The world in weight: The weekly round-up

8th August 2007

The world in weight: The weekly round-up

A weekly round-up of weight-related topics in the news:

Trailing on the heels of Annie Murray, the aspiring thin bride-to-be who died from the appalling low level and quality of health care in a gastric bypass surgery performed in Mexico, comes another disturbing story south of the border.

Paul from Big Fat Blog reports on 12-year-old Brooke Bates, a girl with an admitted and untreated eating disorder, whose mother bypassed annoying “red-tape” things like psychological testing and physical ability tests to have a lap-band procedure performed on her in Mexico. “I’m sure are very important, but it’s money,” she said.”

The newest trend in the eating disorders world: wannarexia. Most common amongst teenage girls, wannarexia is a label describing those who claim to have anorexia, or wish they did. Because apparently, developing a life-altering and possibly fatal psychiatric disease in which you toss aside friends, family, health and morals in vain attempts of reaching the idyllic state of “thin enough,” never realizing it is a fictitious utopia, is soooo cool these days.

Check out this timely editorial by Mary Carmichael, just as Massachusetts debates enacting a law to protect the rights of fat workers. Twenty-six percent of overweight workers report being stigmatized and say they were passed over for promotions solely because of their size, as did 84 percent of those considered “very obese” Across the board, overweight people make 1 percent to 6 percent less than their thinner counterparts, and those in service professions earn fewer commissions and tips.

Opposition to the bill, Carmichael reports, comes largely from those who believe fat is a choice. “As long as society in general believes that being overweight is always a choice, a willful lack of self-control, people can get away with discrimination,” she writes. Hopefully articles like Carmichael’s will sheds some light on this fallacy.

When writer Anne Ream, overstressed and overworked, contracted a third-world virus and lost a significant amount of weight to the point of wearing a size 0, she was surprised to find not cause for concern amongst her peers, but compliments. Her experiences led her to question if women aren’t only downsizing their dress sizes, but their ambitions, as well. Check out discussions of Ream’s awesome editorial here and here.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2007 at 11:16 am and is filed under Body Image, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 10 responses to “The world in weight: The weekly round-up”

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  1. 1 On August 8th, 2007, Laura Collins said:

    You lost me on this one: “Because apparently, developing a life-altering and possibly fatal psychiatric disease in which you toss aside friends, family, health and morals in vain attempts of reaching the idyllic state of “thin enough,” never realizing it is a fictitious utopia, is soooo cool these days.”

    What is sounds like you are saying – perhaps you are not – is that anorexia is a choice. But anorexia really is a brain disorder that pretends to be about wanting to be thin. It is not. Anorexia is a self-perpetuating mental condition that impels the sufferer to starve him or herself. It is triggered by malnutrition: dieting, usually.

    Anorexia is no more about vanity than cancer. The rest of us, however, have no excuse!

  2. 2 On August 8th, 2007, Celeste said:

    I don’t think she was saying it was a choice; I think she sees that some TEENS believe it is something that can be chosen.

    All in all, it’s been a bad week for people of size! :o (

  3. 3 On August 8th, 2007, Rachel said:

    You’re right Laura – I am not saying that. It’s my stab at sarcasm towards those who want to “catch” the disease thinking it to be fashionable. And as a recovering anorectic myself, I would never chalk up anorexia to a case of vanity.

    While I agree malnutrition may be one trigger of anorexia, I disagree with both you and Harriet on some aspects as to the organic nature of the disease. But that is something I think we will have agree to disagree about.

  4. 4 On August 8th, 2007, Laura Collins said:

    Agreeing on something is always the best place to start!

  5. 5 On August 8th, 2007, Meowser said:

    Laura, FWIW, I read the phrase “vain attempts” as not having to do with vanity so much as futiilty, as in, “the effort was all in vain.”

    Good goddess, “wannarexia”? I mean, geesh, a lot of us, especially when we’re younger and don’t know better, have fleeting thoughts about how “nice” it would be if we just never wanted to eat and got really thin and then “snapped out of it” before it became a clinical emergency. But actually aspiring on an ongoing basis to having a psychiatric illness that could kill you before you get out of high school? Eeeef.

  6. 6 On August 8th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Oh, that’s where Laura must have gotten the vanity perception. I read and re-read what I wrote and was still mystified how she could have come up with that conclusion. Thanks Meowser.

    Yeah, you never hear about girls wanting to “catch” bulimia, do you? Because throwing up is like, ewww.

  7. 7 On August 9th, 2007, Shefaly said:

    Rachel: Anne Ream’s article referring to a ‘third world virus’ is a first class example of prejudice which your blog discusses so much.

    As biases and prejudices go, westerners suggesting directly or otherwise that somehow the third world is full of diseases is quite prevalent. For most part, they are not following basis hygiene advice about food and drink and habitat, and naturally get sick. I know expats from India, who have lived in the UK and the US for many years, who also get sick now on their annual trips to India because they have forgotten the essentials of living in the tropics over the years.

    For that matter, nearly every Indian expat I know in the UK says they came here and immediately gained weight. I gained nearly 1/3 of my original body weight within 7 months in the UK without changing anything about my diet. My Indian friends in the US similarly complain how living in the US has changed their body fat compositions (that says aloud what sort of people they are – sporty, active, cautious of what they eat etc) for the worse and no amount of effort is helping reduce it.

    Perhaps we third world denizens should start referring to the “first world virus”, eh? The kind that makes innocent size-2 women, hitherto emaciated by third world viruses, balloon to size-12, worse size-16, 18, 20, and 22!

  8. 8 On August 9th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Shefaly: I realize the term “third-world” is laden with cultural and political overtones and in my work, I usually use the term “developing countries” in lieu. Perhaps Ream used that vague term because she did not want to divulge the exact illness she contracted for fear other women, the ilk of the givers of compliments, would try to actively contract the disease thinking it to be a get-thin-quick type method. I knew girls in high school who tried to contract mono from other girls, simply because the girls with mono had usually lost a great deal of weight, due to the illness.

    You say you gained weight without changing your diet, only your environment. What do you attribute it to then?

  9. 9 On August 10th, 2007, Shefaly said:

    Rachel: What I object to is the implication that third world people are only thin because they are sick! That is a whole load of cobblers, I am afraid. The rest of the socio-political stuff I know and I do not even get upset about anyway.

    I had lived in Switzerland, eating and drinking the healthier and better quality and better tasting food and milk, before moving to the UK. I was built like a sylph and despite putting on weight, still am like that for the weight I did put on. Now I work out so it is impossible to get any lighter on the scales but I keep my body fat at 20% which is excellent for a non-athlete my age and ethnicity.

    My diet did not change much when I moved to the UK except the milk and the butter intake which cut off fully as I did not like the taste. Vegetables also tasted unlike what I knew from both India and Switzerland.

    The food in the UK is mass produced, and even simple products are processed. Much chicken is made bulkier by injecting water; lettuce hearts are nitrogen-packed ensuring longer shelf life; unpasteurised milk is hard to come by.

    As a marketing major, I am sceptical about advertising and never buy what is on deal etc. I am one of the reported 10% in the UK who take a list to the shops and stick to it..

    Since nothing much changed in my diet and exercise pattern, I can only isolate the quality of basic foods as a contributory factor.

  10. 10 On October 12th, 2007, Talon said:

    I’ve been reading back in this blog, and I had to comment on this.

    I have ulcerative colitis, and I’m morbidly obese. When I go into a flare, I can lose more than 70 lbs in 3 months or less. The responses I get after such dramatic weightloss is…”Keep it up!!” when I mention how sick I am and how much weight I’ve lost. Or…”I wish I had a disease like that, ha ha ha…” Yeah, fuck you too.

    My mother, one of the worst proponants in my issues with food and my weight surprisingly was concerned about me, because at 230 lbs, I looked “like a corpse”.

    Sorry folks, the weight comes back when you get healthy, because surprisingly, the body does NOT like to be starved and malnourished and dehydrated, which is what happens in a flare. The first to come back is the water weight as I finally am able to reclaim fluids properly. Then, when I can actually retain calories, my body holds onto them as tight as it can because it KNOWS it will happen again.

    I am happy to be overweight and to have this “cushion”. When i was hospatilized recently for meningitis and took nearly nothing by mouth for two weeks, it wasn’t the crisis it would have been for a normal sized person, per se.

    Meh, I’m tired and babbling.

    Meanwhile, people still want my disease…they’re welcome to it. They can take the pain, and arthritis, and constant worry, and my handicap placard too. They can also take my ruined underwear, flatuance, and the disbelief that you can be fat and have a serious digestive disease as well.

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