Do you know why I’m fat?  It’s because I don’t have enough cultural activities in my life.  I don’t read enough, I don’t go to the theatre enough (I guess it doesn’t count when you’re onstage instead of in the audience), and I don’t spend enough time on the Internet!

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (or both) over this study and its conclusions.

And even worse is the discussion in this magazine article, written by Fred C. Pampel PhD, the guy who did the “study”:

There have been many studies showing an association between socioeconomic status (SES) and weight.  Lower SES usually means fatter.  It’s not that people from a lower SES don’t have the mental wherewithal to enjoy cultural activities – they are tired and stressed and don’t have the money for season tickets to the ballet.  Survival can wear your ass out.

Dr. Pampel believes:

“The social meaning of the activity rather than the activity itself must be important for weight control.”

How’s that for a steaming pile of condescension?

Dr. Pampel also says, more highly educated people tend to both read more and weigh less.

Perhaps that’s because people of a lower SES can’t afford to be highly educated – they have to work; and institutions of higher learning tend to prefer not-fat applicants over fat ones.

And, according to Dr. Pampel, you need higher education to understand the “importance of proper weight for good health”, and “mastering difficult coursework in college can help build confidence in one’s ability to reach difficult goals – including managing weight.”

It’s the old, fat people are so stupid they don’t understand that being fat is bad and they don’t know how to lose weight story.

Well, Dr. Pampel, you might be surprised to learn that NOBODY KNOWS how to achieve significant long term weight loss for most people.

Oh, and then there’s that little thing called genetics.  If most people in the higher SES are thin(ner) or prefer thin(ner) mates, after a few generations, how do you think that is going to shake out genetics-wise?

Like many fat people, Whaliam and I are avid readers, enjoy listening to music, and use the Internet – a lot!  Somehow, I don’t think we’re the exception that that proves the rule.



  1. Let’s see… by the second grade my reading comprehension scores tested out at college level. That was the same year I wrote, directed, and starred in my first play. It was popular enough with my class that my little troupe took it around to nearly every class in the school over the course of the next couple weeks. I now earn my living writing things on the internet.

    I’ve been attending live theater performances since I was a small child. I especially love to attend the opera when I can scrape together the funds. I read War and Peace for the first time when I was fourteen. It was a bit of a break from George Bernard Shaw, whose works I began devouring at age twelve. A list of my favorite novelists reads like a who’s who of Great Western Literature. I’m one of two people I know who has actually read Tristram Shandy.

    The internet has been one of my favorite sources of both information and entertainment for some years now, and I’ve participated in a wide variety of activities online. When I got this computer, the first bookmark I added (after the sites I write for) was Project Gutenberg.

    Funny thing… I’M STILL FAT.

    Guess I just haven’t bothered to read about the importance of staying thin, because that message is so damn easy to ignore when nearly every time I open up my email, there’s an ad off to one side suggesting I join Weight Watchers or buy Sensa and get healthy.

    (rolls eyes heartily)

  2. I enjoy music, I have most likely read over 10,000 books, I am on the Internet every day, & I have a fairly high measured IQ. I did grow up in poverty, but my father & oldest brother were thin, while the rest of us looked more like my mother. I am the only member of my family who went to college, my sister & I are the only ones in the family who graduated from high school, but we have not been measurably thinner than our brothers who quit school after the 8th grade & our one thin brother also quit school after the 8th. We had an abusive alcoholic father who had a habit of throwing his kids out of the house to make their own way in the world by the time they were 15. I have lived in small towns in Maine all my life where there are a lot of poor people, fat & thin. And, yes, the wealthy do often discriminate against fat people & especially in their choice of mates, so, as you say, after several generations of this, wealthy families tend to be bred for slenderness, kind of like greyhounds.

    There is also a little thing called genetics which also determines about 80% of body size & shape for fat people. That doesn’t have a damn thing to do with education or culture or income. And when fat people make less money it is usually because we live in a culture where everyone & everything works to keep fat people from being able to earn high wages. That makes the fat people who are financial successes even more successful because they have had to work & fight harder for it than thin people do.

  3. As a fat, college educated woman, I guess I don’t exist…

    I would expect that fat people are also in a lowere SES because no matter HOW educated or cultured one is, if one is fat, one won’t get the job or the promotion or the higher wage.

  4. I have also been considered ‘weird’ all my life here in Maine, not for being fat, as many people in Maine are fat, but for being a nerd/freak/geek & being disabled. I have been told by some people that I talk like a Harvard professor & don’t ‘fit in’ around here, which is kind of funny, since I have never lived anywhere else. And I have never once noticed any difference in actual talents or intellectual capacity between fat & thin people. These idiots will do anything to try to assert that being fat is bad & to try to scare as many people as possible into using yet more worthless diet products or having their stomachs amputated. As far as I am concerned, they can just start walking east, & when they reach Eastport, keep walking until their hats float.

  5. Ugh, ugh, UGH. What a steaming pile of classist crap this one is.

    Sorry, there are plenty of us fat folk who have graduated college and work in highly demanding professions. And many of us read plenty of books, go to the symphony and the theater, and work with plenty of social media.

    I hate this classist fat-phobic crap.

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