the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Fat People


I’ve written a number of posts about women’s weight issues, from an early post about looking for a size 14 at the Beverly Center to an inane post about Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie which still gets comments from crazed, anorexic teenagers.

It probably doesn’t make much sense why this issue interests me so much.  I’m not a woman and I’m not overweight.  I think what bothers me the most is the way being overweight is being demonized in our society — for both men and women, and “fat” has become a code word for something more than just weight, with meanings now associated with class and social standing.

This might sound weird to you, but I’m sure part of my sensitivity to a singled-out group comes from being Jewish.  I feel lucky to have grown up in New York City, where being Jewish is so common that even the Puerto Rican bus driver who took us to school knew when Yom Kippur was coming up.  While there were some tensions between blacks and Jews in my public schools, I never experienced traditional “anti-semitism.”  It wasn’t until I went to college and met Jews from other parts of the country, that I learned that the word “Jew” could be used as a dirty word.  Some synagogues in the South even used the word “Hebrews” so as not to appear too “Jewish.” 

I learned about “jewing down” the price, with its negative connotations of cheapness and unscrupulous behavior.   Was my mother “jewing down” all these years?  After all, my mother’s whole shopping strategy was to “shop for the bargains.”  I always thought that was what you were supposed to do!  But then I learned that wealthier “Manhattan” Jews went  to the more expensive stores to buy the products at higher prices — so they can look less Jewish!  After all, if the non-Jews are too dumb to look for the bargains, then we should become dumb, too.  But this never really worked, because then buying at the better store became the Jewish thing to do, so it undermined the whole reason for shopping there in the first place.  Luckily, things have changed, and now everyone is like my Jewish mother from Queens, shopping to save ten bucks on a digital camera (with free shipping!).  (note to Arab media:  does this mean is a Zionist tool?)

I remember having a Jewish friend from Louisville in college and he was so obsessed about not being seen as a “cheap Jew,” that he would scold me if I picked up a “lucky penny” off the street. 

I don’t need to go into a history lesson about how Jews have been demonized throughout history.  You still see those images of beady-eyed Jews with hooked noses in Arab newspapers.   It’s the dehumanization of a people that makes it easier to exterminate a group or blow up a bus.

Not that Jews don’t have their own bigotries.  I’ve always been a bit of a snot-nosed kid on this subject of bigotry — always on a crusade.   I remember when my uncle would come visit, he would always used the word “schvatza” when talking about blacks.  (schvatza simply means black in Yiddish, as does the name Schwartz (like Schwartzenneger.  It doesn’t really have any negative connotations to it — it means black — but when Jews say it, they usually say it with a negative spin, meaning “ghetto blacks.”   When my uncle would say this, I would leave the table, angrily saying, “I will not listen to any of this racism!”   In retrospect, if I met a kid like me today, I would find him a humorless prig.

Now what does all this about Jews and blacks have to do with “overweight” people? 

I think the association started when I was listening to this song from one of my favorite artists, Ben Folds.   While reading the lyrics, think about how the imagery of “fat” people is used symbolically to represent everything that is wrong with our American consumer culture.

All U Can Eat (They Give No Fuck)
by Ben Folds

Son, look at all the people/In this restaurant
What do you think they weigh?
And out the window/To the parking lot
At their SUVs taking all of this space

They give no fuck/They talk as loud as they want
They give no fuck/Just as long as there’s enough

For them

Gonna get on the microphone/Down at Wal-Mart
Talk about some shit/That’s been on my mind
Talk about the state/Of this great nation of ours
People look to your left/Yeah and look to your right

They give no fuck/They buy as much as they would want
They give no fuck/Just as long as there’s enough

For them

Son, look at the people/Lining up for plastic
Wouldn’t you like to see ’em/In the National Geographic
Squating bare-assed in the dirt/Eating rice from a bowl
With a towel on their head and/Maybe a bone in their nose

See that asshole/With a peace sign on his license plate
Giving me the finger and/Running me out of his lane
God made us number one/’Cause he loves us the best
But he should go bless/Someone else for a while
And give us a rest

(They give no)Yeah and everyone can see
(They give no)We’ve eaten all that we can eat

Fat people = all you can eat = SUVs = Walmart

Now, I actually agree with Ben Folds about our culture of overconsumption.   But I don’t feel comfortable singling out larger-sized people to make the point.  Poetry can be used for harm as much as for beauty. 

I can hear the twelve year old kid in me asking the questions…

“Do you mean that skinny people never go to all-you-can-eat buffets?  Or that skinny people don’t own SUVs?  Isn’t it a fact that most rich people are actually thin — and they are the ones who are most benefiting from our society.  Isn’t it an easy target to use the fat Midwesterner as the symbol of the ugly American?”

Am I being a snot-nosed prig again? 

Recently I saw some reformed racist on Oprah explaining to her that “nigger” isn’t that bad of a word; he would never think of Oprah as a “nigger.”  And I’m sure there are people who still use the expression “jew down.” 

Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s so wrong with demonizing fat people, just like we’ve successfully demonized smokers?  Maybe it will force them to change.  We do have an overweight country.  And being fat is not healthy.”

But do we really want to shun those who are full-figured in the same way we force smokers out of the restaurant?   Why do so many women, for example, avoid “hanging out” with an overweight girlfriend?   Are they afraid that getting fat is catching?   And isn’t the very fact that I’m using the word “overweight” a sign of my own brainwashing by society?  By whose standard is someone overweight?  Am I talking about someone 400 pounds or a woman who is size 12?

Have you read about this poll done by Fitness Magazine?

“More than half of Americans say they’d rather lose their jobs than get fat.

Fifty-eight percent of women and 54% of men say they’d rather be unemployed than gain 75 pounds. And 63% of women and 55% of men say they’d rather be poor with no extra pounds to lose than rich and substantially overweight.

75% of men and 80% of women say they wouldn’t give up 20 intelligence-quotient points to gain the perfect body.”

Clearly, there is a large percentage of the population that fears being fat more than being poor  (I doubt these respondents were ever poor).  Being poor has some coolness to it  — songwriters write about it all the time.  But being fat is “shameful.”  And I’m sure there are many intelligent, liberal-minded, perfectly politically-correct people out there who would never think of saying anything bigoted against Jews, blacks, gays, Muslims, etc. — but who see no problem at all singing along with Ben Folds:

“Son, look at all the people/In this restaurant
What do you think they weigh?” 


  1. Fitèna

    This is truly a great post Neil. I can relate to the main issue which is FAT and to the black-jew-related issues.
    It used to anger me wneh called “African”. Not that am not proud of being me but the way it is said used to hurt me cause it sounded more like and insult than anything else. It used to puzzle me too. I mean, Mauritius is considered an african country and why when in a fight I’d be called “african”, I couldn’t comprehend. Now it makes me smile. The image the islanders here have of my african is so skewed and distorted by what the media chooses to show them that I pity them for having no idea what it’s like. That is in regard to where I come from. Because there is something else.
    Mauriatian muslims are all indian descendants. I believe the narrow mindness make them think that all muslims hae long straight hair and have this asian complexion about them. Even today am still asked how I came to convert, as if I did! They’re amazed I speak arabic fluently. No use explaining that its because my mother is Sudanese.
    No later than last week, thursday, the issue on the french show ça se discute was dieting, its dangers etc… I was tottally shocked to hear this 25 years old say that there’s this side called “pro anon” (pro anorexia) where they chat and write about how beautiful it is to have your bones sticking and jutting out! A mother whose daughter died at the young agae of 19 because she’d been dieting restrictively because she’d been called FAT at her work was sitting there and looking at this skinny skinny girl shaking her head, unable to talk!
    I guess the point is not to fall into extremes.


  2. bella

    So neil, tell us what’s really on your mind!

    I remember elementary school and kids saying “JAP. She’s a JAP.” A Jewish American Princess. Not Japanese for us. Course I had no clue what that even meant then. Truthfully I still don’t.

    As for weight – I look skinny, I weigh 130, I am healthy, and I get goaded all the time because I work out. “You’re so skinny, girl, what do you need to jog for? Here eat a donut.” But according to most BMI stats, I am overweight and should check myself into Eater’s Anon. right now.

    What always gets me though is the hyper hypocritical Christains. The people who go to church every Sunday, in their best, and to luch right after. The people who pray and say love thy neighbor. And then go home, ignoring the homeless man on the corner, pushing lawsuits on their neighbor for a tree on the property line, molesting children, or making the rude comments about someone because they are Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Arabic, Indian, Black… anyone different than them. That is why I quit being a Christian, if that’s what it was all about, then I don’t want to be that. I’d rather pray and praise my own way, stop and give my lunch to the homeless man, water the tree, and make new friends.

    But that’s just my side.

  3. mrsmogul

    Does your mom live in Forest Hills by chance? I grew up in a jewish neighborhood in Queens and know EVERYTHING ABOUT THE HOLIDAYS etc! even had a jewish boyfriend (though he was adopted by jewish, his biological parents weren’t) Anyway, what am I saying here? LOL…my parents are really into saying what prices are…it’s in the old generation’s blood.

  4. lizardek

    Excellent post, and food (non-caloric even!) for thought.

  5. justrun

    Just like when I was younger and growing up in a Catholic family, there are stereotypes depending on the region. My weight now is healthy in Colorado, overweight in Los Angeles (yes, I even had someone tell me so) and “too skinny” in Georgia (yes, I had several people tell me so).

    In these same states, coming from a Catholic family (though not a Catholic myself) I was either A) normal, B) going to have lots of children or C) odd because “those Catholics are too quiet in church.”

    I think it has a lot to do with region. We are really good at building these silos when it comes to differences that no one really wants to talk about.

  6. Bre

    Excellent post, Neil! I think one of the biggest problems here is that people are absolutely terrified of standing out as “different” from the norm. And they should be, really, because people who sacrifice those 20 IQ points for a flawless body wouldn’t be able to get by on anything other than that body.

    It seems, at times, that we’re trying to craft ourselves into a perfect nation… but there are some “flaws” in the way. We, as a whole, can’t change things like race, heritage, or orientation, so we strive to make sure everyone is fit and attractive. It should be easy, right? Smokers can just quit and fat people can just loose weight! What’s the big deal, right?

  7. He's Dead, Jim!

    In my work I see many terribly overweight people. Good people. Smart people.

    Just last week a young girl (17) came to my office complaining of knee pain. She was 5’4″ and weighed 385 pounds. When these folks come to see me, they all have the same guilty look on their faces. They are clearly anxious that I am going to “yell” at them for being fat.

    Instead, I speak to them just as I would any patient. I discuss the risk factors for arthritis, one of which is carrying extra weight. “We put 6-10 times our body weight across our knee joint with each step,” I’ll say. “For you, that’s almost 4000 pounds per step. No wonder your knees hurt.”

    Then I’ll go over their health history. High blood pressure? Early Diabetes? Problems with circulation? Asthma? All can be weight-related.

    Then, I ask them how I can help them get rid of some of that weight. Some are in line for bariatric surgery (gastric bypass, which is a MAJOR surgery, for instance). These folks need to meet with nutritionists, surgeons and psychiatrists before being considred for those procedures. And the surgery is not without risk.

    These folks don’t want to be fat. They don’t know how NOT to be fat. It’s amazing the relief that washes over their faces when they realize that their doctor can be an advocate.

    I urge you all to make an extra effort to smile at or say something kind to an overweight person today. You’ll make their day and you might just make a good friend.

  8. The Retropolitan

    I’m sure there’s a post about atheism or mental health in this one, but I’m too tired to write it.

  9. Sarah

    LOVE this post. Thank you.

  10. stephanie

    Not much more to add, since it seems to have been said already.

    Excellent insight Neil.

  11. Rabbit

    One of my co-workers threw a party last summer for her friends from work. Most of us brought boyfriends and guy friends. I found it extremely interesting that our intelligent, outgoing, fun and funny hostess was labeled as “not my type” by the single guys because she is “heavy” (yet well proportioned and beautiful). Instead, the men were all attracted to the skinny, tanned blonde girl (who, as much as I love her, had a constantly confused expression and kept trying to open her Coronas with the wrong end of the bottle opener).

  12. scott

    It’s an interesting topic. In my experience there is certainly and obviously a correlation between fat people and all-you-can-eat restaurants. There is not, however, a correlation between all-you-can-eat restaurants and fat people. It’s a one-way correlation. Why? Because even though most fat people eat at all-you-can-eat restaurants, Chinese food is often all-you-can-eat but lots of Chinese people are starving.

    There may also be a correlation between fat people and Walmart.

    In North Texas, however, there is not a correlation between fat people and consumerism. It’s the little, skinny, pill-trading soccer moms (how’s that for hate speech) that drive SUVs and epitomize consumerism around here.

    In the end, however, we can easily get rid of the fat people if we need to. Where are they going to hide? You’ve heard the expression “You can run but you can’t hide?” They can’t even run. As long as we stay far enough away that they can’t eat us, we can easily take them down.

    (I are one, so I can joke like this.)

    Hello, Neil.

  13. M.A.

    Interesting post, Neil.

  14. Heather

    Splendid, dear. Our minds are in cahoots on this. Devil’s advocate I must always be, though. In defense of Mr. Folds’ lyrics, I think he was going for something a little more symbolic in his imagery. As a buxom size 14, I’m not offended by his words at all. I see them for what they are; a commentary on the gluttony that is prevelant in our American culture.

    Still, I for one would rather err on the side of compassion. Living in OC, I know what it feels like to be in a room of size 2 women and wishing that I could just blend into the wallpaper. Most days, I dig being me, but every once in a while…..

  15. AWE

    I didn’t know what “Jew Down” was until I got older. When I was a kid and my grandfather would take me to a flea market where I would hear the term. I had no idea that it was defaming.

    I could start a fight about the “Fat” thing. I used to be overweight until I learned that you could eat healthy foods and exercise. There is no excuse for not trying to eat/live healthy. But that is another subject.

  16. Scarlet

    This post made my lack of breakfast even more difficult.

    I agree with that poll though. At this point in my life I think it would be easier to find a new job than lose 75 pounds.

  17. Tracy Lynn

    Great post. What I think some people don’t realize is that it is WAY more expensive to eat healthy than it is to eat junk. I found that out when I had to change my diet for dialysis. Fresh food, vegetables, all more expensive than processed foods and quick meals.

    And what’s with the giant portions?

  18. Edgy Mama

    Wow. I’m trying to figure out how to respond without stepping on a land mine.

    Although you’ve done a wonderful job with some very touchy subjects here, Neil.

  19. Nelumbo

    Good post Neil.

    I work with girls in their late teens and it’s sad how many are developing eating disorders. I don’t like to get on a soapbox in class but I can’t help myself when we talk about biochemistry of the body- “carbhydrates are not evil!
    I want to chant this 4 times an hour.

    People forget, too, that some people have medical reasons for being overweight or underweight, like thyroid problems.

    Also, I told my husband that I don’t like it when he uses the term “jew them down” but he says it’s a compliment.

  20. jackt

    If that’s what it means to Jew down, then everyone in my Chinese family does it too. Maybe we can just meld it all together to make it more convenient for bigots to insult a whole bunch more people at once. Chink down + Jew down = Jink down?

    Awesome post.

  21. ms. sizzle

    as an overweight person, often feeling invisible or less than because of what i weigh, this post gives voice to many of my own thoughts. thank you for writing it.

  22. supa

    “Isn’t it an easy target to use the fat Midwesterner as the symbol of the ugly American?”

    I hate that. A fat white Midwesterner who shops at Wal-Mart is not — or at least, should not — be the symbol of America’s failings. They’re the regular people, and because they don’t fit an East/West coast aesthetic they are demonized.

    I say we bring back the images of Robber Barons and the Fat Cats in Washington. Now that’s physical representation of … wait a minnit. “Fat Cat!” This fattist society goes waaay back, doesn’t it.

  23. Dagny

    Hmmm. When I was growing up, I was the only one of my friends who was not Jewish or Catholic. I ended up learning about Yom Kippur and the Act of Contrition.

    As far as the weight thing goes, I am probably one of those women who other women hate since I wear a size 2 or 4. When I go to visit my relatives in Virginia, they are always trying to get me to eat continuously. My grandmother and my aunt have been classified as morbidly obese by their doctors. They are family and I love them and I proudly go out in public with them. OK. They are partial to the all-you-can-eat buffets but I think that grandma has learned some moderation. I have also started just being blunt when she complains about how much her knees hurt. Of course, she used to be a nurse’s aide so how could she have not put it all together after all of these years?

  24. Wendy

    Scary! I was just writing about the Fitness poll for a blog post coming up and I was ASTOUNDED by it – i could not believe how many people would prefer to be out of work than overweight. I had to read it twice. Great post, Neil

  25. cruisin-mom

    Neil, great post…but I’m fascinated by how much longer the comments are to this post than usual.

  26. chantel

    I have a daughter who’s overweight. We struggle everyday. She struggles to not yell at me and feel resentful when I ask if my ass is getting big. And I struggle not to yell at her when she chooses a cookie instead of an apple. she comes from a long line of overweight family members who are suffereing severe health problems now; sleep apnea, knee replacements, bone spurs, back problems, diabetes, etc.

    I’ve never been overweight but I’ve been anorexic. Niether is fun but I still struggle to not juddge those who are overweight but I do abhore those who have little or no sympathy for someone struggling with their weight problem.

    As for the Jewish thing. I came from poor white trailer trash. We were looked down on by the black, jewish and white population. We all have our thing.

  27. He's Dead, Jim!

    A patient who is 5’4″ and weighs 330 lbs just walked out of my office. She has severe knee pain and already has pretty bad diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.

    Unlike one’s being black, white, jewish, or gay, being overweight holds the added stigma of being “a flaw of willpower.” From what I’ve seen, obesity is a slippery slope. People get fatter, then they get despondent and eat more, exercise less since it hurts more to do it. To break that cycle requires much more than to choose the apple. It’s a huge commitment. See for one man’s story.


  28. kimananda

    Fat is definitely a topic that everyone wants to talk about, as shown by the number of comments here. But don’t forget to broaden your geographical reach. I hear all the time about how Americans are so fat…but Western Europe is not far behind, statistically speaking, and the obsession with being thin is just as big here as it is there.

  29. femme_despoir

    if there is any “judging” to be done, should it not be determined by what lies in the heart and how it is outwardly manifested? big, small, skinny, fat… they’re all labels that i would just rather not use.

  30. Celina

    You’ve helped me realize something…I am prejudiced. I don’t judge people based on race, religion, or social class… but I do look “differently” at people who are extremely overweight. When I see somebody who is “fat,” I can imagine all the ways they “ended up” that way.
    Now, I am 5’5″ and “about” 170…yes, overweight (obese by some standards). And, at one visit to a doctor–for severe knee pains–was told “I bet your mother is overweight, and I bet your grandmother is overweight, and YOU sure could stand to lose a few pounds.” So, I really can’t talk, but I am always comparing myself to others, asking hubby: “Is that girl BIGGER than me?” “does my butt look THAT big?”
    I’ve never used racial or religious slang (I make a very CLEAR point of not doing this), but being from a hispanic family, I’ve heard bad-talk about other races/religions, and being from Mississippi, I’ve heard many racial slurs. My parents don’t talk like that, my siblings don’t, I don’t, and I will not allow my kids to talk like that! I have also been called many names (for being “white”, “hispanic”,
    “southern”, “yankee”, etc) and I have just learned to let things go.
    Anyways, thanks for helping me realize that my “judgements” (about weight) are just as wrong as all the others!

  31. Pearl

    Isn’t that funny. You’re the 4th person today talking about weight. Must be something in the global winds.

    I think most people look back at their old self and would call that person a humorless prig. Or is it just you and me?

  32. claire

    Just the other day my dad was commenting how he couldn’t believe some of the teen girls he’s seen wearing shirts that show off their midriffs when they have spare tires.

    Good for them, I say. It just felt like a sign that most of us (in the US anyway) are getting too unconsciously accustomed to a supremely skinny ideal for women.

  33. communicatrix

    I gotta say, I’m with Heather here, Neil. Ben Folds put that “fat” squarely in context to make his point. When that stops being permissable, we edge closer to the horrific P.C. weenieness of the 90s. Bleh.

    Great post, btw. More of these, please.

  34. Petitedov

    On a side note, I hate when muscians become political, especially in their songs. It seriously irritates me, especially because they make way too simple: Americans are over consuming. (Guess what — if other people were given the opportunity they would do the same and do (ex. look at Great Britian).
    Anyway, great post as usual.

  35. better safe than sorry

    i can remember the first time i ever heard of bigotry was when i was a kid, watching archie bunker. the states has different issues then in canada, “fat people” being one of them. i’m always in shock when we go on vacation in the states and eat out, normal sizes there are enoromous, how can anyone possibly eat or drink those amounts?

  36. Neil

    I disagree with you, Communicatrix! (Wow, was that exciting to say. I’m actually getting enough balls to disagree with her).

    I don’t think the issue is about being P.C. In fact, I’m all about breaking taboos. Ben Folds went the easy way out by using the fat guy at the buffet as the symbol of American consumption. A braver choice would have been to sing about the young upper-middle class consumer who needs to buy the best iPod, big screen TV, and cool cellphone with video capacity! That to me symbolizes American overconsumption just as much as the guy shopping at the Kansas Walmart. But since that demographic is his audience, it would be way too P.C. for him to use those lyrics. Better to use the fat guy, who probably only listens to country music anyway.

    Now I’m one of those who thought Stephen Colbert’s speech was somewhat rude, even if I agree with most of what he said. But I would consider him brave — not for attacking Bush — another easy target– but for attacking his supposed “peers” (other journalists who are too cozy with the administration) right to their faces.

  37. Mike F

    The overconsumption thing is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. We complain (a lot) about our government, jobs, etc but really we live in place in history that is almost unique in it’s peace and prosperity. The fact that we can over eat is almost amazing in itself. We have been very fortunate, blessed, to live where and when we do.

    Very interesting and insightful post Neil

  38. Megan

    I’m so glad I’m getting caught up on my blog reading today. Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Neil.

    I’d never heard the expression “Jew down” until reading this, though I know plenty of stereotypes about Jewish people. I also had never heard JackT’s similar “chink down” expression (though the person who taught me the word “chink” is my best friend from Laos-haha).

    I really enjoyed reading the comments to this post, too. Thanks for getting my mind turning. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to get a blog post out of these thoughts, too!

  39. communicatrix

    Neil, I see your point. Actually, I saw it the FIRST time in your actual POST, b/c I am THE COMMUNICATRIX!

    But I wasn’t as clear in my comment as I should have been (bad communicatrix!). I understand that he was using fat people at the all-u-can-eat buffet. I also understand that while fat people–or people who eat a lot, which is usually larger-sized people–are not the primary target of all U can eat restaurants. If they were, all U can eat places would go out of business. I suspect those places actually make their money off of people who *don’t* eat all they can, but like the idea that they can. In other words, we’re all big fat piggy-pigs when we start thinking about “mine!”

    But that is a lot to get across in a song. And to be fair (to me, and to Ben Folds) the fat people thing is just a jumping-off place for talking about greedy Americans in general. I think you’re extrapolating by positing the fat-people-to-Wal*Mart dialectic; really, the first stanza generalizes about large people eating a lot at All U Can Eat buffets (which is true) and having oversize cars parked in the lot outside (which is not always true, of course, but given SUV and truck sales these days, probably truer than not).

    Then the other stanzas address other solipsisms and inconsistencies in other groups of people. In fact, I think I got the finger once from a so-called peace-lovin’ mama in her ginormous Lexus behe-mo-bile. (Hey! That’s a good word for that, huh? “Be-he-mo-bile.”)

    On top of everything else, how do you know he *didn’t* sit in some Waffle House down South (oooo…look at me generalizing!) and realize that it was filled with 90% fat people and then look at the lot outside at realize it was filled with 90% SUVs? Hell, I’ve had that experience at the (Oklahoma) State Fair.

    This is my (more) long-winded way of saying I don’t think this is a song demonizing fat people. Of course, I’m thin, so I’m probably not allowed to say this.

    But I couldn’t let you have the last word, because we all know how pushy women are…

  40. Nance

    Very thought-provoking, Neil. Let me say this as a person who has been on both sides of the weight-debate, having been overweight for the first 40 years of my life and now, due to health issues, underweight for the past 2: it’s a million times more bearable being too thin. Yes, there are still cruel, unbelievably rude and unthinking people who will make incredibly personal remarks right to my face about my appearance. It is still difficult to find age-appropriate clothing that fits well. But I would rather be as too-thin as I am now than what I was at my heaviest. The results of the poll you published do not surprise me at all. Thankfully, I would bet that, had they surveyed a much younger sample, the results would be markedly different. Judging by the way highschool girls dress where I teach, they are far less size-ist than their parents.

  41. Neil

    Communicatrix — Interesting that you mention the Waffle House! Now I know you don’t eat certain things anymore, but I’m sure you’ve been to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles, with those enormous portions. I used to go there ALL THE TIME before Sophia forced me to take cholesterol pills. I’ve seen a good number of pretty heavy black people there. They love those chicken and waffles! Let’s change the name of the song to “Eating at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles” and keep the exact same lyrics. Are they going to play it on KCRW?

  42. Nelumbo

    Interesting point. No, only someone like Dave Chappelle could sing any song about black people and fried chicken.
    Only a country artist can sing “Redneck Yaught Club”. Only Eminem can sing about being whitetrash. Only fat people can make fat jokes. You crossed the line, Folds.

  43. Dagny

    Mmmm. Roscoe’s. And yes, only Dave Chappelle could get away with that song.

    Oh and mmmm for the Waffle House. I am ashamed to admit that it is one of my first stops whenever I go to Virginia. Even grandma doesn’t go to the Waffle House.

  44. Janet

    I never thought about the fat vs. poor debate before. It is pretty sad that poor is glorified, but fat, unless it has a ph is not.:(

  45. Sandra

    Great post, Neil. And I totally agree. I feel absolutely awful for people who are too thin AND too fat, actually. Before my sister-in-law got pregnant, she was one of those people who tried really hard to gain weight but just couldn’t do it — and often got, “anorexic!” whispers in public. I think people are too quick to assume that really thin people are crazy, vain anorexics and that overweight people are sloths. I’m not sure what the answer is, but the situation kind of sucks.

  46. Lynn

    Suddenly, I’m craving an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  47. mysterygirl!

    Interesting point. I enjoyed reading it and the comments (but don’t have anything insightful to add, alas).

  48. Melinda

    You forgot to mention that this demonizing applies only to women in America. Did you ever hear anyone call Donald Trump fat, or James Gandolfini, or Dr. Phil (who writes diet books!!!), or Jay Leno who very often makes fat jokes about female actresses?

    I am a size 16-18, I exercise, I am very healthy, fairly attractive and happy with myself; when I am in Europe or South America, I’m flirted with all the time, but  in this country – I’m faaaaat.


  49. jules

    Whoa…I love the thought this has stirred in so many people! Having always fought being “big-boned”, I have finally arrived at a point where I’m considered thin. I got here by running a lot and eating healthier. To be honest…I wouldn’t trade being healthier, feeling lighter, not having to squeeze into clothes for any amount of money in the world. My brain cells…now that’s another story. I don’t think this makes me vain, I think I’ve come to like my body and enjoy it for the first time in my life.

  50. Neil

    Melinda — Sophia said the exact same thing about Dr. Phil — Who the hell is this guy giving diet advice? I lost total respect for the guy when he put his face on those “diet” chocolate bars that were later found out to be as caloric as a Hershey Bar. There’s an entire industry built around nonsense to get people thin.

    Jules — That’s great that your new lifestyle has helped you to become healthier. The problem is if look at someone who is still overweight and view her as “wrong” or somehow lacking in discipline. I’ve been a tall, scrawny guy for most of my life (ok, the truth is I’m not as skinny as I used to be). I wouldn’t mind if some muscled guy in the gym told me that it’s great to get in better shape and become like him. I might even appreciate it. But I wouldn’t be very happy if he looked at me as an unworthy person, a weakling who deserves to get sand in my face at the beach. By the way, does anyone do that anymore? Does anyone remember those Charles Atlas comic book ads?

  51. Bill

    I saw this post late last night when there were 0 comments but couldn’t think of a way to comment that wasn’t a rambling, incoherent rant.

    Now I see there are 50 comments and I feel the same way. So let me say, in a rambling, incoherent way …

    I don’t think this has anything to do with “fat” or “Jews” or “insert a popular cultural group.” We seem to have a need to vilify someone and to me the real question is, “Why?”

    I don’t have an answer for that, by the way.

    As for “fat” … Yes, there are people who are overweight and once again the question is,”Why?” Of more interest to me, however, is why anyone who is large is considered “fat” (just as anyone who is thin is anorexic). In other words, there are people who are supposed to be as large as they are, just as I am suppose to be as small as I am, and that’s just the way things are. Yet everyone who doesn’t have a template look is considered “fat” or “skinny” or something or other.

    I think we live in a “one size fits all” world. The fact is there are many different body shapes but our world (well, as far as the media is concerned) prefers to see it as one generic boring world. We celebrate people with body shapes that make a fashion designer’s life easy. Can any of the big name designers actually design for normal people? I don’t think so. They seek out and design for specific body types. The ones that make their freak show cat walk shows look good.

    I saw one of those CSI type shows the other day on TV. It was a very socially aware show about obesity and blah blah blah. Of course, none of the stars of the show were “large-sized.” No, they had to write specific characters and hire specific actors so the stars, all standard issue Hollywood body types, could look concerned and sympathize with an issue they would never have to deal with themselves.

    But I ramble. Your post, I think, isn’t about “fat” or anything else like that. It’s about what is missing in our lives. Why do we feel the need to despise someone else, be they large, Jew, black, Latin, French or fill-in-the-blank?

    My guess is that it’s because if we’re pointing at someone else we’re not looking at ourselves.

  52. Bill

    Well, okay. So I’m full of shit. I said, “I don’t have an answer for that, by the way.” And then I went on to suggest a possible answer. What can I say? It’s not like I run these comments past an editor!

  53. Melissa

    God made chihuahuas and god made great danes… it’s just the way things shake down, kids.

  54. LisaBinDaCity

    Obviously we are having similar thoughts this week…

  55. Heather

    I’d flirt with you Melinda.

  56. psychotoddler

    Excellent post, Neil! I’m going to go out and put on another 10 pounds this week in solidarity with my heavy homies!

  57. Tanya

    Smart post. Fun to watch people’s own bigotry come out in their comments. Cough.

  58. jules

    Neil, thanks for the encouragement…one thing I’ve noticed in myself by reading your post, and perhaps I speak for other people, is my less than empathetic attitude towards someone who is overweight, complains about being over-weight, and then proceeds to eat 3 times as much as suggested by the FDA and never does anything more active than walk to and from his/her car. I applaud anyone who does anything to change something that they don’t like about themselves, even if it doesn’t seem to “work”…or even accept what is that they don’t like about themselves. (I’ve got a nose that a doctor suggested I have ‘taken care of’ but I didn’t because I’ve accepted it as part of what makes me ME!)

    I think it does say something about the gluttony of our nation…over indulging in just about anything…disregarding our internal voice of moderation to satisfy what we want now – whether it’s food, gambling, TV, alcohol, buying more than we can afford. In our grandparents’ day, people saved and sacrificed to get what they wanted – a new house, a new car, worked their way up the corporate ladder, saved for a rainy day and their generation did not fight obesity like ours does. (Devils advocate – they didn’t have all that the world offers to us now either.) We consume and consume to satisfy ourselves NOW with little thought on how unhappy it may make us in the future…when we’re trying to lose the weight, pay off the credit card, or mend a broken marriage…

  59. Neil

    Jules — I perfectly understand the less than empathetic attitude towards someone overweight who complains about it but doesn’t do much about it — especially from someone who worked hard to get into shape. But to play devil’s advocate here (don’t get upset), can I assume then that your political opinions lean towards the right, especially concerning those on family assistance — if these folks only stopped complaining and learned to pick themselves up from their bootstraps, went back to school, and got a well-paying job, they could get off of ‘government help’ and find success.

    And if you disagree with that, why not the same empathy for someone with an eating problem, IF they actually have one, and arent’ just genetically disposed to be bigger? Why has weight become the be all and end all of a person’s moral fiber? In that Fitness poll, people would rather be POOR than fat, meaning a large percentage of society are less embarrassed to be seen by society as moneyless than overweight — exactly because they have internalized this less than empathetic attitude to weight. But if I owned fifteen cars, most people would be impressed.

    Back a couple of hundred years ago, being heavy was a sign of being rich and successful. I remember reading in school about all these kings that had gout. Rubens, the Flemish Baroque artist, painted heavy women who were considered hot. There has been recent evidence that not all “overweight” people are necessarily unhealthier than someone skinny — unless they are obese. But society has started to view controlled eating as a moral virtue associated with class and looking rich. It may be stupid to eat too much and get fat, but there’s no real moral connection there. The person who cheats on his taxes should be scorned more than someone who is heavier than you. Now I know why I never can get into that hip club in Hollywood — it’s not because I dress terrible.  No, last year, I used my Netflix account as a deduction.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve been out with a woman who orders a salad and picks at it as if it were poison. Does she then go home and eat real food? Is it considered unsexy for a woman to be seen eating?

  60. Dagny

    Thank you Neil for pointing out that the idea of thin as being attractive is a relatively modern.

    Also Eddie Murphy had a name for women who only order salad when they go out to eat. I personally think that going out is a treat. I’ll eat the salad the next day.

  61. jules

    Neil,I am rarely offended…so no worries there…I grew up in a home where ‘lively discussion’ over the dinner table (with a vast amount of food and plenty of us overweight at the table, I might add) was common. Perhaps that’s why I made a second comment…this is a good topic which we could all go back and forth on.

    I would say I’m more of a moderate leaning only a tad to the right, although where I currently reside I’m a leftist (another story for another day.) With regards to family assistance, that too is a conversation for another day, but honestly, I don’t know how anyone can get off government assistance – no easy answer on that one.

    Before I dig myself into a deeper hole though (because I feel this is such a sensitive subject) I completely see your point about girls you dated who only pick at their salads. Did they think you would find them more attractive? And I hope they went home and ate something afterwards. And I agree completley with Melinda who said it seems to be only women who are demonized for being bigger than a size 6. It is not fair, although I see it shifting a little bit.

    I kind of live by this philosophy…Accept it or change it. We all have things that can get in our way in life – our heredity which includes our ethnicity, our body type; the life we were born into – lap of luxury or on the streets, in a 3rd world country, in middle America, or bustling city; and our own choices – good or bad.

    I believe we can control a lot of our own destiny, either by 1-accepting what is given to us or 2-changing it. Both are equally important in creating happiness in our lives. Now we can’t change our ethnicity, so we embrace who we are and accept that sometimes people are ignorant and will be hurtful.

    I can change my hair color if I want, because I hear blondes have more fun, but I don’t because I figured out that my hair color doesn’t really matter that much. I have a lot of gray hair though that really bothers me, thanks to the genes I inherited from my father. When I started complaining about them a few years ago (WAY before I was 30), my husband said to me,”time to color your hair then.” For a while, I accepted the gray hair, but when they bothered me enough, I decided to change. Technically, I’m still a brunette. (Seriously though, I accept the tiny breasts I have left after my weight loss…unwilling to make that change, but I don’t judge people who do.)

    I was ‘forced’ to move from a city and job that I loved because my husband took a job in another city/state. I was faced with the literal decision – leave him or go with him. It wasn’t really fair to me, but it was the situation I was given. I chose to be with him and move…because I love him. Now, I’m not saying this has been easy, but I’m learning to accept my new life here. If I didn’t, I’d always be bitter.

    Obesisty is in my family genes – my grandma, my mom, all the aunts and uncles and my brothers. My sisters somehow got the skinny gene, but I ended up somewhere in the middle. My younger brother is the heaviest and has been since he was about 8 or 9. I defended him from bullies all through elementary school.

    (oh!…this is going on too long…)

    Long story short: 1- Little brother is happy being overweight…he’s accepted what genetics gave him and I never once here him moan about it while he’s eating his 2nd helping of pie. Yay for him, except I’m his sister and do worry about his health. I should also add he is the LEAST lazy person I know…so people who assume he is can fight me just like in elementary school!

    2- Older brother does NOT enjoy being over weight and works out a lot, has had lipo and tries to eat healthy. He’s doing something and he’s happy with the improvements that he’s chosen to make for himself.

    3- My mother aggravates me a little because every day I hear about how she wishes she could be skinny while she eats twice as much as me and never exercises. She’s the most unhappy of all three (yikes she a girl, but I don’t think it blows my whole theory.) She wants to be thinner because she wants to have fun with my kids, not because she wants to be a supermodel. I see that she’s discouraged and I understand it, but I also know that we can sit and say poor me or we can do something…anything.

    4- My aunt just had stomach by-pass surgery…I’m not condoning it, but she did something because she had such major health issues and couldn’t run after her grand-kids. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

    So, hopefully that explains where I’m coming from. Neil, keep your posts coming…love them all. (Sorry this was so wordy…geez..)

  62. jules

    Oh yeah…and I would not be impressed if you owned 15 cars…it boils down to “drive”, not what you drive…:)

  63. deepsthoughts

    Excellent Post Neil.

    I recently saw the movie ‘Crash’ and wanted to write about a couple of things in that movie that I found to be very disturbing, but I just couldn’t find the right words.

    Thanks for writing this.

  64. scott

    I don’t mean to be insensitive, and I certainly don’t want to offend people, but lipo sucks.

    Hello again.

  65. Neil

    Jules — Thanks for that great response. I thought I would ruffle your feathers by calling you a conservative since it is such a dirty word with so many of my readers. Next time, I’ll try to calling you a liberal. (you should hear Sophia go off when I say she has liberal views!).

    We probably agree on most everything. I guess since I’m not a woman, I’m seeing this from another POV, since there isn’t as much pressure on a man to be thin.

    Last year, when I wrote this post about shopping for a size 14 in the Beverly Center, I was shocked that NO store had anything, including Macy’s. What was going on? Why wouldn’t the stores want to sell to as many female customers as possible? And statistically most people are size 12-14, right — even in Beverly Hills? While I knew that models and fashion stuff was all about being thin, I figured that this was only about advertising and image. I see nothing wrong with using good-looking models to sell clothing. But I didn’t actually know that these designers don’t even make clothes for anyone over size 4! There was actually a sign on one of the stores in this shopping mall, saying that they only carried up to size 8. It reminded me of those signs in the South that used to say, “No Blacks allowed.” Clearly this fancy shopping mall in Beverly Hills wanted to create a certain image of itself as chic and rich — which meant stores that do not cater to any FAT PEOPLE. I hate to bring up racial stuff, but is it possible that the Beverly Center doesn’t want that many minorities to show up, who tend to be larger size? Someone actually told us that if we wanted to find larger size women’s clothes, to go to the Fox Hills Mall, which is in a “black neighborhood.”

    And again, I’m not talking about size XXL, I’m talking about women’s size 12-14!

    So, while it is funny to think of all of the fat women at Walmart, maybe they go there for a reason. It’s the only store that carries their size!

  66. Tanya

    I can’t speak to the racist aspects, but I do know most high end designers don’t make clothes over size 12 because a) they don’t want to see “fat” women in their clothes and b) the bulk of their clientele is “skinny” and don’t want to be seen in the same clothes as “fat” women.

    That said, friggin’ MACY’S should have size 14. It’s Macy’s for cryin’ out loud.

    Ps – I linked to this post.

  67. As My World Turns - Personality Minus

    […] Yesterday, Neil had a very good post on his blog, one that broached on the topic of being prejudiced toward other ethnic groups and toward “fat” people. […]

  68. […] Neil has an excellent post about the acceptable marginalization of fat peeps. […]

  69. […] After reading and commenting on an excellent topic posted by Neil on the subject of society judging people who are over-weight, I am now questioning my own motives to be thin. […]

  70. […] So late Sunday night I saw Neil’s post Fat People… […]

  71. plain jane

    As someone who has been poor most of my life, let me assure you, there is nothing cool about being poor.

    I did have a couple of eating disorders but that was way before they were cool.

  72. Blonde Vigilante

    Thank you.

    For being a man and writing this.


    For just simply writing it.

  73. Peggy Nature

    Wow, Neil, you really hit the nail on the head. You might be interested in reading a book called “The Obesity Myth” (“The Diet Myth” in paperback) by Paul Campos. His whole theory is that American guilt about overconsumption leads to the demonization of fat people as a visible symbol of that overconsumption.

    Hell, I’m fat, and I don’t even own a car 🙂

    Thanks for this, from a young fat activist.

  74. Neil

    Thanks, Peggy. I’ll check out the book! It sounds very interesting.

  75. Big Fat Blog - Neilochka Does Fat

    […] Neil over at Citizen of the Month wrote an interesting post on his observations about fat people…more specifically, his observations about how fat people are, er, rather unfavourably viewed by our culture. […]

  76. Cathy

    HDJ — I do understand that you’re trying to be compassionate and understanding; however, fat people most certainly are not fat because they don’t know how not to be. There is no failure of intelligence or knowledge on the fat person’s part — in fact, the average fat person can run circles around almost anyone when it comes to nutrition, calorie counts, “healthy” ways to lose weight, exercise, etc. because they have spent their whole lives struggling to become “not fat.” While I respect the attempt at compassion, the patronizing and condescending I can do without.

    The fact is, some people are simply large people the way some people are very slender or skinny. Shocking! And many of the very large, of which I am one, got that way by damaging their bodies and metabolisms through repeated use of “healthy” strategies designed to somehow force our bodies to override their genetic makeups.

    Also, may I suggest that the population of fat people you see in your office may be skewed? Certainly there are slim people who come to the office who have diabetes or joint problems? Do you automatically assume that all slim people have those problems as you assume all fat people do?

    –Cathy, a 5’0″ 380-pound highly active qigong practitioner, senior manager, and healthy adult woman

  77. ABT

    I disagree. I think that MANY of the fat people I’ve consulted with (I’m an RD) may KNOW the “good” foods from the “bad” foods and know how to count calories, carbs, fat etcetera. BUT I don’t think they have the knowledge that truly matters.

    Those who have dieted multiple times have completely lost the ability to trust themselves around food. They don’t know how to eat normally, naturally, intuitively. They have guilt and fear associated with anything that tastes good. They make jokes: “If it tastes good, don’t eat it.” Funny, sort of. But it’s not true. Taste does not equal evil.

    SO alot of the normal hunger and satiety responses and self regulation has been lost and given up to the DIET of the MONTH or some other rigid plan.

    There are some people with NO CLUE as to what is healthy or how to enjoy produce…but most just have lost that touch with their internal hunger regulation or ability to enjoy food without doing 100 other things at the same time.

    Exercise has become a means to a skinny end and has no other purpose to many who struggle to lose weight.

    Issues such as these need addressing for successful health and potential weight loss.

  78. trish

    Ellen DeGeneres on today’s show,

    “I think that what is so messed-up about this country is that you’re supposed to be a size 2 or a size 4, and you’re supposed to be 22 years old, and you’re supposed to look a certain way. And I think beauty has so many different forms…

    …and I think it really is very misleading, and very very damaging, to men and women, to present that that is what beauty is, that’s what that package is…”

  79. Dagny

    Trish, that’s why I think Ellen DeGeneres is so great.

    When I lived in Virginia, a friend said to me, “I could never go to California because the women are all thin.” I explained to her that this was definitely not the case. I told her that what I saw as the difference was that my friends who were not size 0 or 2 or 4 were completely comfortable in who they were and recognized what things looked the best on them.

    People assume that thin people can wear anything. We cannot. I am 5’10”. Straight skirts past my knees make me look like Olive Oyl. I don’t think that’s an attractive look so I avoid them. I don’t care if they’re in. It’s just something I would never wear.

    I have met men who have wanted to fatten me up. I tell them, “Good luck. It’s probably not going to happen.” Not because I don’t eat but because I know I pack away the calories and really don’t gain weight.

    As I’ve said earlier, I have relatives who have been told by doctors that they are morbidly obese. They are some of the most beautiful people I know in the world. But that probably comes from the fact that I was the awkward kid growing up and thought that I was completely unattractive. What I have always found beautiful in the longrun is the person inside the package.

  80. Melissa L.

    “There is no excuse for not trying to eat/live healthy.”

    Except maybe you don’t want to…?

    Is there really a moral obligation to eat well and exercise? If you want to do it, great for you, but maybe others would rather do things differently. I don’t see how that makes them any less of a person.

  81. Cathy

    ABT, even though it did not come out in my first post, I actually think we are very much on the same page and your post was a delight to read. I myself got off the diet merry-go-round by learning to eat intuitively, honor my body’s hunger and satiety signals, and release guilt and shame about eating, especially eating in public. I wish all people — fat or thin — could eat this way and treat their bodies, whatever size they may be, with kindness.

    I will say, however, that although I no longer diet or binge and have a very healthy relationship with food (and much more energy and general happiness as a result), I haven’t lost any weight. It’s stable, and has been for a few years, which I feel is fantastic and healthy. What is difficult for me on a daily basis as a 380-pound woman are the assumptions people make about me based on my size. And that’s where I am very sensitive to anything patronizing or condescending — I know my body, I trust my body, and I’m energetic, smart, and successdul to boot. But its doesn’t seem that that’s what people see when they look at me.

  82. Carrie

    I am a dedicated Ben Folds fan and when I first heard that song it was like a punch in the stomach. What amuses me about it though, is that it comes after the song “learn to live with what you are” on the EP. So which is it Ben? Am I supposed to live with and appreciate what I am, or am I supposed to feel like I’m participating in sending the country to hell in a handbasket simply by being fat?

    And let’s not even get into the part Madison Ave plays in how much people buy (or eat, for that matter). When they “buy as much as they want”, who is telling them over and over what they are supposed to want? Should we hate this group of people for not being able to overcome the messages we are all inundated with? Have we not all had a moment where we realize we overconsumed and couldn’t figure out why we would do that? The problem is not just some fat people in a buffet restaurant or at wal-mart deciding to be deliberately selfish…the problem is the fact that we have all been so efficiently programmed, we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

  83. Kate

    Thank you, Melissa!

  84. Overweight

    Check out this introduction article on Overweight:

    * 1 Definition
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  85. Meade Skelton

    Yes, to the person who was criticizing us “hypocritical” Christians. Bella or whatever your name is-

    What a lovely way to judge and over generalize us. Im glad you “enlightened” yourself and moved away from horrid Christianity. I honestly am very sorry of your cyncism. Perhaps you are just as hypocritical and judgemental of us Christians are you claim they are to be. I know many deep sincere Christians who would cringe at your hostility and ignorance. I dont think its fair to lump “church going” Christians with all Christians, or needless to say that being a Christian is summed down to church attendance.

    Many Christians do very wonderful works all around. If you maybe stop to actually open your mind a little you wouldnt have such a shallow view of things.

  86. Roberta

    New to all this (which is why I’ve showed up a little late). But interestingly enough I just wrote a big ole blog on the fat topic, (, (and I’m still lame enough at HTML to not really know how to hyperlink that).
    Point is, here’s the connection that I never really made until reading this: I am Jewish, fat, loud, bright, outspoken, hilarious — an absolute standout (loved by many, not so much by many others). I am personally aware that all of that swirls around in me as one living thing, but hadn’t really considered the combo-pack by which I am judged. In my life I get a look from people; and yes, it’s the same look whether I am sucking chicken off its bone when a more delicate person would have declared it done six bites earlier, or interjecting an opinion when none was invited. (The Will and Grace series finale had a hilarious bit about the precious relationship between Jews and chicken. But of course, they can pull that stuff off, as their Jew weighs 104 pounds.)
    “A more delicate person”. I think that says it all about what this loud, fat, bump-on-a-log Jew is not.
    Thank you for writing this.

  87. BStu

    Glad someone else was bothered by that Ben Folds lyric. I love him as an artist, but that pissed me off the first time I heard the song. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve listened to it again, though I basically agree with him on overconsumpsion. What I disagree with is the stereotypical use of fat people as short hand for overconsumpsion. Its the liberal face of fat bigotry. Oh, there is a conservative face for it, too. But I’m more annoyed when it comes from people I ideologically agree with. I’m still going to enjoy his work. Can’t really punish him for saying something I know most people think. But it nags at me all the same.

    Oh, and this fat person would rather be called fat any day over a stigmatizing label like “overweight”. Over who’s weight, exactly? Obviously not my own. Defining a person by what they aren’t is a tactic used to belittle a group. Oh, and just in case a few commentators are wondering, no, fat people aren’t too stupid to lose weight. I’m so sick and tired of the absurd notion that no one’s bothered to point out that we’re fat or haven’t heard their brilliant theory about how we can lose weight a thousand times before. We get the message. Every day of our lives, and few of us ever even think to question it. And yet here we are. Makes you wonder if maybe the “treatment” isn’t a worthwhile enterprise.

  88. lule

    i need old women freind address

  89. Lee

    Well. being overweigh is generally(not always, I know, but generally) something that you can change..

    I’m short. And I can’t change that. So it annoys the freak out of me when there are fat people who clearly would look better and be healthier losing weight, while I’m well. stuck being short.

  90. john

    i am relieved to see people still have feelings.when it comes down to it i cannot help but think how sad and unfortunate being overweight is percieved. alot of people think if your fat you eat too much… could be a number of other things. i am not encouraging people to be overweight. health should be taken very seriously.i can sit here and go on for days but i will make this short and sweet.i am 5’10 and weighed 300 pounds at my peak weight. i was incredibly insecure and ashamed of going out, not because people would look at me rather i felt very self conscious. i instantly became insecure. i could feel eyes staring at me. i already hated being overweight. i did not want to do anything. i was always very fashionable and well informed of society. sometimes people just need some love. that is it. L.O.V.E
    that is the cure. believe it or not. when you are loved you feel incredibly cheesy as this sounds…it works for everything. racism, war , violence, all this….can be prevented with love understanding negotiating and on top of all patience. not only will you succed at whatever your goals are ,,but you will motivate other people to follow your footsteps…and one day racism and critiscism will be reduced. spread love and people will return the gesture…i guarantee it

  91. Jackie

    That was a really interesting article. I’m sort of surprised Ben Folds would write such a angry song, since most of his music in my opinon is of the fluffy sappy variety. Then again, I also figured since that’s all he and his band played, it’d be soon enough that he’d explode stuffing all his rage down into himself. I hope this doesn’t happen to Coldplay or The Flaming Lips!

    It’s interesting what you said about being Jewish, I am Jewish myself. I never really encountered racism about it except for 2 times.

    One time was at a concert, I overheard some hillbilly white power jerk say something about Jews and turned around like to fight him..I suppose fortunetly, he thought I must be drunk and was being really stupid because I’m 5’4 and somewhat obese, and frankly I’m sure I couldn’t sufficently kick anyone’s butt.

    Another time was in high school when this kid in front of the class, was making bad anti-semetic jokes. I’m sure you don’t want to hear them, I certianly didn’t. The teacher refused to send him to the dean, and acted as if I was a problem for suggesting he go there. Fine, I felt, “Don’t come crying to me when he comes into school one day, with a black trenchcoat armed and heading to the lunchroom”

    I’ve always known about the whole WW2 thing, sometimes I think I am understating it. It might be because, I didn’t grow up during the time Hitler was in I really didn’t have the post-trumatic stress associated with anti-semitism and anything Germanic. I mean, I love Rammstein, and they’re German. So I guess I figure they’ve apologized, and if I have a problem with them I should take it up with their dead ancestors.

    I think there is alot in common with Nazisim and discrimination in general. The only difference is people are much more covert about their discrimination.

    A good example, would be instead of Hitler shouting from the rooftops about how bad Jews were. He were to slowly shut down Jewish owned stores, have Jewish merchandise not allowed in Christian stores. Then do a sneaky campaign on TV about how Jews are accountable for so many problems.

    It’s exactly how they’re dealing with fat people these days. Also, on another subject. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, they are also dealing with people with Autism in the same way. I’m sure if Hitler came out with a great campaign such as, “1 in 166 will be born Jewish” they wouldn’t be putting the same message on TV about Autistic kids. Let alone going on about what a burden they are..but I am getting off-topic.

    My point is we’re dealing with a much more advanced form of discrimination. Where it’s not just one looney going out there and saying crackpot things about people generically. We have the medical association lying about the risks of being over 100-something pounds. Which is like the flim Anatomy, which is from Germany.

    It deals with the idea of a anti-Hippocratic society. Which was what they had going on in Nazi camps. I find it very anti-Hippocratic that we have medical people telling people it’s better to starve to death or yo-yo diet then just stay at your natural weight.

    I think Jews, as well as Blacks and other groups of people who have delt with a long history of being discriminated against. Have a heightened sense of when discrimination occurs. I kind of jokingly call it “Nazi-dar” cuz I’m Jewish, and when I hear about discrimination it gives me that creepy feeling, like as if WW2 was starting all over again. It’s like, “Am I the only one who can see the giant-glass elephant in the room, heiling Hitler?!” hahaha.

    I think for the most part all you can do is make fun of the people who discriminate, or feel sorry for them. I think it would be much worse being discriminating and not knowing it, than being discriminated against. At least then you don’t have to wonder why people hate you for seemingly no reason, as you go back to your airheaded lifestyle of shopping at size 0-12 stores. (Was that a great wrap-up or what?)

  92. Keri

    I feel the reason why people say very rude comments about other people who is “different” is because they don’t love themself or who they are. And for some strange reason deep inside it makes them feel better. I feel that you truly have to love yourself no matter if you are overweight or not, white,purple or black or whatever color. Rich or poor. Christian or a Jew.
    When you truly love yourself that is time when you can love other people no matter what or who they are……
    Let’s stop putting down people who is “different” from you. And let’s start seeing the good in everybody!! Yes, I do think there is good in everybody!!

  93. Mel

    Thank you for writing this. You gave me back a tiny bit of the faith in humanity I had previously lost.

    Just…thank you.

  94. Samaya Wittneben

    Yes I am overweight, I have trouble controlling my weight because I just love to eat! But it is so tiresome to hear and read all the things about fat people – we all, every single one of us know exactly that we can change our situation if we really WANT to. A fact is a fact, so lets get over our sensitivities and lets get on with life!
    instead of wasting all this energy on feeling hard done by!
    And calling this rubbish by Mr. Folds “poetry” now that is offensive!

  95. carla

    As a recovering anorexic its true!
    I feel so awfull & offended when people make fun of fat people.I am in my mid twenties & once weighed 80 lbs., i would have nightmares of human fat suficating me & going on my body.
    People claim that being over weight is unhealthy, well beleive me, from the other side of the spectrum, being underweight & anorexia is not healthy!
    I hope all the over weight people out there dont let others intimidate them like i did, when i was 110 pounds i thought i was ‘fat’, i saw a 300 pound person & was embarrased even though my pant size was 1.
    So if anyone out there reads this, i hope you realize, its not healthy to a person to cause emotional damage. The effects can be LIFE THREATENING, trust me i know what i talk of!

  96. An amazing, intriguing post/debate.

  97. Kaylie

    I wish men were as demonized about their inability to make their cocks bigger as women are about their “fat asses”. So I decided to take it upon myself to do that. I’m not fat, but I have tons of friends who are. THey are briliiant, funny, ACTIVE, sexy, and completely multifaceted. When a guy (with a itty bitty peter) was trashing one of my girls I was like, “Well, I suppose she could ditch that weight, but what are you do about your 3 inch cock?”

    Cock size like body (particularly body that hasn’t been destroyed by years of dieting and foolishness) size is largely due to genetics. There isn’t always a lot you can do about it. Demonizing fat people is so ridiculous to me. It always comes from people who don’t really understand bodies and what are capable of doing and what they aren’t capable of doing.

    I know, because I used to be one of you assholes. And then a really really great friend had WLS (weight loss surgery) and died. She was 27. She was amazing and I haven’t gotten over her. I feel like I killed her. All the times I pretended not to notice jerks laughing about her weight. All the times I ignored how uncomfortable she got when couldn’t find things to fit. All the times I just assumed if she stopped eating so much and moved her lasy ass…

    Yeah, boy good thing she had me as a friend!

  98. evita

    l00k i like nicole richie’s b0dy and she is so skinny bUt her outfit l00ks absolutely perfect on her d0n’t y0u think s0??….

  99. Jean Brockman

    Hi Neil, I was surfing in search of the origin of the phrase “jew down the price” and came across your post. Appreciate you and to the lady signed a buxom size 14, honey you ain’t even in the neighborhood of buxom. I’m 1-X and I’m a happy camper. 🙂

  100. FredericaBimble

    These arguments and the blog itself could only come about from a wealthy nation. Food is fuel. That is what it is. We may get enjoyment from it through the sensations, texture and smells from eating food but it is fuel for our bodies. The issue of ‘weight loss’ and the ‘moralising’ of fat would become a non-issue in a developing country. People who live in poor countries eat when they are hungry because they know that food will keep them alive and not to fulfill some emotional void. Anyone of the fat people in the US – barring those with actual medical reasons for the extra weight which is extremely rare – would not be fat in countries where food is not plentiful. Sounds silly but seems to be a logical statement that so many people deny.
    I read the last post and I think this person ‘Jean Brockman’ gives an interesting clue to the problem of obesity in America. Her post reads like a put down to another and invitation to a competition to see who can get the fattest. Yes, a US size 14 and large breasts is ‘buxom’. This poster, Jean Brockman, is most likely really fat but it really isn’t a competition. She would do better to ask herself what she has done for the rest of the world instead of bragging about being large.
    On a different note, I am a thin woman. I’m average at the moment but when I train for marathons, I get quite slim. When I worked with a bunch of overweight women who would make comments such as: ‘Oh, I’m being so bad, I shouldn’t eat this’ – when they were eating a slice of chocolate cake or some other fattening item, I would simply say: ‘Ok, then, don’t eat it if it’s going to cause you so much despair’.
    Food isn’t ‘bad’. It isn’t ‘good’ (yes, it can taste good and yes it can spoil, therefore being labelled ‘bad’ but that isn’t what we’re talking about here) People put emotional labels on food and forget too easily that it is energy to make our bodies run.
    When I went to visit my mother who lives in the Southern United States, I was bombarded with her and my sister coming out with ‘you’re too skinny’ or ‘you need to put some meat on those bones’ and other such comments. I finally said: Actually, YOU could do with eating balanced meals, having the occassional desert or snack and going for walks to burn off the excess calories you’re carrying. I went on to say: ‘I look in the mirror and I like my body. I think my body looks great’. That shut them up.
    It IS a case of misery loves company and fat does beget fat. I stayed at my mother’s home for about 3 weeks and after hearing their comments, eventually, I ended up compulsively eating pretty much everything in my sight and continuing this when I got back to the UK. I ended up putting on about 30 extra pounds which luckily I lost by going back to being sensible. I remember the lack of control and fury I felt towards my mother for drumming it into me to ‘eat, eat, eat’….I’m happy that I look in the mirror and see a fit and healthy body now. If I come across these ‘fat and happy’ women who try to say to me: ‘You need to put some meat on your bones’….I say: ‘No, I don’t. You need to lose weight and stop lying to yourself and the rest of the world that you’re ‘happy’. You see, truly happy people don’t tell the rest of the world how to live. That is more a sign of discontentment. If you’re happy, you don’t go around announcing to the world that you’re ‘happy’ as in the case of the poster who wrote: ‘I’m 1-X and I’m a happy camper.’ Well, good for you, ‘honey’ now go share that happiness by helping others and making yourself useful.
    I, for one, do not feel ‘happy’ at this moment. I have work I need to do and do not feel motivated so I feel more ‘disillusioned’ than ‘happy’ but let’s not split hairs.

  101. FredericaBimble

    Update: That should read ‘dessert’ and not ‘desert’ but in the case of the subject, maybe a desert wouldn’t go amiss.
    Also, I know I spelled ‘occasional’ incorrectly as well… to all you spelling police out there….Ha, ha, ha, ha.

  102. Browsing

    Is there a “discredit fat people” campaign similar to the discredit Jews & Blacks campaign? Is it new & gaining momentum? Maybe I don’t see it because I’m not considered fat/overweight. Maybe it’s secret & underground because I don’t see fat people on the news being attacked the way Jews & Blacks get attacked in the media/society. We all get talked about no matter what we are (rich, poor, Black, White, ugly, pretty), but I don’t see anywhere in history where entire peoples/generations are persecuted, enslaved & killed because they are fat…talked about-yes…joked about-yes…but shot & destroyed-No.

  103. Bubbledin

    The song is not about just fat people, its about whats wrong with this god awful country. You take a look at most other countries and its not half as terrible as ours. Sure some fat people cant help it but for most of them its their own damn fault and they get what they deserve. If they were not as lazy they could get up and go work out and lose the weight and try to live a healthy life. Especially the ones that have children and cant even bring themselves to get in shape to make sure they see their kids grow and not die from a Sodium overdose. In regards to the racism….well thats just plain ignorance and retardation on those people. Its 2010 not 1950 anymore and these idiots should have thir own island where they live with rebel flags and nazi symbols. If it wasnt for the Japanese and Mexicans our country would probably be worse than it is. They are the smartest and most hard working people I have seen. So being fat is contributed to being lazy for some people and racism is contributed to having a lack of intelligence, since those 2 things make up probably half this country its safe to say we are the worst country in the world

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