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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11 Responses

  1. Also, I did not include any of the images (found at the third link) because I find them disgusting. And, no, they aren’t disgusting because the women are a little pudgy. They just aren’t tastefully done in the least – even if the model was replaced with a fit woman. The last one is especially gross.

  2. I just want to make the point that overweight is not the same thing as obese. The overweight as a group actually out perform normal weight persons in several areas. Even in the case of health issues predominate among the overweight.

    For example I was just reading about how overweight people have more heart disease, but compared to heart disease in people who are NOT overweight, the severity is much lower. The article’s author mentions that while it is a pretty solid result, the reasons why this happens to be so are not clear. It could be that overweight-ness causes less severe incidences of certain diseases or alternately perhaps overweight persons have cases just as severe, but the overweight-ness improve survivability somehow.

    None of this is to say that being overweight is something to strive for, the opposite is likely true, but it is to say that obesity is a problem, overweight-ness not so much.

    One other thing, I didn’t read the article you did, and I’m not ambitious enough to do so now, but a significant portion of the article I did read was devoted to commentary about how “plus sizes” have dropped like a rock, from wherever they were to a size 6 in some cases today.

    What defines a “plus size” seems to be as evasive as Obama’s economic recovery, so how one can make a determination of “plus” size is beyond me.

    Than again, I have no idea what a size 6 is. I don’t even follow men’s sizes to be honest, I do the “hold it up, shit that’s close enough” maneuver decried by girlfriends, wives, mothers and grandmothers world wide.

  3. My strategy is, “Is it medium?” If yes, then I trust it is likely to fit.

  4. […] Read Full Article- Click Here Christian Spirituality Headlines Excerpts from Churchoutreachministry.net This entry was posted […]

  5. I’m not sure why a church outreach ministry linked to me, but for the record, there is no God.

  6. Do you know how difficult it is to be thin when you’re not naturally thin? I’m a 00, and while it’s not as hard for me to maintain it now, I had a hell of a time getting here. You can bet your ass that 90% of models are not naturally bone thin. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you or the article, but come on. It takes a whole lot of not eating to get as thin as some of these women are. Not to mention nicotine, caffeine, amphetamines, diet pills (which are essentially just as good as amphetamines), excessive exercise, and diets consisting almost exclusively of alcohol. Yes–some women are very thin. Most women are not. I’m not even considered thin by a lot of standards.

  7. I don’t personally know how hard it is, no. It isn’t any of my concern, though, neither personally nor in this post, whether or not a person is thin. I care about the effort put forth.

  8. Whitney, I don’t care whether people are fat, thin, in-between, eat a pound of bacon fat at each meal, whatever. I don’t find it to be any of my business. Michael will tell you it’s because I hate ________, but that’s just because of his liberalness. It’s hard for some people to consider a world where people actually have their own personal choices that they are left alone to make.

    On the other hand, fat people are generally disgusting and as I pointed out, there is a difference between “normal”, “overweight” and “obese”. There is also a big difference between underweight and doing all the things you listed.

    If people want to take all sorts of crap, have their teeth rot out, die at 35 of heart failure or in their mid 20’s of an overdose, than that is fine with me. But don’t pretend like someone forced their hand to take pills and such things. People make choices and I don’t blame them for that, I just refuse to feel bad for the things people do to themselves.

    How hard models work to be thin is completely outside the sphere of what is my business. They have put themselves where they are.

    I’d say another kitten has cried another tear over this, but I’m not sure if that is true. I only have one cat and she would eat babies if I would let her. She is stone cold. No tears from her.

  9. I don’t expect PZ and co to understand arguments they aren’t willing to hear, but I know you’ve read everything I’ve had to say on this topic. When have I advocated that autonomous adults not be allowed to eat poorly and be lazy?

  10. Hey, don’t tell me what I’ve read. If I try, I bet I could be just as uninformed as they are.

    Also, I just like to give you shit.

  11. The study that showed overweight people were healthier actually dI’d not check to see if the participants were smokers. Smokers tend to be thinner so take those results and flush them.

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