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Chewing the Fat

A heaping helping of retorts to Unreal's "Lard Have Mercy"

Big and proud: "Lard Have Mercy" is a shining example of one of the last acceptable prejudices that many people have today. It is OK to insult the plus-size community. It seems that your reporter chose to present the article in a slanderous, disrespectful and very biased fashion.

Unreal was given a press packet of information and interviewed many people who had very positive things to say. But the article presents the plus-size community in a very negative way. The prom was a great success. The room was filled with big beautiful women in formals and big handsome men dressed to the nines. We crowned a king and queen. Unreal missed the focus of the event. The plus-size community is big and proud. We had a prom that was wonderful and we had a fantastic time!

I guess Unreal didn't understand. Maybe you can educate on acceptance.
Linda Moore

It isn't funny: Shame on you! Your article was very one-sided and not correct at all in its assumption of what the Midwest Chub Club is all about. I've said for years that fat people are the last acceptable group of people who can be degraded in public and no one will do anything to stop it. I mean, isn't it funny to laugh at fat people in the everyday world? No, but you will find people every day doing just that.

With 65 percent of the population being overweight, you might have wanted to do a little more research into what the club was about before opening your opinionated mouth.
Natalie Stephens
St. Charles

The boating question is a good one! I wish to express my shock and immense displeasure at the recent article "Lard Have Mercy." I find it personally offensive on a number of fronts.

To begin, the very tone of the article is juvenile and injurious in a way that can only suggest a whiff of the schoolyard in-crowd in full bully mode.

Secondly, I'd like to point out that one would be hard-pressed to find an equivalent story, even one written in a more responsible tone, in a mainstream North American publication, were the topic, say, homosexuals, disabled adults, children with learning disabilities or disorders such as Tourette syndrome (TS), or people of color. Even if one were to argue that being a BBW is an issue of choice rather than of genetics (which, by the way, much of the current research is suggesting), it would still be difficult to locate an article ridiculing people living with AIDS (PWAs), Jews, Christian Scientologists, or even participants in extreme sports such as marathoners, Australian rules rugby players or people who sail around the world. These choices can certainly endanger life as much as carrying some extra weight.

I've certainly never seen a journalist "inquire delicately" about a PWAs favorite position to avoid transmitting HIV to a partner. I've never seen a journalist "inquire delicately" about how a person with spina bifida manages in the bedroom, or how the skipper does it successfully in the confines of a small boat.

And finally, while Unreal seems to need to resort to cheesy puns and tired old food references to fill out the ridiculous excuse for an article, instead of looking at the real story; the story of a segment of the population that has traditionally been ridiculed and oppressed getting out and standing up and doing something positive, we are left, suddenly hungry again, but this time for the true and important story.
Heather Fairbairn
Edmonton, Alberta

We definitely dare, Bob: You did a wonderful job of bashing the BBWs in your fair city. Perhaps you should be assigned other groups with which to ruin your reputation as a reporter. Why not work your wonders on other groups in town: Firemen, policemen, garbage men, doctors, dentists, ministers of all faiths, the blind, the deaf, the homeless -- and don't forget the amputees.

I am a BHM (Big Handsome Man), and yes, I am obese. But how many readers before your article did you have reading your publication before you ran your mouth? Yes, we have freedom of speech in this country. Do you dare run my letter?
Bob Phillips
Marion, South Carolina

The easy way out: The first time I read "Lard Have Mercy," I can honestly say I was amazed. Amazed that in a society so concerned with political correctness, your newspaper allowed you to publish that article. I daresay if you had made fun of African-Americans, gays or Jews, your story would have been scrapped, or more likely it never would have been written to begin with. However, since it was based on a segment of society that up until recently has remained quiet, made to feel inadequate or embarrassed by their size -- mostly because of media attention such as yours -- it was acceptable. How I pity you for writing this story and your editor for allowing this. In a time when the mantra seems to be "Can't we all just get along?" it is shallow-minded people such as yourselves who make that impossible.

It seems Camey and her friends allowed you into their lives, most likely in the hope that you could show the positive side of their event. But you took the easy way out, finding it much easier to make fun of both the situation and the people. A college professor once told me, "People find it easier to make fun of other because then they don't have to face their own inadequacies." I'd invite you to look at yourselves and figure out why it was easier for you to take the low road, instead of taking the high, less-traveled road and writing a story that would have put a positive light on both the people who opened themselves up to you. Maybe then you'll be able to write stories that can focus on what is really important: the good in people and the good they do for others, and not just on their outward appearance.
Frankye Mace
Augusta, Georgia

Go somewhere and eat a sandwich: It is news coverage just like this that promotes discrimination toward fat people. Please note that we are the majority in this country and that the average woman is five-foot-four and about 145 pounds, according to medical journals.

Not all of us can be a size two, and some of us know that we don't have to fit into the media's sterotypical idea of a woman to be loved. Dances like the one you made into a sick horrible joke are very serious for the people who attend who are all decent and lovely people inside and out, unlike your evil reporter. The people attending that prom will not be hurt by your ridicule and scorn, because most of us toughened up to bullies like you in high school.

I am sure that if it was a dance for people with another medical condition like MS or severe acne you would have not said such cruel things and people would have been horrified if you did.

Because we are blamed for our medical condition (even though science is suggesting diet and exercise only work 2 percent of the time to help people lose weight), we still are held up for scorn and ridicule by small-minded people like you.

We may be big women and men but we have hearts of gold, and I for one am not going to take crap from you thin, skinny, shallow and starving people anymore. You need to go somewhere and eat a sandwich and if you don't like fat people leave us alone.
Rachel Sissel
Highland Park, Illinois

Mutual masturbation: I was recently made aware of your publication by someone with whom I occasionally correspond. It seems my pen friend took exception to a recent article titled "Lard Have Mercy," in which you lampoon the Midwest Chub Club's BBW Bash.

Though I have several friends and family who reside in and around St. Louis, awareness of your publication has eluded me. Hence, I decided to first read your "About Us" section. I came away from that exercise impressed that you might be a serious enterprise devoted to news unexplored by the establishment press. The subsequent skimming of a couple of stories left me skeptical.

So on to the business at hand: Plump with obvious wordplay, "Lard Have Mercy" is thin in substance as well as stylistically emaciated. About all that is revealed is that the Riverfront Times is willing to capitalize on the fact that persons of grand proportion remain as the last socially acceptable target of open bigotry. Needless to say, I now compare the National Enquirer most favorably to your rag. In fact, I believe that you made up your interviewee out of whole cloth, as no woman of any proportion reveals her weight for publication, nor trysts at gas stations.

This article is not the "alternative journalism" to which you aspire so much as a literary masturbation by arrested adolescents who most likely happen to have an indulgent daddy to pay office rent.
Michael Miller
Elkhart, Indiana

Pulling a drive-by: It's a little sad that your interviewee assumes you wouldn't believe that there are men who prefer fat women. And yes, some of us use that exact word because we're tired of mincing words in the face of all the ugly lies. But then, it's hard not to remain a little cynical when so often a media source will pull a drive-by only to concentrate on sex questions.

Sure, there's some very close-up mischief at such events. And despite the specter painted by CSI, it's possible for a fat partner to take the topside perfectly safely. But the saddest thing of all is you obviously didn't stick around the St. Louis Bash long enough to experience the whole context. For many who go to such events, good sex is only one of many paths to the real point of the exercise, health and happiness. What does health have to do with it? Simple: it's becoming apparent that fat people improve theirs when their minds are cleansed of the caustic dread and misery some take sick joy in putting there. In other words, treat your fat like the vital organ it is, and it might just pleasantly surprise you.
Avery Ray Colter
Bay Point, California

Ugly is as ugly does: I have never been so outraged in my life. Your writer was openly disrespecting the BBW. Everybody in the world comes in different sizes, and to love is divine. Just to let you know, ugly is as ugly does.

The writer never once commented on any of the positive things that the Chub Club does for the community or the people we have reached out to. Next time you decide to write an article, please do your homework.
Ebonie Diggs
Long Beach, California

Walkin': I am deeply offended by this article! I found it insulting and tremendously derogatory. The title suggests that the writer has very little respect for people who do not fit the standard size-two mold that society has declared we should all look like. Just because we BBWs are "fat" (the writer's choice of word, not my own), does not mean we are not human. We are productive, caring members of society. And no, I'm not going to the kitchen for another box of doughnuts. I'm going for a walk.
Lisa Swift
Columbus, Ohio

The boycott begins: The letters and phone calls have just begun and will continue. We want a full retraction of this story and an apology. If these slurs had been made about race, religion or the gay community, you would have been shut down. I am sending a copy of the newspaper to NAFFA and other organizations across the country that fight for the rights of overweight people. We will be sending letters with a copy of the article to every business that advertises in your paper and ask them what they think. We want to let them know that you think prejudice is OK. I'm sure they have overweight employees. Do you have overweight employees at your paper?
Camey Woodside
Belleville, Illinois

We're sorry: I cannot believe that you would allow an article in your paper of such substantial degradation and humiliation to a group of people who in reality represent the vast majority of the population. This group was simply allowing themselves a venue of fun and support without being criticized and judged simply because of their size. Perhaps you should get all your facts together before you run an article in your paper.

Being large is not a choice. The body chemistry, the metabolism, the culture to which we grew up play a huge role in our sizes regardless of being large or small. Those of us who are living large have succumbed to the "diet industry" (which is after nothing but the dollar) to the point that our constant struggle with weight loss has caused nothing but continuous weight gain.

Finally, the criticisms and rude comments of society have done nothing but destroy the self-esteem of those living large and the BBW/BHM groups help to rebuild that self-esteem. At least until someone like Unreal and an employer like you come along doing nothing but making a mockery out of something very positive. It is obvious that you both live in a glass house where everything is perfect. I would rather be a BBW any day with the love, understanding, compassion and empathy that I have than to be you for a single day. My heart aches for people like you that have so much hate in your lives that you feel it necessary to destroy others. It is not only my belief but a bona fide fact that you owe a very sincere apology to this group whom you have twisted and slandered and to all the people living large.
Jan Wilson
Greenville, South Carolina

Tasteless: This story was sent to me by a friend of a friend; it was crap. Why was only the negative focused on in this? Why don't you do a story on how skinny people do the same things? I am with a BBW (SSBBW) and I love her dearly. This offended me. It's like all fat women want is sex and food. There is more to them than that. I have always been with BBWs since middle school. Wish the story was done more tastefully.
Gary Fast
Columbus, Ohio

Ugly on the inside: I am offended by the article on the BBW Bash. You have disgraced journalism by attempting to put larger women (BBWs) in a negative and degrading light. It's a writer's job to report the news, not to make up their own opinion and claim the opinion is news. In my opinion, this is as ugly on the inside as a person gets.
Vince Clift
Diamond Bar, California

Walk a mile in a fat person's shoes: I am writing in response to a recent article pathetically titled "Lard have Mercy." Oh my God, how unfair and rude can one person be? I am from Australia and was alerted to the article. Your reporter must have a very biased view of the world or is purely after sensationalism. The way BBWs have been portrayed belittles us as human beings. Get out into the real world and maybe walk a day in our shoes. I for one am proud to be a BBW!
Jo Hall
Skye, Victoria, Australia

Fat, not funny: I belong to a BBW group in Los Angeles and was forwarded this article by one of the women interviewed. It seems the interviewer was not in the right frame of mind to do this job. It was very condescending in the attitude towards the people and that came through in the words. I think if you send another reporter to one of these events, you should try to make sure he or she will not make fun of the people he or she will interviewing.
Theresa Brinkman
Norwalk, California

Revisit the topic: I wanted to address the tone of the article on the Chub Club`s BBW Bash. The writer comes across as one of the many people who make fun of and try to humiliate people of larger stature. None of the positive aspects of the club or its works were discussed in the least. It came across as an attack piece and unfair at the very least. The paper might want to consider revisiting the topic and making an unbiased report maybe from the club itself.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Robert E. Bach Jr.
Jacksonville, Florida

More would have been better: You went to a BBW bash and all you could find to write about it was the sex positions? I don't buy it. For one, the woman mentioned in the article is a member of my Yahoo group, You Are Beautiful, and she assured me that she talked about the positives of the group.

The article was degrading, to both BBWs and our admirers.
Joann Barnett
Kenmare, North Dakota

Pandering to the porn base: Your article was not only degrading to everyone but also contained very poor English. As an editor of a local newspaper, I would think that you should use better judgment as to what you allow your people to publish. The "Plus Size" community is a base of your readers and they have families. What a shame it is that you're going to lose such a large reading base from one article. Next time maybe you should put in the positive things and not just sexual information, or is your paper into more of a porn base?
Pamela Chundrlek
Cincinnati, Ohio

We have issues: Your article was posted in my BBW group. It would seem your paper has some issues with people of size. I am surprised you would publish something as crude as this. I have no idea what type of newspaper this is, but it seems to be more of a trash rag than a newspaper. I only hope the BBW community there takes a stand. The woman who was quoted should have been more careful with her words. I'm sure she had no idea how she came across. I do hope she was misquoted.

I have been active in the BBW community both here in South Carolina and in Georgia. I can only hope that reporters here would have more class and good judgment in writing about our groups. This reflects poorly on your entire staff. I'm sure my views won't carry much weight (no pun intended) with you or your staff. I only wanted to make you aware that this has reached people outside of your city and state. I can't begin to count just how many letters you will be receiving from all over the country. I trust you will read each one and rethink printing anything as crude as this again. I would be interested to know your paper's views on other issues in our society. Has your staff dragged other types of people through the same dirt?
Renee Starnes
Rock Hill, South Carolina

The basher and the bash: I am part of a group from Chicago that has met many of the women that were at this Bash. I strongly oppose your paper sending a BBW basher to an event that is meant to be a good time for those that attend.

Just because we are different than the rest of the world (although there are growing numbers of large people in this world) does not give your writer a right to go to this event and make it a dirty thing. I believe your writer owes Camey and the BBW/FA community a large apology for turning a good thing into something terrible. Shame on your paper.
Dorelene York
Lynwood, Illinois

Short and sweet: I'll make this short and sweet: Shame on the Riverfront Times for taking cheap shots with puns at a certain diverse group of people. You know it is a sad day in our society when the newspaper and journalist can use the freedom of speech to ridicule a wonderful group of people. Guess you have opened up a bigger can of worms by making fun of a bigger class of people.

I am a BBW and proud of it. The men in my life have been average-size men and never once ashamed to be out in public with me. The men, along with my four wonderful children and five grandchildren, love me for who I am both inside and out. I hope the BBWs of America have taught you, the next time you decide to take cheap shots at them you will think twice.
Paula Almond
Bolivia, North Carolina

No morals: This article was passed on to me by a good and honest person. It is a total shame you cannot say that of the person who wrote it. It was a definite one-sided, small-minded article, done by a person with a total lack of morals.

Next time you send this person, why not make sure they understand all sides of the issue they're reporting. No one wants your opinion, nor should you interject your small and narrow-minded thoughts. Maybe sometime in the mailroom to think things through would do Unreal a world of good. And a written apology is the least you can do to the lady who was interviewed. You should be ashamed you even printed that trash.
Donna Champagne
Corinty, New York

Exposing ourself: That article was disgusting and bigoted. It's hard to believe you have such a closed-minded person actually working for a newspaper! You could have written an article about the boost to self-esteem that these social events give to large people. You could have written an article about the DJ, the activities, the fashions, etc. Instead you printed an offensive, bigoted diatribe against fat people.

And as a final question, why shouldn't fat people have sex? Does Unreal write an article on sexual positions for everybody? Or are you just exposing your closed-minded bigoted self?
Mary Neggie
Franklin Square, New York

A mystery: I am outraged at the lack of mature and fair reporting in this article. Unreal obviously has issues, and it is sad that you could not give a fair, unbiased interview on this subject.

The title alone is blatantly offensive, even to those who are not plus-size. How you allowed it to run is a mystery to me. Unreal might be better suited to write for one of those cheesy supermarket tabloids.
Beth Davis
Chicago, Illinois

Grow up: I am quite offended by your article. There are many people of size who have been offended who you are making fun (something I thought adults would grow up and out of). The article did not represent the true purpose of the Chub Club or the people-of-size community. Once again, instead of the real news and facts being reported, things were twisted to bring negative attention.
Danita A. McDaniel
Metairie, Louisiana

Unreal non grata: I was very shocked and disappointed in the article concocted from a visit with the St. Louis-based Midwest Chub Club's BBW Bash. The biggest reason for the events in the first place is to promote size acceptance amongst all and better self-esteem. This article was a disgrace to mankind and especially to the BBW world, which includes those who admire them, and BHMs and their admirers.

This kind of negative feedback is what warrants the cruelty that so many of the attendees have suffered through society from nonacceptance of their size. How dare someone come into one of our events and write such a degrading article.
Gay Wade
Rome, Georgia

Broaden your mind: I am writing in reference to the article "Lard Have Mercy." I find it to be completely offensive and lacking sensitivity and good taste. In a poor attempt at being funny, Unreal is obviously revealed to be fat-phobic, shallow and promoting ridicule to a group that seeks to feel its own value in a fat-hating society. Obviously Unreal doesn't recognize that we humans come in all shapes, sizes and skin colors. It identifies large people as being "unreal" for dancing, dressing up and posing for photos.

And should sexuality belong only to the thin? Would Unreal have asked the (not at all) "delicate" question about sexual positions at a gathering of any other group? I think not. Sounds to me like Unreal is a little insecure with their own perfection to not recognize the value in diversity and the shallowness of perpetuation of hatred based on external features.

You and your "small" way of thinking is the very reason that large people choose to gather in a place where respect for human beings is given regardless of size. I hope you give thought to the possibility of "broadening" your own mind.
Judy Pernick
Bellmore, New York

Stupid person syndrome: Is this how all of you people perceive large women? Boy, your mother would be really proud of you. She sent you to college so you could take someone else's words and turn them into a horrible injustice for Big Beautiful Women. How dare you!

You should be fired for writing such blatant lies. I certainly am one who is going to pursue this matter. You do not deserve a job anyplace that has to deal with people. Maybe a class in human diversity would help you. I kind of doubt it, but who knows? Maybe it will get through the stupid person syndrome for you.
Barbara R. Norman
Starke, Florida

Big is here to stay: The reporter who went to this bash was in my opinion very rude and unprofessional. Whether you like it or not, there are big people in this world, and even skinnier people that like us. Unreal should never have gone to a bash for BBWs with that attitude.

What makes you think you're better then we are?
K. Mendez
Centralia, Washington

What kind of people are we? I am aghast you allowed an article in such poor taste to be printed in your paper. As if the article was not poking fun at fat people, it then went on to talk about sexual positions! What kind of people are you? Are running a paper or a tabloid?

No matter what size person read this article, they can see the lack of taste and indignant remarks. If you had said this about any other group of people out there, you would have the ACLU jumping down your throat. I think you should consider that it is a just a matter of time before they do.

You have no business calling yourselves journalists of any sort. I think the tabloids do a better job of wording sensitive issues than you do. This article was nothing more than an attack on large people. How dare you use the newspaper as a place to vent your ignorant statements!
Janell Boynd
Elgin, Illinois

Just so you know: Unbelievable the way the words got twisted around in the BBW article. I am assuming whomever wrote is thin (like that's hard to tell) and has no idea what its like to be fat or "bigger" or a "BBW" in today's very thin society. The least Unreal could have done is write the article truthfully and not focus on the sexual aspects.

This group does way more than teach comfortable sexual positions to bigger people. And just so Unreal and everyone else knows: Anyone over a size 10 is considered a plus-size female by modeling standards.

You need to reprint the real article. If I lied at my job or made things up from one thing that someone else said, I would get fired.
Melissa Eubanks
Byesville, Ohio

And invitation! I have never been so appalled as when I saw what was written about the BBWs. Have you no shame? How dare you even act concerned about how we are doing. If you watch the people at the dances, you would see a beauty and sensuality that is not in the world of the skinny girls. And face it, they are not even very pretty to look at.

The inner beauty is on our faces and bodies for all the world to see, and if you just happen to have the right pair of eyes to see, the beauty shines through. I mean, if you have the brains to see.

I would like to meet you and see which one gets the good men. I am beautiful and older and kind, not a tramp, and will be able to show you how beautiful BBWs are. I was 400 pounds, and because of cancer I am now 250. I have many admirers, and most of them I never meet in person, and the ones I do want to keep me as their friend. I am dating a man who took me to a BBW dance because he enjoys a curvy woman and thought I would enjoy it. I met lots of wonderful and friendly people and had a great time.

We are getting a group together to go back down. It would be nice if you joined us. I think maybe your boss would like to come down too, just to see what really goes on.
Jeannette Lust
Hartland, Wisconsin

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