MeMe Roth, the misguided anti-obesity crusader has found a new vehicle to rack up television appearances - defending Southwest Airlines for booting Kevin Smith off a plane.
"They are expecting us to subsidize the lifestyle choices of other people," said Roth, debating with Peggy Howell of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance last night on Anderson Cooper.
Mediaite has the recap, but the video is somewhat infuriating to watch, as Roth dances around the facts she seems to want to bring the entire issue back to her, at one point yelling out "I've never been given a $100 voucher for sitting in my seat!"
MeMe is all about Me Me Me. Her self-absorbed approach to advocacy was underscored yet again when she agrees to a podcast interview with Shannon Russell, a "fierce, free-thinking fatty." MeMe works on making herself as unlikeable as possible, using the term "overfat" as if it was a widely recognized descriptor and diverting most of the hour long conversation back to her horror at her obese family.
Roth expresses her fat-hatred in a variety of ways, opening early on with the misogyny tinged "We are seeing ourselves become a nation of women!" Roth believes fat men and their man boobs are an affront to (hetero) women everywhere, as their obesity causes erectile dysfunction and lowered libido. She also rails against girls reaching puberty early, and boys not growing into men because of all this damn fatty tissue tied estrogen.
Repeatedly keening there are "high risks associated with being overfat," Roth doesn't bother to back up any of her statistics. After the conversation bizarrely turns toward the subject of sex, Roth scoffs at the idea of overweight or obese women having sex lives. When Russell points out a study that says overweight women are having more sex than their thinner counterparts, she laughs "Am I supposed to compare how much I have sex to how much you have sex?" before implying that it's only natural that overweight women would have more sex. (She doesn't finish this sentence, but began sputtering something about self-esteem and something about indulging in pleasure before rerouting the conversation.)
Roth does manage to stumble across a couple good points - that pre-natal care and the critical years before the children get into school are vital for nutrition and that recreational facilities should be available and accessible to all Americans. But then she railroads that by focusing on screaming about fat scare tactics, defending media representations of women, and arguing that men love a certain waist-to-hip ratio, but then attaching that ideal to a certain waist size.
Unfortunately, Roth's campaign to shame every fat person in America into exercise and fasting is ultimately ineffective at creating change. There are a lot of reasons for the rising waistlines of Americans, including (but not limited to) increasingly sedentary lifestyles, changes in recreation, a convenience culture around food and eating, selective food subsidizes, middling commitment to nutrition in primary schools, food deserts, ignorance about food and cooking, and corporate funding. Roth breezes by with a mention of "Americans of color" feeling heavy impacts from the epidemic she claims to combat, but fails to look at the work being done in these communities and where more help is needed. Roth is trying to position herself as an anti-obesity advocate, but only parrots the same stale ideas over and over again. So, instead of coming with fresh ideas, she dreams up fresh attacks on celebrities to ensure she remains in the limelight.
CNN's Contentious Debate About Kevin Smith And "Too Fat To Fly" [Mediaite]
On Hold with Atchka! and MeMe Roth [Atchka]
The woman who hates fat [The Guardian]
Earlier: Kevin Smith Isn't The First Person Southwest Deemed "Too Fat To Fly"
Anti-Obesity Activist MeMe Roth Compares Eating To Rape
Anti-Obesity "Activist" Tells Elle That Women Are Fat, Stupid
The Ann Coulter Of The Fat Police
Fox Anchor Cries Foul On Fat-Shamer