I’m removing all names, but I received a very disturbing email recently about my inappropriate but horribly funny anti-obesity page, “You are too fat”. The page, for those who are honestly too lazy to click the link (oh sorry iPad users, you can TAP the link, too), has a fake “ideal” weight calculator. And up until recently, it suggested things like 0% body fat….
I changed it to where it is still offensive, and still has lofty goals, but it’s based on real measurements for extremely low-fat people. 8% body fat for men, 14% for women, and a fairly low BMI for the BMI version of the calculator. These are unfair to the average fat-ass American, but won’t kill anybody who is actually fucked up enough to follow the supposed ideal weight it presents.
But the email I got might explain this a bit better:
I would just like you to know that your page which encourages anorexia has now resulted in the death of one of our friends, who actually tried to conform to your impossible goals. I hope you die from starvation, you horrid twit and please remove this page before you ruin anyone else’s lives. Your page is manslaughter.
After a bit of my usual clever wit, I asked for an explanation about how my absurd little site could possibly have done this.
Let me set one thing perfectly clear right now. I am not holding you and your site fully responsible for [her] death. As far as I am aware, neither are her other friends and family. HOWEVER there is absolutely no doubt that your site is a large contributing factor to her death. I was speaking to her about her anorexia about a week before she passed away, asking her why she was doing this to herself and when she would stop. I asked her for at what point she deemed she was skinny enough to be accepted and not be fat. Well why the reasons for her anorexia I’m sure you would already be aware of, being a so called expert on this topic; but for the point at which she would stop she said she was looking at a website to work out what her ‘ideal anorexic weight’ is. A few days later she finally gave me the website link, and it is your anorexia calculator. We should have acted sooner, but already it was too late.
But I don’t know why I even bother continuing to email you. I hope to get the calculator part of your website taken down, for [My friend]’s legacy and to try and stop this happening to others. However clearly you are a heartless prick who has some kind of mental problem and is never going to think of the people he is hurting by his so called ‘joke’. I’m pretty sure no-one is laughing after using the calculator. [My friend] certainly wasn’t.
I am indeed a heartless prick, but this is a major concern even to me. I still don’t buy that this girl would have survived had it not been for my site – she’d have turned elsewhere and done the same thing to herself in any case. But there’s still some level of personal guilt I can’t help but feel if what is said in this email is true. (I’m taking it as the truth, but most emails I’ve gotten for that calculator have been “fake” anorexics. They’ll ask for advice and then scream at me about how I’m literally killing people every day when I respond that it’s not something to take seriously.)
I adjusted the calculator instead of taking it down because it occured to me that I have one of the most popular “anorexic calculators” on the net. If I take it down, people will just look elsewhere. By leaving it up and not mentioning the changes, there’s the chance that some people hitting it will go, “oh, I’m already where I should be, based on this calculator my friend swears by”.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but I gotta hope I can actually do something good while mocking the obese.