Laurie Toby Edison

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A Few Choice Links

Debbie says

Something delightful, something solid, something intriguing, and something disgusting.

Let’s start with delight: the cutest singing group I’ve seen in a long time.

four young fat Chinese women singing on a staircase

The group is called Qian Jin Zu He (a complex play on several meanings, one of which calculates to “over 1,000 pounds”) and their leader is Xiao Yang. The article does detail some of the shit they take from their home culture (not so different from what they would take here), and at the same time, they come off extremely well.

Through their performances, the group hopes to change stereotypes about the obese, said Zhang Wen, 24, the fourth member, who weighs 209 pounds and is from Tianjin.

“Our original purpose for joining the band is to help other girls like us feel more confident, feel better about themselves, and to prove our capability in front of others,” she said.

If you ever need a really solid basic article on Health at Any Size and the real science between fat, health, and fatphobia (I always need these references), try this interview with Linda Bacon.

My experience from having worked closely with many obesity researchers who are more conventionally-minded than me is that they are so strongly mired in their assumptions, that they don’t look at the evidence. Those that willingly engage, change their beliefs. The evidence is quite convincing.

There’s a antidote to the war on obesity, called “Health at Every Size” which supports people in engaging in healthy lifestyle habits as opposed to a primary focus in weight loss. I envision it as a peace movement.

It’s recursive to see Junk Food Science taking on the intriguing question of how people privilege myths and reject real science in favor of junk science. As a tireless crusader in this arena, Sandy Szwarc does a really fine job with the topic.

Those trying to dispel junk science that can hurt people, and prevent them from making decisions that are in their best interests, know how hard it can be. Despite often meritorious patience in explaining the facts and correcting misinformation, the myths seem to become even more firmly believed. Recent research led by Dr. Norbert Schwarz, Ph.D., of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, confirmed this phenomenon. They found that presenting factual, accurate information that contradicts erroneous beliefs, and encouraging people to think about issues, not only often doesn’t help, it can actually reinforce the very myths being corrected!

When debunking a myth, it’s common to first repeat it, but this technique can work against the quack buster. Simply repeating the myth may contribute to its later familiarity and acceptance.

Szwarc reviews the research, analyzes it clearly, and comforts me with her conclusion, which reads in part:

While the University of Michigan research might seem to imply that staying quiet and not saying anything might be better than debunking myths, that’s not true, either. Silence reinforces false information and is seen among a group as support. And, of course, if the truth was never given a voice, then everyone would believe myths.

And finally, I wish I knew why Britney Spears (as opposed to say, Lindsay Lohan, or Jennifer Aniston) keeps showing up as a Body Impolitic subject. It seems like the controversies that swirl around her frequently concern body image.

Now, suddenly, she’s fat. And some people are asking the question, “Is it fair to call her fat”? Of course, it’s not even remotely fair, or accurate. The follow-up articles make it clear that the only criterion by which she could be called fat (let alone “lardy”) is by comparing to her former super-toned self.

About the only thing left to say about this “controversy” is that the word “fat” is becoming completely meaningless. If it hadn’t already been positive teen slang (as “phat”), I’d expect it to be the new “gay” (as in, “That’s so gay!” meaning “I don’t like that!” with no direct relevance to sexual orientation.)

Stef found the Chinese singers as well as the Linda Bacon interview. Betsy pointed at the Junk Food Science post before I found it on my own, and Alan Bostick called my attention to the Britney Spears idiocy.

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2 Responses to “A Few Choice Links”

  1. janet Says:

    The advice I’ve heard about countering myths is to state the truth in a way that doesn’t quote the myth. This is very hard to do!

    One of my questions is what about variation among people? It seems obvious that some people are more skeptical and less prone to believe myths than others. What makes the difference? Is this something that can be influenced by education?

  2. wholesale Says:

    Paul Campos, for example, has that there is quite a discrepancy between what science knows of obesity and the claims being made by pundits and the media, which reflect and perpetuate phobia and obsession in the public.
    He shows what I would like to call obsessity.
    I would love to read a situationist view on this subject, since the hysteria around obesity is (in my opinion) first and foremost a sociological phenomenon.

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