‘Fat’ is the new ‘N’ Word. Seriously?


Over on HuffingtonPost.com is a column by some chick named Vicki Iovine headlined FAT Is the New ‘N’ Word.

She’s white, and that’s all I’m going to infer about why she played the race card. The headline – a breathtaking work of staggering ignorance – speaks for itself. And hey, it worked: It got my attention, and I read the stupid thing. Believe me when I say the headline wasn’t the worst of it.


Here’s Iovine’s beginning:

People used to be afraid to be fat; now they're afraid to say "fat." Oh, we can talk about diets and exercise and the paucity of plus-size fashions—CONSTANTLY—but we can't really use the word "fat" as an adjective anymore. Unless, of course, we're referring to ourselves and are comedic by nature, like Kevin Smith, the director of such inspired movies as "Clerks" and "Mallrats," who recently was removed from an airline flight because his girth made him a security risk.

His embarrassment became national because he tweeted obsessively about it and is still seeking his pound of flesh, so to speak, from Southwest Airlines. He may actually get it because he is rallying all people over 200 lbs. to join his boycott. … This is why everyone in the media business is terrified of the "F" word. … The utter ridiculousness of this phobia was played out this week on ABC's "Nightline," where a panel of silly people debated whether being fat is, indeed, a bad thing.

This, folks, is what’s known as a “Straw Man.” The Straw Man fallacy is committed when someone ignores someone’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.

1.      Saddam Hussein: We hate you, but the World Trade Center was al-Qaeda’s doing, not ours.

2.      Bush: You want to do harm to the American people.

3.      Bush: We need to bomb Iraq because they want to harm the American people.


Bush wanted to bomb Iraq, so he played on our post-WTC hysteria by coming up with a fictional reason to do so, then effectively argued that unless we did so immediately, U.S. citizens would never be safe. Bush posted up a Straw Man. The only way to knock it down would be to argue against keeping citizens safe. Even Hillary knew that would be political suicide.

Iovine makes hay with her Straw Man by distorting the Nightline topic, which was about whether or not being overweight is really such a bad thing. She misrepresented the show’s topic as being about the word “fat.” She then went on to posit that we’re all stupid because we’re afraid of the ‘F’ word. (Memo to Iovine: You’re going to want to ask the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, a decidedly pro-fat and pro ‘F’ word group.)


Here are a few more gems offered up by Iovine as she continues tilting at windmills:  “Just because most people are fat doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing” and “Type II diabetes isn’t good for us, even if, in our democratic society, we would vote it so” and “Well, Mom’s right – just ’cuz everybody’s fat doesn’t make it cool.”

Through it all, she insists that we’re all a bunch of cowards because we’re too afraid to talk about how to control our weight. I don’t know what she’s smokin’, but our national health crisis has been front-and-center as never before. I’m not afraid to talk about it. Are you afraid to talk about it?


Here’s how the former Playboy bunny wraps her treatise:

The more cowardly we become about fat and the longer we pretend that we can continue eating while our bodies revolt against us by getting sicker and sicker, the more we fail our children and their children. Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger just held a summit against childhood obesity in California and the former President said that we parents might be the last generation to live longer than our own parents. Our children are dying and we're trying to be politically correct. This can't be right. Let's call fat by its proper name: Murderer.


Ooooh. Murderer!

Let’s give Iovine a peanut for trying. She wants to rail against the obesity epidemic. I’m with her on that. But she shows her true intent when she repeatedly resorts to meanness – and outright stupidity – to make a point: “Why don’t we ever see any ‘big boned’ fatties holding on to their weight in starving populations or on the Bataan Death March? Because there is no such thing!”


Yo, Iovine: First of all, are you seriously using physical abuse and murder to make a point about weight loss? And maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall anyone recording the starting weight or bone density of the skeletal, tortured souls who survived the march.

Everyone’s entitled to her opinion. I get that. But as a fan of HuffPo, I’m disappointed the editorial staff didn’t huff, puff and blow this fat Straw Man away.


Prejudice is the child of ignorance. ~ William Hazlitt

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.