Fatphobia at The Standard II: Return of fatphobia

Allow me to let you in on a secret, dear friends:  Zetetic’s “guest post by David Farrar“* on The Standard actually has nothing to do with health.  And nothing to do with caring about young people.

But your Majesty! you cry.  Isn’t it about exactly those things?

Alas no, dear readers.

You see, Zetetic’s post is all about how fat kids can’t run and fat kids need to put down the chips.

If Zetetic’s post actually were about “health” …

Maybe Z would talk about poverty.

Maybe Z would talk about the fact that even a family on a double income may not be able to afford the necessities of life at people who work 80 hour weeks probably don’t have the time to cook from scratch with local/organic/wevs ingredients every meal.

Maybe Z would talk about how our modern society has fucked with people’s connection to their cultures and food traditions in favour of consumerism and greed (but not greed associated with food).

Maybe Z would talk about the obscene markups supermarkets put on “healthy” foods and fresh ingredients.  Or about the higher markup and lower availability of “healthy” foods which haven’t been liberally bathed in pesticides.

Maybe Z would talk about the stigma associated with obesity, with “over”weight or even with just being a little on the chubby side, and how maybe, you know, kids who are constantly shamed and criticised and teased – and whose shaming and teasing and abuse is fucking justified and sanctioned by adults – might not feel like getting dressed in a changing room full of their abusers and judgers, and might not feel like submitting themselves to further humiliation when they commit the cardinal sin of Running While Fat.

Anecdote time!

At intermediate, I had already undergone significant preparatory stages in my journey towards being a Fucking Hot Fat Chick and having Fucking Amazing Big Breasts.  And burned into my memory for all time is the day the class was running short laps back and forth across the netball court and a boy pointed at my swaying bosom and laughed really nastily and called his mates over to share the “look, proto-QoT has boobs” joke.

Guess how keen I was to ever repeat that experience?  The answer, internets, is not very fucking keen at all.  I ended up so hating my breasts that I slept in a sports bra for three years.  I did not remove my bra except to bathe.  I was convinced that to be seen with visibly moving breasts was absolutely the most shameful thing I could ever do.  I refused to run at top speed (not hugely fast, of course, for I am one of Nature’s Long Distance Walkers) until I was well into adulthood and priorities like “catch the bus and make it to work on time” took precedence – briefly – over shame.

And if I had read a post like Zetetic’s during adolescence, when I hated every mouthful of food I ate and certainly knew I wasn’t “healthy” – I couldn’t BE healthy, after all, I was FAT – well, I’m not going to say it would have been hugely traumatic.  It would just have been another straw on the camel’s back and maybe the one that might have triggered an eating disorder or another depressive episode.

It wouldn’t have made me fucking thin, though.

No, Zetetic – and his many supporters – aren’t actually interested in how these things – poverty, capitalism, social pressure – actually contribute to actual health problems of which fatness may in some cases be a symptom.  Z just wants to play know-it-all and get a warm tinge of superiority by hating on children – but just the ones it’s socially OK to hate on, I mean, we are talking about fatties who can only be fat because they’re stupid and lazy.

You may be sceptical, I know.  Litmus test time!

the 12 year-old who can’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing and going red in the face

If you’re a 9 year old and you want to stuff chips into your face until you’re obese

Oh, QoT! you cry.  Zetetic is just concerned for the kids’ health!  He’s just riffing on rightwing/libertarian freedom-of-choice dogma!

No, dear readers.  You see, if Zetetic is “concerned” about that 12-year-old’s health – in this case apparently completely measured by ability-to-climb-stairs** – then Zetetic should also care enough not to use that child as a symbol of The End Of The World As We Know It.  And how convenient for Z that “satirising” that particular style conveniently allows him to parrot classic fat-hating, bullying tropes about how fat people “choose” to eat themselves into Horrible Obesity!

Tell you what, inevitable concern-trolling objecters:  a challenge!  Criticise the earlier scrapping of Fruit in Schools or similar programmes … without making cracks about how Fat Kids Can’t Run or Poor People Are Stupid or Everyone Knows Fat Is Bad.  You’ll get a fun mental workout and might learn something – about yourself and how big a bigot you really are.

(Zetetic, sorry, probably too late for you given previous form.)


*I imagine Zetetic also feels amazingly clever because, lol, David Farrar is fat, so that makes it, like, ironic!

**More on why this is full of bonus ableism fail in an upcoming post!


  1. Maia

    Thank you for this!

    I have sanity watchers point policyof responding to 1 post on The Standard a quarter and I just used up my allowance.

    Thanks for doing something more productive than the banging my head on my desk repeatedly that I managed.

    • QoT

      Thanks Maia! Head-banging is a perfectly valid response to such things, and no one has an obligation to teach the privileged how to be decent human beings.

  2. Boganette

    What a wanker. Sorry that’s all I’ve got. I’m with you on this one. Seriously, where do they get these people from? And when are they going to stop using the word Nazi. They don’t actually know what a Nazi is.

  3. stargazer

    me too thanking you for this. after the spectacular fail on the julian assange rape charges, that post made me feel like the standard is really losing the plot. i feel like the number of progressive blogs is really going down at moment. i’m also not much interested in brian edwards’ blog after his recent history & gave up on chris trotter long ago. sigh.

    at least we still have lot of kick-ass women bloggers like yourself around 🙂

    • QoT

      Thanks 🙂 I’m really feeling like this is only going to get worse as we head to election 2011, what with Labour desperately trying to be all things to all vaguely-socially-aware-but-still-privileged-middle-class people, and so many on the male left apparently convinced that even having the vaguest respect for “identity” politics will just sink the whole movement (which is hilarious because they’ve just completely bought into the whole Crosby/Textor “nanny state” “pandering to minorities” propaganda which they constantly rail against!)

      • stargazer

        yes, there was that whole underlying campaign against helen clark & other high ranking women with lots of words like “sisterhood” & “feminazi’s” etc being spat out. some of the men on the left seem to think the best way to deal with this is to pretend women don’t exist & women’s issues don’t need to be dealt with. rather pathetic.

        • QoT

          Maybe they need to be made aware that last time they told the womenfolk to shut up and make the coffee, Second Wave Feminism occurred? I mean, way to (extra-)radicalise your “natural” allies, dudebros.

  4. Pingback: You are actually part of the problem: fat edition « Ideologically Impure
  5. Amanda

    Echoing the thanks. I can’t bring myself to look at The Standard lately because of all the Assange bollocks, so I missed this bullshit. I swear if I had seen it there would be bits of brains all over my screen over the weekend.

    There is so much fat hate in the media at the moment, it’s really feeling out of control.