While parents have long told kids you are who you surround yourself with, a New York Times article took that a little too far and the paper is being slammed for fat-shaming.
Titled “How to Rearrange Your Post-Pandemic ‘Friendscape,’” the article’s author Kate Murphy urged readers to take advantage of the pandemic to review their choice of friends now that social interaction is on the upswing.
“Psychologists, sociologists and evolutionary anthropologists say it behooves us to take a more curatorial approach when it comes to our friends because who you hang out with determines who you are,” she wrote.
And to be sure that she had the attention of her readers, she detailed the positive and negative effects of your choosing.
“Having friends who encourage, stimulate and support you is associated with improved immunity, lower blood pressure and higher cognitive function,” Murphy said. “Having no friends, toxic friends or superficial friends not only can make you feel insecure, lonely or depressed but also can accelerate cellular aging and increase your risk of premature death.”
Suggesting that most people are too busy or too lazy to review who they are friends with and that, because it takes more energy to cultivate new friends, folks tend to stick with the ones they have, Murphy explained that the “pandemic shook us out of our social ruts, and now we have an opportunity to choose which relationships we wish to resurrect and which are better left dormant.”
Speaking about “foreground friends,” which she claimed there was a limited number of slots — four to six, maximum — she said these are the people “who have the most profound impact on your health and well-being, for good or ill.”
And that’s when Murphy went off the rails, given today’s standards.
“Indeed, depressed friends make it more likely you’ll be depressed, obese friends make it more likely you’ll become obese, and friends who smoke or drink a lot make it more likely you’ll do the same,” she wrote.
Of course, there was the not-so-distant Cosmopolitan campaign to assure America that obesity was in fact healthy, so Murphy should have been forewarned.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) January 4, 2021
The reaction online was swift, as overweight people and friends of overweight people objecting to the suggestion, noting that it’s not a very healthy way to pick your friends.
Here’s a sampling of some of the responses from Twitter:
This piece really wants y’all to stop hanging out with your fat friends so you don’t catch the fat. https://t.co/wZt90Wn549
— roxane gay (@rgay) June 3, 2021
The @nytimes urges prejudice in your friend choices! Fat friends make you fat! Depressed friends will depress you! Well, for some friendship is about love and joy not transactional advantages. I’m sticking with the people I love and who love me. https://t.co/KQXRkUmb2P
— Dr. Charlotte Canning (@CharlotteCanni1) June 4, 2021
What the hell NYTimes? Like getting rid of toxic friends is fine, but that’s not what this says. It’s saying to get rid of fat/depressed friends?
Is it “kind” to get rid of friends just because of shit that is largely genetics? Talk about being a step away from eugenics. pic.twitter.com/nJm5phArma
— Claire Draper 🏳️⚧️♥️🏳️🌈 (@draper_claire) June 3, 2021
— Caleb Grossman (@CalebGrossman) June 3, 2021
Good to know that friendship isn’t about human connection and love but actually a machiavellian form of vampirism in which I absorb the traits I like about you and then drop your depleted husk when I’m ready to move on. I guess I’ve been doing it wrong?
— Caleb Tankersley (@Caleb_of_1988) June 3, 2021
Huh. Why would anyone assume that my obese friends are not also studious, kind, and enterprising? Picking friends by body type seems most unhealthy. pic.twitter.com/0gm5cO8jeA
— Evelyn Fielding Lopez (@True_Tacoma) June 3, 2021
What are you supposed to do? Say “sorry I’m trying to keep thin and your depression and fat body bother me, so I’m going to have to take you out of my 6 best friends list”. How do you amicably do that?
— Lisa Wahlin (@lisa_ledford) June 3, 2021
People went to the supermarket (while I was still required to go to work) and dropped off things on my front porch so I wouldn’t run out. The changing in friendscapes post pandemic should be “people that were really there for you and vice versa.” SMH.
— KDeans (@KDean1010) June 4, 2021
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