complaints, condescending twatbags, healthcare, LDS

Repost: Fat fighting 70s Mormon style…

I am reposting this entry from September 28, 2016, because it relates to the other repost for today. I used the same BYU film for both posts, but they are about different topics.

Yesterday, while screwing around on YouTube, I came across a most bizarre film from 1971.  It was evidently put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Behold…

A film for “sweet spirits” who could stand to lose a few… or more.  The music on this is nightmare inducing…   

The LDS church has a long history of producing audio visual learning aids.  If you were around in the 70s and 80s, you probably saw some of their ads on television.  I hesitate to refer to them as PSAs, because they were really put out as a means of attracting people to Mormonism.  As someone who was born in 1972, I vividly recall several different ones that were regularly rotated on daytime TV.

I must admit, watching this video makes me cringe.  I’m embarrassed and humiliated for the women who are in it.  Having never been LDS, I can’t really speak to what this film was really intended to do, other than remind women that they need to be thin and pretty for the Brethren, so they can find a temple worthy husband who will take them to the Celestial Kingdom.

One woman talks about how she still gets “dates” even though she’s fat, so she has no motivation to lose weight.  How sad that is.  The only reason she could possibly have to want to lose weight is to find a man?  What about losing it because you want to?  I also find it very strange that this film makes these women out to be binge and compulsive overeaters.  Yes, it’s true that many people are heavy simply because they eat too much, but that’s not always true.  The truth is, being overweight is a complex problem that can be caused by a variety of factors.  I am myself overweight, but I don’t eat three bowls of ice cream in a sitting, as is depicted in this film.  

As the film continues, the male announcer says…

This is part of our commitment action approach to weight control.  The girls meet weekly in therapy sessions where behavioral change is emphasized.  Overweight people tend to be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible.  How often have we said or heard people say, “I don’t know why I can’t lose weight.  I hardly eat a thing.” or “I was nervous and upset.  I just couldn’t help myself.”  All kinds of alibis and excuses.  Our sessions together tend to debunk these excuses and instead focus on behavioral consistency, control, and commitment with an emphasis on action.

How sad it must have been for the young LDS women who watched this video.  They are automatically considered “dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible” simply because of the way they look.  And consider the fact that the church is very food oriented.  Women in the church are encouraged to be excellent homemakers and cooks.  

The very sexist announcer goes on to say…

Group members help Judy improve the consistency between what she says she wants to do and what she actually does.  If Judy wants to be thin, she has to engage in thin activities, such as eating less and exercising more.  Sometimes she sees the problem as impossible to control.  We try to help her refute this.

Notice too, that it’s a man leading this group and he has all the answers.  As if a man really understands why a woman might feel compelled to overeat.  He keeps referring to the women as “girls”, too, and talks about them like they’re all a bunch of simple minded twits.  

The horrible music continues and they show video footage of heavy women swimming, their fat rolls jiggling underwater.  They show twin little girls laughing openly at a heavy woman biking past them.  Nowadays, someone would be calling CPS on the girls’ parents for letting them walk alone in a neighborhood!  They show a fat woman diving into water and when she hits, there’s a sound of gunfire, as if the sheer volume of water displaced has moved the earth somehow.  One woman is doing stretches only to get exasperated and give in to the temptation of potato chips.  It’s as if the filmmakers are saying “Shame on her for being so weak!”

A woman named Dawn says that she was sick all week and had a sore throat.  She ate ice cream to make her throat feel better.  And, don’tcha know, that’s why she’s fat!  She could have used ice cubes, you know… as the announcer tells us.  What a dick.  He says, “We try to help her see herself through the eyes of other group members.  To realize her self deceit.”

The video is rife with closeups of heavy women eating, shoveling fattening foods into their mouths in a way that is supposed to be disgusting.  I could continue to quote from this nasty little film, but I think you get the picture. 
Apparently, the answer to getting thin is to start dating.  A man will fix everything.  Get yourself a good man and you’ll have all the motivation in the world to lose weight.  “Being ‘feminine’ can be fun.'” the announcer says.  It’s a load of nasty bullshit.  

I know this film is 45 years old.  Since I’m 44, it doesn’t seem like it’s that old.  I guess it is, though.  I have my doubts that the attitudes among church members has necessarily changed a lot, although they are almost certainly less “in your face” about it than they are in this offensive film.  

Here’s another film from BYU…  

More fat shaming, though at least this one isn’t leveled strictly at women.

There is certainly nothing wrong with eating right and exercising.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight.  What I find offensive is the attitude that a person’s character is being judged by what size clothes he or she wears.  It’s offensive that a person’s worth is being measured by how heavy he or she is. I don’t know that a film like this would be made today, but it sure is cringeworthy to see that it was made around the time I was born.  

Standard
healthcare, modern problems, money, videos

Repost: “Overweight people tend to be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible…”

Here’s a repost from March 24, 2018. I am reposting it as I think about what I want today’s fresh content to be. I will also repost an earlier post about the video below, in particular.

Today’s post is taken from a direct quote that was included in a 1970s era film made at Brigham Young University called “The Fat Fighters”. 

This film is absolutely cringeworthy…

I was reminded of this film this morning as I read a news story by The New York Times about America’s worsening obesity epidemic.  I really shouldn’t read the comments on these articles because they regularly piss me off.  So many people have simple “explanations” as to why Americans are so fat.  But it seems to me that if the problem is so simple, so must be the solution, right?  If that were true, then people would simply eat less, choose higher quality food, exercise more, and weigh less.  Simple, right?  But I don’t think it is a simple problem.  

I read comment after comment from people claiming that “good food” is cheap and easy to prepare.  I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that, as long as you have everything you need to make food and you have the time, energy, and know how to prepare it.  Many Americans work very long hours for low pay.  If they are fortunate enough to have work, they will have to work long and hard to make enough money to pay their bills.  If they work ten or twelve hours a day at two jobs, they might be exhausted when they get home.  And that’s if they are only supporting themselves.  A lot of people who work long hours also have families to tend.

Many Americans don’t necessarily have the ability to shop for whole foods, transport them, prepare them, or cook them.  Some people also don’t have access to the tools they’d need to make that good, wholesome food.  It takes money to buy pots, pans, electricity to run the oven and refrigerator, gas to buy the fuel to get to a store, or pay for a fare on public transportation.  Although, a lot of Americans have access to adequate housing and transportation, not everyone does.  So those people do what they can to survive.  Many times that means eating a chemical laden hot dog or microwaved burrito from 7 Eleven instead of a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.

Okay… so what if you’re like most Americans and you do own a car?  You do live in housing that has kitchen facilities.  You live in a town where there are several good supermarkets and, hey, you even have the Internet, so you can order groceries online.  You still have to have the time and energy to make that “good food”.  I happen to like cooking and Bill and I enjoy a lifestyle that affords us the ability to eat well, if we choose.  We do try to keep most junk food out of the house, although we love beer and wine, which is not exactly dietetic.    

The point I’m trying to make is that the problem of obesity seems really simple.  It seems like it has a simple cause and a simple solution.  However, if you think about it for longer than a minute, the problem becomes less simple.  If the problem really were that simple, we would have solved it by now.

I once lived in a country where poor people weren’t generally fat.  Those people didn’t eat a lot of meat because they couldn’t afford it.  Indeed, being a little bit heavy meant that you had more money. It wasn’t necessarily fashionable, but it made a statement about your income.  In that country, though, people didn’t work constantly like they do in the United States.  They spent time with their families and friends and ate with them.  The lifestyle was very different there.  You wouldn’t see poor people eating candy bars or cake because those items were expensive.  It was actually cheaper to buy an apple, especially if it was in season.

In the United States, poor people are more likely to be fat than wealthy people.  Why?  Because the food that is most available to them is cheap, filling, and of poorer quality.  And some of those people eat fattening, sugary, salty foods because it temporarily makes them feel better.  They gain weight and lose more status… and people make judgments and comments about them based on preconceived notions.  And God help you if you happen to be both poor and obese.  This was one comment made on the New York Times Facebook post about America’s rising obesity problem.

It is VERY true eating healthier is more expensive. Poor people are also more prone to addiction and food is the most common addiction.

Well… I don’t know that I’d make a comment like that.  The truth is, people are poor for many reasons.  Poverty is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions.  Some poor people are addicts.  Some are not.  It just depends.

As for the title of this post, I think perhaps what the narrator meant is that overweight people might be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible about food and eating.  I would hope he wasn’t saying that overweight people are those things in general.  However, he did actually say that– he said that overweight people have several character defects and he didn’t qualify his statement as only pertaining to their eating habits.  So basically, he was perpetuating the idea that overweight people are lower quality human beings who don’t deserve to be as well-regarded as thinner people usually are.

Another comment I noticed came from a woman who, I’m sure, thinks she’s a “thinker”.  She posted that in the long run, broccoli is “cheaper” than a cheeseburger because it will lead to fewer healthcare costs.  However, if you have to force yourself to eat broccoli because you can barely stand the taste of it, how likely will you actually benefit from choosing to eat it over a burger?  What are the odds that you might buy that broccoli and then let it rot in your fridge?  And… what if you eat nothing but broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and then still get sick or catastrophically injured somehow?  Eating “good” food may promote better health and lower healthcare costs, but it’s not a guarantee.

Personally, I’ve decided to just relax and enjoy life as much as possible.  I don’t trouble myself with what other people are eating.  I don’t worry about how their habits will affect my medical bills.  I don’t blame fat people for all of the wrongs in the world, nor do I give much thought to shaming them.  Life is difficult and complex, and there is no magic bullet.  I think there are too many people out there who feel inclined to judge and assume what’s wrong or missing in another person’s life.  But even as I write that, I understand that we all do it to an extent.  I do it, too.

Sigh… I really need to stop reading comments on articles.  But then, if I did that, I might be writing fewer blog posts.

Standard
book reviews, LDS, psychology, true crime

Repost: A review of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

Here’s an as/is book review that was originally posted on February 10, 2016.

So, I just finished M.E. Thomas’s Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight (2013).  I think I’m left with mixed impressions of this book.  On the positive side, I thought it was reasonably well written, if not occasionally a bit dry.  Thomas offers some interesting theories as to how having sociopathic tendencies could be a positive for some people.  On the negative side, I found Thomas to be rather unlikable, occasionally disturbing, and really more narcissistic than sociopathic.  Also, though she frequently describes herself as “smarter” than regular people and above being emotional, I notice that she does some really dumb things.

I think one of the dumbest things Thomas (a pseudonym) did was go on the Dr. Phil show after she published this book.  I own a newer edition of Confessions of a Sociopath.  At the end of the book, there are some extra materials that include an epilogue about the aftermath of Thomas’s decision to publish Confessions of a Sociopath. 

Thomas writes that she was very careful not to share too much about herself on her blog or in her book.  And yet, Internet sleuths being what they are, her real identity was discovered and she was promptly fired from her job as a law professor.  She was also barred from being within 1000 feet of the university where she worked.  Thomas writes that she doesn’t think the restriction is legally enforceable and notes that it is a significant inconvenience to her, since the area around the school includes her bank, several public transportation stops, and other places she’d need to visit.  Thomas writes that personality disorders are legally protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but she doesn’t think a jury would be sympathetic to her if she decided to sue. 

From what I can tell, Thomas is still LDS, which I think is pretty much the height of stupidity.  Based on what I’ve read, Thomas was employed by Brigham Young University, which is a Mormon owned school.  She complains that they are discriminating against her; just as they do to many people, to include homosexuals and apostates.  And yet, she’s still in the church.  

Even if I didn’t have serious issues with the way some Mormons treat others who aren’t like them, and even though I realize that there are many attractive, talented, and otherwise intelligent people in the church, I just think Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, among other things.  People who choose to believe the lies the church was based on and accept its policies are, in my opinion, showing some serious logic deficits.  But then, Thomas writes that she frequently does things that other people might think of as crazy or stupid.  She habitually lives in the sketchiest parts of town, where rents are cheap but burglaries are frequent.  She even walked in on a burglary once, yet didn’t decide to move. 

A lot of the examples Thomas uses to describe her so-called “sociopathic” behavior don’t seem all that sociopathic to me.  She writes of one incident where she gets angry at a guy working at the metro in Washington, DC.  The guy yells at her for trespassing.  She says she wants to kill him and follows him for a couple of blocks before she loses him.  In another passage, she writes of trying to kill a baby opossum in a swimming pool.  It fell in there and was on its way to drowning before she found it.  She isn’t able to do it.  Later, she fishes the corpse out of the pool and tosses it over a fence.  Big deal.  She fights with her father.  Who hasn’t? 

Thomas repeatedly explains that she doesn’t really enjoy being a lawyer.  She says she’s a lazy person who thrives on any activity that allows her to game “the system”.  Maybe law was a good field for her for that reason, but one thing good lawyers should be able to do is show good judgment and protect one’s reputation.  I don’t think publishing this book was an example of good judgment, even though Thomas claims that she’s okay with the consequences.  Given that she admits to being sexually attracted to and acting on her attraction to both males and females, I’m surprised she’s still LDS.  She does write that being Mormon forces her to be accountable and a “good person”, so maybe that’s a good thing.   At the same time, she writes about how bloodless and calculating lawyers are.  Hmmm…

I did find Thomas’s anecdotal examples of what makes someone sociopathic versus narcissistic somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure I totally agreed with them.  And, again, I have certainly read books that were not as well written.  I don’t think Thomas is very likable, though she insists that she is… and that people don’t seem to notice her sociopathic tendencies.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, though maybe I’m biased.  Thomas does write that she runs into a lot of people who think sociopaths are inherently evil people.  I’m not sure if that’s true, since I’m not really certain that Thomas is a sociopath.  To me, she seems a lot more like a malignant narcissist than a sociopath.  I’m no expert on sociopaths, though…. On the other hand, I’m not so sure Thomas is, either.

Anyway, I didn’t hate this book.  I didn’t love it.  It has three stars on Amazon.com and I think that’s what I’d give it, too.  Thomas is clearly intelligent and some of what she writes is interesting.  Since she lost her job, maybe it’s not a bad thing that I bought her book.  Of course, given her self-proclaimed ability to charm people, she’s probably landed on her feet somewhere.  Who knows?  Read it if it interests you, though I certainly wouldn’t call Confessions of a Sociopath a must read.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, LDS

By request: Repost of my review of Way Below the Angels by Craig Harline…

Sorry… I know I said I was done reposting book reviews, but my friend Alexis asked me if I’d read this one. I had, so I am reposting the review for her, as it appeared November 28, 2014. And NOW I am really done with the reposts for today!

Here’s yet another book review about a story of a Mormon missionary.  If you read this blog often, you know I am a sucker for stories about people giving up time and money to serve the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Because my husband is an exMormon and has a rather negative opinion of Mormonism (which he has passed on to me), many of the books I tend to read about these experiences are somewhat negative.  This time, I read a book that was mostly positive about the missionary experience. 

Craig Harline, author of Way Below the Angels (2014), served as a missionary for the Mormon church back in the 1970s.  He went from his hometown of Fresno, California to Belgium, one of my favorite places in the world.  There, he made an attempt to learn Dutch, get along with his ever changing companions, and maybe attract some Belgians to the LDS church.  Harline’s time in Belgium was concentrated on Flemish speaking areas, namely Antwerp and Brussels. 

Although he wasn’t all that successful in wooing beer loving Belgians to the “clean living” of Mormonism, Harline seems to have come away from his mission experience with a deep affection for Belgian people.  Given that I went to Armenia for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and left my service with sort of a love/hate relationship with Armenia, I could sort of relate to Craig Harline’s story somewhat, even though we went away for different reasons.  I think that’s another reason why I like missionary stories.  I am interested in other peoples’ cultural experiences because I have a number of my own.

He writes one story about trying to drive one of the mission’s cars and almost running over a small Belgian man because he neglected to check his blind spot before backing out of a parking space.  Naturally, bystanders who witnessed Harline hitting the old man were shocked and horrified.  And Harline was also horrified and pictured himself being hauled off to court.  But no… it turned out the old man was in a hurry and just wanted to get on his way.  I witnessed a similar event once in Spain, when an elderly lady fell down at the bottom of an escalator.  Many people wanted to help her and get her seen by a doctor, but she was very focused on catching her train!

Like many young men who go on Mormon missions, Harline had fantastic visions of converting people.  He was sure his superior sales training, personal charm, and newly acquired language skills, along with the very appealing Mormon values and lifestyle, would be enough to win him many conversions for the “one true church”.  Reality soon came crashing down as Harline learned that Belgians were mostly fine with Catholicism or atheism or any other belief system that allowed them to drink what they wanted and smoke cigarettes.  What was really pretty cool about Harline’s story, though, is that he was open to experiencing Belgian culture.  He visited Catholic churches.  He made Belgian friends who were kind to him and open to visiting as long as he didn’t talk religion.  He learned to be more humble and, more importantly, be himself.  Those are valuable lessons that so many people could stand to learn, especially when they’re still young.

Craig Harline has an entertaining writing style that is fun to read, though it took me some time to finish his book.  I think the main reason it took so long is because I’ve been gearing up for the holidays and don’t have as much time to read and focus as I usually do.  I tend to be tired and distracted when I go to bed and that’s when I do most of my reading.  And yet, when I was able to focus on Harline’s book, I was definitely entertained.  I write this even though Harline’s writing tends to meander a bit.  His sentences are long and wordy and it may seem like he takes awhile to get to the point.  Fortunately, reading Harline’s long sentences was well worth the effort for me. 

I enjoyed Way Below the Angels and would read it again.  In fact, it might be a good thing to re-read it at a time when I can devote more mental energy and attention to the task.  I think this is the kind of book that needs to be digested in larger portions.  Craig Harline currently teaches European History at Brigham Young University.  Though this is the first book I’ve read by him, I see that he’s written quite a few others.  If you like missionary memoirs, particularly by Mormon authors, I highly recommend Way Below the Angels.   

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, LDS

Repost: How blogging led me to discover excellent exMormon literature (reviewing I’m (No Longer) a Mormon)

Here’s another reposted book review, which I originally wrote for Epinions on June 27, 2013. I reposted it on the Blogspot version of this blog, and am now reposting it again, as/is. I used to keep up with “Regina” (a pseudonym), but she has dropped off my radar. I did enjoy her book very much.

If you regularly read my book reviews, you might have noticed that I love to read true stories.  I have read and reviewed many books by people involved with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially those who have chosen to leave the faith.  I have a blog, and a lot of my blog is about how Mormonism has affected my life.  I am not LDS, but my husband was for awhile and his two daughters are Mormons.  So I’ve studied the faith and read lots of books, and lots of Mormons and ex Mormons stumble across my blog. 

One day, I noticed I had some hits coming from another blogger’s site.  I clicked on the link, which took me to Regina Samuelson’s blog in support of her 2013 book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: A Confessional.  I was gratified to see that she had linked my blog, especially since until very recently, I didn’t tend to advertise it because it’s full of a lot of p!ss and vinegar.   

Anyway, after reading some of it, I was intrigued by Samuelson’s blog, so I decided to read her book on my Kindle.  I just finished I’m (No Longer) A Mormon and, I have to say, it was a most excellent read.  I learned a lot.  I enjoyed her writing style.  And I could even relate to her, since I get the sense that she’s about my age and living a somewhat similar lifestyle.  She’s a stay at home mom and I’m a stay at home wife and “mom” to beagles.  Scratch that.  I don’t have kids… but I know what it’s like to have left the career track.  Before she married, Samuelson was a teacher in Utah.  Before I married, I had big plans to be a public health social worker.

Incidentally, the name “Regina Samuelson” is a pseudonym.  I’m guessing Samuelson chooses not to use her real name because she doesn’t want to deal with the backlash of being honest.  I can relate to that, too… it’s a major reason why my blog was kept relatively on the downlow for so long.  I suspect Samuelson’s backlash would be a lot worse than mine would be; most people who know me in person probably already have an inkling of what I think about most things.  But who wants to invite unnecessary drama, right?

Samuelson explains that her parents converted to Mormonism in the 1970s.  She grew up doing the whole Mormon thing, which culminated in her attendance at Brigham Young University.  Despite being LDS, Samuelson was very free spirited and occasionally got into trouble with church officials for being outspoken and/or doing things that were considered wrong.  For instance, one anecdote Samuelson relates involves her decision to work in BYU’s art department as a model.  She was given a bikini to wear while art students sketched her.  Bear in mind that most Mormons are pretty uptight about nudity and the very fact that she was wearing a bikini for legitimate work at BYU might have already been a bit scandalous, though technically legal.  The work was easy, paid well, and was somewhat enjoyable.  One day, an art professor asked Samuelson if she minded posing nude for some BYU students outside of the university’s art department.  Samuelson explains that the money offered was substantially better and art students need nudes in their portfolios in order to have a prayer of finding legitimate employment.  Anyway, Samuelson did the nude modeling… and got into trouble.  Read the book if you want to find out what happened.  Suffice it to say, that if you don’t know anything about Mormonism, a lot of what Samuelson writes might be a bit of a mind blower.

Samuelson’s title, by the way, is based on a recent publicity campaign put on by the church.  If you hang out on YouTube, you might see the ads made by “normal” folks who proudly proclaim all the neat things they are doing with their lives and… hey, guess what?  They’re Mormons!  Samuelson’s title says, “I’m (no longer) a Mormon” and here’s why.  She has a lot of valid reasons and explains them all logically and intriguingly. 

I really enjoyed Samuelson’s very conversational style and slight irreverence.  I got the sense that we could be friends.  I also learned some interesting things about Mormonism that I didn’t know.  In one interesting passage, Samuelson explains how Johnny Appleseed was indirectly responsible for the creation of the LDS church.  She cites a popular book by author Michael Pollan and, in her own entertaining way, describes the chain of events that led to her statement that Johnny Appleseed had something to do with Mormonism.  It was a fascinating read.  When I mentioned it on an ExMormon group I belong to on Facebook, someone immediately recognized Michael Pollan’s work and suggested the book that Samuelson had referenced.  It’s now on my reading list.  I think any book that leads to more study is worth reading. 

I think another aspect of this book that I enjoyed is Samuelson’s many colorful, witty, and sometimes shocking stories about her experiences in the church.  I was particularly interested in her stories about BYU.  As I read this book, I realized that Samuelson is a very bright person who uses her mind and powers of logic.  By the time I was finished, I really respected her intellect and resolve.  I also respected her husband, who was born and raised by a very Mormon family.  If you know nothing about Mormonism and what happens when people leave it, you might not understand why I respect him so much now… but if you read Samuelson’s book, you’ll soon get the picture.  It can be dangerous to leave the church if you want to keep your friends and family.  It can also be risky to stand by a spouse who goes apostate. 

Overall

I liked I’m (No Longer) A Mormon, and not just because the author apparently has read and enjoyed my blog.  I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who is interested in a woman’s personal account of leaving the Mormon church. 

Here’s a link to Regina’s blog, although it hasn’t been updated in ages.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard