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January 25, 2003

Fat chicks

How many euphemisms for "fat" can you spot in this article on "young and chubby" chicks?

"chubby," "curvy," "zaftig," "healthfully big," "rounded feminine beauty ideal,""larger feminine form," "full-figured," "voluptuous," "natural body type."

Ok. Reality check. Five-foot-five and 200 pounds is FAT. You're not a "natural body type;" you're not just big-boned. You're FAT. One girl mentioned how she "dieted to a size 8" and could "see her collarbone" and didn't like it. I'm sorry, honey, but you can see collarbones in NORMAL-SIZED people. I can see my collarbones (I'm 6'2" and 180 lbs). Janell Tatis (5'8" and 170--note--half a foot shorter than me, female and only 10 lbs lighter) "I just look like I eat." No S***, Ms. Sherlock. You eat TOO DAMN MUCH.

This is really a ridiculous article. Of course, to the NYTimes these young women are "empowered" and non-conformist--refusing to slim down for some man (or Western, patriarchal, woman-hating standard of beauty). There are perfunctory references to adult onset diabetes hitting obese teenagers and other health problems associated with being FAT, but in general it's a celebration of fat chicks. Now they have self-esteem in scads and this lovely quality allows them to chow down on the Twinkies. Brilliant.

I'm sorry (to those of you who might fit this definition, and men too) but you're FAT. And being FAT is UNHEALTHY. My tax dollars are going to go to your Medicaid-funded kidney dialysis when you get diabetes. Or your Medicare-funded heart surgery. Or your knee replacements. All because you CAN'T put the chips down and get off your FAT ass and go for a walk.

Screw you.

And to tie this in to gene expression. Yes, I know different body types exist. Yes, I know some people are predisposed to being overweight. You know what? People whose grandparents all died of heart attacks are likely predisposed to heart disease. MAYBE you should look into taking care of your heart if that's the case. Similarly, you should watch your diet and exercise even more if your ancestors are Pima Indians (look it up, it's Saturday, and I'm going out).

God I'm sick and tired of this unjustified "self-esteem" crap.

(yes this applies to guys too, who are sitting around shoving Doritos in their faces and drinking 6-packs of barley pop and weight 215 lbs at 5'9").
(no this doesn't apply to the truly "athletic" body types who are mostly muscle, like the Williams sisters who are mentioned in the article--I'm willing to bet 10 large that the fat chicks they talked to in the article have body fat percentages around 33% and higher, whereas the Williams girls are probably under 20%, and even more likely less than 15%).

Time to go drinking.

Posted by david at 05:47 PM

It seems strange that the same newspaper that I have been reading article after article indicting American culture for the most fat population in history would hold the oxymoronic view that it is okay, even desiriable, if young women embrace this fat culture. I feel differently from you david, yes I am pissed at my tax $$ going to all the health problems these women bring on themselves, but I am also pissed at the cult of ultra-rubinesque being pushed against logic.

Posted by: scott at January 25, 2003 06:07 PM

i'm 5'9 and when i hit 170 (after a year of sitting-on-my ass programming & gorging on starch), i felt grotesque. of course, i'm male (i should be a little heavier for my height than a 5'8 girl who's 170), but i also have a "light frame" (i have small bones), so it prolly evens out.

i'm down 140 (probably my natural weight, it's what i weighed when i was 20)-and i did it by moderate exercise (playing ball in the summer, walking everywhere)-but most importantly, not gorging myself to fullness every day. a little mild hunger is good if you aren't exerting your body.

Posted by: razib at January 25, 2003 07:24 PM

The bottom line with these fat women is that many opportunities that they might have had were they thin are likely non- existent at their weight. This is probably extremely unfair, but, like Charles Barkley said, life isn't fair. Probably they might have difficulties advancing at work- let's be honest looks probably play a role in hiring and promotion. But, the biggest factor that would go against them would be social- and the biggest negative social factor would, of course, be with men.

Nobody can live alone. Guys are a lot more superficial in terms of appearance than women could ever hope to comprehend. It's always been this way and likely will always be this way, good or bad. If these women want to find a BF, husband or whatever they or somebody needs to get them to understand the imperative of losing weight.

I can sympthasize with the notion that guys should be less superficial and women should be comfortable with whatever they look like. But, that's a dream world. This is reality. Quite frankly, I don't want to seem vulgar, but guys need to 'get it up'. That's a lot harder when the chick looks very/morbidly obese- even if she has the soul of an angel.

I'd add one more thing. If these chicks cannot lose significant wt with diet/ exercise, they should really consider bariatric surgery. That thing works!

Posted by: -R at January 25, 2003 08:34 PM

well-to be fair, some guyz "like a little meat"-but the pool is smaller. there are ethnic differences too-latino and black men seem to prefer some heft for whatever reason. but white women are fooling themselves if they think it is a cross-cultural trend-asian and white men still prefer women thinner (i have wondered if the high obesity rates of black women do not contribute substantially to their difficulty in the mate market compared to black men, who do are no more obese than white men).

oh, and jennifer lopez really isn't all that big. women like catherine zeta-jones, lopez and heidi klum have all been given as examples of "womanly figures" in articles like this before-but these are big women only in comparison to the skewed hollywood & model set, they are rather small (at least slim & fit) compared to the norm.

Posted by: razib at January 25, 2003 09:27 PM

This sort of issue exists because there is no selective pressure in present-day human populations. If there were, unhealthy behavior would be selected out (whether genetic or behavioral, or both). Successful mates would choose healthy mates, etc. Being overweight is statistically unhealthy, but there is no pressure for change.

In addition to health, there is mating preference. Human standards of beauty are rooted in survival. There may be extreme exceptions (due the "green beard" effect, for example) but for the most part trim, athletic bodies are attractive because they have been more successful at reproducing over time. But this no longer matters. The evidence indicates that heavy people contribute more kids to the next generation than fit people.


Posted by: ole at January 25, 2003 10:36 PM

You have to consider the location of this article: it was in the "Sunday Styles" section of the NYT, which is by and for the decadent Manhattanite "Sex in the City" fringe. The rest of the paper usually at least tries to acknowledge the existance of the ouside world, but the Style section is completly insular.

So, given that, what do we have? Simple - fantasy. The Style girl would not think of allowing herself to be anything other than skeletal. She must continually diet, exercise constantly, and endure painful surgury in order to maintain her social position - and she resents the hell out of it. So, every once in a while, you see articles like this - in which Style girls can imagine a heaven where they don't have to eat so many damn salads. They know it's bullshit, of course: maybe the 170 pound girl can get away with it out in Darkest America, but she wouldn't get into any of the cool clubs in anyplace that counts.

It's just something for them to read while they run another 10 miles on the treadmill; it has nothing to do with what you and I might call "reality"...

Posted by: jimbo at January 26, 2003 08:32 AM

Since when is Pink (featured in the picture with the article) a plus-size? Is 3 considered obese now? (I'd like to be the kind of obese where I got flat abs and muscular arms and thighs if such a thing, as they suggest, exists)

Posted by: Lollia at January 26, 2003 08:56 AM

Lollia is exactly right. This article tries to have its cake and eat it too (much like the young fatty they profile). On the one hand, it tells young fat girls that it's okay to be fat, and then on the other hand it turns around and mind-fucks young women who are of average weight (hell, below-average in these United States) by telling them that Pink is somehow fat and proud. So if you're one of these girls in totally normal physical condition, just like Pink, all of a sudden the Times is telling you that you are "chubby," not that there's anything wrong with it. Results: (a) normal girls have their weight neuroses reinforced, (b) fat girls have another excuse to fall back on.

Posted by: Charlie Murtaugh at January 26, 2003 11:58 AM

What a shitty article. How can they compare the Williams sisters to obese chix?

Posted by: Diana at January 26, 2003 01:05 PM

The worst thing about articles like these is that they dissuade these girls from making healthier, if less tasty, choices. Dieting is VERY HARD. If food is your vice, the only thing that makes dieting tolerable is the fact that the social disapproval of overweight is worse than life without coconut cake. In a way, these girls are like the black men who daredevilishly spurn condoms and get AIDS. Their culture urges instant gratification and narcissism over moderation and delayed gratification.

Posted by: duende at January 26, 2003 01:09 PM

While avoiding the Superbowl at the local B&N, I came across an interesting book called The Paleo Diet, which is about how and why we should eat a diet that our paleolithic ancestors ate. You can eat as much lean fish, meat, etc., and green veg as you wish, and most fruits, but not a lot else. Pretty damned restrictive.

Posted by: Diana at January 26, 2003 07:47 PM

Jimbo, You're 100% right about the insular Manhatannite thing. To them even a genuinely normal weight woman is "kinda plump" much less a 170 pound gargantua. But I don't think they put it there for the fantasy value. Once in a while the NY Times likes to run an article about real folks, or what they think is real folks, so that they can convince themselves that they are doing a good job as journalists, bless their dear hearts.

Posted by: Diana at January 26, 2003 07:50 PM

how and why we should eat a diet that our paleolithic ancestors ate

many of our paleolithic ancestors starved to death and/or settled for maggoty meat/etc. we'd hate to emulate their standard of living...so why emulate their diet...

Posted by: probablynotagoodidea at January 26, 2003 08:52 PM

Diana -

Sure they do - but not in the Style section. Trust me - read it for a few weeks, and you forget that that whatisname country across the HUdson ever existed...

And as for the Paleo diet: they're onto something, but they miss a lot - particularly the importance of dairy products. Some of the most interesting work along this line was done by a dentist named Weston Price back in the 30s. He was trying to figure out why so many of his younger patients were suffering from massive tooth decay and crooked teeth, and he suspected it might be diet. So he went around the world, looking for indigeous peoples who had not yet been exposed to western diets. He found that almost without exception they were much healthier, with better bone and teeth development. For some fascinating details, go to www.westonaprice.org.

Posted by: jimbo at January 27, 2003 06:48 AM

The dental health of aboriginal peoples was often remarked on by the british sailors who encountered them - they themselves having typically lost all of their teeth by the age of forty...

Posted by: bbartlog at January 27, 2003 07:54 AM

Leaving aside the factual content of this post, I have to say I find the hostile tone kind of disturbing:

"...You eat TOO DAMN MUCH"
"...get of your FAT ass"
"...unjustified 'self-esteem' crap"

There is an attempt to justify this by noting the increased tax burden brought on by unhealthy people (never mind that early mortality may have the opposite effect, as with cigarette smokers). But it looks more like thinly veiled misogyny to me. Really kind of a pathetic post compared to what I usually see here...

Posted by: bbartlog at January 27, 2003 08:05 AM

I agree that there's a lot of pressure on women to be skinny. It's irritating. However, that fact's no excuse for me to go home and eat an entire box of Ding Dongs. "Damn capitalist oppressors! Waaahhh...chump."

But I think David's message applies to men as well as women. His hostility's directed (as I understand it) at people who are obese and have no resolve to do anything about it. I know this programmer, who, well, embodies the stereotype of a computer geek. Sedentary lifestyle, fast food every day, smoking, aversion to fruits and vegetables, 220 pounds at 5'10"...and he wonders why he has trouble meeting women. He knows his lifestyle is unhealthy (and renders him aesthetically unappealing), and I'm at a loss as to how to persuade him to check out a gym. Any suggestions are welcome.

Posted by: Anne at January 27, 2003 08:45 AM

What do people think of the currently faddish Superslow regimen?

Posted by: Diana at January 27, 2003 09:36 AM

Bbart. Yeah, it's hostile. I wasn't having a particularly great day. And I'm equal opportunity, I do mention fat men in there--but the article was on women.

I agree with the above comments that this is fantasy writing by the Manhattan centered style chick. The idea that J-Lo or Catherine Z. Jones is "chubby" is retarded. The Williams sisters are muscle. It's obvious to anyone with a brain. The other woman they pictured in the article was fat. Period.

Basically this article is BS on 3 points:

1) Williams sisters, J-Lo, Catherine Z Jones are examples of "chubby" women taking over the fashion scene.
2) It's a wonderful thing to not give a rat's ass how you look. It's one thing to not obsess over it, but I find many people who really don't care how they look (sitting in front of the computer, eating whole bags of chips) are either depressed or have other problems. (in other words, caring about yourself is actually a good thing).
3) Being "fat" is normal and not so bad. It's not "normal," and now it's responsible for more health problems and expenditures than smoking in the USA.


Posted by: David at January 27, 2003 10:08 AM

Diana -

It's fine - I'm not strict about it, but I've adopted most of it's precepts into my regimen (slow movements, short and infrequent workouts). There's no free lunch, however - you need to be able to put up with a lot of pain for the gains you get. (indeed, I kinda cheat and usually don't do the full 10-sec up, 10-sec down protocol, mostly because I'm a wuss...)

Ken Hutchins (the Superslow guy) does seem a bit too hard on aerobics, but he does have some good points (check out his website). His basic idea is that the repetative stress injuries attendent on most "aerobic" activities are not worth the rather marginal benefits you get from them (compared to strength training, which done properly prevents injuries). All I know is I hate treadmills, exerbikes, etc. so I don't do any aerobics. It's worked for me so far...

Posted by: jimbo at January 27, 2003 10:16 AM


Your buddy is 2 inches taller than me and >40 lbs more than me- which means he has loads more potential probably when and if he decides to bodybuild. Running and then weightlifting were the best things I ever did in my life. Even if I go to the gym and meet guys who are a lot more buff than me, there is mutual respect since they know that I am lifting weights too. Too many people are out of shape despite having a lot of potential to become great/good athletes.

I was flabby, out of shape most of my life so I've seen how you are treated when you don't fit the athletic profile. It's no fun, but only your friend can decide what it needs to take to get him to figure that out.

Posted by: -R at January 27, 2003 05:30 PM

Wow, I didn't realize you actually did Superslow. Coincidence. I just started it. Again.

Posted by: Diana at January 27, 2003 06:30 PM

R, thanks for your insight. Granted, he told me what he weighed, and I'm not going to say, "All right, get on a scale and prove it!" So he might weigh more or less. And I do agree that harassing people into getting in shape isn't going to accomplish anything. It's up to the individual.

Posted by: Anne at January 28, 2003 07:22 AM

Anne, Diana, Jimbo,

There's some good info over at www.t-mag.com. A lot of it is pretty high-level stuff, but they make a point to write for a general audience and they've reworked both diet(including atkins, paleo and variations) and exercise regimens(superslow, HIT-style, and others), taking into account the lessons learned from each.

Posted by: grady at January 28, 2003 03:22 PM

I cheat on the reps too. I just sort of lose count, is it 9 seconds, 8, or 10? It doesn't matter--just as long as you do it slowly & don't count on mo. (mentum)

Posted by: Diana at January 28, 2003 04:20 PM