[Fun With Press Releases] Actually, Fat Talk is Good for You

Dear world: My apologies.

Here I go, telling you about Fat Talk Free Week, thinking it’s this lovely group-hug thing. Where women could stop hating themselves and maybe focus on their health, not their jeans size. Boy was I wrong.

Because actually? It’s going to kill you.

Thank God this press release found its way into my inbox, to set me straight.

Virginia,

America is once again running from the obesity epidemic.  Today marks the start of “Fat Talk Free Week.”  It’s a five-day national public awareness effort, intended to draw attention to the damaging impact of fat talk and the “thin ideal” on today’s women.

Mental Toughness expert Steve Siebold, author of the book Die Fat or Get Tough; 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People, calls it ridiculous, and says this is just another chance for America to ignore the obesity problem.

Siebold says:

  • Not talking about the problem is only going to make it ten times worse.  People need to hear that they’re fat so they’ll finally do something about it once and for all.
  • Society loves to blame everyone but themselves.  It’s the food manufacturers, restaurants, portion sizes, cortisol and thyroid glands.  The truth is if you’re fat it’s your own fault.
  • Fat people lie to themselves – fit people are brutally honest.  Fat Talk Free Week is another example of fat people lying to themselves.
  • People need to grow up emotionally, make a diet and exercise plan, get mentally tough and stick to it once and for all.

Siebold speaks from experience.  He was once a “fat tub of lard” as he says.  But after attending a wedding and people he hadn’t seen in years didn’t recognize him, he got tough.  He lost the weight and today is in the best shape of his life.

Let me know if I can put you in touch with Siebold as you cover Fat Talk Free Week.  He says he’s out to save as many people as he can from an early grave, but not talking about the problem is not the solution.

Thanks!

Bruce Serbin

So everyone, please. Get off the computer right this second. Go outside and find as many fat people as you can and tell them how fat they are. They probably live without mirrors or human contact and have no earthly idea.

Then be sure to tell yourself how fat you are. Emphasize that this is entirely your own stupid fault. Being brutally honest burns calories.

Ignore the fact that Fat Talk Free Week began in college sororities, a population with higher rates of crash diets and eating disorders than obesity. One in five college-age women diets “always” or “often” and 35 percent of those dieters will progress to pathological dieting or eating disorders.

Ignore all the data on the role of weight bias in both eating disorders and obesity.

Certainly, ignore public health researchers like Peter Muennig, Columbia University, whose research shows that the more dissatisfied you are with your weight, the more health problems you report. “The obesity ‘epidemic’ might have a lot more to do with our collective preoccupation with obesity than obesity itself,” Dr. Muennig told Reuters Health in 2008. “We still need to focus on healthy diet and exercise as public health officials, but we need to take fatness out of the equation. Were we to stop looking at body fat as a problem, the problem may well disappear.” (Via Dances with Fat.)

Because that’s just all a big conspiracy plot, hatched by the (Fat) Powers That Be, to keep you feeling good about yourself, when you could be consuming a steady diet of rice cakes and self-loathing, just like our new friend, Steve.

PS. Yup, I usually do redact names in Fun with Press Releases. Only this one is so very un-fun, I want you to know exactly what book to never, ever buy.

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9 Comments

Filed under beauty standards, Fun with Press Releases

9 responses to “[Fun With Press Releases] Actually, Fat Talk is Good for You

  1. danceswithfat

    I think it’s less about him saving lives and more about he’s trying to use sensationalism to get some of the 60 Billion the diet rakes in every year since his actual background is in sales and marketing.

    Either way if the fact that he has no health or fitness credentials, or that his method is based on a sample size of one doesn’t convince you that he’s a whackadoodle, his book title alone should be enough to discredit him: “Die Fat or Get Tough” I’m still not sure if he is saying that toughness will make me immortal or just that I should prefer to have a thin corpse. Paging False Dichotomy, False Dichotomy to the front desk please.

  2. Jane

    I’m sorry but I have to agree with Mr. Siebold partially here. I do believe he is correct in some of those bullets above. People like to play the blame game. I know I did for years and yearss. It was until I finally took control of my life and realized nobody else was going to get me thin but me. I dont agree that calling heavyset people fat is an answer, but doing something to make them take action might work for some as it did for me. his book sounds like a boot camp.

  3. The second comment made me think of one of my favorite quotes, from Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?:

    “If you want to disagree with my conclusions, you need to address the facts on which they’re based rather than acting as if these were simply matters of opinion. They’re not.”

    Given peer-reviewed research showing the harmfulness of anti-fat talk on one side, and an assertion that “doing something to make them take action might work for some” on the other, I’ll base my decisions and actions on the research, not the unfounded assertions. (And if it’s an area where there isn’t research and data available yet, better to err on the side of compassion and expansive inclusion than criticism, abuse, and rejection, I think.)

    And as far as that assertion goes,
    “doing something” — Doing what? showering people with even more verbal and emotional abuse than they already get?
    “to make them take action” — How are you going to make anybody do anything they don’t want to do, short of holding a gun to their head?
    “might” — Not “will”, just “might”.
    “work for some” — Not all, and in fact not most, according to research.

    As Zen teacher Cheri Huber says (misquoted from memory), “If punishing people to make them be better were effective, it would have worked by now!”

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  7. brian

    As a recovering FAT person I was 335 and now I’m down to 240 and still going would like to weigh in here!

    I think the point of the book is being missed…how I see Mr. Siebold premise in his book is simply If your FAT it’s your fault.
    What I had to discover on my own journey was that I needed to take responsibility for the actions I took to get to my highest weight. I didn’t accidentally get FAT. I never accidentally ate anything.

    I think Mr. Siebold is using shock value to get people’s attention to actually think.

    My question is how well is the let’s put our heads up our asses and pretend there is no problem working.

    question #2 is have you actually read the book or is your assertions from the press release you received ?

    I’m excited about my own journey and I was not offended by this book

    Thanks

    • Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your comment. In answer to your questions:

      1) I think this depends on how you define “the problem.” If you’re talking about high rates of diabetes, cancer and other diseases in the US, or the low rates of good nutrition and adequate exercise, I agree, putting our heads up our asses is not a solution. But we may disagree on how much excess weight, itself, is to blame for these issues — because the science itself is so divided on that question. By which I mean: Is it the actual fat sitting on your body that causes life-threatening diseases? Or are there other components, like genetics, lifestyle choices, environment, etc that are the cause (or perhaps interrelated causes)? We’re just not sure. Which, to my mind, says that we should stop putting the blame on fat itself — since these lifestyle factors affect everyone differently and you can eat unhealthily and never exercise and stay thin, but still develop various problems, or not — and instead focus on helping people adopt healthier lifestyle habits, improve our environment, better understand the role of genetics, etc. That removes harmful social stigma and prejudice, and allows everyone to be healthier, no matter what their size.

      2) I have not read Mr. Siebold’s book, and your point here is good one — we should always understand our critics. But my post isn’t about the content of his book or his actual weight loss strategies (who knows? Maybe they are incredibly helpful!) it is about the insensitivity of his press release towards people struggling with eating issues in ways he is not qualified (because he is not a doctor or a trained eating disorder therapist) to judge.

      I’m excited about your journey too, and would love to hear more about it, anytime.

      Cheers,
      Virginia

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