Saturday, February 6, 2010
Tonight was a good FA night for me. I went to the taping of an ABC Nightline sponsored debate. The title of the segment was a bit over the top, "Is it okay to be fat.?"
So Marianne Kirby and Crystal Renn were seated together to the left of moderator Ju Ju Chang. Meme Roth and a women who runs some sort of diet counseling service, her credential being that she has lost and kept weight off for 7 years. (That is all I found out about her. I may be unaware of other credentials she had. She was very passionate about folks trying to loose the weight because of all the health problems they cause.)
I was very apprehensive when I saw the first notice of this event. I didn't want to risk watching the folks that I came to support be ambushed. I was a little fearful that might happen. A producer from ABC contacted me directly through meetup.com because of the SizeAcceptanceSalon meetup group I organized. After getting an email confirmation from her that I could sit out of camera's shot I decided to go.
Of note here is that I found the moderator fair and unbiased. Also interesting was that all the folks on the panel did not have professional credentials. They were there because their life experience is connected to Fat. We did not have any scientists there for the debate. The one exception to that is a colleague of Ju Ju Chang, a pediatrician was in the audience.
I thought both Meme and Marianne did a good job of expressing their opinions. I got to learn a little bit more about Meme's motivations.
The crux of Meme's argument was the impact on her insurance premiums because of fatty's eating themselves into very expensive health problems. I really wish I had the command of the studies that Linda Bacon or Marylyn Wann had because the studies that she and the Pediatrician pointed to could have been summarily crushed by the kind of deconstruction seen in Dr. Bacon's book.
As the debate went on I noticed how most of what was being expressed was more about the personal experience of the speaker than any actual scientific support of either position.
Every time Meme or the other women spoke about working on getting folks to lose weight, I thought to myself, why doesn't someone mention that diets don't work 95% of the time. Well when question time came I asked the question, I asked Meme if her concern was about health care costs, why would she want to support an intervention with a 95% failure rate. Meme clearly articulated that she has a real problem with people choosing to be victims, that our country accepts a defeatist attitude about this. That everyone should try even though 95% will fail.
The moderator did not allow much time to ask a follow up question about Ms. Roth's flawed thinking about her healthcare costs which would have a 95% statistical likelihood to increase healthcare costs.
But the real fun came after the debate. People were moving around and starting up little conversations with each other. I said hello to a few good friends, I shook Marianne's hand and thanked her. I looked over to Meme Roth and saw her sitting there talking to only one person and I decided to go right up to her and ask her a few questions. What I didn't realize was that the camera men were right behind me.
I shook Meme's hand and introduced myself to her. I told her I have been involved on the Fat Acceptance movement for a little over a year now and then i asked her,why does she think she is so vilified by the Fat Acceptance community. She coyly answered that she is not a part of that community so she couldn't tell me. So then I asked her what is her major issue with the Fat Acceptance movement. She went back into the argument that it is unfair that her insurance premiums and taxes go up for irresponsible behaviors of others.
I then challenged her on her support of dieting in the face of all the evidence that it has a 95% failure rate and supporting anything with a 95% failure rate is illogical. Then Ju Ju Chan came and sat down while Meme spoke about her need to have everyone keep on trying to be one of those 5 out of 100 folks that does keep the weight off .
The way she framed it was on a moral basis. She spoke of the country's defeatism and how it can't be okay for people to stop trying. Meme tried to get me to talk about how many calories I eat and I told her I am not going to discuss that with her and went back to the failure rates. The women next to her (the one with the weight loss business who was on the panel becasue she lost over 100 pounds) said we cant ignore our health. I asked her about her business. I asked her if her success rate with her clients is higher than 5% and she immediately said yes. Then I asked her if she has 5 years of data to support that. She said she doesn't have five years of data. I told her that she can't claim any success yet if she doesn't have conclusive data.
After my little exchange with them, I shook Meme's Hand and thanked her for her time and I walked away. Guess what, a very passionate women who was watching me talk with Meme came right up to me to let me know she has got the solution to my fatness and handed me a cd and her business card. I found out afterwards she did that to several people. I can just picture her talking with business coach and planning to hit the nightline taping and go get 5 new clients for her weight loss business.
I wish I got in her face about the ridiculousness of her offer and the timing of it too. I took her cd and threw it out when I left the building.
Anyway, I went right up to Meme Roth tonight and called her on her ridiculousness in front of cameras from Nightline. This in and of itself is a victory for me. It would be so wicked cool if the footage makes it to the nightline website.
I have said to many of my FA friends, I just want to be happy, life a full and rich life. I am not interested in activism. I still am not sure about that aspect of my FA journey.
I can definitely say it was really cool to stand in front of Meme Roth and question her about the logic of her position on dieting.