Monday, September 29, 2014

Fat shaming and the final frontier of social acceptance

Folks, I'm not really in the mood to research and write anything at the moment, because I had a rather painful fall downstairs. (Also, my beloved Hell-Hound is ailing again -- mysterious rectal bleeding -- and when she is in a bad way, I can't easily concentrate on the news.) Fortunately, our friend Ms. Vandal wrote a short piece which she would like to share with a larger audience. Her observations were inspired by this controversy.

*  *  *

From the desk of Ms. Vandal:

A viral video chronicles an experiment involving the picture-driven dating application Tinder. What makes this video alarming is the reaction of the men who have arranged a date with a woman who turns out to be overweight. Although her online profile depicts a svelte young female, the men come face to face with a woman wearing a convincing "fat suit." This is all meant to initiate a dialogue about the discrepancy between online fantasy images and the reality of our growing obesity problem.

This problem goes beyond the social and dating arenas. Research suggests that prejudice against the overweight extends to academia and to the professional world. A Bowling Green State University study suggests that overweight job applicants are less likely to secure a job offer.

Last year, utilizing the hash-tag "truth," evolutionary psychology professor Geoffrey Miller of New York University tweeted these instantly-notorious words:
“Dear obese PhD applicants: If you do not have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation.”
Fat shaming has become an all-encompassing trap. Paul Fussell, author of the revealing sociological tell-all book Class, states succinctly: “Your weight is an advertisement of your social standing.” He argues that it is difficult to transcend your social class unless you are extraordinarily beautiful. Current beauty standards exclude overweight people.

Of course no one wants to believe that they are guilty of fat shaming. No one is a racist, either -- in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Granted, there are people who date only within the subgroup of overweight people. According to the Center for Disease control, more than one-third of the population is obese. Pseudo-pharmacology has lead many to believe that weight problems can be solved with a pill.

I write this post to make one simple point: Please,always remember that the other person at the other end of that interview, job application, or online dating profile is a person. While the Tinder profile experiment may have been deceptive, it does highlight the genuine prejudice which overweight people face everyday.

* * *

Joseph again: I should mention that Professor Miller later apologized for his tweet (which carried a legal risk, since he sat on the Admissions Committee of his university). Later still, Miller claimed that his original tweet was part of a psychology experiment.

The mind boggles when one tries to imagine the exact nature of such an experiment. What was the point? Was he trying to determine how an online community reacts to someone who says something unpopular and offensive?

If so, all he had to do was ask me.
Comments:
People have been talking about fat for decades, since "fat is a feminist issue". So it's hardly the final frontier. Height, that's the final frontier. No-one talks about that, yet it forms the ubiquitous background discrimination of society.

http://breakingthescience.org/AppearanceBias.php
 
I didn't appreciate the commentary on the "social experiment" video. It made it sound like the woman in the fat suit was derided and humiliated, while in fact all of the guys shown in the video were quite polite and respectful.

In reality, there are no harsher judges of women's bodies than other women - especially the women in charge of fashion magazines and brands.

There are plenty of guys who actually prefer curvier women, but to deliberately bait guys with a picture of a skinny woman and to expect to ignore the fat one that showed up instead is creme de la creme of yellow internet garbage.

Fat shaming exist, but let's look at who, why and when perpetrates it, rather than unload on no one in particular.
 
Not sure why this is a controversy or even surprising. The initial poll says it all: most women are afraid they'll meet a serial killer online. Men? That the woman will be . . . fat.

I love how the actress played this out--unassuming, here I am, no excuses. And the men are highly insulted, angry. Any woman who has struggled with her weight can identify with this crushing social norm. You're required to be slim, young, beautiful, always. If you're not? Wait for the shaming. From men and women alike. Men are far more blatant in their disgust.

Is this the last frontier of bigotry? Certainly, it's the last frontier of open bigotry. What is not PC to say aloud about race, ethnicity, religion and/or class [although many have no problems of criticizing the poor as lazy layabouts] is a wide open field when it comes to fat people. You don't need to be obese to feel the rejection either. Crayon outside the lines and you're a goner.

I got a taste of this as a kid. I was always 20-25 pounds over the ideal weight. Baby fat, my grandmother said. Unfortunately, that didn't keep the insults and teasing at bay. Kids can be cruel. But let's face it--there are plenty of cruel adults marching around, just waiting to crack on another person they feel is vulnerable. It's as if the overweight individual has no feelings, as if our penchant for snarky, cruel comments are all saved up, eager to wound those we perceive as lazy, out of control, gluttonous, whatever. And in that way, it is related to class, to vulnerability, to what we fear ourselves.

As an adult, I've been thin far longer than my chubby years as a child. But some things you don't forget.

Peggysue
 
I've been fat since I had my tonsils removed in the 3rd grade. The only time in my 67 years that my weight (BMI) has been near normal, i.e. "beautiful," was when I was averaging running 30 miles per week. It's harder than you think to be "beautiful," fat shamers.
 
Watson once said ( I am talking about the Noble prize winner, DNA) that he feels sorry for fat people who come to interview for a job because he knows they are not going to be hired.
 
Stephen, speaking as someone in the "under 5'8"" club, I must concede your point. I'm in that club by only about half an inch, yet it's hard for a guy my size to get the respect normally accorded to someone who is big and dumb. What's bothersome is that, in our culture, people are at least allowed to TALK about unfair treatment based on factors such as skin color or weight. Shorties get short shrift.
 
Geoffrey Miller (who's at New Mexico) is an "evolutionary psychologist". Isn't that often code for "eugenicist"?

As an associate professor of psychology, he'll know that he isn't supposed to start psychology experiments on his tod, before anyone has checked his protocols. Insulting obese people causes unnecessary distress and breaches the Nuremburg Code. I hope he gets a strip torn off his arse and students and others in New Mexico protest against him.

Edit: yep, this idiot Geoffrey Miller is a supporter of eugenic

How fucking easy it is for him to sit in his ivory tower saying the government should control breeding as he bravely types up to 140 characters insulting real people who haven't got sinecures but get turned away from jobs because they aren't as thin as fashion models.s.
 
I realize that I'm something of a dinosaur, but my impression was that Tinder was primarily intended as an app for locating casual hookups predicated mainly on the "hotness" of the, er, "Tinderee" as well as his/her proximity to the, er, "Tinderer".

Is that not correct?

If it is correct, why would anyone be surprised at an adverse reaction based on a deceptive ad? If you're selling (and make no mistake about it, that's the right verb) to a specific demographic based on a conformance to a particular standard of "hotness" to which you do not in fact conform, you ought to expect a certain level of disappointment and perhaps outright irritation and anger on the part of those whom you have deceived (if not defrauded).

People who use Tinder aren't exactly looking for soulmates, after all.


 
There is a strong correlation between obesity and poverty, so I'm also gonna go ahead and assert that fat shaming is in a sense also just another tool for the marginalization of the poor.
 
Geoffrey Miller wears glasses. Unless he only does it to look intellectual, he presumably suffers from a congenital weakness of his vision - as I do, and as millions of other people do.

So as a eugenicist, has he put his vas deferens where his mouth is and had a vasectomy?

After all, people who need glasses pollute the gene pool, right?
 
Anon 11:33, I think you have it just right.

b, I see no evidence that Miller has any connection to eugenics. Before the dust-up over this latest tweet, he was best known for writing a paper which argued that lap-dancers in strop clubs make bigger tips when they are ovulating.

I think THAT gives you an idea as to his real area of expertise. He is one of America's leading specialists in Strip Clubology. And he got into trouble only when he ventured outside of his field.

I have to admit, this kind of study is probably a good way for a nerdy guy to get strippers to talk to him about personal matters: "But it's for SCIENCE!"

Yes, he wears glasses. Now you know why he wants to see better.


 
Even his Wikipedia entry mentions his connections with eugenics.

In this article he praises Chinese eugenics to the skies and says the west should take a leaf out of China's book.

Having no time for "anti-hereditarian political correctness", he says forward forward forward with the "Han ethno-state".

And he speaks admiringly of how Deng Xiao-Peng forbade people with physical disorders from marrying and encouraged "assortative mating".
 
I'm short and fat, Joseph. Also, very poor and possessing of an extremely strong regional accent, which with the employer-class is a massive black mark. Someone once told me I sound like Jim Bowen from Bullseye. In an interview I might as well punch the interviewer and call him a cunt.
 
Oh, Propertius 10:07, you are being unfair to the Tinderites! "Not looking for soul-mates"? How do you know?

F. Scott F. obeerved that it was silly to marry for money. He advised: "Go where the money is, then marry for love."
 
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