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Body Image and Issues after Weight Loss Including discussions about excess skin and reconstructive surgery

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Old 12-18-2011, 09:07 PM   #1
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Smile Are fat chicks "stupider" or "smarter"?

Hahaha okay hear me out: I've oscillated from borderline obese to a low/normal BMI and I've noticed these habits that fat people have that skinny people don't and vice versa. And I hypothesize that these characteristics ultimately determine some aspect of intelligence.

Specifically, when I was fat, I felt like not moving much. I never felt motivated to study, perhaps partly because of a mild depression, or I wouldn't study efficiently. If I needed to go get a book, I would be too lazy to retrieve it. If I needed to even just summarize what I learned, I'd be too lazy to go back, reread, highlight, or outline topics/chapters.

Further, there is a conspicuously big person in one of my engineering classes. My theory seemed to not hold, because if you're less apt at engineering (classes like Signals, and Electromagnetic Lines and Waves), you're probably lazy or fat or get tired easily and just can't handle the heat so you left the kitchen (hah.) The Electrical courses are weeded courses, and we are upperclassmen, so we haven't dropped out or switched majors against all odds. To add additional strain on my hypothesis, this guy received almost perfect grades in core electrical classes. Naturally, I asked how he studies.

"I don't," he explained.
"Explain," I pleaded.
"I just look on the board, and I remember it. Sometimes it helps to write it down, but that's it. I never study."

My theory is, this man is an exception. He is good despite and/or because he doesn't try. He doesn't have to because he just *gets* it. Those exceptions aside, I look at other facts:

Fat chicks (like me/the old me) stay home more because we don't love going out typically, we read more so we might be more literate than the average bear for damn certain, but when it comes down to it, our laziness (not by choice!) puts us behind. I believe that we slow down and inadvertently slack and follow behind in matters of mathematical studies and analysis. I've noticed that the people at my former work place who were slackers and falling behind had poor body image and were self-conscious.

I have been pondering where fatness renders intelligence for a few days now :P it's really been confounding me. So I'd love to know your thoughts or input so you could perhaps all shed light on my theory, maybe with some experiences or observations you've made, especially while on your own weight loss journey.

But first, a few disclaimers:
I understand that I've desensitized this topic a lot. I don't think "fat people are stupid and lazy" NO. I think that our body images and lack of energy collectively can negatively impact intelligence and learning.
I understand that there are many different types of smart, like booksmart or streetsmart. My hypothesis primarily deals with how overweight people deal with a potentially elevated learning curve.
My original theory was that fat girls were "smarter" because we think and reflect a lot on ourselves and on others and ****, we're opinionated about everything :P but now that it's finals week, I compare how I'm studying now to how I studied at 190, and I swear, it's like two years ago I MUST have lost my mind with how poor my study habits were.

Uhh on that note... I'm off to continue studying thanks girls

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Old 12-18-2011, 09:29 PM   #2
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I'm fat, and I'm brilliant!

I always got great grades, I'm very energetic and I have built a business that is in the top percentage of our local market - very little of it on my thin days.
Having said that, when I'm thinner I do have more self confidence.
Who knows!

I've also been around long enough to understand that intelligence doesn't always mean ambitious.

Are people with bad hair smart or stupid? I bet we've all stayed inside on a bad hair day! LOL
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:39 PM   #3
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I have to disagree with you here. I'd say because of my weight it has made me have to work harder, study harder and try more than my 'skinny' colleagues because I felt like no one would give me a break unless I used my intelligence and hard work to get somewhere in life. I actually gained most of my weight from being stressed and overworked.

The lack of overweight colleagues in some places may be more likely because people are less likely to hire overweight employees regardless of their talent.

But overall I don't at all believe that being fat makes you work less hard. There are tons of intelligent, hardworking professionals that are overweight. But of course I've met many people that have not done themselves justice in their life because of their weight.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:31 PM   #4
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I would say that my weight gave me something to prove - so I worked even harder. I didn't lose weight until AFTER I graduated college cum laude.

I had poor eating habits, but not poor study habits, and I worked my butt off to do well.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:07 AM   #5
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I was top of my class all throughout my entire school life. I think part of why I didn't move much physically is because I spent 6+ hours a night (more in college) on schoolwork.

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Old 12-19-2011, 12:31 AM   #6
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I think you may be on to at least one thing. I did tend to do less in general when I was fatter. Not because I was lazier, but it was more of a mental health issue. I was slightly (not often that noticeable) depressed. I don't think it was just lazy in general... because now I am not, and I wasn't before the weight gain either. But after gaining the weight, and noticing that I was "fat" I definitely became less active in more than one way. Depression and low self esteem obviously affect us very negatively, more than I knew at the time.

I do things that other people have mentioned here at 3fc. I never thought I would like clothes better, like makeup better, like shoes better, generally "put more effort into myself" just because I was thinner. (Especially because I was this weight before, and I wasn't so "vain" then). Now, I do all of those things, because I feel happier, pretty, feel better about myself.

To get to the point, I do other things better too... I think being happier/not depressed has put me back on my natural track. I just do better at everything (because I'm not set back by inner problems).
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:08 AM   #7
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I think that it's very easy to draw completely false conclusions and make broad, inaccurate assumptions based on our own prejudices and limited experience.

I taught myself to read before I was four (according to my parents). I didn't become fat until I was five.

My mother told me (only as an adult) that when they adopted me (at only a month old) they were told that I was going to be very intelligent - and my Mom thought the nuns were crazy (How can you tell a baby's going to be smart, she said).

In college I learned that adopted kids intelligence is closely correlated with the I.Q.'s of their bio-parents and only very loosely correlated with the I.Q.'s of the parents who raised them.

Some of the obesity research is similar, finding that children's weights are much more closely correlated to their bio-parent's weights than their adoptive parents.

We also judge fat people as less active by comparing them to thin people, and it may be an unfair comparison.

A talk-show host (I don't remember which one - it was pretty sensational so it probably wasn't Oprah) had family members on who saw their fat family members as inexcuseably lazy - and put them all in a weighted fat suit to simulate the family member's weight and health status (taping their joints to stiffen them for example, if their family member had arthritis).

Then they sent them out with their fat family members - and they couldn't keep up.

So are fat people really lazier - or are we just carrying an extra load- literally.

Also, there's an incredible overlap between the activity levels, amount of food consumed, healthfulness of foods consumed and a person's body weight.

It means that while overweight people tend to eat more and move less than thin people as a group - as individuals that's not necessarily true. Group all the people who have exactly the same eating and exercise/activity and sleep habits, and you'll find some who are very thin, some who are very fat, and a whole lot of people in between.

That's why when someone says they're going to start doing what thin people do - I always wonder "which thin people?" The thin person like my father whose idea of an evening snack was a sleeve of oreos and a quart of icecream (after a three helping dinner) - who didn't gain weight until he retired, and then lost it relatively easily once he buckled down. Or the thin person like my brother who ate like he was hollow and couldn't gain weight until he was in his twenties?

And how about the morbidly obese marathon runners, mountain climbers, kayakers....

Many of our beliefs about the eating habits and activity levels of both thin and fat people are just wrong, and others are influenced by our culture.

It's not culturally acceptable for very fat folk to be very active in public - it's seen as kind of gross. So while I was fairly active as a young person, I was also very careful not to let too many people SEE ME being active, because I learned to be embarassed about it.

I learned that early from my mother. She wouldn't let me play on the monkey bars because fat equals clumsy and she thought I would get hurt (or she heard the other kids make fun of me), so I learned to do my climbing when my parents weren't looking (though that wasn't only a "fat thing" my brother and I both would climb into the apple tree and jump into the garden, and would jump off our garage's sloping roof - only when adults weren't around).

In junior high I started taking tennis lessons, and I loved them, but my mother refused to let me go after she heard some of the other kids (and worse the parents) making fun of me. I still wanted to stay in, but my mother couldn't bear it. So I played badmitton with my brother in our yard, and we played tennis in the park on Sunday when no one else was there.

I learned to hide physical activity. I think it's one of the reasons I loved the water so much. Even though water is transparent, I felt covered by it. The walk to the water could feel like a deathmarch, but once I was in the wter I felt safe (of course it helped that you can't really hear well while you're swimming - so if they were laughing or making nasty comments I couldn't hear it).

In college, I had to take two semesters of P.E. so I took "independent study" so I wouldn't have to dress and undress infront of the thin girls - and so I wouldn't feel awkward in front of everyone else.

I postponed taking the classes at all until my last two semesters - but not because I wasn't doing anything. I love the water, so I swam a lot - but I also intimately knew the pool schedule - and I avoided going when the pool was crowded. For the most part, only my closest friends saw me swim, and sometimes I could persuade them (yes the fat girl, persuading the thin girls) to come swimming with me.

When I met with the women's fitness coach to set up my independent study, she watched and helped me set up my swimming routine (it wasn't any different than my solo routine). A few weeks into the semester, the coach told me (with an astonished expression) that she had given my swim routine to her thin, younger sister at a neighboring college - and that she hadn't been able to keep up.

She meant it as a compliment, and for the most part, I took it that way - but I was also a little hurt and offended that the woman had automatically assumed that, "of course the thin girl should be able to beat a fat girl at just about anything."

I know I'm sort of raving on a soap box here, but I think the stereotypes and the taboos make us very poor observers. We see what we expect to see - so when we see a fat person we expect lazy so we see lazy. We expect stupid - so we see stupid. And when we see something unexpected, we either forget it, consider the person "the exception" with or without evidence, and sometimes we get angry.

For the most part, when I've been ridiculed and harassed, it was not for doing the expected (eating poorly, being sedentary, avoiding drawing attention to myself in public places) - it was for doing what we assume fat people don't do.

When eating health-consciously in a restaurant I heard people joke about "who is she kidding - I bet she goes home and eats a gallon of ice cream" when the fact was I really always have eaten health-consciously - and have always disliked the majority of fast food. I did eat larger portions than most healthy-sized people, but for the most part it was very healthy food - just way, way too much of it (and too many carbohydrate-rich foods).

When I was swimming, or bicycling, or dancing, or dating someone who a thin girl might want.

We set people up for failure because of all the taboos against a fat person doing what needs to be done to be less fat. You're not supposed to let anyone see your fat jiggle. You're not supposed to admit your real weight. You're not supposed to admit that you even realize you're overweight. You're not supposed to make mistakes (because you'll be accused of not really wanting to lose the weight or of being unready to change). You're not supposed to admit that you need help. You're supposed to be ashamed of needing help. People laugh if they see you eating healthy. Or worse, try to persuade you to overeat, because "just this once won't hurt, you've got to live a little..." It's often a no-win situation.

Some of the taboos and stereotypes are changing, but most of them are still fully ingrained. It takes a lot of inner strength and fortitude (and sheer stubborness) to overcome the social and physiological obstacles.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:38 AM   #8
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I'm really not particularly biased one way or another. I'm really just fishing for thoughts on this. Of course I'm very familiar with people thinking fat people are lazy, that that's how they got fat etc. Further, I know it is very false. Stereotypes aside, I really want to find some cool correlations or patterns. I know I mightve desensitized this topic, but I'm really super curious!! lol

It sounds though like some 3FC ladies "became fat" (I mean that loosely) from being smart. So maybe a reverse correlation there. That was my original theory--well, because I explained my weight problem to my friends by explaining that I eat when I study or something

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Old 12-19-2011, 03:11 AM   #9
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I almost never studied. I didn't need to. I mostly learned everything in class through reading or listening to the teacher. I guess if I studied, I would have made top of my class.

I've been fat all my life but I also never had friends. I don't feel like my mother realized that maybe finding kids for me to be friends with in the area was a good thing. There were local boys for my brother to play with (who was skinny cause he ran around with them all the time) but I never remember having friends to play with. That meant all I did was read, play with barbies or play dress up by myself. In high school, I would be to have a dog. Because if I was walking a dog, it wouldn't be, "oh, she's fat, she needs to walk." I have a dog now and I still don't walk him like I should.

Even when I was 219, I wouldn't go to the YMCA. Now, at 270, I don't care about exercising in front of other people. I found that it's okay for me to move around in public, take up space and what not.
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:16 AM   #10
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I've heard of this hypothesis before from someone weirdly enough, and her claim on how to defend it was 'Well, can you name any well-known genius who was fat?' There is even a youtube video done by some guy who talks about it.

The theory behind that idea is that if a person is truly intelligent then they have the wherewithall/knowledge/whateveryouwantocallit to exercise and eat less. Basically they'd stop it before it ever got out of hand. Healthy mind in a healthy body and all that. My retaliation was that we as a race weren't capable of being as overweight until the onset of the modern age/consumerism culture/capitalism anyways. Back in the day there were only one or two fat kids in class, so statistically speaking there was less cross-over simply because there were less fat people.

The only anecdotal evidence I can provide is my case and a friend's admittedly, so please bear with me while I toot our own horn! I am constantly named 'the smart one' in my group of friends, even though I am usually one of the heaviest. I graduated with a 3.8 from Uni without opening a book, and I got my MA from one of the best universities in the world in a subject I never took before in my life. I would consider myself a lazy genius* in that regard.

In my sister's group, her heaviest friend is definitely one of the smartest as well and one of the smartest people I know in general. All of her siblings are overweight but incredibly intelligent too. Despite that she never did anything with her intelligence that would have brought her attention.

The only problem I saw when it came to weight and intelligence is that people who are overweight tend to have low self-esteem; they are usually dismissed or walked all over. So whenever they do produce a work of 'genius' (however you want to see it) they just stuff it in the back of their closet and choose to ignore it for fear of being criticized.

Another issue that I will admit is that some don't have the willpower to finish the project through til the end either; and /possibly/ this same lack of willpower may be why they gained weight to begin with. If you never see anything through til the end then you probably aren't going to see any diet through either, nor will you stop yourself from resisting supposedly delicious foods. You're still intelligent after all but you just don't finish projects or give into procrastination.

My parents call these people 'lazy geniuses' (not lazy due to weight in this case, but lazy in that they don't do ANYTHING despite - or perhaps due to - their intelligence, whether fat or skinny.) Y'know the kind, the kid who always answers in class but has never opened a book in his life? Yea, I was that kid...And I hate the fact that I don't have the self-esteem or willpower to see anything through; mainly because everything was easy for me growing up. Nothing was a challenge so I became lazy and content rather than frustrated and motivated.

* I am using the term 'genius' very loosely here, I highly doubt my intelligence is truly in the realm of 'genius', but hey it sounds better than 'lazy smart ***'.

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Old 12-19-2011, 03:17 AM   #11
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We're all biased. We cannot help but be. Our brains are designed to connect experiencial variables and make patterns. But experience isn't reality. You can't get a big enough or unbiased enough sample from people's beliefs to draw valid conclusions.

There is research that has explored the connection between intelligence and obesity - and the research findings are not that obese folk are smarter than non-obese folk. In fact, there's a negative correlation between intelligence, education, and income with obesity. That doesn't mean all obese folks are stupid, or that all uneducated people are obese. But if you are poor, uneducated, or not very bright (and living in a country in which calories are cheap) you are at greater risk for being overweight.

So the research doesn't really support your conclusion. It doesn't mean that an intelligent person can't be obese. It doesn't mean that an obese person can't be intelligent. It doesn't even mean that obesity can't allow a person to put more effort into education to compensate - but it doesn't meant that intelligence made them obese, or obesity made them intelligent.

But we can't find out by asking people. It doesn't work that way - because what we think we know, isn't always the truth.

If I think I got fat because I'm smart - it doesn't mean that's true. If I think I got fat because my mother was fat and she "made me" fat - it doesn't make that true either. If I think I got smart because I was fat - that doesn't make that true either (and from the family story it sounds unlikely).

I also can't tell how smart I would have been had I not been fat.

I suspect a genetic component because I am adopted and my weight pattern doesn't follow any of the patterns in my family. My parents biological children follow my parent's pattern. One sister gained weight, but only in her late 20's - just like Mom. The other sister has never had a weight problem, and if she continues to follow Dad's pattern, she might gain a little after she retired, but she'll get it off pretty quickly.

My "gut" tells me that obesity is therefore mostly genetic (because that seems to be the pattern in my family).

Another person's gut (because of their experiences) may be telling them that obesity is mostly learned.

Short of many double-blind adoption studies (to seperate the biological and learning variables), there's no way to tell whose "gut" is correct.

Of course it's possible that being smart contributed to some people's obesity. It's also possible that being overweight contributed to some people's work ethic or wisdom. Some may have become fat from being ignorant. Or maybe there's no connection at all, and we just thing so because it seems like a reasonable conclusion based on our experience (or our wishful thinking).

Perception isn't truth. Most people believe they are more intelligent than average - but that's a mathmatical impossibility. Everyone can't be smarter than average - in fact, by it's very nature most people are exactly average. And because intelligence falls on a normal curve half as many people are above average as are below average. So why aren't there just as many people believing that they're below or exactly average.

So very few people are going to believe "I got fat because I'm just stupider than most people."

If you ask people "are you fatter than average because you're smarter than average or because you're dumber than average?" You're not going to get very many people agreeing with the latter.

Also ask any group of people whether their group is smarter than average or dumber than average - and most are going to say smarter.

Ask doll-collectors whether doll-collectors are smarter than average - and they're going to say yes.

Ask thin folks whether they're smarter than average - and they're going to say yes.

Because it's human nature to believe that you belong to a group that is smarter than average. It's also more flattering to one's ego to believe one is having difficulty because one is "too smart for their own good," than to believe they're just dumb.

And the same is true for obesity. If you ask people if their obesity (or their ethnicity, or their disability, or any other aspect of their identity that is usually seen as a disadvantage) and ask them if their disadvantage made them smarter than average or dumber than average - which do you think most people will choose?

The question, by it's very nature is not going to yeild an accurate answer.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:58 AM   #12
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DesertTabby - I'm more interested in your 'lazy genius' comment because I've been looking for a way to describe myself. I went to a private, all-girls academy for high school and barely opened a book through it yet managed to graduate with a 3.8 (imagine if I studied!), Got a scholarship and coasted through undergrad doing the same thing. Barely opened a book to study in graduate school (and I got a hefty scholarship for that too!) and wound up with a 3.85 and I finished my MA and an Advanced Certificate in a year.

I actually don't know how to study because I maybe had to study once or twice throughout the time I was in school. Kind of interesting that I'm now a Special Education teacher, helping those children who need it the most. I'm actually pretty passionate about making sure they get the support they need. Some folks thought I would have a hard time understanding them since school came so easy to me, but I don't.

I can't really say it was overcompensation because I was fat since I didn't really work hard. I sort of wonder what would have happened had I actually applied myself more throughout school. Am I smarter because I was fat? I don't think so; I didn't spend hours in my room studying and doing homework because I didn't want to go out and face the world. I did my homework in the morning, before class and yet somehow did it all right and got high marks.

I knew thin people who were like me and I knew fat people who were like me. I also know thin and fat people who need to work hard to get good grades and I know those that don't want to work hard. It's hard to say who's smarter and who isn't and I think it's quite dangerous to make conclusions from our own observations.

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Old 12-19-2011, 08:27 AM   #13
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Is this a potential thesis topic? Lazier, perhaps, speaking for myself only. Dumb? I hope not.

A friend of mine was going to write her thesis on bilingual children being smarter and having more advantages than one language children, and this she based on at the time her nieces and nephews (she had no children of her own). I thought it was a bit far fetched and snooty, but I kept my opinion to myself. She was reminded by her professor, however, that she teaches in an inner city high needs area where many dual language children are not afforded a 2 parent home and live near poverty, etc., and may be less advantaged by those and other factors than advantaged because they grew up with 2 languages. She didn't write THAT paper because her logic didn't stick--her nieces and nephews were better advantaged because their parents had ... money, education, opportunities for advancement, excellent jobs, and success.

Is that your final answer?

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Old 12-19-2011, 09:20 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by wtfudge View Post

To add additional strain on my hypothesis, this guy received almost perfect grades in core electrical classes. Naturally, I asked how he studies.

"I don't," he explained.
"Explain," I pleaded.
"I just look on the board, and I remember it. Sometimes it helps to write it down, but that's it. I never study."

My theory is, this man is an exception. He is good despite and/or because he doesn't try. He doesn't have to because he just *gets* it. Those exceptions aside
Out of ca. 100 students every semester, I have 2-3 students that are this way. I was never this way - I always thought I could be the best if I worked hard enough, but some are simply better. When I started teaching, I realized that some students "just get it." They can grasp abstract concepts with much more ease.

Anyway, I appreciated the oddity of your post - I say always ask questions, even if they seem silly. I'm still thinking of how to view the question.

124chicksinger: Her thesis is pretty silly. That would be similar to saying Europeans (usually bilingual) are overall smarter than all Americans (usually monolingual). Or does that mean that, for example, the Swiss (multilingual, usually speak with fluency at least 3 languages) are smarter than the Germans (who usually are fluent only in English, maybe French)?

Last edited by Unna; 12-19-2011 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:30 AM   #15
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I think any time you try to make a broad statement about a group of people dependent upon something superficial, you are bound to be wrong (and possibly offend somebody).

Everyone is different. I've been obese most of my life, yet I was an overachiever in school and I read more than anyone else I know. Since losing weight, I'm the same person- just smaller. But that's an anecdote, not science. Always be very careful of thinking that one person's personal experience translates directly to anything that has meaning for a broad group. That's the basis of all the -isms. (racism, sexism, sizeism, etc)
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