Her crime? Eating while fat.

Over at MomGrind, the blogger is making unfounded judgements about a fat girl “overdosing on sugar” or some such nonsense. (Thanks Bri, for the pointer to the discussion). The comments on the post are now closed because some uppity fatties have been taking her to task (yay, team!) but I will not be denied my 2 cents.

Uh, this might get a bit lengthy, because I have a LOT of spare change.

Are you listening, MomGrind?

She was sitting with her back to me as I entered the ice cream place with my kids. She was very big – most likely not just medically overweight, but obese.

And her size was affecting you how exactly, MomGrind? Was she aggressively being fat at you?

As we were standing in line, contemplating our order of a kid-size, single ice cream scoop in a small waffle cone, I glanced at her.

She was young – a teenager – eating fast, holding her extra large cone in one hand, feverishly texting with the other. She looked almost drugged – drugged with sugar I guess. It was obvious that the eating and texting were giving her intense pleasure, soothing her. She was oblivious to her surroundings. When I caught myself staring, I was grateful that she hadn’t noticed.

Judgmental much?

  1. You don’t know her experience of eating the ice cream.
  2. You don’t know the circumstances surrounding her having the ice cream.
  3. You have no right to act as Food Police.
  4. You do not have the right to act as amateur psychologist
  5. Nor do you actually know whether she was ‘drugged’ and ‘soothed’ by food. You just assumed using your big-FAT-bias (OMG, I said THE WORD).

And the reason you were glad she didn’t see your judgmental stare? Is because you KNEW you were being a hateful bigot. You knew you had no right to judge.

That afternoon, I was thinking about the girl at the ice cream store, and it got me thinking about Fat Acceptance and about how, after what I saw, I’m not so sure anymore that it’s such a great idea.

And this is based on what, one girl eating an ice cream cone in a manner you disapproved of? Fuck that.

How do I accept that girl’s behavior when it’s wrong on so many levels? How do I tell that kid it’s OK to be fat without giving her permission to continue on this destructive path? Instead of talking about how we should accept fat, shouldn’t we do everything in our power, as a society and as a government, to educate the obese, and to tax, or otherwise punish, the food industry whenever it knowingly shoves calories, trans fats and other unhealthy ingredients down our throats?

Why exactly is it up to you to be the arbiter of whether that girl’s (as you put it) ‘behavior’ is acceptable or not? Look at your language here in this one paragraph alone. You use words like:

  • ‘wrong’,
  • ‘permission’,
  • ‘destructive’,
  • ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’,
  • ‘punish’,
  • ‘shoves calories’, and
  • ‘down our throats’.

It’s a text book example of Moral Panic. You aren’t concerned about health (although that is the language you use to mask your moral outrage), you are making a moral judgement that this girl – through her body size and by eating-while-fat – is offending your value system. And you want it to STOP. Because it’s WRONG. Because all the baby kittens will DIE. And baby Jesus will cry if you suffer a fat woman to live unmolested in her own skin. And you are a GOOD GIRL who does what your doctor tells you and only eats the small cone, but SHE’S eating the big cone and it’s SO UNFAIR.

Get over it.

Perhaps our goal should be to accept overweight and obese people in the sense of never, ever discriminating against them. So, we need to accept fat, but we need not accept the underlying reasons for it – partly our culture, partly the food industry’s carelessness, and partly people’s choices and actions.

So essentially, you are saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”? See how we are back to moral judgements here?

But you know, I don’t actually see a hell of a lot of “[acceptance of] overweight and obese people in the sense of never, ever discriminating against them” going on in your post.

What I see is tut-tutting and moral judgment masked as concern. And that is both discriminatory and hateful:

It’s discriminatory to try and take away another person’s bodily autonomy, which you are doing by trying to dictate what this particular girl’s food choices should be (and by extension, the food choices of all fat people).

It’s hateful and wrong-headed to decide you know someone else’s experiences or motivations from a glance. But it is particularly hateful when you base your ‘knowledge’ just on a person’s size (as you did when you assumed a disordered relationship with food as indicated by your choice to use the words ‘drugged by sugar’).

It’s discriminatory to assume that fat people need education to make food choices you approve of. Because you assume fat people are stupid, ignorant or lazy – or all three.

It’s hateful to tut-tut someone else’s choices or behaviours. It makes you smell all Holier Than Thou. And there’s NOTHING more hateful than someone smugly patting themselves on the back for supposed moral superiority. Big fucking whoop if you had a small ice cream!

It is discriminatory to talk about punitive measures to make people not fat, regardless of whether you are framing it as ‘taxes’ or stopping the food industry from force-feeding us. Because you clearly assume fat people do not have enough self-control to make choices that YOU consider appropriate.

It’s hateful to use the stereotypical ‘anonymous random fatty’ photo (although I suppose we must be grateful that the person actually has a head). Why? Because that person is a real human being. Because once again you are placing a judgment on a person because of their size and appearance alone. Because that person’s body size is none of your god-damn business. Because that person has the right to exist in the world with dignity. Because you have no right to appropriate someone’s body to bolster your bigoted moral panic ‘concern’ rant.

And I am not even going to go into why it is both hateful and discriminatory to flagellate fat people with the it’s-for-your-own-good-can’t-you-see-I-have-your-health-at-heart stick.

How do you feel about “fat acceptance?”

If you have not bothered to read up on what Fat Acceptance actually is – why the commonly quoted health arguments are faulty – I am not going to spoon feed you.

There are plenty of resources out there if you actually want to learn.

And I suspect – if you are truthful – you actually don’t give a flying fuck about anything but your tut-tutting.

Thus endeth the lesson.


28 Responses to “Her crime? Eating while fat.”

  1. 1 Rachel Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 3:41 am



    Also, “drugged on sugar?” REALLY? Based on what emprical evidence does she suppose this is? Has she done blood tests? MRI scans of her brain? She has absolutely NO call to make such a statement. Her claim is based on her own prejudices and experiences–most likely her OWN interpretation of how SHE HERSELF feels about sugar. SHE is the one who thinks of sugar as a drug, she experiences sugar as a drug. THEREFORE, she is PROJECTING herself onto this girl, her victim.

    MomGrind, you should be ashamed–ASHAMED–of yourself,

    (Also, sorry for all the caps. I got excited.)

  2. 2 Mina Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:15 am

    That’s pretty much everything I felt about that post, but couldn’t articulate.

    Particularly eye-roll worthy is the “kid-size, single scoop ice cream” line. How Holier-than-thou can you be? I’m sure in her world fat people never choose the smaller portion, except that’s what I always do. Not because I’m on a diet, or morally better, but because I can’t actually eat a lot in one sitting and the smaller portion is always satisfying.

    Yet, somehow, after a lifetime of choose child-size ice cream cones, I’m STILL FAT. Funny how that works!

    Between this and the study that the “tipping point” for obesity is as low as 2 months old, I’m more and more convinced that you’re right and this is nothing but moral panic.

    Also it makes me want to bake some cookies in defiance to it all.

    • 3 Fatadelic Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:05 pm

      Have a cookie for me, Mina!

  3. 4 vesta44 Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:19 am

    Amen! You said it so much better than I could have. I read that post, and thought WTF?!

  4. 5 JeninCanada Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:34 am

    Gah, me too. I was like “Wait. What? This is a real thing in the real world?” Great take down.

  5. 6 Heidi Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:42 am

    WOW – the comments that she made on what FA folks had said (even the ones who were super-polite, like me!). Ouch.

    So what she was saying when she said she wanted “thoughts” was “I want people who think like me.” That’s *fantastic* for someone who wants to get paid blogging jobs. Well done, MomGrind, for thinking inside a very, very tiny box!

    • 7 Fatadelic Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:06 pm

      Yep, she wanted an echo chamber, not discussion.

  6. 8 Twistie Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:51 am

    (Leaps on chair, applauds wildly)

    You know, the thing she seems most incensed about is the fact that a fat person seemed to be enjoying food…in an ice cream parlor! Seriously, who enjoys ice cream??? Ice cream is clearly in her world something that can only be eaten if you don’t allow yourself to have fun whilst doing it.

    For all she knows, that was the only food that girl had eaten all day. She may also dine on ice cream cones three meals a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t actually matter. It’s her body, and she needs to make the decisions about what she puts in it.

    She may have looked blissful because she was eating ice cream, but she may equally have been so happy because of the content of a text message. She might have just learned that she’d gotten the highest grade on a test in school, or that the person she has a crush on feels the same way, or that her belly dancing troupe just got a plum gig.

    But no, she was looking happy while eating ice cream. That makes her a criminal.

    MomGrind talks about how nobody should judge the fat, but just EDUCATE THEM…while making a lot of smug judgements including the assumption that this girl just can’t possibly know what a healthful meal looks like. MomGrind, my guess is that nearly any fat person over the age of ten can tell you things you’d never imagined about nutrition/portion control/calories burned whilst exercising depending on the activity. Why? Because we are expected to spend our entire lives ‘fixing’ a condition that has never been proven to be fixable.

    MomGrind can kiss my shiny metal…anterior region.

    • 9 Fatadelic Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:08 pm

      I know! How dare a fat person ENJOY food. Shame, shame, shame!

  7. 10 Lori Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 4:55 am

    What I find so funny is that the blogger was herself eating ice cream. I mean, I know it was a super-virtuous kid-sized cone, but still. She was eating freaking ice cream. I’m assuming it wasn’t because she had determined that ice cream would somehow help her to achieve optimal nutrition for that day, but because she herself enjoys ice cream. And then she goes on to talk about how awful it was that this fat girl was enjoying ice cream.

    It’s like all the people who complain about how, every time they’re eating in McDonald’s, all of these fat people are there, eating the food!

    It’s amazing how things like ice cream and McDonald’s magically morph into virtuous, healthy foods when eaten by thin people.

  8. 11 wriggles Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:22 am

    I’m sorry, but her comments read a bit ‘porn-ish’ to me. And no, that is not a word.

  9. 12 Lisa Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:41 am

    I have to laugh at her closing the comments after slamming specific FA comments. She clearly got WAY more feedback then she was prepared for!

  10. 13 Leslie Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 6:14 am

    Your rebuttal is brilliant. I love how MomGrind adds a gigantic comment to her own post that trash talks all of the opposing commenters and then closes the comments so none of them can reply.

    Nice. Passive aggressive much?

  11. 14 buffPuff Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 6:51 am

    Torn about fat acceptance? My arse.

    I think the thing that peeved me most about the whole debacle was the wretched woman’s continuous entreaties to post ever more responses, giving the impression that said responses, (in which numerous highly eloquent proponents of FA, including Miriam Heddy, who, IMO, deserves a standing ovation for the brilliance, articulacy and bang-on-the-money nature of her comment), were actually providing her with food for thought. Then she does a sarcastic little volte-face, reveals she hasn’t understood a single thing any of these people have attempted to get through her thick, bigoted skull, disingenuously twists what they did say, and acts the wounded innocent.

    Silly Fatosphere for not realising that she was “simply unaware, maybe insensitive to (y)our pain” and merely needed to be gently educated. Well momgrind, that’s pretty hard to do when attitudes like yours are, hands down, the number one cause of my pain.

    • 15 Heidi Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:17 am

      BP – that’s what made me angriest. Her chirpy little “keep posting, this is great!” comments and then her nasty scorpion-tail sting at the end.

      Little did I know that reasoned argument was trolling.

    • 16 Miriam Heddy Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 8:22 am

      Thank you, BuffPuff. I’m glad the comment worked to communicate what I wanted it to, at least for those who weren’t going, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you!”

      I wrote it even though I suspected that she was being disingenious about wanting to question her conclusions.

      Her reaction before closing down comments was telling, and not all that uncommon among those people who are, essentially, bigots.

      The upside is that her bigotry remains on the record, as do some fine rebuttals. We need to keep writing rebuttals to posts like hers because otherwise they stand as narratives against our silence, describing our bodies while cutting us off at the head.

    • 17 Fatadelic Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:11 pm

      Her sarcastic dismissal of Miriam’s great arguments – and those of other people as well – were part of what pissed ms off so
      much. That and closing the comments. She did not like being called on her bullshit.

  12. 18 Atuin Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:06 am

    Personally, I think a lot of this person’s attitude is over the fact that the fat person was having the large cone, and loving it, while she was contemplating buying the small kid size cone. This thin person simply couldn’t stand the idea of the fat person not being miserable, after all, fat people are supposed to be miserable while thin people are happy, right?

  13. 19 JennyRose Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 7:26 am

    Seeing a person under such circumstances is like seeing a picture. You have no idea about their body and life. That would be more like a long movie. It takes time to get to know someone, judgments can be done in an instant. This woman projected all her fears and negative beliefs on to the first person she saw in an ice cream store. She objectified her and failed to see her as a living breathing person.

    Of course the payoff was that she was able to feel smug about herself and her parenting. I feel sorry for her kids because I am certain she projects all this fear and angst on to them.

  14. 20 Chris G Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 9:54 am

    There’s an aspect to fat hatred that isn’t really touched on much, the pathological aspect of it. Some people experience genuine physical revulsion for fat people, in the same way that (pardon me for the Godwin speak) Hitler felt about Jewish people. If you read Mein Kampf (which I have), it’s like he was scared that being Jewish was contagious, that it was a literal disease he could catch.

    Many people think that fat is literally poison, whether adipose or in a foodstuff. And it’s not a rational feeling, it’s a symptom of an aberrant psychology, a personality disorder. If eating disorders are mental illnesses (which I think they are), then fat hatred is as well.

  15. 21 LexieDi Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Man, I am so angry about this… Okay, not angry, more like upset. I’m one of the people she called out in her last post and she totally twisted my words. THAT is what I find most offensive. You don’t like fatties? Fine. You think they’re morally wrong for being fat? Whatever. I’m not a mechanic for stupid. But DO NOT slander my words, twist them around to make me sound like what you ignorantly think a fatty is. You wanted opinions, I gave you mine. Don’t ask for it if you’re going to break down under the weight. And yes, pun intended.

    Go team!

    • 22 Fatadelic Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 5:31 pm

      LexieDi, she would not have felt the need to shoot you down and close the comments if you hadn’t been effective in calling her on her bullshit.

  16. 23 sleepydumpling Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 9:28 pm

    **slow clap**

    A fantastic response to an ugly, ugly attitude. You said everything beautifully, and thank you for doing it.

  17. 24 La di da Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 10:31 pm

    What a sad, sad person. Virtuous because she is thin and allows herself a tiny reward of a child-sized ice cream! Smug because she knows what a slob that fat girl is and how she’s not like that! Fat girls should do as they’re told by superior thin people! And of course, all fat people are in denial about everything, big fat liars.

    I sincerely hope her children make it to adulthood without an eating disorder. And that she doesn’t practice her passive-aggressive on them.

  18. 25 Meowser Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 12:28 am

    You mean we’re actually allowed even a small ice cream cone? With real ice cream? I thought we fatties weren’t allowed treats at all, just celery and water, even on our birthdays.

  19. 26 Alexandra Lynch Sunday, 14 February 2010 at 4:18 am

    I always eat ice cream cones fast because otherwise they make a mess. (shrug) I thought everyone who’d attained adulthood had figured that out.

    All this makes me want to do is to go somewhere and enjoy my food at all the paranoid skinny people. (snicker)

  20. 27 Pattie Lee Monday, 22 February 2010 at 6:58 am

    “Was she aggressively being fat at you?”
    HA! I love that line… Brilliant! That woman mad me so angry I could spit. It took me a couple of days before I was able to post a not-so-ranty post about it. You’ve done a brilliant job.

  1. 1 Fat Lot of Good Trackback on Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 11:01 pm

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