The Skinny on MeMe Roth

27th May 2009

The Skinny on MeMe Roth

The Fatosphere is abuzz with outrage over the latest incoherent ramblings of Meredith “MeMe” Roth, specifically an outlandish analogy she made in The Guardian between rape and overeating, something she presumes all fat people do.  SP extraordinaire SweetMachine nicely summed up the sheer ridiculousness and callousness of the comparison, and other bloggers have also addressed the issue.  Roth’s mental instabilities and fatphobia are readily apparent and have been covered well by others, so I don’t want to rehash that here.  What I want to add to the conversation are my own personal experiences with Roth that lead me to believe she has serious disordered eating issues and the inflated and misleading representations of her so-called professional expertise that grants her a national platform upon which to project those neuroses.

Monique from BFD and I appeared with Roth in early 2008 on Fox’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet.  I knew of Roth before this show and how monomaniacal she is about her cause, but silly me, I wanted to take the high road.  In the greenroom before taping, I approached her, introduced myself (she didn’t reciprocate) and extended my hand.  She appeared almost afraid to touch me (understandably as fat is contagious) and finally limply shook my fingers.  I thanked her for coming on the show with us, to which she replied snottily, “Always glad to talk about the issue.”  I realized then how combative she already was, so I replied “As are we” and walked away.  Watch clips from the show here and/or check out Paul’s excellent two-part analysis of it.

After the show and a post-show greenroom recorded interview, I approached Roth again with the intention of following up on some of the things brought up in the latter interview.  Believe it or not, she and I actually share some common interests, namely a concern for processed ingredients and chemicals in foods, especially those served in school lunch programs.  I also wanted to explain to her that the way she comes across — offensive, abusive, shrill– isn’t likely to win her any supporters.  I never got the chance, maybe because on the show I “made that skinny woman look stupid,” as my 23-year-old brother told me.  Instead Roth started shouting about all the ugly things said about her the internet, somehow conflating me with the kinds of people who, it appears, regularly send her death threats.  (Disclaimer: While I have called Roth’s actions “vile” and questioned her mental health, I have never personally attacked her on this site.  My comments here have always been in reference to the complacent absurdity of her actions and campaigns.  In fact, I even asked readers to refrain from using thin-bashing language in their comments.  And as a Buddhist pacifist, I don’t support violence in any form.)

Roth then tried to explain that we fat people — you know, the same fat people she accuses of being child abusers, unproductive workers, drug addicts, threats to national security and now likens to rape victims — shouldn’t take her anti-obesity rhetoric so personally.  Yes, we fat people are just waaaayyy too sensitive.  At some point during her harangue, I pointed out to Roth that she doesn’t have a professional medical background — she has a B.A. in journalism and a career in public relations — to which she hotly began rattling off a list of supposed credentials (more on this in a minute).  I interrupted her and said, “But those aren’t medical degrees,” which made her even angrier.  She then started screaming, “You think it’s easy for me?  I have an obese family.  I have to work very hard to look like this!”

This, to me, completely explained the enigma that is MeMe Roth.  It explained the hatred.  The self-loathing.  The strident, nasty tone.  Why she thinks fat is ugly.  People like Roth have to go to extreme measures to justify why it is they do what they do in order to look like they do.  If fat people were not so hated, then Roth would have no justification for why she has to “work so hard” to remain thin.  At that moment, she seemed like such an embittered, lonely, and obsessed woman that I felt as if I was playing a competitive round of Jeopardy with a three-year-old.  Roth then claimed that fat acceptance bloggers distort her words, so I offered to feature her as a guest blogger on my site so that she could clear any misconceptions she feels we have about her.  She made some lame excuse about her car and literally ran away from me and that was that.  On our way out, my husband said he felt sorry for her and I agreed.  I feel incredibly sorry for her, in fact, but I feel more sorry for all the people she hurts.

So, why do news organizations continue to trot out Roth as a “guest expert” on the subjects of obesity and nutrition?  Besides being blonde, thin and pretty in a Ann Coulter’ish sort of way, the fact that Roth appears most regularly on Fox News should give some indication as to her legitimacy in being labeled an expert.  But Roth is also tapped because of the savvy ways the seasoned marketing flack has styled and aggrandized herself as a anti-obesity crusader and president of a national “advocacy group.”  Cases in point:

Misrepresentation #1:  The Guardian story also mentions that Roth now runs a private nutrition counseling business — it mercifully isn’t linked to in the story, but you can find it here.  Roth’s qualifications in counseling others on healthy eating appear to come solely from a certificate issued by the Institute of Integrative Health based in New York, a course Roth was projected to complete last June.  Billing itself as the “world’s largest nutrition school,” the institute offers a part-time, eight-month course after which students emerge somehow qualified to practice as “health counselors.”  They can also qualify for “board certification” by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, a misleading endorsement given that the AADP is not recognized or approved by the U.S. Department of Education and is therefore an unaccredited agency.

So, does eight months of weekend classes learning about the Zone, Blood Match and Atkins diets really qualify Roth as an “expert”?  Not likely, suggests Dr. Stephen Barrett — a real expert — of the acclaimed website Credential Watch:

The IIN program is open to anyone who is willing to attend and pay tuition. No formal training or nutrition-related knowledge is required….  IIN itself is not accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Office of Education…

Their training is certainly not based on scientific nutrition as emphasized in the degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. That generally takes 4-7 years and includes basic sciences, dietetics, and closely supervised work with many clients. IIN provides almost none of this.

I personally would not trust someone who lacks scientific training to tailor diets based on dietary needs or who relies on IIN’s teachings to counsel patients…  [IIN founder Joshua] Rosenthal’s approach might inspire some people to improve their diet by moving closer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, they may also absorb misconceptions about diet, health, and disease that will ultimately harm them.

Barrett also adds that IIN’s program “appears to be to enable students to find what dietary and activity strategies work best for them and then do the same for clients,” adding that it “teaches—in effect—to use your own experience to inspire others.”  The Guardian’s Gaby Wood called Roth out on her own eating habits, pressing a reticent Roth about what she eats for breakfast (she doesn’t) and for lunch (also debatable).  Roth tried to dodge the questions but finally fessed up to having not eaten ANYTHING that day despite it being 3:30 in the afternoon, that she refuses to eat before getting in a four-mile run every day and intimated that she is the “master” of finding ways to meet people that do not involve food.  If these are the kind of dietary habits she’s “inspiring” in others, god help her clients.

Misrepresentation #2: On Roth’s website, she twice writes that the institute is partnered with Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.  Domain registration shows that her domain was created (first registered) on Feb. 8, 2008.  Columbia University severed its ties with IIN at least a month earlier.

Misrepresentation #3: National Action Against Obesity calls itself “a non-partisan, all-volunteer advocacy group.”  Roth is further identified in this New York Times story as “president of an nonprofit organization” — the Times, I’m sure, fact-checked this with her prior to publication.  The “organization” she heads is actually a one-woman crusade and is not recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-deductible charity.  Guidestar, which maintains a database of 1.8 million federally recognized nonprofit organizations and charities, also has no listing for NAAO.  Just to be sure, I checked the official charity registries of three states: New Jersey, where Roth lived several years ago; New York, where she calls home now; and Pennsylvania, where her website appears to be registered to her in-law’s address.  None listed NAAO as a registered nonprofit.  In multiple press releases issued by Roth, she says that her organization “works independently and as a consultancy.”  Which is it, Ms. Roth?  Are you a paid consultant or a volunteer?  An advocacy group or an independent?

MeMe Roth is not part of the “solution”; she’s part of the problem.  In fact, she encapsulates perfectly our dangerous national obsessions with food, body image and puritan ideas about health.  For example: On my wedding day I looked beautiful and my thoughts lie more so on my new husband, our life together and please-to-god don’t let me trip in these damn strappy heels.  Roth’s thoughts lie elsewhere.  From her website:

…I come from a long line of obesity. Growing up, I always knew I’d be fat. After seeing my obese family on my wedding day, the groomsmen wagered how long until the bride would be fat too. Sounds cruel? It’s the same thing everyone in the church was thinking…including me.

From the Guardian story:

When I was in kindergarten,” [Roth] recalls, “no one taught me to be ashamed of obesity, but the day, on my birthday, that my mother was to bring cupcakes to my class, I put my head on the table because I knew that within minutes my mother would be there and everyone was going to know that my mother was fat. I felt ashamed. I was grateful that down the block there was another mother who was fatter than my mother.”

And again, in this ELLE feature on her (which also mentions The-F-Word):

At 5’6″ [Roth] keeps her weight between 120 and 125 pounds [one to two points away from being considered underweight].  She weighs herself every day and says, “The alarms sound when I hit 125!” She also exercises for at least 45 minutes every single day, rain or shine, usually by running four miles and doing some strength work, but since she never knows exactly what time she’s going to squeeze it in, she works in her gym clothes so that she’ll be ready to spring into action.

She consistently shuns sweets such as birthday cake and ice cream, “sixes, sevens” on her scale of desirability, things she can do without, so that once or twice a year, she can indulge in the things she absolutely adores, her “tens,” such as tiramisu, or her favorite handmade chocolate-coconut Easter eggs, or even, gasp, a Coke…

Does this sound like a well-functioning woman with a healthy relationship with food and body?  Keep in mind: This is the same woman who would rather that I be thin and anorexic than overweight and healthy.  Food may be the enemy for MeMe Roth, but it doesn’t have to be mine — or yours.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 at 10:29 pm and is filed under Body Image, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Personal, 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 110 responses to “The Skinny on MeMe Roth”

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  1. 1 On May 27th, 2009, Carrie said:

    A thorough, fair analysis of the issue, Rachel. As usual, I’m impressed!

    I remember hearing once that people tend to hate what they fear, and it seems true in this case.

  2. 2 On May 27th, 2009, Lisa said:

    Holy moly, I hadn’t heard of this woman until just now. Having looked through the links you posted … let’s just say you are far more fair and balanced than I would have been. Your thoroughness and tone are commendable; thanks for this post.

  3. 3 On May 27th, 2009, CL said:

    I used to dislike her, but now I just feel sorry for her. It’s tragic that she spent her wedding day worrying about gaining weight, and that she imagined everyone in the whole church was thinking about her weight. Her entire life has been about the “hard work” of resisting her body’s natural desire for food out of a paralyzing fear of not being skinny. I’m sure it is very hard work to resist eating all day long, but that is what makes it so sad… she could have been putting that effort and willpower into accomplishments that make her feel happy and proud.

    I wish she would get therapy and recover, but she has so much invested in her public campaign that I imagine it would be very hard to do. In order to get healthy, she would have to admit that she has been wrong all this time.

  4. 4 On May 27th, 2009, Caroline said:

    At this point, I can’t even be angry with MeMe Roth anymore–she seems too ill and sad. It’s the media outlets that give her a voice and legitimize her opinions that piss me off.

  5. 5 On May 28th, 2009, Jackie said:

    I was saying on Shapley Prose how you really have to feel sorry for MeMe. She clearly is not in her right mind, and I wonder if we should be blaming the media, for feeding into her phobias and disordered behavior.

  6. 6 On May 28th, 2009, Swellanor said:

    Thanks so much for doing the investigative work of figuring out exactly what her qualifications are- which don’t amount to much besides obsession, mania, and panic! If she really wanted to help people or be an actual expert, she could pursue a higher degree. Instead she seems to have chosen the least demanding program that would require her being the least open-minded to new information but still give her a certificate. She must be too busy maintaining her weight and rating the desserts she’s not eating to actually learn something.

    But I didn’t start writing this comment just to be snarky- I read the Guardian interview earlier today and I keep thinking about her reluctance to talk about her eating. As an experienced PR person, image consultant, and fake nutritionist, how can she not have a well-thought-out answer ready at hand about the healthy eating habits that she tries to practice and model (even if as a busy person she doesn’t always succeed)? The interviewer kept probing about her eating that particular day because she couldn’t provide any coherent sentences about food, even generalities. How could such a media-savvy person be so unprepared? I suspect that despite her show of reluctance, she is proud of her fasting behavior and would rather talk about that on the record than nutrition or (god forbid) actual food. After reading this here post, I’m pretty certain that her fear and loathing of food and her body are pathological. And pathetic.

    And one final thing- I have been to weddings with fat brides, thin brides, and every kind of bride in between, and I only ever thought about their and their families’ love, beauty, and happiness. It is so sad and sick that she believes that everyone at her wedding was thinking about weight.

  7. 7 On May 28th, 2009, Shannon said:

    This woman makes me so sad. I feel really sorry for her.

  8. 8 On May 28th, 2009, Meowser said:

    Nice takedown, Rachel.

    It makes me wonder if, in addition to R**h having gained media attention as a result of a Coulter-esque appearance, there’s also a potential loose-cannon effect with R**h as there is with Coulter that’s hard for the media to resist. It sounds like, going by what you wrote here and from that Guardian story, it wouldn’t take much for her to become completely unglued on camera and say something truly oh-no-she-didn’t-ish.

  9. 9 On May 28th, 2009, Wicked said:

    I remember the first time I heard about her, I was just incredulous that someone was that idiotic. Now, I just feel really sorry for her, and I hope she gets help, because she needs it.

  10. 10 On May 28th, 2009, O.C. said:

    It’s shocking how infantile her thought processes seem to be. If she’s embarrassed by her mom’s weight, then everyone must be dwelling on her mom’s weight. If she’s thinking about her weight during her wedding, everyone must be thinking about her weight during her wedding.

    I remember very clearly at three years old pulling a friend’s hair, and wondering why she felt pain but I didn’t. I figured out THEN that my experience was different from hers. It’s time to figure this out, MeMe.

  11. 11 On May 28th, 2009, bri said:

    Excellent post Rachel. Thankyou for doing the leg work regarding this deluded woman. She is her own worst enemy methinks.

  12. 12 On May 28th, 2009, Bree said:

    Someone on SP said, I think it was Lori, that perhaps MeMe’s obese family really isn’t actually obese, as we define it. Her view on fat is so tragically warped that she probably sees someone who is a size 8 as fat.

    There’s no doubt she needs help, and I worry for her children, but my sympathy is not as high as others here I do not agree with her and her family getting death threats. Nobody deserves that kind of harrassment.

  13. 13 On May 28th, 2009, peggynature said:

    This is awesome research, Rachel.

    I literally felt nauseous when I read she counsels people in nutrition. I started to wonder, geeze, why have I been working my ass off for my (accredited) nutrition degree for the last several years? I could’ve just hung up my shingle years ago and started telling people whatever the hell I wanted.

    I have also encountered the Institute of Integrative Health while looking up nutritionists online, and it seemed sheisty — but I had NO idea M.R. was an alumnus! Anyway, the bit that gave me most pause was their page on “All the major dietary theories.”

    Can I just say that this is hardly an evidence-based curriculum?

  14. 14 On May 28th, 2009, peggynature said:

    Oh — another interesting tidbit. I saw, about a month ago, a nutrition counselor’s website (also trained at IIH) that looks exactly like M.R.’s, and uses the same copy, word for word. If you Google some of that copy, you’ll find about a hundred other webpages of “nutrition counselors” using the exact same copy, and many of them using the same site design and colours. It’s almost like the school is a puppy mill, except they churn out “nutrition counselors” with identical websites instead of dogs.

  15. 15 On May 28th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Peggynature: An IIN-created website that is easily editable by the student is provided with every student’s tuition, in addition to business cards and other promotional materials.

  16. 16 On May 28th, 2009, wellroundedtype2 said:

    Great investigative work, Rachel.

    I do feel bad for her children.
    This cannot be fun for them.

    It’s really weird that she is given so much media attention. I guess she speaks for some fat phobic people out there.

    The puppy mill analogy is a great one.

  17. 17 On May 28th, 2009, Sarah said:

    That wedding story explains that weird wedding dress challenge she tried to start up. I really just feel sorry for her. The more she reveals the more I think she is suffering from an ED.

    I think this was a great write up. Something else to add is that her irritable, offensive attitude is probably linked to the fact that she skips so many meals. Most people get pretty cranky when they’re hungry.

  18. 18 On May 28th, 2009, Lori said:

    Great piece, Rachel. She does seem like such a sad, obsessed, and desperate person. It’s a shame she gets the platform she does.

    Her rating of food, apparently on a scale of 1-10 based on how “desirable” it is to her, just seems so clearly disordered that it’s really amazing it would get into a magazine without comment.

  19. 19 On May 28th, 2009, Sweet Machine said:

    Rachel, thank you so much for doing the legwork on MeMe. This post is amazing.

  20. 20 On May 28th, 2009, annie said:

    Amazing. Thank you Rachel. I just feel sorry for her. In the past I might have envied her thinness and forgotten the rest. But thanks to the fatosphere my eyes are open and i am feeling more content with myself as myself than ever before.

  21. 21 On May 28th, 2009, Misty said:

    I need to caution about something. This “feeling sorry for her” business is dangerous territory because it can immunize her from having her position attacked with the vehemence that it requires.

    Don’t forget the distinct possibility that she could (wittingly or subconsciously) be playing up her weight issues SPECIFICALLY in order to disarm her critics — who, she knows, are ready to empathize with a sob story.

    It’s human nature to pick up on what one senses as a weakness in one’s opponent and exploit it. Let’s not be naive.

    Also, to the author, you can “request” people to refrain from bashing commentary, and of course violence must be discouraged, but please don’t take that to the point that it inhibits people’s free speech. Her remarks are hateful, literally hateful (and in a world where the concept of “hate” is thrown about casually, her remarks genuinely meet this standards). And hate such as hers must, MUST be combatted as vigorously as possible. A reasoned response will not always work as effectively (and not for all readers) as a righteously angry one will.

    She is too dangerous and too influential (because she validates the anti-plus prejudice of the media) to be treated with kid gloves.

  22. 22 On May 28th, 2009, Preston said:

    Wow. What a great post. I agree that MeMe is one sad woman but she is also one dangerous woman if she is counseling people about their weight. And shame on Fox for touting her as an “expert.” But considering Fox’s record, it’s not surprising.

  23. 23 On May 28th, 2009, Arwen said:

    Wow. It sounds like she hangs out with wolves. The “diet” program she needs to be on is one that loses the sort of “friend” that spends one’s wedding day judging one’s family.

  24. 24 On May 28th, 2009, Rachel said:

    Misty said: Also, to the author, you can “request” people to refrain from bashing commentary, and of course violence must be discouraged, but please don’t take that to the point that it inhibits people’s free speech.

    I think that there are plenty of ways to criticize MeMe Roth without calling her a “skinny bitch,” which was basically what I was requesting people not do. I am not a fan of censorship in general, but I do strive to make this site as welcoming and non-size-judgmental as possible and I don’t feel that “skinny bitch” is constructive or even relevant to discussions of MeMe Roth.

    But, I do agree with you strongly that we should not let our personal pity for Roth cloud our criticism of her. Like I said, I feel more sorry for all the people she hurts who, unlike Roth, do not have a public platform with which to defend themselves. I think we can feel sorry for MeMe the person while continuing our criticisms on MeMe the public advocate and “expert.” One of the reasons why I have never posted a detailed run-down of our post-show greenroom “debate” and have mentioned her very little since is because I seriously feel like Roth might have a legitimate eating disorder. I normally dislike armchair diagnoses, but many people with or recovering from an eating disorder will tell you that they have developed a heightened sensitivity to them — think of it like our own kind of gaydar. Many of the things I have heard Roth say (avoiding social situations involving food, ranking food on a scale, not eating until exercising first, banning certain foods from her diet, preoccupation with weight, daily weigh-ins, etc…) strike me as eerily familiar to things I also thought or ways I behaved during my struggles with anorexia and bulimia. And besides, I always thought the best way to deal with a quack is to ignore them. But since Roth has persisted in holding herself up as an ideal that every American should strive to be like, she has, in essence, made her personal neuroses open game for criticism. Feel sorry for Roth all you want, but never forget that her goal is to eradicate anyone not like her., i.e. YOU.

  25. 25 On May 28th, 2009, Lori said:

    I think, too, that it’s important to criticism the media outlets who are uncritically touting her as an “expert,” as much if not more as she is criticized. Because any nut job out there can spout their opinions about things, but most aren’t given a national platform. MeMe has been given one, and I think the people who gave it to her are just as responsible for the harm she does as she is.

  26. 26 On May 28th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Lori: Agreed. As a newspaper reporter, I well understand the cutbacks news organizations are having to make these days, but basic fact-checking should not be among them.

  27. 27 On May 28th, 2009, Alyssa (The 39 year-old) said:

    So Faux-I mean-Fox News touts this woman as an expert. Like you said, no surprise there. It seems, for them, that “expert” means blond, thin, and conventionally pretty (ie, interchangeable with all the other thin blondes on the network).
    But I digress. The fact is, this woman is basically anorexic, yet she’s being touted as a health expert. I guess I feel a bit sorry for her, but I’m more angry at the damage she is causing. And if anyone is abusing their children, it’s this woman, not us fatties!
    Teaching your kids to fear food and to hate people based on their appearance is NOT good parenting. This woman should be in treatment center, not on television. And DEFINITELY not advising others on health!

  28. 28 On May 28th, 2009, Aurora said:

    Great job, Rachel! thanks so much for this post!

  29. 29 On May 28th, 2009, Bilt4Cmfrt said:

    A nice de-construction of the media entity that is MeMe Roth and a good examination of the person underneath it all. I found myself wondering if MMR is, really worth all the work you put into it. But, as I’ve said elsewhere, I tend to waffle back and forth between hating her guts and feeling really sorry for this person.

    One the one hand, you have GOT to be really screwed up to, not just publicly say and do the things she does, but to actively promote shame and self-hatred in others in the media. It some times seems like she’s not happy until the people she obviously hates are just a miserable as she is. To do this she goes out and makes a fool of herself on national TV. The Circle; It is vicious.

    On the other, as Misty points out, she is also dangerous. In a hatefully malignant, Rush Limbaugh, kind of way. Both are capable -no- WILLING, to say or do anything to garner media attention. Especially if it’s inflammatory which, I’m sure, is calculated on Rush’s part, him being an old hand at the game. MMR, I think, is more of neophyte but is no less dangerous for all of her mouth foaming frenzy (Still, what I wouldn’t pay to see the two of THEM playing opposite leads in a comedy/romance. Leselie Nielson; Please take note). In this vein, I agree, righteous anger is just as important as logical dissection. Even if it does end up feeding the beast.

  30. 30 On May 28th, 2009, Dee said:

    I have never heard of this woman before. I am just so sad that people like this exist in the media.

    By the way, her nutrition school/course is a complete joke. Not only is it unaccredited, as Rachel pointed out, but it does not even match a typical program that allows one to become an RD. First you have to get a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition which takes four years and then a Master’s to become a RD. You have to be very knowledgeable about the chemistry of food as well. Obviously this woman knows nothing about food.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about her.

  31. 31 On May 28th, 2009, Entangled said:

    She then started screaming, “You think it’s easy for me? I have an obese family. I have to work very hard to look like this!”

    That pretty much sums it up for me as well. Of course, by basing her livelihood on this, she’s put herself in a position where the terror of someday reverting to what may be her genetic predisposition (she certainly seems to think so) is simply overwhelming.

    I seriously dislike this woman, but I do feel bad for her. She’s built her life on a house of cards – the ironic thing is, looking at her personal comments about her family, it sounds like she actually believes in set point theory and genetic predispositions. She just believes in destroying her body even more.

  32. 32 On May 28th, 2009, Cara said:

    I think she’s getting exposure because she IS so obviously troubled. It’s like the media can’t stand to focus on a woman who’s stable and happy and squared away with herself, it has to nurture the “hysterical woman” stereotype regardless of the issue it’s covering.

  33. 33 On May 28th, 2009, Samantha C said:

    holy hell…I’m a newcomer at this blog, but I need to comment somewhere about the news segment you did because i’m just so infuriated at that ‘doctor’

    I know it’s old news and I just came into it late, but I’m so impressed at how well you handled yourself.

    Of all the things i could be pissed off about in that segment, it’s the “nutrition” advice at the end that sent me raging. “Don’t drink your calories” is the most disordered thing my parents ever taught me and i’m still trying to fight the feelings of guilt if i drink a glass of fruit juice (real squeezed juice, not sugar-water even) instead of a glass of diet soda. Because god knows, the calorie count is the only thing that ever matters in whether something is healthy. Nutrition is only calories.

    God damnit.

  34. 34 On May 28th, 2009, PTC said:

    To top it off, the IIN only meets ONE weekend a month, so it’s not even 8 months of weekend classes, it’s 8 weekend classes!! You mean that doesn’t qualify one was an “Expert?” ;)

  35. 35 On May 28th, 2009, Meryt Bast said:

    The things she says don’t sound like things a healthy person would say. Excellent article, Rachel.

  36. 36 On May 28th, 2009, Valerie said:

    Nice job as usual Rachel. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    MeMe’s family issues struck a chord for me. My mom consistently used my fat relatives as examples of people who I’d be like if I didn’t lose weight at the ripe age of 9. Concerns about diabetes and hop/knee replacements also played a role…again even though I was 9. None of these lectures ever mentioned that these women were smart, hardworking, funny, and good people. Instead they were the absolute worst people that I could grow up to be simply because they were fat. I distinctly remember telling my mom that she was hurting me by saying those things about my family members. That resulted in the silent treatment for several days because I’d questioned my mother’s caring attention to my apparently genetic predisposition to ‘eating [myself] to death’. It still makes me angry but I still use these women as benchmarks for the acceptability of my body.

    I find her claim that nobody taught her fatphobia to be highly questionable. That’s not something that is instinctual. I also just feel intensely sorry for her and her family all around.

  37. 37 On May 28th, 2009, Kate Harding said:

    Just echoing all the thanks for telling your story and looking this stuff up! When I saw that the program she was doing involved The Zone, Atkins, etc., alarm bells went off, but I didn’t feel like looking it up. I’m so glad you did.

  38. 38 On May 28th, 2009, Melissa said:

    It’s interesting to read your experience with MeMe on the talk show. After all that I’ve heard from her and seen I had this feeling that she must have issues with food to be so overly attached to her “cause” and so angry at “fat”.
    Thanks for all the info, it gave me more insight and wisdom about how fervent people can operate and how we have to pay attention to the notion that not all public people are really doing it for “the people”.

  39. 39 On May 28th, 2009, Katja said:

    I wrote a post after reading this article too. I work in childhood feeding and I think she is the epitome of what is so dysfunctional about our relationship with food in our culture. I hope she is the harbinger of rock bottom in terms of how we view ourselves and food, and that we can start to have a more rational discussion soon…
    I too feel sorry for her personal pain, but shame on her, and shame on the media for giving her a soapbox. She has good soundbites, and that is why she is so appealing to the media. The real way to feed and nurture is not a sexy story. You can’t teach healthy eating or feeding in a 3 minute segment between the weather and sports. Thank you for exposing Meredith for what she is, a PR machine who hates food and hates herself.

  40. 40 On May 28th, 2009, CassandraSays said:

    This woman quite clearly has an eating disorder, and also possibly exercise bulimia (and I used to have an ED and have a degree in psychology so I’m not just pulling that out of my ass). Even at the insane teenage heights of my ED I wouldn’t have thought it was a good idea to go for a 4 mile run without eating anything.

    Basically Roth is terrified of growing up to be like her mother…which really is a sad, sad thing. What kind of 5 year old is upset when her Mom does something nice for her on her birthday? Roth doesn’t need media attention, she needs counselling.

    The reaction to her does neatly encapsulate a lot of our culture’s wierd attitudes towards food and weight, though. Imagine for a moment what the reaction would be to a man claiming that he wouldn’t eat until he’d had a 4 mile run, and hadn’t yet eaten at 3:30 PM. I’m betting that just changing the gender would make the underlying mental illness clear to anyone, but coming from a woman people just expect that particular kind of insanity.

  41. 41 On May 28th, 2009, Valerie said:

    Rachel you and Monique looked fabulous and really carried the debate!

  42. 42 On May 28th, 2009, Rachel said:

    I want to also add something that occurred to me earlier today. So, Roth is trying to promote a private nutritional counseling business. I’m assuming that most of her clients are also probably interested in weight management, which is part of the curriculum at IIN. Herein lies the problem. In our greenroom debate, Roth told me that she’s also opposed to weight loss surgery. On her website, she writes: “I’ll bet every overweight American $1 dollar that they can’t lose and keep their weight off five years. I plan to be a millionaire, many times over.” Like many of us here, Roth realizes how ineffective dieting is and how difficult it is to maintain a weight loss even when you’re not actively dieting. So, for her, fat people are basically a lost cause, which is why her emphasis is on prevention and why she targets youth and school programs. The question is… why, therefore, would anyone interested in improving their nutrition with the hopes of weight loss ever pay for nutritional advice from MeMe Roth?

  43. 43 On May 28th, 2009, Meowser said:

    “I’ll bet every overweight American $1 dollar that they can’t lose and keep their weight off five years. I plan to be a millionaire, many times over.”


    Wow, Rachel, this just keeps getting better and better. So she actually doesn’t dispute that once people are fat they are likely to stay that way? Haven’t we been banging our heads against the wall trying to tell people that for…um…I forget how long, my head hurts.

    Where the disconnect happens is that she insists that people with fat genes can stay thin through hypervigilance, and that they OWE it to people to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Like refuse psych meds, I suppose. Or maybe go back in time and tell my pediatrician that I have PCOS even though nobody had ever heard of it.

  44. 44 On May 28th, 2009, City Mouse said:

    No, not silly you for trying to take the high road; that was a good decision. Possibly silly you for thinking Roth might reciprocate, though. ;)

    It somehow makes sense that MeMe would think being trained in trendy and unbalanced diet plans replaces a real education in dietetics — and that her training would qualify her for “certification” by AADP, which has such a bad reputation that even some of the other groups mentioned on Barrett’s site stay away from them. Her judgment is clearly impaired about food from the word go, so naturally she would go for a form of pseudo-education that will only reinforce her existing imbalance.

    She manages to be tragic and dangerous at the same time. I hope she gets help.

  45. 45 On May 28th, 2009, Melissa said:

    “So, for her, fat people are basically a lost cause, which is why her emphasis is on prevention and why she targets youth and school programs”

    That’s really interesting that she’s focusing on the youth. Don’t all people with strict fascist like agenda’s always focus on the young children. I mean who else better to manipulate than children who are easily influenced.
    I’m sure she thinks what she’s doing is for the good, but I”m sure Stalin did too!

  46. 46 On May 29th, 2009, Bilt4Cmfrt said:

    “I’ll bet every overweight American $1 dollar that they can’t lose and keep their weight off five years. I plan to be a millionaire, many times over.”

    **Boggle X 2**

    Ummm, excuse me but, W.T.F?!

    This woman is SO disconnected the pieces don’t even fit anymore. She ‘Gets’ that diets don’t work but requires that people, literally, flagellate themselves to stay thin anyway? Masochistic much? Damaged, a little bit? Got Issues?

    MeMe and her little crusade are really starting to feel like some kind of carney Freak Show. ‘Come to the BIg Top and hear Multiple MeMe argue out of two sides of her mouth… With HERSELF! Watch her beat herself senseless for your entertainment!’ She needs help. Desperately. And she’s not gonna get it from the Media who would much rather spin the roulette wheel on which one of them will get to televise her inevitable public melt-down. The fact that she’ll be spewing fall-out all over fat people from start to finish in the name of the Obesity Epipanic is pure Bonus. Drama, fat bashing, good sound bites. What else could a Programmer ask for?

  47. 47 On May 29th, 2009, Win it: “disFIGURED” » said:

    [...] so as to ease the reality of a week off with no pay) and after Wednesday’s post about the trainwreck that is MeMe Roth, I feel the compelling need to light some virtual incense and salt the [...]

  48. 48 On May 29th, 2009, Tina said:

    I can’t wait until she hits menopause, and with the inevitable slowdown – has to keep up the running schedule on only 1,200 calories a day, eaten after 7 pm because she’s not gotten in her running yet. Or if she develops plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and can’t run very fast anymore. I can’t wait until she is old enough that her husband has to dump her for two 20′s (whatever size they are) because her cognitive breakdown has aged her twice as fast (and turned her into some kind of shrew). With the name Roth I thought she was giving Jews a bad name. Glad to know she was not born to the Tribe.

  49. 49 On May 29th, 2009, FatNSassy said:

    Well done Rachel. MeMe Roth’s background is in PR and marketing. What is really needed is more investigation into her personal background to out her for what she is, a pathetic individual who is probably fronting for some special interest. She could care less about obesity, health, nutrition and especially sanity. She is just out for a quick buck and lots of attention!

  50. 50 On May 29th, 2009, Valerie said:

    Oh oh oh- I don’t think anybody has mentioned this yet but its been on my mind since yesterday. I loved the part where MeMe said (referring to a headline about ‘big is in, women say they’re big and beatiful) ‘what if they replaced big with thin… there would be an uproar.’ Now, perhaps her restrictive mindset also precludes the use of television at home but I’m pretty sure she’s seen something from pop culture within the last 20 years. Surely she’s noticed the implicit and explicit message of most advertising is indeed ‘thin is in and thin is beautiful.’.

    It was just one of those ‘sell crazy elsewhere’ kind of moments.

  51. 51 On May 29th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Valerie: Oh, I’m sure she’s banned TV in her home because of all the fast food commercials. Gotta avoid all temptation!

  52. 52 On May 29th, 2009, merri said:

    wow i had never heard of this woman (who shares my name!) before but i can’t really believe that news shows and media actually listen to her. i will definitely watch your video this weekend when i’m at home. i do feel bad for her, because she is obviously disordered but i’m sadder that people pay attention to and agree with what she says. i’m not sure if i would have agreed with her even when i was sick and ED’d myself. but people do. scary.

  53. 53 On May 31st, 2009, Bumerry said:

    I think that the American media love MeMe Roth because to them, she is the voice of reason. The prophet who speaks aloud what they and (presumably) everybody else is thinking. Certainly there are naturally very thin people, but only about as many as people my size, Venus of Willendorf size, and we are not many. And those very thin people are the norm in the media, so they get used to it as normal. They just couldn’t accept in the interview that Rachel could possibly be happier and HEALTHIER at her present size. And the “medical advice” to avoid all white foods was unquestioned, despite how stupid it was.

    This is one reason we desperately need science – REAL science, with the facts from the Results section independently examined by the science reporter instead of just the discussion section parroted. Gina Kolata does this, but as far as I can tell she’s the only real biological science reporter in the nation. Ira Flato (sp?) cheerfully reports on physical sciences, but his social mind overcomes his scientific mind with human research that contradicts his own views.

  54. 54 On May 31st, 2009, Jera said:

    It looks like the pro ana movement now has a new patron saint. I wonder how long it will be before she’s featured as thinspiration or her words are included in the “triggering quotes” section. Move over gOdezS aNA and make way for St. MeMe Roth, the martyr.

    This is a bit off topic but does anyone think of the poem “The Jabbewocky” when they see her name.I keep thinking “mome raths” when I see “MeMe Roth”. The connection is very interesting because the poem is basically nonsense words and MeMe Roth’s pontifications are….hmmm…

  55. 55 On May 31st, 2009, Tina said:

    And the mome raths did outgrabe, as per Lewis Carroll.

    I’m looking at the May 28, ’09 issue of the New York City edition of the Onion, “America’s Finest News Source,” but it seems coincidental to the MeMe brouhaha this following headline:

    “KFC No Longer Permitted to Use Word ‘Eat’ in Advertisements”

    and the article states thusly:

    “The word ‘eat’ is legally permissible only in reference to substances appropriate for human consumption. Any implication that a consumer could or should ‘enjoy’ a KFC CrispyStrip fails to meet these standards, and presents an unlawful deception to consumers.

    “[...] officials at the FCC have issued a list of acceptable words and phrases the restaurant can use to its television and print ads. While ‘eat,’ ‘feast on’, and ‘taste’ remain off-limits, the FCC has approved the use of ‘purchase’, ‘be near to’, ‘look at’ and ‘hold’.

    it goes on and on about not bringing the food near the “eating zone” of the face, nor depicting the food in a dining room, kitchen, or any space generally associated with the act of eating.

    Made me think of MeMe Roth and her influence on the media. I hope she has seen this article around New York. Oooops, I plumb forgot … probably doesn’t eat enough to have retained a sense of humor.

  56. 56 On June 1st, 2009, Arianna said:

    Goddammit, I just watched the first part of the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet on YouTube and I couldn’t even make it through! They didn’t listen to a WORD anyone had to say except that idiotic “Dr.” and mega-moron Meme Roth. You want to know HOW the headlines that “25 Million Americans Are Obese” and “80% of Americans Will Be Obese by 2025″ come into existence? It’s really, crazy easy when you take a look at how the findings of a study (any study on any subject) can be manipulated to reach a predetermined outcome.
    This is a really easy (but long, sorry) example: I look at the height and weight information of 10 people. These people don’t know me, I’m not meeting them and then asking for their information. Instead, I’m getting their information from another larger study that was done on some other subject unrelated to my study. (This is know as a “data-dredge” and it’s done literally ALL the time, because you can make ANY outcome plausible using this method.)
    So let’s say, for example, these 10 people were originally part of a study of 15,000 women on the long-term effects of increased calcium consumption in post-menopausal women (the original intended use for the original study doesn’t matter, it can absolutely be on anything, I’m just using the calcium/menopause thing as an example). My study is on obesity rates. Okay, already my study is going to be skewed because the bodies of post-menopausal women will differ from their younger counterparts (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that human beings naturally gain weight as they age, it literally helps us live longer). But MY study is supposed to reflect obesity rates for all women, not just post-menopausal women. No problem, this is exactly what data-dredges do best.
    So I look at the height and weight of say 10 women in the study. Of those 10 ladies, 3 are considered “overweight” according to the current BMI guidlines and 1 is “obese” according to the guidelines. So 30% of the 10 women I just looked at are overweight (3 of 10= 30%) and 10% are obese (1 of 10= 10%). Now all I have to do is take those figures and multiply them on a large scale basis.
    The city of Los Angeles has a population of 9,862,049 (I just Googled it) and let’s say roughly half of that number is female. Now, I simply multiply half of 9,862,049 or 4,931,024 (yes, I know there should be a .5, but who’s really half a person?) by .3 (30%) to get the population of overweight and by .1 (10%) to get the population of obese. Drum roll please….that means that in Los Angeles ALONE there are 1,479,307 overweight people and 493,102 obese people. Now, I’m going to put out a press release stating what I’ve just “discovered”. My math isn’t wrong, numbers really don’t lie, but the method I used to get those numbers is flawed. Okay, so my press release is a hit and the media picks it up. But then they do math of their own, multiply my numbers by the world’s population, instead of just one city, and viola! Obesity Epidemic Extraordinaire!! That’s exactly how easy it is to use sound math to get unsound outcomes.
    The thing is, I can use that same logic when trying to show any kind of outcome I want. Right now, we obese people are chic to hate so that’s what this flawed methodology is used for, but it doesn’t just apply to obesity rates. I can use this formula for anything. If it makes lots headlines and dollars, you can bet someone, somewhere, in some way is using that formula.
    There IS no obesity epidemic, and all the people who are considered overweight or obese are fine. There are no greater health concerns for a person based on something as arbitrary as the size they are genetically predisposed to, no matter what anyone else tells you. PLEASE, PLEASE think about the information I’ve just told you the next time you hear some super scary sounding press release. Real science informs, not terrifies. If it’s scary, it’s bull.

  57. 57 On June 1st, 2009, CassandraSays said:

    “And the “medical advice” to avoid all white foods was unquestioned, despite how stupid it was.”

    This really is incredibly dumb. How about hamachi tuna? That’s white. Go on, anti food wackos, try to explain how raw tuna could be bad for your health.

    (Well OK, contains fairly high levels of mercury, but somehow I think that’s a bit beyond the scope of nutritional understanding of people who boldly declare that all white food is bad).

  58. 58 On June 4th, 2009, Blimp said:

    It’s fine to denounce, and better to ridicule MeMe Roth. But don’t blame the Puritans. This is a point of great confusion in our culture. The Puritans not only worked hard but were intellectually rigorous because they believed that by such willful actions they could improve the present and future condition of mankind, because God had so ordered the universe. The Puritans established Harvard University, and as long as it was in their control and not the British Empire’s (which wasn’t the case for very long), it was a world-class university, a modern Plato’s Academy, very serious about finding the truth!

  59. 59 On June 4th, 2009, Meryt Bast said:

    What I have in mind when I call MeMe Roth and other such whackos “puritanical” is the denial of the flesh and its appetites, in addition to the emphasis on and valorization of hard work.

  60. 60 On June 5th, 2009, Big Fat Deal » Plus-Sized Fashion Options Recede said:

    [...] have to tell me if I missed any big awesome discussions or news items while I was away, other than MeMe Roth still existing and being more or less insane, which it looks like was pretty well covered [...]

  61. 61 On June 7th, 2009, A.D. said:

    I sincerely loathe this woman. I would love to give her a smack in the face for the rape comment.

  62. 62 On June 14th, 2009, Rosa said:

    I just watched the clips of the show, and I have to say I was pretty amazed at the ignorant attitudes of the hosts. Not only were they size-ist (illustrated the point about overweight people just being IGNORED because they’re overweight and must be lying/deluded very nicely) but they were also quite damn sexist. “let’s ask your husbands what they think”. Excuse me? is that REALLY the issue here? It was clear that there is a double standard – even for politeness – between differently sized people. It’s outrageous and disgusting.

  63. 63 On June 15th, 2009, Mary O said:

    And this woman has kids!

  64. 64 On June 17th, 2009, Mike said:

    I agree with you on the fact that this woman goes about her “crusade” in an unhealthy manner, however I really feel I need to mention, obesity is not beautiful. I say that to mean, the person can be beautiful, their personality can be beautiful, what they offer their communities can be beautiful, but the obesity itself is far from beautiful. There is nothing attractive about dying from heart disease. We should not accept being over weight because we are too lazy to get up and work for being healthy. I like that MeMe is passionate, but I feel she is also a bit closed minded. I agree we as a nation need to focus more on physical activity and less on “McHappyMeals”. Just because we like something does not mean it is okay to do everyday, and the same would apply to her. Just because exercising feels good and keeps you healthy, there is a point at which it also can become unhealthy. That being said though, there are far more people with unhealthy weight in the area of obesity than in area of too skinny. I believe moderation is the key to all things. I eat whatever I want and however much of it I want, BUT I exercise my *** off to make sure I don’t become unhealthy with it. Thus far the doctor has said I am in perfect health, though he wishes I would cut back on the Coke. Thank you for your balanced opinions on the matter, though I would point out food is the enemy to everyone who abuses it and to anyone who thinks it isn’t. We need to be careful not to encourage people to ignore the devestating effects over eating can cause. (not everyone who is over weight over eats. that is a completely different issue) Thank you for allowing me to comment.

  65. 65 On June 18th, 2009, Mandi said:

    All I have to say is this regarding Meme’s fight: Number one: I hate women who cannot spell their names correctly, it’s ‘Mimi’. Second: I’ve started a campaign against blondes who constantly throw their heads and hair back as a sign of superiority when they speak, with white capped teeth who think that the world should be their way or the highway. Unfortunately this whole ideal of hers reminds me of Hitler’s Youth — they had the same idea, ya know. Third: Her kids will die just as she will, fat or not. If this offends her, then so be it, she offends me. It’s fine to have her kids and family eat that way, and if she doesn’t like what the PUBLIC schools are givng, find private school and like minded people who do. Regardless…Just…live, and love. Life is too short for this nonsense of MeMe and her 15 minutes of celebrity fame. I went through this elitest weight discrimination behavior in the 80′s and as you can see, it was a disaster. Except with AIDS. When everyone got ‘skinny’ off of that, people like MeMe were totally satisfied how ‘great’ everyone looked then, and not realizing how very sick they truly were.

  66. 66 On June 18th, 2009, Renee said:

    I couldn’t help but be struck by MeMe’s comment from the Guardian story:
    “…on my birthday, that my mother was to bring cupcakes to my class, I put my head on the table because I knew that within minutes my mother would be there and everyone was going to know that my mother was fat. I felt ashamed.”

    This woman has been so obsessed with obesity for her entire life she never even considered for one moment that her mother was bringing her cupcakes for the whole class on her birthday..whether her mom was fat or not, most kids would have been so happy they had such a caring mom who’d take time out her day to do something so kind for her daughter..a lot of kids would give everything they own to have their “fat” mom do something so sweet for them.

  67. 67 On June 18th, 2009, Rachel said:

    There is nothing attractive about dying from heart disease. We should not accept being over weight because we are too lazy to get up and work for being healthy.

    Mike: I would recommend reading up on some of the literature that has come out in the past decade that shows how being overweight isn’t necessarily a linchpin for developing heart disease, nor are the diseases/disorders commonly associated with obesity really caused by obesity (often times, obesity is a symptom of a larger health issue, not the cause). You can start here and then check out the books and links referenced here and here.

  68. 68 On June 18th, 2009, Jen said:

    Ya, stress is the real problem, and this poor woman is stress personified. She is obsessed with body image — not health — just image. Thinness at any cost seems to be her message. In this article, she’s quoted as suggesting people substitute sex for food:

    Now…what kind of “health” message is that for kids, or even for adults? That casual sexual hookups are healthy and better than the occasional cupcake or brownie? Oh, don’t worry about those silly STDs or AIDS or cervical cancer or the emotional fallout of too many emotionless casual hookups or sexual activity at too young an age! Being thin is the ONLY thing that matters!

    And, as the author notes, is starving oneself or not fueling workouts properly really smart and healthy in the long run?

    It all seems to boil down to the superficial to Ms. Roth. Love, compassion, acceptance, mental, emotional and physical well-being don’t matter as much as looking thin.

    That’s about the most negative message I’ve heard in a long time.

  69. 69 On June 19th, 2009, Olivia said:

    This is scary. I never heard about her till today.
    Okay, losing weight if you’re unhealthily overweight is one thing, but she clearly holds thin people over fat people, which is really dumb and unfounded, to say the least.
    Meme Roth is pretty much…

    -extremely fearful of gaining weight
    -judges herself and others based on weight
    -exercises (i think we can safely assume) without eating.

    is that not anorexia?

    How did they let her on T.V.?

    Great article, btw, good research skills!

  70. 70 On June 20th, 2009, momof4 said:

    From the multiple articles I have read I agree that MeMe sounds extreme, abrasive, unhealthy and shouldn’t be providing nutritional counseling. However, I completely support her campaign to stop schools from serving unhealthy foods. The current situation is far from when I was a child (I’m 38) when we occasionally had celebrations with sweet treats that everyone enjoyed. Today there may be 20-some birthday celebrations with junk food in addition to multiple holidays. Kids are also often “awarded” after a sports event with candy or sugary drinks or provided with treats on school field trips. I have no issue with kids having treats and I allow my children plenty of them, but that is the point-most parents do allow their children plenty of treats at home. School is a place for learning, not for eating junk food. There are plenty of ways to celebrate without junk food at school. Some critics say parents just need to “teach their children judgment” so they can refuse the junk food served at school, but what young child can resist the temptation of sweets? Although there is reason to question MeMe’s health, approach and some of the content of her messages, I completely agree with her concern about junk food in the schools.

  71. 71 On June 20th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @momof4: I agree and I’m also all for healthier school snacks AND lunches, but I don’t think sweets should be completely banned, however. When you ban certain foods, they become the forbidden fruit, no pun intended. Sweets can absolutely be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation and this — not rules and restrictions — is what we should be encouraging in children.

  72. 72 On July 7th, 2009, Jules said:

    I am so glad I found someone who calmly and logically is speaking out against the message Roth sells. I am not overweight, I am underweight and still recovering from growing up with a severe eating disorder. If our culture had a clearer idea of what “healthy” means and looks like, perhaps the adults around me would have recognized my illness. Roth never mentions the hazards of being underweight. It is important to note that being 10-20 pounds overweight has little adverse affect on one’s health. In contrast being 10-20 pounds underweight will rob your bones of calcium, make your hair fall out, impair your cognitive skills, and, as in my case, send you into cardiac arrest. This woman is a public health hazard and my heart breaks for her children. The whole approach of the media world alienates thin and “fat” alike. We need to, as a culture, learn to live balanced, healthy lives and pay attention not to how we look on the outside compared to others but look at how our bodies are doing on the inside.

  73. 73 On July 12th, 2009, Em said:

    There is a third choice, other than “thin and anorexic” or “overweight and healthy”. How about thin and healthy?

  74. 74 On July 13th, 2009, Rachel said:

    @Em: If you know anything about me or this site you would know that for me, thin isn’t healthy. And the larger point here is that MeMe Roth doesn’t give a damn about my health or yours; she just wants us all to give the illusion of health.

  75. 75 On July 13th, 2009, Carrie said:

    I had a boyfriend who hated fat people. That’s why after 5 years together and a promise to marry me, he dumped me. Because I got fat and he hated that. MeMe Roth’s only goal in life – her only purpose – is to make people feel bad. I’d like to lose weight and I am still trying but her attitude is counter-productive and I think she needs to see that tearing people down isn’t going to make the world a better place, it will only make people hate her more.

  76. 76 On July 23rd, 2009, AnthroK8 said:

    Reading MeMe’s specs made me really hungry. Fortunately, I have some lovely olive oil tortas flecked with fennel seed here, and I am going to have one now. With a nibble of melon. And a cup of tea.

    (MeMe Roth is probably feeling prickly all over. I think I am okay with this.)

    As you say, better fat and healthy than thin and… not.

  77. 77 On July 24th, 2009, Rich Carter said:

    Rachel, You are right on the money in my opinion.
    Miss Roth has been on FOX a couple of times when I was watching and she comes off as most of the Columbia university alumni, radical and power hungry.
    I saw her today again on FOX and she just reminded me so much of the prgressives in congress that I just had to do a little searching to see what made her tick.
    The farthest I got was your site here and I’m glad I found it.
    I taught martial arts for years and I agree with you that happy and healthy was a much better and stress free life choice for my students than having an obsession with weight.

    I see that you do very good research on your own and I would bet that if you dug a little deeper, somewhere along the line you may find a little stimulas money being doled out to keep her in business.

  78. 78 On July 24th, 2009, Jules said:

    While I agree with the sentiment of your thoughts about being healthy not thin, I hardly think it is appropiate to make such comment about Columbia University alumni, especially since Meme Roth isn’t really an alumna, as pointed out in this article. There are power hungry people everywhere, regardless of where they educated.

  79. 79 On July 29th, 2009, Peter said:

    That this food Lib Nazi Meme Roth feels compelled to dictate to others what to do with their freedom to eat what they want is what I find contemptable.
    Personally, I would pay-per view to see Ms Roth tied up in chair and force fed Twinkies til she bursts – literally burst until she explodes.


  80. 80 On July 29th, 2009, Some Guy said:

    Meredith Roth is an exellent example of why neurotics shouldn’t be setting public policy agendas. She has some kind of hang-up over having had a fat mother, and she should be seeing a shrink instead of trying to get laws passed to increase the power of the nanny state to interfere in our lives.

    If I should happen to meet her someday walking around New York City, I’ll be sure to tell her in no uncertain terms that what other people eat is none of her goddamned business.

  81. 81 On August 2nd, 2009, WatchTheFlows said:

    As a young man with a history of anorexia and a residual obsession with body image, I find your blog interesting and enjoyable. And as a student of equity issues, I find it laudable that you document the discrimination and stereotypes faced by fat people.

    I had not heard of MeMe Roth before, but judging from the final quote above, I’m not sure that her views on food and health are rational.

  82. 82 On August 28th, 2009, Tia said:

    I hadn’t heard of MeMe Roth until I read an article about why Americans Hate Fat (on MSN) and she was mentioned. Curiosity piqued, I had to Google the woman and found some very offensive and disturbing remarks made by her. I think it’s outrageous that she called Jordan Sparks (a size 12) a bad role model for girls because of her size! Am I mistaken, or wasn’t that a competition based on talent? The number of her dress size shouldn’t determine how deserving/talented/what a great role model she could be. (Marilyn Monroe was a size 14-18 and a beautiful woman not remembered for her weight!)

    I am all for being healthy, but being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean being a size 2. I have a friend who is a size 0, never had to diet in her life, ate junk food all day long, and recently found out she has extremely high cholesterol,and at the age of 25 has to be on medication to control it.

    So Ms. MeMe, let’s stop judging a book by it’s cover and start appreciating the fact that there are women out there who promote a SELF-LOVE message rather a SELF-LOATHE message.

  83. 83 On August 28th, 2009, Tia said:

    Oh, I also have to comment on Mike’s comment posted June 17th, 2009… I can see your point but I think you had a really poor choice of wording…”We should not accept being over weight because we are too lazy to get up and work for being healthy.” Why is it that you have this preconceived notion of overweight people being LAZY? There is so much more determining a person’s body make-up than just laziness and overeating.

    “Genetic factors also are beginning to be implicated in the degree of effectiveness of diet and physical activity interventions for weight reduction. ” (Quoted from

    Oh, and just a little fun info– here are some people are who considered “overweight/obese” by their BMI calculations –
    Michael Jordan, Brad Pitt, The Rock, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington… (there are more but you get my point…) There is a problem with BMI calculator (what is used to determine obesity) in that it doesn’t measure muscle mass so a so-called obese person can still be healthy.

    This is also an interesting article I have found….

  84. 84 On September 27th, 2009, FatGrrl » Blog Archive » Fattening Up Social Protest Rhetoric said:

    [...] 4. Polarization: Moves individuals into agitation; division of us versus “them.” We use our eagle eyes to keep a look for fat discrimination and we immediately raise it to the attention of the community: companies and individuals that actively seek to keep fat folks as separate; as “other.” I’m looking at you, MeMe Roth. [...]

  85. 85 On October 1st, 2009, TwoToTheHead said:

    Meme Roth is dangerously naive.

    This “preventative” business is step one. First we’ll be tested for what we’ve ingested into our bodies so that we can be fined appropriately for things we’ve eaten that might someday make us sick.

    What’s the difference between that and punishing people for crimes they “might” commit?

    We’re seeing more and more people like her speaking out in favor of total government intrusion into our lives. It’s at odds with every principle the country was built on, but yet it’s getting traction.

    Dangerously naive.

  86. 86 On October 5th, 2009, Kay said:

    Am I crazy, or are most commenters whose usernames imply maleness only interested in making nanny-state, anti-stimulus arguments? There’s so much more to it, fellows, and this issue isn’t one of political parties. In fact, there’s very little to do with politics, other than the campaign to serve healthier food in schools (and I’m very much for that, so long as sweets aren’t outright banned either.)

    Anyway, good post, and lots of great comments. I don’t have more to add except a personal anecdote. I have been at a weight around 120-125 until recently. I got sick for about a month and due to that (esp. the part where my throat hurt so bad I could hardly swallow food), I lost nearly 15 pounds. Even after I recovered, I felt frail. I felt like part of me was missing. My period was late (and it’s never late, not even when I had mono so bad I was hospitalized) and only started once I started eating normally and began slowly gaining weight back. I definitely believe that being 10 pounds underweight is worse than being 10 pounds over. And having an anorexic sister, I’d give anything to see her 10 pounds overweight. All the fuss about thin = healthy and fat = unhealthy is absurd and flies in the face of science (not to mention, what constitutes “fat” these days is ridiculous.) And what is with the way so many get offended and preachy at the very sight of a fat person? Thanks for providing a great space to discuss the 3 Fs!

  87. 87 On October 5th, 2009, Peter said:

    Hello Kay,
    This has everything to do with politics.
    I google searched Mimi Roth before I ever posted – this practice I do typically whenever I read of some loud-mouthed, in-your-face fool who forces their personal beliefs on others hidden by the facade of social activism which Mimi Roth has done. I like to know what makes these creatures tick. And low and behold, I am still batting 1000; they all have in common are their LIBERAL politics – tolerance they preach only so long as you do ONLY what they say.

    These people should scare the crap out of anybody – male or female – that values their personal freedom.

    And Ms. Roth can go choke on a chocolate cupcake.

  88. 88 On October 5th, 2009, Rachel said:

    nd low and behold, I am still batting 1000; they all have in common are their LIBERAL politics – tolerance they preach only so long as you do ONLY what they say.

    Ehem, you do realize that MeMe Roth is a regular on FOX News, which is arguably the most conservative broadcast out there, right? And based on what I’ve discovered about her and her family, I’m willing to bet that her politics tends to veer right, as well.

  89. 89 On October 5th, 2009, Peter said:

    Hi Rachel,
    Fox News invites many liberals for their programs – fair and balanced as they say. Do you ever watch Fox? So by your logic (ahem) – is Charlie Rangle is a Conservative too (he is often on Hannity)? How about Evan Byah as he is an OReilly regular. Lanny Davis, Bob Beckle, Ed Rendell, Bill Burton…the list goes on.
    As for Ms Roth, yes how shortsighted of me not to make the connection…
    I mean not too realize that she lives and hangs out in Manhatten’s Upper West side amongst all those conservatives – NYC – the bastion of Republicanism. It is so obvious.

  90. 90 On October 5th, 2009, msmarie said:

    Peter- you’re joking right? You actually believe FOX news is fair and balanced? Do you watch news besides FOX? I know this has nothing to do with the original topic of MeMe Roth but I read your comment and couldn’t believe how ignorant you sound. Maybe you should do a Google search FOX NEWS BIAS and do some research on that first.

    and I disagree with you about this being about politics… this is about a woman who has some insecure sense of self and a fear of being overweight because of some mother complex and now she is a radical on weight loss. end of story.

  91. 91 On October 5th, 2009, Rachel said:

    ^^ What msmarie said.

  92. 92 On October 5th, 2009, Peter said:

    No I am not joking.
    I watch Fox. I also watch CNN. I listen to both right and left radio.
    Though I am a conservative, I still like to hear both sides debated to be more well informed – thus Fox wins hands down overall. Can’t say the same for Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric, the alphabet networks and nearly every single newspaper. Can you name me just ONE (1) other television news channel that is even close to being balanced?!!! Why are Fox’s ratings smashing all others?!!

    So who is ignorant here?

    As far as Ms Roth is concerned, you could very well be right about her insecurity (or whatever mental issues she has), but that she has taken this to the point that she has of unapologetic in-your-face activism (for example forcing schools to abide by her intolerance of what other parents deem edible for their own kids to eat for God’sake – mandatory notification and prior warnings of when a volunteer mom brings cupcakes for school functions) smacks of liberal (Nanny State), “I know better” facism – plain, pure and simple.

    And NYC is her perfect “village”.

  93. 93 On October 5th, 2009, Rachel said:

    This is my blog and not a town hall meeting, so let’s leave the tired partisan political debate and insult-slinging out of this conversation and refocus it on MeMe Roth and her neurotic activism. Thank you.

  94. 94 On October 5th, 2009, Peter said:

    Hello Rachel,
    Fair enough. Sorry for the drift.

    Agreed – Ms Roth is a neurotic. Well put.

  95. 95 On October 5th, 2009, msmarie said:

    Just because it is popular does not mean it is right ( I sound like my 2nd grade teacher) and yes – it is agree to disagree but at least we are in agreement on MeMe Roth. A little on the crazy side.

  96. 96 On October 21st, 2009, Sabrina said:

    Personally, I think MeMe Roth is lying about all those death threats, and is only saying it to garner pity and attention. She is nothing but an anorexic bully who can dish it out but not take it.

  97. 97 On November 18th, 2009, Laura said:

    Could not have been written any better… the only reason this woman gets airtime is because the public loves to see conflict in such a sensitive subject.
    Her poor children. Sure they won’t be obese… but what about the humiliation they would have gone through? There are social and emotional aspects of health too. Kids can be cruel… and no one wants to be friends with the kid whose mother tries to ban birthday cakes. But hey… at least they’re not fat right?

  98. 98 On November 18th, 2009, Fat-Bottom Girl said:

    My husband and I cannot stand this woman, she’s so egotistical that we’ve come to call her Me!Me! Roth.

    I agree, though, you CAN be fat and fit. Just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy. If Me!Me! wants to help obese people, she should do her homework and research way to teach both adults and children healthy eating habits (and that does NOT include skipping meals) and exercise that will keep their interest so they don’t get bored or monotonous and seem like a chore until they eventually give up.

    Shaming people into submission only tends to backfire.

  99. 99 On February 16th, 2010, Cindy said:

    Thank God there are sooo many people out there that can still think for themselves and realize when someone shouldn’t be giving advice!! I saw MeMe on CNN for the first time ever today and she seemed so snottie and prejudice against overweight people and it enraged me. She obviously has the misconception that anyone overweight doesn’t eat healthy, which is very ignorant on her part because there are soo many people out there that eat very healthy but still struggle with their weight because of health problems such as Thyroid problems. I am one of these people who have thyroid problems and have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight because of it, even though I eat very healthy now. Someone like her being in the spotlight of media makes my skin crawl. These tv channels really should do their homework on whether someone is qualified enough to make statements on national t.v. especially when such young and easily manipulated minds could be watching, like my daughter that is 8 and already obsessing about weight at an early age. MeMe should not be allowed to advice people on such matters that she is not educated enough on and obviously has her own mental issues about obesity that she needs to deal with.

  100. 100 On February 18th, 2010, Should Fat People be Shamed? | The Mundane Male said:

    [...] in their criticism of Roth, many publications like The Daily Beast, The Guardian, and popular feminist blog seem to make Roth a social pariah. However, her provocations should not be treated in [...]

  101. 101 On February 24th, 2010, Magpie said:

    You know, it’s nice that people are willing to feel pity for Ms Roth. However, as pitiable as her situation is, it doesn’t excuse the colossal amount of harm this woman causes in the name of righteous indignation. Encouraging hatred for and humialation of an entire segment of the population is simply wrong, whatever the professed “good intentions” are.

    Why anyone continues to give this self-serving attention seeker a forum to spread her twaddle is beyond me.

  102. 102 On April 1st, 2010, RG said:

    “Many of the things I have heard Roth say (avoiding social situations involving food, ranking food on a scale, not eating until exercising first, banning certain foods from her diet, preoccupation with weight, daily weigh-ins, etc…) strike me as eerily familiar to things I also thought or ways I behaved during my struggles with anorexia and bulimia.”

    I understand that the rules became an ED for you, but I’m having a hard time making them into an ED in and of themselves. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t “rank” food, esp. kids, and eat more of their favorites. Even the “not eating until exercising” – to me, this is a habit because I try to run in the morning before it gets hot and once I eat something substantive I really need to wait an hour to run or I get stomach cramps. I’ll still have tea (with milk) and possibly yogurt or a protein drink or fruit, but if I ate a good dinner the night before, I can easily get through a 30 minute run without it. If she’s a longtime runner and on a flat course, 4 miles probably is in the 28-36 minute range and might be a 70% exertion for her.

  103. 103 On April 1st, 2010, Rachel said:

    @RG: I usually don’t eat until after a morning workout either, but in this case, it was late afternoon and Roth had not yet eaten a single morsel of food. Don’t you think that is a bit problematic? No one here is diagnosing Roth with an eating disorder — that’s between her and her doctor — but it’s clear that the personal behaviors she’s shared in regards to food and weight as a whole are cause for serious concern.

  104. 104 On April 1st, 2010, RG said:

    “but in this case, it was late afternoon and Roth had not yet eaten a single morsel of food. Don’t you think that is a bit problematic?”

    Not particularly. I have no idea when she woke up, and if I’m hectic (the article said the interviewer met her at 1pm) the stress often overrides hunger signals. And the “single morsel of food” was part of my point, that I often think of a protein drink or tea as not being a meal, so if someone was interviewing me I wouldn’t even remember it. I’m about to go heat up lunch, but it’s 2 pm and I haven’t had a “real meal” yet, though if I think about it I’ve had 400 calories in tea, strawberries, asparagus and fish oil caps. And I’m normally a breakfast eater.

  105. 105 On April 29th, 2010, Jeff Smith said:

    I am a consumer who believes in freedom of choice when it comes to food. My advice to that skinny bitch, is STAY OUT OF MY LIFE!! What I put in my mouth, is none of her business! She (Roth) should spend more time worrying about her own family, and leave the rest of us alone! BUTT OUT,”MEME”!!!!

  106. 106 On April 29th, 2010, Rachel said:

    While I understand your frustration, Jeff, let’s please refrain from calling anyone names, especially names that disparage on the basis of body size.

  107. 107 On July 13th, 2010, Amanda said:

    I’ve only just heard of Meme Roth, and I haven’t been able to stop researching this women since. Some of her comments really concern me. I have been overweight all of my life. I have experienced the shame and prejudice of being this size. I even had a “friend” tell me that if I did not lose weight, I would never get married, and I would never be able to find a good job (I am now happily married and I am a teacher). Now, she said these things to me to “help” me lose weight. She wanted to open my eyes to my weight problem (as if I had no idea). She may have had good intentions, but her remarks devastated me. I did not lose weight after this. In fact, it sent me into a downward spiral. I gained 50 lbs., and I became deeply depressed. The thing many people, including Meme Roth, simply don’t understand is that shaming someone into losing weight never works. I had never felt worse about myself, and I simply didn’t see the point in trying to be any healthier or losing the weight. Only when I feel good about myself, and I accept who I am and who I’ve always been, can I be healthier. Should I hate myself because I am fat? What does that do? ONly when I started liking myself again could I care enough to be healthier. I lost that 50 lbs., and I feel pretty darn good about myself(even if I’m still fat). I work, I travel, I have great friends, I have no health problems, and now I am 7 months pregnant (Oh the horror that I dare to become pregnant at my size!). I have had a perfectly healthy pregnancy thus far. It scares me to think that MeMe Roth’s comments could make someone feel as I felt. It’s one thing to care about health, but it’s an entirely different thing to make people feel as if they should not like themselves if they are not a certain weight. Everyone deserves the right to like themselves! God loves me, so why shouldn’t I?

  108. 108 On August 29th, 2010, Anna said:

    Many comments said, and this one will possibly never be read, but to me, this had to be said just to get off my chest. This woman qualifies HIGHLY for the position of anorexia based on the symptoms and what I’m reading about her food and “healthy” lifestyle. She just barely doesn’t meet the #1 symptom of anorexia which is being under a barely healthy bmi for her age. She does not eat until she exercises, making it a POINT to not eat until she exercises, making it a HUGE point she will not eat after running a FOUR (not three, not two) miles, even if it’s already four in the afternoon. Breakfast isn’t her thing, lunch is a rarity or a “didn’t happen”, and she eats beans like its nobody’s business convincing me (just an opinion that could be false) that’s probably her highest form of protein and carb in her diet. She carries the obsessive view of needing to be skinny, and pushing others to be skinny, because of the unfortunate embarrassment of her obese family. Apparently it’s “freak out mode” when she reaches 125, when actually it should instead be some reassurance that she’s actually closer to a healthy weight. In the interview it was noted she wore jeans and a jacket she didn’t take off. Possible fear that any miniscule fat on her body would be seen? Extremely cold (another ana-symptom) and looking for warmth? Even if possibly she could be bony underneath and is oblivious to it…

    It looks like I’m calling Meme out as anorexic. I want to say I’m not, I really do, because it’s a just as hurtful thing to say as calling someone obese (/yes/, it is, Roth), but really, the signs I’m seeing are making it harder for me to not say she qualifies for ana. Another reason why she shouldn’t be doing ANY nutritional counseling, shouldn’t be on the media giving advice with her distorted views (of obesity and herself), and … really, shouldn’t be the one handling her kids’ nutrition. I do hope that her kids are at an healthy bmi and given proper nutrition.

    It makes me feel bad for her more than hate her. Her comments are hateful. But, again, that’s the [possible] ED talking.

    I’m also not an obese or overweight person trying to take any kind of stab at her from in the dark. I’m someone who has been a skinny little girl, a fat little girl, a nearing obesity girl, an anorexic girl, and a healthy girl. I’m sorry if anyone disagrees, but I know what I’m talking about.

  109. 109 On February 2nd, 2011, In Defense of MeMe « Fat Sisters said:

    [...] fat hating charlatan who has no place in the public eye. However, the numerous armchair diagnoses of ED, miss the point all together. SO WHAT if MeMe claims to eat 1300 cals/day (1800 if she works [...]

  110. 110 On May 24th, 2011, Who is MeMe Roth? | Eating Disorder Resource Anorexia Bulimia Help said:

    [...] UPDATE 6/5/09More on MeMe thanks to Rachael [...]

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