Monday, June 3, 2013

What's for dinner? Fat shaming with a side of ableism

The above article. Feel free to read it on your own before I comment on it or don't since I will cover the basics. 

Below is the image which is at the top of the page where the article is and directly below that image will be visual descriptions of it. 
NYU Prof to Obese PhD Applicants: Thanks, But No Fatties Allowed

[visual description]
The article has a rectangle above it in a blue color (I think? or it might be purple which would make more sense since the NYU color is purple. Within that rectangle are 2 main things. 
1) A black outline of a scale (the kind used at the doctor which is not digital) with a white NYU logo of a torch thing standing on it 
2) The tweet of Geoffrey Miller @matingmind with a photo presumably Geoffrey Miller next to his name [photo of a light skinned male presenting person with glasses and dark hair]. There is of course the little twitter icon in the right top corner of the tweet box thing. 
The text reads: "Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth" 
**As with any visual description I do or other accessibility attempt please feel free to let me know if it is incomplete or otherwise not fully accessible**

The article itself is written by Laura Beck who then tells us that Miller is an evolutionary psychologist and lecturer at NYU. She mocks his lack of willpower for not being able to hold back from sending this ill conceived text out into the world of the interwebs. After "the backlash" he deleted the tweet and then tweeted :
My sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet. It does not reflect my true views, values, or standards.
— Geoffrey Miller (@matingmind) June 3, 2013

Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria.
— Geoffrey Miller (@matingmind) June 3, 2013

Yeah, wow. So, he refers to himself as "idiotic" and "impulsive" but apparently he has the kind of impulsivity that still allows for excellent willpower, proven by his not being fat. 

The author continues:
The cruelty and inaccuracy of statements like Millers can't be emphasized enough, especially considering that many fat people read his tweet and it reinforced the societal message that our weight is our worth — not just physically, but mentally, as well.
Most depressing part? This man teaches a postgraduate level Human Emotions course. 
So, I am too much wanting to crush him by sitting on him right now to fully articulate what I want to say. However, a few things and then I might return to write about this later when I'm less enraged.
This is a psychologist who teaches a class on emotion. People wonder why some of us don't like psychologists?! Sort of like how Autistics lack empathy but psychologists calling Autistics void of emotion is totally empathetic. 

The idea that people are fat because they don't have "willpower" is hurtful, wrong, ableist, classist, and all other kinds of shitty. Not to mention that "willpower" is often related to things like "impulsivity". He obviously has the latter but magically it doesn't affect the former for him. However, being "impulsive" is often something that people who are ADHD and/or Autistic (and lots of other stuff I'm sure I just know those best) often struggle with. Not in the "oh no, poor baby lets pity them" struggle in a suffer way. I just mean that many of us have compulsions and can be overly impulsive in being able to hold back. I have a lot of trouble with getting myself to do things and it could be considered lack of "willpower". Often, it is just lack of spoons for me. These are all complicated things and my brain hurts but anyway...

To sum up important things.
1) This guy is horrible and makes me sad and want to give up on the entire field of psychology 
2) Being fat does NOT mean lack of willpower
3) We REALLY need to stop using "lack of willpower" as an insult. While impulsivity and lack of willpower are not exactly the same, the whole idea of psychological fortitude and mind over body because the mind can conquer all and do anything it wants to is super harmful and really hurts many of us psychologically and our self-esteem. 

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