Friday, March 26, 2010

Dignity, Ryan Seacrest, Oprah, & Jamie Oliver

I just finished watching Oprah who had on Jamie Oliver to promote his new show the "Food Revolution" which goes on tv tonight.

They showed a clip where a double size casket was shown. Oprah mentioned that these oversized caskets are a booming business. During the clip they spoke about how there is little chance for dignity when someone is buried in one of these caskets.

Earlier in the show, a picture of a 11 year old Ryan Seacrest was shown as Ryan told Oprah how he was ashamed to go in the pool without a tee shirt on. The photo they showed was of a normal kid. Seriously, the fact that this photo was considered something to be ashamed of was in and of itself sad.

They spoke about dignity. Shame on them. Ryan Seacrest letting kids think that being ashamed of their bodies when they swim is normal. If Ryan Seacrest thinks it, then it must be true. And what a shame, because swimming is great, fun, healthy movement.

They spoke about dignity. Shame on them. How many kids do you think will be teased and shamed about needing a huge casket that requires a forklift when they die after this show is broadcast.

You know, I did notice that when Oprah asked Jamie Oliver about how a family he worked with was doing he said this, "Well, Ya know, ultimately the family they're losing weight, I mean Justin whose 12 years old when I met him has lost 20, 30 pounds which is great but you've got to remember I am not doing a diet show. This is about real food. This is about health. There are just as manny unhealthy skinny people. We can't just label it as obesity. It is about what goes in us, medicating ourselves through food."

He said this in front of a giant casket that Oprah's producers arranged to have wheeled out onto the stage.

Shame on them. I guess it is a win when at least he says something like there are unhealthy skinny people. The town his show is centered around wasn't chosen because it was the unhealthiest town in the county. It was chosen because Huntington, West Virginia was listed by the CDC as one of the most obese cities in america.

So I think Mr. Oliver is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he says "We can't just label it as obesity" when his show is framed around the most obese city in America.

So I am upset. Because I agree with the nutritional stuff and the cooking and the variety of fresh in season produce that he is teaching about. I am upset because all this good information is on network tv because of the moral panic about obesity. This show is not on the air because there is an overwhelming concern about improving the health of all kids. It is about war on the obesity..

I think that this show will have a greater effect on increasing the moral panic about obesity than it will in increasing the quality of the nutrition in schools and on the kitchen tables of America. There will be more teasing, bullying, self hatred and of fat kids and adults than heathy eating.

So one of the things that bugs me about a lot of the blogging in out Size Acceptance Community is that most of what we do is point out the problems, identify with the angst. We are very light on solutions.

So I will make one suggestion here. If you have any contact with teachers this weekend, please try to educate them a little about stigma and bullying and teasing. See if we can get a little empathy about the path a young fat person has to walk in school. See if a teacher can let a fat kind know that they can make efforts to improve their health that have nothing to do with decreasing their weight.


  1. I'm disappointed in Jamie Oliver. The others... well, we know that Oprah is full of self loathing around her weight and she just can't let go of that, and Ryan Seacrest... who's he? But Jamie Oliver is passionate about REAL food. That's where his roots lie. Unfortunately this whole "pick on the fat kids" mentality he's drumming up these days is doing more damage than it is good.

    If he went back to his passion for real food, good produce, un-processed food... and stayed focused on that, he'd achieve a whole lot more.

    Yes, crappy food is making us sick, simply because we're ingesting chemicals and robbing ourselves of nutrients. Not because of fat or body shape/size. Besides, crappy food doesn't taste anywhere near as good as stuff that has been made from quality ingredients and with passion.

    I hope Jamie sees the error of his ways. Maybe we should mount a campaign to contact him and discuss the damage that part of his project is doing? I believe he can be very approachable.

  2. I caught the last fifteen minutes of the first hour and the entire second hour. While I cant comment on the first 45 minutes of the first hour, I found the show to be very sober and not focusing on the Obesity Epidemic with the . He made a compelling case for improving the quality and health of the food we eat.

    There was one segment where the fat family went to the hospital to be tested for diabetes. This was a little over the top and towed the AMA line of fat and diabetes.

    Overall I was surprised about how little fat bashing there was and the quality of the production.

    As for Ryan Seacrest, he is a big celebrity who is all over the tv and radio. He hosts American Idol also. He is very visible and when he told about his body shame at 11 years old on Oprah, there was a moment that could have pointed out how awful that we live in a society where an 11 year old who is just a tiny bit round is ashamed to go into a pool shirtless. (I think if you saw the photo of him at 11 being displayed while he spoke about being ashamed it would translate better).

    I suspect that the subject of stigmatizing folks was considered in the editing of the show. It is just a hunch though.

    His talk on the TED website was full of fat bashing. So I expected the same from this show.

    I like the idea of reaching out to him. I wanna watch the rest of the series to see how it unfolds.

  3. Nice posts. I tried to reach out to Oliver. He's super busy. Maybe you'll have better luck! I'm a family doctor and now childhood feeding specialist and I see kids who have been shamed, labeled (by health care professionals) and dieted from a VERY young age (youngest I heard was a breastfeeding mom of a 4 month old!) I overall like Oliver. I sat watching the first hour cringeing. I liked 95% of what he said, hated about 5%. The problem is, as you allude to, that 5% is so toxic that it does more harm than good. When we label kids, they are less active, less likely to make healthy decisions, more likely to diet and gain weight, more likely to engage in disordered eating. Ugh. It's a tough time right now. I scan through Entertainment Tonight and 50% of it is Kirstie Allie, or some other Jennie Craig celeb, or Celebrity Fit Club, or who's losing weight on Dancing with the stars. Crazy. Crazy that little Seacrest was mocked (now he gets mocked because he's so short which is ironic...) Health starts with self-love.

  4. "that 5% is so toxic that it does more harm than good."

    sadly many folks think that the harm this does is not just collateral damage, but actually a good strategy in getting the fat kids (and adults) to do something that is virtually impossible for them to do. -- maintain weight loss.

    Our media culture with all its kirstie alley this, jenny craig that, fashion, kids snacks, etc etc ... too many segments of our economy have the body hatred, stigma, and culture of dissatisfaction as requirements for their survival.

    so while we in FA are fighting for their survival, so is the economic forces at play going to fight for that survival. They will fight to the death. That is the real war. Not to eliminate Obesity, but to fuel it, which in turn means profits for shareholders, market share for fitness, beauty, cosmetic surgeons, big agrabiz etc.

  5. I agree with you about the problem of stigmatizing. And, I must say that I did not see this episode of Oprah. But, after reading your comments, I was curious about Seacrest as a child - Did they really show a picture of an averaged sized Seacrest and frame it as an overweight kid? So, I googled Seacrest as a child and this is the photo I came up with:

    If this is the picture they showed on Oprah (or one similar), which I do not know if it is, then classifying this as a picture "of a normal kid" is ludicrous to me! This may be an average sized child today; I don't know. But, if it is, that's the whole problem Oliver is trying to address.

    Sure, many, including myself, have put on quite a few pounds as we age, but if this is what our kids, with high metabolisms, who should have time of their day devoted to exercise we call "playing", look like, it's an issue we need to address.

    Do the stats, including the rapidly increasing occurrence of diabetes in children, not convince you???

  6. "r,"

    i welcome your questions and an opportunity to share with you what I know about these subjects. The tone of your question makes me wonder why you are interested in discussing this. So please do two things on your response. One, please let me know what statistics you are referring to in your question in your last paragraph. I cannot answer it if you do not tell me which statistics you are referring to and what studies they came from.

    More importantly, please either complete a proper profile on blogger explaining to our community why you are here or if yo do not want to do that, then answer that question in your next comment.

    If you are here to engage in civil, respectful exchanging of ideas, then you will continue to be welcomed on my blog.

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