Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why talk radio sucks

I just learned Media Lesson 101: Never go on a talk radio show without asking who else is going to be on.

When the Dom Giordano Show emailed today to ask if I would come on the show this evening to talk about today's New York Times piece about the fatosphere, I figured it would be the usual five-minute radio interview, with time for a couple of comments about the piece and the fatosphere.

What they didn't tell me is that there was going to be another guest, a fitness trainer and "expert" whom they have on the show often.

Instead of a civil conversation, we had a lotta fatty mudslinging, complete with descriptions of waddling children, fatties who just want an excuse to be obese, etc. I was blindsided by the vitriolic assumptions that got tossed around. It was a classic exercise in thin entitlement and fat-bashing, all couched in the usual "Don't you know fat is unhealthy?" language.

I'm mad at myself for missing some opportunities, because my heart was banging away and my voice was shaking. Nothing like a shock jock to raise the adrenaline level. Not that it mattered--the research I was able to pull out of the air and cite (the 2005 CDC mortality study, for one) just sailed on by as if it didn't exist. And it didn't, you know, because of the waddling children and diabetic fatties who can't get off the couch. When I suggested that you can be healthy and fit even if you're fat, they practically laughed me off the show.

I feel badly about this--I could have done a better job of advocacy.

I hope the rest of you FA bloggers don't get blindsided like this. And I hope there was one person listening who heard a little something new, and might check it out.

Ugh. I'm heading upstairs to do some yoga. What an end to what a day.


Dreaming again said...

The person I've respected the most, looked up to the most ... admired the most ... blindsided me today ...

Queen Latifa ..the new spokesperson for JENNY CRAIG

Anonymous said...

Never never trust a celebrity to maintain fat pride, Dreaming Again. They ALL cave in to Celebrity Wasting Syndrome sooner or later, because there's no better way to keep their card in the front of the deck. They are about getting attention and making money. They do not care about us, only our wallets. Jenny Craig as the savior of your pancreas, my blattering bottom.

Harriet, I'm so sorry that had to happen to you. But I'd be surprised if a self-styled "shock jock" did get it; the only female bodies that are worth anything to them are model thin, which as we all know is statistically no "healthier" than being fat. The only reason they care about "waddling children" is because they imagine there will be fewer "pretty girls" for them to fuck 10 or 15 years from now. Anyway, if they want to create more fat kids, by all means they should continue to pour on the fat shame. Every woman I know who is 300 pounds or more was put on a diet from the time she was barely old enough to hold a fork.

Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry, Harriet.

I'm a Virgo, so I HATE it when other people tell me "I told you so". So (re: your heroic CR post) I won't say it.

In other, brighter news, Miss Conduct from Boston caught your all's act. I think you'll be tickled to see what she has to say.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the other "guest" knew you would be there and they had a plan of attack. It's too bad it was more about slinging. I hope the yoga helps.

Anonymous said...

Miss Conduct is soooo cool!

As I've said before, if you think fat people have no self-discipline, consider the fact that they haven't killed you yet.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Alex in Philly,
I encourage you to seek help for behavior. Eating nonfood items (like paper) is an eating disorder. Pica can be dangerous, especially when coupled with overconcern with weight and shape (size 2 by August). Inadequate nutrition can a tremendous impact on mood, cognition and social functioning. It appears from the tone of your post that things have already gotten out of hand in your case. The level of psychopathology shown in your post is high enough to warrant real concern. Best of luck.

Harriet said...


ROFL! Thank you for sharing that. Miss Manners is great.

Anonymous, thank *you* for also giving me a laugh. Though I suspect your tongue is only partly in your cheek.

mary said...

When I hear radio folks babbling away using "insults" to make their case I pretty much know that it's "societies lowest" being allowed to offend the air waves with their pollution. They actually make you stand up and LISTEN to the other view, IMO. Insults reveal their real message of hate and it isn't against fat, it's against anyone who isn't following them around hoping to achieve their brand of perfection.
Don't beat yourself up so bad. The fitness instructor is selling something. Many of us know that. Waddling and couch potato are stereotypical comments that didn't require many brain cells to spew out. They basically said that you can't contribute to the world unless you are pumping iron or doing your aerobics yet they were flaming examples of what happens when someone is so damn arrogant and sure that they become total asses. I hope there was a mirror there so they could admire their fine tuned physiques. (see how easy it is to insult) I don't want to stoop that low but I'm trying to assure you that you may have made your point WITH their help.
Besides, in hind site we're all brilliant.
waddling on out of here now...my coffee is done. Then it will be onto my belly dancing session( or whatever that translates to in your little world Alex)
meowser...great share.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that happed, Harriet. I was on my local radio a few weeks back and the male DJ had the nerve to call me a bitch live on the air. Not nearly as bad, but it was still very embarassing and I wish I had followed up with a complaint. (though, i probably still could...)

Don't let that deter you, DJ's make their living being controversial and general assholes and get serious jollies off of giving legitimate journalists/writers a hard time.

Anonymous said...

Harriet, idiot radio personalities are the reason I never listen to commercial radio anymore. (You hear that advertisers? I have discretionary income, too! Your loss!) The fact that you were willing to go on the radio at all to speak positively about the unfathomably controversial topic of not hating oneself was very brave. You do so much on your blog to advocate for self-acceptance, and I've taken a lot of positive messages from your words. I'm sure you reached somebody in the listening audience and put her on the path to self acceptance.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that you were ambushed on the radio. Clearly these people had no interest in anything you may have said that would upset the delicate balance of their universe, and that is there loss. You run a wonderful blog and I know I have learned a lot from reading it.

I know it's cliche to say, but I think the fact that they are fighting all of us so viciously means that we are making progress. There is a time the work you bloggers do would have been totally ignored, and this would have been a small, insular, community. But now, it's growing, and even though there are a lot of jerks out there, some people are catching on. This scares the heck out of the idiots who have a vested interested (personal or otherwise) in our self-hatred, so they are trying to do whatever they can to see that we shut up and know our place, as it were.

Luckily for us, we're stronger than that. Hope you're feeling better :) And thanks for standing up and trying to make a difference. I know there was at least one person out there who heard you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Harriet, I'm so sorry. What an awful thing to go through.

Anonymous said...

I'd hardly call dom giordano a 'shock jock'. he's far from it. while I rarely agree with what he believes in, his topics are engaging.
While it may have appeared that he was attacking Harriet, what I walked away from the conversation was... just try to be healthy.
Harriet, Dom, and that health instructor all mentioned the importance of being healthy.

Anonymous said...

Harriet, I'm so sorry that you were put in this situation. I don't read your blog often, but have been very moved by the articles you've written in The New York Times about your daughter. And also by the way you've advocated not just for people with anorexia, but for everyone who suffers from disordered eating and a distorted body image. Which in our society is sadly pretty much everyone.

So many people are moved to support efforts to fight the illnesses that afflict their children, but you've moved beyond the specific condition and are really attacking the underlying cause. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

What has FJ been saying? Quoting Ghandi? They ignore, then mock, then fight, then you win.
So there is hope, here. You're helping us all move past "ignore".
Sorry about the ambush, Harriet. That's got to be so hard.

wriggles said...

I too am sorry that happened to you Harriet, I agree with Jae though, we are beginning to get through. This is about our lives we are talking about the haters may shake us but they cannot silence us anymore, that's over. Don't be hard on yourself, you stood your ground so well done.

Harriet said...

Thanks for the support, all. I like the idea of moving beyond "ignore." That's cool.

The piece in the TImes was my idea, and I feel very glad it ended up running. (I couldn't write it myself because of this blog.) So that's another step toward changing the culture.

One step at a time!

Alexandra Erin said...

I believe it was either Kermit the Frog or Ghandi who said, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

Anonymous said...

Oh Harriet, I'm so sorry you had to experience such hostility and ignorance!

What the hell is going on with people?! Where has the civility, humane-ness, and just plain courtesy to one another gone?

Unbelievable- and so unprofessional!

Kick some ass, and I hope you got some stress relief, Virabhadrasana pose is good for this!


Alexandra Erin said...

@anonymous who I'm sure will be deleted anyway:

Shock jocks embarrass themselves every time they open their mouths... they just lack the intelligence to know it. You can't "own" somebody with propaganda and misconceptions. All you can do is demonstrate your own ignorance, as you just demonstrated with your comment about ice cream.

Harriet said...

You don't know what I eat or what I do. You don't even know if I'm fat. You know, thin people can blog for fat acceptance too.

You've done nothing but make assumptions. And you know what they say about when you assume: You make an ASS out of U and Me.

In this case, though, just U.

Carrie Arnold said...

I was SO PISSED when I heard about those comments (my mom clued me in).

To the anonymous douchehound:

What's it to you whether or not Harriet eats ice cream or does yoga? Why are you so threatened by people accepting the bodies they were given? And frankly, why are you surprised that a person advocating fat acceptance does yoga? Some fat people eat more than thin people. You heard me. And some fat people eat less. Most of them eat about the same as everyone else. And some thin people would do yoga after those comments. Some thin people would eat ice cream.

That's the whole point of fat acceptance: fat people are NO DIFFERENT than thin people.

Get a grip, buddy. I advocate fat acceptance, and guess what? I'm not fat. I'm just human, and so are fat people. Nasty folks like you? Well, I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.