By Guest Writer | April 16, 2008
I would like to preface this by saying that I debated whether to post this, as I am reluctant to give this article any more attention than it rightly deserves. It really is a self-indulgent piece of garbage and I regret that I wasted time reading it. However, I did read it, and I did formulate a response, and so without further ado, here it is.
Before today, I had never actually heard of Ruth Fowler, author of a laughably misconceived and openly prejudiced article entitled “Flab Isn’t Fab.” As far as bloggers go, Ms. Fowler wasn’t even on my radar (which is not surprising, as she is not a super-engaging writer) and so it was a bit shocking to discover that she just plain doesn’t like me, despite the fact that we have never met.
I also wasn’t surprised to see yet another addition to the legion of diatribes on how dedicated, herculean overeating is the ONLY POSSIBLE CAUSE OF FATNESS, written by yet another person who has obviously never been fat (she did have fat parents, a fact she obviously resents) or done more than ten seconds of research in the fatosphere.
Except she has! In the middle of her “fatist” rant, she, as if at random, links to Kate Harding’s illustrated BMI project. I’m not really sure exactly if she thinks it is supporting her point or whether she is trying to tear it down. Maybe you guys can figure it out:
It seems nowadays we’re just either too fat, or too thin, and the real role models, the people who exercise occasionally, eat a balanced diet and have a healthy BMI are ignored.
Eh? The whole point of the project is that BMI is a ridiculous concept that has no relation whatsoever to size, health, eating, exercise, astrological sign, etc. Citing it is probably not going to help your case if you are trying to suggest that “healthy BMI” is the same as “not fat.” And if that isn’t what she is trying to suggest, then… I’m lost.
The thesis of Ms. Fowler’s argument is that fatties are fat because they are dedicated to eating, because they continue to eat after their bodies and common sense dictate they should stop.
She references an article that claims Britons were at their healthiest during WWII, due to rationing. However, when you actually read the article, it says no such thing (although a causality link is implied in the title). The article’s point is that people’s habits were healthier, and that people as a whole ate better, because food was distributed more evenly among Britons regardless of income, and the foods most readily available were also the ones with the most nutritional value–brown bread, vegetables, etc.
Even she seems to recognize that her own article’s premise is without foundation:
And where do people get the money to feed what equates to a small African village every day? Beth [Ditto]’s monthly food bill would probably pay my mortgage for a year.
It would, if Beth Ditto ate the amount that Ms. Fowler posits she is eating, based solely on (one can only assume) a completely groundless estimation of what she ought to weigh vs. what she reportedly does weigh.
Because I had never heard of Ms. Fowler, I decided that in the interests of a balanced viewpoint, I would read some of her other writings in an attempt to get a better sense of her as a writer. I came across this gem, a rant (I think for Ms. Fowler, “blog” is synonymous with “bitch about shit that pisses me off”) about how every time there is a scandal involving a sex worker, the same tired old stereotypes about sex workers are dredged up and recirculated:
Sex scandal? Suddenly everyone’s an expert! Because somebody knows somebody knows somebody who teaches pole dancing at Virgin Fitness and knows somebody who knows that Russian girl who used to strip at Pussy’s in Shoreditch and voila! An article is born! Like yesterday’s thoroughly tired article about stripping, which claims that “academic research has linked lap-dancing to trafficking, prostitution and an increase in male sexual violence against both the women who work in the clubs and those who live and work in their vicinity”.
Hmm, academic research – where? By whom? The author prudently withholds the information, which makes me think she’s a bit of a tease herself. Nor has the author thought it prudent to interview anyone in the industry she has chosen to Reveal Shocking Truths About (stripping) other than one disgruntled anonymous immigrant who obviously wasn’t particularly good at her job because the most she ever earned was £205 a night.
I have to trot out the phrase now, I have to say it. Yes, I used to be a stripper, and let me tell you, however objectified I felt on stage and in the Champagne Room, it was nothing compared to how objectified and humiliated I’ve felt having “my story” told and retold by journalists and interviewers who have not done my job, have probably never been in a strip club, and only venture forth to anywhere remotely connected to the sex industry in the hopes of revealing some whiff of scandal, some dark revelation.
Let me see if I understand this correctly: Ms. Fowler thinks it is ridiculous that people make broad pronouncements about a much-maligned group (of which she is a member) and back those statements up with some seriously sketchy pseudo-research. She feels objectified and humiliated when yet another article appears, written by someone who has never lived through the experience she has had, yet presumes to understand what she and everyone like her is all about.
Then she goes and writes an article about how fat people are “just wrong.” She explains that the kind of fat achieved by people who weigh 16 stone (a number she claims to be shockingly gargantuan) can only be achieved through “the consumption, python-like, of about six whole rotisserie chickens a day washed down with 16 pints of double cream, half a cow and probably the entire produce of Ireland’s potato farms, deep-fried and with a coating of beer batter.”
Now, here is where it gets personal for me. Because, you see, I have weighed 16 stone (that’s 224 lbs for the North Americans) and it is not unhealthy. (I say “have weighed” because I have no idea what my weight is now, since I haven’t voluntarily been on a scale in almost a decade, but I’m sure it’s got to be in the same ballpark). At that weight, I wore size 16 jeans, played organized sports, cycled to school every day, and was on a strict diet (which didn’t work, of course, because diets are bullshit).
When I was going to the gym more frequently, I probably weighed more than I do now, because I was building muscle mass, which is denser and therefore heavier than fat.
And keep in mind, I am only 5′3″ – 5′4″. Someone taller than me would be downright skinny at the weight I am now.
Frankly, I don’t think Ruth Fowler would know 16 stone if it hit her in the face in all its bootylicious glory.
I have more to say on this topic, believe me, but it’s lunch time and I have to go roast several pigs on a spit and start buttering twelve buckets of baked potatoes (with all the fixins) and a crate of corn on the cob, after which I’ll probably eat a few two-litre pails of ice cream and about a kilo of cookies, washing the whole thing down with several two-litres bottles of soda, of course.
You know, just an average day.
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