Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jezebel investigates MeMe Roth!

Check out this awesome post by Jenna over at Jezebel, who as far as I can tell is the only journalist who's actually bothered to investigate Roth's pseudo (cough fake) credentials for her ridiculous one-woman anti-obesity campaign.

As a professor of journalism and writer for mainstream media outlets, I'd love to know why no one else has even questioned Roth's patently false claims and unsupported stance. How about Nightline, which pitted Roth and a chick named Kim Bensen against Marianne Kirby and Crystal Renn in this "faceoff" questioning "Is it OK to be fat?"

I can't help but think this is a) an example of how sloppy some journalists are getting, and b) a function of the widespread fatphobia washing through the culture.

Either way, kudos to Jezebel for doing some actual reporting. And, of course, presenting that reportage with the requisite levels of snark and sarcasm.


wriggles said...

What I can't understand is why people from the field of obesity don't put someone forward to represent the views from their field, like other sciences do.

The problem with the exposing of MR is that a lot of us don't have qualifications and still feel we have something to say about our own experiences.

She's speaking from her point of view and whilst I find her tiresome, I feel she has as much right to speak as I do.

Harriet said...

Um, because the stuff Roth is spouting does not represent what most professionals in the field of obesity actually know to be true.

The Academy for Eating Disorders recently put out a couple of press releases on the subject that are very enlightening--and that do NOT validate any of Roth's bs.



Twistie said...

Also, Wriggles, I would point out that while many folks on the FA side of the discussion are not doctors, either, they do not try to present themselves as having qualifications they do not possess.

Crystal Renn has never once claimed to have a degree in nutrition or diatetics, but she has lived through the personal hell of an eating disorder. She has something to add to the conversation due to personal experience.

MeMe Roth fudges her precise qualifications and tries to pass off a six month weekend course from an institution that is not recognized by the educational community and removes all potentially negative commentary from students from its website as if it were a degree from Columbia. She lists as supporters people who aren't aware that she's using their names to further her goals. She promotes behaviors that even people who know squat about nutrition should be aware are at best a breeding ground for eating disorders.

The day Kate Harding or Crystal Renn tries to pass of herself as a person with some sort of medical degree without first getting one, then I'll start listening to this line of questioning.

There is absolutely room in the discussion for self-educated concerned citizens and survivors of eating disorders. The first thing they should do to be considered worth listening to is to be honest about what credentials they do and do not have. If they cannot be honest about that, why would I listen to a liar?

MeMe Roth fudges, insinuates, and outright lies. I see no need to listen to her opinions until she starts being honest about anything factual.

My qualifications to say this? My mother taught me how to logic when I was six.

Bri said...

Rachel Richardson over the the-f-word blog did an expose on Meme some time ago. If you google 'the skinny on meme roth' you will be able to find it. It was VERY interesting...

Anonymous said...

Actually, Rachel from The F-Word did do a post on MeMe Roth's shaky credentials earlier this year, and I just made a blog post last night again criticizing her for her hateful rhetoric, as well as why the media continues to seek her out as some sort of expert.

I'm not partial to anyone who keeps repeating the same tired old correlation equals causation myths when it comes to fat, but some of them actually do have medical degrees from reputable schools. Mrs. Roth has none. All she has is a fear of becoming fat like her family members and a irrational hatred of fat people in general. This is not someone who should be dispensing medical and nutritional advice to anyone.

lilacsigil said...

What I can't understand is why people from the field of obesity don't put someone forward to represent the views from their field, like other sciences do.

Like Linda Bacon or Marilyn Wann, you mean?

I don't even need to see scientists supporting HAES - I'd just like to see some scientists and doctors (or even laypeople like Meme Roth) using some actual research and/or science rather than OMG OBESITY YUK in their arguments. Oh, and to be honest about what their credentials and area(s) of research actually are.

Harriet said...

Thank you for reminding me about Rachel's awesome post a while back.

I was thinking about mainstream media outlets. OK, I was thinking about print journalists. What can I say--my head is still in the 20th century here.

I stand corrected. :)

wriggles said...

Um, because the stuff Roth is spouting does not represent what most professionals in the field of obesity actually know to be true.

How are we to know that? The links you provided were from an eating disorders association, who are speaking up because they believe that both Michelle Obama and MeMe Roth have the potential to add to the problem of eating disorders/ disordered eating.

This has motivated them to speak up about that.

As we know, fatness is not an eating disorder nor is it a form of disordered eating, so if a respected organisation in that area can be sensitive to potential harm, where are the obesity scientists/doctors who study 'obesity' to speak up against what you've all called bad advice, if they believe it is?

Their silence appears to be collusion, if so, why behave as if MeMe is being extreme in a way that those who are truly expert in the subject would object to?

As far as I can tell, publicly at least, they are still continuing with the pretense that we can adjust our weight, how? Through what MeMe's doing of course or worse.

She is at least honest about what it takes for someone- who in her case, was never fat- to attain and retain thinness. She doesn't pretend that all you have to do is walk instead of taking the bus/cab and miss a few cakes and voila, thinness.

Unlike a lot of lying mansplainers who we soft soap in our critiques, or call 'well meaning'.

And for this honesty, she is treated with the same intrusive contempt that fat people, women especially are.

That makes me feel very uncomfortable, I don't object to people taking on her 'ideas' but I object to the same ad hominems being used on her that we know are so destructive. Doing this reminds me of how we are being treated by a lot of those very professionals.

Her so called 'madness' is that which the status quo wish to inflict on us all, especially the fat.

If I'm wrong, let them state publically and unequivocally, that this is not a viable way of life.

Harriet said...


You have a point about the status quo.

But the reason Roth is so loathed is because she behaves in a loathsome way. She spews hatred and other-loathing. She reviles fat people. While it may be illuminating to think of her as akin to Hitler externalizing his self-loathing (in his case, of being part Jewish) onto an entire nation, it doesn't change her behavior. Roth isn't some "tell truth to power" type who's telling it like it is (though you're right that in her own way she is demonstrating how hard it can be to maintain thinness). She's a hater, and haters get back what they dish out.

Rachel said...

I can understand why she appears on Fox News, which in my opinion, isn't a very credible or legitimate news operation. What I can't fathom is how she's getting appearances on CNN and other stations I do consider to be legitimate media outlets.

Here's a link to the post I did on Roth some months back, btw. Looks like the Jezebel piece relied heavily on research I already conducted, but failed to credit me in any way. Oh, well...

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