Saturday, February 13, 2010

Why Dick Cavett needs a muzzle. Or maybe a gag.

I used to like Dick Cavett. Of all the talk show hosts, he was the one known for his erudition, his intellectual streak. Johnny was the funny one, but Dick was the insightful interviewer, the one who came up with the best questions, whose show made you think.

I haven't been a fan of Dick's in a while, ever since he wrote this truly obnoxious blog post on obesity. Cavett's not the only painfully thin celebrity to weigh in (ha ha) on the subject, and he won't be the last. But his blog post seemed especially egregious to me, maybe because he wasn't responding to a current event, or an interviewer's question. He was just flying his fatphobic flag, loud and proud. By using words "heavily larded," "a herd of heifers," "the size of the Hindenburg," and other choice descriptors, Cavett showed off not only his vocabulary but his jejune perspective. (No, Dick, you're not the only one who knows fancy words.)

I thought I was over Dick Cavett. I really did. It's hard to stay pissed off at a washed-up ex-talk-show-host who's got nothing better to do than vilify people based on their appearance. Then he ticked me off all over again with a quote in this week's New Yorker magazine, in a piece by Ben McGrath on an odd little throwback of a recruitment video recently released by Yale.

McGrath quotes various Yale alums on the pros and cons of the video. Their comments are informative and amusing. That is, until we get to Cavett, who says, "“I wonder if it really was made in America, because there are no fatties.”

Really, Dick? That's your reaction? That the video features "no fatties"? What does that have to do with the subject at hand?

It seems that Cavett just can't put a lid on it; he's got to inject a little fatphobia into every conversation in print. Mercifully, there aren't too many of those, because, after all, he hasn't actually done anything worth mentioning in about 25 years. Maybe he's trying to line himself up a reality show. Maybe he wants to replace Howard Stern. Or maybe he's so obsessed with the subject of fat people that he literally can't help himself.

In which case, Dick, let me give you a few words of advice: Shut up already. You may have a high IQ, but your comments illustrate your ignorance, your prejudice, and your inherent lack of decency and kindness.

Come to think of it, maybe Rush Limbaugh has a co-host spot. Dick Cavett would be perfect for the job.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ditching the concept of "refusal"

The editors of the venerable Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as DSM, have just released proposed revisions for the fifth edition of the book, due out in 2013. And WOO-HOO! They've taken out the word refusal in their criteria for anorexia nervosa.

That word has always bugged the crap out of me. It embodies everything I've come to dislike and distrust about conventional eating disorders treatment. It assumes that the person with anorexia is making a choice--a conscious choice--to not eat. It reinforces Hilde Bruch's characterization of anorexia and the people who suffer from it and the whole psychodynamic theory of AN--a theory that has absolutely no basis in scientific evidence or fact. A theory that has kept ED treatment in the 18th century, in my opinion, and condemned sufferers to years of ineffective treatment and torment.

So three cheers to the editors. I hope their proposed revisions make the final cut.

NEDA Walk in San Diego

You don't have to be in San Diego to support the first annual San Diego NEDA walk, which will be held on February 21. The walk is being hosted by the University of California San Diego's Eating Disorders Program--the same folks who run a five-day intensive outpatient program for families getting started with family-based treatment for anorexia or bulimia.

Sign up online to sponsor one or more walkers on UCSD's team, which includes Walter Kaye, Roxanne Rockwell, and Bridget Whitlow. Go, team!