Smash the Wellness Industry

From The New York Times:

Why are so many smart women falling for its harmful, pseudoscientific claims?

By Jessica Knoll
June 8, 2019

A few months ago, I had lunch with the writer behind one of my favorite movies of the year, the agent who made the deal and the producer who packaged the project. I wanted to hear all about the process and perhaps find an opportunity to collaborate. When the server came to take our order, I flashed to that scene in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” when Mira Sorvino walks into a diner in a striped skirt suit and asks the waitress, “Do you have some sort of businesswomen’s special?”

Had there been any sort of businesswomen’s special that day, our group probably couldn’t have ordered it. Someone was slogging through the Whole30 program, someone had eliminated dairy, and someone else was simply trying to be “good” after a “bad” weekend. The producer said it didn’t matter how “good” she was. She had lost the baby weight and though she may look tolerable in clothes, under the Spanx her stomach was a horror show. The writer said she had so much cellulite on her thighs she looked diseased. I gazed around the restaurant, longingly, wondering what the men eating cheeseburgers were talking about.

At one time, I too would gleefully have torn myself apart. I despised my body, and my devotion to changing it amounted to years of unpaid labor, starting with a bout of bulimia in high school. In preparation for my wedding, I worked out twice a day on 800 calories. From there I moved on to counting macros, replacing rice with cauliflower pellets, 13-day cleanses, intermittent fasting and an elimination diet that barred sugar, dairy and nightshades like potatoes.

Every new regimen ended in the same violent binge. I’d wait for my husband to go to bed so that I could obliterate the pantry without him asking, “Are you O.K.?” For the next few days, I would throw myself on the altar of “clean eating,” only to start the cycle all over again.

I called this poisonous relationship between a body I was indoctrinated to hate and food I had been taught to fear “wellness.” This was before I could recognize wellness culture for what it was — a dangerous con that seduces smart women with pseudoscientific claims of increasing energy, reducing inflammation, lowering the risk of cancer and healing skin, gut and fertility problems. But at its core, “wellness” is about weight loss. It demonizes calorically dense and delicious foods, preserving a vicious fallacy: Thin is healthy and healthy is thin.

Almost three years ago, I moved to Los Angeles from New York. After death and divorce, moving is supposed to be the most stressful thing you can go through, and eating became my salve. I had a second book and a screenplay due, a new city to explore and friends to make, but I could hardly focus on any of that for how crazy I felt around food. So I did a desperate thing. I searched “intuitive eating” online.

Thanks to a stint at a health magazine, I had a glancing understanding of the philosophy, which encourages a return to the innate wisdom we had as babies — about when to stop eating, what tastes good and how it makes our bodies feel. I might have sought it out sooner if not for the part where you learn to accept how your body looks once you stop restricting food, even if that version of your body is larger than you would like.

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White Nationalist Threats Against Transgender People Are Escalating

From Southern Poverty Law Center:

By Cassie Miller
June 26, 2019

Transphobic rhetoric, some of it violent, appears to be increasing among white nationalists and neo-Nazis as the fight for transgender rights gains visibility and public support.

A Hatewatch review of internet chatter, social media posts and recent news events shows hate groups ramping up their efforts to demonize the transgender community, going as far as calling for the deaths of trans people.

The harassment of transgender people and their allies has been especially pronounced during Pride month, celebrated in June. For example, at Detroit’s Motor City Pride event June 8, about a dozen members of the National Socialist Movement raised a swastika flag, tore apart a rainbow flag and yelled, “fuck you faggots” and “Jews will not replace us.” And in Orlando, the New Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement held a “Make America Straight Again” conference with some speakers calling for the government to kill members of the LGBTQ community, which includes transgender people.

In June, Dallas police announced it was launching a probe into four unsolved murders of transgender women. The announcement came weeks after the fatal shooting of a transgender woman in that Texas city. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calls overall violence against transgender people a crisis of epidemic proportions.

“The epidemic of violence targeting transgender people, particularly Black transgender women, is an urgent crisis,” Sarah McBride, national press secretary of HRC, told Hatewatch. “The toxic mix of transphobia, misogyny and racism often has fatal consequences. The combination of those prejudices – both individually and systemically – don’t just add upon one another, they multiply one another.”

Online channels make it easy for the purveyors of hate to spread their message.

White nationalist and former U.S. Congressional candidate Paul Nehlen announced on June 19 a plan he called “PROJECT DOX TRANNY STORYTIME.” He urged his nearly 400 followers: “Get photos of all the degenerate parents who take their kids to this filth. Get their license plates, anything else you can.”

Nehlen uses the messaging app Telegram, a platform favored by white nationalists and terrorists.

Nehlen’s target is a nationwide program called Drag Queen Story Hour, where drag queens read to kids at local libraries and bookstores. The programs, in addition to children’s classics, feature books that cover such topics as gender expression and family diversity.

Events like the story hour have become a big draw for far-right extremists who are increasingly intent upon invoking violent, or harassing, solutions for what they deem “degeneracy.” At the “Make America Straight” conference, speakers made their definition of “degeneracy” clear when they demonized LGBTQ people as “sodomites” and smeared them as pedophiles who will stop at nothing to attack children.

Transphobia has long been an animating force within the white nationalist movement, but the tenor of that hatred has changed due to two converging factors. White power activists are increasingly embracing violent language and actions as political tools at the same time the transgender rights movement is more active than ever.

For example, a recent survey shows that more than six in 10 Americans have become more supportive of transgender rights. Furthermore, seven out of 10 Americans believe transgender people should be able to serve in the U.S. military.

Nehlen regularly praises people like Robert Bowers. Bowers faces 63 criminal counts in connection with a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a frequent guest on white nationalist podcasts, Nehlen encourages like-minded men to commit violent acts. “They stepped up to do something and we ought to celebrate them,” he said of Bowers and mass killers Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik on an April episode of “The Gas Station” podcast.

At a June 15 Drag Queen Story Hour in Spokane, Washington, some 400 people stood in support of the event while another 200 came to protest. There was a large law enforcement presence, including officers with sniper rifles stationed on a rooftop.

Nehlen responded: “You motherfuckers remember it was YOU who escalated this TRANNY shit with SNIPERS. My guess is, when all is said and DONE, there will be a minimum of 100 FEWER state-payrolled uniformed employees for every TRANNY protesting mom shot by your snipers.”

“Shoot wisely, ZOG pigs,” he wrote on Telegram, calling for violence with an antisemitic slur.

For far-right extremists, the increased visibility of transgender people is a sign of the growing “degeneracy” of the nation, wrought by “cultural Marxists,” leftists and Jews as part of an assault on white, Christian families and strict gender roles. They believe that trans people, like immigrants and non-whites, are hastening the destruction of an idealized white, Western culture.

Nehlen is not alone in advocating doxing of Drag Queen Story attendees. An anonymous administrator created a Telegram channel for that purpose with posts that drew more than 1,000 views in less than a week.

“Here’s a list of locations these degenerates will be if you’re interested,” the administrator wrote. They encouraged people to contact the employers of parents who brought their kids to the drag queen events, post their names in local Facebook groups and publicly post their information “anywhere you can think of shaming these folks.”

“Those who promote Drag Kids deserve absolute fucking death,” another user wrote in a post viewed more than 700 times in the three days since it posted. “Anyone online who has ever said a word of support of this deserves to be hung drawn and quartered.”

Drag Queen Story Hours have drawn the attention of such groups as the white nationalist American Identity Movement (AIM, formerly known as Identity Evropa). In April, two of its members disrupted a story hour event in New Orleans dressed as clowns (in part, a reference to the “Honkler” clown character adopted by white nationalists). They held a banner reading “Adult entertainment for kids! | Welcome to clown world | Honk Honk” as they stood in the library in front of confused library patrons.

It’s not just white nationalists who have become more vocally transphobic.

Many on the far right argue that the transgender rights movement is a sign of out-of-control political correctness, not as a fight for equality. It’s an opinion shared with members of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web, a collective of academics and commentators joined in their opposition to progressive politics.

That includes Canadian professor Jordan Peterson. Popular among the racist “alt-right,” Peterson first gained media attention in 2016 when he refused to refer to some University of Toronto students and faculty by their preferred gender pronouns.

“I’ve studied authoritarianism for a very long time – for 40 years – and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the ideological and linguistic territory,” Peterson told the BBC in 2016. “There’s no way I’m going to use words made up by people who are doing that – not a chance.”

Members of the far right and overt white nationalists have both cheered on the Trump administration’s rollback of transgender rights. The administration has effectively banned transgender people from serving in the military, introduced a policy that would allow homeless shelters to turn people away based on their gender identity and reversed an Obama-era rule protecting transgender people from discrimination when seeking health care.

“We are protecting the social order. We are protecting the nation,” Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin wrote on the site late last year in a supportive response to President Trump’s policies related to transgender people. “Somebody has to stop these sick faggots.”

Violence against transgender people is also on the rise. The problem is so acute the American Medical Association recently called the violence against transgender people an “epidemic.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 10 trans women have been killed in the United States this year and, in 2018, 26 transgender people were murdered. The majority of the victims were black transgender women.

Extremists are openly calling for violence against transgender people.

“Assisted suicide is the only help you can give trannies,” neo-Nazi and “Unite the Right” veteran Christopher Cantwell wrote on Telegram earlier this month.

On the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, the pseudonymous contributor Roy Batty said June 20 that transgender people should be forced “to wear some kind of symbol on their clothing so that people can tell them apart.”

“So many potential murder cases could be avoided if these trannies could just be reasonable and wear the black triangle,” he wrote, in effect blaming transgender women for their own murders if they had garnered the sexual interest of transphobic men.

In another post on his site from late last year, Anglin actively encouraged transgender people to commit suicide:

Listen up trannies – there is only one good thing you can do with your lives, and that’s end them as quickly as possible…. So as long as you exist, you’ll not only be miserable yourselves, but you’ll make everybody around you miserable and generally degrade society even further than it already is, all at the behest of (((people))) who I can assure you hate you as much as I do. Suicide is the only logical thing to do, and the only way you’ll ever get peace. DO IT!!!

The post ended with a gif of an anime character hanging themself.

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