Say Something Sunday – The Toledo Blade

It’s been a while since we did a Say Something Sunday and today Sarah Millimen gives us a great example in her open letter to The Toledo Blade which published a ridiculously fatphobic editorial.  Content warning for fat shaming language, and pathologizing body size. Sarah also uses a lot of sarcasm (of which I’m a fan, but I know that it doesn’t work for everyone for lots of reasons, so I wanted to make sure you know in advance.) Here is her letter:

On August 25, 2017 you released an editorial entitled, “The glass city, the fat city”. You started if off by stating how unsettling it was that Toledo rates the seventh fattest city in the country. You then put a link to another article that was written on August 22nd, where the Health Department spokesperson (no worries, I fixed that for you) was quoted as saying this, “We don’t really put a whole lot of thought into these,” she said. “At the health department, we’re always telling people to be healthy, happy, and active in their lifestyle.” It also stated that the department plans on creating environments “promoting physical activity”.

This all sounds great. I like what that article said, and I feel the response given by the health department shows a lot of knowledge and for lack of a better word “smarts”. It sounds as though the health department realizes that the diet industry has a 90-95% fail rate. You know, a rate that would have closed down any other business by now, but because we equate “thin” with “healthy” it is still preying on the insecurities of people and taking their money.

Speaking of the insecurities of people, you did mention in the August 25th editorial that obesity and fatness is a huge cause of bullying. I would almost believe that you cared, except for the part where you say this, “And what does our reputation as a city of girth and sloth do to efforts to present the city as a hip, elegant place where young people might want to live?” It almost sounds like you are saying that people cannot be hip or elegant if they are fat. Which I am certain is not what you are saying since you are against bullying. One could possibly think that you are fat shaming. Is my fatness hindering your “hip, elegant” city rep? My bad.

This editorial also stated that the cities weight problem was, “arguably…the leading public health problem in our region”. Did I miss the resolution of the opiod crisis? Fat people are a bigger problem and a bigger danger than people shooting up, overdosing, and losing their children? Please, tell me more about that…

I’m really trying to find your sources, but the farthest I get is an online magazine called, “Best Life”. Imagine how I feel, when I’m reading this article and you cannot provide me with a shred of evidence, but you do provide me with a link to the August 22nd article where the health department is handling this, I would argue, the correct way, but you just aren’t satisfied with that. No, instead of doing some research, you write this editorial. You want people to think you care, but you are just spreading false narratives regarding fat people. A study by Dr. Lindo Bacon of Health At Every Size, revealed that only 9% of individuals who are “obese” or “overweight” based on BMI have health issues directly related to their size. Or should I use your chosen word…girth. 91% of “obese” or “overweight” people HAVE NO HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO THEIR GIRTH.

Other studies have shown that pressuring people to slim down often has the opposite effect. Pushing people to be thin actually makes them fatter. Oh man, I hope your editorial doesn’t cause more fatties to reside in Toledo. After all, we wouldn’t want any more fatties living here, it may push us up to fat city number 6! God forbid.

Sarah Millimen

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10 thoughts on “Say Something Sunday – The Toledo Blade

  1. To the people who say, “We don’t need to show resources for an editorial. Editorials are opinion pieces, not solid reporting,” I would reply that if the editorial is printed as an official op ed piece (that is to say, the opinion of a staff writer, with full backing by the paper), rather than the opinion of some reader who wrote in with a letter to the editor, and the paper is prepared and willing to back up the editorial-writer (rather than, say fire them for their heinous writing), then YES, they should show resources.

    The whole purpose of an editorial is to be persuasive writing, and persuasion requires more than mere rhetoric. It requires a solid basis in reality. Even if you use your rhetoric to turn reality on its head, and say that “Science proves fat (black/female/homosexual/trans/alien/blue-eyed/whatever) people are subhuman who deserve no basic courtesy and human rights,” you must at least have the apparent foundation of some sort of “scientific” source that people can see and believe to be a solid foundation, or you will not persuade them.

    An editorial without even an illusory foundation in fact will not persuade people, and therefore, is bad writing.

    Writing about “fat is bad,” many people think they don’t need to show resources because “everybody knows.” They are relying on the already-existing prejudice of their readership. Which leads to the question – who are they persuading, if they’re preaching to the choir? So, pointless writing is bad writing.

    The writer of the editorial should stick to fiction. Maybe the newspaper would run a serial novel about the evils of fat people taking over Toledo. But be careful, author! You don’t want to make those fatties cute and lovable, like they did on Dr. Who! Remember to make them as monstrous as possible, with absolutely no human qualities. Under no circumstances should any of the villainous fatties be huggable.

    Thanks, Ragen, for sharing this with us, and thanks to Sarah Millimen for speaking up about it!

    1. The villainous fatties might be like the Slitheen, another Dr. Who baddie. The Slitheen were large extraterrestrials who put on human skins and farted a lot. They were also pretty badass.
      The Adipose were indeed much too huggable. We can’t have them spoiling our Evil Fatties show!

      1. They were pretty badass! And if the agenda and ovations ever align, they would make powerful allies.

        And you never know with Dr. Who. Things turn around, and get all kinds of twisty over the decades.

    2. But also, be sure you don’t go to far the other way and make the villainous fatties a *competent* threat the stalwart thin heroes have *trouble* thwarting. That would imply that they are stronger and/or cleverer than the stalwart thin heroes when they need to be consistently portrayed as lesser beings. Should you pit your cardboard milquetoast “perfect” heroes against Ursula and Lord Rhapthorne with their believable motives and cool powers, audiences might start sympathizing with *them* even though you so helpfully stated that they are evil in the exposition. Just to be safe- although I know it’s painful- you might want to include a token “good” fatty on the heroes’ side, one who’s content being treated like a lesser being, happy to serve and sacrifice for the stalwart thin heroes, apologetic for being fat, the willing butt of humiliating jokes, and constantly, visibly trying to lose weight… you know, to give any evil fatties who might be reading a positive role model to imitate. But don’t forget to turn them into a thin person before the end of the story, because you don’t want your readers getting the impression there’s any such thing as a good fat person.

      Wait, this is another one of those “stop giving them ideas” moments, isn’t it?

      1. If you can’t make them permanently fat by the end of the story, they you’ll have to make them be the sacrifice for whatever “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” moment you have set up. But be sure there is no lover to grieve for them. The hero group, as a whole, can grieve for the misunderstood fatty, but no one can actually LOVE them.

        Of course, bonus points if you can get them well on the path to “redemption” (thinness), before they sacrifice themselves, because they aren’t thin enough to live, yet. And then, you can say with confidence that their fat killed them, just as was prophesied!

  2. Not the most clever comment you will read by a long shot, but I’ll get straight to the point. She owned them. I don’t think anyone could have said it better. Impeccable work, Sarah!

  3. When someone writes from the perspective of “everybody knows” they are not obligated to do research, unless they find one corroborative piece that justifies their hate, I mean well thought out assertion… Then they can chuck that in as buttress. Make em squirm!

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