Weighed down

first_imgFrom cereal boxes to the Kardashians, everywhere we look we’re bombarded with messages about weight and bodies — how to look slimmer, how to be slimmer, how to stay slim. How did America become so consumed with weight? Harvard anthropologist Susan Greenhalgh was inspired to delve deeper into this national obsession when her students began turning in essays documenting their struggles with body image and weight. Her new book, “Fat-Talk Nation: The Human Costs of America’s War on Fat,” is a compendium of those stories, as well as a research-based challenge to myths about weight.GAZETTE: You got the idea for this book from your “The Woman and the Body” class. Can you tell me about that class and how the book came out of it?GREENHALGH: “Fat-Talk Nation” was born on the campus of U.C.-Irvine, where I was teaching this course and decided to offer students extra credit for writing an essay on diet, weight, and the [body-mass index] in the life of someone they know well. Their essays left me stunned and saddened. So many were accounts of happy, carefree childhoods that were abruptly ended by a medical diagnosis of “overweight” or “obese,” or that came apart slowly as kids were badgered and bullied about their weight. And it was not just heavier kids who were suffering; people of every weight category, including underweight and normal, felt unhappy about their bodies and miserable about their lives.The dominant narrative about weight in America stresses how high levels of obesity are harming the nation by worsening health, raising health care costs, and undermining economic productivity. The stories my students were telling — about the human harm done by the war on fat itself — are virtually unknown. The human costs of the nation’s fight against fat have not been tallied up or even acknowledged, and so remain invisible to the public and policymakers alike.I wanted to write this book to make the voices of the targets of the war on fat, long shamed into silence, part of the public conversation about the obesity question. With 245 essays — gathered over two years — documenting the experiences of Californians of many ages, classes, and race/ethnicities, I had a rich body of material with which to document those costs and theorize the dynamics that produced them.GAZETTE: When did the conversation on weight and obesity (“fat-talk”) really take off, and why and how is it so damaging?GREENHALGH: Thin worship and fat hatred have been parts of American culture for over a century, but today’s epidemic of fat-talk — any communications about weight, from educational to abusive — took off after 2001, when the surgeon general issued a nationwide call to action for all sectors of society to fight fat. With the declaration of a public-health campaign, heaviness, long considered a moral and aesthetic transgression, was redefined as a disease, with profound consequences for individuals and society. What began as a public-health campaign quickly grew into a massive, society-wide war on fat that involves virtually every sector of American society and leaves few domains of life untouched.Fat-talk is so damaging because it equates thinness not just with “health,” but also with civic virtue and deservingness to belong to the community of valued Americans. Though we have limited control over our weight, fat-talk calls on every American to be a thin, fit “biocitizen,” and awards cultural status and social citizenship only to those who can achieve the thin, fit body.“Fat-Talk Nation” documents the deep damage caused by the ubiquitous fat-talk in the absence of effective means available to most people to lose weight. It shows that the war on fat has produced a generation of young people who are obsessed with their bodies and whose most fundamental sense of self comes from their size. Despite often desperate efforts, almost no one was able to lose weight and keep it off. Despite good intentions, current efforts to rescue America from obesity-induced national decline have been damaging the bodily and emotional health of young people and disrupting families and intimate relationships.GAZETTE: The narratives in your book are mostly by women. Are women most at risk in the war on obesity? Why or why not?GREENHALGH: Though the war on fat expects boys as well as girls to become fit, trim biocitizens, girls are more deeply affected. Regardless of their achievements in education, sports, and other domains, because their worth is still tied to their appearance, girls subject to fat abuse invariably took on a “fat girl” identity and felt bad about themselves as persons. Although boys were also subject to vicious fat abuse and suffered emotionally on account of it, because their worth is evaluated on the basis of their achievements, boys were able to rise above the taunts and resist taking on the global identity of “fat boy.”GAZETTE: How do we reframe the way we talk about weight and bodies? Why is it necessary?GREENHALGH: Our country’s high levels of obesity are a serious problem, but the way we’re approaching it is not working to reduce obesity in adults or prevent it in children. Moreover, it is doing real, measurable damage to ourselves, our psyches, our relationships, our families, and especially our young people.A concern for social suffering and social justice argues for ending the society-wide war on fat, while continuing the search for scientific understanding of obesity’s causes and consequences. As part of that larger project, we need to both reframe the way we talk about obesity or fatness, and change how we approach it as a public-health issue. Among other things, we should tell the public the truth about the “biomyths” — partial truths about weight and health that everyone believes but have little scientific credence. Each of us should listen to our own fat-talk and work with others to create fat-talk-free zones where human value is not attached to body weight. Finally, we should launch a nationwide campaign against fat bullying that makes blatant weightism or sizeism just as intolerable as racism, sexism, and homophobia.last_img read more

Candidates debate domestic policy

first_imgPresident Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney debated domestic policy Wednesday evening in the first of three presidential debates during an evening that seemed to focus more on style than substance at the University of Denver. In a reversal of the usual pattern, Romney’s poised, polished performance seemed to outshine Obama’s lackluster appearance, political science professor Michael Zuckert said. “Romney knew exactly how he wanted to put things and he put them pithily, he put them smartly and sharply ⎯ he was very smooth,” Zuckert said. “Obama was still looking for words and ways to formulate things … He should have had better formulations right at hand that he could have relied on and spoken more forcefully, instead of groping around for ways to express things that he could have had on the tip of his tongue.” This impressive showing from Romney won him the debate, at least stylistically, Zuckert said. “In terms of overall impression, Romney carried a lot of the debate, but in terms of issues, I think Obama carried it,” Zuckert said. “I saw the polls afterward and they said that they thought Romney could handle the economy better, that Romney could handle jobs better.” The thermometer measuring audience reaction on the bottom of the CNN broadcast of the debate seemed to indicate that the audience was reacting more to style than substance, Zuckert said. “It isn’t clear to me how much of the content of what they actually said made an impression, but I do think that style counts a lot,” Zuckert said. “That’s an example of why rhetoric is important – people react more to the impressions things leave on them rather than the substance of what is there … and the impression in this performance was that Romney is ‘presidential.’” Film, Television and Theatre professor Susan Ohmer said Romney’s structured answers helped him retain attention. “It was striking to me that he numbered his points,” Ohmer said. “That’s a strategy that you see in formal debate that helps keep listeners organized – a very smart strategy on [former] Governor Romney’s part.” Moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor and former news anchor of PBS news hour, told the candidates that the debate would be divided into six units of 15 minutes, each structured around different focal points. The first question asked the candidates to speak to their plans to create jobs, which focused the debate on differences between two disparate plans to stimulate the economy. Economics professor Eric Sims said this beginning gave Romney a lot of momentum starting the debate. “I think people vote with their pocketbooks,” Sims said. “People want to ask the question ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ and I don’t think many people can say yes to that question – the president is taking a hit for that.” Rarely has an incumbent candidate been reelected to the presidency after presiding over a downturn in the economy, Sims said. “Historically speaking it is surprising that a president would be running this well with the economy in this shape,” Sims said. “To be fair it is hard to tell how responsible President Obama is or is not for that… he did walk into a bad situation but it is very unusual that we are in a recession and he is polling so well.” Both candidates have very different visions on how to solve the jobs problem, but Romney’s points were more salient because he was able to put Obama on the defensive, Sims said. The president failed to refocus the discussion of the economic progress and job creation during his term as an analysis on improvement, rather than focusing on its current status, Zuckert said. “Bill Clinton gave Obama a script that he could have used more effectively on that issue, and though Obama did try, he didn’t push it as forcefully as he might have done as a ‘Look where we started from and look where we are type of thing’ as opposed to ‘Look where we are at the absolute moment,’” Zuckert said. “Obama didn’t emphasize the trends, some of the trends are not great but they’re better than Romney portrayed them.” Zuckert said the focus on the economy played right into Romney’s hands. “Criticism of Obama on unemployment is still Romney’s best technique, but I’ve been waiting to hear more details about how he would actually change [unemployment],” Zuckert said. “I just haven’t heard a policy to me that sounds persuasive enough yet, to me it’s just not enough detail.” Romney was able to contrast his experience with business and economic policy with the relative lack of progress made in those areas in the past four years, Sims said. “That’s Obama’s weakest point. Barack Obama has a lot of pluses: he’s very likeable, at least four years ago he brought this attitude of hope and change to Washington, but the reality is that the economy stinks,” Sims said. “I think this was playing to Romney’s wheelhouse, domestic and economic policy: That’s where he has experience… In their discussion Romney came across as having a very good grasp of economics, in contrast I thought the President looked a little timid at times.” One of the strongest points Romney made was a criticism of the timing of Obama’s health care law, Sims said. “Romney’s point was that he was surprised that Obama was going to move this healthcare reform through [Congress] so fast right in the middle of an economic downturn, and that though we do need that kind of legislation – some kind of healthcare reform in the long term – when the real issue should have been jobs, President Obama was pushing through healthcare reform that created a lot of uncertainty,” Sims said. “Uncertainty is not conducive to a healthy labor market on both ends.” Ohmer said the differences in policy between Romney and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan were highlighted during the debate and by the work of fact checkers after the debate. “Ryan has endorsed legislation that will [end] Pell Grants, while Romney has said he wouldn’t do that,” Ohmer said. “Romney has also said that he won’t cut five trillion dollars when fact checkers said he would.” The degree to which each candidate moved toward the middle was striking, Zuckert said. “Even though people have said the issues were really strongly defined, they moved back towards each other,” Zuckert said. “Romney did maybe more than Obama, but both did substantially: Obama did in his litany about small businesses and job creation, and Romney in how he tailored his position from what we have heard before.” The fundamental difference between the candidates is the role that each envisions for the government within the economy, Sims said. “They characterize each other as free market capitalism and socialism, but on the broad level it is really that one side wants less government intervention and more power and choice in the hands of the individual, while the other side wants more government involvement – I think at the end of the day that’s the main difference here,” Sims said. The debate has changed America’s perception of the choice to make in November, Sims said. “Last night Romney came across as in control of the debate, and looked presidential: He helped himself a lot,” Sims said. “I think the Obama camp will have a different strategy next time around … as they move away from domestic policy to foreign policy it will be interesting to watch – we have a much closer race today than we did 24 hours ago.”last_img read more

Man killed in vigilante justice in Jamaica following murder of eight-year-old

first_imgKINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Police are probing the murder of a 26-year-old man who was apparently killed in vigilante justice in Jamaica. He was killed by a mob seeking vengeance for the death of an eight-year-old school child, whose body was found in bushes in Blue Hole, Sterling Castle Heights, St Andrew, a parish, situated in the island’s southeast.Parliamentary representative for the St Andrew West Rural constituency, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, condemned the killing, saying “I’m in disbelief because you never want jungle justice because you don’t know if you’re getting the right person and at this time we don’t know and we can’t take the law into our own hands”.8-year old female murderedThe mob had accused Miguel Williams of being involved in the murder of Shantae Skyers, who had been reported missing on her way from school last Tuesday.The authorities said her body was found amongst rubble by a search party led by officers from the St Andrew North Police Division.Beaten and burned Media reports said that Williams was beaten and his body burnt on Wednesday as the angry residents sought justice for the murder of the Red Hills Primary School student. The mob also set fire to his home.Relatives said Williams suffers from a mental condition, and Cuthbert-Flynn said she would be contacting the National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang about maintaining police presence in the community as residents have threatened further action.last_img read more


first_imgDDTV: KILCAR singer Rory Gallagher and sidekick Senegal Jimmy brought some Donegal fun to the St Patrick’s Day parade in Lanzarote!The duo behind the hit Donegal GAA anthem ‘Jimmy’s Winning Matches’ were a massive hit on the sun-kissed holiday island. And of course Rory made sure he was wearing his Donegal jersey.“It was great craic,” said the singer.“Sure you couldn’t have St Patrick’s Day parade without a Donegal input.”You can watch how they get on by watching the video! DDTV VIDEO: SINGER RORY AND SENEGAL JIMMY LEAD LANZAROTE ST PATRICK’S DAY PARADE! was last modified: March 18th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:SINGER RORY AND SENEGAL JIMMY LEAD LANZAROTE ST PATRICK’S DAY PARADE!last_img read more