Previously: The Valentine's Pie
Ann Friedman would henceforth like to be known as FWILA (Freelance Writer In Los Angeles).
michelle obama, ann friedman, pie charts, flotus
Wait...does Michelle secretly disdain fat kids?
No. I refuse to believe it.
Also, if Obama is the prime example of a beta male, then I have been doing beta males wrong (heh).
@wee_ramekin yeah, in author's fantasy land, either FLOTUS is a lot nastier than I expect her to be. Or I don't have a lot in common with author/FLOTUS. Or author is being meaner than usual.
Imma go with "author is meaner."
This bummed me out.
@wee_ramekin I think you can argue that her whole "Let's Move" campaign is pretty fatphobic, yeah.
@wee_ramekin Right? If Obama is a beta male, then I must be down around epsilon or zeta male.
@cherrispryte yeah, I like her fine and everything, but campaigning against childhood obesity is a different thing from campaigning for improved child physical fitness and nutrition. a worse thing.
@Biketastrophy hehe, zeta male. *sad solidarity fist bump*
@cherrispryte @queenofbithynia I honestly don't think that the "Let's Move" campaign is fatphobic.
In an era where people are moving less and less (especially kids, as gym classes and recess are being cut at all levels of schooling), I don't think it's fatphobic to promote physical activity and healthy eating patterns.
(ETA: I foresee this becoming a protracted discussion, which I am all for! Just want to let y'all know that I am having a busy day at work today, so I may not respond back right away.)
@PistolPackinMama Totally bummed me out. Mostly because I love Pie Charts so much usually! This made me :( hard, though.
@PistolPackinMama Likewise bummed. :(
@wee_ramekin I have a hard time understanding how the President of the United States is a beta male, but okay.
@hallelujah @PistolPackinMama I concur. I was pretty surprised at the disdainful tone (flavor?) of the pie slices.
Heh, perhaps this pie was made out of sour grapes.
@queenofbithynia I'm also really saddened by the anti-obesity focus. I think there are a million more pressing issues and it reinforces the message (that children already get THANKS SOCIETY) that there bodies are a) unacceptable b) the purview of other people to shame/correct/fix.
Ugh and now I feel all sad.
That said, Michelle Obama is one of the most accomplished and otherwise awesome first ladies we've ever had. I don't think any of her commitment to change or reform is feigned, since it goes all the way back to her days at Princeton. She really is super smart and driven.
@wee_ramekin "In an era where people are moving less and less (especially kids, as gym classes and recess are being cut at all levels of schooling), I don't think it's fatphobic to promote physical activity and healthy eating patterns."
I don't either. My point was small, and that was exactly it.
@redheaded&crazy Lol, zeta is actually the equivalent of F so its not so bad.
Omega on the other hand.
@wee_ramekin I also do not think the "Let's Move" campaign is fatphobic whatsoever! When I was a kid (in ye old days of the mid-1990s), I played outside all the time just like the rest of the kids in my neighborhood. Bikes, running, jumprope, skip-its, drawing with chalk on the concrete, running lemonade stands, you name it we all did it. Nowadays what with omnipresent glowing screens and fears of child predators, kids stay inside much more it seems. And sitting on your butt all day is not healthy no matter what weight you are.
@wee_ramekin Except that the Let's Move initiative is explicitly to address childhood obesity. http://www.letsmove.gov/about
It's not focusing on "let's move because it's fun and good for your health." It's "let's move because it's fun and good for your health which is of course synonymous with NOT BEING FAT." I dare FLOTUS to tell just by looking at a child's size whether that child moves or plays "enough."
@wee_ramekin Sour grapes because the official portrait just came out and it is awesome? I have seen every first lady portrait and this is among the best (I also enjoy Helen Herron Taft's and Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge's).
@wee_ramekin Is everything pro-health and in encouragement of physical fitness inherently fat-phobic? I don't think so, but that's just my opinion. There has been a rise in childhood diabetes and anything they can do to address it isn't a bad thing. Being a diabetic adult is not fun--I see a lot of people in the ER with missing limbs and horrible ulcers on their feet.
It seems more realistic goal-wise than it's predecessor, the sadistic death march knows as the President's Physical Fitness Challenge. Even at my fittest, in marathon shape, I still couldn't do the fucking flexed arm hang.
@parallel-lines See my reference above. It is "a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams."
So: Fat kids aren't healthy, obviously don't exercise, and can't pursue their dreams.
@wee_ramekin Yeah, the tone here is decidedly off. It's like the chart is implying we agree that, "Yeah, we ALL hate fat kids, amiright? AMIRGHT?!
@adorable-eggplant I think she seems terrific but it's so fucked up to compare her to other important people's wives in a wife competition, like that's a job.
When dealing with official transcripts at my workplace, we have a policy that all women are Ms.(or Secretary or Senator or whatever else) except for Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden. Why we don't just finish the job and title them Wife Obama or OfBiden, I don't know.
@Lu2 Well, in NYC they've cut physical fitness so deeply that MOST kids don't get enough exercise. And that's a problem. I think you're really stretching here--pardon the exercise pun, as I'm sure it will offend.
@Lu2 And I may raise some hackles here, but the skyrocketing childhood obesity rates in recent years (data found here) is not a non-issue, and it is absolutely connected to health.
@wee_ramekin I really don't want to/don't have the time/am sick of fighting the same battles on the internet with this specific topic, so my replies are going to be sparse as well, but someone get the popcorn, cause here we go ...
Yes, I want kids to be as physically active as they would like to be. I want cheap and nutritious food readily available to everyone, especially in poorer neighborhoods. I support Michelle Obama in those goals. They are not fatphobic.
What I have a problem with is that is not what Let's Move is primarily about. Directly from the .gov website:
"Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams."
The idea that obesity is unhealthy is flat-out wrong, and has been proven so by more studies than I can count at this point. (No, google them yourself.) People whose BMI is in the "obese" range actually live significantly longer than "normal" and "underweight" range people. Fat is not unhealthy. Remember that the pathologization of fat is a multi-billion dollar industry.
When you talk about excercise and a more nutritious diet as having value solely because they lead to weightloss (which, um, a lot of the time they don't) that's where you become fatphobic. To me, it's more important that kids get excercise and the vitamins and minerals they need so their brains grow strong and they can focus in school, and so that they grow strong bones and muscles, not so that they'll fit into a smaller clothing size.
It's good, though, cause fat kids don't get bullied enough. Having the First Lady saying she wants to eliminate people who look like you makes things that much harder.
@parallel-lines I don't think so. I am super active. When I was younger I played basketball (starting in the co-ed league in third grade) and then added volleyball and track in middle school. I'm all for making safe environments for kids to be super active in. That's healthy.
But I am against the rhetoric of 'obesity epidemic' which gets reinforced by messages like this: "Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents and caregivers, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies." (thanks for the link @Lu2)
No. No. No. The idea that everybody should get involved with kids who are on the large end of the BMI spectrum (which is a) inapplicable to pre-pubescent children because they grow at an uneven rate b) unscientific/not linked conclusively to health outcomes) is fatphobic.
Because the point of being active isn't losing weight. It really isn't. And I am much more worried about the epidemic of disordered eating (which IS deadly) than I am about our nation shifting towards the heavier end of the BMI chart. People who are fear-mongering about that are also trying to sell you a nutrifast.
@parallel-lines You're talking about exercise, which is good, and the program, which is what we're discussing, is about exercising so you're not FAT. As I keep saying.
@queenofbithynia Agreed. I love comparing the portraits because I live near a presidential library that has them all arranged in chronological order, so it's like walking forward in tiiiiiiime, but the whole first lady position idea is pretty bunk.
In fact, I think sexism is at the root of why the let's move thing is so teeth grindingly weak. Because god forbid she do anything controversial or unladylike (so telling kids what to eat is fine; trying to do anything outside the woman sphere, not fine). So really it's all ugh. But it doesn't diminish my respect for her in other arenas.
@adorable-eggplant Oh and my point about being super active is that never once did someone weigh me and tell me the result. Obviously I went to a pediatrician and was probably in some percentile for growth, but my parents never once told me what that percentile was (or offered me money to loose weight, which happened to some of my peers, who now [unsurprisingly] struggle with disordered eating). So the emphasis on weight vs. activity level really is a problem. They don't have anything to do with one another.
@adorable-eggplant What is funny, but not funny-ha-ha, is that those who would most strenuously argue that weight and activity level do have something to do with each other don't believe that themselves, or there'd be no reason to drag in "obesity" language to a conversation about a crisis in childhood activity and/or nutrition. If sufficient activity and proper nutrition will reliably adjust the weight of overweight people
we would never ever need to talk about weight.
and yet we do.
@adorable-eggplant I think there's also a huge difference between "hates fat kids" and "thinks kids should move more so they aren't obese." Both are problematic. But saying "childhood obesity is a problem," even if it isn't, is not the same as "I hate fat children."
@adorable-eggplant "So the emphasis on weight vs. activity level really is a problem. They don't have anything to do with one another."
Hmmm. I don't think that the portion of your statement that I bolded is true. Weight and activity levels are related, though not so simply as "If everyone exercises X amount, then their weight will be affected in Y way". I think it's a fallacy to claim, however, that they're not related at all.
It's really difficult to have this discussion. Being overweight can be a symptom of low activity levels and unhealthy eating. There are obviously other things that contribute, and I think the thing that's REALLY problematic is that "overweight" for one person is "healthy and normal" for another. Using BMI as an "objective indicator" of health makes me livid. And the emphasis on SKINNY SKINNY SKINNY EVEN IF IT MEANS YOU AREN'T HEALTHY is horrible, omnipresent, and fucks with peoples' heads and relationship to their body.
But it seems to me that going the other way and denying that childhood obesity exists for many children as a direct symptom of unhealthy diet and low amounts of physical activity is also harmful, and goes against a lot of scientific research. And I don't think we should be shaming children, but I do think that we need to recognize that it's an issue so that we can combat cutting gym classes and recess, or putting vending machines loaded with horrible junk in school hallways, or so that we can fight for real, HEALTHY foods in kids' school lunches. These are all glaring problems with our current educational system, and they are all contributing to a swath of children who are less healthy than they were in previous generations. I don't think it's fatphobic to recognize that.
@wee_ramekin But it seems to me that going the other way and denying that childhood obesity exists for many children as a direct symptom of unhealthy diet and low amounts of physical activity is also harmful, and goes against a lot of scientific research.
A sometime symptom is exactly what it is. It can be a symptom of a problem, but it is being treated as a problem in itself; it is the thing being fought against.
The discourse is as if we all went on a nationwide campaign to eradicate left arm pain, because pain in your left arm can be a symptom of a heart attack. And it's also as if people who raised objections to this were told that they were blind to the very real threat of heart disease.
I am not blind to real problems; I believe in science and modern medicine and I am prepared to hear unpleasant messages. I still maintain that a campaign to ERADICATE PAINS IN OUR LEFT ARMS in the name of heart health would be the dumbest, backwardest, most point-missing way to combat the problem ever.
@rimy Thank you for that.
@wee_ramekin Thanks for the catch! I do think I overstated, because you're right that there is a relationship, but it's not a direct one. A person can be totally inactive and wasting away or a person can be very active and obese. Programs that focus on outward appearance to gauge activity level or reward certain body-types regardless of activity level are wrongheaded for exactly the reasons @queenofbithynia lays out.
@queenofbithynia YES THIS EXACTLY THERE WE GO.
@rimy And I also agree that there are serious health issues faced by a lot of children (some of whom are overweight). I work at an institution that has an initiative to send nurses into the community to essentially beg people to use veggie oil substitutes for lard in certain dishes and you know what? I think that's a great idea. Because the emphasis isn't 'eat less' or 'loose weight' (messages that have demonstrably negative effects psychologically) it's: "You can make that with a better cholesterol profile and it will taste mostly the same and you can still have your traditions without facing quite the same risk of diabetes." Which is great, coming from a line of women who up to my mother all had diabetes. I get why that's important, but it's also framed in a way that doesn't shame people or set them apart as examples of what's wrong with society. Basically it doesn't point them out as vectors in the 'obesity epidemic', which, like I said, ugh.
@cherrispryte Maybe you should post something on your tumblr about how everyone who disagrees with you is a "simple bitch"? That seems like the way to go -- A+++ arguing skills.
@wee_ramekin Childhood obesity isn't about fat kids. It isn't about Health At Any Size for grownups. It's about obese children who are facing enormous and lifelong health problems because of their lack of access to nutritiousness food or a way to exercise. It's about kids who are getting diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes before they turn ten. Yes, it's a real and huge problem, and no, it's not about making fun of fat kids, nor has anything in Michelle Obama's message been about that.
@Iamaburneraccount Hey, wait...what? Woah. Hold up.
I have no idea what @cherri's posting on her Tumblr, but she's not bringing those sentiments to this thread, so let's just leave it alone. She's perfectly free to call people "simple bitches" on her personal Tumblr; if she wants to bring that here, then we can fight about it, okay?
@thebestjasmine You're absolutely right that the problem is that children "are facing enormous and lifelong health problems because of their lack of access to nutritiousness food or a way to exercise." The thing is that obesity is a symptom of that, not a cause, but the national discourse is almost entirely focused on the part where kids are fat, instead of the part where they're unhealthy.
@thebestjasmine If childhood obesity is really the problem at issue, than terrible nutrition and lack of exercise don't constitute or create health problems for light children. I don't see how this can possibly be true. On the other hand, I don't have medical training and I'm open to correction.
But isn't bad health bad for everybody, even light people? Don't sugar rushes and sugar crashes and fatigue and low energy and hunger and lightheadedness and sluggishness make it hard for all children to study and achieve, even light ones?
@thebestjasmine Agreed on everything but the remedy. Like I said, I'm for programs that address increased access to nutrition and promote higher levels of activity. But linking those choices to body shape and size is unhealthy and damaging and shaming. You can be pro-health without being anti-fat.
@queenofbithynia I have no idea what you mean by light in this context, yes, it's true for pale children too? Is thin a word you're avoiding? And yes, lack of exercise and poor nutrition is bad for everyone, which is why Let's Move is trying to get access to exercise and nutrition in all communities and schools and isn't just targeting kids with a certain weight. And yes, obesity is a symptom of those things, not the cause, we're all clear on this.
@thebestjasmine Also, the over-arching message is important to how programs get implemented at the local level. So using language about stemming childhood obesity is stigmatizing and that ends up being conveyed at the classroom level.
@thebestjasmine But obesity can also exists despite or regardless of activity level.
@adorable-eggplant Sure it does. But Let's Move is about exercise and nutrition. For mostly poor kids who don't have access to either of those things.
@queenofbithynia I'm thinking by light you meant skinny, so I'll say yes, poor access to good nutrition hurts everybody. My grandmother who got diabetes do to cultural eating patterns designed to be combated by the program I mentioned above was (and has always been) incredibly petite.
@Iamaburneraccount ... really, you're doing this (possibly again)? I wonder what cause I could possibly have to feel apprehensive about interacting with commenters on this site about this topic.
Up until you came along, this had been a respectful and thoughtful conversation about a complicated and emotional issue for a lot of people. Not to sound condescending to everyone else, but I've been pleasantly surprised and impressed.
But then there's you! Too cowardly to post with your main account! Thank you for informing a greater audience about my anxiety regarding engaging publicly in a topic which has been a source of both abuse and self-hatred for me for the majority of my life. Bonus points for misinterpreting what I said!
@thebestjasmine If it were only about exercise and nutrition than I would support it with my whole heart, but there's also an element of combating 'childhood obesity' that is really problematic.
An analogy is my dad, who grew up in poverty in the 50's when there were those shorts about good hygiene being made by the government. His teacher made him stand in front of the class as an example of 'what not to do' because he couldn't always shower and rarely had clean clothes. I'd be shocked if a fat kid hasn't had a similar experience in a classroom somewhere now, and it breaks my heart.
ETA: My point is that institutional pressure can have the effect of exacerbating the difference in privilege, rather than ameliorating it. Because what could my dad do? He couldn't change his family circumstances, he couldn't advocate for social change (until much later), he could just stand there.
@Iamaburneraccount WOW. Talk about going looking for trouble.
@adorable-eggplant Okay, but that's the problem I have with most of these conversations. They ignore all of the verifiable incredibly good work Let's Move has done for children, especially poor children in poor communities, and bring up fears of what people think might be happening to a fat kid in a classroom somewhere. No, no one should be making fun of fat kids, and I hope that some of all of the anti-bullying attention goes to that. But Let's Move has done great work, and yet Michelle Obama gets pilloried from the left about what maybe could be happening to a fat kid somewhere, and from the right about taking away our rights to junk food.
(full disclosure: I was a fat kid, I get it)
@thebestjasmine whoa, pale, seriously? Light, as opposed to heavy! I am comparing like to like here, not making up secret codes.
@thebestjasmine I see your point. Like I said, I played for my city's rec league and had a lot of friends getting their only meal a day on the school lunch program, so I understand that these kinds of interventions are important for health outcomes, but so is becoming less weight-shaming as a culture. It's possible to do both.
@SEW Yes this exactly. She's wrong. I don't think she seems particularly mean/disdainful.
Also, I'd be super-sad if she was only feigning interest in the lives of military wives. Being a spouse of a member of the armed services is its own special kind of awful sometimes, and their lives and problems are worth being interested in.
@thebestjasmine How is childhood obesity not about fat kids?
@wee_ramekin Heyyy now. So late to this thread but to clarify one thing; the study you are citing claimed that overweight people had a lower risk of premature death than normal weight people. Possible explanations included overweight people having more excess weight to lose in the face of diseases like pneumonia, cancer etc.
Nowhere in the study did anyone find that obese people lived "significantly longer" than other groups. Obesity is still associated with high mortality risks. Being overweight is not the same as being obese, and the ramifications on a person's health are very very different.
@thebestjasmine Also, for me at least, this isn't about some hypothetical fat kid who might be in some classroom somewhere. This is about my tutoring kid, who gets bullied because of her size so severely that, according to her, her parents are trying to send her to a different school next year. Let's Move is super active in her school. Is there a direct causation? Who knows. Kids are mean and horrible. If you want to say that you're okay with some children getting bullied/abused because so many more kids are getting healthier, then say that. Maybe it's worth it. I don't know.
I don't know if there's a better way, to be honest - words like "healthy" and "exercise" have become so charged that it's almost impossible to not construe them as anti-fat, at least in mainstream society. But I'd really like to see some sort of research done as to the relationship between Let's Move and fat kids getting bullied. No one's going to do that, so we'll never know, and, again, it's great that there's an increase in nutritious food availability and in kids getting some exercise. That is a huge positive thing. But it comes at a real cost, and it would be good if that was addressed on a national platform as well.
@cherrispryte What's sad is kids like her who are bullied for size reasons are some of the least likely to have other options, because obesity and poverty are often intertwined, so private schools or homeschooling which are two options for avoiding bullying are not always available.
My dad tutors at the public school in my district that takes a lot of high risks transfers, for cases like bullying, and he's observed that in many instances the bullying has to be really acute/tip over into actual violence before the emergency transfer is granted because the waiting list is so long and there are so few spots.
@adorable-eggplant Argh! I was going to ETA that there have been positive outcomes, but like @cherrispryte said, it's worth addressing the real costs as well. Because one of the best ways to stand up against bullying is for people in positions of authority to leverage their privilege (in this case, our status as adults) to speak out against stigmatization.
@cherrispryte Well yes, assuming that I'm cool with kids getting bullied and abused is a reasonable thing to say, if you think it's reasonable to assume that you're cool with all of the poor kids of color out there dying at an early age from type two diabetes. I'm not really a fan of accusing people of being fine with kids being bullied or dying, though, so if you want to do that you should maybe talk to someone else.
@wee_ramekin "And I don't think we should be shaming children, but I do think that we need to recognize that it's an issue so that we can combat cutting gym classes and recess, or putting vending machines loaded with horrible junk in school hallways, or so that we can fight for real, HEALTHY foods in kids' school lunches."
Ok, but how is Michelle Obama's campaign doing any of that? FLOTUS doesn't really have enough power to do effective systematic change - hell, Congress can barely manage to reign in corporations or get anything done - so all her campaign does is reinforce the notion that fatness is always an individual and moral failing with an easy fix. It doesn't actually do anything about the systematic failures that create childhood obesity. And she's smart enough to have known that she wouldn't have the power to make any kind of substantial and systematic change, so I judge her for not choosing an issue that wouldn't end up being awful to people.
@queenofbithynia On the Mrs Obama/Biden thing, that pisses me off. Not just because it's absurdly inconsistent, but because it's wrong--Jill Biden is a doctor, and the White House releases and materials are pretty clear that she be referred to as Dr. Biden.
@Springtime for Voldemort To be fair, Hillary Clinton picked a worse hill to die on, because a lot of people (myself included) found it really questionable that someone who was not democratically elected would be that involved in the legislative process. Seriously I heart her forever and I think she had a great vision on healthcare, but that really wasn't the time or the place.
ETA: And again I think that's a structural problem with the position of FLOTUS rather than a personal failing. I think it was commendable to try to do something outside of the box of female figurehead, but I don't think it was successful in that instance.
@adorable-eggplant Oh, I would totally agree - it's not FLOTUS's place to really deal with systemic change. But then pick an issue that either doesn't need systemic change, or pick an issue but does but get a framing that doesn't help but also doesn't hurt.
@de Pizan actually I'm ok with ignoring that (I mean, I would be ok with calling her Ms. Biden, not with Mrs Joe's Wife Subordinate Helpmate as I am compelled to write.) -- we follow AP style which reserves Dr. for medical doctors only, which I don't mind. If Jill Biden gets to be Doctor Biden, then I get to be Master Queenofbithynia, it's only fair. Or Mistress, I'm not particular.
@Springtime for Voldemort As much as I loathed the Bush presidency, I think Laura Bush nailed this, because her reading program was basically "Let's funnel a bunch of grant money to libraries." And as a librarian, it's hard for me to complain about that. As someone who helped give Ready to Read talks, I can say they were pretty solid. And I got to talk to a lot of ESL parents who were really worried about reading to their kid in their native language (worried it might hinder them in kindergarten) and I was able to tell them, "It's cool, developing reading skills is important in and of itself. Here's a free book in your native language and some reading games you can play at the grocery store." Most people reported feeling more confident after a session, not less.
As for improving health outcomes, I get it: my grandmother has type 2 diabetes, my mother is borderline, and I am not. That's a really important change, but it was made without me ever having to weigh in (in front of other children) or be aware of my body in a negative way. Poverty is at the heart of a lot of these issues, diabetes in particular, and individual children don't have the power to change that. Because it's a problem of corn subsidies and systematic segregation and food-deserts and it's the fault of a bunch of adults who set up a broken system.
@adorable-eggplant Yeah, she did that well. I am frequently surprised by how a-okay Laura Bush is.
@Springtime for Voldemort Except that Let's Move has been doing a lot. Grants to poor communities, collaborating with Wal Mart to make healthy food more affordable, working with legislators and Agriculture for food lunches, getting grants to put stores in food deserts. So while it's nice to judge her because you don't care about her issue, maybe recognize that it's a matter of life and death to other people and she has made a difference.
@thebestjasmine Ok, I didn't know about those parts of the campaign. That seems much more awesome and substantial.
@thebestjasmine But point being, so are eating disorders. And messages about loosing weight being linked to health or thinness being good are connected to that (here's a study that compares frequency of weight loss promotion with prevalence of anorexia nervosa: link.
I am all for the grants initiatives. Just like I am all for promoting activity. I think the fundamental problem is with framing it as an effort to stop the 'obesity epidemic'. There are a lot of stakeholders in convincing people to continue spending money on diets and continue trying to loose weight at the expense of health.
What people are saying is that the results ARE positive, but they also hurt some people, needlessly so, because of the way the message is framed.
@queenofbithynia Magistra! Like Harriet Vane.
@thebestjasmine thanks for linking that article! it's great.
@queenofbithynia I guess that makes sense about the AP styling, I like her for insisting on it since it reminds people she has a life and career outside of her MRS degree. As far as the other part, basically I have a lot of feelings about the position of the First Lady, and that kind of arbitrary rule doesn't make me any happier.
@Springtime for Voldemort I also think the thing about Michelle Obama and this campaign is that she is so incredibly popular that she can get things done in a way that Congress can't. Wal Mart wants to be associated with her, because she's at something like 70%+ popularity, etc. So you might as well use that for something that she obviously cares very much about.
Also, I get that people don't like the word obesity, but there's nothing unhealthy about the framing at all. It's specifically about exercise and nutrition, and I particularly love that the healthy foods she talks about are culturally diverse (she had a kimchee recipe that she linked on Twitter that apparently was huge news in Korea, that rocks). I understand having a problem with the idea of the obesity epidemic and special diets and weighing in etc, and all of that sucks, but that's not what this is.
@cherrispryte I got bullied horribly for being too skinny in middle school and high school. including getting called to the nurse's office in the middle of class because my teacher decided I had an eating disorder. Point being, kids are mean and shitty and stupid, and so are some teachers. It's a stretch to think that Let's Move has anything to do with that. Kids have been getting bullied for their appearance well before childhood obesity was an epidemic.
@Iamaburneraccount can we please not do this again (& also perhaps could you try to grow up)?
@thebestjasmine Thank you for linking to that--it was a really interesting read. Strategically, I think it was actually a clever choice, because while major changes to national agricultural policy probably won't come for a while (so it's not something more easily dealt with by Obama), the local/healthy food movement already had a lot of local momentum and organization. I got a little over-excited when I visited the White House (just the outside!) last year and got to see her vegetable garden in person, even though it was February and everything was dead.
@PistolPackinMama I think the "army wives" thing is in reference to the television show on the Lifetime channel.
@ everyone else, <3
@olivia But was the first lady of the US sponsoring a campaign encouraging kids to "move more" so they would stop being so skinny and weak and therefore "unhealthy"? That might have made the bullying worse. I got bullied for being a fatty as a kid without the first lady chiming in on it. I pity kids even more now that there's a national campaign against the way they look and are.
@WaityKatie As far as I can tell, the Let's Move campaign is geared towards all kids getting more exercise and eating better food. It's not called "Let's Move Fatties"
@S. Elizabeth I am so out of the loop.
@olivia It's called Let's Move, and its stated purpose is "let's move so our kids will stop being obese." I get that MO has the best of intentions, and does not hate fat kids at all, but there are still negative side effects to even well-intentioned things.
@WaityKatie A little late to the game here, but everyone should go now and read this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0
It's about how the food companies have wantonly exploited science to create foods that are as addictive as they are unhealthy.
I just wanted to add that it's not as if historically, children have been increasingly obese and at-risk for developing hypertension. The "Let's Move" campaign isn't fighting something /intrinsic/ to the human organism. FLOTUS isn't saying, "Let's dye [our skin, hair, eyes]." And also? There have been some claims bandied in this thread that it's perfectly okay, healthwise, to be obese, /studies have shown/. Well, a quick PubMed search (keywords: healthy, obesity, overweight, health, adiposity in various combinations) does not confirm this sentiment.
this seems more snide than funny.
But if Eudora says that Barack Obama is okay, does that mean that.. beta males are okay?
Also, I kind of dislike the phrase "beta males," partly because the first image that comes to mind are combative fish.
@RK Fire I deeply dislike the phrase "beta males" because it is, not to put too fine a point on it, PUA bullshit. Also, humans are not wolves. Also also, even among wolves, the "alpha" thing has been debunked.
P.S. I, too, am still chortling over-- and quoting-- Eudora's video days later.
@Vera Knoop Ah, that's where it came from! In my mind, I mostly associate it with "nerdy men picking on each other on reddit" which is not a great association. (I like nerdy men, I like reddit, but it is obnoxious when they try to one-up one another.)
I quote so many of Eudora's things! My husband and I have been joking about protecting the "academic hustle and cultural flow" of our future children.
@Vera Knoop Thank you. I realize that it is being used in jest, but it got me thinking. I guess alpha and beta and omega traits can be a construct that makes some sense, but lumping dudes into those categories has always confused me. "Alpha" just always = "asshole" in my mind, male or female. And when people are assholes, usually it's born from insecurities or ego-driven bullshit--same thing. Other times it's manipulative power-play bullshit. If you don't act like a stupid mean asshole to others, then you are probably cool. I obviously have everyone figured out. That's my rant.
@whizz_dumb Sounds about right to me!
@Vera Knoop I was about to say...wolves don't have "alphas"...that's just nonsense we project onto them! At least, according to several prominent ethologists. And I figured that "beta male" is sort of a crude, slightly unflattering, but commendably brief way of saying, "A respectful, somewhat nerdy and retiring, but all-around wonderful soul who can admire instead of resent the presence of a strong, opinionated woman in his life."
beautiful beautiful talented creative@n
this weekend my brother claimed that his dog is not dominant because it lives in a house with four alpha males.
cue HARD eye roll.
"Awkward bangs in response to aging"
@laurel THEY NEVER GROWN OUT!
I'm convinced I'll spend the rest of my life battling these damn bangs.
@parallel-lines My hair grows so freaking fast I can't keep a decent stylist-quality bang to save my life. But I look so much older without them. I'm trying a side-swept thing but I'm not convinced it's an improvement. IDK.
Also, beta male = ???. Is it because he's more laid-back-seeming? More introverted? I'm not pissed off or anything, just legit curious what the characteristics of a so-called beta male might be.
Also curious in a selfish way, since I come across more laid-back/reserved/introverted/genuinely nice and not crazy backstabber-competitive, people tend to assume I'm a "beta", when in fact my inner ambition levels are constantly on overdrive. This has even affected things like interviews I'm pretty sure. Someone explain how this works?
@rimy Maybe he collects beta fish, in addition to being a fine home brewer and freaking president.
@rimy I can kind of see where she's coming from? Granted, when I hear the words "alpha male" I automatically think "massive douchebag," so I'm not all that opposed to the idea of Barack as a beta male.
When I think "alpha male," my brain just thinks of Mitt Romney.
@S. Elizabeth Obama would beat the sh*t out of Romney in a real fight. Romney would catch an ass whopping for real.
@Alpha I read "Elizabeth" as being Obama's first name and read it as being about the president's wife (just because I wasn't paying all my attention and glossed over it as 'generic female name'), and yet I STILL agreed that she would beat the sh*t out of Romney in a real fight. Bullies always crumble when confronted. And, of course, her ARMS.
I read that Vanity Fair profile of the Prez, and they were playing basketball together, and Obama really required that people play their hardest (and not hold back) even though he's the prez, and was not the best player, but was playing with people who are far better basketball players than he. That's the difference, I think. A so-called "Alpha" will want to dominate, and would prefer (or even require) that people not outshine them, in any arena. They always have to be "the best one" even if it's phony or at the expense of other people's talents reaching their true potential. An alpha is threatened by anyone who is better than they are, or who might be.
At least, that's one way of viewing a kind of weird concept.
@S. Elizabeth But what could be more "alpha" than becoming president of the US? Ruler of the Universe maybe?
@WaityKatie I don't think that's quite how it works. "Alpha male," as it is currently used, has more to do with demeanor and perceived ability to control than one's actual job description or the amount of power one actually has. I don't think it's a good thing, considering the people who are often described (or self described *eyeroll*) as "alpha males" aren't all that lovely, and it's pseudo-science anyway.
@S. Elizabeth But an alpha male gorilla is, like, the leader of the gorillas, right? (it's been a while since I read Gorillas in the Mist but I loooooved it at the time.) An alpha male human should be the leader of the humans!
a. When used in reference to wildlife, your definition works.
b. When using the term in reference to humans, it has other connotations. Namely, "dude who gets laid a lot," and "dude with money and power."
c. We are not gorillas.
@WaityKatie Maybe it's a commentary on the decline of US geopolitical influence. Like cold was Reagan was alpha...
@S. Elizabeth Ok, well, I've heard it used in the gorilla way a lot too, so...
@WaityKatie It's also (from my understanding) one of those terms that people borrowed from animal behavior studies as an analogy that has since been called in to question in its original field. For example, the 'alpha' male in a baboon pack was thought to get laid a lot and have all the power, but then closer observation showed that 'beta' males actually get a lot of play too (in order to head off infanticide) so really everybody is getting laid and the distinction doesn't really matter that much. In the PUA world however, it's life or death, man.
@rimy I read it as his being beta to Michelle's alpha. But yes, this is a weird pie chart while all of the other ones are delightful.
Nothing about her steel-trap arms? which I like to think I have some close to due to lifting around 25 pounds many times a day (#triplettoddlers)
Man, I sort of love imagining Evil Michelle, a secret monster who has tricked everyone into thinking she's America's Sweetheart, but in private hates fat kids and talks down to Barack.
@charmcity I guess we're the only ones who got that from this chart, but that's exactly how I saw it.
@charmcity Yes, thats how I took this too.
@iceberg Man, now I'm starting to wonder if Ann if having a bad day, decided to be self-deprecating about via imagining her Evil Self/Evil Michelle, and is now sad because everyone didn't quite get it.
i get it
@evil melis i didn't get it #tooearnest
@wee_ramekin I think #tooearnest might be the only tattoo I ever get.
@aphrabean I should probably get a matching tat ...
@aphrabean Count me in. Except that it's probably already tattooed on my face every time I try to understand sarcasm.
@adorable-eggplant Hahaha yeah. (Sigh.)
@charmcity That's how I saw this too, and I <3 Michelle.
Also "feigned interest in army wives" seems to have come out of left field. Wtf is that all about? I suppose it is some kind of flip joke but as the girlfriend of an army veteran, I doth protest.
@rimy I assumed she meant the TV show?
@rimy Also, I call bollocks because fuck, Army Wives is a great TV show, and I am sure Michelle Obama knows that.
@iceberg @all the bacon and eggs Ha! Jinx!
@iceberg me too.
@rimy I assumed it was referring to the way it's popular for First Ladies and other assorted high-ranking officials (VPs and wives, etc.) to have photo ops and meet-and-greets on bases with spouses of deployed soldiers. That they don't particularly care about the way the army (by way of the government) has a tendency to make it difficult for spouses to obtain services and stuff, but they DO care about showing up for photo ops when soldiers are coming home and making everyone weepy.
Last summer they passed a law in Illinois making it easier for military spouses to transfer their credentials for professions that require it (especially nurses, med techs, and other people in the medical world) when moving in and out of state, and more states are taking steps to do things like that. It's specifically targeted at military spouses who move every 3-5 years and for whom the recertification process can be months long and extremely arduous and have a major impact on family finances. This law attracted not much attention at all. BUT when soldiers or sailors or airmen come home, that's when the politicians all want to show up and get their face in pictures.
@iceberg oh, that would make more sense.
@The Lady of Shalott
But support of military families has been the second staple of her personal "platform", including advocating for new laws (in more states than just IL) that make PCSing suck less professionally for spouses: http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces
Sure, it's a cause of the sort First Ladies traditionally champion, ie, something zero-controversy, but it's also pretty worthy, and she has worked on it for years now at a much higher level of engagement than just photo ops. And empathizing with the plight of families whose lives are frequently rearranged to accommodate their husband/father's career... seems to makes a lot of sense for her as a personal issue.
I guess she could be feigning that interest but hey, at least she's *doing* something to help.
@emmycantbemeeko Oh, I'm sure she's actually done that kind of thing. I was just saying that I think that is the general idea of what "feigned support of army wives" is. I didn't really "get" this pie chart, but I was just trying to get at the point of what that feigned support entails. I don't know, I'm a little confused.
Me too. Usually the pie chart is pretty funny, but I thought this one fell flat.
@The Lady of Shalott, @rimy, et al. -- sorry if I'm misunderstanding a misunderstanding, but the army wife thing in the pie chart is exactly equivalent to the fat kids thing -- supporting military families is the other of Michelle Obama's two official causes/campaigns, and one she shares with Jill Biden. She doesn't just do meet-and-greets like every famous official and spouse has to; it's a whole big organized project thing that she has, like Let's Move.
@queenofbithynia Okay, I know. I was referring in general terms to what "feigned support of army wives is." Because I thought the original Q was "wtf" and I was trying to clarify what that is. But it looks like nobody actually understands what's going on in the original post or in any of the comments.
@The Lady of Shalott Sorry, yeah.
and as far as that goes, I don't think the OP was saying anything beyond, ha ha, Michelle Obama has to pretend to care about dumb first lady causes because she's the president's wife. though in fact, in spite of whatever pressure there may be for her to choose inoffensively ladylike causes involving children and families, she obviously does really care about the ones she chose. I think that is the entirety of the joke & if people don't get it it's because there's nothing else there to get.
So, like other commenters I kind of had issues with this one. Disappointing.
I think my biggest problem was actually the word 'we'. Is the we supposed to represent all women or women of the hairpin? Either way, this doesn't represent me, my feelings for fat kids(sympathy and empathy, NOT disdain), army wives, or my opinion of the POTUS and the FLOTUS.
President Obama isn't a beta. He would beat you at basketball then physically beat your ass down.
@Alpha I would win in a dance-off, though.
Barack and Michelle can bring it! (to the club)
I read this and my first thought was: let's see how many redundant comments/complaints the 'pinners can pile on this! and the crowd did not disappoint! president obama is not a beta male! fat kids, what?! repeat, forever ...
@iffie Well thanks so much for commenting and raising the level of debate.
@cherrispryte GOD, Pinners are so annoying, redundant, and pointless. It is so irksome how Pinners have things to say about issues, UGH. I hate reading this site so much, especially because of the PINNERS and their COMMENTS about THINGS.
Jesus Christ. Give them a few more minutes, and they'll curdle into BFF-ship. GROSS. I hate it when PINNERS have things to SAY to each other about THINGS that are POSTED on a WEBSITE. IT LITERALLY MAKES ME VOMIT,, grrl.
@cherrispryte goddammit i fucking love you you lil ol cherry sprite
@wee_ramekin I know. I bore me to death with my being interested in what other women and people who like hanging out with women have to say.
@PistolPackinMama I'm only here because you guys are so boring. I NEVER spend my free time talking to any of you. GOD.
@Ophelia I know, I know. Why would anyone bother? So many better things to do...
I read this and thought, wow, that's kind of a harsh "funny" (and I do not like it).
Haha, take my wife, please (so much of funny has actually not been funny but cruel, and not even funny cruel, just "let's make fun of others to feel better about ourselves cruel.")
And I thought, maybe I will say something about how that hit me. And then my next thought was, oh, I bet somebody already did, cause that's not the kind of humor that usually flies around here. This isn't hearts and rainbow unicorn-land (ok, actually it kiind of is imo)... and then actually things got a bit nasty there (more so than they usually do!)
And there was definitely NOT uniformity of opinion, but instead a pretty heated conversation with some strong feelings, and good points.
Which is basically why I come to the hairpin. To see smart people (the fact that it's lots o' ladies is just a big 'ol bonus) talk in a civilized manner about things that matter to them, without going all cray cray. Basically kind of the creme de la creme of internet society. (Not the only place, of course, but a pretty awesome one.)
I have given some push-back for the Hairpin going too far off in the "ladies mag" direction, but at the same time I think (forgive me, here) the brand is very strong and very avant garde in a non-solipsistic and non-obscurist way, but actually a very mainstream trend-in-the-making way that is hipsterism in the best way.
Ie. Fat folks are totally accepted and not marginalized or made fun of (because, duh? Why, what's the point? Lame.... Scapegoat much?)
Ann Friedman is obvs a cool lady... and intentionally or not (I think it was just a cheap shot at humor but what do I know about anyone else's mind or even my own half the time, more if you count dreams cause some of those dreams I have are we--ird!!) this was a very provactive conversation to have. Which I like.
But maybe you not so much? If you already knew what everybody would say? Because frankly I heard differing viewpoints that made me think more deeply about the subject matter. Which I really appreciate. I don't have all the answers, even if I sometimes have a strong point of view (and am right, like, 95% of the time... but that still leaves 5% for learning and growth. As much as I know everything, I don't know everything... y'know?)
Just kidding about being right 95% of the time. It's more like 99.5%. Only on Tuesdays, though, for some strange reason. The rest of the week the numbers are likely to be reversed.
Wow, white feminist reaction to Michelle Obama is still so...interesting.
@thebestjasmine Care to elaborate?
@thebestjasmine Yeah, this whole thing has got a serious eau de Lena Dunham, hasn't it?
@thebestjasmine Yeah, if you'd be interested in saying more, I'd be interested in hearing more.
@Springtime for Voldemort Read the links above.
@thebestjasmine I really liked this quote: "So then these causes perhaps don't resonate with the feminist blogosphere because they're largely white, middle-class, upper middle-class and, from where they stand and sort of radiate outwards, these are not causes. They go under the radar for many of these women and they see them as perhaps less serious, having less gravitas, but for a huge segment of the population these are galvanizing and engaging, and these are things that animate their days and their concerns. How do I keep my children healthy? I live in a food desert. How do I have access to better eating and more organic foods? And, certainly, the concerns that military families face without the kinds of resources that some of the other critics of the First Lady have at their command."
I'm a white feminist but people close to me continue to struggle to feed their kids healthy food and keep them at a healthy weight, so the childhood obesity epidemic hits close to home for me. I'm not even going to wade into the comments about it being fatphobic, though-too lazy. I think Michelle Obama's work for Let's Move is fantastic. But I'm a huge Michelle Obama fan so even if her cause was "Let's Sit our Asses on the Couch and Watch TV" I'd probably still be down.
Also lolll @ "beta males," one must presume this refers to someone other than the POTUS, who wraps an audience around his finger like it's candyfloss.
@nyikint Love it.
@nyikint Oh, this is good. Love it.
@nyikint This is the greatest.
Oh guys, I just thought of the perfect picture caption! Hours later in internet time, but here goes:
ETA: You're supposed to read it all together, like "Beta male? Not impressed" but then I thought the 'not impressed' should come after the photo because it would spoil the punchline. But now it seems unrelated? Joke delivery clearly not my forte.
@adorable-eggplant You know what? I love you just the way you are, you adorable little nightshade, you.
@adorable-eggplant Is that photo REAL? If so, I love everyone involved a little bit more.
@whateverlolawants Came through on my White House tweet feed, so I assume it's legit. I feel like it's begging to be captioned, e.g. "Sequestration? Not impressed."
@whateverlolawants it's definitely real! AND it was obama's idea! "I pretty much do that face at least once a day"
So, between the comments on the amazing Hilary Mantel piece earlier and on this nice bit of satire, I guess literacy is over. It reminds me of the kerfuffle over the 2008 New Yorker cover that showed Michelle in black-power garb and Barack in shalwar khameez fist-bumping over the American flag burning in the Oval Office fireplace. That cover and this simple pie chart are a better indictment of the hateful ish the First Couple have to deal with than any number of earnest Internet comments. I have bangs, too, though, so I'm proud to have at least 20 percent in common with Michelle O.
@L M@twitter Eh, I disagree. I just finished reading the appallingly misogynist satire by Roman poet Juvenal and... hate his "don't marry a slut (all women are sluts) because she'll sleep around on you" perspective. But it's a very funny rant.
This shot at satirizing whatever it is about the "we" of the pie chart isn't funny enough to compensate for the fat kids language. It's also not pulling off a working critique of social injustice as (seemingly) effortlessly as Swift does when he uses the bodies of disadvantaged children to make his point in A Modest Proposal.
Probably most importantly, it doesn't reach the usual standard this feature achieves.
My literacy is in working order, and so my sense of humor. I understand Ann Friedman's joke perfectly well. (I think most Pin readers do.) Today, I just don't think it's funny.
@PistolPackinMama @PistolPackinMama The usual standard of this feature is jokes about yogurt and online dating. And I like it! But she did something more ambitious here, and I thought it was funny, and I admire her taking a risk, especially in this pile-on environment.
@L M@twitter I think the humor on the pin is often more ambitious than yogurt and online dating (and I dunno, sometimes online dating is it's own social petri dish, so there is that).
This doesn't have a light enough touch to get over the bar, and the failures of it made me sad.
As for whether or not this is a pile on environment... I don't know who to believe any more. The We Pile On People ones, or the It's All Hair Braiding and My Little Pony ones. It seems like it goes either way, depending on the sitch.
@PistolPackinMama Hair braiding pony pile?
@adorable-eggplant As long as I am not under any of the ponies. That might hurt some.
@PistolPackinMama No pain! No gain! This isn't some kinda of love fest hair braiding pony pile, ladies!
@adorable-eggplant I'll start weight training this week.
@PistolPackinMama Also, no joke, could you all teach me to braid my hair? It's never been longer than about two inches in my adult life, and now I'm moving towards touching my shoulder length. Does one braid hair when it's wet? What about that sock bun thing? I have so many questions.
Just thought I'd post this because oh may gah! Prom pictures!
@Commentee that is her HS prom pic? Why do they look so adult? I looked like a fetus in comparison!
Well, that escalated quickly.
If a lot of our communication is done through body language, is anyone else suspecting that comment threads on the Internet, which completely eliminate all body language AND and verbal inflections, might not be a place for good communication, but instead create an environment that breeds misunderstanding?
@Absurd Bird and yet, without comment threads on the internet, think of all the different perspectives we'd never be exposed to!
I do think it is a particular challenge to communicate effectively, constructively, productively, when the only tool in one's box is the ability to eloquently express one's thoughts, but that's part of the fun! and the learning! and also, the fear to open one's inbox because of what may lie within!
I try to stay out of arguments and serious discussions on the internet because they make me cry way too easily. HAH. But I found the above thread very informative - as a relatively informed Canadian I knew of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" pet project initiative, but a lot of the details above were news to me. So, there's that, at least.
@redheaded&crazy I think that's why everyone was very careful to be as explicit as possible. I've had this conversation with Wee_Ram in person and I've talked about it with my friends who are teachers (and on the front line of bullying) and my friends who aren't (although they've got a lot less at stake, except for the ones that may have children someday who go through the public education system). People have strong feelings on this one from all directions. It's still productive to talk about.
I completely agree that discussion is important, but my eyes were crossing towards the end trying to understand some of the comments and the points that people were making. Also, now I'm not even sure if this pie chart was meant to be taken literally or if it was sarcastic/satire/commentary, ugh I am so confused. I thought I had good reading comprehension skills, but they are failing me now. I need tone of voice and facial expressions to help me understand if someone is being sincere or not!
@redheaded&crazy You are so lovely. How do you manage to be so lovely? Write a pie chart about it, please?
@Absurd Bird I think the hard part is that there are multiple conversations going on at once, and yeah I tapped out at that point, too.
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