David Wong, a writer over on Cracked.com that I particularly admire, did a short article about the fact that only 1 out of every 500 people who lose more than 15 or 20 pounds will be able to maintain that weight loss, and those very, very few “who successfully do it are the ones who become psychologically obsessive about it, like that weird guy who built an Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks.”
This article is correct. It is loaded with links to scientific studies and news articles referring to scientific data. It is supported by an avalanche of proof, which is often catalogued in books like Health at Every size by Dr. Linda Bacon and The Obesity Myth by Professor Paul Campos. There is nothing radical about it. It does not attack thin people. It attacks no one, except maybe the predatory diet industry.
However, from the vitriol boiling up in the comments you would assumed that David Wong was a gay man arguing about his civil rights and theology with the Westborough Baptist Church. Wong had sinned. He had presented evidence that is counter to the sociocultural messages people have absorbed without question. Woe! Woe!
The commenters, whom I believe to be primarily young and mostly male, snarled and called “bullshit!” on the science, on Wong, and on the idea that fat people did anything other than sit on their asses and eat junk food. The evidence simply did not matter; they knew that fat people were fat because they were lazy, and too stupid to learn about health, and were always eating massive amounts of “bad” food! No amount of data would alter these beliefs. They clung to their hatred of fat people and the lack of control that fat people stood for with the zealous conviction of religious followers who knew the real truth. No global warming denier could have fought harder to maintain status-quo and discount the science. No anti-evolution creationist could have saddled up his dinosaur with more righteousness.
When some foolish commenter tried to back up Wong the other commenters would attack, even when the commenter was a scientist in that field. For example:
I work in GI research in the area of obesity and metabolism. This is (depressingly) correct. Your genetics are responsible for over 60% of your weight. If you’re interested in learning about it on your own, major hospitals studying ghrelin, setpoint, and brown adipose tissue to determine a person’s BMI. I’m sick of everyone telling people to starve themselves or just eat a salad or go for a run. While that helps you INTERNALLY, if you work in a genetics lab, you’ll learn there are a myriad of complex issues at play. And yeah, most of the times your genes just suck. The other 40% is learned behavior. Our advice is you keep trying to get some form of exercise and eat healthy food, but obsessing, calorie counting, bingeing, starving, it WILL NOT work long term. Oh, and if you decide to have gastric bypass, most of the weight comes back in 10-20 years. Look at Carnie Wilson. If you lipo it off, it just comes back in other places. Look at your parents and grandparents for how your body type will look. There ARE abnormalities, but they’re rare. I know, depressing right?
One of the replies to this comment from “dboon”:
Total BS. Your temper is genetically influenced but that doesn’t mean you have to kill people.
This article is bullshit too. These types of statements, science, and articles are designed to keep the uber consumer satiated and content. The Western diet is the problem -and it is only post WW2 (70 years old) -that is a tiny drop on the genetic timescale.You have choices -You have triggers -You can grow up and be an adult and not eat happy meals the rest of your life. Lose the capitalistic consumer-culture designed grain-based carbohydrate centric diet, -It was designed because it was cheap, can be stored for long periods, and creates addiction. Get a clue as to what a food “portion” in the real world is. Shake the belief that you need to sugar in your drinks, or that candy is something you deserve. Then turn off the TV and computer and Video Games and go see the world, fine a lady friend or hobby and start living with some damn balance. YOU HAVE A CHOICE -DO NOT BELIEVE THIS BULLSHIT.
You are FAT because you have been indoctrinated and tricked into a lifestyle designed to sell you as much s**t as your wages can produce. -just like these trolls here that will argue my point -They are trying to sell you a lifestyle, protect an ideology, and keep you “fat and happy” WAKE UP.
Did anyone else notice that “dboon” called anyone who posted an agreement with Wong a troll. The people ranting against the evidence presented by Wong frequently used hate-speech, but people who would disagree with “dboon” were the real trolls. Again, reality did not stand a chance with a person like that.
I wonder what “dboon” would make of me? I am fat, but I exercise regularly, don’t drink sodas (diet or regular) or other sugary drinks, avoid junk food and make organic meals. I haven’t eaten fast food for years. I know plenty about health and I am healthy. What would he think of The Fat Nutritionist? Is she just ignorant abut eating and health too? What would he make of one of my friends, a size 4/6 who doesn’t exercise because she is a busy working mom and who has a raging sweet tooth that she indulges every day with a Coke and sugary foods?
Fat-hate is embedded deep into the fabric of our culture. Anyone who tries to shift that paradigm can expect a shit load of resistance from those who are invested in the fat-hate belief system. They want someone to loathe, and look down on – it makes them feel superior, which they probably don’t get to feel all that often – and they NEED a justification of their hatred in order to feel that superiority.
Moreover, fat people, myself included, internalize this hatred. That means we are either left to drown in our self-loathing, or we can try to fight it. Even when we fight it, armed for bear with a ton of data, the self-hatred is always there. When I catch a glimpse of my fat body in a reflective surface, it is all I can do not to wince. My body is not my temple – it is my shame made flesh. My fat is a manifestation of my failures, my “laziness”, my “gluttony”. I try to negate these thoughts when they pop in my head, but the constant cultural messages that I am Other, I am Ugly, I am Bad creep into my skull and nest there, waiting for me to see my ass in a mirror so they can unleash a torrent of mental self abuse.
Worse, we long to be thin. We want to be “pretty” and we have been told through every cultural medium possible, including our mothers, that we cannot be pretty if we are not thin. The patriarchy tells us that women are as valuable as they are attractive, and we want to have value. We want to be the thin women of worth. Even when we know it is hegemonic bullshit and resist it with all our heart, it is still there: the thin skeleton in our fat closet. This is no different that the fact millions of darker skinned women are “encouraged” to try skin bleaching cosmetics to become “prettier”. Although no one comes right out and says it, the cultural message that whiter = prettier is there, eating away at the self esteem of darker skinned women and girls. They are even told to bleach their vaginas, lest the darkness of their snatch repel their men. We must all achieve the ascribed patriarchal ideal, no matter what indignity we must subject our bodies to.
We all try to bend to the patriarchal cultural message of what is a pretty female, and thus what is a worthy female. We need to fight that. We need to fight it in our own heads, and we need to fight it out loud and in public, even though this will bring a wall of shit down on our heads. This is the only way to change those messages, and free the people who come after us from the chains of body shaming and a false patriarchal ideal.