Fat apologetics

When I wrote my recent post on the burden of fitness, I came across a disappointing, if unsurprising, movement: the fat acceptance movement. I’m all for treating fatties equally, but I’m not for suspending the use of terms like “fatties”. It is that sort of respect this movement is demanding; they don’t merely want respect for individuals – they want respect for fatness itself. I will never give into something that vile.

So that brings me to a recent spread by PLUS Model Magazine:

A magazine dedicated to plus-size fashion and models has sparked controversy with a feature claiming that most runway models meet the Body Mass Index criteria for anorexia.

Accompanied by a bold shoot that sees a nude plus-size model posing alongside a skinny ‘straight-size’ model, PLUS Model Magazine says it aims to encourage plus-size consumers to pressure retailers to better cater to them, and stop promoting a skinny ideal.

Everyone and their overweight mother [insert standard comment about Nate’s mother] has been promoting this link on Facebook recently. I don’t think any of them have given it much thought. If they did, they would see that it is filled with lies.

First, there is no anorexia criteria on BMI charts. Take a look. There is a category of “severely underweight” (not reflected in the provided image), but there is no indication given for what the cause is for being so underweight. And there shouldn’t be. BMI charts are meant to give a broad indication of the health of a population. They are not diagnostic tools for individuals. Just imagine someone who is 5’9″ and 185lbs. According to the chart, that person has a BMI of 27+ and is thus overweight. And for the general population, that will be accurate. But if we look at say, Wes Welker of the New England Patriots, we see that those are his stats. He isn’t fat by a long shot, but the BMI chart cannot tell us that. Pretending otherwise would be ridiculous. However, that is exactly what PLUS Model Magazine is doing at the other end of the chart.

Second, anorexia is generally characterized as a psychological disorder. Simply being skinny is not a disorder. This magazine should feel a little shame right now.

Third, most ads do cater to people in shape, but there are plenty of stores with plenty of clothing for larger women. I’m not one to peruse the lady areas of a store unless forced, but I have never been in a department store that sells clothing where there was not a preponderance of women’s clothes. (This is especially true as compared to men’s sections.) I find it hard to imagine all those clothes are size 3. This isn’t about getting companies to supply better garments. It’s about using fat models in order to make fatness more socially acceptable.

Fourth, there is nothing wrong with promoting a skinny ideal. I don’t place any moral significance on whether or not someone is actually fit, but I do place plenty on whether or not they try to be fit. Giving goals is a good thing. And if those goals are extremely difficult to reach, then all the better. I hope people will try even harder, even if they don’t make it all the way.

One [spread], printed alongside a photo of the Russian beauty holding a tape measure across her rear, reads: ‘Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less.

Maybe fashion models have become skinnier over the years. I don’t think I can deny that possibility, and, in fact, my inclination is to believe it is true. But that certainly is not the whole story. How about the fact that the average woman has become fatter? Just look at the analysis in my post about average breast size. Bra sizes have increased over the years. Part of the reason probably has to do with retailers altering what they consider to be A cups, B cups, C cups, etc, but most of the reason is likely the average increase in weight. And since breasts don’t tend to increase in size all by themselves without surgical intervention, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that average waistlines have been increasing as well. If PLUS Model Magazine was at all honest, they would have never used the above stat.

I don’t have a problem with efforts to make people feel good about themselves. Fine, do what you need to do to get through the day. But don’t try to convince me that fat people are healthy and doing just dandy. It isn’t true. What’s more, it’s a danger not only to society, but individual human lives as well.

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There are more planets than stars

I have long wanted to put forth the point that there are more planets than stars in the Universe. This goes to my contention that it is reasonable, even necessary, to believe that there is copious life in the Cosmos. After all, from the time when Earth’s surface cooled to when life began to appear was relatively short. It appears that all it takes for self-replicating molecules to get going is the right conditions. With so many planets, the opportunities are so vast; it has surely happened over and over again.

But I haven’t been able to make this exact point. I have still made the same effective point, but I had to rely on the trillions and trillions of stars. Of course, plenty of people have inferred over the years, especially the past decade, that there must therefore by billions, maybe trillions of planets. But we need something more concrete. We need observation. And now it looks like we’re there:

Three studies released Wednesday, in the journal Nature and at the American Astronomical Society’s conference in Austin, Texas, demonstrate an extrasolar real estate boom. One study shows that in our Milky Way, most stars have planets. And since there are a lot of stars in our galaxy — about 100 billion — that means a lot of planets.

It could be that the Milky Way is a weird outlier, a galaxy where planets are easy to make. But there isn’t any reason to suspect that. The observations show that we are an average galaxy with an expected array of stars. What’s more, we are seeing what happens around stars. It isn’t just that these giant gas balls form in space and that’s that. No, it’s much more. Most of them come with their own planetary pals. An accurate average of the star-to-planet ratio remains to be seen (they say 1.6 planets per star, but that is probably extremely low), but it is clear that we’re talking about trillions and trillions out there.

None of this changes the thrust of my argument about exo-life, but it does allow me to be much more specific. This is very nerdexciting.

Rhode Island prayer mural ordered taken down

A high school in Rhode Island had an obviously illegal prayer banner hanging on its walls. It opened with “Our Heavenly Father” and closed with “Amen”. Student Jessica Ahlquist pointed out that the school can’t go about promoting Christianity, so they ought to take it down. She made a few direct pleas, spoke with administrators, and made a Facebook page for starters. In other words, she had a perfectly reasonable and measured initial response. So you’ll never – never! – believe what happened next: the Christians and high school administrators were stubborn and said “no”. I know, I know. Who would have thought people who supported Christianity and chose to spend their lives controlling teenagers would be stubborn. I swear, I can’t think of more than three or four thousand instances of stubborn actions from the people who ran my high school.

Anyway. Once the mooks rebuffed the constitutional efforts of one of their better students, Ahlquist sued. And won:

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux rejected the school’s claims that the message in the mural – which opens with “Our Heavenly Father” and closes with “Amen” – was purely secular.

“No amount of debate can make the School Prayer anything other than a prayer, and a Christian one at that,” Lagueux wrote in a 40-page opinion.

And now the school has a short period in which it must remove the mural. This is excellent. No one should be using public funds to promote any particular religion. This is especially true when those subjected to that promotion are impressionable teenagers.

Of course, the school had the audacity to claim the prayer was somehow secular in nature. I can’t help but feel everyone involved knew that was a lie. But even if they didn’t, it’s still a stupid argument. I’ll let the judge take this one:

[N]o amount of history and tradition can cure a constitutional infraction.

Not even for you Christians out there.