July 28, 2010

Fat Kids Revisited

I got some interesting feedback on yesterday's post. I want to call a time-out and explain a few things.

My job is not to write insightful or original posts.
My job is not to be an investigative journalist reporting on the ills of society.
My job is not to identify and/or solve the world's problems.
My job is not to post socially redeeming nuggets of information.
My job is not to form or dictate your opinions.
My job is not to be fair.
My job is not even to have a point.

No, my job is to write whatever the hell I want.

Most of the feedback yesterday was pretty awesome and supportive (so, thanks!). But some wasn't. And that's cool. Everyone has his or her own opinions and far be it from me to tell you what those should be. (Because that's kinda like telling a blogger what he should and shouldn't write.) I write what I want to write about, whatever gets stuck in my brain that I want to get out on paper. If something here strikes you as unoriginal, offensive, insipid or just plain dumb, well, skip it. Come back the next day. I'm sure whatever I write will be radically different. And I can't be brilliant or insightful everyday. I can just be myself. As an alternative I will direct you to the internetwebosphere where there is a vast amount of content - from novels to music to movies to midget porn - for your consumption and amusement. But like I said, that's not an issue since I have solid proof that 99% of you are awesome peeps.


In the spirit of self-defense, I'd like to add that I passed no judgment yesterday. There were no hidden motives or messages, no secret contempt for overweight individuals. I made simple observations as I saw them, that are in my world absolutely and unequivocally true. Look at what I said - kids are more sedentary, families are less physically secure, the cost of healthy food is out of reach of many, and the complexity of our lifestyles makes that unhealthy food the most readily available and convenient. I fail to see how these are anything other than factual.

I don't take issue with people who disagree with me. If we all agreed, the world would be so boring. What I take issue with, however, are the people who drop by and complain about what I write when they've been reading and complaining for - literally - years. I have a couple readers who invariably violently disagree with me, people who have pledged over and over again never to return (yet do), people who I have banned who then changed their email addresses so they could once again comment then complain about how awful I am. Let's say everyday I go buy lunch at the same place. And everyday as I'm on my way in to said lunch place, the manager comes over and kicks me square in the balls. Now, I don't like getting kicked in the balls. It hurts. So why would I go to the same place everyday knowing that I'm just going to get kicked in the balls?

I'm a pretty consistent guy. I've been blogging for seven years. If you've been reading more than a week or two, you've got a pretty good idea what you're going to get when you stop by. It's really easy to drop judgmental emails and comments and hide behind the vastness of the Internet. But when you do that, you're bringing it to my house, to the place I've carved out for myself here. I respect opinions even and especially when they differ from my own. I do not respect asshats.

Posted by Chris at July 28, 2010 6:20 AM

I commend you for writing about what strikes your fancy. Far too many of the populace are wrapped up in political-correctness and so busy avoiding stepping on eggshells that they forget what they have a thought at all.

I agree with what you said and I find it sad -and a bit sickening, frankly- that healthy, fresh, local foods are so out of reach, except for the privileged few who can either afford it, or are educated enough to seek it out.

One glimmer of hope is the fact that local farmer's markets, are accepting WIC stamps. This is a huge step in bridging that gap and with a little more awareness and pushing the message out there, a change will come.

I was talking with my two the other day and my eight-year-old brought up a great, great point. She said, "Mama, food isn't supposed to kill you, right?" It is sad that many of her peers will die younger because of obesity or obesity-related illnesses. PREVENTABLE illnesses.

I think that is just the thing...no one is really worried or even seems to care that their food is killing them.

Keep on writing!

Posted by: Angelica at July 28, 2010 6:43 AM

Ooo! Ooo! Can I be one of the ninjas?

I'm sorry I missed yesterday's post. :( Is it too late to wade in?

Um. I was fat, then I lost weight, now I hate McDonald's and the fat people who eat there. And their fat dogs.

And I hate and I'm not coming back. Ever. Until tomorrow.

Too ninja?

Posted by: Jon (was) in Michigan at July 28, 2010 7:28 AM

LUV the graph! Your stats are probably as good as any I see in Time or Newsweek!!

In the words of Howie Mandel on American Idol (not my usual source of quotes!) "If they either love you or hate you at least they remembered you"

When you get a reaction out of folks, take it as a compliment. You touched a nerve and you did that with good writing.

A Devoted Commentor

Posted by: Debbie at July 28, 2010 7:39 AM

Damn Chris, this is your blog and I rather enjoy reading it. If I disagree with you, I'll say so, but I dont hold it against you for having a different opinion to me. To everyone else who wrote something nasty yesterday, if you dont like what the guy has to say, sod off and find another blog to read, it's not that hard to figure out. By and large, he is saying mostly what we are all thinking but are too downright cowardly to express in public. I'm not a lightweight fairy (linguistic clarification for all you Americans who have problems with MY language...that's fairy as in small winged creature, not homosexual), but I try hard to eat properly. I try to make sure my girls eat properly and whenever possible, I ensure that everyone I provide food for eats properly. Beyond that, it's frankly none of my business and those insipid curtain twitchers and tutters should look to their own house first. Just my 0.02c worth. Keep it up Chris. As someone once said, I may not agree with what you have to say, but by god I defend to the death your right to say it. Rock on.

Posted by: Sam Jones at July 28, 2010 7:58 AM

It was the mimes leaving the hateful replies! We all know they can't think outside the box..

Posted by: Ross at July 28, 2010 8:18 AM

The asshat commenters are probably fat. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Lisa at July 28, 2010 8:22 AM

I saw some of those comments yesterday, and thought, "Wow, those folks must be paying a lot more for their subscription than I am."

Love this post.

Posted by: Susan C. at July 28, 2010 8:29 AM

I didn't get a chance to comment yesterday, but I think you made some really good points. I don't understand people. If it annoyed you enough that you felt like you had to call the writer out on it, on HIS blog, why keep reading it?

Posted by: Fraulein N at July 28, 2010 8:45 AM

Keep on keepin' on! I agree with the above. If people are taking offense, its probably because they resemble the picture you painted a bit too much.
LOVE your blog!

Posted by: 3jaysmom at July 28, 2010 8:47 AM

Mimes? You never told us there were mines lurking here. Don't be surprised if I never comment again. I can handle a lot of shit, but I draw the line at mines.

Posted by: COD at July 28, 2010 8:53 AM

I love this post. Thanks for writing it. (& all of 'em.)

Posted by: Lori-Lyn at July 28, 2010 8:53 AM

I am overweight and have been my entire life, despite diets, veggie-eating, etc. Both sides of my family have struggled with it for generations. Yes, even back in the pre-high fructose corn syrup skinny days of playing outside all day. Of course, I could "fix" it by exercising half the day and eating fish and lettuce, but the fact remains that genetics DO play a part. No excuses, just a fact. Life ain't fair. I get it.

Fat-prejudice has also been around since I was a kid, too (I was born in the 60s for those who are wondering). Fattie-hating asshats have been around for a LONG time, too. Chances are they not only hate the proliferation of extra-wide chairs, but also ugly people with bad teeth, too. Haters are gonna hate.

I have no problem with your observation. It seemed to come from a place of genuine concern, and I felt no fat-hate in it. And the majority of your commenters, skinny and plump, also made good points. But all of them, asshats included, should realize that all of us are flawed in some way or the other, and a little kindness and empathy would go a long way to making the blogosphere and the real world a better, more productive place.

*stepping off soap-box*

Posted by: LJ at July 28, 2010 9:02 AM

Oh no! My secret is out!

(How did you know that I'm a mime....?)


Posted by: Hope at July 28, 2010 9:28 AM

I've come to believe that for anyone in a creative endeavour, the asshats serve a useful point. They hit you in the nuts, as you colourfully pointed out, and that gets you riled up enough to make more content. They're often the manure that fertilizes the field. :)

Posted by: martin at July 28, 2010 9:40 AM

Is it their little bit of excitement in what must be otherwise a dull life?

I've never understood the trolls. They've never figured out what that "X" up in the right hand corner of the screen is for?

Posted by: Ann Elizabeth Adams at July 28, 2010 9:49 AM

I'd like to think that I fall into both the kick ass loyal reader and the ninja categories :)

I thought your post yesterday was interesting. I didn't have time to comment because I had meetings all day, but I agreed with what you had to say. Kids are less active. Good food is more expensive, and so on.

Anyway, even if I didn't agree with you, this is still your blog, so you get to write about whatever you want. That's kind of the point.

Posted by: bad penguin at July 28, 2010 10:04 AM

It's not the trolls you have to watch out for. It's the Grues.*

Kind of a weird one to be a hot button issue, but clearly there is as much psychology driving this problem as there is mechanics. You may be tapping into that part of the brain that deals with hunter / predator instincts; for some being fat is a perceived weakness, and weakness must be destroyed! But guilt kicks in, and then self hating for feeling that hate, and then self loathing for feeling guilty for feeling the hate ( another weakness! Eeek! ) and so on down the spiral until you've got a nice tightly wound ball of pain that explodes if poked.

And for the record, I have had meals worth being kicked in the nutz for. Not everyday, but you know, birthdays, anniversaries, that sort of thing. Just wear a cup! ;)

* If you don't get the joke, hit Wikipedia for Grue.

- Austin

Posted by: metawizard at July 28, 2010 10:23 AM

Cac-tus! Cac-tus! Cac-tus! Cac-tus! Cac-tus!

Posted by: oakley at July 28, 2010 10:33 AM

I missed your post yesterday somehow, but I went back and read it along with all the comments. I was curious if any of those comments came from the same IP address.

Posted by: Magnolia Mom at July 28, 2010 11:14 AM

Wow Chris...just got back home from being gone for a month and just read the blog and you were spot on. But some people really disagreed! But again you are a great blogger and you made some great valid points that honestly I agree with.

I am 37 and when I as a kid I played outside all day and yeah I had video games etc but I still loved to be outdoors and roller skate etc. I was never fat and never have had a weight problem but then again I have always been active.
I agree though many kids today have so many distractions with all the social media and video games etc. There are also a lot of school programs such as physical activities that are cut. Remember the Presidential Fitness Test and also we had sort of the mini Olympics when I was a kid.

But again you are a great writer (I am not :-) and you always have some interesting commentary. Honestly people that read your blog like you and like where you are coming from and if they don't well.....don't read it....or make an opinion without getting all douchie about it! There is a right way and a wrong way to debate ...you are doing well with that!

Great work and thanks for a great post!


Posted by: Julie Andel at July 28, 2010 11:51 AM

I think the nasty comments were helpful in putting to rest the old adage that fat people are jolly!!!

Posted by: LaineyDid at July 28, 2010 12:05 PM

I enjoyed Adam Pascal's Facebook status yesterday (He is a Broadway actor known for "Rent", among other things.) where he said:

"Adam Pascal and again ive said it over and over, if you dont like my language, take me off your news feed. dont threaten me with "no longer a fan". go fuck yourself!"

Feel free to say that to all of the asshats! (Love that word, btw.)

Posted by: James Proffitt at July 28, 2010 12:27 PM

I hope what I wrote yesterday was taken for what it was worth, respectful disagreement and I hope informative dissent on why I'm not a big fan of posts like that.
If not I apologize for being, hmmm looking at the graph a loyal reader + asshat? I have no idea.
I guess I'll go take off my thin skin now.

Posted by: tulip at July 28, 2010 12:32 PM

You SHOULD have titled this post "The GUY who kicked the hornet's nest". Way to stir up a swarm, Chris!

As an overweight (by overweight, I mean fat - and for many different reasons including genuine medical problems AND a propensity for incredibly good cooking) person, I took no offense at your post. In fact, I agree with you 100%! I am an avid people watcher and the increase in fat/overweight/obviously unhealthy people is astounding. And I'm not talking the women who are a size 10/12, I'm talking obese.

And the kids, oh the kids. It makes me so sad to watch these children with their moon faces and flabby bellies. Can't their parents see this happening? Children so fat they waddle when they walk. Children that can't run across the playground.

Nastiness is a defense mechanism. Be defensive if you want, people, but this is real and this is now. This is 3 yr old children wearing size 10/12 clothes; this is kids parked in front of the tv instead of out climbing on the monkey bars; this is people taking up the equivalent of two seats on an airplane (Don't even get me started on this one); this is children not knowing how to jump rope or ride a bike or swim because their parents don't make them GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

AND how in the world did you figure out I was a ninja?

Posted by: zanie at July 28, 2010 1:14 PM

All I can say is "Amen" and I love the word "asshats". Keep it up! :)

Posted by: Jenn at July 28, 2010 1:19 PM

I'm fat. You have square balls. Life goes on.

Posted by: sw at July 28, 2010 1:30 PM

we totally talk about this all the time. mostly at the pool. I guess it's where we notice all the 'ahem' fat kids. and i'm a fat woman. it's ok, i know why. I eat too many oreos. but i still think it's better than drinking. which is what I want to do after battling my kids all day.

and I'd like to be in the ninja-mime category. or is it mime-ninja? that's some scary freaky. sneak up on you in the middle of the night and drink an imaginary glass of water. egad!

Posted by: jeanne at July 28, 2010 1:45 PM

Ahh, I knew something like this was coming, because you are very consistant and I knew people would be jerks about the last thing.

I didn't comment on the last post, because all I had was "I agree." My dad talks about the same thing often, he's even dragged out his yearbooks to prove his point. But, he's older than you, and then he goes off on a rant about computers steal your soul as well, so it's hard to keep up. But I tend to not comment when all I have is I agree. Maybe I should, provide the support and help drown out the asshats...

Posted by: caleal at July 28, 2010 1:53 PM

thank you! was wondering how you would handle some of the comments from yesterday and this is perfect!
p.s. can i also be a ninja? cuz I think a ninja is cooler than a mime (and exponentially better than an asshat!)

Posted by: Nichole at July 28, 2010 2:20 PM

As someone who has struggled with her weight all her life, I have a great deal of concern for my potential child. I've been fat and I've been fit. And fit is just better. It feels better. I felt better. I will do whatever I can to help my child make healthy choices and avoid the years of obesity I have dealt with.

Posted by: Jodi at July 28, 2010 2:28 PM

I'm in the ninja category.

You know, when people say mean things on the internet I always remember that whatever they're saying about you is really about themselves. We are mirrors for each other, so what you don't like about another person is actually something you don't like about yourself. So hopefully you didn't take the naysayers' comments personally. :)

Posted by: Erin at July 28, 2010 2:51 PM

P.S. You should reconfigure that graph to make the ninja category bigger. Based on your comments alone, there's clearly more ninjas out here reading than you realized.

Posted by: Erin at July 28, 2010 2:53 PM

Me! Me! Me! (Geeky front-row hand-waver wants to believe she's a ninja.)

I didn't think your Fat Kids post contained anything particularly offensive. But then, I was always the skinny kid, so I try to stay out of it, being meek at heart. Good for you, tackling a super sticky subject.

Oh, and you've been terribly dismissive of the midget porn industry. You cannot hide your hidden agenda to demean this beautiful art form. I call for a retraction! :)

Posted by: Laura Gato at July 28, 2010 3:11 PM

I may have come back, but I think you need a Venn Diagram instead. I'd be in between Devoted Commenter and Casual Fan, depending on what's going on in the rest of my life. And a Ninja Robot with lasers shooting out of my eyes?

I have a friend who just LOVES to rage against anyone who disagrees with her. Loves. She gets all righteous and pissy. She also doesn't have a job, and hasn't had one in a long, long time. She has many good points and features (thus, a friend), but this one, I can't understand.

I've been asked to comment on politically-based blogs because of research I do and work I do in the community. I politely decline. It's not worth it to me, because there are people who would rather use the "you smell" approach to discourse.

That being said, Chris, fuck 'em. Let's go with Beth, the Boy, Mia, and Owen, get a donut, and go to the pool after.

Posted by: alektra at July 28, 2010 3:17 PM

There are plenty of people who are genetically predisposed to being overweight. This is true. However, there are significantly more people who aren't and who find themselves in their predicament through having made a series of choices over the course of their lives. It's my opinion that there needs to be a great deal more tough love administered by doctors. The cost of health care, the increased number of drugs on the market, the expectation that pills are an easy answer; all this stuff reeks of finding easy solutions to problems relating to personal responsibility. When that breakdown in personal accountability extends to their children, it qualifies as tragic, because childhood diabetes isn't the common cold even though it's gotten to the point where that's practically how it's now treated due to its frequency. It's an epidemic.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at July 28, 2010 3:21 PM

Nice Pie Chart.

I'd love to be part of the Ninja percentage. Maybe that number is bigger than you think it is?

Ninjas are sneaky.

Posted by: Molly at July 28, 2010 3:39 PM

I'm an overweight elementary school teacher beginning my 27th year in education, I was sitting here at the evil computer feeling my behind spread as I nodded my head at every one of your comments yesterday. I wasn't offended in the least. I've seen the size of my students increase yearly. There is definitely something wrong when a first grader weighs as much as his adult teacher, and I don't mean just one overweight kid. This year I had three that were over 100 pounds and I wasn't the only teacher that experienced this. I enjoy your blog and especially am impressed by the way you periodically email me about my comments. If something offends me (on the tv or computer) first I express shock, sometimes fascination, and finally, I change the channel or X out of the site. Perhaps more people need to learn to exert this form of self control.

Posted by: rcat at July 28, 2010 3:56 PM

Hmmm...how do I decide between Kick-Ass Loyal Reader and Devoted Commenter??? I obviously didn't take any offence to your post yesterday and felt that you were dead-on. There was nothing that made me feel like you were trying to lay blame or point fingers. You just stated what you observed and some of the facts surrounding the issue. I think, as always, it was a very well-written post.

PS: Love the Pie Chart (but from the sounds of things you misjudged your ninja and mime population).

Posted by: Krush at July 28, 2010 4:25 PM

I always read and sometimes comment, so throw me in that pie graph where you will. I love reading here b/c it makes me think regardless of whether or not I agree with you.

The issue of weight and yesterday's post seems really topical to me as we are currently on holidays (10 of us in our family), and we've all commented on the morbid obesity we're seeing in the Atlantic Canadian provinces.

To totally oversimplify the issue, I lived overseas for 6 years (Mexico, Tunisia, Thailand), and beyond thé issues you mention, portion size is far and away the biggest thing I notice. Try traveling overseas and seeing what the rest of the world calls a meal. A 12 oz steak is 3x the size an adult male needs. We North Americans have a hard time distinguishing want from need.

Anyway, asshats are just that. Sorry to hear a few got under your skin.

Posted by: Mandy at July 28, 2010 9:30 PM

I so better be included in the Ninja category! I was going with Mime but Matt said Mimes are known for being quiet and umm well yeah I am not:-)Funny Man my husband!

You had a point yesterday and being a lovely Latina with a hour glass figure with a very LOOOONGGGG afternoon I think we need to take responsibility about what we eat and how much we eat. Don't let the pooperheads get you down:-)

Posted by: Dee at July 28, 2010 9:45 PM

hehehee, just testing to see if I was one of the banned ones you mentioned... ;-)

Seriously, glad you aren't going to let the asshats get to you!

Posted by: dianne at July 28, 2010 9:50 PM

Um, I'm a fat person and I thought you had a great slant yesterday. If lots of people are getting fat, and especially if lots of kids are getting fat, then it's not just "individual choices" making them fat. I can say that for me, individually, I'm carrying at least thirty pounds that were put on by -- wait for it -- dieting and following the food guides. I can't think of anything that "panics" your body and makes it gain weight more than dieting. Following government regulations and trying to be "good" didn't work out too well for me.

Maybe I was just reading into your post what I already think, but I saw points for both individuals and society as a whole.

If it's okay to recommend books in comments without being asked about them in the post beforehand, may I suggest:
* The Omnivore's Dilemma
* Good Calories, Bad Calories

They both have some great points about why this is happening at this point in history, as opposed to the 1960s, say (ie: when we already had lots of food but were doing different things with it).

Cheers and thanks for braving the asshattery.

Posted by: Kat at July 28, 2010 10:04 PM

Just checking to see if I'm banned, too!

Posted by: Jil at July 28, 2010 10:33 PM

It says I have 13 unread posts of yours. (How is that possible?) I apologize.

Dude, it's the internet. (FWIW, I too have noticed the issue with people's size. It think it's everything you've mentioned.)

Posted by: Nat at July 29, 2010 12:02 AM

Oh how I have loved the nomiker 'asshat' since the first time I heard it! :-)

Posted by: Karen at July 29, 2010 12:35 AM

You're great.
Write whatever the HE-Dbl-Hockey-Sticks you want!!
If they don't like it they don't have to read it!
And why can't we all behave like adults? It's okay to disagree, it's okay to comment when you disagree, but telling you to choke on your doughnut is immature. I've found that if I adamantly disagree with something I'll leave a civil comment saying so and quite possibly post my own blog with my take on things. I did that last week when a situation happened locally and a blog about it got over 400 comments! I totally disagreed with most commenters so I posted my opinion on my blog and twitter. I got alot of crap for doing so, but that's okay.

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at July 29, 2010 2:39 AM

Definitely a loyal reader over here :-). You keep writing what you want and the way you want to. So what if people disagree; if they don't like what they read and it gets their backs up, they can just move along. The rest of us who enjoy reading your awesome blog & appreciate what you have to say will stick around.

I did read your post yesterday but I didn't get around to commenting. I am somewhat on the 'fluffy' side although I've recently lost some weight, but I didn't take offence in what you had to say and in fact, I thought you had some very valid points.

You write what is on your mind and that is great. Don't stop. And don't let the asshats (love that word) get to you.

P.S.: Can I slot in with the Ninjas too? Really don't like mimes....

Posted by: Delia at July 29, 2010 3:09 AM

As a teacher, I see your comments as very true.

I do have one correction to make for a previous commenter - childhood diabetes is type one or juvenile diabetes and has nothing to do with weight. The incidences of childhood diabetes are not generally increasing. Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is now affecting kids at young ages due to the children's weight. That is a big concern, I agree. I am the mother of two kids with juvenile diabetes who get tormented because people say that their illness is their fault. They are both at healthy weights but others lack of understanding of the distinction between the two categories of diabetes affects how they are perceived.

Off my soapbox now!

Posted by: Lesley at July 29, 2010 12:03 PM

Dude - you know you've made it on the internet when you get hater comments. Really. Monetize and sell ad space.

Someone expressed shock and discomfort over something I posted on my blog this week. I think she wanted an apology. Um. It's my blog. I'm not apologizing. It's not like I was saying anything mean about sweet baby Jesus or skinning kittens.

Posted by: Mindy at July 29, 2010 12:16 PM

Opinions are like...noses.

Everyone has one.

Y'know, I don't fault people for believing something other than what I believe. Admittedly, I stray away from controversial topics on my blog - but... I didn't think your post yesterday was controversial really.

Maybe I am just mellower than I thought.

Posted by: sarah at July 30, 2010 10:45 PM