PETA Goes for the Blubber; Women hit the Roof

premarin farm

My first encounter with PETA involved a naked woman protesting in Midtown Manhattan. I was on the way to cover a drug convention at the Hilton, if I recall the hotel correctly. I had not given a thought to how one particular drug was derived. That all changed with one naked woman with a cause—the ethic treatment of horses.

Naked women abound in our society. Just check out Times Square or any of the dozens upon dozens of glossy magazine ads that have a prostrate female in masturbatory position, her hand dutifully tucked into the strap of her thong. Sex sells. That is a fact of human nature. Calvin Klein uses it, Victoria Secret uses it. Madison Ave. uses it. But when PETA uses it, women get a bit freaky, even as they do so in their Victoria Secret bras and thongs.

I must say, I am very thankful that one woman was brave enough to get my attention with her body. All her poignant parts were covered as she marched the street that day, but she was a true beauty and men were practically breaking their necks to get a look. Women hissed things like Slut sotto voce as they walked by the partially clad female. I was fascinated. A quick call to PETA and a filed story later, informed me, for the first time, the absolute cruelty to mares that Wythe required from them to produce Premarin.
From Dateline:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3995076
Pregnant mares were confined to narrow stalls for more than 20 hours a day, for five months at a stretch, all the while strapped to cumbersome urine collection devices.

At the time Premarin—used in hormone replacement therapy—was the largest selling drug in America. Since then production of the drug has dropped off after studies showed deleterious effects of HRT to many women.

But the larger question remains: Shall we torture animals for our supposed good? The mares and the unwanted foals they were continually required to produce were never allowed to have even the resemblance of a kind and decent life. PETA understands human nature very well—to get our attention they must resort to sexy means. (Sexy in the news biz means provocative by any means not just sexual.)

The bottom line for me was the fact that millions of women might have demanded that a more ethical drug be developed if they knew the cruelty involved in Premarin. PETA wanted to get out the message. And they did. They used sex and it worked.

Currently women have become very exercised about another PETA stunt. It is an ad that features an obese woman in cartoon on the beach and says: “SAVE THE WHALES, Loss the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.”

Neverumind that a two-thirds of our population is overweight or obese, neverumind that a plurality of studies show that a diet known as Mediterranean -- big on veggies, fruits, whole grains and fish-- has shown to be the path to a healthier, longer more active life. Forget all that: Call a spade a spade and hell hath no fury.

The PETA ad was simply a truth teller: eat right and you will lose the blubber. Sure they have an ulterior motive, but can anyone tell me that motive is vile? No. Their means is suspect, but what is the last ad for the ethical treatment of animals that you can quote?

And folks, believe me, when a person is laid out and sliced open fat IS blubber. All the talk about being happy with our body image translates into being happy with the too many layers of greasy, slimly yellow globs of fat that two-thirds of the populations carry around on their frames. It crowds the heart out of is resting place and makes our massive livers seem like a needle in a haystack. It hardens into slabs of moldered yellow Jam that plug up the lifelines to our brains and organs. It smells rich in an overpowering festering fashion. It looks like a body piped full of sticky pus. Talk of Body Image is just another word for nothing left to loose, to quote a favorite song of mine. Remember, hating fat is very different than hating fat people.

But what I found most perplexing is the animus towards helpless animals this ad inspired in many women: Here is a sampling from our own Blog Her Community:

PETA, you have finally done it. You have made me change my mind about something. Congratulations. However, it won't be to your liking. I'm going out right now get some Kobe Steak for dinner wearing my endangered species ocelot fur coat and if any one of your mink-releasing vegan followers dares to as much as sneer in my direction I'm making a hat out of their bony ass.
----------------------
I know it's already been said, but this is disgusting. In so many ways.
Makes the t-shirt I saw recently even more funny and appropriate..."People Eating Tasty Animals"
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The whole thing just makes my ample body sigh. Clearly, PETA believes any attention - bad or good - helps their cause. They oflten fail to consider the negative outcome of such efforts. Campaigns like this one - and this one is a DOOZY - actually serve the omnivore argument better than any other.
As someone who never cooks meat at home and strives to be a vegetarian (mainly for ethical reasons), I have to go with Dabitch on this one. The whole silly mess makes me want a cheeseburger.
----------------------------------------
Dahlings,
After all of the nonsense about about that vile Cintra Wilson article, as I put it on my blog, I am beginning to suffer "outrage fatigue." And as a luxuriously plus-sized omnivore, I intend to eat a sandwich made out of the nearest endangered species I can find.
-----------------------------

If I thought for one second that my kid chose to go vegetarian out of some sort of weird fear of being fat, I'd be shoving prime rib down her gullet faster than you could say "all things in moderation."

These comments remind me of Right Wingers who, when confronted on the dangers of global warming talk oh-so proudly about getting that second Hummer, or when animal rights enthusiasts talk about cutting down on factory farming they yell tree-hugger and say they just ordered up some spotted owl for dinner.

What this says to me: insults to our self worth and self esteem are justifiable reasons to act badly. If You make me feel bad about myself, I will hurt a defenseless animal to piss you off.
This tells me that Lefties are as shallow as righties. This give me little hope of evolution of the animal condition --(yes, folks we are ALL animals)-- and that is not good news for the human condition.

My advice to PETA, keep up the nutty attention getting stunts. But the best thing you can do? Videos and lots of them about the abuse that is factory farming is. Run abattoir footage commercials at dinner time. Why? Because, as you clearly know, a picture of a contained animal with doleful eyes just doesn’t stir us the way an obese women in a bikini does. Down deep we all know why. We care more about our self esteem than animal suffering.

Link to BlogHer story and picture of the ad:
http://www.blogher.com/dear-peta-please-lose-blubber-your-collective-bra...

Comments

This whole issue is very

This whole issue is very complex. I used to be a PETA member because I find factory farms cruel. And PETA can be very effective.

Yet I am not a vegetarian and I would not advise most people to take on a vegetarian diet for optimal health. I'm more of a Michael Pollen person. I loved Omnivores Dilemma and I love Sally Fallon. Before getting pregnant at the age of 37 I went on a Sally Fallon diet and got pregnant in a few months - it consisted of whole soaked grains and legumes, vegetables, lots of eggs, raw milk cheeses and grass-fed meats. Everything natural. No sugars and no frying!

This is anecdotal but I can't tell you how many vegetarians I know who are struggling to conceive. I also have friends who are vegetarian and live off of those awful processed soy products - soy milk, soy nuggets, Boca burgers. All foods that PETA advocates. Some of these friends are overweight.

I would take a much friendlier approach to those who are overweight than that PETA advertisement. I think the trick is eliminating or greatly reducing processed foods from the diet including sugar. Sugar is poison. And yes, I've been eating too much of it lately;) Also, some women who are overweight are so due to emotional issues. I have four friends who are obese who were sexually assaulted during their youth - date rape, incest, assaulted by a stranger, etc. I think it's cruel to mock these women due to their weight and to be insensitive about their body issues.

And then here's another sticky issue - overpopulation! No one wants to talk about this. Tree huggers and Right Wingers all want to procreate to the level of their liking. But it would be impossible, due to overpopulation, to feed the world on grass-fed meats and organic veggies. Their is not enough nitrate in our soils to naturally feed the world. We need those petroleum-based fertilizers to feed the masses. So the utopia that is presented in Omnivore's Dilemma? It's an impossible dream on the world level.

Hi Alison-- There are two of

Hi Alison--

There are two of us here as editors and we differed on this topic a bit. The writer of this piece has spent a chuck of her life treating the obese and overweight and I think she really feels conflicted: as in how do we make women see fat as the enemy without making them feels less than as persons when they are overweight. She takes a pretty clinical approach as in: get over it.
I know women feel bad about their weight and the surest way to fire up resistance is to make fun of fat.
Thus you are correct in many ways: this is a complex issue and going veggie is not a sure way to be thin. And you are surely correct that overpoplulation is part of the reason we have such cruel factory farming going on in the first place. I'd like to see meat prices rise to levels that allow us to ingest meat less frequently which I would hope would mean less factory farming. When pork chops for dinner cost less than a healthy salad, say with beans and avocado, then we are pumping out too many animal products.

I am with you on the more friendly approach. And would agree with another reader that a male with a beer belly on the sign would have made this go down a bit more easily. Men don't have the same societal pressures to have perfect bodies. Thanks for your imput. And yes,--processed sugars are so darn bad for us.

I can always count on fresh

I can always count on fresh perspective from this blog and whew, what a perspective on fat! It reminds me that it is a fine dance between positive body image and incremental movements toward acceptance of unhealthy body weights.
Fine job, really. It seems like there is an underlying care about women's health to this post that is missing from many of the other feminist reactions to the "blubber" campaign by PETA.

I should stick this in

I should stick this in FemiLab, but...giving the topic of eating less meat, I think it goes nicely here.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Older adults in developing countries who regularly eat fish seem to have a lower risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 15,000 older adults living in China, India or one of five Latin American countries, the odds of having dementia generally declined as fish consumption rose.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090814/hl_nm/us_fish_brain

Ok all-- here is a recipe

Ok all-- here is a recipe from the American Cancer Society-- all veggie!

"Beyond its health promoting benefits, though, this stew is characterized by great flavor. Easy to prepare, it’s a fresh way to expand your menu to match your busy schedule while creating something that is good for you without sacrificing taste. It is sure to satisfy your appetite."~ACS

Savory Chickpea Stew with Spinach and Lemon

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Heat large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Then add ginger and salt. Add cumin, turmeric, bay leaf and pepper and toss to combine well. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Then add chickpeas, toss, and add broth. Cook, uncovered for about 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

Stir in spinach leaves. Serve.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 150 calories, 4.5 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 21 g carbohydrate,
6 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 330 mg sodium.

***

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results

Actually, it would have been

Actually, it would have been great to see a big beer belly male on the cartoon. Men are not under the same pressure to be thin as women, and I don't know why PETA didn't go that way. Probably for the same reason the beer commercials feature skinny pretty women. All the better to get our attention.

I was surprised to see this site's take on the PETA ad, but it does go beyond the knee jerk. I found your remark " hating fat is very different than hating fat people" to be very interesting.

That said, the PETA ad still rankles my medium sized butt.

Excellent point. I usually

Excellent point. I usually see the male media hypocrisy but I missed it this time around. There should definitely be a male beer belly version of the ad as well.

Maybe there could be one female and one male "waist bumping" each other with a whale stuck in between their thrusting bellies, water coming out if the whales spout at full force.

"Fat Friends may be Bad for

"Fat Friends may be Bad for your Health", is the title of a current online Newsweek story that pictures an overweight kid next to a skinny kid.

PETA did nothing more than Newsweek, in my estimation. And I agree that our country's obesity epidemic is a national tragedy.

Not sure about a whale bump, perhaps Homer Simpson would have been good character to use!

It does seem like a great

It does seem like a great time to take a deep breath and remember why PETA exists.
Here is a video for pre-dinner viewing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y24vGhd2L9w&feature=related

I see no reason why factory farming should exist. It is torture plain and simple. Making animals suffer for prolonged times is not cool. Saying that because Peta called a fat woman fat is reason to "eat a sandwich made out of the nearest endangered species I can find" is about as uncool as it gets.

Want uncool? Here is PETA

Want uncool? Here is PETA video from a Tyson plant:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPaxE9ouHpI&feature=related

This reminds me of Nietzsche quote:
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche
I think PETA has gazed too long into the abuse and they are fighting a bit dirty. When I see the video I get why.

"These comments remind me of

"These comments remind me of Right Wingers who, when confronted on the dangers of global warming talk oh-so proudly about getting that second Hummer, or when animal rights enthusiasts talk about cutting down on factory farming they yell tree-hugger and say they just ordered up some spotted owl for dinner."

Sheezalou you are right! This year has taught me one thing: The liberals are just as mean as conservatives, something I'd never have believed if anyone had tried to tell that to me that a few years ago.
I always thought of liberals as part of the Mommie Party but lately it is looking pretty Mommie Dearest to me.

I will put this in FemiLab as

I will put this in FemiLab as well, but it goes nicely with this article as in terms of health gains from less meat.--
Journal Summary:

The more healthy lifestyle behaviors that adults follow, the lower their risk for a number of chronic conditions, reports Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers in Germany recruited some 23,000 adults aged 35 to 65 and followed them for roughly 8 years. At baseline, four healthy lifestyle behaviors were assessed: never smoking, having a BMI under 30, exercising regularly, and adhering to a healthy diet (high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red meat).

During follow-up, about 9% of the participants developed diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, or cancer. The risk for any of these conditions decreased as the number of healthy lifestyle behaviors at baseline increased. For example, adults with one healthy behavior saw a 50% reduction in risk — and those with all four behaviors saw nearly an 80% reduction — compared with those with no healthy behaviors.

Source:
Archives of Internal Medicine article

This may be off topic of

This may be off topic of hefty women and body image, but on topic of animal cruelty.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/us/18dogs.html?scp=1&sq=puppy%20mills%...

If I had my way all dog breeders would be required to have state licenses and undergo unannounced inspections.

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