Dear Professor Crosnoe,
Congratulation on getting your article written up over at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Too bad you appear to be a dink. I have only four words of advice for you–find you a feminist.
Here’s the problem (and I’m sorry I have to quote so much from The Chronicle but most of my readers can’t actually read them online and I don’t want them to miss out): your article finds, and I quote,
Many obese girls skip college because of mental and behavioral problems associated with their weight, according to a new study by Robert L. Crosnoe, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Obese adolescent girls, the study found, are half as likely to go to college as are non-obese girls, and those who attended a high school where obesity was uncommon were even less likely to enroll.
The study, which tracked 11,000 teenagers, also found that obese teen girls were more likely to consider suicide, have negative self-images, and use alcohol and marijuana than their non-obese peers.
By contrast, the study found little difference between the college-enrollment rates for obese and non-obese boys, leading to the conclusion that body image plays a greater role in girls’ self-concept and education choices.
“Obesity has been identified as a serious public-health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects extend far beyond physical health,” says Mr. Crosnoe.
Let’s take a look again at what you say. You say, “Obesity has been identified as a serious public-health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects extend far beyond physical health.”
Bless your heart! No they don’t.
What your results indicate is that it sucks to be a fat teenage girl in today’s society. And, guess what? It does suck. In general, it kind of sucks to be a teenage girl in today’s society and, if you have something noticeably different about you? Whoa, doggie.
But see, here’s the problem, you’re conflating a harmful effect of being a teenage girl–that your body is up for public scrutiny; that because it’s up for public scrutiny, people are free to (and often feel obliged to) let you know what they think of your appearance; that you must find some way of navigating the conflicting demands of appearing to be sexually available to everyone who wants you without appearing to be a slut; AND that, if you fail to meet people’s expectations, they will make your life hell–with a harmful effect of being obese.
You’ve proved that it’s not actually a harmful effect of being obese, because boys don’t suffer from it.
How can you not see that?
My second huge problem with your conclusions, based on how they’re typified here, is that, even if a lack of going to college is linked directly to obesity, it’s not the fat chicks’ faults. There are things that are often a direct result of being obese. You are obese; you can’t get the seat belt on an airplane to buckle around you. Cause and effect.
But–you are obese; you don’t go to college? No.
That’s other people making you feel bad about yourself because you don’t meet some arbitrary beauty standard and making you feel like you aren’t worthy of attending college. That’s not actually a problem with the fat chick; that’s a problem for the fat chick.
Why would you reward anti-fat bigotry by suggesting that it’s the fat chick who should change?
Would you, if you did a study on college attendance and race and found that fewer black kids go to college than white kids because black kids face racism and bigotry that leads them to think they can’t succeed in college, ever write a sentence like “Race-related conditions have been identified as a serious public-health issue, but these results indicate the harmful effects extend far beyond physical health”?
I doubt it. I think you’d see that it’s not the race of the person that is the problem, but society’s attitude towards people of that race which is the problem. Why is that type of body hatred apparent and not this type?
P.S. Argh! Professor Crosnoe, NM has convinced me that you, yourself, are clearly not a dink, but have been misrepresented by the Chronicle in such a way as to make you appear like a dink.
I still stand by my original assertion that there’s something deeply dink-like and troubling about the Chronicle piece, but I apologize for not looking into you further to discover that you were not the source of the dinkiness.
My sincerest apologies to you.