Weekly Roundup: The Fatkini And The Boy Who Might Fly Edition

Two of my readers took the time this week to send me links to and/or a third-party commentary on a Cosmo piece about an obese woman who decided the world needed to see her in a bikini at Times Square. Note that I’m not calling her “obese” as an insult. It’s merely a medical fact. According to the standard chart, I’m currently obese as well, scaling 241 pounds at six-two. I would need to drop to 234 to be merely overweight, and I would need to be 195 or less to be a normal weight. The writer in this case clearly weighs more than I do despite being perhaps ten inches shorter; medically speaking, she is probably “morbidly obese”.

I found the story fascinating. Not because the writer is an obese woman who wanted to strip in public — there’s a whole social movement about that, called “fatkini” — but because she believed she could exercise absolute power over what happened afterwards. As a parent, I’m concerned about that. Allow me to explain.


This was a precis of the author’s experience, summed up on her Instagram page:

Yesterday I did the scariest thing I have done in my 30+ years… I stood in times square in a bikini and posed for a photo shoot. In the beginning I felt really overwhelmed. Not because I was mocked, but because I was so extremely sexualized by a few men who were watching. What was so ironic to me was that to the right of me were two nearly nude women covered only with body paint and no one felt the need to yell or scream what they wanted to do to their bodies. But to me, a plus woman in a swimsuit, the things that were said were so graphic it made me sick to my stomach. One man said he felt justified in saying what he did- because “plus women don’t know they’re ****able.” Let me be very clear here: a plus size woman’s worth, or any one woman’s worth for that matter, is not contingent on someone wanting to have sex with them. You don’t exist to pleasure someone else… you exist to change the world.

You can read a fairly harsh appraisal of the thole thing here, but mixed in with the harshness is something that is harsh but fair:

You’re standing in Times Square in what amounts to a colossal display of attention-seeking and you’re upset people are paying you attention? Isn’t that the idea? And since when have people been obliged to consider the feelings of exhibitionists?

Emphasis mine. In this case, however, I don’t want to focus on the exhibitionism. I want to talk about the difference between being a child and being an adult. We often say that “loss of innocence” is the rite of passage by which a child becomes an adult, but what does that mean? Are we speaking of moral innocence? Sexual innocence? Political innocence? All of the above? If a child is ruthlessly molested by a family member but continues to believe in Santa Claus, is he still innocent?

I think it’s something else. I believe that the “innocence” in question is innocence of consequences. The journey from childhood to adulthood is all about learning the iron bond between action and consequence. Children are naturally innocent of consequences, and the adults around them work to preserve that innocence as long as possible. When two kids get into a fistfight, we don’t send one of them to jail for ninety days. When a child crashes a bicycle, we don’t write him a ticket then force him to pay a higher insurance rate. If your fourteen-year-old sleeps through the start of his summer job a few times, you don’t kick him out of the house and force him to work casual labor jobs while he lives under a bridge abutment with the other homeless fourteen-year-olds.

This innocence of consequences is so strongly hardwired into human beings that it affects virtually everything we do. I’ve never voted against any tax program that helped children get a meal or medical care, but I have zero interest in subsidizing adults who have the same problems. But why should that be so? Why is a hungry child any greater of a tragedy than a hungry adult? Innocence of consequences is your answer.

The so-called “child refugee crisis” in Europe is a statistical fabrication designed to take advantage of human attitudes towards children. The NGOs sell an image of a drowned toddler then it turns out that ninety-two percent of “child refugees” are represented as being over fourteen, ninety-one percent of them are male, and the vast majority of them are actually in their twenties. It’s smart marketing, even if it’s dishonest at its core. Most people have zero sympathy for twenty-two-year-old men with beards and would prefer that those men fix their own problems in their own home countries.

We all recognize that innocence of consequences is a desirable thing for children. Thus: bicycle helmets, plastic sporks, Underwriters Laboratories listings, NERF footballs, lifeguards at the beach. My generation had less of that, my father’s generation much less, my grandfather’s generation very little. Before that, children were seen as miniature adults who could be pressed into work, war, or sexual behavior the moment their bodies made it even vaguely possible. The notion of “childhood” is a Victorian invention that has gone a long way to humanize our existences.

Ah, but there’s a problem that results: How do you manage the transition between childhood and adulthood? At what point is the innocence of consequences withdrawn? Do it too soon, and children are emotionally damaged. I recently had someone tell me about how her father had to look after, feed, and provide for a whole family full of younger siblings at the age of thirteen. That’s heartbreaking. The opposite case, of parents protecting their children from consequences into their twenties or thirties, gets you Hannah Horvath from “Girls”.

It also gets you this fatkini person, who thinks that she can strip down in Times Square and be protected from the consequences of her decision. The irony is that she was protected from the worst of those consequences; imagine her doing the same in, say, any Middle Eastern town square. Hell, imagine her doing it in the Times Square of 1975. Society has gone a long way towards protecting people from consequences via airbags, anti-lock brakes, warning labels, and broken-windows policing.

For this particular individual, it wasn’t enough. She wanted to be confronted by “haters” who would read stilted, straw-man ignorant insults from a script she’d written in her head, at which point she would read out the responses she’d written for her side of the script, and she would inevitably triumph the same way that all of us triumphed in our childhood daydreams. Unfortunately for her, nobody else had gotten a copy of the script so what happened instead was that a bunch of human takes on the Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus told her that she was actually very sexy in a when-there-are-no-other-alternatives sort of way. Which made her want to cry.

No functioning adult, particularly not one who had visited New York before, would expect anything else to happen. Nor would any functioning adult fail to see the difference between Fatkini Person and the body-paint women working the square for photos and tips. The latter are there to work and earn money. They are part of the economy and the scene there. People expect them. The former is an example of childhood innocence aged into a hypertrophied adult idiocy. Had the fatkini person been holding a sign that said “Pose With Me For $10,” she would have been ignored. What confused people, and engaged the discussion, was the spectacle of someone showing themselves off for no obvious reason.

The resulting article does not paint the author in an admirable light. It suggests that she has a lot of growing up to do. But she is not my problem. My son, on the other hand, is my problem. This past Tuesday, he finished a weeknight BMX race DFL in a three-rider field. At the time, I accepted John’s version of events — that he was the smallest, weakest, and youngest rider of the three. And those assertions are true. However, after reviewing the video that evening and discussing it with my old friend and training partner, Elite-class rider Martin Larrea, we realized that John had actually been in a position to win all three races, either leading or holding even with the leader over the first set of jumps. In each race, he’d slacked off in the first turn and second straight, allowing the other riders to open a gap that he could not then fully close in the second and third moto, giving him finishes of 2-3-3 and an overall last place.

On Wednesday, therefore, we went back to the track for stopwatch practice. Over the course of two hours, we exorcised the weakness from his second-straight performance. With the times he posted on Wednesday, he would have been the overall winner on Tuesday. And he didn’t have to get any bigger, stronger, or older to do it. He just had to put in the work.

All of this sounds painfully obvious but if you are a parent yourself then you may understand just how much I wanted to hug my son and tell him that losing to bigger and stronger kids was okay and that I still loved him anyway. It was emotionally painful for me to sit him down and explain that his loss was his fault and not the fault of circumstances beyond his control. It felt like criticism, it felt like bullying, it felt like being the Great Santini. But it had to be done. To his credit, he accepted what I said at face value and then he went out to fix the problem.

I like to think of situations like this as small vaccinations against the unpleasant realities of adulthood. Because when you are an adult there is always someone bigger, older, stronger, richer, or more talented than you are. When you enter the arena against that someone, you are going to suffer some consequences. Unless you are prepared. The ability to prepare for consequences, and to deal with them when they arrive, is the measure of adulthood. Plain and simple. I cannot protect my son from the unknown consequences of his adulthood, any more than the parents of Fatkini Person could have stepped in and quieted the critics in Times Square. All I can do is give him the awareness that there will be consequences in adulthood, and that those consequences are his alone to confront. That’s my job. If I do it right, then maybe John will be a champion racer or athlete or businessman. If I do it wrong… well, there’s always room for another circus freak in Times Square.

* * *

At TTAC this week, I reviewed a Jeep and went bargain-shopping at Mark Stevenson’s Hyundai dealership. For R&T I considered the effects of age on fitness to race.

This week at RG we will be pumping up the volume with a bunch of great guest posts and more besides. Keep an eye out!

51 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: The Fatkini And The Boy Who Might Fly Edition”

  1. Sean

    I’m 6’3″ tall and 330lbs. I’m obese. I never leave the house without being fully clothed. Out of respect for my neighbors and for myself. I won’t read the article but I can guess that the motive is attention.
    I live a decent life and stay active enough that I’m not starved for attention. Other people aren’t as lucky I guess. They need to be in the news and the news needs them.
    It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Reply
  2. -Nate

    #1 : John is a precious gift to you and a huge responsibility .

    # 2 : That you’re aware of the importance of teaching him to learn to roll with life’s punches and adapt and overcome without screaming at him in public like most sports dads (TM) is a great gift to him .

    # 3 : Forget that girl, she’s no Woman and if I took my old & fat self to Times & Square in a speedo, I’d get insulted too and rightly so , grow up f’chrissakes .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      The mental picture of Nate wandering around Times square in a “banana hammock” has caused me to need some “eye bleach”. Of course it would be the same if I was to see myself in a mirror wearing the same.

      Some things are best left unseen. 🙂

      Reply
      • -Nate

        Apologies ~ I was trying to make a point ……..

        This girl clearly has issues and is trying to blame others .

        Who knows ? maybe she’d be welcome on 42nd Street……

        (or has it changed too much since the 1960’s)

        -Nate

        Reply
  3. Dirty Dingus McGee

    At 5′ 10″ and 220 lbs, I’m seriously overweight according to the chart at the doc’s office. By that chart I should be at 155-160. If I were to amputate both legs, I MIGHT get to that weight. I started losing a bit of weight in the last 10 months and will continue to try to get down under 200lbs. I however refuse to try to live on kale and bean sprouts(thats what MY food eats).

    Look, everyone is gonna die sooner or later. I see no point in hastening that by starving myself voluntarily. If I want a pork chop, a handful (or 2) of potato chips, or an ice cream sundae I’ll damn well have it.

    Reply
    • Shortest Circuit

      No need to worry, the #bodyposi blogger in the article (who clearly missed a few meetings with a certain shoe store salesman) will be gone long before any of us. Just imagine even 1% of that blubber constricting hear heart…

      Reply
  4. stingray65

    Jack, What you did for your son is the perfect gift for him. You took the time to not only attend his bike event, but to analyze his performance and give him constructive feedback and coaching. As a result he will be a much better adult and be able to handle the ups and downs of living in a world that is “unfair”. What a contrast you are to parents who berate their children for not doing something optimally, but then fail to provide any reasonable suggestions and means for improvement, which is the simple difference between destructive and constructive parenting.

    I’m sympathetic to middle-aged people that have put on some pounds, many women have trouble losing the “baby weight” after pregnancies, and simple aging joints can make it difficult to exercise to keep weight off. But young women who haven’t had children and do not have any age related problems with mobility should not be trying to promote their morbid obesity as some sort of virtue. They should also know better than to expect positive reinforcement for their “bravery” in publicly displaying themselves in skimpy swimsuits, because they have no excuse for being too lazy and lacking in self-discipline to exercise and watch what they eat, except perhaps poor parenting in not being provided with good role models and constructive feedback and coaching.

    Reply
  5. hank chinaski

    She expected chad Jake Ryan to drive her away in his red 944 and instead got an alt-version of racial stereotype Long Duck Dong. Sad!

    Speaking of old films, Santini hasn’t been entirely memory-holed by Netflix (dvd side), but I had to go to the public library to score a copy. Licensing issue or bad-think purge?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Santini is somewhere on the line between goodthink and badthink — it’s easy to view it as a screed against the modern bogeyman of “toxic masculinity”.

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        That reminds me of how an agressive atheist accused me of believing in a god who killed thousands of Egyptian firstborn sons and almost wiped out humanity in a flood. I replied, “Uh huh! If He’s not capable of that, He’s not God.”

        Reply
        • nightfly

          “Hi Pharaoh. Look, you have been visited with boils, frogs, gnats, darkness, locusts, and the Nile was turned to blood. My God is actually running out of things to do to convince you to let His people go. So he is going to let you choose next. Either let us go, or pick a tenth plague.”
          I WILL KILL THE FIRSTBORN OF ALL ISRAEL
          “Are you SURE you don’t want to go with Plan B?”
          GET THEE FROM MY SIGHT, MOSES
          *God sends Angel of Death, Israel follows His instructions and is spared*
          THIS MUST BE GOD’S FAULT

          Reply
  6. James

    At 6’5 and 340 and clinically obese, I can hardly throw stones, but if you follow the links, post gag and eye bleach, that womans exercise regime must consist of typing, whinging and stuffing unhealthy junk in her maw. I try to walk 10k a day and double that on the weekends. All of the moaning about acceptance BS aside, she is doing CV system no favor carrying all that extra luggage around.

    As to your son, kudos I’ve done the same it all three of mine and they’ve turned into pretty good people. There were a few bumps and swerves during the angst and melancholy years, but the lessons appear to have stuck.

    If you give put in the effort, teach them the lessons of life you’ve learned, you and they are miles ahead of the pack.

    Reply
  7. James

    Santini was a great movie, knew several dad’s like him when I was a kid. Going to have to give it another view.

    Reply
  8. Aoletsgo

    She has given in and given up.
    Now she forces herself on us and wants the world to accept and praise her for being a loser.
    Dream on baby cakes.

    At 6’2” and 205 I am horribly obese in my mind’s eye. But then this is the first year of my life I have cracked 200, 185 is a good number, 175 is race weight. I can blame surgery this past winter but really I just need to stop stuffing my face.

    I do have new motivation lately, which helps me a lot. We have a dive trip in Grand Cayman in less than 2 months and my nephews have said the fat ones have to wear a Borat bikini.

    Reply
  9. Rob De Witt

    Jack – your writing is a great discovery, pointed out to me by Joe Sherlock. The fact of our common midwestern-ness is no doubt a factor. Common sense has become increasingly uncommon since I left 50+ years ago….

    I have a couple of personal comments/questions which I’d send offline if I knew how; apologies for hijacking a thread. First of all, thanks for the steer to Weiss watches. Despite my straitened circumstances I awarded myself a present and bought one last week. What a treat.

    Second, I’ve just met a super-bright 8-year-old boy, the grandson of a new lady acquaintance. She’s rescued him from a nightmare and taken over his raising, and he probably already recognizes the extent to which she’s saved his life. He’s busily sponging up knowledge of the world at large via her utube, which is cool, but I’d feel good about introducing him to real-live books and the joys thereof.

    Any ideas about appropriate reading material for a kid at that age in this time? You were the first person I thought to ask, so thanks for any input.

    Oh by the way…unlike your usual sterling prose, there’s a rare clunker here: The construction “Why is a hungry child any greater of a tragedy” reads much better if you lose the “of.” Just sayin.

    Thanks,
    Rob

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      In no particular order:

      * You’re right about the hungry child line, no excuses here.

      * Congratulations on the Weiss!

      * My son generally reads a lot of facts-and-figures-style books about airplanes, cars, buildings, that sort of thing. There’s a school of thought that says you should have them reading Kipling and/or The Rover Boys at that age but I think it’s better to have kids read objective stuff and then use that material for subjective discussions with an adult.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Reply
      • DougD

        Hah, Dangerous Book for Boys that was my first thought too..

        Lost in the Barrens – Farley Mowat
        Helium-3 Trilogy – Homer Hickam

        When he’s a little older Rocket Boys – Homer Hickam

        Reply
      • Rob De Witt

        Ronnie,

        Thanks much for this, what a great idea. Also my thanks for your steer to To Heal The World?, which I’ve passed on to biblical-scholar friend who led me to Catholicism 7 years ago at age 66.

        Reply
      • Rob De Witt

        Thanks, guys, I knew this would be the right place to ask. Dangerous Book For Boys is on order from Amazon as we speak.

        Reply
  10. Daniel J

    I’m 6’2 and 285. I need to be about 235 or so. I think fat percent is a better measure than BMI but that’s a different story.

    I’m not surprised by what happened in NYC. I only take my shirt off if I’m at the beach. I simply don’t care about what others think when I’m there. I don’t care what other people look like either. That gets me too my point:

    Don’t people have better things to do than to flame a woman in a bikini that’s overweight? I know that if I saw that here I’d simply move on. Why give that person the attention. Why care at all?

    Reply
  11. Nobody

    Daniel J:

    All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Her behavior is an affront to common decency.

    Reply
    • Daniel J

      If it was about common decency, wouldn’t the paintsd nude attractive gwomen deserve the same treatment?

      Let’s be real. Common decency is blind to the attractiveness of the individual. Its clearly the case that society accepts barely clothed attractive people over those who aren’t. The attractive women who were in public painted nude were in fact embraced. Common decency has zero to do with the complaint. That’s why I ask the question. People have that much time for their “sensibilties” to be offended? The only argumemt id buy is if children were around. In either case, I’d think parents would be equally offended by both situations.

      Reply
      • Brawnychicken

        Attractive people always get the benefit of the doubt. Attractive women more so than attractive men. Even other women treat attractive women better. Always been this way, always will be this way. I think it’s pretty hardwired into us.

        Reply
    • Eric L.

      The latest “season” of Seinfeld’s dull _Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee_ featured a spot-on remark in the episode with Brian Regan. Loosely, it was “Women are always the same size as their friends.” Looks like the same curiosity has affected Jack’s readership. [tears of joy emoji here]

      Reply
      • George

        I’ve seen studies that show both men and women approximate the size of their friends, so it’s not just a joke. I spend most of my time with rowers and cyclists, so I’m more fit than the average bear, but the aging process does slow down your metabolism – making weight issues a challenge for most. (5’9” 170) Lightweight rowers must weigh <= 160 pounds, and I can still get there if I try!

        Reply
        • Dirty Dingus McGee

          ” the aging process does slow down your metabolism”

          Metabolisim isn’t the only thing that slows down with age. Energy, ambition and desire also slow up. Sometimes it’s also lifestyle choices in the past, that affect you later in life. As a teen, I raced dirt bikes (what would be GNCC today) and crashed regularly. I have also had many dirt bike crashes and 2 fairly serious street bike wrecks. Then throw in car wrecks (both track and street) general wear and tear from various incidents from work and other personal interest’s and it takes a toll on your body. Hell, I have parts that hurt these days that I didn’t know I HAD 10-15 years ago. Some parts have arthritis so bad, I can predict the weather better than the local TV weatherheads.

          There is little I would change if I could get a “do-over” of my life. But I have to accept the fact that those decisions are effecting my life these days. Therefore I have to adjust what I can do, including my calorie intake. Here on my 61st trip around the sun, I don’t expect any improvement in my body, only a continued decline.

          Reply
          • George Denzinger (geozinger)

            I bicycle for exercise (as I’ve fscked my ankles and feet). I have a friend who’s five years older than me who always tells me, “you don’t get any quicker, you just get slower, slower”.

            It’s like my 74 year old sister always reminds me: Getting old ain’t for pussies…

  12. George

    I must admit that sometimes I feel like I’m watching a Lifetime movie when the Baruth boys write about their kids. Apply a little tough love, and their inate skills will prevail and all will be good. Perhaps they are genetically blessed, but by definition most kids won’t be first and the real lesson will be learning how to deal with the limits of your abilities.

    Reply
  13. sabotenfighter

    Good christ. I was not ready for the image in the article. Legs lookin like bags full of mashed potatoes and gravel. She is 100% morbidly obese.
    When I was younger, dumber, I found myself suddenly in a relationship with a fat girl. She turned out super mentally unstable and suicidal, which wasn’t evident through a two year friendship leading up to us dating. Her body was nothing I want to think about ever again, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as this chick.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      It sounds like a cliche but she does have a pretty face.

      I don’t understand people that get that obese. I’ve never been thin. I’m 5’6 and I’ve weighed as much as 235 and as little (within the past 10 years) as 165. At 165 I was still overweight by plenty of criteria but I had a six-pack and my friends were all asking if I was sick. When I was 235 my ex said sex was getting uncomfortable so I started exercising, eventually gravitating to cycling and I lost 50+ and have kept most of it off since then. Still, if I’m not careful I can put on weight easily, as in a suit being a little tight a week after the tailor did a fitting.

      However, to get as fat as she is, you have to work at it. There has to be a point where someone that fat just stops giving a damn about how they look and feel and care more about the hedonic thrill from finishing off a half gallon of ice cream.

      Reply
      • nightfly

        True.

        I will probably never get back to fighting trim (165 or so at 6′), but there’s also no reason why I should just put up with pushing 200. I just have to adjust – I no longer ride a bike five miles each way to work, I don’t play hockey three nights a week, and I have a desk job instead of waiting tables. I might be burning half the weekly calories I did 20 years ago. So I have to get off my literal and figurative keister, put down the dessert spoon and the 55-gallon-drum of Dr Pepper, and work at this.

        Reply
  14. ltrftc

    Jack, you’re teaching your son the right mindset. With some focus, if he works at it then he will get better.

    This will come in handy when he’s older and tells you he’s just not maths person (substitute whatever class that he has to work on)

    Reply
  15. Ronnie Schreiber

    The notion of “childhood” is a Victorian invention that has gone a long way to humanize our existences.

    Jewish law has had the notion of legal adulthood for at least a couple thousand years. Of course it puts that age much earlier (13 for boys, 12 for girls) than western law. I’d say that childhood is an ancient concept but adolescence is a modern invention.

    BTW, I had Shabbat dinner at my son and daughter in law’s house. They’re in their early 30s, almost adults. Her sister is 22 and while she’s quite mature, she’s obviously still a child.

    Reply
  16. Ronnie Schreiber

    “You don’t exist to pleasure someone else… you exist to change the world.”

    Bringing pleasure and joy to others is a great way to change the world.

    No wonder Dr. Peterson’s “clean your room before trying to change the world” gets so much pushback from the cultural left.

    There’s a new book out on how leftist Jews have corrupted the concept of tikkun olam, essentially inventing a new religion the sanctifies leftist policies under the rubric of “fixing the world.” I’d be willing to bet $500 that most people who advocate tikkun olam, have never read the phrase in its source, the Aleinu prayer that ends each of the three daily Jewish prayer services, or at least in orthodox and traditional synagogues. That prayer, which actually requires a literal bending of the knee and bowing to God, mentions tikkun olam b’malchut Shadai, “to repair the world with the kingdom of God,” and in context it’s the deity doing the repairing, not man.

    Bowing to the Lord and ushering in the kingdom of God are not exactly high on the priority lists of most leftists, but I have to listen to them lecture me about “repairing the world.”

    As for the lady and her fatkini, I’m 5’6 and I’m probably about 190 lbs right now and I wonder if she wants to see me in a European style Speedo.

    https://www.amazon.com/Heal-World-Corrupts-Judaism-Endangers/dp/1250160871

    Reply
    • sabotenfighter

      As for the lady and her fatkini, I’m 5’6 and I’m probably about 190 lbs right now and I wonder if she wants to see me in a European style Speedo.
      You got it all wrong, Ronnie. It’s not about want, its about forcing your beautiful body on the rest of the world in a location that is not deemed appropriate. Now lets go get some Dove Bars and I guess Dove soap.

      Reply
  17. TJ

    That TTAC article is the exact reason I bought a brand new 2016 Kia Rio in February of 2017. The dealer wanted it gone, I needed a good deal, and I knew enough of how the sausage is made that we found mutual understanding. And we walked in thinking “five year old used car.” The new car was cheaper, and came with a 10/100 warranty.

    Reply

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