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Update January 15: I received an apology from the bookstore owner for this spam. (Visible in the comments.) I am therefore putting the rest of this post under a cut tag.

I just got an email from my local independent bookstore, of which I have been a supporter for many years. I'm not reproducing the exact email here but this is the gist:

Kepler's Books & Magazines recommends:
Stop hunger by losing weight

You can transform your over-eating in 8 weeks

Imagine a world in which there is no hunger or poverty.

What began as a trickle of visionary participants became thousands of
over-consuming people donating their money -- usually spent on
over-consuming -- to programs, charities and organizations whose mission
is to end the suffering caused by poverty and hunger.

Pounds for Poverty's?~D? mission is to convert self-indulgence into
service, empty calories into deep meaning and over-consumption into
opportunity for those suffering from poverty.
Mindfulness and Altruism-Based Health Improvement and Weight-Loss

Shedding weight is a common New Year's resolution, and countless diet
plans focus on watching calories. But Pounds for Poverty, a new Palo
Alto-based weight-loss program, is taking a different approach - one
based on the idea that generosity, compassion and mindfulness can lead
to weight-loss success.

Two 8-Week Workshops in Palo Alto start in January
[details omitted]

What you will learn:

· A lifelong health improvement and weight loss strategy
· Tools for training the mind so you make better choices
· A transformative method for turning over-eating into
donations to charities

For free information and registration call (650) 926-9961 or visit

Get healthy, Give back.

Elad Levinson has been a therapist in Palo Alto and workshop leader in
the field of stress and weight reduction for over 30 years.

I have two problems here, just to begin with.

1. The workshop has nothing to do with books. It is not an event sponsored by the bookstore as far as I can tell. So what are they doing recommending it?

2. I am so fucking sick of fat people being blamed for Western overconsumption of world resources.

Does the workshop creator realize that most fat people are poor?

Do they realize that the kind of American/Western world overconsumption that contributes to poverty has very little to do with "overeating" per se?

If they really want to raise a lot of money for anti-poverty programs, why don't they do a workshop called "Stop hunger by giving the money you were going to spend on your plastic surgery to an anti-poverty program"? or "Stop hunger by giving the money you were going to spend on an expensive car to an anti-poverty program"?

Bookstore contact info:
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park CA, 94025
(650) 324-4321


Corporate and Community Sales

This bookstore closed a few years ago because they were losing money but they were brought back to life as a non-profit. I'm surprised they would be feeling so flush in this economic climate as to risk alienate some of
their clientele by sending out such an offensive and non-book-related advertisement.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
The OH's email to Kepler's
While I have become accustomed to all kinds of offenses committed in the name of obesity hysteria, I never expected to see one from Kepler's. Unless you send an apology to EVERYONE who got this message, I will put Kepler's on my boycott list and suggest to all my friends that they should boycott Keplers, too.

If you want to understand why I have this reaction, here's a good start:


You could also read any of several books, I'm sure you can find them at the library, since apparently you don't stock them:

Laura Fraser, _Losing It_
Paul Campos, _The Obesity Myth_
Glenn Gaesser, _Big Fat Lies_
Linda Bacon, _Health at Every Size_

Edited at 2009-01-15 03:56 am (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
Re: The OH's email to Kepler's
This is outrageous -- thanks for passing it on. And my compliments to your OH; that's a great message.
Jan. 15th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Re: The OH's email to Kepler's
I was thinking we could protest if I lived closer.

"Don't be lax! Get the facts!" and pass out our own fliers.
Re: The OH's email to Kepler's - firecat - Jan. 15th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Oh, for fuck's sake. That makes just about as much sense as the whole "Eat your peas because there are children starving in India" argument.

If these people actually think that world hunger is caused by some people eating more than their share, so that there is literally not enough to go around, I don't want them to be involved in anti-poverty or anti-hunger charities.

And yeah, if they think that guilting fat people about world hunger is a valid form of therapy... well. I pretty much have no words.
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
I'm puzzled because even though I've read the text behind the cut twice, I can't find anything in it that suggests blaming fat people for poverty. But all the other folks commenting here see it, so it must be there. But then, "overconsuming" to me means living in the exurbs, driving an SUV two hours to and from work every day, and replacing one's TV every year -- not pigging out on donuts.

To an east coast person like myself, most people west of the Mississippi are almost overconsumers by definition. There's not enough water in most of the west to support all the people living there, after all, and only by draining various lakes, rivers, and Pleistocene aquifers can they keep going as they do.
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
The title of the workshop is: "Stop hunger by losing weight," not "Stop hunger by giving up your SUV," and all the forms of "overconsuming" mentioned in the ad have to do with eating. That's what adds up to blaming fat people for poverty, in my mind.

I am probably more likely to go there than some people, because I've seen countless other examples of fat people being used as symbols for overconsumption.

Your other example of overconsuming also blames individuals for what I think is a systemic problem. (The vast majority of water use in California is irrigation for crops, not use by individual homes.) It worries me when people do that. You know, "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." (Thomas Pynchon)
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
To an east coast person like myself, most people west of the Mississippi are almost overconsumers by definition.

Funny, I feel the same way about all the fossil fuels that people in the Northeast burn while trying to control the climate in their places of habitation.
(no subject) - necturus - Jan. 15th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
I mostly agree, though I think they're thinking more of folks with a three-Frappucino-a-day habit and similar junk-food-overconsumption. I don't see a categorical "All fat people are overconsumers and contributing to world hunger" message.
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 15th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 15th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 15th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 15th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leback - Jan. 15th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 15th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firecat - Jan. 15th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 16th, 2009 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leback - Jan. 16th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 16th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leback - Jan. 16th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - nolly - Jan. 16th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2009 08:52 am (UTC)
I don't know about the US, but in Australia one of the symptoms of irresponsible consumption is the fact that we waste vast amounts of food. It's staggering. A more sensible approach would be to encourage people to really think about what they are purchasing and whether they are realistically going to use it.

I've started shopping each lunchtime for what I'm going to cook for dinner, otherwise our fridge ends up with a vast compost pile in the bottom of it. Fortunately the dogs take care of any meat that isn't used.
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
I'm sure there is a lot of food waste here. Your solution sounds like a good one. My solution is to eat a lot of frozen prepared foods, which takes care of the food waste problem but generates packaging waste. :/
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
Ignorance loves to take the ball and run. I hope enough pressures is placed on them that they pull the event.
Jan. 15th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah...see one of the things that bugs me is that as far as I can tell, it's not an event sponsored by the bookstore at all. So why did the bookstore spam me with it? (I was on their mailing list.)
Jan. 15th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)
Wow, "Pounds for Poverty" looks like the dumbest newage idea I've seen in a long time! Who thought it up?

Here's their website:

The founders talk a lot about "mindfulness" and "peace". One of them even says, "In my search for inner happiness, I knew I had to make peace with my body. Part of the practice is accepting what is. My body is large, gains weight readily and holds onto it easily." But then she goes on to say that meditation and mindfulness will stop "overconsumption".

Maybe you could talk some sense into them about their notion of "overconsumption"?
Jan. 15th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
I have a mindfulness meditation practice. (It's not helping to calm me right now though.)

"Ooh, take this workshop and you can lose weight!" is a message rather at odds with mindfulness, to my mind.

Maybe some of the Health at Every Size folks I know will use this as an opportunity for education.

Maybe I should start a mindfulness workshop, "Stop being mad at the obesity epidemic!"
(no subject) - innerdoggie - Jan. 15th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
Kepler's Email
I want you to know that I completely understand why you are upset about this email sent to you yesterday. The email should not have been sent.

Pounds for Poverty is a member of our local business organization – Hometown Peninsula – and all of the members attempt to support each other whenever possible. In this instance, however, the email didn’t receive the usual scrutiny prior to being sent to the Kepler’s list. I know that people don’t need anything clogging up their inboxes and that our customers rightly expect that emails from us pertain to books and author events that we sponsor. Please accept my sincere and personal apologies and know that we will not send emails of this nature in the future.

Clark Kepler
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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