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Good Press, Bad Press, Dee Pressed

by Dr. Deah on Jan.07, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

There is an old saying, “There is no such thing as Bad Press.”  I have always disagreed with that point of view…especially when the press perseverates on notions based on mythological facts and perpetuates assumptions that reinforce discrimination.  You know the ones I mean, they are the assumptions that are usually accompanied by an implied “wink wink, nudge nudge.”

Any group that has been discriminated against knows about the “wink wink, nudge nudge” assumptions.  Sometimes they are so subtle that even those of us in the target group being slurred can miss them.  Here’s one that I noticed this morning.

With the ringing in of the New Year, I rang in a case of strep throat.  What am I in sixth grade??? I have been out of the arena of strep throat for, as Winnie the Pooh would say, a Very Long Time.”  With my son in college, it has been quite a while since I’ve thought about those kid-type ailments…but I digress.

The reason I mention my strep throat, besides loving the sympathy and attention that will inevitably come my way, along with recommendations for tea and chicken soup recipes, is because although I wrote about New Year’s Resolutions for my Leftoverstogo Facebook Page, I actually missed reading something in the newspaper on December 31st that had I been in my usual state of mind and health would not have missed.  It would have, in fact, zinged me between the eyes.  The article you see was on the same page as the New York Times crossword puzzle…the closest thing in my life that resembles religious ritual.  Every morning like so many other New Yawkuhs, I start my day with a “cup of cawfee and the puzz.”  (Yes, for those of you wondering…I use ink, it was a Friday puzzle and rated mildly challenging). But I digress…

Nestled between the puzzle and a book review about antiques, was another book review.  Because this was the December 31st issue, the subject matter was about New Year’s resolutions and the name of the article was, “Weak-Kneed Willpower Faces Temptation’s Lure,” the author of the article was Patricia Cohen.

Ok Deah, Strep, NY Times Puzzles, Cawfee, shameless requests for chicken soup recipes, how can this one small book review possibly be a juicy enough topic to spread among the community of fellow eating disorder clinicians, size acceptance activists, and researchers???  A little sip of tea, and I’ll tell you.

The article started off typically about how inevitable it is that most people will break their New Year’s resolutions almost immediately and mentions an on-line program developed by two Yale professors that has an individual make a contract to pay money to either a charity they invested in, or even worse, a cause that they loathe, should they fall short of their New Year’s goal.  I suppose it is a super-sized exaggerated version of a Swear Jar.  Remember those?  Everytime you cursed you put a nickel or a dime or a quarter in the jar, a curse tax. And eventually you were speaking like Barney the Dinosaur?  I believe I paid my college tuition with that “pishka.”*  But here is what I found most egregious about the article. The wink wink nudge nudge moment that just infuriated me and would have cost me a pretty pretty pretty penny in the curse jar if I still had one.

From the start to the end of the article the list of goals was, “shedding pounds, quitting smoking, or finishing Proust”

The author continues to say that there is a desperate lack of will power in society today  and then cites the following  examples of this lack of self control in the following order:

“Growing epidemic of obesity, reckless debt that contributed to the financial crisis, proliferation of addictions….”

IN each case the worst and first thing mentioned is fat thus reinforcing it as the poster child of all that is MOST wrong in our culture today.

And I haven’t even gotten to the actual book that was being reviewed in the article.

The discrimination against fat and the assumption that it is evil, wrong, and reckless is so ingrained in our society, that more people agreed with the order listed rather than be offended at the least and more appropriately, outraged.

I was both. And while I am sure it won’t help, once again, I fiund myself pulling out my pen, and this time instead of doing the puzzle, writing a letter to Ms. Cohen asking her to consider that quitting smoking may be a more important goal towards health, than shedding a few pounds and the reckless spending that has brought this country to the brink of financial ruin should NOT BE equated in any way with a person’s size and the unsubstantiated financial impact of fat people on the health care system.


Dr. Deah Schwartz


P.S. does anyone know an eight letter word….ah, never mind.

*pishka is a Yiddish word for a little bank to keep loose coins

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