Monday, February 1st, 2010

Svelte Americans Rip Into Their Big-Bottomed Compatriots

Will the Sprats spat?Skinny Americans have had it with their overweight countrymen, and will no longer take being put-or, in the case of airplane accommodations, sat-upon without protest. "I am completely and utterly frustrated with rising healthcare costs due to the deluge of fat Americans taxing the healthcare system. I'm in shape and have been all my life because I don't soothe myself with food all day," says one angry thinnie, and he is echoed by a host of others whose pride in their self-control (and good genetics, although that goes unsaid) is a major factor in the derision they pour upon their tubby neighbors like so much corn syrup down a fat man's gullet. But there is another reason beyond physical discomfort in confined spaces or the unpleasant experience of having to see an avalanche of muffin tops on every corner that is fueling the war on the weighty.

"In our society, being heavy has become more of a stigma lately because we're struggling with other issues of consumption," says Abigail Saguy, associate professor of sociology at UCLA.

The economic climate, a recent history of people buying more than they can afford as well as environmental issues, including the depletion of our planet's resources, are making people feel more angry about society's overconsumption, she says. Obviously overweight people are an easy target.

"They're almost a caricature of greed, overconsumption, overspending, over-leveraging and overusing resources," says Saguy. "Though it's not entirely rational, it's an understandable reaction, especially in a country founded on the Puritan ethics of self-reliance, sacrifice and individual responsibility. If people feel they're sacrificing, then see someone spilling over an airplane seat, they feel angry that that person is not making the same sacrifices they are."

That's right, lardass, every time you reach for that box of Snackwells that you will eat in one sitting-assuming you have some kind of furniture large enough to allow your massive carcass to attain a recumbent position-you are KILLING THE PLANET. Or at least that's what the skinny people think, and we all know how virtuous they are.

64 Comments / Post A Comment

belltolls (#184)

That was so good I just lit a cigarette.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

Balk, typing is no replacement for the treadmill.

hockeymom (#143)

Ricky Gervais agrees with you. Just read something in the HuffPo where he argues for forced sterilization of chunky folks.

"Yes, based on…stupid, fat faces" Gervais said. "If there's a woman in leggings, eating chips with a fag in her mouth, sterilize her."

Flashman (#418)

Wow, now there's the pot calling kettle fat.

Bittersweet (#765)

Come now, perhaps he's taken his own advice…

HiredGoons (#603)

Quiet you fools! Who shall we eat when we're all reduced to cannibalism!?

NicFit (#616)

Free cigarettes for fat people!

johnpseudonym (#1,452)

I am completely and utterly frustrated with rising healthcare costs due to the deluge of holier-than-thou Americans living longer. Shut up and die already.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

The problem is that it's poor people who are enormous, because the four cheap food groups are starch, grease, corn syrup, and salt. (And while salt may not make you fat, it will make you thirsty, so it always wins "six degrees of Kevin Baconcorn syrup.") Fresh, healthy foods are more expensive, both at the till and in prep time.

And I say this as an adult who weighs about 125 lbs!

HiredGoons (#603)

I spend a majority of my budget on food, and am thin. There is nothing in my pantry that is processed out of recognition from once being a plant or part of an animal.

Of course, one has to make an exception for the alcohol. "It's got the gorgeous amber color of the corn mash from whence it … ah, whatever."

LondonLee (#922)

Just what I was going to say. This is the first time in human history that obesity has been linked to poverty.

from 2005:

There is now little difference in obesity rates between income groups. In the 1970s, fewer than 10% of the most affluent were obese, compared with almost a quarter of those earning less than $25,000. In 2001-02, just a handful of percentage points separated all income groups.

What does she mean, that the hate on fatties "…[is] not entirely rational…"? What the heck is not rational about it? They are not "a caricature of greed, overconsumption, overspending, over-leveraging and overusing resources…", they are instances of exactly that.

cherrispryte (#444)


tigolbitties (#2,150)

i hope they forgot the /sarcasm

It is literally overconsumption. Am I missing something?

cherrispryte (#444)

You're missing a lot. Genetic pre-disposition, diseases and disorders, variances of metabolic rate, and the fact that 1) dealing in stereotypes is usually idiotic and 2) blaming individuals for society's ills is rarely useful or effective. Which was sort of the point Balk was making.

Are some people fat because they drive their SUVs everywhere and live off of tubs of mountain dew and cheez doodles, and are in every way "what's wrong with this country"? Sure. But that's definitely not all fatties. The rest of us, who don't overconsume (and, magically, are still fat!) certainly don't appreciate being lumped in with the idiots who think chocolate chip muffins are light and healthy.

Yes, yes, some people who are obese are so for metabolic or other physical reasons and of course they're not included, that's a given. But I don't think over 30% of the country's metabolism changed recently. Face it, people are just eating too much of the wrong stuff and not being active enough.

cherrispryte (#444)

Its not a given, though. You think the twatwaffle who commented below on fatties daring to use public transportation cares whether the person taking up more than one bus seat ate themselves fat or is a victim of genetics? I doubt it.

Mindpowered (#948)

Eh. There is no valid genetic reason to be obese as we are. Medieval peasants, Pleistocene Hunter Gatherers, Romans were not by and large fat. The only ones that were were lords, ladies, senators etc, who could gorge themselves silly on food.

The only change now is that everyone can gorge themselves silly. Try living like 12th century french peasant for a while. That diet will thin anyone up.

pissy elliott (#397)

For every bacon explosion you don't eat, I'm going to eat three. And then die, which actually results in lower costs incurred to my managed healthcare plan! You're welcome, skinny

Mindpowered (#948)

Only as long as you don't have any health insurance.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I'm just fascinated that there's a sociologist on someone's Rolodex standing by with pat conclusions about why folks hate fat people.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I think you should immediately put The Klumps in your Netflix queue.

abbyjean (#508)

You know what has worse health effects than obesity? Poverty. That explains all those public health campaigns to eliminate poverty and all those newspaper op-eds bemoaning how allowing poverty conditions to continue to exist hurts us all. WAIT THERE ARE NONE – because it's easier to blame systemic problems on individual "fatties" than to, like, fix the broken systems. (Way to buy in, formerly it takes a lot etc.!)

HiredGoons (#603)

Don't forget ignorance! Systemic or willful!

LondonLee (#922)

No, but poor can often equal single mother working two jobs who doesn't have the time to knock together some fabulous dish of, what was it, brown rice and beans? And if you've ever lived outside a big city you'll know that the food options are often between a Food Lion (which, shock, horror, probably doesn't sell brown rice or, bigger shock, organic food!) or fast food restaurants.

LondonLee (#922)

Bollocks, hit wrong 'reply' button. This was meant for 'formerly it takes a lot etc' below.

HiredGoons (#603)

I can take a hint…

You don't have to eat crap when you're poor.

abbyjean (#508)

I don't have the time to pull a bunch of links about food deserts and the minimal purchasing power of food stamps and what you can eat if you don't have access to cooking facilities, so I'll just cut to the chase and say that you are both uninformed and deeply wrong on this issue.

Oh, I am informed: I've been there. I'll match your studies to my grocery receipts any time. A bag of brown rice and a few cans of beans and some onion and garlic will take you a long way. But feel free to keep regurgitating uncritically those things that you read: they're not very nutritious anyway.

MILEAGE (#3,250)

True, you don't. But there's billions of dollars in marketing spend behind the Food Industry's wish to see us all eat more and more profitable processed food products. Sure, you can hug yourself complacently, secure in the knowledge that you are not only wise but also completely self-controlled, but most people are not made of such fine stuff as you, obvs.

It would be one thing to disdain people as if they all have access to good food information, but not everyone realizes that when the American Heart Association labels fucking FROOT LOOPS as "HEART HEALTHY," that it's actually a damned lie and go buy that bag of unbranded brown rice instead.

MILEAGE, your assumption seems to be that poor = dumb and/or gullible. Which is condescending. Which, granted, is non-caloric, so I'll give you that.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

You are wrong here, Formerly. You're completely overlooking time constraints, for one thing. On the rare occasion food doesn't cost much and is healthy, it almost always requires a good bit of prep time. Time is a resource the working poor don't have much of.

Then you undermine your argument by steering the grocery cart toward fresh produce, the most expensive area of the grocery store. Try feeding a family fresh veggies on a tight budget; it's not as easy as you seem to assume.

Your data is bad. Here is the correct data:

Here are the income-obesity statistics for 1971-1974:

* Less than $25,000: 22.5 percent obese

* $25,000-$40,000: 16.1 percent obese

* $40,000-$60,000: 14.5 percent obese

* More than $60,000: 9.7 percent obese

Here are the results for 2001-2002:

* Less than $25,000: 32.5 percent obese

* $25,000-$40,000: 31.3 percent obese

* $40,000-$60,000: 30.3 percent obese

* More than $60,000: 26.8 percent obese

Here's how much obesity increased in each category:

* Less than $25,000: increase of 144 percent

* $25,000-$40,000: increase of 194 percent

* $40,000-$60,000: increase of 209 percent

* More than $60,000: increase of 276 percent

I'd bet since 2002 the percentages have gotten closer. My candidate for the culprit: bulk buying.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

First: data "are" unless we're talking Star Trek.

Second, your data aren't particularly impressive. I checked your source, and these are adjusted 2000 dollars. $60K in 2000 is middle-class, unless I am totally losing my mind. These brackets should continue upward to $100K at least. I'm also suspicious of the differently sized brackets; they each ought to cover the same range of incomes, rather than being $25K first, $15K next, then $20K and oh we got bored and stopped partitioning halfway through the class pyramid.

At best, the slicing and dicing is an attempt to keep the population/sample size in each bracket about even. (At worst, it could be crass data manipulation, but let's not get into that.) If you're looking for the effects of income on ANYTHING it's stupid to bracket by population size. Of course the populations get smaller as the brackets get higher. That doesn't change the fact that a family living on $60K/year has a standard of living vastly different from that of a family living on $150K/year.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

A further note on bracketing: if these brackets are sized based on the available sample, that's even worse methodology than population size. Essentially that's allowing your findings about the broad population to be influenced by a quirk of your particular study. An example:

A friend of mine had to review a paper recently that made this error. The study was supposed to examine the effects of gender and race, but the sample was only 250 random people. That's enough for statistical significance in gender, easily, but the minority samples were too small to be significant individually. So the authors came up with a solution: lump race into "white" and "non-white" to achieve a statistically significant sample in each group.

So now their findings are treating all races other than "white, non-Hispanic" as a UNIFIED WHOLE. This is a recipe for instant garbage with no bearing on reality, and it was created so that the authors would have something to talk about in their paper. DUMB. If you can't partition your sample according to some real-world scheme then two paths are open to you: (A) stop making claims your sample can't back up, or (B) GET A BETTER FUCKING SAMPLE.

kneetoe (#1,881)

I come to the Awl for exactly these kinds of weighty discussions. Thanks, Awl.

I think the main cause of fatness is shortness. If you were tall like me, you'd be a better person, also like me.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

They've got grubby little fingers and dirty little minds.

tigolbitties (#2,150)

i was going to just "lulz" and be done, but then i thought about it, and you're right. i've never seen a tall chunky person!

tigolbitties (#2,150)

i stand corrected! that man looks like he's on his way to get a blowjob around the corner… thanks bittersweet, next you're going to tell me being tall also does not make you awesome as kneetoe claims!

Everyone knows it takes a special passion and a lot time and effort to be fat if you have money to spend on groceries / time to spend at your leisure in your kitchen cooking fresh, organic and free range meals in your le creuset and whatnot. You really have to go all in with the triple cream cheese, eat baguette with everything, get the fattiest cuts of meat, butter the hell out of everything and drink lots and lots of wine.

Comments for the void knows all about this.

The other option for obtaining maximum fatness is just being poor and eating stuff that's not really food anymore.

Mindpowered (#948)

Don't forget a random schedule of 70 hour a week shift work, coupled with a complete ignorance of nutrition.

"The fast-food fans in the book typically lead chaotic lives. They often toil long, irregular hours for not much money. They grab food when they can, skipping many meals and gorging at unorthodox times. They favour whatever is quick, convenient and comforting. ("I selected the pie because it was easy to grab out of the fridge," says one.) They often have an imperfect grasp of nutritional science. ("I am eating chocolate muffins at work because they are not too heavy," says another.)"

"I selected the pie because it was easy to grab out of the fridge" is the most staggering bit of rationalizing I've heard all week. Like, fess up: you grabbed the pie instead of the apple / orange / bag of carrot sticks because YOU LIKE PIE.

HiredGoons (#603)


Full disclosure: my skinny ass likes pie too.

HiredGoons (#603)


slinkimalinki (#182)

"i selected the pie because i was exhausted and fucking miserable and the pie made it feel better"

belltolls (#184)

Not sure about the rest of it, but "butter the hell out of everything," YES!

PinkPundit (#155)

I resent all the fat fucks who take up two seats on the bus or subway, or block the aisle if they're forced to stand. At the very least, they should have to pay two fares.

misterpearce (#3,159)

Or we could just put them on top of the bus. Sort of like when you have a suit case that won't fit in the car.

Morbo (#1,288)

I really resent their standard move of sitting on the outside seat, letting the extra weight sort of serve as a buffer between you and the seat.

If you dare ask them to scoot inwards, or get up to let you in, you get the patented sigh, which reverberates through a layer of phlegm and neckfolds.

cherrispryte (#444)

You sound hungry.

josh_speed (#97)

Oprah is saving all the good shows for her last season so no one can say shit to her about it.

Last week she had Michael Pollan on, and she went mano a mano with all the food multi-nationals (barely alluding to when the Texas beef ranchers sued her ass off), and they discussed this very thing: eating well when not rich, a.k.a., not becoming obese simply because you're poor.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I love it when Balk throws some nasty bone out the back door and sits back to watch the dogfight.

Alex Balk (#4)

It's called CURATING.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Okay. Sits back to CURATE the dogfight.

Baboleen (#1,430)

I was poor growing up, and my siblings and I were SKINNY!! My mother just did not buy as she called it "shit." We simply ate 3 meals a day and nothing else. If we didn't like what she fed us, we didn't eat until the next meal. She did feed us a lot of carbs, salt, and canned veggies. We had a pear tree out back. If (in pear season) we told her we were hungry, she'd tell us to go get a pear. The neighbors were Portugese (we lived between Boston and the Cape-so everyone had a Portugese neighbor)and had grape vines. We would eat their grapes and have the intestinal problems to prove it. At Christmas there would be a bowl with fruit. Chritmas morning would find the fruit from the bowl in our stockings. Those were the staples of our diet.

HiredGoons (#603)

You make me feel like a jerk in the best way possible.

LondonLee (#922)

We were poor too ("We used to dream of living in a corridor!") but this was the 1970s when there wasn't a fast food joint on every corner, at least in England there wasn't. But we ate a lot of pre-packaged and frozen stuff that was loaded with sugars and chemicals and I read recently that the average person in the UK consumed more calories in the 70s than they do today but they were thinner. The difference? People didn't sit on their arses in front of computers all day and kids actually played outside.

Mindpowered (#948)

So the US is the biggest consumer of uppers (Coke, Meth etc), which by rights should make you all thin as fuck. Is there some sort of mis-communication here?

Like the skinnies are hoarding all the good drugs and not sharing?

Or is it that the fatties get booted from the all night dance parties, and never have the chance to dance for 7h straight (with no water!)?

Could this all be solved by the liberal application of MDMA to the water supply and 2 hours of German Speedcore every evening?

Do splain.

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