March 30, 2011

"Fat is beautiful" is dead

From the NYT:

Alexandra Brewis, executive director of the university’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the study’s lead author, said she fully expected high levels of fat stigma to show up in the groups tested in the United States, London and New Zealand, as well as in body-conscious Argentina. But what she didn’t expect was the strong negative attitudes about weight in the other cultures. The results, she said, suggest a surprisingly rapid “globalization of fat stigma.”

“The change has come very, very fast in all these places,’’ said Dr. Brewis. “Of all the things we could be exporting to help people around the world, really negative body image and low self-esteem are not what we hope is going out with public health messaging.’’

Surprisingly, scores were high in Puerto Rico and American Samoa, as well as along the Mexican border and in Paraguay, places that have historically held more positive views of larger bodies. These cultures traditionally view bigger women, in particular, as fertile, generous and desirable, said Dr. Brewis.

About half of the people who get really into some foreign culture are full of wanderlust and find themselves too bored to sit still in their home region, while the other half were the losers in high school who are holding out hope that there's "still" someplace left on Earth where they would be enthroned at the apex of the popularity pyramid. ("Still" because celebrating the dork squad was part of the Garden of Eden way of life that civilization has corrupted.)

So, by ramming the carbs-good/fat-bad message into their culture, not only has the Western medical establishment worsened the prevalence of type II diabetes, heart disease, and blimpy body shapes in poor countries, but they're also responsible for the consequent "epidemic" of feeling rotten about the way you look.

Don't expect the experts, whether Western or the locals trained in the West, to start preaching the wonders of low-carb/high-fat eating, though. For the short and medium term, the holiness of grains is beyond question. And never under-estimate the power of human beings to rationalize poor choices -- like, all we need to do to help out the poor fat third-worlders is get them a greater supply of organic sweet potato chips, gluten-free pizza crusts, and vegan double-fudge brownies. Nothing unhealthy about any of that stuff.

After we fine and jail the hucksters of "financial science," we should go after those in "nutritional science" next.


  1. damaged justice3/30/11, 2:55 PM

    Real women have curves, not excess adipose tissue.

  2. The grain is 'holy' matra is an American phenominome. British medical schools go down the line of calories alone.

    So the advise ends up being: Go do some exercise, stop drinking, cut our refined carbs and other sugars, cut down on saturated fats, bob's your uncle

  3. I can't recall the last time I heard anyone make praises of grains. I guess back when I was a kid and heard about the food pyramid. We were really always encouraged to eat our fruits & vegetables, mostly vegetables.

    Since we were discussing 90s nostalgia, here's a recent article on Radiohead & Britney Spears. Kid A was the first album from them I was aware of before release, and I remember being disappointed that it was bleep-bloop-blah rather than the guitar alt-rock of "Creep". Forget if I had heard "Paranoid Android" at that point.

    I wonder if Mother Love Bone/Malfunkshun might be 90s Seattle band more up agnostic's alley.

  4. That "real women have curves" thing in this country is such a farce. I've screamed at the television: "No you fat bitches! 'Curves' are larger bone structure, i.e. hips and shoulders, larger breasts and ass, thicker (yet tone) thighs, calves, and arms." All of those curves I appreciate, as does every other male. Muffin tops, cottage cheese, flabby triceps, double chins, cankles, etc. etc...those aren't sexy curves and stop trying to convince the world otherwise.

    The "larger bodies" the article refers to are the JLo/Brazilian/Latina dancer types, voluptuousness VS models, and "thick" Caribbean women.

  5. Underachiever4/2/11, 5:53 PM

    "Fat is beautiful" was never alive except in the feminist mind.

  6. Just reading Anne Salmond's new book ' Aphrodite's Island'- the European discovery of Tahiti.
    As described by Captains Wallis, Bougainville and Cook (1770's), some of the Tahiti Ariki (chiefs) went the corpulent route, and lay about all day in the shade to maintain their white skin and were hand fed breadfruit and plantain (banana) paste by servants- they were too importrant to feed themselves.
    The lower rungs of society actually ate more pork, coconut and dog and according to early Euros were better looking.


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