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The Town That Jenny Craig Forgot
Just about every person we encountered in Hot Springs, Arkansas (except one skinny bronze man above one of the fountains) was obese. Is it just me, or are we in America going a little overboard on the "fat acceptance" thing?





As Cathy Seipp wrote:

"I believe your right to overeat ends where my airplane seat begins."

Not surprisingly, she was tarred and feathered on a fatty blog. Actually, they even mentioned me (I hate when Cathy gets all the vitriol all to herself). I would have posted a response there, but, not surprisingly, they make posters register.

Not surprisingly either, the commenters stuck to unrelated personal attacks (even low-blow attacking Cathy's teenaged daughter), never getting into the big (fat) question: If you're obese, shouldn't you buy yourself two seats instead of spilling over into half of mine?

This question unfortunately came to the fore on my way, by plane, to Little Rock from Memphis. Most mercifully, it was a short flight. Now, I'm normally very protective of my tiny little square of real estate in coach. But, when my seatmate is EEEEENORMOUS (like, 300 or 400 lbs), I'm battling not wanting be cruel while also not being willing to have my eye socket pressed up against the window because a piano-sized person is sitting in a piccolo-sized seat. Grrrr.

The guy's girlfriend was sitting next to him, so he finally got it into his head that he should change seats with her.

No, it can't be easy being that fat. But, that doesn't mean you're entitled to half my seat on the plane.

Here's how people used to look not long ago:


Now maybe there are a few obese people who have some rare and terrible hormonal disease that keeps them bedridden at 625 lbs. But, I suspect many aren't willing to admit they have a problem -- whether it's with their eating and exercise habits or anything else.

I see that as one of my best qualities -- my willingness (eagerness, even) to admit when something's wrong: to look at myself and say, "Hey, I'm fucked up!" or to look at my life and ask, "Could I be any more counterproductive?" Admitting something's broken is almost always the first step in getting it fixed.

As Cathy continued in her piece:

A few weeks ago I came across an old World War I poster that announced, "Deny Yourself Something: Eat less of the food fighters need." Deny yourself something. What a curious and forgotten concept. The poster might as well have been 1000 years old instead of less than 100, so bizarre was its message to modern eyes.

Contemporary citizens are far more likely to deny reality than deny themselves anything. Around the same time I noticed the poster, I read a long and grotesquely fascinating Washington Post feature story about a 625-pound man whose extreme obesity had confined him to his bed for the past seven years.

Almost as remarkable as this awful situation was the sympathetic reporter's strained attempt to make it seem like nobody's fault, really. A doctor was trotted out to provide a quote suggesting that the excess weight was acquired by consuming just over 100 extra calories a day. The man's wife was portrayed as loving and loyal, rather than an enabler who provided her bedridden husband fattening foods he wouldn't otherwise be able to reach.

Kind of like being very slowly bludgeoned to death with Twinkies. Heartwarming, isn't it?

Posted by aalkon at June 20, 2006 11:03 AM

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Those photos are hilarious! We live on Planet Fatty!

Posted by: Lena at June 20, 2006 6:47 AM

I read some of the comments on that blog and that's really horrible. Not so much the pointless attacks on Cathy and Amy, but the simple fact that they have no idea they have a problem. All they do is point out how we're the ones with a problem, and they're perfectly healthy. How very very sad.

Posted by: Alan H. at June 20, 2006 7:02 AM

Oh c'mon now Amy....i think you need to be more accepting of large people, after all, back in the 1700's it was fashionable to have a big 'ol fatty on your arm when one went to the ball...

I'm kidding....

I like to wear cargo pant and cargo shorts. They provide me with relative comfort and the ability to carry all of my things without having to carry a "man purse". I have found that your average Wal-Mart has the kind that are not only affordable, but comfortable as well....that is when i can find my size. As an "average" sized guy at 5'10, 160 lbs, 34x32 usually does the job however, there seems to be some problem keeping this size in stock. Last weekend while I was at aforementioned establishment, all the cargo pants that they had in stock were sized 38 and up. Like anyone else would when asked for assistance, I asked if might have my size in "the back room" to which the large female employee replied in a southern drawl "you need to eat more! Theres a MAC donalds right here in the store!" Wow....sounds like a solution to me.

So....instead of banging the masses with "Eat less and excercise"...."Just buy bigger clothes" seems to be the battle cry for many.

Funny how I don't see all that many large folks when I travel overseas.

Posted by: Rob at June 20, 2006 7:31 AM

Yup,Rob,for a really gut-wrenching experience visit the larger sized lingerie sections.

Posted by: mbruce at June 20, 2006 8:14 AM

Oh yesss, I agree with mbruce.

Its sooo sexy when that thong and push up bra come in 3X and 44DDD.

I know no women wear lingerie that size. Guys trapped into a relationship with a large marge buy them as a last ditch effort to get a full erection.

Posted by: Jim_M at June 20, 2006 8:28 AM

Guys trapped in a relationship with a Large Marge also buy them to wear on those lovely afternoons they spend with a Slim Jim.

Posted by: Lena at June 20, 2006 8:36 AM

Ahhh . . . just when the high price of living on the coast gets me down, I'm reminded of why I would never want to trade down for the simpler middle-America life.

Amy, my girlfriend's family is from (non-Chicago) Illinois, and when I met them all at a reunion last year, it was like stepping into another world. Every person I ran into, man, woman and child, was overweight. These were otherwise successful, educated people. But when it came to fitness, I may as well have been speaking Aramaic.

The sad part is that you could see the culture being passed on to children who would never know better until it was too late. One cousin's child, less than two years old, already looked like a country ham. No meal was complete without significant helpings of lard caserole, and most meals were of the fast food variety.

Not to mention the fact that for some reason, beer had replaced water as the go-to beverage of choice. I'm not teetotaler, but except for a few choice college moments, I had never really considered MGD a breakfast drink.

Posted by: snakeman99 at June 20, 2006 8:40 AM

I see that as one of my best qualities -- my willingness (eagerness, even) to admit when something's wrong: to look at myself and say, "Hey, I'm fucked up!" or to look at my life and ask, "Could I be any more counterproductive?" Admitting something's broken is almost always the first step in getting it fixed.

No more haranguing SUV owners until they assault you, then?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at June 20, 2006 8:43 AM

Ugh! Amy, you referenced Jenny Craig? Jenny Craig? This would be the same Jenny Craig who actually considered using Monica Lewinsky as their national spokeswoman.

What in Heaven's name were they thinking? Just what the world needs: more information on what Monica Lewinsky swallows!

Posted by: Patrick at June 20, 2006 9:27 AM

That's why I'm glad I live in New York City. You don't see a lot of fat people here. And when you do, they're usually tourists. I remember sitting at the Cafe Edison, having a bowl of matzo ball soup (best in the city!), watching a FAT tourist family ordering food- little Fat Suzy ordering a hamberger, french fries, and a Coke. I want to reach over and squeeze Mom's neck- "MAKE THAT KID EAT VEGETABLES AND DRINK MILK SO SHE DOESN'T END UP LIKE YOU!!"

Have you watched the show, "You're Killing Your Kids"? It's all about families who are making their kids fat, and re-doing the family diet. Pretty cool to see how malleable kids are, once their parents really get behind making them be healthy.

Posted by: MissPinkKate at June 20, 2006 9:31 AM

Hey now, not all of us in the Midwest are fat! I ride my bicycle 3,000 miles a year, including one trip all the way across the state. The people are amazing. Snooty coastal dwellers who stick their noses in the air and loftily proclaim the vast "flyover" section of the country to be full of ignorant savages, PLEASE keep up the good work. We like to keep our air clean and our commutes short.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 20, 2006 9:41 AM

Jo -

I don't disagree with anything you wrote. The midwest has a lot of things to offer. A high per capita population of fit people is not one of them.

Posted by: snakeman99 at June 20, 2006 9:50 AM

Treach, I don't see being a bitch as a bad quality. In fact, I have all the bitch merit badges, and wear them proudly.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 20, 2006 10:29 AM

> The Town That Jenny Craig Forgot

You are LA's champion blog item title-er.

(5'7"/180, [20 of it chins])

Posted by: Crid at June 20, 2006 11:05 AM

"That's why I'm glad I live in New York City. You don't see a lot of fat people here."

Heroin has a wonderful slimming effect, doesn't it?

Posted by: Lena at June 20, 2006 11:11 AM

Funny article... but this could be any town in the United States of America.

Posted by: Hoodlumman at June 20, 2006 12:56 PM

It's all about choice and education:
- Choice: once you leave the big cities, you get into processed, industrialized, junk food land, and it's a challenge to find real food, so most people don't know better. It's not their fault, we're just luckier.
- Education: I'm always amazed by the number of pages every single diet book devotes to explaining what carbos, fat and proteins are, what nutritients and vitamins mean, why a fruit is better than a Taco Bell. It's like people need a brain overhaul, and probably so, since junk is all they've ever known since their crap-sponsored school lunches.

Some say that the real WMD threatening America is obesity. I tend to agree... and the world is going that way too :-(

Posted by: Frog in L.A. at June 20, 2006 1:33 PM

Silver lining: The positive thing about fat people is the same as the positive thing about smokers: They tend to die early, around the time they stop contributing to the economy. Leaves more social security money (and freeway space) for me.

Posted by: Gary Steiger at June 20, 2006 3:22 PM

In 1979, a friend of mine from Belgium came to visit. I was living in Lexington KY at the time and took her to the UK homecoming game, so she could see our version of 'royalty.' She kept exclaiming about how fat the people in the stadium were, and she was right. At the time I thought it was a southern thing, and still believe that to be true--that you will find a higher proportion of obese men and women in the south than in any other part of the country.

I don't see it as much these days in the Pacific NW.
Just sayin'

Posted by: moe99 at June 20, 2006 3:44 PM

"They tend to die early, around the time they stop contributing to the economy. Leaves more social security money (and freeway space) for me."

Ah, but they tend to die very expensive deaths, leaving less and less money in the Medicare Trust Fund for you and me.

Posted by: Lena at June 20, 2006 4:03 PM

Cafe Edison? At the Edison Hotel? I used to eat lunch there about every other day...often with a bunch of old voiceover actors...Harry Goz, Bill Nelson...brings back memories.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 20, 2006 4:19 PM

I think the major problem is that almost no one does any real outdoor work (remember when you pushed a lawnmower?) nor walks anywhere. In most towns, people drive everywhere (I'm certainly guilty) and for many people, cooking a real meal is something they do once a year. When I was a kid growing up in Montana, no one was fat, and now, everyone is.
Also, people smoked like chimneys, and while they stopped that habit, they picked up a Big Gulp and never put it down.

Posted by: KateCoe at June 20, 2006 6:45 PM

People often overlook some obvious facts when they're trying to explain behaviors like overeating, illicit drug use, unsafe sex, etc. Low self-esteem, hopelessness, bad TV, bad parenting -- every possible explanation is dredged up except the most obvious ones: Delicious food is satifying. Drugs are fun. Spreading your legs for a hot load after a bong hit and a bon-bon is REALLY satifying and fun.

Posted by: Lena "No Day But Today" Cuisina at June 20, 2006 7:30 PM

I live in Dallas, TX and sights like these of seriously obese people are commonplace. I feel badly for them, but this is a 'mouth disease', i.e. 'open mouth and stuff with food.' Many times I see families; fat dad and mom followed by kids who are also fat. It's a shame, as these kids don't really have a chance at life.

Posted by: Joe B... at June 20, 2006 9:27 PM

It's the denial thing. Here's my anecdote. I went to a family reunion recently. My 5 cousins, their wives, and I are all in our 40's. At one point, two of the wives asked me with bewilderment, "How do you stay so slender? What's your secret?" I love these ladies, so I really wanted to be diplomatic, but all I could think of in reply was "No secret! I work out nearly every day, and I watch what I eat." They both stared at me, speechless. Finally, one of them said, "Well, yeah, we know THAT. But how do you DO it?"

Posted by: Marie at June 20, 2006 11:00 PM

"Choice: once you leave the big cities, you get into processed, industrialized, junk food land, and it's a challenge to find real food, so most people don't know better. It's not their fault, we're just luckier."

About that. I don't live in a big city and our grocery stores have fine food. I am not fat, and the rate of obesity isn't actually all that bad where I live. Im not disputing that obesity isn't a porblem in a america, it certainly is. I dispute the fact that big city people are healthier. I would wager a guess as to say people in big cities are less healthy.

And please, people KNOW, have to know, that eating an apple is better than eating a candy bar. It's noy an issue of education, its common sense. You don't need to have a phd in nutrition to know what is healthy and what is not. Sure, at some level you can quibble about health choice perfection, but even a four year understands "sugar tastes good but is bad for body, vitamins in apple good for body." Its a matter of wills, so it is.

Posted by: Scott at June 20, 2006 11:22 PM

Most people die expensive deaths. Alzheimers, organ failure, heart disease afflict the fat and the skinny. Not to mention, the elderly tend to spend a lot of years popping pills to reduce pain that generally isn't done by smokers and fatties that die younger. It's keeping dying people on the brink that's expensive, the last 5 years of everyone's life is pretty expensive on average.

While I agree with your points on the fatties, how is you being proud to be a bitch different than their pride at being fat?

Posted by: Mo at June 21, 2006 4:17 AM

"The midwest has a lot of things to offer. A high per capita population of fit people is not one of them."

Heh heh ... it's wonderful being a single skinny chick here. These farm boys are adorable, and they'll treat you like a queen if your ass is less wide than the barn they keep their livestock in.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 21, 2006 6:18 AM

Really, is there any easier target than the horribly fat?

Folk who so obligingly wear their defects on the outside so the rest of us feel instantly better?

I have been a "bit fat" for about two minutes in my entire life, loathed it and had little trouble changing (generally slender family background).

Despite my luck, I do think some of the "fat acceptance" movement, or whatever you call it, is based on sheer bloody-minded - even admirable - defensiveness.

The only thing I ever disliked about my late, generally brilliant mother-in-law was her uncharacteristic equivalence of fatness with vague and chronic moral sloppiness. Again, she was naturally thin: but it simply didn't occur to her that she didn't have to try very hard to remain so. This caused needless additional boiling misery for her one very large daughter.

If I had one non-crucial wish, it would be to make all unhappy very fat people effortlessly thin for one day. Then, if they felt the reward was worth it - and the transformation possible - they could decide what to do: this would deal with the scolds who would prefer to see the painful hard work invested.

(Since I'm not a child with silly wishes, I've made do with teaching my own kids never, ever to start an anecdote with "there was this horrible fat person" in my hearing.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at June 21, 2006 7:41 AM

"Treach, I don't see being a bitch as a bad quality."

Neither do I, and you know that's not what I'm talking about. But it's futile, so never mind.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at June 21, 2006 9:34 AM


Maybe if you stop looking at people as either fat or not fat then "almost everybody you see" won't strike you as so superficially annoying?
Try fixating on their hats or noses instead?

(Which is an unbelievably po-faced remark from someone who genuinely thinks "Dumb and Dumber" is a funny movie!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at June 21, 2006 12:02 PM

Actually, I think it's horrifying and sad that these people are so fat, vis a vis how they have to go through life. I find it troubling they're so fat when my health care costs are factored in, and exceptionally upsetting when I'm shoved out of half my airplane seat by some fatty who thought they'd cheap out and buy just one and spill over into the seats of the people next to them, free of charge.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 21, 2006 3:03 PM

Life involves a constant struggle to find a healthy balance between self-denial and self-indulgence. I think going to one extreme or the other brings people down. People who deny themselves all pleasures (bong hits, hot loads, bon-bons, ha ha) aren't usually happy, but there's a kind of fierce pride you get when you set a goal for yourself and following through. Whether that's getting your body fit and strong, or passing on the drinking for a few nights to ace an exam - whatever. Not to be all Zen-like, but I think finding the balance between the two is what maximizes a person's happiness the most. Fat people are missing out on half the picture. Sure they know the self-indulgent pleasure of a few bon-bons (or a LOT of bon-bons) but clearly they've never experienced a runner's high before.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 21, 2006 4:44 PM

"Not to be all Zen-like, but I think finding the balance between the two is what maximizes a person's happiness the most."

Actually, PJ, your perspective sounds more influenced by Aristotle than Zen. Happiness is achieved in part by learning to make choices that place us at a peak of excellence between the extremes of excess and abstinence. This requires both knowledge and a degree of self-control.

Posted by: Lena at June 21, 2006 6:57 PM

I've known more than a few runners who have their share of high health care costs when they end up needing surgery or knee replacements.

My FIL eats a great diet, has never been overweight a day in his life, used to run (before his back problems got too bad) and yet still has pretty significant heart disease resulting in multiple bypass operations and angioplasties over the last few years. He's driving up health care costs too, between his multiple medications and various procedures, and it can't be blamed on his lifestyle choices. I know this is anectdotal and not data, but it's not just fat people and smokers who are causing everyone's health care costs to rise. As the population ages, the cost of health care required to keep people alive and functioning is going to continue to rise.

And Pirate Jo, there's a bit of a smug and self-congratulatory tone in your posts that I see from a lot of people on this issue. The thing is, you don't know from looking at someone what kind of diet they eat or exercise they get. I have a friend who is quite large who swims a couple of miles several times a week and bikes daily, and whose diet is probably better than mine, thanks to her twice-weekly walks to the local farmers market for fresh fruit, veggies and fish. Maybe the fat person you see on the street has lost 100 lbs. over the last year by eating a healthy diet and exercising and still has 100 more to go. Maybe they're on medications for that has caused them to gain weight (had a relative on steroids for severe allergies who gained about 50 lbs in six months and lost it once she went off the meds). Maybe they have an eating disorder. Maybe they're couch potatoes who eat multiple buckets of KFC daily. There's a level of moralizing and presumption that people feel free to indulge when it comes to fat people that they would never consider doing with any other physical characteristic, which is what I think Jody was referring to.

And I say this as someone who does work to stay at a healthy weight by watching what I eat and staying as active as I can (have arthritis in my hip which has, alas, put my running days behind me). I don't like to be squeezed out of my airplane seat more than anyone else, but I get really tired of this attitude of superiority over fat people that I often see.

Posted by: deja pseu at June 21, 2006 7:10 PM

Although I didn't pick up on any smugness in Pirate Jo's comment, I do like the simple point you're making: We shouldn't think we know the story of someone's life (or waistline) simply by looking at him. It reminds me of a scene from that old Godard movie "Masculin/Feminin." Jean-Paul and his girlfriend are on the metro, and they're talking about an old guy sitting near them who's got a package on his lap. They make up a few different stories about him and his package: he's carrying a bomb that will go off in a matter of minutes; he's just bought a birthday present for his daughter; he's delivering a manuscript to his publisher, etc, etc. Each time that they tell a different story, the camera zooms in on the old guy, and each story seems equally plausible. His "look" fits very well with all the fictional roles they describe.

It's a bit depressing to think we're all just making stories up about each other. So depressing, in fact, I think it's time for me now to go devour a few boxes of Ring Dings.

Posted by: Lena at June 21, 2006 8:58 PM

Ring dings?!?!? Girl, if you're going to go down in flames at least get yourself a cake from Doughboys!

Posted by: deja pseu at June 22, 2006 8:40 AM

Actually, I only eat desert on the weekends, and it's only the best for me. Fridays usually start with something luscious like a slice of caramel-drizzled cheesecake (followed by a hefty blowjob, of course).

Posted by: Lena at June 22, 2006 8:54 AM

Sure, some runners and other athletes I high health care costs, just like some safe drivers get in car accidents. Everybody knows somebody who’s got an uncle who smokes a pack a day and runs marathons, or got drunk every night and lived to be 96. We also all know people who do work out, but have heart trouble. Motorcycle magazines will run articles on how you don’t really need to wear a helmet, and so-and-so crashed without one and lived. But that’s not the average story, is it?
Most overweight people, like most Americans, ARE sedentary. Most Americans mostly eat badly. Deja, your FIL may have needed heart-related health care, but without his exercise he’d most likely be dead as a can of tuna. Your heavy biking/swimming friend may walk to the farmer’s market twice a week, but almost certainly needs to push themselves harder in training, as well as adding some weight training. As a professional trainer, I see tons of people who do work out then eat like hell and smoke on the side, and tons more who assure me that they’re eating “really really healthy” who aren’t, Ask any fitness or medical professional who deals with the obese on a regular basis about getting the truth about lifestyle choices from their clients; clients lie like crazy or simple don’t register what they really do and don’t eat, as well as how much they move.
“Maybe the fat person…” With enough maybes, as someone once observed, we could put Paris into a bottle. Maybe they’re on meds, maybe it’s their glands…We Americans are not a different race than the rest of the world, and as several posters have noted, foreigners are shocked when they get here to see HOW MANY fat people there are. A Brazilian client of mine was just telling me how so much of Brazilian life is built around athletics and dance, and how she’d never seen a fat person before coming to the US as a child. She also said that after a few months here, she turned into a ‘butterball’. The average American lifestyle is not conducive to good health.
Obesity was not at these levels 20 or 30 years ago, in fact the current generation is the first in history to have SHORTER life expectancies than their ancestors, due to lifestyle factors.
So, what to do? I’m a libertarian that way, your body, your choice. You want to be obese, smoke, or gargle Top Job, up to you. I don’t live in your skin, so it’s not my business. Like smoking, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad or stupid person, hell, lots of great, brilliant people have smoked or do smoke. And yes, it’s really really hard to quit, much easier if your parents leaned on you not to start when you were young and showed a good example themselves. And lecturing smokers doesn’t work. But trying to find scientific evidence that smoking’s not all that bad for you, or that, hey, a piano could fall on you so what does it matter, just makes you look stupid. As does pointing out that traditionally, smoking showed you were upper class (at least smoking Havanas or something). You wanna smoke, smoke. Just don’t expect me to ever find smoker’s breath pleasant, even if you start calling it ‘delicious fragrant sophisticated smoker’s breath’, or to want to engage in any kind of long term relationship with a smoker, due both to short-term effects (breath, overall smell, compulsivity, cough) and long-term effects (emphysema, cancer). And definitely don’t say that you’re only interested in dating non-smokers; in the last Savage Love, which I’m sure Amy reads, a fat hairy guy with man-boobs was complaining to Dan Savage how only other fat hairy guys were into him, and why couldn’t he score a Brad Pitt lookalike who could see Inside to all the wonder that was him…Dan went a lot easier on him than I would have.

Posted by: cat brother at June 22, 2006 11:20 AM

Breathe, cat, breathe...

I think the moral to all this is shut up and dance.

Posted by: eric at June 22, 2006 2:43 PM

Cat, I'm with you. I'm not trying to be smug about it, but I'm not going to cave in to "political correctness" about fat, either. Setting aside that one in ten thousand people with a true glandular problem, the overwhelming majority of fat people simply take in more calories than they burn on a regular basis, and most of them don't want to be fat. Maybe they don't believe in their own ability to control what they eat, or maybe they just don't care. Or maybe they do care, but not enough to make any changes. But I think you make a great point about some of the denial involved. The math simply doesn't add up. Go to an online fitness journal like some time and log in everything you eat. It's quite an eye-opener.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 22, 2006 2:55 PM

You call it "political correctness", I call it having some fat friends and family in my life and thinking of them as human beings each with their own strengths and challenges. I also call it having been a chubby child who was served the same food and lived the same lifestyle as a slender sister, yet was treated as somehow morally deficient and inferior in my family and my community. I've struggled all of my life to maintain a healthy weight (I've given up on "thin"). Most of the fat people I know *are* trying to lose weight and get healthier. They do what the doctors and "experts" tell them (often going on counter-productive low-fat regimes) often with minimal and sometimes dismal results. They try to balance working 40+ hours a week with caring for kids and aging parents and making time to exercise and finding someone to watch the kids so they can go to the gym, etc. But our lifestyle and work-style and the fact that most of us need to drive to get where we're going and don't have a lot of time to shop and prepare 3 healthy meals a day means that losing weight becomes a mind-consuming, time-consuming project that takes a back seat when Dad has a stroke or Jimmy is having troubles at school or whatever. Sure, we're all responsible for ourselves, but a lot of people are responsible for more than themselves, and in those situations, taking the care of themselves that the need to can take a back seat.

Posted by: deja pseu at June 22, 2006 5:35 PM

I don't care if you're fat. Just don't expect me to rim you, okay?

Posted by: Lena at June 22, 2006 6:41 PM

Ah, Lena. We can always count on you to bring the discussion back around to what's really important. ;-)

Posted by: deja pseu at June 22, 2006 7:01 PM

Like Eric said, "Breathe, cat, breathe..."

Posted by: Lena at June 22, 2006 10:32 PM

Just updating my earthquake kit today. Checked ther Red Cross laundry list. Loved the following item in the food planning -must have- section: "comfort/stress food: cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, ..."
Who needs that?!
Says it all...

Posted by: Frog in L.A. at June 22, 2006 11:03 PM

Deja, I don't disagree with you. I've got some hefty-sized friends, too. I don't see them as morally deficient. You nailed it right on the head - when you work behind a desk all day and drive everywhere, you have to carve time out of your schedule to get to a gym, go for a bike ride, or go running in the evening. And yes, between all of those other errands you have to run or shuttle kids back and forth, exercise might end up getting booted down on the priority list. However, as you also pointed out, people are responsible for setting their own priorities. I'm certainly not going to say what other people's priorities or lifestyles should be, but I'm not buying the "glandular" excuse, either. Glandular problems don't explain why childhood obesity has skyrocketed so much in one generation.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at June 23, 2006 6:28 AM

I'm not seeing where anyone in this discussion has brought up the "glandular" argument. And no, I'm not buying it for a majority of people either.

Posted by: deja pseu at June 23, 2006 7:18 AM

If you’ve gotten to where you work 40 hours a week, have kids and aging parents, and don’t have an exercise regimen that works for you, it’s kind of like living all your life off a trust fund, then getting cut off and moving to New York city, and noticing that it’s hard to make a living. I firmly believe that everyone should have some basic exercises down cold, as a lifestyle skill, same as balancing a checkbook. You can get a great workout in 15 minutes with bodyweight squats, varieties of pushups, and a jump rope, all in the space the size of a yoga mat. All at home, for free. I did this on a recent vacation, using a deck of cards to give me random repetitions for each exercise (red cards = upper body, black cards = lower body) and it works great. Anyone without the time, money or means to go to a commercial gym (which really, usually aren’t that great) should be a master of moving their own bodyweight before they say they have no time for exercise. No time to cook? Smoothies with protein powder (cheaper than groceries, actually), 1-2 x day, and shopping at Cosco. Get the salmon patties, the big bags of vegetables, the frozen boneless chicken. Buy a crock pot at Goodwill, learn to use it, it’s dead easy and cooks while you sleep. Kill your TV and have family soccer games, basketball, tag. They more you have to care for others, the more important it is that you’re in shape and eating well, so you’ll have the energy to actually DO something.

Posted by: cat brother at June 23, 2006 8:34 AM

Really good point. I have a sedentary lifestyle -- writing is generally not done while jogging -- so I built exercise into my life. I recently bought a dual-action bike (exercises the arms as well as the legs, and in turn, the abs and the ass), so I can indulge in my guilty pleasures on TV -- CSI, 24, and other crime shows -- yet not turn into a lardass. It's great, too, if it's too late to exercise muggers will be running in place after me in my living room when I'm on my bike at midnight.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 23, 2006 11:27 AM

You can also get an attachment for your vacuum cleaner that makes liposuction at home much easier now. I drain about a quart of fat from my waistline every other day or so, which I then use to deep-fry my famous homemade apple fritters.

Posted by: Lena at June 23, 2006 11:42 AM

As I was returning to Hot Springs from a press trip to Ohio last week, I had the same experience as you had - being smashed into half an aisle seat because the woman in the window seat couldn't fit into hers because she was too large. I concur that if you can't fit into one seat, you should have to pay for two or fly first class.

Other than that, we live in Hot Springs, which by the way, is a tourist town that attracts over 3M visitors a year. In all probability, the pictures you took are of our tourists.

Ror those of us who live here, Hot Springs is a cool place full of healthy people.

Posted by: Rebecca McCormick at June 25, 2006 8:51 AM

I'm reposting the link you put in your entry (just above), which didn't come out:

Because of all the spam I get, I disallowed HTML links (live links) but you can still post the URL.

And you do live in a gorgeous town and a gorgeous area. We drove around some of the back streets there and saw some truly beautiful houses.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 25, 2006 10:43 AM

"I concur that if you can't fit into one seat, you should have to pay for two or fly first class."

You're going way too easy on the lard asses! People who can't fit into the regular seating should be required to squeeze themselves into cardboard refrigerator boxes and check themselves in as luggage!

Posted by: Lena at June 25, 2006 9:34 PM

To all of you who are saying "I have nice fat friends", "Treat fat people as people",etc, a question: If you were to travel on an airplande with one of them, how would you feel about Amy's problem of having to give up your cattle class space for them? For 5 hours.

Posted by: Gary Steiger at June 26, 2006 4:57 PM

I found this blog when I was researching Jenny Craig..boy was this way off course. I couldn't leave here with posting a comment. I think some of your comments are the cruelest things I have ever read and wonder if this is how most people feel about those that are overweight. I hope not...I hope there are better people in the world. I agree with some comments that say you should see even those that are fat as people first. You don't know their story or their life. I am a 40 yr old women that has struggled with her weight since she was 5 yrs old. I have been on a diet nearly my entire life. I probably know more about nutrition than most of you. I do any excellent job of maintaining my weight (and I am still fat) but have a horrible time losing anything. I have NEVER been skinny or even normal though at one point I worked out religiously and even tried running. I have to work out just to maintain what most of you consider fat.You don't know a person's story so don't be so judgemental. Not all of us sit around and eat bon bons.

Posted by: K at July 4, 2006 11:35 AM

Another thing....wouldn't it be nice if men were judged by their penis size(or something else tied so closely to their ego) and more women maybe by their intelligence or independence. Wouldn't that be awful if that is all that matttered and the way others judged you. That might make you see how it is to walk a mile in my shoes or someone else that is overweight.

Posted by: k at July 4, 2006 11:40 AM

Lastly....Amy you don't have to much room to talk. You look like a dude!

Posted by: k at July 4, 2006 11:40 AM


Maybe you'd do better going on a diet than a mean streak.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 4, 2006 11:47 AM

Regarding judging men by penis size, men are judged by the finances, status, and power. Men and women are biologically different, and their psychologies and preferences correspond directly to those differences and how they adapted to meet their individual needs during the Pleistocene. New adaptations take hundreds or thousands of years to take hold (Don Symons), so we still have very old psychology, despite living in an "evolutionarily novel" environment.

Excuse me, I think I have to adjust my balls.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 4, 2006 12:09 PM ......I stand by my previous comment

Sorry if my comment was mean, hurtful or offensive. Now you might know how other people feel when you start such a hateful and mean dialogue.

And I assume it was you that posted these pics of real people here for ridicule and spewing of vile and disgust. The lady with her daughter..don't you think she has a name, a life a story. Maybe she does sit on her couch every day and eat bon bons.Maybe she does the best that she can. Maybe she hasn't been able to loose weight after having a child. Maybe she hates her self and her body so much right now and would jump in front of moving train if she knew her picture were here like this. The point is you don't know.

Oh yeah....I'm the bitch for saying you look like a dude. I'm the one with the problem.

Yes men are judged by power,status and finances for the most part but I don't think it touches the same nerve and is more sensitive subject (no pun intended). It is the only thing I can equate to how it feels to be judged solely by your weight. If men were judged by penis and no one ever took the time to go beyond that to find out anything else or assumed they were less of a person or human being.... then that would be the same thing.

As for women, if those of "you" that were blessed with favorable genetics when it comes to frame/size or even ability to maintain a normal body size with reasonable effort where judged on something other than your looks or "hot" bodies ....some women would be in trouble. Wouldn't the world be great if we were judged by who we are or what we contribute instead of what we look like?

Big deal if the person is to fat for the seat. Don't you think it is humiliating for them not being able to fit? Yes some folks could do better at dieting and exercise and some of us do the best we can. Some of us(me) put in just as much time at the gym and obsess about our weight just like the rest of you but are still considered overweight by your standards. Hard for your little minds to grasp? Look at Oprah, she runs marathons and still struggles so much with the weight. That is real life for some folks out there. I am tired of people making assumptions about me and about my life style when they know nothing about me. I

Oh, and by the way. I fit into one seat just fine and can even buckle the belt with no extension. I am just not a size 4 or even a 12. And as I have said ....I HAVE been on a diet all my life. I actually doing a search for Jenny Craig when I ran across this blog. PCOS and Thyroid make managing my weight a second job for me. So I am always searching for ways to control it.

Posted by: K at July 4, 2006 3:06 PM

Diets often cause the problem. Diets as deprivation. Two books for you: Diets Don't Work and The Fat Fallacy.

People are fat because they eat more calories than they burn. I have a sedentary job, so I work my ass off on an exercise bike to make up for it.

If you want to lose weight, it may work for you to eat small portions of high-fat, high-nutrient food -- like the French do -- while moving around like crazy. I lose weight every time I go to France, while eating foie gras and rich cheeses. I don't get enough fat in my diet here, but I try to make up for it by eating bags of frozen organic peas drowning in olive oil. Fat fills you up. Snackwells do not.

I eat half a donut in the morning (because a whole donut is huge and too big). If I don't have time for lunch, I can keep going on that donut until 3pm. Lowfat food makes me a raging hungry bitch about 20 minutes after I eat it.

And I wasn't being cruel in any of this. Simply stating the objective facts: Very fat people take up my share of the seat on airplanes. It's tragic that people allow themselves to get this way. Very few people are "hormonal." They eat more than they burn.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 4, 2006 3:24 PM

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