MeMe Roth hits new low...

I didn't think MeMe Roth could get any worse. I really truly didn't. This is, after all, a woman who threw away children's ice cream toppings. But besides the alarming visual similarities to conservative shrill Ann Coulter, MeMe Roth now has a bunch more verbal ammunition to make the similarities known.

This little piece in Jezebel (h/t Libby) absolutely blew me over: Anti-Obesity Activist MeMe Roth Compares Eating to Rape

Roth says:

The defense has been made in the case of sex criminals that there is pleasure on the part of the victim. The same is true with what we're doing with food. We may abuse our bodies with food, but it's incredibly pleasurable. From a food marketer's point of view, when your quote unquote victim is so willing and enjoying of the process, who's fighting back?

Yes, you read it right. When a fat person eats, Roth thinks they are effectively raping themselves. So if I tell her go to f*ck herself, is that like asking her to lick her elbow?

The Jezebel piece is actually an excerpt from an article in the British newspaper The Guardian titled "The Woman Who Hates Food," which I think is an interesting choice of headlines. I don't know if Roth hates food, but she does hate people who eat food. Which is basically everyone, including (considering she's still alive) herself.

Though Roth protests she's never been anorexic, she has some decidedly unhealthy attitudes toward food. She insisted on meeting interviewer Gabby Wood "after lunch," whereupon the following dialogue ensued after Wood asked Roth what she actually ate:

She squirms visibly. "You're taking me where I don't want to go ... What works for me doesn't work for a lot of people."

Well, you've said that, I insist, so taking that into account: lunch? Roth hesitates. "I discovered when I was in college that I work best when I get a workout in and eat after that. Sometimes I'll delay when I eat until I get a workout in. But I don't let a whole day go by without running four miles."

OK, I go on, but supposing you couldn't work out until four o'clock in the afternoon - would you not eat until after that?

"I might."

I look at my watch. It's 3.30pm. Alarm bells start to ring in my head. How about today, I ask. Have you eaten at all today?

Roth is a little quiet.

"No," she says.

There is a pause.

"But I feel great!"

In the end, Anna N* at Jezebel says it best in her article:

Roth may not be anorexic, and she may not think of what she does as dieting, but if "what works for her" is not eating anything until after 3:30, she's right that it's not going to work for most people. Nor should it. To liken the pleasure one gets from food to something as toxic as sexual assault isn't just illogical and insensitive — it also demonizes something that nourishes, brings people together, and produces some of the greatest and most uncomplicated joy in life. Rather than accept food for what it is — something that, like many good things, is wonderful in moderation and problematic in excess — Roth wants people to think of it as some kind of evil rapist who will make us fat and therefore shameful. It's a judgmental, unhealthy, and ultimately unsustainable way to live.

*Who linked to my piece on Daphne Merkin's story on depression last week and sent about a bazillion people my way- thanks!

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Libby said...

I've been pissed off at MeMe Roth before. Quite pissed, in fact. But as a rape survivor? This made me absolutely speechless. You're right... it is totally a new low. I feel so sorry for her children.

Just Eat It! said...

If eating, to her, is rape, I'd hate to think what she considers breathing.

Sarah said...

I was waiting for someone to write on this because I knew I couldn't write anything well-reasoned due to my frustration. Like Libby, I also feel very sorry for her children and hope and pray that they get the counseling they will undoubtedly need to reverse the negative food messages and hate-filled diatribe towards people with weight struggles that they have heard during their childhood. I completely agree with Anna that food is a gift to savor and one of life's pleasures. MeMe Roth has taken a page from Ann Coulter, and I feel that neither woman contributes anything positive to societal dialogue. They obviously know how to get noticed and how to harness media attention; I naively wish they could have an "awakening" and begin to use their influence to draw attention to issues in a much more moderated and educated way.

Now that I sound like Judith Warner talking about Meghan McCain in last week's New York Times, it's time to step away...

Meryt Bast said...

That woman? Is sick. It's funny how puritanism never dies, but only changes form, and how many people keep falling under its spell.

Gwen said...

I actually feel quite sorry for that woman. It's obvious she is suffering physically and emotionally. At the same time, it sickens me to think she spouts her mental illness as some kind of paragon for living. I just hope people can see through it.

Anonymous said...

I also feel badly for her children. It's too bad that MeMe gets media attention, she is a good example to nobody. I wish more nutritionists, doctors and scientists would spare the time and energy to rip her a new one, even have a real debate, but extremism sells, logic and reasonableness don't.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think she might be doing a little bit of good. It was people like her who made me realize how ridiculous the "fat is BAD" ideas are. She seems like a very strange, troubled woman.

Laur said...

I don't know who she is but I both hate and pity her.
That association is something I had to get through at one point in treatment.
sd/lfkhdlv kjreilj.

Carrie Arnold said...

I don't think Roth has any children- thankfully.

She is just vile and offensive.

Lisa said...

Flabbergasted. I just read Rachel's post over at The F-Word. I must have been living under a rock (or a damn thesis) not to have heard about this person. Just ... wow. She's so savage in the way she speaks about obesity.

And she does have children - the Guardian says she has two, a 10-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. She's worried that they'll marry an obese person, who will be dreadfully unhealthy and pass on TEH DEATH FAT to her grandchildren.

Oh man ... what's a Nana without fresh-baked cookies?

Lissy said...

Scarey. not too long ago, i would have hated what she said, but i'd have secretly longed for her self-discipline and body. now, i really know (yay) that i don't want that AND i do want to eat well before 3:30

Carrie Arnold said...

Yikes- didn't know she had kids.


Good for you! It's so easy to see her as disciplined, but that's also a miserable way to live.

ja said...

I can't stand MeMe Roth either but in the back of my mind I feel slightly guilty for hating her. Obviously many of us here have battled eating disorders so is she really that different from us? That woman is obviously SICK and needs HELP. This isn't some immature teenager saying, "OMG I have to lose weight so I can fit into a smaller prom dress!" She honestly thinks that eating is equivalent to rape. Anyone who can say that with a straight face is obviously SICK! Whether she's sick due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or childhood abuse issues is debatable but I don't think anyone can dispute the fact that this woman is SICK SICK SICK. Really, the only big difference between us and her is that she happens to have a national audience and we don't. How many people here can say that they've never restricted their food intake and felt virtuous? How many people can say that they've never thrown up their food? I'm guily of the second charge.

I wonder if she's ever gotten help for her illness. What kind of parents would let their mentally ill daughter go on television saying that kind of crap?

Fat Bastard said...

Fat girls are jealous. MeMe is the kind of women real men want.

If you can't accept your fat and gluttony then stop being fat and gluttonous.

Shain said...

Any man who thinks women should mold their bodies according to what they want to see doesn't deserve to have a girlfriend. Nor should women sacrifice their own comfort with themselves and enjoyment of live to appease shallow douchebags who will probably find something else to pick on about them eventually anyways. Boyfriends come and go, but one has oneself and one's own body forever. Since that's the case, why should one value potential sexual partners over themselves?

Michelle said...

I think MeMe Roth is an essential part of today's health push. She gets everyone to look in the mirror, or in the cupboards, and see what we're really doing to ourselves.

Are you mad at her? Maybe you're mad at yourself for eating badly and feeling like crap all the time and are too afraid to admit it...or to do something about it.

Instead of lashing out at a woman that has the balls to be hated in order to get a positive message out there, maybe you should do something about your own health. You'd feel better and be less of a hater. Maybe the insulin rush would clear and you would see that companies in this country are telling us junk food can be health food (fruit loops with a healthy check? seriously? come on). I'd be mad at the companies and the FDA for lying to a whole nation about what constitutes as healthy. But that's just me...and whole lot of others that share this same view.

Less hate, more love, Less sugar, more time on the playground!

Lady Diazepam said...

Hmmm, MeMe Roth is extreme, rude, and offensive, but she does have a point that "sometimes we need to put the food away". I don't fault her for not eating breakfast, either. Personally, I hate food in the morning and don't want anything except my coffee (with plenty of milk and sugar, that is). And for years, I also waited until after a gruelling workout (karate, in my case) to start eating solid food, which was usually not until 3:30 or 4:00. I don't do this anymore, but I have to admit, I was a lot slimmer then than now.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Roth has valid points, however she lacks tact. Say what you will, our population DOES have a problem with obesity, and we've resorted to living very unhealthy lifestyles. I think that her metaphor comparing eating to rape is uncalled for, and I think that by her comparing rape to eating displays how unprofessional Ms. Roth is.
I agree that our culture is normalizing obesity, and that we don't actively take charge of changing it, however Ms. Roth displays a very unhealthy obsession towards food, (or lack thereof). I don't think she is a healthy example for anyone to look up to. Sure she's thin and doesn't have the problems that apparently 2/3 of American's do with obesity, but quite clearly her issues with food are just as damaging if not more than carrying around an extra ten pounds.
The average woman carries around a bit of extra weight, but times have changed. We don't have oodles of time to go out and run four miles, and to be quite frank, when you plan your eating habits around when you can get a four mile run in, there's something upstairs that doesn't function quite right.
Seriously, if you're happy with yourself at the end of the day, and can make the best of what you've been given, then what Ms. Roth says shouldn't matter.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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