Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meme Roth Just Hates Fat, or Even Slighly Plump, People

I've been seeing quite a bit of this woman around lately, particularly on Fox News. And, as my husband said "The woman's a bigot. It's like putting the head of the KKK on t.v."

The Guardian interview (click on the blog post title) reveals a woman with *huge* hang-ups who needs to get her own house in order. She's not concerned with health -- nobody who refuses to eat until she does her four-mile run, no matter how late in the day that might be,is really concerned with health. She has a terror of being fat and is mostly concerned with looks and vanity. There is already a great deal of shame and stigma associated with being overweight; Roth is a victim of it as much as a perpetrator. She appears to be personally offended by fat people being in public, as in her condemnation of American Idol winner Jordin Sparks -- who is not even fat and just fails to meet Meme's rail-thin ideal. She was on Fox News yesterday griping about Obama's nominee for Surgeon-General, Regina Benjamin, who isn't thin enough to suit her. The impression one gets is that Meme would prefer that all fat people just slink away and hide from the public eye, preferably unemployed so they can't afford to eat.

Fortunately, most professionals who deal with obesity know that education and positive encouragement work a whole lot better than shame and stigma.

Just recently I ran across a magazine in a doctor's office that told a story of a woman who lost 100 pounds -- o.k., terrific for her. But I noted that, not only does she diet, she works out two or three hours every day. And I couldn't help thinking just how large a chunk that is out of a person's leisure time. Most people have little enough time between work, taking care of their families, and just the necessary things we have to do in life, without filling in most of our free time with exercise -- particularly if you don't really enjoy exercise. It's kind of a hopeless message to tell the overweight that diet and exercise have to become an obsession or we are just worthless hunks of flab. We are human beings -- who need time to think, to do something creative, maybe to have a relaxed conversation or watch a movie. I'd rather die of a heart attack than live that kind of a life, where I'm so frightened of putting on an ounce that I can't enjoy anything.

I can't help but wonder how long it's been since MeMe Roth watched a movie or read a book, or spent time on a hobby -- or would she consider such mind-engaging activities a waste of time?

As far as healthy habits go, it's far better to make small, sustainable choices than to make it an obsession. That's what I did -- and I lost 30 pounds and got such good control of my blood sugar that I could go off medication. I exercise a more moderate half-hour to an hour a day -- yoga, tai chi, walking. I don't do exercise that I hate; I found types of exercise that I enjoy, and that I will stick with because I enjoy it. I'm not yet thin enough for MeMe to let me out in public, and maybe never will be, but I eat a healthy diet with little meat or junk food, lots of veggies and whole grains -- and I have time to do other things in my life that I like a whole lot better than the treadmill.


Martin said...

Well said Karen....

A healthy lifestyle isn't just being thin, it's about being a whole person. I really feel for Meme's children - I'm sure their lives are made difficult by a mother who undoubtedly spends much of her time "protecting them from themselves."

- Martin Davis

Karen said...

Hi Martin -- Yes, you can't really tell just by looking at a person whether or not they are living a healthy lifestyle. MeMe doesn't know that our proposed Surgeon-General is currently living an unhealthy lifestyle; she just assumes it, because she isn't thin. Likewise, a thin person can be abusing their health in all kinds of ways, while getting social approval for being "in great shape".

A healthy life is more than what you see on the surface, and a good life is more than our physical selves.

Anonymous said...

I decided not just to try to lose some weight, but to get healthier, and at 53, am exercising every day, sometimes twice a day. I've lost 19 pounds, but I have a LOT to go. I guess I just wanted to say that even though I hated exercise, and have been a couch potato all my life, I found something I liked (water aerobics) and am making positive changes. I don't miss the time I work out. If I wasn't exercising, I'd be watching tv or playing on my computer. So maybe I'll get a longer life from the time I spend doing this- who knows. I know I feel better.

Karen said...

Dear Anon,

You've hit on a key point: Don't put the focus on weight loss; it will discourage the hell out of you. Put the focus on doing what is healthy for your body.

As far as time goes: It's easy to start off with a big burst of enthusiasm putting a great deal of time into exercise (or whatever good habit you're trying to develop). But, for me, the dangerous part is when that enthusiasm lessens and I find I want to do something else once in a while. Better a half-hour a day you can sustain than two hours a day that you can't, is all I'm saying. Diet and exercise are important, but there *are* other interests in my life -- and there always will be. If getting healthy has to be an all-consuming passion that pushes out everything else, then healthy I will never be.

However, good job on what you've done so far, and I wish you success.

Karen said...

Hello MeMe, nice of you to stop by.

The only fact I was unsure of was what precisely was said about Jordin Sparks -- and I went looking for your original comments and could only find reactions and quoted material. But my overall reaction to your approach remains -- I object to pointing out overweight people who are in public positions and holding them up to ridicule and to making fun of the obese in general. It's unkind and counter-productive. Like a lot of activists, of whatever stripe, you believe that your cause is so important that you can be a real jerk while promoting it. O.K., but then you can't complain when people see you as a jerk. As I said in a later blog post:: "[Roth's] health message -- and some of her points are valid -- gets lost in her finger-pointing."

I've been on the Internet a long time, and I know what "You have ignored the facts" means when it is not accompanied by specific corrections. It means "You aren't presenting me in the light in which I want to be seen." You did, after all, object to Regina Benjamin's appointment on the basis of her weight -- that's a fact. You also wrote a blog post making fun of the existence of panty liners for overweight women, and held up a pair of size 24 pants to illustrate why flight attendants should not be that size. I saw those things first -hand.

As for the Guardian article: Gaby Wood, unlike myself, is a professional journalist -- and the fact you have a lawsuit against her really tells me nothing about the veracity of her article. It only tells me that you are very unhappy about it.

The one thing I will apologize for is the KKK comment from my husband -- that was over the top. But then, I'm not a journalist, I'm a substitute teacher who keeps a rather irregularly updated blog. If I were writing for print publication, this piece would have been better written and had better continuity, instead of being just tossed off the top of my head -- but I would have made essentially the same point.

If you have specific corrections to make about anything I've written, please feel free to do so.

Karen Bacquet

Anonymous said...

Well done Karen the lady comes across as a bit of a bully. Grahame

Karen said...

Hi Grahame -- good to see you. I've been watching MeMe for quite some time now -- initially she made me angry, but the more I see of her, the more I'm convinced she has some deep emotional issues. She continually refers to obese members of her family, especially her grandmother who, according to MeMe is so morbidly obese that she won't get out of bed even to go to the bathroom. Now, to me, that sounds like more than obesity; that sounds like serious depression. But MeMe just focuses on the weight -- and she uses studies of extreme morbid obesity to take anyone even a little overweight to task. This woman is so afraid, it's not even funny. Her whole schtick is about MeMe's fear and her anger at her family. So, she doesn't make me mad anymore; I just feel sorry for her. Sure, we should take care of our health -- because being healthy allows us to do other things. If it becomes the all-consuming obsession of our lives, what's the point? I want something on my tombstone other than "She achieved a healthy weight and stayed at her whole life."