Fat Debate: Intro

"Americans have gotten so fat. At this point, the self-reported number is two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. That is how bad it has gotten," says Meme Roth, president of the anti-fat organization, National Action Against Obesity.


"This is a crisis in our country, especially with our children, and adults need to set an example," says Jillian Michaels, fitness trainer and star of The Biggest Loser.

"The media has decided we're in the middle of a fat apocalypse but really more of a media-hype issue than a real, true health pandemic," says Marianne Kirby, author, Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. "We have this obsession with bodies, especially famous people's bodies, and we examine them for any minute change."

"We're at a point where when someone gets on an airplane, it's a big story that they get thrown off because they take two seats," Michael Karolchyk, owner of the Anti-Gym, says. "Whatever happened to the skinny people who were offended when the person came over their seat? ... Fat bias? No. I believe skinny bias."

"They need to provide some coach seats that are larger for larger passengers," says Peggy Howell from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. "There's no question about the fact that fat people are discriminated against. I believe that height and weight should be added to the anti-discrimination laws on a federal level."


[AD]"To believe that fat people are discriminated against, you have to believe that obesity is an innate state, like race, like sexual orientation. Obesity is not an innate state," MeMe says. "I want to know where the pro-fat movement is going to be when people need kidney donations or livers are failing, they become immobile. Where are they going to be 20 and 30 years from now?"


"My body is not public property. It's no one else's business to tell me what I should be doing with my body," Peggy says.


Read Dr. Phil's blog about childhood obesity and share your thoughts.

In the studio, Dr. Phil asks Jillian if overweight people have a point in saying they're happy, so others should leave them alone.

Jillian looks at the overweight panelists and says, "As far as I'm concerned, we're all Americans, and we share the same rights. I was going to ask you to explain it to me, because I don't get it."

"I think the problem is that when you're an overweight person, people make assumptions about you or have these preconceived notions about who you are," Erica says.

"People make preconceived notions about all of us," Jillian says. "We all experience judgment and discrimination on every level."

"Of course. We all do," Erica agrees. "It's the people who say, 'No, fat people are not discriminated against.'"

[AD]MeMe joins the conversation, "Discrimination is a different word. For someone to be discriminated against, that has to be something that's innate, such as race or sexual orientation " "

The panelists talk over one another.

Kelly interrupts the talking. "You're all really, really aggressive about this, because in some way it has affected you, and it has hurt you," she says, noting that perhaps in the past MeMe had a negative relationship with an overweight person. "I know what it's like to be called fat. It's horrible. That three-letter word can destroy your life. It's not about whether you're fat or not; it's the word."Dr. Phil asks Kelly about a statement she made in the past, "I took more hell for being fat than for being a drug addict."

Kelly confirms that's how she was treated by the media. "I was a complete and utter drug addict from the age of 15, and I used drugs because I was insecure about the way that I looked, and then it became a vicious cycle," she explains. "You feel like your whole life is falling apart when you're fat, because you don't fit into the same clothes that other girls do. You open up a magazine, you get told that you're fat. But the truth is there is no quick fix. If you want to lose weight, if you want to be healthy, you have to have a life change, not a diet. You have to change everything about your life and the way that you do things, in order to become the person you want to become, but finding that motivation is the hardest thing in the world."

Michael speaks up. "I respect Kelly for losing the weight," he says. "To sit here and say that either Jillian, or myself or MeMe, we were little kids beaten up by a large person or something, that's ridiculous."

Kelly tells Michael that she read his bio and learned that his mother blamed her weight gain on becoming pregnant with him and his sister. "You're telling me that had no affect on your opinions?" she asks him.

"The only affect it's had is I know it's an excuse," he says, adding that many people choose to blame things on others and not accept accountability. "We don't hate fat people; we hate fat behavior. We don't like laziness."

Dr. Phil asks Michael to show the writing on his shirt. He opens his shirt to reveal a T-shirt that reads, No Chubbies, the slogan of his gym. This sparks outrage from the panel.

"That doesn't say, ‘No chubby behavior,'" Dr. Phil points out.

[AD]"The stuff that he's saying is ridiculous," Erica says, referring to Michael. "Jillian comes from a place of actual care and love, and you're tough, but she's not prejudiced against fat people."

MeMe addresses Kelly's comments about her. "This is what hurt: when you grow up and see the horrible damage done to the people you love and respect the most " my mother, my father, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles " when you grow up with that, yes, there's hurt, because it breaks your heart to watch people hurt themselves. That was motivation, which is why I need to be vigilant and keep myself healthy."

"Change your approach a little bit, and people will listen to you," Kelly tells MeMe.
Erica explains why she thinks MeMe's approach is like the KKK, and emotions flare.


[AD]Kelly addresses MeMe. "I think what you do is actually really good. I really do. It's just your approach," she says.