Creative Destruction

August 19, 2006

Weight bias all around…

Filed under: Content-lite,Fat and fat acceptance — Ampersand @ 11:22 am

(By the way, my usual email addresses have been broken for the last few days, and will probably remain broken for another week or so. Anyone wishing to contact me in the meanwhile should use “barryishere (at) gmail (dot) com”.)

I found myself watching an episode of “Hell’s Kitchen,” which was reasonably entertaining. But I hated that a fat kitchen staffer was berated for being fat by the host, Gordon Ramsay: i.e., “get your lazy fat ass in gear,” “you fat jerk,” etc. (I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is right). I tried to imagine the popular revulsion if the host had berated a Jewish worker in the same way – “get your lazy Jewish ass in gear” and so forth. Is there any question that the host would have been fired?

Sara Horowitz from "Hell's Kitchen"Looking online a bit, I find that Ramsey also constantly referred to contestant Sara Horowitz (pictured) as “a fat cow,” “a bloody cow,” “a stupid mouthy cow,” etc. (Ramsay did this so often that another contestant bought Sara a toy cow as a gag gift). Unlike the fat man Ramsay berated, Sara isn’t fat. But she’s not skinny, and on TV all non-skinny women are considered fat.

(The final two contestants were both model-thin. If Ramsay had called Sara “a Jewish cow,” and if all Jewish contestants were cut before the final round, wouldn’t people be questioning whether or not Ramsay’s judgements were unbiased?)

Anyway, what the hell, at least fat people appeared. On TV, that’s a pretty rare thing.

In other news, I took this “Rate Your Life” quiz (via Melancholy Revolutionary). I understand that quizzes like this are just fluffy entertainment, not to be taken seriously. Nonetheless, I was struck by the fact that three of the opening questions asked me to put myself into categories that I just don’t fit clearly into.

Am I overweight, or healthy weight? The question implies a contradiction between being “overweight” and being “healthy.” And the answer to this one question made a very large difference in the results (see below).

Am I straight, or undecided? Nowadays I self-identify as a straight-leaning asexual, but that option isn’t included. There’s not even an “other” option – I’m either straight, gay, bi or undecided.

Am I married? Not legally, and not in the sense that the author intends. But I have two people I share lives with; we’ve lived together since the late 80s, and it’s a lifetime commitment. In terms of rating the quality of my life, my relationship with my life partners is as relevant as another person’s relationship with their legal spouse.

(There are other implicit assumptions in the quiz as well – for instance, the only choices for “sex” are male and female. But the above three were the ones that applied – or, rather, failed to apply – to me).

(Click below to see how my results changed depending on the above assumptions.)

Here’s the results when I describe myself as straight, single, and very overweight:

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 6.5
Mind: 7
Body: 4.7
Spirit: 6
Friends/Family: 4.6
Love: 0.8
Finance: 6.9
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

And here are the results when I describe myself as undecided, married and of a healthy weight, but otherwise answered everything the same (insofar as the quiz allowed – a few of the follow-up questions change based on how you describe your marital situation and sexual orientation):

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 7.2
Mind: 7.1
Body: 7.1
Spirit: 6.2
Friends/Family: 6
Love: 6.7
Finance: 6.7
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

What puzzles me is the slight change in my finance score. (It’s possible that I made a typo – answering “4” instead of “5” for a single item could have caused such a small change).


1 Comment »

  1. You’re right that the poll is fluff and shouldn’t be considered as anything but light entertainment. I have serious issues with slotting answers to questions and then reducing the entire test to a numerical result.

    I recently participated in a serious, one-on-one marketing study (for which I was paid), which was expected to take about 1.5 hours. Because I was clear in my opinions, I took only 40 mins. The interviewer commented that most people aren’t sure of anything and often choose simply to make a choice and move on (which takes more time).

    I wonder how true that is of political elections. How much are the results influenced by pollsters telling us in advance how we’re going to vote? How many people vote blindly, not really caring much which candidate they opt for?

    Comment by Brutus — August 20, 2006 @ 10:22 am | Reply

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