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blaming the victim

Someone on FB linked to a post from the blog You Need a Budget (YNAB) (which is a software product). The post is called "15 warning signs you're addicted to debt" and it references Debtors Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. The post said this:
"Whenever I see an overweight person, I automatically assume they’re seriously in debt. Probably just a case of projection – but probably not far from true."

(I'm not linking to the blog but with that info you can probably find the post.)

My thought on the matter:

In fact the person might be right that fat people are more often in debt simply because fatness is associated with poverty, and if you're poor it's a lot harder to stay out of debt because you don't have the resources to deal with emergencies.

There is another connection between debt and fat: both are assumed to be caused by the behaviors of the individual and are assumed to be the sole responsibility of the individual to fix. But both actually have a lot to do with what the individual was handed in life—in the case of fat, genetics and the pressure to yo-yo diet can contribute; in the case of debt, socioeconomic status, and a society that increasingly preys on poor people and conspires to keep them in debt. (See http://strikedebt.org)

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/810163.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2013 05:28 pm (UTC)
Also note that the prejudice against fat people presumably makes it harder for them to find jobs.
May. 6th, 2013 09:07 pm (UTC)
Yep, that is part of the reason fat is associated with poverty.
May. 6th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
what really puts you in debt are diets. First, you spend a lot of money on tiny portions of food in expensive packaging. Then you reward yourself with expensive new clothes. You throw out your fat clothes because you know you will never need them again. Then you gain weight and have to buy new fat clothes. Rinse. Repeat.

It's probably needless to say that people who think they can read your character by your weight infuriate me.
May. 6th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
Ayep ayep.
(Deleted comment)
May. 6th, 2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
May. 8th, 2013 05:11 am (UTC)
May. 6th, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
In the U.S. today, that rude remark is likely to be true, for the same reasons that "whenever I see someone wearing socks, I assume they're seriously in debt" or "whenever I see someone with hair, I assume they're seriously in debt": if most people are in debt, then most fat, thin, bald, hairy, pants-wearing, skirt-wearing, or naked people will be in debt, because none of those attributes magically protects someone from being in debt.

The better question is, in the U.S. today, why does this person think "seriously in debt" is anything like a character flaw? It isn't even a neutral aspect of personality (such as liking movies or preferring blue pens to green), any more than "having been born after 1930" is an aspect of character rather than a statistical likelihood for a randomly selected person walking around an American city in 2013.
May. 6th, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC)
Excellent points.
May. 7th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
Whoever wrote that doesn't realize that what sie would call a "healthy diet" is EXPEN$IVE. As someone I used to know once said, "When you have $3 to buy groceries for the week, and that will buy 1 pound of meat or 15 pounds of potatoes, you eat a lot of potatoes." Starchy, high-carb diets are associated with both fatness (because they encourage it) and poverty (because those foods are the cheapest).

AKA "correlation is not causation" -- in this case, because there's a third factor operating.
May. 7th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
Yes, Ellyn Satter's instrumental food pyramid: "Enough food" must be achieved before "instrumental food" can be a focus.


And the third factor is not "lack of self-discipline," like the writer seems to believe.
May. 7th, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)
And healthy exercise takes money too. Time off work, gym or access to healthy outdoor area, even time/space for exercises in home, etc.
May. 7th, 2013 01:59 pm (UTC)
I do agree with almost everything you're saying, except the conflation of "in debt" and "poor." A lot of people who have very large salaries are in a lot of debt because of poor spending choices, while poor people are in a lot of debt because they started out with a lot of marks against them.

Even when we're talking people with comfortable middle class salaries who are in ridiculous debt, though, it's still a societal problem - we've traditionally encouraged the taking on of debt as a way to "contribute" to society and the economy and we encourage a lot of mindless consumerism and "keeping up with the Joneses."

Not really disagreeing with much that you've said except that in some cases, debt is a choice, while I don't think body size generally is.
May. 7th, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Good point, I had forgotten about such people. I read one of those money books, can't remember if it was Your Money or Your Life or The Millionaire Next Door, that talked about people in professional jobs who felt they needed to go into debt to afford expensive cars, houses in fancy neighborhoods, etc., because they felt those were required to present the right "successful professional" appearance.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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