Just Don’t Put Meme Roth On TV. There Is No Excuse. Not Even For Fox News.

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, February 7, 2014 15:36 EDT
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This cat does not appreciate your unhealthy obsessions.

So this high school student named Jewel Moore started a Change.org petition asking Disney to create a “plus-size” princess, on the grounds that it could be a boon to “women who struggle with confidence”. Fox News reacted in a predictably idiotic way, bringing on professional fat-bigot Meme Roth on to freak the fuck out at the very idea.

I say “bigot” because while Roth pretends to be some kind of health guru, every appearance I’ve ever seen her make shows a woman who instead has an irrational fear and loathing of fat people. I don’t know what her damage is, but the damage is very close to the surface with her.  I recommend this Guardian profile of her, which is super cutting and makes very clear that Roth is not so much interested in the actual issues of health, nutrition and exercise and more just seems to have this profound disgust with the female body that manifests in a visceral disgust for any fatty tissue on the female form and she definitely seems to have issues with food itself. So having her on TV at all to talk about this issue is not only just dumb, but profoundly irresponsible. But this is Fox News we’re talking about. Media Matters summarized the surreal segment:

Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked, “Move over Cinderella. Disney under pressure to create a plus-size princess. Should they? We’re going to debate that,” before inviting on Emme, a plus-size supermodel, and Meme Roth, a self-described obesity expert. Roth declared that such a Disney princess would “glorify obesity.” She speculated as to whether the teen petitioning Disney is obese and argued that “If you’re going to do a storyline with obesity, then you need to do Princess Diabetes, Princess Cancer, Princess Fertility Problems.” To Roth, the petition was “like mob mentality.” When Hasselbeck asked, “Is plus-size fat?” Roth responded, “It’s unhealthy. If you like cancer and diabetes, if you want fertility problems, then plus-size is beautiful.”

(It is worth noting that “plus-size” is a fashion term for women that are known in the real world as “thin”. You’re often talking about women that wear a size 6 or 8. People who are considered “overweight”, much less “obese”, by the BMI standards are usually not used as plus-size models. So it’s not even clear here what the fuck is going on, if we’re talking about a princess that would actually register as “fat” or if we’re talking one that would simply have proportions that are just a little bigger than usual.)

In what kind of crazy, fucked-up alternative reality do you live in to think there’s any danger whatsoever that people might get the impression in 21st century America that there’s any danger that obesity is going to be glorified? My god, we live in a country where it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have a long-running TV show where people put themselves in serious physical danger to lose weight. The diet industry rakes in billions of dollars even though there’s serious evidence dieting doesn’t work. We are a culture that puts being skinny ahead of being healthy every single time. The possibility that just increasing the diversity of body sizes in the media to more closely reflect the realities of human bodies would somehow lead to people saying, “Man, I didn’t want to be fat, but I guess I’m just going to put 100 pounds on now!” is beyond stupid.

Yes, Americans eat poorly and we don’t get enough exercise. These are structural problems, and not really a matter of lack of will. You would have to be living under a rock to have not gotten the message that society is not OK with you being fat. The problem is not that people haven’t considered being not-fat. The problem is that we are unbelievably vicious and cruel to fat people about their bodies. Laying off them is not going to cause them to think the reins are off. In fact, the evidence suggest the opposite, that people who feel fat-shamed gain more weight because of the stress.

Of course, as Media Matters notes, Meme Roth is a straight up shitty person who should never be on TV ever.

It is unclear why Fox presented Roth as qualified to speak on the plus-size Disney princess issue — she does not appear to have degrees in the nutrition or medical field, but instead is known for body-shaming through herNational Action Against Obesity website and personal blog which carries the tag-line “MeMe Roth: Reporting From FATOPOLIS.” She has compared obese people to sex criminals and advocated for nutrition plans that sound a lot like anorexia.

You’d think that not allowing people on TV whose sole purpose in life is to recruit other people into their damage would be a bipartisan goal, but apparently not.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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