Reddit Tackles Fat-Shaming

Four People

Recently, to the astonishment of some and the relief of others, the gigantic Reddit website permanently banned five forums, or subreddits, of which two were devoted to fat-shaming. One of them, r/HamPlanetHatred, had only about 3,000 members while the other, r/FatPeopleHate, boasted nearly 150,000. Caitlin Dewey described them for the Washington Post:

r/HamPlanetHatred
In their own words: “We are a Pro-Health sub! No ifs, buts, or coconuts. With that being said, if you’re a delusional lardmuffin this sub may be a bit offensive.”

Chief offense: Posting pictures of overweight people, frequently from Facebook, Flickr and similar photo-sharing sites, and relentlessly making fun of them in vicious comment threads.

r/FatPeopleHate
In their own words: “Absolutely NO FAT SYMPATHY.”

Chief offense: A clearinghouse for lifted photos of overweight people from around the Web.

When writer and comedian Matt Mira visited with podcast host Alison Rosen, they discussed the subreddits that specialize in hate speech. Rosen, who was a chubby child, says:

This whole thing where people have realized that it’s not healthy to be overweight, I feel like gives this righteous mask to people who just want to hate fat people. They can say all the awful things they want and direct all their judgment at overweight people because they’re doing it for their own good.

You’re fooling most people, but you’re not fooling this former fat girl. If you’re overweight, that’s all people see about you and it informs how they feel about you.

Mira remained obese well into adulthood, and still has some way to go. He believes that the haters are mostly riled up about the “Health at Every Size” movement.

But speaking of the forum where fat-shamers call people hamplanets, and so forth, he says a surprising thing:

Part of me wishes this subreddit had existed and I was made fun of on it when I was like 17. I think that would have been been like a big wakeup call to me.

To many activists on both sides of the fence, these are incendiary words. What is it with people, anyway? Why do they waste any part of their precious lives typing hateful messages into a computer and sending them forth into the world? Here is an example. Talking about health care and taxes, someone named Scott Atlas once wrote an editorial arguing that “obese people have shown poor personal responsibility and therefore should be required to pay more.” The interpretation of Slate.com’s Amanda Marcotte was that Atlas had brought blaming and shaming to new levels by assuming that obesity, like cigarette smoking, is a choice.

Marcotte responded that fully-formed adults seldom make a conscious choice to become obese. More likely, they were overweight or obese as children.

Children aren’t generally recognized in our culture as fully capable decision-makers. It’s widely acknowledged that the responsibility for keeping children from getting obese lies not with the children, but with the parents.

Most fat adults have been highly motivated for most of their lives to lose weight, and yet they can’t do it. The overwhelming scientific research shows that obese adults who diet will lose a bunch of weight and then gain it all back, and usually more.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “These are the 5 subreddits Reddit banned under its game-changing anti-harassment policy — and why it banned them,” WashingtonPost.com, 06/10/15
Source: “ARIYNBF 379 with Matt Mira,” alisonrosen.com, 04/05/15
Source: “Fat People Don’t Need To Be Punished,” Slate.com, 08/03/13
Image by CGP Grey

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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