Oh, People are Fat Because They’re Stupid. Now It All Makes Sense.

See, this is what I mean when you say that you can’t be sorry enough for being fat. Even if you are all “Oh, great! I’d love to eat better. Give me some cooking tips!” it’s turned into “Oh, see? Bless their hearts, they just don’t know. They’re stupid and we have to teach them.”

I swear, the thing that puts me on my heels about the obesity epidemic is how it works by letting people get to hate people under the auspices of “for your health!”

Even the reporter is all “whip up cookies that aren’t fat bombs.” Note to Tom Wilemon. Here’s something odd. Cookies literally used to be fat bombs. Your grandma went to the cupboard and pulled out a can of lard and… plop… a huge cup of it went right in her cookies.

And people were thinner then.

So, was your grandma smarter than these Memphis folks or is it something else, do you think?

Anyway, I can’t believe we’re going to have to continue to endure this condescending crap until some other health menace comes along. But what thing lets you pick on even children and feel good about it because it’s for their own good? Freckles? No, shit, I have freckles. Not freckles. Brown eyes. People with brown eyes have a mortality rate of 100%, you know. Someone really ought to look at changing that.

11 thoughts on “Oh, People are Fat Because They’re Stupid. Now It All Makes Sense.

  1. I’m going to go out on a limb and try to defend these teaching kitchens on grounds that seem no where near what actually motivates or organizes them.

    The opportunity to eat different foods for free (or at least cheap) sounds fantastic. I think people are regularly afraid of unfamiliar foods and the costs of trying new things are quite high.

    So if they didn’t start from the premise that people are stupid, maybe interesting things could happen. How about start from the premise that people are curious but hesitant to spend cash on vegetables or grains they’ve never heard of or seen prepared?

    Oh but please make sure their local grocery stores stock all the foods you’re teaching them to cook.

  2. No, I think it could be a great thing if it were framed as “try this new stuff for free,” instead of as “oh, dear, you must just be dumb as rocks.” But then I also think that would be of great benefit to the whole community and not just the obese members of it.

  3. Yeah, I feel really conflicted about this. There are some healthy foods I legitimately have no idea how to prepare or if I’d like them. But if somebody came to me and asked what would help me eat healthier, price, time and walkable access to a variety of foods would be way higher on my list than teaching me to cook new things. On the other hand, I think it’s useful to give people an opportunity to try new things and learn about how to use them.

  4. Well, I’m going to do what I do–try to point out how condescending this crap is–and hope that the people who are being condescending will take a moment to stop being condescending and NOT take a moment to stop doing crap.

  5. I’m sorry but as well-intentioned as this is on a certain level, it is REALLY dangerously socionormative.

    Do folks not realize how much cultural identity is derived from food prep and/or consumption?

    That’s the even more insidious part of anti-fat bias that I find upsetting me more and more. The move to get everyone eating the foods a certain subset like because the happen to be ‘better for you’ robs people of key components in their heritage.

    I have a food-intensive cultural heritage that draws a lot of flack. But those foods have a significance in our traditions. The push to move from scrapple and spaetzle to wholewheat pancakes seems like cultural bias to me.

  6. I have mixed feelings about your point, Coble. Yes, food traditions matter for good and important reasons. And it’s worth holding on to them. But they didn’t emerge full-blown from the head of Zeus, ya know? They developed (and continue to develop) in response to changes in the environment, including exposure to new foods and cooking techniques.

    I mean, Hungarian Jews cook goulash and chicken paprikash, just as Hungarian Christians do. The Jewish versions are kosher. Should Hungarian Jews not have adopted these dishes from their neighbors, or not have changed them to fit their own foodways? The national dish of Castilla, coçida Madrileño, developed over time from adafina, the Sabbath meal of Castilian Jews. (There is Christian poetry from the 14th century that goes on at length about how yummy adafina is.) Should that crossover not have occurred? Or what about corn bread? Neither the New England nor the Southern style is at all like what the Native Americans cooked.

    So I think that teaching people how to cook things they have never cooked before, and pointing out how some of these things can substitute for some of the foods they are more familiar with, can be a good thing. Clearly, the tone of the article B linked to is one of condescension, but I’m not convinced that the effort itself is presented condescendingly by the cooks and teachers who offer it. (The Tennessean is not exactly known for getting that sort of thing right.)

  7. I have no problem with “hey, add this to your repretoire!” After all, I’m a huge fan of jicama, a food I’d never even heard of until 1997. My forebears were not bringing jicama to funerals.

    But the attitude I see over and over and over again in these pieces–not just in the Tennessean, although you have a good point there–is utterly sociocentrist. Especially when it comes to soul food. In fact, I don’t think I’ve EVER read a piece like this (and I’ve read dozens, because Teaching Dumb Fatties To Cook is a recurring theme) that didn’t mention a soul food dish disparagingly. I give it another 3-5 years before “tortillas fried in oil” joins “greens cooked with fatback” in the snidery.

  8. Yeah, I think that Coble’s onto something here. I’m going to start paying closer attention, but I don’t think it’s just soul food. My impression is that it is almost exclusively greens that are mentioned.

    Which is weird, if you think about it. We want people to eat more vegetables but then we constantly attack not only a very common vegetable poor people eat but a common vegetable poor people grow. That seems like an incredibly contradictory message–eat more vegetables, grown in your own yard. But only the ones we approve of?

    And, frankly, I’d like to see some actual nutritional information on how “bad” greens are for you. Maybe I’m just having them wrong, but the times I’ve had them homemade, the pork to greens ratio must be about a million parts greens to one part pork.

    Even Paula Deene’s recipe–the recipe of the woman who fries butter–calls for just a half a pound of meat and a tablespoon of butter for four people to six people. And if you look in the comments, people are talking about just throwing a hambone in.

    So, if someone is using a hambone for meat and a tablespoon’s worth of fatback instead of butter, is that really that bad?

    I would be hard pressed to believe that the folks teaching the ways of “better” greens don’t saute their garlic and onions at home in butter.

  9. I’d have to wonder if a little fat in the greens helps transport fat-soluble vitamins, anyway.

    Also, did y’all see the report out last week that way more middle class people eat fast food than poor people? So the whole “poor people are fat because they eat fast food all the time” canard is wrong too.

  10. The more you see of the food-fat-finance trifecta, the more you’ll see that a new sort of urban legend abounds.

    There are all these things that have been repeated so often in magazine articles, episodes of Law and Order, Oprah, Dr. Phil–the Pop Culture University most people attend. Over and over again, simple investigation seems to prove them either wrong or overstated.

    The fast food myth is one; the “the poor don’t cook” is another. I’m still chasing down details about the validity of the Drink Too Much Soda. (That’s one where time and again I see mothers saying “all my kids drink are milk and juice.” In both cases those beverages in large quantity can be more harmful than soda. Milk because of the lactose and fat content, juice because it has as much as or more sugar than sweetened soda but masquerades as “healthy” due to better marketing.)

    In looking through a popular magazine’s “Eat This–Not That” semi-regular food essay, the “healthy food swap” is not that great of an improvement but favours foods preferred by one socioeconomic group over foods generally preferred by other socioeconomic groups. “Eat a gardenburger instead of a cheeseburger. Save 42 calories.” That sort of thing.

    It’s pervasive. It makes me wish I were working on an anthropology degree, because this would become my thesis.

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