" crowd usually fans of exercise? And isn't hauling extra weight around all the time more exercise than hauling less of it around?

I mean, you can go to the gym and often find people doing lunges or stair-climb thingies with weights in their hands, or running on a treadmill or doing aerobics with weights looped around their wrists and ankles---FOR that "extra difficulty."
squeeful 24th-Jan-2013 08:56 am (UTC)
Extra weight does mean your muscles work more, but continual extra weight puts stress on your heart and lungs that they aren't meant to handle. Adipose tissue buildup in and around the ribcage and abdomen reduces your functional lung capacity. Fat build up around your heart impairs it ability to beat properly. So you're working harder to move AND you can't get a full breath and your heart is doing more work for the same amount of output. Not to mention the strain it puts on your joints and skeleton. It's all kinds of not-good.
elasg 24th-Jan-2013 04:48 am (UTC)
A premium example of the last socially acceptable prejudice.

We are denied jobs, ignored when we are looking for salespeople, presumed to be stupid/lazy/dirty, insulted, charged more for airfare... I could go on, but you all know the drill, and yet the solution is for US to change? Bull. How about a affirmative action to combat this kind of ignorance?

I'm fairly certain the reason I AM 250 lbs. today is because some mindless f**k told my 14 year old, 150 lb. self that I needed to go on a diet. Maybe if I HADN'T starved myself and screwed up my metabolism, I wouldn't be this way today.

Notice how societies that don't have diets full of corn syrup and fast foods and which don't obsess over weight don't have this problem?
wikilobbying 24th-Jan-2013 04:57 am (UTC)
can we not do the "last socially acceptable prejudice" thing because no
hey_mayonegg 24th-Jan-2013 04:55 am (UTC)
Are you pleased when your obese children are called "fatty" or otherwise teased at school?

No, but I'd argue that the fault lies with fucksticks like you.
ayarane 24th-Jan-2013 04:58 am (UTC)
Fat-shaming ultimately killed my dad, and my mother still thinks it will work on me. Hahahahahahaha no.
jenny_jenkins 24th-Jan-2013 05:00 am (UTC)
"stigmatization lite."

WTF???
spiegel11th 24th-Jan-2013 05:08 am (UTC)
Okay, I just made an awesome comment and LJ ate it.
I'll be checking to see if it turned up on a different story.
EDIT: Doesn't seem to have gone anywhere, really. I guess Frank ate it. Anyway, here is the general thrust...

Wait, is he saying I might be fat and not even know it?
*Looks down*
Oh my god! Look at that! It's like fifty kilos of lard just jumped up and wrapped itself around me! You could make two schoolgirls out of me - three, if they're tiny! Man, that was not there this morning.
...What, he was serious? Tche. Does he imagine that a girl can buy size 26 pants by accident? That one can absent-mindedly hunt down the two shirts in a store that fit comfortably and don't appear to be made from lycra? Hell no.

~Signed, the woman who swam over a kilometre this morning, and then had a pan au chocolat. And it was delicious.

Edited at 2013-01-24 05:24 am (UTC)
ebay313 24th-Jan-2013 05:10 am (UTC)
We have already tried fat shaming. Pretty conclusive that it doesn't work well. If fat shaming made a large % of fat people thin, it would have already happened, we are not lacking in fat shaming. (And his own stupid examples prove that- being teased and discriminated against shows that fat shaming is already in full force.)
elasg 24th-Jan-2013 11:09 am (UTC)
Exactly! I think this experiment has already been running - and it gives the opposite result!
mskye 24th-Jan-2013 05:34 am (UTC)
ಠ_ಠ
liret 24th-Jan-2013 05:51 am (UTC)
· Are you aware that, once you gain a signifcant amount of weight, your chances of taking that weight back off and keeping it off are poor?

Wait, so he wants people to know how horrible it is that they're overweight and that there's probably nothing they can do about it? This sounds like great doctoring here.
kyra_neko_rei 24th-Jan-2013 07:09 am (UTC)
Yeah what the hell was that? Probably nothing they can do about it, but they should still be bullied into trying to lose weight? What, just in case or something? Or maybe he thinks fat people are so worthless that making them all miserable to sift out a few newly thin people from the fat population is worth it, like a human version of tearing up the earth to extract some mineral resource?
missjersey 24th-Jan-2013 05:54 am (UTC)
The only part I agree with is that the "victim" is to blame, though I wouldn't use that terminology. We are all responsible for how we take care of ourselves and it's up to us to fix our own problems.

For those trying to lose weight, I suggest reading "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. It's not specifically about weight loss but talks about how habits (such as over eating) are formed and how new ones can be made to override the bad ones. Awesome book y'all should get.
sunnyolaf 24th-Jan-2013 06:37 am (UTC)
Some people are overweight due to health problems that are out of their hands so I don't belive that it is always someone's fault they are overweight.
fenris_lorsrai 24th-Jan-2013 06:03 am (UTC)
The comparison with smoking is always a bad comparison. It is not biologically necessary to smoke. It is biologically necessary to eat. You can't just entirely cut it out of life.
silver_apples 24th-Jan-2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
Also, second-hand smoke is a real health hazard. That's why smokers are not allowed to smoke indoors in most place--to protect the health of others. No one gains weight from second-hand calories.

It is biologically necessary to eat. You can't just entirely cut it out of life.

I was in Weight Watchers for awhile (helped a lot, but I've gained most of it back and am now struggling to lose again), and one of the leaders liked to point out that for many people, eating was an addiction, but it was not one we could quit.
sesmo 24th-Jan-2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Wow, the comments on the article are reasonable. I'm surprised, and pleasantly impressed.

This guy is talking out his ass, and should be kicked in the nuts repeatedly. For his own good, of course.
lozbabie 24th-Jan-2013 06:43 am (UTC)
I think the whole diet industry is to blame. The way we 'diet' in the western world is a horrible way to lose weight and it shows it doesn't work. Starving yourself until you're thin and the going back to the way you used to eat is terrible. And that's including he people who stick with it!

What worked for me was writing down everything I eat. Having tchnog made that so much easier as there's an app for that. I did use Jenny Craig but I used it for me. (And hat was a privilege as its fuckig expensive) Calorie control at a healthy amount to feed your body (the idea you can lose weight and NOT be Hungary is astounding to people) I still eat shit food but less often. I've always been active (one of my before photos is me pitching at softball. I need to get a new one soon for my latest after) but now I am more structured. And I enjoy it.

Since July 2011 I've lost 40kg/88lbs. I still have another 30kg/66lb to go.

But having my mother tell me for 15 years didn't help. It was something I needed to do myself. Because I had to be talked out of suicide by a 15 year old (and I'm so damn ashamed of that) because of how much I hated myself. And to top it off I still got criticized for eating too much when I was home last. (Though my brothers 'Are you fucking kidding me right now? Was beautiful)

And it shows what this society is because I still cry when looking at photos of me at my heaviest. And I shouldn't. But I'm just so big and unhealthy and miserable and I can't lie about that.
kyra_neko_rei 24th-Jan-2013 07:18 am (UTC)
I think the whole diet industry is to blame. The way we 'diet' in the western world is a horrible way to lose weight and it shows it doesn't work.

Exactly.

And when you think about it, there's a whole fucking lot of money to be made by the diet industry in selling all this shit that doesn't work---every time something doesn't work, that's a repeat customer waiting to happen, if not for that particular diet/program/quackery, then a similar one, so everything on the market has the whole population of weight-loss seekers likely to give their product a try at least once.

And since they have successfully pushed the idea that if their product doesn't work it's the user's fault for not doing it right, they can keep raking in money with abysmal failure rates and even get some people to try the same product again and again and again by encouraging them to believe that "this time it'll work."

If there were money to be made by selling "love yourself, do things that make you happy and challenge you pleasantly," the world would be a much better place. But the money is in telling people that they're worthless and ugly so they spend money and time and effort and ultimately happiness on anything that claims it will help fix them.
ceilidh 24th-Jan-2013 06:56 am (UTC)
If shaming people for obesity worked, I'd be a size 2 by now after all the shit I got in high school. Some stupid assholes got hold of some of the yellow "wide load" tape or whatever the fuck it is that goes on oversized loads (like mobile homes) on the road and strung it across my locker. I've never been so mortified in my life and it makes me sick 20+ years later. Yet somehow, I'm still fat. Go figure.
kyra_neko_rei 24th-Jan-2013 07:20 am (UTC)
The only way it "works" is that it does what it's actually designed to do: shame people. And make bullies happy.

I don't think most of them even care whether it works. And those of them that do care are likely to prefer that it doesn't work---because then they can keep having their victims.
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