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The Schizophrenic Cruelty of Fat-Shaming

[ 424 ] April 24, 2014 |

This caught my attention today. I have nothing snarky to say here, just… reading it made me sad.


[PC]: A story I was told by one of the people I interviewed when researching The Obesity Myth:

Let me tell you a story — just one of many. One summer, when my twins were about three, they were in a little wading pool in my front yard, and I was sitting on my front porch steps watching them and enjoying the beautiful day. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. A white pickup truck with several guys in it drove by. The truck circled the block, and on the second pass it slowed down and the man in the passenger seat hurled a bottle at me, shouting, “Go back inside where you belong, you fat fucking bitch!” The bottle shattered on the walk, sending glass flying everywhere. Fearing for my children I jumped up and grabbed them, rushing for the house. They were OK, but I cried for days thinking that someone was willing to endanger two babies just for the chance to humiliate me.

Anyone who is, or who has ever been fat has a heart full of stories: some dramatic, others less so, but all painful. Overheard comments, stares, the person who looks with a critical eye into your shopping basket as they pass you in the grocery store — it’s like dying from a thousand knife cuts. No one of them is fatal, but cumulatively, they tear your heart to shreds.


Comments (424)

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  1. Nick says:

    I’m thin, and I don’t have body image issues, so my comment here is probably useless — but in all the time that I’ve spent in public, I’ve never heard anyone scream an insult at a fat person. I think I’d remember it if I had. I don’t want to invalidate what McEwan says, I’m sure she knows what she’s talking about, but is this also other people’s experience? That this is so common that it happens, not just in a lifetime, but regularly enough that summer brings it on?

    • DrS says:

      but in all the time that I’ve spent in public, I’ve never heard anyone scream an insult at a fat person.

      Not to invalidate your experience, but I find that extremely suprising.

      • Nick says:

        Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Canada and SE Asia for most of the last 20 years. But some of my best friends in Canada, when I went to college, were cruel jerks, and they never did this.

        • DrS says:

          Well, fucking bully for you.

        • Aimai says:

          Haha! No, really? You never noticed something happening to other people? How often would that happen that a person would miss something that happens all the time to (some other persons) in (some other bodies) in (some other countries?) Incredible!

          But, yes, women get policed and harassed all the fucking time–even in South East Asia! Even in Europe! If you are beautiful you get harrassed and approached and catcalled for sex, then you get harrassed and approached and catcalled for rejecting the advances of perfect strangers. If you are classified as fat/ugly/dressed poorly you can simply be attacked for that.

          • Origami Isopod says:


            I can’t believe the people jumping on DrS for pointing out that, you know, Nick (whether he intended to or not) is pulling a classic derail.

            This shit is bog-standard abuse of women, fat or otherwise.

      • Tristan says:

        Do we really need to put a high priority on not ‘invalidating the experience’ of the thin guy who pipes up to announce he’s never personally seen a fat guy insulted? What if it was white guy/black guy or straight guy/gay guy or furry/brony?

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Nick isn’t lying and is your standard perfectly nice person besides, but even the most honest and conscientious of us sometimes find ourselves settling in the heart of Cool Story Bro territory.

        • mojrim says:

          I think what we should put a high priority on is not driving away potential allies by assuming ill intent and projecting existing anger about things other people have done to us in the past. Nick’s question appears to be absolutely sincere, and asking questions like this is the first step to removing the privilege goggles.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Potential allies.” Why does every privileged person have to be coddled in order for the less privileged to speak to one another about shared experiences? No one’s asking “potential allies” to even get involved. No one needs you. Fuck yourself.

          • Anonymous says:

            asking questions like this is the first step to removing the privilege goggles.

            No, shutting your trap is and stop acting like a roadblock are the first and second steps.

            This is the height of hubris, but oh so typical of “potential allies,” who seem to have a pathological need to make everything about themselves and their precious support.

            If your support is conditional, if you’re only willing to condemn the harassment of fat people so long as individual fat people act like Good Fatties and put up with your JAQing off, your support is: not needed, not required, not real. Ally-ship is not a carrot to be dangled in front of less privileged people according to your whims.

            • mojrim says:

              Utter and complete bullshit. It is patronizing beyond belief to expect thoughtful people (the kind that get it first) to accept a differing narrative without questions. Your response demonstrates the blinkered approach you have: Nick isn’t looking for “good fatties” or “bad fatties” only trying to confirm an experience he has no knowledge of. That’s how thoughtful people draw conclusions and change their position.

              You have just given us a perfect lesson in Orwell’s “smelly little orthodoxies.”

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            I think what we should put a high priority on is not driving away potential allies

            Eh. Given Nick’s history on this site, I doubt he’s a potential ally. Even if he was, what evidence do we have he’s remotely going to be worth the considerable effort he’s evidently going to take?

            Worthwhile allies bring something to the table other than “What did I say?! What did I say!?”

        • DrS says:

          Do we really need to put a high priority on not ‘invalidating the experience’ of the thin guy who pipes up to announce he’s never personally seen a fat guy insulted?

          I was trying to be polite.

    • emjb (@emjb) says:

      You know, Nick, one of the worst things about experiencing harassment is when nice, concerned people suddenly think you might be some kind of delusional liar or overly sensitive delicate flower when you tell them about it.

      I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, but try to understand that just because you don’t personally witness/experience something doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

      Or just understand that assholes who harass are often savvy enough to do it when there are few witnesses.

      • Nick says:

        Nope, I agree with this too. I’m not denying it exists, or that it affects people exactly how McEwan says it does. But when something like this is brought up, that is totally outside one’s own experience, and it’s a public behaviour that appears to be common, it’s also normal to ask if that really is the general experience.

        If this thread isn’t the place for that, then I apologize, and I’ll shut up and go away. But I hope that this thread is a place where other people can weigh in on what McEwan raised, which is why my first post was a question.

        • Anna in PDX says:

          Overweight friends have told me this occurs. Also, I’ve been with family members (my grandmother, specifically) who are openly contemptuous of overweight people to the point of actually catching their eyes and glaring at them or rolling their eyes. It is pretty awful.

          I lived overseas for many years and some other countries were even less accepting of fat people (France, I seem to remember) while some were not only fat accepting but criticized you if you were too thin and there was a lot of pressure to eat (Egypt). It would be nice if everyone would leave each other alone.

          • My grandmother had a habit of, when she saw a fat person, grabbing my hand really hard and saying, in the kind of whisper you can hear on the other hemisphere:

            “No quiero que tú te pongas así.”
            (“I don’t want you to get like that.”)

            I loved the woman anyway – she was a wonderful grandmother, and she was way progressive in other things – but this was a huge failing of hers, and of my whole family’s. Last summer Peregrina and I went down to PR to visit my family, and when we came back, my mother sent me a letter imploring me to lose weight because otherwise I was going to die young from diabetes.

            So I’m one of the few males I know that gets it, instinctively. I’ll never say it isn’t worse for women – after all no one yells at me on the street – but I definitely have the experience to back me up when I agree with your last sentence.

          • Sarcastro the Munificient says:

            In Hawaii, the old ladies look at a tiny thin girl and sniff, “Poor t’ing, how long she been sick?”

            It would be nice if everyone would leave each other alone.

            Good luck with that, monkey-girl.

            • Pat says:

              This world has many assholes in it. They often make a lot of noise. It can get nasty, and make you angry, to have to listen to them. I don’t blame you if you want to walk away, or speak back, even in kind.

              But as far as your feelings go, you really need to consider the source of this noise. If hearing an asshole ruins your day, well, you’re going to have a lot of ruined days. Do you really want to let them have that much power over you?

              • dick tracy says:

                Let them have that much power!?!? My ability to keep assholes from having power over me was taken from me early on what with the constant verbal abuse and threats of violence. The only difference now is I have to repress the rage they trigger so nobody gets hurt. The stress from doing so has probably already shortened my life. Just so you know you sound like a condescending jackass.

              • Origami Isopod says:

                It’s so cute you think this is all about ~~feelings instead of, you know, systematic oppression. I’ll try not to let it hurt my feelings when I get paid less than a thin woman for the same job.

                Also, you might want to click on the first link in the OP, because McEwan rebuts your argument toward the end.

                • Pat says:

                  Well, the original post was about fat-shaming, so I did interpret that to be about feelings. Specifically, people accepting the opinions of assholes as personally valid without considering the source of the opinion.

                  Equal pay is a separate issue from fat-shaming.

          • Linnaeus says:

            I lived overseas for many years and some other countries were even less accepting of fat people (France, I seem to remember)

            A good friend of mine, who is a larger woman, married a French man a couple of years ago and her then-future mother-in-law said to her, “After you two get married, you’ll go on a diet, right?”

        • Shakezula says:

          Yeah it is a pity that no one addressed your Concerns immediately after her two comments about people shouting at her.

          @Shakestweetz and then enduring “do people really do that??” when you try to talk about it (thin folks: “that’s never happened to me!”)


          .@jortician That, and the ubiquitous: “How do you know they’re yelling at YOU?” and various other challenges to my lived experience.

          Mr. Door is open.

          • Nick says:

            And I’ll apologize and leave.

            • Mo says:


              Since you don’t believe Melissa, or the other’s in her twitter feed, why are you asking the commenters here? Why don’t you ask a fat friend? And if you don’t have any to ask….. well, that says something too.

              And I’ll tell you, the worst is when a mother coaches her kids to come up to you and say something rude. Yes, it has happened to me.

              • Nick says:

                I think the people upthread made some good points about how it wasn’t about me — I accepted them, apologized, and stopped commenting. Why bring me back into it and put words in my mouth? Asking if someone’s personal experience is also the general experience is different from not believing someone. For the record, I know some fat people; I guess I could have dashed out and asked them. How would that be different from asking people here? I’m also a middle-aged man with a couple of young kids living in a new town, I scarcely have close friends any more. I’m sure all these things say lots about me.

                • timb116 says:

                  Welcome to “good folks eat other good folks because they’re so happy to be right.” It’s the one thing here which is supremely annoying. Good thing is, although it is recurrent, it is rare.

                • Concerned_Citizen says:

                  Toe The Line Or Die, ThinMAN!!!

                • ChrisTS says:

                  Yeah, I don’t think you were being an ass at all. Some people might ask a very similar question in an assholish way, unfortunately.

                  I don’t think I have every heard an overweight person yelled at (and, jeesh, certainly never seen anyone throw a bottle at a person). However, I have heard overweight people get jeering remarks along the lines of ‘you’re ugly’ or ‘you have ugly legs,’ etc. And I have seen lots oft he staring and frowning behavior.

                • mojrim says:

                  Many people have been at war over this for a very long time. Radicalization has set in, making the most earnest inquires and minor disagreements appear to be attack on their orthodoxy.

                • Pat says:

                  I think the assault with a bottle thing is more commonly directed towards women.

              • Concerned_Citizen says:

                “Since you don’t believe Melissa, or the other’s in her twitter feed, why are you asking the commenters here? Why don’t you ask a fat friend?”

                (Chuckles, replies, “Because the commenters here are my fat friends!”)

        • dmf says:

          Half of a problem is often that the first reaction is some dope that pops his head up to say he had no idea something was going on. That adds to the problem by being a subtle weakening in and of itself.

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      It never ceases to amaze me that, literally every single time there’s some sort of obesity-related thread here, the plural of anecdote magically becomes data.

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        Um, yeah.

        The plural of anecdote is experience. I’m a PhD student in statistics; I value data. But generally, before you even know how to get any data that you could analyze, you have to start with experience.

        If something is a regular, seasonal experience for somebody, they are qualified to talk about it without anybody sneering at their lack of data.

        • Aimai says:

          What’s weirder to me, and I’d like to know what the statisticians term for it is if there is one, Gregor, is how often my anecdote is not data but someone else’s denial of this experience is offered as data. I mean–I’m white. I’ve literally never had someone lean out the window of their car and call me the N word. But I wouldn’t say, on the basis of this, that racism doesn’t exist or that black people can’t have had that experience. And I wouldn’t ask a bunch of white people for their opinions as to the frequency of this experienc for black people unless it was their actual field of study.

          • Gregor Sansa says:

            Normal, human answer: I wouldn’t ask a statistician for a term for that; I’d ask a feminist. The answer would probably be something like “privilege”.

            Aspy statistician’s answer: When studying “rare” occurrences, one relevant question is when it is appropriate to shift from an exact Poisson distribution to a normal approximation. Generally, it’s not a good idea to do that before you have at least 10 data points. When you’re working with the Poisson, you can get some funny answers, because of the memoryless property, and that actually increases the relevance of the denominator; that is, how long without an occurrence has passed for every one of the occurrences. In such cases, I’ve seen people make the mistake of overgeneralizing and ignoring the “covariates” (context) — which in this case corresponds to assuming that time spent walking around while being (white, skinny, etc.) can tell you anything about the probability of something happening if you’re not. There’s not a technical term for this mistake, but it is actually possible to make it out of mere stupidity rather than racism. From a Bayesian perspective, though, racism is the likely cause in this case.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              In such cases, I’ve seen people make the mistake of overgeneralizing and ignoring the “covariates” (context) — which in this case corresponds to assuming that time spent walking around while being (white, skinny, etc.) can tell you anything about the probability of something happening if you’re not.

              The “white, skinny” made me think (and I haven’t read the whole thread, so maybe it’s been pointed out already) that public fat-shaming, insofar as it happens to women and girls, is just one way in which total strangers police women’s bodies and aggress against our boundaries. It is the flip side of the sort of street harassment that pretends to be a “compliment.” In both cases, the woman is being told that public space is not hers to claim, and she is permitted there only insofar as men feel like permitting her.

      • dmf says:

        The problem with that cute saying is that the plural of anecdote actually is data.

    • FridayNext says:

      As a fat person, I have heard this many times. Note where the tweets talk about shouts from cars. This is 100% my experience. Shouts like this always come from people safely ensconced in the anonymity of automobiles, usually on less traveled roads with few other pedestrians around. So I think it is possible that thinner people don’t hear other people make those comments.

      Now, even though I am heavy, I run a lot. Almost every time I have heard this I have been running and is of the “move it fat ass” variety. Always from moving cars.

      Interestingly, I don’t hear it evenly across places I have lived. College towns in the south are the worst and where I heard it the most, even though I was at my thinnest there. (I have also only ever been physically attacked in small Southern college towns. And I have run in some of the nastiest high crime cities in the country including DC, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.)

      As a man, I also am pretty sure I hear it a lot less than women.

      • Randy says:

        Now, even though I am heavy, I run a lot. Almost every time I have heard this I have been running and is of the “move it fat ass” variety.

        Or, almost as bad, is the encouragement about how great it is that I’m working out. “It’s hard, but I know you can do it! You’ll get there some day!”

        • FridayNext says:

          I love that one. Especially from other runners.

          OTOH, nothing like seeing a fellow Clydesdale (yes that’s the official designation for heavy runners. Sometimes its own division for award purposes) out on the trails and giving each other the old “how ya doin’?”, “Feeling good,” “looking good” greetings.

          • FridayNext says:

            As an aside.


            Instantly, my LGM ads include “Fitness Singles” with lean, fit models.

          • Anna in PDX says:

            Really, that is kind of cute (the Clydesdale term).

            • Karen says:

              Clydesdales are the most beautiful horses and some of the best tempered.

              • FridayNext says:

                I actually went back and looked this up. It has been a good 7 years since I worried about this sort of thing. It seems I was partially wrong. Clydesdale is for men over 200 pounds. Women over a certain weight (I couldn’t find a definitive standard minimum) is called the Filly or Athena division.

                Well, there you go.

                • mark f says:

                  There’s a Clydesdales-only race coming up near me: four miles, but you have to stop three times for a hot dog and a beer. Pukers DQed! I can’t wait.

        • TribalistMeathead says:

          Yeah, that’s the second thing I hate about cross-fit, the constant “look at this fatty in our program, aren’t we proud of him/her” Facebook posts.

          • Cheap Wino says:

            Now I’m curios, what’s the first thing?

            • I’m gonna guess “The first rule of CrossFit is to always talk about CrossFit” but there are really so many options.

              • TribalistMeathead says:

                Yes, this.

                Third is “has the potential to cause irreparable damage to your body,” but I may need to re-evaluate rankings at some point.

                • Yeah, I know several people with massively fucked up backs and or knees specifically because of how stupid crossfit is about that stuff.

                  I also have a pair of Inov-8 shoes that are evidently really popular with the crossfit crowd (I wish I had known when I bought them). They will assume I’m part of the herd when I wear them and feel obliged to be even more crossfitty than normal around me. It’s swell.

                • Cheap Wino says:

                  One of my best friends has become joe crossfit and his snobbery about it has become annoying, to put it mildly. Did you know that crossfit athletes are the best at everything ever? Everything. Ever. Really.

                • As a runner I will freely admit to talking about running with other runner friends, but this thing of crossfitters to just blather on incessantly to absolutely anyone about how awesome their “sport” is and how they are amazing at everything and isn’t it just wondrous and blah fucking blah. Gah.

                  And I actually ended up on a group trail run with one of them once. Not a bad short-distance runner, but the hilarious shit he claimed that crossfit did for his running! “Oh, I’ve never run more than 5 miles, but I’m doing an Ultramarathon next week.” Um, ok, have fun with that, sparky.

                • Sherm says:

                  I don’t know many cross-fitters, but us runners (and I am one) are pretty guilty of this same sin.

                • TribalistMeathead says:

                  The fuck is an ultramarathon?

                • Sherm says:

                  A race longer than 26.2 miles.

                • The fuck is an ultramarathon?

                  A race longer than 26.2 miles.

                  What Sherm said. Shortest “ultra” is typically 50k (31.2 miles) but also commonly of 50miles, 100k, 100miles, etc.

                  Stupidly hard and painful. I don’t recommend it unless you’re insane (which I evidently was).

                  And that’s where talking about running differs from talking about crossfit. I’ll happily tell you running sucks and not to do it!

                • I don’t know many cross-fitters, but us runners (and I am one) are pretty guilty of this same sin.

                  Yeah, definitely. I try to be really cognizant of when me and one or two running friends are in a group of non runners, to be sure said buddies don’t talk only about running. I think it helps in that I wasn’t always a runner and know how annoying it is.

                • Cheap Wino says:

                  I played ultimate frisbee hardcore through my late 30’s. Now I’m in my late 40s and a couple of years ago, in a mid-life crisis lament about frustratingly declining athleticism my crossfit buddies were telling me that if I just did crossfit I’d be right back at the top of my game. Apparently you can live forever if you just join your local crossfit gym. Aging means nothing!

                • Denverite says:

                  One of the few problems with Colorado is that everyone runs or bikes here, though only a small subset of the population are Runners or Bikers. So you’ll often get in a conversation with someone who finds out you’re a Runner, and he or she says “hey, I run too!”. But what that means is that he or she owns running shoes and will occasionally wear them to run around the block a couple of times. Then you have to strike the delicate balance of talking to them about running without making them feel like you’re belittling them for not being a Serious Runner.

                • Denverite says:

                  I’ll happily tell you running sucks and not to do it!

                  Eh. I’m of the Lydiard school. Run because you enjoy it. Life’s too short to do otherwise.

                • Sherm says:

                  Running brings a mix of emotions. Some pleasurable, some miserable. But I always feel great after running, especially when relaxing with a post-run beer or six.

                • TribalistMeathead says:

                  I knew one runner who wouldn’t shut the fuck up about running, but he was kind of a self-important douche about all areas of his life, so.

                • Eh. I’m of the Lydiard school. Run because you enjoy it. Life’s too short to do otherwise.

                  Indeed, which is why I realized I should stop doing the long distance stuff. I enjoy running again now that I don’t have long distance races (that you have to sign up for way in advance) looming in the back of my consciousness saying “you need to be training, you need to run more, go do some hills, do some speed work” It’s peaceful being free from that.

                • Denverite says:

                  Indeed, which is why I realized I should stop doing the long distance stuff.

                  Funny, I was exactly the opposite. I quit running between about 20 and 27. Prior to quitting, I was a (not particularly good) 5000/10000 guy at a DI school (mid 15s/33 flat). I quit because everything was so frickin’ fast. Every easy run was a race. Every workout was pedal to the medal. Every race was agony.

                  Anyway, when I started again, I quickly migrated to HM/marathon stuff. When I’m at my training peak, MAYBE 10% of my miles are at a faster-than-comfortable pace. And the race itself? Especially with the marathon, it’s all in a comfortable range. (The last five or so miles is difficult, but not because it’s too fast.)

                  If I had realized that it doesn’t have to be painful, I wouldn’t have quit for most of my 20s. And maybe my marathon PR would be in the 2:30 range instead of the 2:50 range.

                • Sherm says:

                  2:50 range is freaking awesome. I just signed up to do my first full in the fall. I’m hoping to get close to 4:00.

                • Denverite says:

                  Yeah, but to put it in perspective, I feel so freakin’ slow now. I’ll do the same 8 x 800 workout I did when I was 19. Only now I’ll average 2:52 per interval, instead of 2:22. Four or five years ago I did a mile all out to see what I could do — 5:04. I dropped a 4:28 when I was 17. A 2:50 may sound fast, but guys I ran with in college who didn’t take off the better part of a decade before dabbling at the marathon were usually running in the high 2:20s. (They were faster than me, though, so I’m guessing I would have maxed out around 2:33 or so.)

                • And maybe my marathon PR would be in the 2:30 range instead of the 2:50 range

                  Sweet FSM, that is fast. I didn’t start running until I was almost 40 (was/still am mostly a cyclist) so never got fast (by most standards). Ran a 4:11 (road) marathon. 5:52 trail 50k. Enough. I’m done.

                  (And with that I’m gonna stop talking about running because we’re verging on crossfitter territory here if we continue.)

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  I’m much happier with my new system, cross-unfit.

                  Sit on the couch! Drink beer!

                  Sit on the couch and drink beer!

                  And a one and a two…

                • Sherm says:

                  Joe — you should see me on a Sunday afternoon after I’ve finished my long run and the weekly grocery shopping. I sit on the couch watching sports into the evening, while drinking anywhere from 8-10 beers, with a box of wheat thins, a bag of nacho chips (sodium free of course), and bowls full of hummus, guacamole, refried beans and salsa. Beer and food never tastes so good.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  OK, Sherm, your comment actually got me to do some crunches last night.

                  I hope you’re happy, you monster.

              • Denverite says:

                Oh, and obligatory marathon advice — you need three 20+ milers to be prepared, four is better, five risks burnout. Also, go slooooowwww the first 10 miles or so of the race. If you run as fast as the adrenaline tells you to, the last half is going to be miserable.

                • Not if you do crossfit! (Seriously, I’ve been told this. F’reals.)

                • Sherm says:

                  Thanks. Most plans only call for two 20 milers. I’m always in half marathon shape, so jumping my long runs from the 12-14 milers I’ve been doing to 16-20 should not be that hard. Knock on wood. I plan on running the first 20 at my long run pace (9:30 per mile give or take) and then giving it whatever I’ve got left for the final 10k. I know stronger runners than me who started out too fast when they ran their first, and really paid for it. I don’t want to experience the misery of bonking with 6 or more miles to go.

                • Good plan Sherm. The best I ever felt at along distance event was the time I cut a pretty significant negative split (like 45 minutes) for the second 25k of the 50. Felt way better than going out too fast (which I usually do).

                • gmack says:

                  Meh. The 20 mile recommendation was developed with really good/fast runners (like you!) in mind. For someone who aims merely to run in the four hour range, it’s really not necessary and is probably a bad idea. See for instance this post by the running coach who guided me through my first marathon. Being out running for three hours or more (which is what it takes hacks like me to run 20 miles) is a major stress on the body; it doesn’t really seem to increase fitness much, but it does highly increase the risk of injury. So in my training, I actually topped out at 18.5 miles (which I did twice before tapering). And my marathon experience was really fun. I’ll work harder next time with an eye toward improving my time, but for a first marathon 20 milers are not necessary, and certainly no more than one is necessary. The caveat, of course, is that you have to do the other major runs during the week, including interval training, hills, and so on.

                  Anyway, the advice to go out slow is essential. I ran my first two miles at 9 minutes per. Miles 24-26 I ran in 8 (they were my fastest of the day).

                • Denverite says:

                  Being out running for three hours or more (which is what it takes hacks like me to run 20 miles) is a major stress on the body; it doesn’t really seem to increase fitness much, but it does highly increase the risk of injury.

                  Fair enough. I never go past about 2:45 in training, and usually two of my twenty milers are exactly twenty miles at altitude-adjusted race pace (the other two are 22-24 miles a bit slower than race pace).

                  Anyway, the advice to go out slow is essential. I ran my first two miles at 9 minutes per. Miles 24-26 I ran in 8 (they were my fastest of the day).

                  Yeah, I’ve never, ever been able to slow myself down enough the first half to negative split. Even though I know I need to run high 6:30s, I’m usually ten seconds per mile faster than that the first 10k or so, which means I’m really hanging on by 18-24. (The adrenaline usually picks back up the last couple of miles, so they’re not that bad.)

                • Sherm says:

                  That’s encouraging. I just checked my Garmin data. My longest run (about six weeks ago) was 16 miles at a little under 2:35. No reason why I can’t crank out a few of those and a few 18 milers to get ready in the Fall. The hardest run for me is going to be the mid week longish run. I do not like running in the dark, and 10-12 miles is pretty grueling on the treadmill.

      • T.E. Shaw says:

        Tangent: this is a good example of how people generally become more aggressive and less empathetic when behind the wheel of a car. “People” become mere “obstacles”

        • I’ve heard a pretty persuasive theory on this out of Jon Bois at SB Nation; he mentions that a friend of his theorized that when you don’t control your own movement – that is, when you’re driving a car and thus you at best indirectly cause yourself to move, or when you’re playing hockey and so the laws of physics control you way more than your wits – you tend to lose control and be far more aggressive, because freedom of movement is so instinctive.

          I don’t drive like an asshole, or at least I try my hardest not to, but I definitely turn much angrier behind the wheel. Not this kind of angry, though.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          The only time I’ve ever been insulted by d00ds in a passing car was when I was walking down a big, highway-type street lined with parking lots and strip malls.

          I must have looked like a target out there, alone, in the land of the cars.

          Automobile culture is inherently anti-human.

          • There are residential neighborhoods in LA where there is no sidewalk, just a strip of concrete too small to walk on to delineate the boundary between the lawn and the street. Even areas only two blocks or so from a main street like Lankershim Blvd.

            Then there’s the explanation a Rasta musician gave for walking from Hollywood to Santa Monica instead of taking a bus:

            Have nothing to do with Babylon, unless I’m late for (a)gig.

          • STH says:

            It’s an interesting issue, isn’t it, who is thought of as a “target.” I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately because my partner, who is a long-distance cyclist, get people yelling at him from cars, too. It’s always men in pick-ups. He rarely understands what they yell at him, but it’s often accompanied by thrown beer bottles or other garbage.

            I’ve come to think that the concept of privilege applies to drivers in a similar way to how it applies to men. When there’s a discussion of cycling safety, it’s always overwhelmed by people blaming the cyclist or saying they shouldn’t have been out riding at all. When a cyclist gets hit, the first question is always whether he or she was wearing a helmet. A common thing that drivers yell at cyclists is “get off the road!” as if only drivers have the right to be there. When a cyclist is hurt or killed, the driver is frequently not even charged with a crime.

            • Origami Isopod says:

              There’s also a notion that male cyclists are “sissies.” While not all pickup truck drivers are macho assholes, the vehicle does tend to appeal to a certain demographic, and they’re the demographic most likely to feel threatened by men who don’t feel the need to prove their manhood.

      • It makes sense to me: what better situation to heap abuse on someone that disgusts you than when they are alone, and when you are in a car and will be far away from them in moments? That this has the added benefit of making the harassment less visible in the aggregate is just gravy.

      • mojrim says:

        Have you ever noticed that South anything is always the fuct-up part?

        • Guggenheim Swirly says:

          I know just what you mean. In my part of the world, South Tampa is where all city’s the rich “society” (yes, Tampa’s rich people think of themselves as “high society”) people live. One of the most fucked up places I’ve ever spent time.

          • FridayNext says:

            The Southern town I lived in for the longest and received the most public derision for my weight (and physically attacked) was Gainesville. And it’s not like North Central Florida is a particularly fit place. I would blame drunken college kids, but I am pretty sure at least one was a drunken alumni since it was a football game weekend and the shout game from an RV.

            • brad says:

              I am a thin guy, which I only mention as to exclude myself from claiming any experience in any of this, but I have to suspect that the seemingly all too typical experience of a larger woman being yelled at or worse by some asshole in passing car sounds as much about sexism as lookism, not as if the two can truly be separated. Insecure guys displacing self loathing onto a woman’s body and/or trying to control and “remind” of their “place”. That they do so from the relative anonymity of the seat of a passing car just reinforces the association with internet sexist pile-on type behavior, to me.
              Or am I oversimplifying?

              • FridayNext says:

                Well, I am a man. (Otherwise my name would be Thursday or Tuesday Next).

                I don’t think I get it as much as a woman does, but I do get yelled at. Not since I moved out of the south to New England, but I just got here and Spring is young.

              • Origami Isopod says:

                Yep. There are certainly other “reasons” for that kind of abuse to happen, but sexism/misogyny is far and away the biggest.

      • Snarki, child of Loki says:

        Okay, I confess.

        I have shouted “move it, fat ass!” inside a moving car.

        But I was shouting at an SUV, and couldn’t see the driver.

    • keta says:

      I haven’t heard anyone scream an insult at a fat person since secondary school, and that was a looong time ago.

      And I find it highly ironic that your simple query here about the ubiquity of a certain type of harassment brought on…harassment. The irony is rich, but unsurprising.

      • Nick says:

        Nah, I think they were kind of right, and having people tell you you’re a jerk in a comment thread doesn’t rise to harassment. My default mode is sort of curious data-gatherer, which is not necessarily the ideal first response to someone else’s pain.

      • Shakezula says:

        Things that are surprising:

        Someone repeating the same thing the first Concerned Commenter said and then flumping down beside him or her on the swooning couch.

        The repeated return of person who made a big production of saying he was really leaving this time.

        • keta says:

          Golly, all I read from Nick was a just a simple observation and a question. But enough for people like you to jump down his throat, so who, exactly is lurching towards the fainting couch?

          The repeated return of person who made a big production of saying he was really leaving this time.

          I have no idea what the fuck you’re grinding on here. But fill yer fuckin’ boots.

          • Shakezula says:

            Yeah, because it cannot be the case that people get fucking sick of reporting their experiences only to have some dimwit respond “Well I haven’t seen that (or haven’t seen it since 2nd grade). Can someone else verify that this in fact happens? Because I just don’t find the person reporting the behavior credible.”

            Who couldn’t get tired of that kind of Just Asking Questions?

            Speaking of JAQing, that second was addressed to Nick. Have some smelling salts.

            • Aimai says:

              Ah, yes, the JAQ dodge. Who among us has not been participating in a discussion, offered a personal anecdote or observation, and had someone turn around and ask a more important male person whether “that really happens.” Like what are we, chopped liver? Yes, I just told you it happens or happened to me. This is the one place where personal anecdote and actual experience matter. Asking another person for validation of my point is definitionally insulting to me. And explaining to me that the thing that happend to me never happened to you? Not relevant.

              • keta says:

                This is the one place where personal anecdote and actual experience matter.

                And explaining to me that the thing that happend to me never happened to you? Not relevant.

                Your two comments can’t seem to get along.

                Or is it “not relevant” that what’s common in one place is uncommon in another, and then to explore why this is?

                • Aimai says:

                  You may not know this but its impossible to prove a negative. So, no, a personal anecdote that goes like this “that never happened to me” is not relevant and is not a rebuttal to someone else’s observation that X has happened to them.

                  There are many ways of expressing interest and support for people in telling stories of pain, or shame, or real experience. You can even use the phrase “does that really happen?” but sometimes you can inadvertently or stupidly come across as refusing to listen to what people are telling you. Then people are going to criticize you for being lazy, or stupid, or hostile, or ill intentioned because that is their experience of people entering into a conversation and derailing it by “Just asking Questions” but not accepting the answers as dispositive.

                  I really don’t see what your problem is, keta. Nick admitted, rather graciously, that he had started off the thread with a comment which reflected rather badly on him. It led to an interesting discussion and as far as I know he’s dropped it. You might emulate the buddhist monk in the famous story and put down Nick’s burden.

            • keta says:

              One of the very best things about discussion boards, for me, is learning about what other people experience in different parts of the world. For instance, I had no idea about the prevalence of fat-shaming for the simple reason that I never see it happen. But to muse about this with a comment seems to punch your buttons, for some strange reason.

              I’m sorry you’re so very fucking tired of folks being curious. You obviously have a very raw nerve about this, or them, or maybe it’s just the person. I don’t read every comment on every thread, and I suspect most folks don’t, so maybe direct your sarcasm at the intended, rather than lob it all over the joint.

              • Guggenheim Swirly says:

                I’m sorry you’re so very fucking tired of folks being curious.

                It must be nice to be so privileged, and to feel so comfortable with it that you can use it as a shield for your wounded widdle fee fees.

                • keta says:

                  Your attack is pointed in the wrong direction, GS. Maybe stop swirling for a second and recalibrate your target.

                • A Hammer says:

                  Where’s a nail?

                  That a nail?

                  Fuck it, it’s gotta be a nail.


              • delurking says:

                Here is how you handle hearing about things that have never happened to you: you read about them.

                You learn about them. You think, quietly to yourself, “Wow, that sounds rough.”

                If you sincerely want to know more, maybe you comment, “X, that sounds rough. Tell us more.”

                (Maybe. Probably it’s better just to listen for awhile if you don’t actually know that much.)

                Here is what you don’t do: make comments like, “Gee, X, are you sure that happened? Because it’s never happened to me.”

                The first actually asks for more information. The second hints that you think X is delusional or just making a big deal out of nothing.

                Why are many of us so touchy about this? Because EVERY SINGLE TIME anyone posts about an issue like this (racism, feminism, rape, fat-shaming, whatever) someone from a privileged group will trundle along and say, “Gee, that never happens to ME, are you sure…”

              • Anonymous says:

                I’m sorry you’re so very fucking tired of folks being curious.

                No, I’m pretty sure the lobbing is hitting the mark. You — in getting intellectual stimulation from other people’s misery — are part of the problem.

        • timb116 says:

          We should just ban him.

        • Anna in PDX says:

          Yeah I think Nick understood that his question may not have seemed loaded to him but that it definitely hit a nerve for a reason, and he apologized. These weird people trying to defend his honor after the fact have absolutely nothing to defend.

          A lot of us get tired of explaining to people that things really happen to us. I know my boyfriend has never truly believed that I have been told to “smile” on the street or that it happened enough times to be a meaningful occurence. So if a random guy on the internet muses ‘does that really happen’ after me having several real life conversations about it, I will get mad and maybe even yell at him! If he says “sorry sorry sorry” and backs off, good on him!

      • brad says:

        Nah, wrong place, wrong time, and to his credit he sees it.
        I did sort of the same myself in another bspencer thread about geek girls one time. Some points are too small to be worth making in every context.

    • Anonymous says:

      Every year. My favorite being that as I was finishing a 10-mile hike, daring to go down Halsted Street in Chicago during the evening, a car passed by me with the ladies screaming ‘Work out, bitch!’

      You can’t win.

    • IM says:

      — but in all the time that I’ve spent in public, I’ve never heard anyone scream an insult at a fat person

      Not even in the school-yard?

    • I am a very fat person, and I haven’t experienced this personally. I’m sure being white and male helps. I have definitely heard people say terrible things about fat women — to me, in fact, with the implication that I would agree with their assessment, despite being fat myself.

      This suggests to me that apart from any distinctive opprobrium people put on being fat, it also serves as a particularly appealing cudgel with which to beat people who are already despised and Other.

      • STH says:

        I suspect women get more of it, because of the view that we’re primarily here to be decorative objects for the pleasure of men. And people are constantly telling us we’re doing life wrong, anyway (e.g., magazines targeted to women and their endless “are you too X?” stories).

    • Guggenheim Swirly says:

      is this also other people’s experience?


      It’s been done to me, and I’ve also seen it done to other people on the street.

    • Nick says:

      Hey everyone, thanks for carrying on in my absence! It’s weird being discussed without participating, so I thought I’d chime in. Comment threads are a funny medium — they can be very personal, but also pretty affect-less. I’m basically a note-taker, I’m not an empathic person, and I like to ask questions. One thing I do to make these less prying is to volunteer a bit of information about myself at the same time. This combination didn’t work out too well here, and I’m sorry about that. I know perfectly well that LGM, or at least bspencer’s portion of it, is not a community of note-takers and that bemused inquisitiveness at abuse of fat people is the wrong note to strike. I would have liked to argue about it, in fact I love arguing, but I despise being the aggrieved reasonable person who’s just trying to get information, it’s an unpleasant role that you see a lot on the Internet; I do believe that when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or insulted them, that it’s simplest to just apologize and stop, or one really is just being provocative. I do have a few responses:

      Aimai, I appreciate your final post, thanks for noticing.

      Keta and another guy defending me: we think pretty similarly, but brad after you answered it best, my point was just too small for this thread. If I’d sat tight and read comments, it would have been answered for me, and I was silly to think that it wouldn’t draw anger or dismissal out of the vasty Internet. Since I did mean it honestly, I should have figured out how to ask it effectively. Whether people got too angry or not, it’s a comment thread, for fuck’s sake. The Internet has a funny way of getting hung up on arguments about whether someone’s response to another response to a badly-expressed post was appropriate or not. I bet that I and the people who I pissed off would agree on pretty much everything, or at least vote for the same people — but most commenters here aren’t note-takers, which is fine. If we were at a party we’d have a nice discussion, with things like facial expressions and beer to smooth out differences.

      bspencer, sorry for starting your comments off with something that it took a long time to clear away, and is even now for some reason veering off into jogging. Cheers everyone, may your Thursday be free of insults and body policing!

    • kateislate says:

      I’ve never had it happen to me in Canada. I feel like people are thinking it, but that’s my stuff, not theirs.

      I was referred to a lot in Guyana as ‘Fat Girl,’ but for some reason it never felt like an insult. It was very much a descriptor to distinguish me from the three other white girls I was with.

      It happened a lot in Nepal. One of the first things the kids taught me in Nepali was variations on ‘you are so fat,’ so I could recognize it when people said it to me on the street or on the bus. From very small children and most older adults it was commentary, maybe marvelling – in a ‘you are a very fat person and I verbalize all of my thoughts like this’ way (said in Nepali, under the assumption I did not know what they were saying). They were friendly and surprised when I answered in Nepali, usually some variation of ‘yes, yes I am.’ From older children and young adults it was an insult, meant to be cruel, often accompanied by following me down the street shouting it and/or throwing things after me (garbage, rocks). Not so fun.

  2. Nick says:

    Forgot to mention, I completely agree with her much-later comment about the ‘strong’ appellation. It’s a form of the ‘magic Negro’, or the ‘courageous fight against cancer’, or the ‘suffering makes us virtuous’ bullshit.

  3. Shakezula says:

    I don’t see what’s schizophrenic about the assholes being assholes. Hateful people will find any reason to hate. Stay inside? We hate you. Go outside? We hate you. Exist at all, even in theory? Hate, hate, hate.

    As an aside, I am rapidly becoming not crazy the term fat shaming for this behavior. It seems to downplay what I’d need a microscope to tell from the aggression minorities and people who “look gay,” have to endure. I mean, if someone threw a fucking watermelon at me from a car, or tossed fried chicken on my lawn, I wouldn’t say they were color shaming me, I’d say they were fucking racist cockscabs.

    • Nick says:

      I thought she meant that her response had to be schizophrenic, not the people abusing her: either she pretended to not be hurt (when she was), or she showed a normal human reaction and they increased their behaviour.

      • bspencer says:

        Who’s response? Mine? Or Melissa’s?

        Anyway, I meant that the cruelty is schizophrenic.

        • Nick says:

          Sorry, you’re right. I transposed your headline to McEwan’s twitter stream.

        • calling all toasters says:

          Nothing in any of her tweets has anything to do with schizophrenia.

            • calling all toasters says:

              Did I stutter?

                • calling all toasters says:

                  Well, stuttering is another thing that has nothing to do with schizophrenia, along with cruelty. Did you perhaps mean to use “schizophrenic” in the sense of switching between two points of view or two personalities? Not that I see that in what McEwan says– but if she did mean that it still has nothing to do with schizophrenia.

                • bspencer says:

                  Oh. All these posts were just so you could complain about my use of the word “schizophrenic.” Gotcha. If I change it to something else would you quit wasting my fucking time by being disingenuously clueless?

                • calling all toasters says:

                  What gave me away? Was it that my first comment was “Nothing in any of her tweets has anything to do with schizophrenia.”? Did you think I was complaining about the use of some other word?

                  As for my alleged disingenuous cluelessness– do you see anyone else in these comments thinking there is something inconsistent about this flagrant, outrageous, childish (there’s three better adjectives right there) cruelty? Me either.

                • bspencer says:

                  Just come out and fucking say what you mean.

                  Those adjectives are great, but don’t convey even slightly what I was trying to say. So…no. If you quit your day job don’t look for another one as a thesaurus.

                • potsherds says:

                  Those adjectives are great, but don’t convey even slightly what I was trying to say.

                  Neither does the ableist use of the term ‘schizophrenic’, if you were using the term in a way consistent with the actual mental illness.

                • bspencer says:

                  schiz·o·phre·ni·a [skit-suh-free-nee-uh, -freen-yuh] Show IPA
                  Psychiatry. . Also called dementia praecox. a severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all, of the following features: emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.
                  a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.

                  Please take your concerns to

                • potsherds says:

                  Oh, for the love of peaches, bspencer. Please don’t use the dictionary as a shield for being called out on your mistake here.

                  It’s disappointing that much of popular culture still has no understanding of schizophrenia, but a socially defined meaning of a word does not remove its ableism. Please don’t use the term.

                • bspencer says:

                  I think we’re done here.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I don’t think we’re even close to done.

                  I would expect this exchange to be linked to the next time you make the point that the people in a socially-marginalized group get to decide whether or not a term used by someone outside that group is offensive.

                  So perhaps a better ending would be a good idea.

                • calling all toasters says:

                  OK, so bspencer is going with the definition based on the common misconception that schizophrenia is a disorder where a person has multiple personalities. So be it. I have to disabuse my students of this every year, but it’s nice to come here and be around educated professional people where that’s not a problem.

                  Of course, there is still not an inkling of “a state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements” in some people acting like extreme assholes and other people being amazed that this happens. If that is indeed what bspencer is referring to. I guess she’s not going to say now.

                • bspencer says:

                  Did you read the linked story? Do you actually STILL not understand what’s going on?

                • sibusisodan says:

                  Does Argument By Dictionary ever work?

                • potsherds says:

                  Does Argument By Dictionary ever work?

                  People of privilege certainly seem to think so, judging by how often it’s employed to defend one’s discriminatory actions or words.

                • Tristan says:

                  bspencer: you have on at least a couple of occasions demonstrated an obvious blindspot when it comes to ableist language, specifically using (current or archaic) psychiatric terms as general negative descriptors. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it would behoove you to, at the absolute least, not get defensive when people point it out, and work on adjusting your vocabulary accordingly. It’s doable: I continued to use gay slurs as general insults well into my twenties, but I haven’t for years, because regardless of any specific intent, I was acting bigoted and had a moral obligation to train myself not to.

                  And yes, this is in fact more problematic for you precisely because you often choose to write about intolerance and discrimination. I’m really not sure what to say to you if you think an increased onus on avoiding stigmatizing language when talking about the effects of stigmatization is somehow unfair.

                  Writing it out like this, I am holding your hand way more than is the norm here with people exhibiting similar intransigent insensitivity around race, gender, orientation, and any number of other things. Hell, just look at what Nick is getting upthread, and he actually eventually (sort of) apologized. Look at the last several rounds of mansplaining, and how regulars here handled those. The only reason I’m doing this is because the standard approach has apparently not convinced you to re-examine your behaviour, and I don’t want to have to continue to worry that I’m going to be browsing LGM only to see a contributor casually insult the mentally ill (again, the fact it is not your specific intent to insult the mentally ill is not fucking relevant).

                  “Schizophrenia is a condition, not derogatory slang”

                  In short, if you find yourself annoyed by people complaining about the mess, try cleaning it up.

                • bspencer says:

                  Tristan, I think that if my posts truly cause you this much discomfort it’d be best to just not read them. And then you can just say “Hey, LGM’s ok except for that mean bspencer.” And chalk it up to there always being one bad apple.

                • potsherds says:

                  Tristan, I think that if my posts truly cause you this much discomfort it’d be best to just not read them. And then you can just say “Hey, LGM’s ok except for that mean bspencer.”


                • Ronan says:

                  ‘schizophrenic’ obviously has colloquial uses independent of the mental health term


                • Guggenheim Swirly says:

                  Ronan, so do “gay” and “retarded.”

                  All three are problematic, for the same basic reason.

                • Ronan says:

                  ‘X retarded Y’s growth’
                  ‘it was a gay old day’

                • Ronan says:

                  .. also, you can’t just wish a new norm from gods blue sky – saying ‘x is retarded’ or ‘y is a c*nt’ or using *some* racial slurs, already have strong negative social consequences attached. Maybe schizophrenic should as well, maybe not. But it doesnt

                  To call people out on it is just being arsey (and in this case trying to prove a point)

                • The Duck of Death says:

                  “Hey, LGM’s ok except for that mean bspencer.”

                  LGM occupies a special place on the internet: Free, extremely high-quality content and a group of commenters that is generally thoughtful and well-informed.

                  Frankly, Ms. bspencer, you bring nothing to table. Your posts are vapid. Your comments are nothing more than insults or non-sequiturs. This place would be better off without you.

                • Ronan says:

                  “LGM occupies a special place on the internet: Free, extremely high-quality content and a group of commenters that is generally thoughtful and well-informed. ”

                  Eh, that really doesnt describe LGM.

                  What is it exactely about the worst person in the world series (for example) that you find so enlightening anf thoughtful ?

            • potsherds says:

              Not sure if calling all toasters meant this or not, but using the term schizophrenic (with a presumed definition vastly different from the actual mental illness) when not actually talking about schizophrenia, but instead to describe cruelty and bigotry in some way, is ableist.

              • calling all toasters says:

                Person with schizophrenia: “I am schizophrenic.”
                Person who knows the definition: “Wow, I’m sorry to hear it. It must be tough.”

                Person with schizophrenia: “I am schizophrenic.”
                Person who doesn’t know the definition: “I know what you mean. Sometimes I don’t know if I prefer chocolate ice cream or vanilla.”

              • rm says:

                calling all toasters is right on this. I particularly notice the use of the word “psychotic” in pop culture and the vernacular. This kind of usage is definitely analagous to using “gay” or “retarded” as slang. We should all cut it out.

                bspencer, it is because I do like reading your posts that I wish you’d work on that particular habit.

                • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

                  Holy shit this thread sucks

                • Origami Isopod says:

                  I have to say I winced at that usage myself. I think some of the conversation around what constitutes “ableism” is overblown — for example, I’m not going to give up “stupid,” and I’m not convinced that one can never use “blind” as a metaphor. Generally, however, it’s a good idea not to use diagnoses as insults. So… great post, B., but I also wish the subject header had been different. :-/

                • rm says:

                  I’ve never thought about “blind” being offensive, but if blind people told me that it has that effect I would be willing to find another word, like “obtuse.”

                  I think the difference is that blind people actually can’t see, which makes it an apt metaphor for someone who fails to realize something. But people with psychosis are not actually generally violent or crazed, and people with schizophrenia are not whatever was meant in the title.

                  But yes, if the people affected told me it insulted them, I would stop saying it.

                • gmack says:

                  I think the difference is that blind people actually can’t see, which makes it an apt metaphor for someone who fails to realize something.

                  Yeah, I don’t see (pun intended) the difference. It is no doubt true that our language and culture has a long history of using sight as a metaphor for knowledge/understanding. It’s so deeply ingrained that I’m not sure how to purge it. Still, it is nothing more than a metaphor: Seeing something is not the same as knowing it, though again our conception of knowledge is now so bound up with sight metaphors that it is almost impossible to separate the concepts. (I emphasize this point in part because there has been some interesting philosophy work done on the role of sight metaphors in philosophy/epistemology, and the work asks us to think about what it would mean to think of knowledge in terms other than of sight. What if our metaphor for understanding or knowledge was tasting, for instance? How would that change our “view” of knowledge?). In any case, the point is that if we link knowledge with seeing, then it becomes inevitable that not-seeing becomes the metaphor for ignorance or stupidity. And as such, it becomes ripe for the kind of critique we see at work in this thread: Calling an ignorant person “blind” ends up becoming an insult to the blind community.

                  Having said that, it seems to me that the crucial issue here is not whether X term is being used metaphorically (in some sense all terms are metaphorical, and originally all uses of words were mis-uses). The crucial issue is that these terms are being used as insults and epithets. If I call our culture’s response to fatness “schizophrenic” I aim to be critical of said culture. And sure, I’m perfectly content to stop using words such as schizophrenic or especially “retarded” as epithets. However, my reason for eschewing the words is political more than theoretically grounded. It’s not that the words are being mis-used here; it’s that there are actual political movements and groups who are demanding that people stop using such words, and that’s a good enough reason for me.

    • N__B says:

      With respect to your aside, we don’t have a good term for weight-based bigotry. It’s a terrible comment on humanity that we need one.

    • Tristan says:

      This seems to be a general problem with more ‘recent’ forms of discrimination. Look at “homophobia” and “islamophobia”, which are constructed in the language of psychiatric diagnoses, as if they’re traumatizing conditions people have the misfortune to suffer from, and not ‘being a huge asshole’.

      • mojrim says:

        From a cognitive-behavioral standpoint it could be argued that the the distinction is negligible.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          While the “-phobia” terms don’t particularly bug me, I am not sure fear is the common denominator of all oppressive behavior, or at least not specifically fear of the other. I’m thinking about how bullies, traditionally claimed to have low self-esteem, actually think quite highly of themselves. They’re not afraid of their victims. They’re using them to reinforce their own political power (yeah, there are politics from the playground, even the sandbox, onward through life).

      • Yeah, I’ve been beating that expired equine for more than 2 decades, and calling ‘anti-gay bigots’ what they are, instead of using a term that implies they have a disorder, hasn’t caught on. But I’m not giving up!

        “homophobia” implies that the bigot suffers from something, instead of accurately naming that his goal is to make others suffer from his prejudices.

        I like ‘masshole’, because most citizens of the world don’t in fact use it to describe Boston drivers. Plus, it can do double doody. (Couldn’t resist.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyone wants to belong to a special designated victim group now. It’s a mass hysteria.

  5. Dr. Finebottom says:

    Just as a point of discussion, where’s the line between say, yelling at someone for bad parenting (imagine it’s obviously so, whatever your version of that may be) in public, and yelling at someone for being fat? Obviously there are some things that should be publicly shamed and some that should not. Is the distinction just “what I like/don’t like”? You say it’s things that harm others, but that’s not strictly true with fat people in the aggregate.

    I’m coming to believe that this sort of shaming/mild harassment is the lowest possible consequence for having an attribute outside of the mainstream (without stamping down on people being mean altogether). I mean I already see it at a low rate, but thin people get heckled and shamed by fat people too (“eat something, stick!”, etc), does anyone think that wouldn’t be more pervasive if being fat was the normal/ideal? What’s the point in all this? Isn’t too much energy being wasted on attempting to protect various niche minorities from random asshattery which could be used instead to combat more serious social ills?

    • junker says:

      . I mean I already see it at a low rate, but thin people get heckled and shamed by fat people too (“eat something, stick!”, etc), does anyone think that wouldn’t be more pervasive if being fat was the normal/ideal?

      Coming up next on “Made up anecdotes with Dr. Finebottom”

      • wjts says:

        Oh, I don’t know – an Iranian guy once told me I couldn’t really be an American because I was so skinny. If that doesn’t demonstrate that us skinny folks are the real victims here, I don’t know what would.

      • Dr. Finebottom says:

        They’re not made up at all. How is this any different than the people in this thread accusing fat people of making the yelling up? I suppose if I look I’ll see a comment by you up there saying the same thing against them?

        • junker says:

          Your line sounds like a parody of something I might say to try and claim that overweight and skinny people both get equal abuse in the US. “Thin shaming” is not a thing in the way that fat shaming is. I am absolutely sure that you have never in your life heard someone with the same experience as in the linked article – harassed by people driving by, having candy and junk food thrown at them, etc.

          • NMissC says:

            I don’t know about being an overly-thin adult, but I was an overly-thin adolescent, and it has the same effect as wearing a target, and becoming the subject of serious bullying. Physical harassment to the point that there were places in the public school I attended that I either would not go or seriously avoided. I suspect an overweight child would have met the same treatment.

            At the end of high school/early college I was surprised when the bullying just suddenly went away, until I realized it was because I’d gone from just under normal height to being over 6′ tall, and less thin.

            My experience of being overweight as an adult, rather than direct comments or the like, I’ve more had a sense that there are people who obnoxiously and reflexively judge, as if they thought an overweight person was making a moment-by-moment decision to do something repulsive and unpleasant. It may be partly the difference in being a male, or that my weight has gone up and down over time, but everyone is going to have different experience.

        • Aimai says:

          Look Dr. Finebottom, your problem is kind of profoundly one of reading comprehension. The people who are talking about this kind of fat shaming are describing actual harrassment of people in the public sphere–harrassment sharp enough and harsh enough to drive them out of public spaces: things thrown at them, cars driving by them and being catcalled. That is way, way, way, out of the norm for interactions between consenting adults in the public sphere. That you think its normal, or to be ignored, says more about you than about the people complaining about this treatment. Its ok to say “I would tolerate this harrassment if it were happening to me” but its not ok to say “you all should tolerate this harrassment because shit like that happens all over the world and there are more important things to be worrying about.” This idea of “niche” people who are simply aggrieved over minor things is incredibly insulting to all the people who are excluded, every day, from full participation in civil society and public space.

          I’d like to also add that women’s bodies are, of course, policed all the time, everywhere. Every woman will tell you how often men and women have stopped them and exhorted them to “smile!” Or stopped them to tell them they are wearing the wrong thing, or need to comb their hair. Pregnant women complain all the time that people just walk right up to them and start feeling their stomachs. I get that a lot of this invasion of female privacy and personal space is going to be hidden from men. Or stuff that happens to black people is hidden from the view of white people. But when (in the case of NIck) people tell you that stuff routinely happens to them and someone was unaware of that the right thing to do is to note that shit down and learn from it. “Wow! I did not know that!” is an ok way to respond to new information.

          • mojrim says:

            I think the good doctor’s point was far broader, and perhaps unsuited to this thread (or perhaps audience). That is, tribal preferences are enforced by shaming at the lowest level and are non-specific to the actual characteristic. The scope of harassment varies with the degree of acceptance of the folkway in question, nothing else.

            His second point is about limited resources, not dismissal of claims. We all have a limited amount of time, money, and outrage to expend on various causes. Should you spend it fighting of SYG laws, or de-unionization, or go directly after the Kochtopus that’s funding all of it? Any expenditure you make on one will not be available for the others.

            In the end we all agree that the case posted was a nasty piece of work. However, i would deny that anything is learned from confining your conversation to people that agree with you.

            • Anonymous says:

              How is it a “tribal preference” to ask people not to harass fat people? Which “tribe” disagrees with this, at least in principle?

            • Origami Isopod says:

              We all have a limited amount of time, money, and outrage to expend on various causes.

              This is such bullshit. All “various causes” influence one another. Fatphobia is not only closely tied in with misogyny, but with classism and, therefore, in the U.S., racism as well.

              Nobody is asking you to go out and become an activist against fatphobia. What you are being asked to do is to speak up when people make those sorts of “jokes” and say, “Not cool.” And not even in all situations – nobody’s telling you to do it at the risk of your job, for example.

          • Anonymous says:

            Look Dr. Finebottom, your problem is kind of profoundly one of reading comprehension.

            Don’t let ’em get to you. This is always the standard bullshit offered up when they realize that the definition encompasses someone or a group that they don’t want included.

            They cannot stand on a principle. They must engineer definitions for effect.

      • ChrisTS says:

        Yeah… not so sure, here. My mother in law constantly pressed food on me (“You’re so thin!”), and my daughter got ‘diagnosed’ by some nutjob as anorexic. She isn’t; she just spends about half her time on her bike.

        I think shaming people for being ‘too thin’ is far more rare in our culture, but it does happen.

        • Gregor Sansa says:

          OK, then. “Exaggerated incidents with Dr. Finebottom”

          I’ve been thin my whole life and sometimes freakishly so. I’ve gotten way more undeserved praise for it than undeserved criticism, and the latter has been in general trivial. Nothing to remotely compare to stuff thrown from cars.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          Yes, it does. It’s less common, and it’s (usually) less vitriolic than fat-shaming, but both come from the same place, and neither should be tolerated.

    • Aimai says:

      Uh…yelling at someone for bad parenting is a crashingly bad idea. Do you know any sane, “good parent” people who think that its wise to shout at someone else who is parenting badly in public? Because I’m a damned good parent and I would never do that–you run the risk of putting the child in further danger, for one thing, or of becoming the target of the other person’s rage. If you have a serious concern about someone else’s behavior you either bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities, if any, or let it go. If you decide to intervene you NEVER do it with a drive by catcall.

      There is simply no place in society for this kind of drive by, semi anonymous, harrassment of other people. It has not function–can’t think of a good example at all and certainly not “bad parenting.”

      • calling all toasters says:

        But I really want to lean out my window and yell “hey, falafel-boy!” if I ever drive by Bill O’Reilly. Damn.

      • Dr. Finebottom says:

        So it’s a simple whatever someone does in public is their own business? Interesting. What if they’re, say, beating their child? Giving their child drugs? Allowing their child to hit your own kid? Intervention in none of these is appropriate?

        Also, curious – what makes you think getting CPS involved is less destructive?

        • Beating your child is a crime.

          Giving your child (illegal) drugs is a crime.

          Being fat in public is not a crime.

          Considering that you’re apparently intelligent enough to operate a computer and form sentences, the distinction should be obvious to you.

          • Dr. Finebottom says:

            Assuming this comment means you therefore support intervention in the criminal examples – is the litmus here in your opinion is whether something is illegal? You also seem quite intelligent, so perhaps you can tell me how you would justify that standard being applied in a country where a woman showing ankle skin is a crime. It’s okay to shame a woman for being immodest(where it is illegal) in your opinion? Unless you’re willing to say that it’s acceptable to do that for EVERYTHING that’s a crime, I don’t see how it’s an internally consistent position.

            To bring this back, it seems to me that the “never acceptable” argument is much more persuasive in this sense, but I’d still like an answer as to the above situations. Should people shame in those (criminal) situations?

            • Aimai says:

              Oh, wait, is Dr. Finebottom Theo? I’m getting that logic chopping, head patting, vibe from all this. “You seem to be quite intelligent” is one of Theo’s bits.

            • Is it a bird? A plane? Superman?

              No, it’s just the goalposts shifting faster than the naked eye can see.

              It is legitimate to intervene if you witness a crime in progress. In most cases, the preferred intervention is calling the police; in some cases, such as when a person is attempting to harm another, it is justifiable to physically prevent that harm.

              The existence of immoral laws is irrelevant to that point, but for what it’s worth: it is wrong to personally enforce or support immoral laws.

            • Anonymous says:

              Should people shame in those (criminal) situations?

              You buried your own lede, but I understand now why. This is all to do with wanting to retain your right to “shame” people. You want to yell at people in public with impunity, and laugh and gawk at them. That’s your agenda.

        • wjts says:

          So you’re saying it’s never OK to burn down an orphanage? But what if all the orphans are clones of Hitler? And they’ve murdered all the staff, so it’s only Hitler clones inside? And they’re making more Hitler clones in the basement? And when they have a Hitler clone army, they’ll try to conquer the world? And their only weakness is fire?

        • Aimai says:

          What stepped pyramids said. But to the extent that you are responding to me here’s my response: SHOUTING AT PEOPLE IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE INTERVENTION. Anymore than turning around and slapping someone would be an appropriate intervention if they were striking a child.

          Its not worth taking a person like you seriously but let me do so for a moment. I’m actually quite likely to be the kind of person who would intervene with another person over bad parenting but there are several different choices you have to make when you decide to do so. 1) what is the issue here? Is the parent’s behavior lawful or unlawful? 2) Is it serious whether is is lawful or unlawful? 3) what is your relationship to the parent? are they strangers? Is there enough time to intervene? 4) Is the danger to the child such that instant intervention is necessary to prevent greater harm? 5) Are there other forms of intervention that can be tried first such as redirection (of the parent), conversation, support or help? YOu basically need to think through a lot of stuff before you intervene, even if you are arrogant enough (or the case is clear cut enough) that you think you ought to.

          Again: under no circumstances is a kind of shouty, self righteous, drive by harrassment of the person warranted.

          • Dr. Finebottom says:

            These points regarding context are all well-taken, but the point of that initial post was to ask for some sort of evenly-applicable standard beyond a subjective “I don’t like the behavior”. I think the “never okay” standard makes sense. I think the answer you appear to be giving, i.e. that simply no, everyone has to subjectively judge the context for themselves in the moment, makes sense too. I think neither are very satisfactory answers though, as the former prevents people from restricting bad behavior and social norms (which is bad when the norms are positive) and the latter makes it impossible to make guidelines or judge individual circumstances fairly.

            • Aimai says:

              Hel-lo! the “evenly applicable standard” would be: don’t intervene in another person’s day unless they are doing something illegal or obviously dangerous. Why would you need any other standard? And even so, even if you thought that the person was doing something dangerous to themeslf, Do you not get that there is a radical difference between leaning out the window and shouting “fat bitch” at a woman (even if you think that by doing so you might suddenly cause her to go on a successful diet and become a hollywood starlet) and shouting “hey, let me help you” and preventing a blind person from running out into oncoming traffic?

    • Karen says:

      There is never a good reason to scold anyone in public. You may stop your toddler from doing something. That’s it. Friends may engage in interventions in private and employers may counsel employees in private. That’s it

    • Shakezula says:

      I am so not shocked that JenKnob thinks throwing things at people is mild harassment.

      • Aimai says:

        I think Dr. SweetCheeks isn’t Jenbob. Different writing style. I think he/she/it is a new troll.

        • bspencer says:

          Dr. Finebottom may be my old troll. Well, I shouldn’t say “my.” He’s stalked several of the posters here.

          • Dr. Finebottom says:

            Nope. I’ve been commenting (very sparsely) here for about ten years. Perhaps my comments are totally off the wall today (I only jump in when I perceive some sort of inadequacy in what’s presented here anyways), so if it makes it easier for you to waive away a criticism by labeling the opposition a troll rather than arguing the point made, then by all means continue to do so.

            • Shakezula says:

              Thank goodness you didn’t start whimpering because no one will take seriously your Very Serious Attempts to Enlighten Us and Seriously Engage in Serious Debate.

              Because that’s something people associate with …

              Never mind.

          • Stalking... really? says:

            Maybe you’re just paranoid… you know… schizoid.

    • Ahuitzotl says:

      Obviously there are some things that should be publicly shamed

      Obviously? obviously??

  6. Anonymous says:

    Say what you want about Ted Kaczynski, but he was dead on when he wrote the following:

    The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.

    Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto- dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual white males from middle- to upper-middle-class families.

    Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals) or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not mean to suggest that women, Indians, etc. ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology.)

    He hit the nail on the head right there.

  7. Karen says:

    I was always thin, but after my sons were born I gained enough weight in my 40’s to be considered “borderline obese” by virtue of my BMI. I don’t eat much junk, I work out three times a week and am otherwise active, and I am very healthy according to things like blood chemistry and blood pressure, but unless I devote my life to it, I’m never going to be thin again. I don’t consider being thin by itself sufficient reason to completely upend my life. That said, damn if it isn’t inconvenient. I’m a size 14, which is the most common size for women in the US, butt apparently considered horrifying by higher-end makers like JCrew and Lilly Pulitzer. If capitalism really worked, those brands would ditch size 00 — always available on sale — and stock my size. The opposite is true. All the 00’s the tonier 5th grader could want and nothing for the majority of us. I remember what it’s like to have stores cater to my size, so this only makes me angry. I can’t imagine how disheartening it is for women who have always bend heavy.

    • Dr. Finebottom says:

      It’s a form of branding – these stores want their products being worn by thin people (i.e. attractive) so that their brand will be attractive. It’s sort of like how companies like Apple or Lexus market their brand to the rich (or at least middle-class) so that their product will be used by rich people and therefore appear desirable.

  8. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I’m pretty hefty as guys go but don’t get this treatment. I wonder if it’s aimed at women more (or even most?) often. And particularly aimed at women when men are not around.

    That is, cowards who shout insults from cars may yet still be more afraid of shouting them at a fat man than a fat woman.

    I also wonder if it’s a “New York” (or insert other region of choice, e.g. Chicagoans can be pretty insensitive) sort of thing as well.

  9. Concerned_Citizen says:

    On Paul’s addendum, “the person who looks with a critical eye into your shopping basket as they pass you in the grocery store.”

    Now this one I get. I also feel like the skinny cashiers give you the evil eye if you’ve got any snack food in-basket. I’ve taken to forcing one of my (skinny) kids to shop with me so as to have the implicit, “hey, it’s for the kids”…

    • Paul Campos says:

      The part that I find most enraging about that story is how she felt she needed to make clear to me that she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Because apparently if she were in a bathing suit or something it would partially excuse the men who terrorized her and her children for the crime of having the wrong sort of body.

    • Aimai says:

      I think the fact that you had to come back and add this shows that a lot of people are very well defended against acknowledging publicly the hostility that they get. Like it seems to have taken you a second to realize that you, too, have experienced a low level of this judgemental attitude at all times. I think this is pretty standard, actually–no one wants to admit to being “a victim.” Its better psychologically to believe that each incident is accidental, or a misunderstanding, or trivial. But if you have had this happen to you enough that you “bring along a kid” to avoid the implicit judgement imagine how bad it has to be for women to admit to outbursts of abuse from perfect strangers. Or maybe I mean how long it takes for women to admit that this is really so standard that they didn’t even feel able to object for a long time. Its only in telling our stories that we discover, as you did, that what seemed singular is in fact structural.

      • Concerned_Citizen says:

        “Like it seems to have taken you a second to realize that you, too, have experienced ”

        Actually I took a call between posts and intended both to be separate posts addressing separate aspects – one, I don’t get the verbal abuse (and suspect it’s more aimed at women); and two, I do get the non-verbal stuff Paul mentioned separately in his addendum.

  10. A complete aside unrelated to the topic: this is the first time I’ve been exposed to “storify” and I will just curmudgeoningly (it should be a word) say: holy fuck is a long stream of separate twittering the most annoying fucking way to tell a story. There are these cool things called “blogs” that are good for writing more than 140 characters. People should try them, they’re neat!

  11. JL says:

    I’m heavy enough to not be considered skinny anymore, but thin enough to avoid the worst of the harassment that people get.

    100% of the fat-related street harassment (which I only get a handful of times a year, because, like I said, still relatively privileged in this regard) that I get is while I’m exercising. Almost all of that is while I’m running, though it occasionally happens when I’m on a bike.

    The last incident was last week. I was out on a 4-mile run, and a middle-aged man walking in the other direction looked at me angrily and said “You’re too fat to jog.”

    But I hear from various people on the Internet that fat-shaming is really all about concern for people’s health!

    • bspencer says:

      “You’re too fat to jog.”

      Da fuq?

    • Aimai says:

      What amazes me (not really, but I like to approach thing with a Buddhist’s ‘child mind’) is the anger with which people look at fat people–like its an insult or an invasion for them to appear in public at all (in certain places or in certain modalities). Like I get that, culturally speaking, we valorize beauty and that people are often spoiled and act like everyone around them should be adding to their pleasure or get the fuck out but still–how do people go from feeling this hostility to actually saying this shit?

      • bspencer says:

        I think I just am baffled by the hostility. Not everyone does it for me looks wise. Sometimes it’s because a person is too fat. Too thin. Too angular. Too muscular. Too whatever. But other people simply LOOKING LIKE THEY LOOK does not make me feel butthurt.

      • Lee Rudolph says:

        how do people go from feeling this hostility to actually saying this shit?

        Presumably it’s like how Moral Hazard goes from feeling the desire to lick his balls to actually licking them—because he can. If so, then the question becomes, what is it in a person’s circumstances that allows, or facilitates, or even encourages overt verbal expressions (or non-verbal ones, like thrown bottles) of covert, felt hostility? Sometimes (as various posters have noted) being “safely” in a car seems to be a factor. Always (apparently) relatively privileged status appears to be a factor (often coupled, I’d guess, with some serious anxieties about the security of that status). “Assholishness” is too essentialist to be a useful answer.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          “Assholishness” is too essentialist to be a useful answer.

          Yep – and that’s the problem with “Some people are just assholes” as an explanation for any kind of kicking-down behavior. It’s not untrue, technically speaking, but it’s a defeatist way of looking at the problem.

      • Karen says:

        If i got angry at everyone who falls below my standard for appearance I would have died of a coronary before Reagan left office. Some people are more attractive than others. Some people have horrible taste or wear things that aren’t appropriate to the weather or context or are just plain ugly. (Uggs and shorts MUST DIE, like, last week.) I don’t have to like it, but I shouldn’t expect anyone else to conform to my standard, either, and I shouldn’t get upset because some people don’t.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        how do people go from feeling this hostility to actually saying this shit?

        “I fail to meet the media’s standards of physical perfection… but hey, there’s someone else who’s even further from the ideal; if I kick down at her, that will push me upwards!”

      • Origami Isopod says:

        There was this tweet a year or two ago by a young woman who complained of her eyes being “assaulted” by “fatties and uggos” every time she went outdoors.

    • wengler says:

      It sounds like you met a real-life troll.

  12. Anonymous says:

    She could have had the body of a goddess, those assholes would have simply thrown the bottle and said “go back inside where you belong you fucking bitch.” they were assholes looking for trouble, specifically a target for their empty bottle and a person to insult/aggravate, so they can think about something other than the fact that they really have nothing better to do with their lives than ride around and get drunk and throw bottles at people. K.

  13. Denverite says:

    I have to admit that my instinct would be to say “hey, I’ve never seen any insults or the like directed at fat people,” except Mrs. Denverite’s mother was fat, and the horror stories she (Mrs. Denverite) tells about the abuse her mother got — and even Mrs. Denverite got being her child — are jaw-dropping.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This story Ms. Spencer has offered up is not evidence that anyone out there is harassing fat people or trying to publicly shame them.

    It’s all just so stupid

  15. grouchomarxist says:

    This asshole-ry doesn’t come out of nowhere.

    Fat-shaming is implicitly encouraged in our society. All you have to do is look at commercial media to see the frequently-reinforced message that if you’re fat — apparently defined as “Any BMI greater than Gwyneth Paltrow’s” — there’s something wrong with you. You’re obviously both lazy and gluttonous.

    It’s not just a matter of aesthetics, but the smug satisfaction people get from telling others they’re doing something that’s bad for them.

    • Denverite says:

      Vaguely apropos of the BMI, I recently went through a minor health scare — early hypertension. (I’m consistently at 150/100, which concerned the doctor because I’m otherwise very healthy — late 30s, 5’9″/160, run 6-7 miles a day at 7:00/mile pace, don’t smoke, eat reasonably healthy, etc.)

      Anyway, we tried to lower the BP without medication for a month (successful, but not enough, so I get to take an ARB the rest of my life!). Anyway, I read that losing 10-15 pounds could lower BP. I asked if I should try it — I was already cutting a ton of calories on a low salt/no alcohol diet, so I figured I’d just boost my mileage a bit. She strongly recommended against it. She said that even losing 10-15 pounds would put me in the lower end of the “normal” BMI classification, which apparently is linked to all sorts of poor health outcomes (vis-a-vis the high end of the “normal” and the “overweight” and “obese” ranges).

      • Sherm says:

        Vaguely apropos of the BMI, I recently went through a minor health scare — early hypertension. (I’m consistently at 150/100, which concerned the doctor because I’m otherwise very healthy — late 30s, 5’9″/160, run 6-7 miles a day at 7:00/mile pace, don’t smoke, eat reasonably healthy, etc.)

        That really sucks. I’m mid 40s, 6’0″ 190, run 30-35 miles per week (plus two days cross-training), don’t smoke, and I eat extremely healthy. I’m in the pre-hypertension range, and I can’t get it down any further. Don’t need meds yet, but it really blows to know that I will someday despite my best efforts.

        • Denverite says:

          Yeah, cutting all alcohol and eating less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily reduced the blood pressure to around 140/90 (I was probably averaging 138/92, taking it several times a day). The doc said that the bottom number alone was bad enough to warrant medication, and that’s assuming I’d continue the massively restrictive lifestyle (which I definitely didn’t want to do).

          Anyway, it’s ultimately not surprising. I have a family history of BP and heart problems — my dad was on BP medication in his mid 40s, and his dad died of a series of heart attacks in his mid-to-late 50s that were likely BP-related. The good news is that if I’m like my dad at all, a low dose ARB will work without noticeable side effects. The bad news is that means a pill a day from here on, plus semi-annual blood tests.

          • Sherm says:

            Alcohol and caffeine are my only remaining vices, and I’m not willing to give either up.

            • Aimai says:

              I’ve just given up caffiene. I decided to do it prophylactically before I had to give it up for a procedure and then suffer the headaches. I weaned myself off it by lowering the caffiene component of my morning pot of coffee until I was full on decaf, no headaches. I don’t miss it at all, actually–just maybe the romance of it. And it was giving me other side effects so I never went back on it.

              • Origami Isopod says:

                I love coffee and tea, but they don’t love me back anymore. SSRIs inhibit the enzyme that metabolizes caffeine, so the jitters, stomach upset, and insomnia are stronger and can last into the night.

      • Concerned_Citizen says:

        What about caffeine and BP? I have no impact on my BP from eating anywhere from almost no added or included salt to indulging in mounds of it.

        But when I discontinued caffeine my diastole dropped from generally right at 100 back to the low 80’s (admittedly, I drank way too much at the time – on the order of 2 litres of very strong coffee daily).

        (Unlike you, though, I could also drop 70 pounds or so, which would also probably help the BP)

        • Denverite says:

          Hmm. You’re the second person to suggest that. I don’t drink THAT much coffee — two mugs/cups a day (so what, 24 ounces?). But I haven’t started the meds yet, so maybe I’ll wean myself off of caffeine and see what happens.

          • Concerned_Citizen says:

            Good luck, hope it helps. I’ve also known at least two people whose HTN was strongly influenced by life stress and for whom a few shots of hypnotherapy reduced the stress and the BP. One, a close friend, was on meds at the time and still uncontrolled and he was able to get off the meds within weeks of the therapy.

            I also know at least two people – sister and mother of the close friend mentioned above, who both also were not well controlled despite meds, for whom the same treatment did nothing, so far as they could tell.

      • Karen says:

        Three years ago my doctor put me on cholesterol meds and antidepressants. I gained 20 pounds in ten weeks and my liver swelled up. (That’s when I went from a size 12 to a 14). He hasn’t scolded me a bout my weight since then though.

  16. Amused says:

    I know I’m probably going to get tons of hate mail for this, but for what it’s worth:

    Thin women are shamed plenty, as well. It’s quite common — fashionable even — to suggest that skinny women aren’t real women. I hear it quite often. Skinny women’s eating choices are likewise scrutinized and disparaged, and it’s common to hear it reflexively suggested that if a woman is skinny, she must me anorexic and/or neurotic is par for the course. Women who are not “naturally” skinny are shamed for doing what they have to do to keep thin; the idea that if you can’t simultaneously be size 2 and eat like a sumo wrestler, you are a failure.

    I’ve had issues with weight for years. Last year, I lost an enormous amount of weight through diet and exercise. You know? I never felt judged until the pounds started coming off.

    “What do you eat, like, nothing?”
    “Do you spend all your free time on a stairmaster? When do you live?”
    “Gee, you are making all of us feel bad for ordering real food.”
    “How can you just eat grass?”

    These are some of the comments I hear regularly. It’s not explicitly hostile, and I’m sure these are meant as friendly jabs most of the time, but it does annoy me that now all of a sudden, people feel free to comment on what I eat and how I spend my free time.

    I was barely 20 lbs into my weight loss and still clearly obese when co-workers and casual acquaintances began to express doubt whether losing weight was “healthy” and encouraging me to stop. (By the way, this is one of those phenomena that make losing weight so extraordinarily hard — people straight-up discourage you.) Of course, you can allow for the possibility that they were genuinely concerned for my health because of something I’m omitting here. But you know what? All those years I spent eating giant burritos and pastas in cream sauce, no one has ever remarked to me: “Do you think maybe you should stop eating so much? You are curvy enough. Why don’t you order a garden salad instead?” I’m not saying people SHOULD have said that to me. What I’m saying is that this unsolicited “concern” about someone’s health seems to run only one way, at least in my experience. If you are on a diet and exercise plan, people feel free to tell you scary stories about weight-loss-related medical problems; if you are eating a zillion calories a day, bringing up obesity-related health problems is a no-no.

    • Aimai says:

      I think that comparisons between US attitudes towards fat and towards other categories of identity (being female, black or being gay) are substantially influenced by the fact that lots of people have the experience (or the belief that they could have the experience) of moving in and out of the despised category. And lots of people feel that they are in a monitoring or controlling role vis a vis the person they are interacting with–like parents, grandparents, teachers, and doctors do with children, adolescents, and women.

      So a lot depends on the people around you–do they identify as closet fat people? Or are the righteously always in thin mode? Do they look at you and project on to you their own self going up, or going down the scale? Do they know you well, or are they comparative strangers? That is going to factor into their interactions as well. Sometimes people who are close to us have made a pact with themselves to like you just the way you first appeared to them and they can be disturbed by changes to your appearance or health even if, in the abstract, they would think them positive.

      The other thing I’d like to say is that female bodies create moral panic at the best of times–people seem to see themselves as consuming or owning our bodies much more than they do male bodies. They see themselves as having a right to a certain kind of experience of our bodies (pleasurable) and therefore unhappy when our bodies or our treatment of our bodies does not give them pleasure. Slovenly/fat women are seen as wrongfully indifferent to this natural desire by strangers and friends to be pleased by their bodies. While work out queens who are dieting their way to perfection can form another kind of challenge to the relationship by making friends and strangers uncomfortable because the effort expending and the discipline serve as a challenge to the viewer’s own complaisance.

    • Anna in PDX says:

      My naturally very skinny sister, who has a very atypical metabolism, has been bothered by random strangers a lot in her life. She eats differently than other people and has some particular health issues, but this is just her body and the way it is. However, I think this does not invalidate the vast amount of judgemental hostility that fat people get, at all. If anything it is just another data point proving that people are conditioned by our sicko marketing to think it is OK to bother random strangers who don’t fit some ideal conception of how people’s bodies should be, particularly women’s.

      • Aimai says:

        Yeah. This. People feel very free to talk at some kinds of people, especially teenagers and women, when they don’t conform to whatever. Ever since the raised profile of Anorexia, post Karen Carpenter’s death, it has been possible (in a social sense) to be too skinny, though not too rich. The main thing is that people are just incredibly judgmental about women’s bodies. With adolescents I often think its a kind of misplaced and rather horrifying paternalism which can be applied to boys as much as to girls. But with adult women? Its always hostile.

    • Rob in CT says:

      “What do you eat, like, nothing?”
      “Do you spend all your free time on a stairmaster? When do you live?”
      “Gee, you are making all of us feel bad for ordering real food.”
      “How can you just eat grass?”

      I think I get where these come from. Before I started watching what I ate, I had not-quite-so-hostile-but-similar thoughts (which I kept to myself most of the time) when a thin work friend would go on and on about how full she was after eating what appeared to me to be some tiny amount of food (she’s also SUPER judgmental about fat. Not cool, and I do try and push back from time to time). This is not perfectly analogous, but hang on.

      It’s basically jealousy – not at your looks, but your willpower and their lack of it. They know they should eat better (most of us should, not just b/c of weight), but don’t want to and mostly fail to. Simply by existing and making what they think/know deep down are better choices, you are shaming them. It’s all in their heads, basically.

      My experience has been very different. Maybe ’cause I’m a guy, maybe because the people I’m around are just different. I dunno. But the only remarks I’ve gotten, having lost 25lbs, have been positive. Some are curious how I’ve done it. Others just say way to go. I’ve *never* had anyone even hint that I ought to stop.

    • Shakezula says:

      What you’re witnessing there is the fact many people think women have less (or no) body autonomy and so anyone can comment or criticize one whenever the mood strikes.

      Naturally any changes are going to occasion comments from these dummies, because you didn’t get their permission to make alterations on yourself. This is another problem and obnoxious one, but it doesn’t rise to the level of violent behavior.

    • Is it hate mail to point out that if you’re getting judgmental comments about your diet and size, you may be hanging around with assholes?

      Seriously, though, is it possible that this is a kind of diet/fat talking that you participated in at your old weight? Or just didn’t hear?

      Because if literally no one has ever mentioned anyone’s weight or food choices in your workplace or circle of friends until you began a diet that has taken your size down a notch, I’d be incredibly surprised. I’d even bet a small sum that you participated in the judgment circle knowing nothing about you other than ‘when I was clearly still obese’ & ‘through diet & exercise’; ‘doing what they have to do to keep thin’ was a hint too.

      It seems far more likely that the ‘bad food’, ‘shouldn’t eat this’, I’m so fat’ smack-talking that is inexplicably a norm in some workplaces was always there, and you’ve crossed a divide by behaving as if all that chatter had actual meaning for you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Yes, other annon. poster, this is an actual problem in our society. Ive had drinks tossed at me out of moving cars just for walking and being slightly overweight. These days, fat people are about the only fair game left. You can’t makes fun of crazy people, black people, gay people, handicapped people, or mentally challenged people anymore, so naturally, those who need to put down others to raise themselves move on down the food chain. The thought is that this is justified because you are concerned about their health, and they can do something about being fat. This is not always the case. Personally, i tend to reach a point where when im working out, i look like I’ve dropped 50 pounds, but muscle replaces the loss and I actually gain weight. If i sent a full body shot and had people guess my weight, nobody would go over 230 unless prompted, and most guesses would be around the 200 mark, but I weigh 300, and when i work out i end up gaining pounds and losing inches. Eventually i reach a plateau and can’t lose anymore inches, and the weight still stays around 300. Normally this would be a great problem to have. I can outsprint people a third of my weight, and kick an average height man in the face with my other foot planted, but the whole point of my even starting to work out is to take the weight off my knees before im an old man and the shit never comes off. K.

    • Aimai says:

      Its wrong to argue that you “can’t make fun of the homeless or the mentally ill” I think the evidence is that both those groups still come in for a massive amount of everyday insult and physical hazard. Its just that they are not well represented on this blog at this moment. But I’d never say that it is less dangerous to be homeless or mentally ill (or both) because my guess is that those kinds of people are treated even more harshly than other groups by both random citizens and the police.

    • Theo says:

      “You can’t makes fun of crazy people, black people, gay people, handicapped people, or mentally challenged people anymore, so naturally, those who need to put down others to raise themselves move on down the food chain.”

      Wouldn’t it be “up” the food chain?

  18. NorthLeft12 says:

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of cruel, insensitive, obnoxious jerks out there. Hearing and reading stories about how violent and cruel people are is shocking to say the least. It is even more depressing to read some of these and recognize a little of yourself and family/friends in them as both victims and assailants.

    • MPAVictoria says:

      “It is even more depressing to read some of these and recognize a little of yourself and family/friends in them as both victims and assailants.”

      Man you ain’t wrong.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Salman Rusdie has a new book out this month.

    It’s called “BUDDHA, YOU FAT FUCK”

  20. Medicine Man says:

    I have an opposing problem right now. I started doing a low carb diet last October and just in the last month developed some pretty harsh digestive problems. As a consequence, I cannot eat that much food. If I have too much in one sitting or too many carbs or sugar I get clobbered with cruel gas bloating (deep in the abdomen), acid reflux, and something almost like asthma. I dropped eight pounds in a week and a half, plunging below my target weight. People keep complimenting me on my weight though, which feels pretty fucked up because I am pretty ill half of the time.

    • Theo says:

      Low carb is great, but you try tapeworms if you really want praise.

    • Karen says:

      Several chemo patients I know have told me that when they first started treatment, before their hair fell out and they started looking really frail, that they got tons of compliments on their weight loss from near strangers.

      • ProfDamatu says:

        I experienced something like that when I dropped about 15 pounds over last summer (from stepping up my 5k training, though it was definitely a point of discussion with my oncologist when I got dx’d with lymphoma in September as to what caused it), which I mostly enjoyed…but I was *really* glad that the chemo I had last fall didn’t make me lose any more weight, because further compliments about it would definitely have been hard to take.

      • cat butler says:

        My mother’s major gripe about her lung cancer and chemo has been her lack of weight loss.
        I shit you not.

    • Shakezula says:

      I’ve been through that twice since adolescence (once dropping 15 lbs in less than a week after emergency surgery) and it is fricking deranged, isn’t it?

      I will say based on my experience it also doesn’t matter what else about your appearance changes. For example being ill can do not good things for your skin tone and the way you carry yourself. Sudden weight loss can also leave you looking deflated (flabby). But provided you’re thinner, some weirdo will gush about how great you look.

      Also, am I the only one who learned that it is not polite to comment on changes to a person’s weight? If you know them really really really well and know what you say won’t offend them, it can be OK, but otherwise, shut your face? I’m not saying Kids Today, because that isn’t it. Maybe I’m thinking of asking when a woman is due.

  21. Medicine Man says:

    More on topic, regarding people and their random, judgmental cruelty: I find a certain amount of disdain for humanity is comforting in those situations. I call it my “people have shit for brains”-defense.

    99% of the time the type of asshole who drives by and insults you either doesn’t know why he does what he does or is trying to render himself oblivious to the reason(s). Oh they may be able to articulate some kind of rationale but invariably their reasons will either be entirely external, based on false concern, or simply bullshit (or all three). Functionally this makes those types of hecklers no better than a barking dog, or perhaps worse than one when you consider they don’t have the excuse an actual dog has.

  22. Rhino says:

    In my experience it doesn’t matter who the fuck you are, what the fuck you look like, of where the fuck you are, the ‘young guys who drive trucks’ will find something to yell about and someone to throw their bottles at.

    Fat people are not special in this. Neither are women, or people of colour. All you need to do, to attract this kind of behaviour is to a) exist and b) exist within bottle throwing range of these assholes.

    It happens to fat women, to skinny women, to fat men, to skinny men, it’s happened to me at last three times a year while riding a bike.

    Some people are just cruel evil shits seeking a target. Fat has nothing to do with it. They will just find something else to attack.

    • Rhino says:

      “At LEAST three times a year…”

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      the ‘young guys who drive trucks’ will find something to yell about and someone to throw their bottles at.
      Now they have Youtube comment threads too.

    • rm says:

      I would guess it’s because you were riding a bike. There is a lot of cyclist hatred out there.

      While it’s true that random assholes are what they are, it is not true that everyone is targeted equally.

      • Brownian says:

        While it’s true that random assholes are what they are, it is not true that everyone is targeted equally.

        Yep. Pretty much the only time I’ve ever been yelled at by assholes in trucks has been when I’m on my bike. The rest of the time, I’m free to walk relatively unmolested in my straight, white, male, mesomorph privilege.

        • Rhino says:

          Well. As a straight, white, mesomorph male I get yelled at by passing yahoos at least once a month. Let’s see what might trigger this.

          Standing on a street corner, holding a lunchbox and a hard hat? Yep, that does it.

          Riding a bike? Yep that does it.

          Washing my car in front of my house while wearing blue jeans? Yep that did it.

          They are idiots. The common factor in these incidents is not fat people, it’s the idiots.

  23. Ajaye says:

    I have plenty of experience at both ends of the weight spectrum and I will say that it is much easier to be considered too thin than being considered too fat. I just have to laugh about thin victimhood because it is like the women who complain about being too beautiful. Yeah, right. My heart bleeds for you. Try the alternative!

    As a female, of course my appearance is always cause for unwelcome comments, but being a young fat woman can be particularly difficult. I’ve been verbally assaulted on many occasion with reference to my weight. Yeah people also made comments when I lost a lot of weight and some of the comments were cattyish but the difference is this: I relished being thin, felt proud of my thinness (even tho I got thin through illness, not will power) and got so much positive attention that I considered the occasional negative responses to my thinness were well out numbered by positive reactions. When you are fat, you already struggle with shame, so negative comments trigger shame that is already present. You do not conform to the standard, so you get much more hostility. My dh has also had perfect strangers make disparaging comments on his weight. It just is not cool. Fat folks already KNOW that they are fat. Obviously it is damned difficult to lose weight and keep it off otherwise much fewer people would be fat. Bottom line though: fat shaming is one of the last bastions of socially acceptable prejudice and cruelty.

    Gotta say though, age improves the situation. Now I am simply dismissed right off the bat as too old before they get to my weight. People basically leave me alone now. Maybe also because the older I get the stronger I become in my dedication to not taking shit from anybody about anything and I radiate that attitude.

  24. cat butler says:

    I have seen both sides of this. I weigh considerably less than I did several years ago* and I am astounded at how much better I am treated by other people now. No ugly stares, no nasty comments, just sweetness and light from everyone I come into contact with.
    I could certainly live without the patronizing ‘oh how amazing,’ ‘you must feel so much better’ and ‘good for you’ comments I universally get when people hear about it or see me after a long absence (you can’t believe how happy I was to finally get a new driver’s license so I wouldn’t have to talk about it anymore at the airport or at hotels) as if I were some sort of horrible creature before and could finally live now that I wasn’t so damned fat. Being somewhat cranky and snarky by nature I do tell people sometimes that no, it isn’t some miracle cure to the rest of life and that while people are nicer to me now I don’t really feel all that different.
    I experienced exactly what was being talked about here in a million different ways, but now that I’m ‘human’ (in those eyes) I no longer get treated like a circus sideshow or a contemptible degenerate (I still hate eating in public though).
    *For the record: I am not looking for congratulations. I found out I was diabetic and my lack of mental balance has enabled my weight loss. I don’t think everyone could or should even try to lose a lot of weight. Nor do I think it will even work most of the time. I don’t necessarily feel better and the weight loss has brought a host of issues all its own. I was pretty happy before and in some ways have returned to a state of obsessive, fearful living I thought I had worked past. On the plus side my diabetes is far less likely to take my feet or eyes away from me.
    Sorry about the novel.

  25. […] Paul Campos relates a story a fat woman told […]

  26. Tommy Deelite says:

    My favorite are skinny-fat folks who will criticize informed eating decisions yet are fond of vicious mockery of ‘heavies’ that pass their judgmental glare.

    They’re almost invariably the types who consider running the sole true exercise, body-composition research be damned.

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