Category Archives: Culture

The real, very lethal consequences of fat-shaming

Anyone’s who’s been or is fat knows the sad reality of fat-shaming.

Back when we started high school we were the youngest, shortest, and fattest member of the freshman class.

Needless to say, we were bullied [it didn’t help that we’d skipped a grade], and bore the brunt of an endless series of fat jokes.

One consequence was an endless series of tension headaches, and they didn’t end until we shed the weight in the space of a few months at age 23.

And now comes evidence that fat-shaming can lead to things far worse than mere headaches.

From the University of Rhode Island:

We all know that carrying extra pounds can be bad for your health. Now a URI professor has found that how society treats overweight people makes matters worse.

Maya Vadiveloo, assistant professor of nutrition and food sciences in the College of Health Sciences, and Josiemer Mattei, assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, analyzed weight discrimination data from the long-term national study, Midlife Development in the United States.

The researchers focused on respondents who reported regularly experiencing discrimination because of their weight. The study asked whether they were treated discourteously, called names, or made to feel inferior. Those who experienced weight discrimination over a 10-year period had twice the risk of high allostatic load, the cumulative dysfunction of bodily systems from chronic stress, they found. That stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and other disorders, increasing risk of death.

“It is a pretty big effect,” Vadiveloo, of North Kingstown, says of the findings. “Even if we accounted for health effects attributed to being overweight, these people still experience double the risk of allostatic load because of weight discrimination.”

The findings, published in the August issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine, expose flaws in society’s approach to weight control, Vadiveloo says. “The main message is to be aware that the way we treat people may have more negative effects than we realize,” she says. “Our paper highlights the importance of including sensitivity and understanding when working with individuals with obesity and when developing public health campaigns.”

People who experience weight discrimination often shun social interaction and skip doctor visits, she notes. “There is so much shaming around food and weight. We need to work together as a nation on improving public health and clinical support for individuals with obesity and targeting environmental risk factors,” she says. For example, Vadiveloo suggests developing strategies to make healthy foods affordable and creating safe places for people to be active.

Vadiveloo hopes to address the topic in the classroom and revisit data from the nearly 1,000 respondents to explore whether having more social support or positive coping strategies reduces negative health effects of weight discrimination.

Headline of the day: Asking the existential question

From the Washington Post:

Has Trump transformed America or just revealed it?

  • The GOP presidential nominee’s ability to embrace — or manipulate — average Americans’ anxieties is inspiring more raw and rough rhetoric in politics, darker and more somber popular music, and in TV, movies and other arts, an edgier, more nervous set of characters and themes.
  • Some say Donald Trump’s success is the result of disorienting, displacing changes in the world beyond politics, in the technological revolution that has altered the way Americans relate to one another and in the arc of millions of work lives.

Marshall McLuhan: Still prescient, 49 years later

Back when esnl was a budding journalist, no name was better known in media theory than Marshall McLuhan of the University of Toronto School of Communication Theory.

McLuhan’s theories about the role of mass media in shaping the consciousness of the 20th Century sparked endless hours of coffee house conversation.

But McLuhan has largely dropped out of sight, enduring mainly on DVD’s of Annie Hall, in one of most memorable movie cameos ever:

But McLuhan’s theories prove remarkably resilient, most notably his prescient understanding of the computer-enabled panopticon and the power of television to shape and mobilize emotions on behalf of corporate agendas.

He also grasped that the dramatic first-person journalistic reports and prime network coverage by the free-roving reporters of the Vietnam War would lead to draconian restrictions liked the “embedded reporters” who covered the two Bush Wars in the Middle East and North Africa.

Indeed, he even foreshadowed the rise of the presidential candidacy of a creature such as Donald Trump.

And that brings us to today’s video, a remarkably documentary aired on NBC 19 March 1967:


And now for the video. . .

Aired 49 years ago, yet remarkably timely, it comes from from Marshall McLuhan Speaks:

This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage

Program note:

Featuring Marshall McLuhan, and narrated by Edward Binns.

Another Trump legacy: Overt fascism empowered

Consider the following, via the Guardian:

A Nazi-themed Facebook group that called for the “execution” of Jews and African Americans has led to the expulsion of five Boulder, Colorado, high school students in an unusual case of “alt-right” hate speech spreading to teens in a liberal city.

About 15 students participated in a “4th Reich’s Official Group Chat” on Facebook, according to a Boulder police report, which said members discussed “killing all Jews and [N-words]” and encouraged each other to “recruit more members so they can complete their ‘mission’.”

Members wrote messages championing “WHITE POWER!”, posted pictures of guns, called a firearm a “[N-word] BLASTER”, used derogatory terms for gay people, joked about “rape memes”, declared that they “must lynch the [N-words]”, and mocked Mexicans, copies of the group’s chats showed.

The controversy culminated in expulsions at Boulder Preparatory high school but comes at a time when the alt-right movement – known for white supremacist views and its overtly racist ideology – has gained traction during the divisive US presidential race.

Headlines of the day II: The political freak show

First, a handicap, via the New York Times:

Clinton’s Past Leaves Her Muted in Furor Over Trump

  • Amid a swirl of sexual assault accusations against Donald J. Trump, the virtual silence from Hillary Clinton speaks volumes.
  • Her old missteps and her husband’s history have effectively paralyzed her during a moment of widespread outrage.

And a seriously scary offering from the Boston Globe:

Trump’s supporters talk rebellion, assassination at his rallies

  • At a time when trust in government is at a low point, Trump is actively stoking fears that a core tenet of American democracy is also in peril: that you can trust what happens at the ballot box.
  • His supporters here said they plan to go to their local precincts to look for illegal immigrants who may attempt to vote. They are worried that Democrats will load up buses of minorities and take them to vote several times in different areas of the city. They’ve heard rumors that boxes of Clinton votes are already waiting somewhere.
  • And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

Quote of the day: It’s a reality television show. . .

From Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone:

There’s an old Slavic saying about corruption: One thief sits atop another thief, using a third thief for a whip. The campaign trail is similarly a stack of deceptions, with each implicit lie of the horse race driving the next.

Lie No. 1 is that there are only two political ideas in the world, Republican and Democrat. Lie No. 2 is that the parties are violent ideological opposites, and that during campaign season we can only speak about the areas where they differ (abortion, guns, etc.) and never the areas where there’s typically consensus (defense spending, surveillance, torture, trade, and so on). Lie No. 3, a corollary to No. 2, is that all problems are the fault of one party or the other, and never both. Assuming you watch the right channels, everything is always someone else’s fault. Lie No. 4, the reason America in campaign seasons looks like a place where everyone has great teeth and $1,000 haircuts, is that elections are about political personalities, not voters.

These are the rules of the Campaign Reality Show as it has evolved over the years. The program is designed to reduce political thought to a simple binary choice and force more than 100 million adults to commit to one or the other. Like every TV contest, it discourages subtlety, reflection and reconciliation, and encourages belligerence, action and conflict.

Trump was the ultimate contestant in this show. It’s no accident that his first debate with Hillary Clinton turned into the Ali-Frazier of political events, with a breathtaking 84 million people tuning in, making it the most watched political program in American history.

Chart of the day: Ranking problems facing the U.S.

Sadly, the environment, the one thing that will endure, is ranked last.

From Gallup: