Kate Dailey

Stories by Kate Dailey

  • Introducing the Fit, Fat Gallery: Reflections on the Fat Wars, Part 1

    A few weeks ago we ran a series called "The Fat Wars" that looked at the way we talk about obesity in this country, and whether our current methods of fighting the war on fat were working. Within the course of the articles, we made a few unsubstantiated remarks about fat people being just as able to run or bike as thin people. (Unsubstantiated because we wrote them as fact, without citing backup evidence.) In doing so,  the article generated lots of comments from people basically calling it bull. This was expected: a point we researched but didn't articulate in the article about why America is so darned angry with fat people is that the anonymity granted by the Internet tends to bring out the worst in people; the points we did articulate argued that fat people are easy targets for rage, which people like expressing, and projected self-loathing, since we all worry about weight. Still, it seemed like what President Obama refers to as "a teachable moment," an...
  • Your Facebook Health-Care Protests: Why You Changed Your Status (Or Didn't)

    Last week, thousands of Facebook users updated their status to reflect their support for health-care reform. As Jenny Hontz reported at the time, small gestures like this can make a big difference not only by reminding progressive politicians that the Facebook Generation—the same group of organized, plugged-in citizens who helped elect Obama—are still a force, but also by countering the loud, angry town halls in a more tech-savvy way....
  • The Science of Hold Music: Audio Edition. Writer Russ Juskalian on NPR today at 3:30.

    Last month supersmart science writer Russ Juskalian wrote a piece about the science and psychology of hold music. I am fascinated by this topic. Once, I spent 20 minutes on hold with an upscale salon that played pretty decent peppy bebop tunes—punctuated every five minutes by an irritating prerecorded message thanking me for waiting. By the time I had a real live human on the line, I was cranky, irritated, and annoyed. Is this really the most effective use of hold music? I wondered....
  • Heavy but Healthy? Send Us Your Photos

    On Wednesday, Abby Ellin and I wrote about the increasing animosity towards fat people in America. One of the researchers quoted, Marlene Schwartz, said something in our interview that stuck with me, but that didn't make it in the article. Fat, she said, is so personal - it's something we can see right away, from a distance. There's no hiding it. Unlike HIV or mental illness or other stigmatized conditions, she said (or for that matter, bad breath, a nasty personality, split ends, the propensity to tell off-color jokes) fat makes itself known right away. And therefore, all the assumptions we have about fat people - that they're lazy, nonathletic, slow, lethargic - come to mind before that person has even opened her mouth. Part of the problem with the war on fat is that it denies healthy fat people their agency: if you're fat, you must be unfit. And yes: there are absolutely some very fat, very unfit people out there. But there are also just fat people who...
  • America's Fat Hatred

    Anti-fat rhetoric is getting nastier than ever. Why our overweight nation hates overweight people.
  • Confessions of a Skinny Fat Person: Welcome to The Fat Wars

    Kate Harding almost got me fired. The week I started at NEWSWEEK, I read an advanced copy of Lessons From the Fat-o-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body. Written by Harding and Marianne Kirby, it put me into such a crisis of confidence that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do my job.            The book is a plea to overweight readers to stop trying to lose weight, stop blaming themselves for being overweight, and focus instead on being healthy and happy. Weight is innate, they argue, and trying to fight it only results in a tortured relationship with food (better to listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry and stop when your full), exercise (instead of seeing the gym as torture, find movement you love to do─and give yourself a break if you have to skip a few classes), and your reflection in the mirror (if you're unhappy, find treatment in therapy and positive friends, not food or body obsession). After all, they say, most skinny people aren’t paragons of...
  • Share Your Favorite Crazy Health Care Myths

    We all have one: a dotty but well-meaning grandma, the Lyndon LaRuche fanatic at your gym who spouts nonsense, but also happens to have killer abs, the paranoid, anti-government boss who is otherwise a pretty nice guy. Since a new survey shows that fifty percent of Americans believe misinformation about healthcare, there's a good chance you've run into someone  spouting off crazy nonsense about death panels or drawing little Hitler moustaches on posters of Obama. Of course, most of the myths people believe are more like misinformation: facts that were twisted or misread or reinterpreted. But some, of course, are just plain crazy. Like, hut-in-the-woods, handwritten-manifesto nuts. Aaron Carroll, who ran the aforementioned study about the pervasivness of these health care myths, shared one he heard as a guest on a call-in radio show. That's crazy, right? Crazy in thinking that the government would mandate abortions, crazy in that an American citizen would think, "...
  • Study: No Matter How Crazy, Health Care Myths Take Hold

    by Kate Dailey and Sarah Kliff Yesterday, Barney Frank's takedown of a young woman comparing health-care reform to Nazi policy was heralded by reform advocates as long-overdue counterstrike against an increasingly absurd campaign of misinformation. In fact, one of the most difficult battles President Obama has fought in the health-care debate is explaining what exactly his health-care plan entails—and then getting people to believe him. Myths about health-care legislation have run rampant to the point that the White House launched a Web site devoted to mythbusting. It doesn’t seem to have done much good: Aaron Carroll of Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research has an interesting study out today looking at which myths have thus far taken hold in the health-care debate. Turns out, nearly every myth that has made its rounds in town halls and on viral e-mails has ginned up a serious following, with almost half of America believing myths about he...
  • Are Jocks Jerks? Kids, Sports and Life Lessons

     A three-part series on the role sports play in childhood development.  Depending on one’s high-school experience, there are two distinct philosophies about the role sports plays in a child’s development. There’s the idea that youth sports teaches kids discipline and respect, keeps them off the street, and helps them mature into adults: it’s sports that turned athletically gifted but insecure Daniel Larusso into The Karate Kid. But just as pervasive is the opinion that jocks are jerks, and kids who play sports are mean bullies who will do anything to win, who need to dominate their opponents and who carry that aggressiveness streak off the field. Kids who play sports, this line of thinking goes, are more like Johnny Lawrence, star athlete (and big-time bully) from the Cobra-Kai dojo. A recent study in the journal Developmental Psychology suggest that jocks really are jerks—if they focus exclusively on sports at the expense of other more-well rounded programs. But kids who both play...
  • Safer Sex, Better Sex: The Truth About Condom Design

    Consider the noble condom: it shows up (when invited), does its job, and does it well (98 percent of the time, unless we somehow manage to mess it up, in which case it still works more than eight out of 10 times). It protects us from disease and unwanted pregnancy, allowing us to enjoy sex with minimal consternation over serious, long-term consequences.And yet, what respect do we give the condom? What appreciation? None, that’s what. “People often talk about the fact that condoms are a ‘grudge purchase,’ ” says Carol Carrozza, the VP of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. “No one would use condoms if they didn’t have to.”Ah, but we do have to, and we do use them─and how. The condom industry is a business like any other, and business is booming: profits were up 5 percent at the end of 2008 compared with the same time in 2007. But that doesn’t stop condom companies from trying to up their margins─both in the name of public health and their bottom line. Wh...
  • The Human Condition on 'The Takeaway' Tomorrow: More on Texting and Dating

    I'll be back on The Takeaway tomorrow, discussing texting and dating─as well as the other pros and cons of dating in a technology-saturated world. I'll be joined by Steve Calechman, the author of the Boston Globe article that started this whole to-do, and we'll finally get the in-person grudge match for which everyone's been clamoring. Steve will give voice to all of you who think I'm a classless, selfish jerk for my habit of checking my BlackBerry during dates. I will try, once again, to explain why my sparkling personality and witty banter more than make up for it, and—more important—why it's possible to have a fun, engaging, great first date even with electronic interruption.  Tune in at 6:21 and 8:21, then check back to the blog for the last word.
  • Lose The Weight And Keep It Off: Mission Impossible?

        Last week was not a good week for Tyler.Tyler, a 24-year-old from South Carolina, writes the blog 344pounds.com, which documents his progress as he tries to lose weight. Since beginning the site in January, he’s lost 109.8 pounds, thanks to an intense exercise regime. (As part of a blog promotion, for instance, he performed over three hours of cardio one Friday night). But last week—his birthday week—he gained weight for the first time since beginning his blog, a fact he chalked up to lowered standards: watching TV, indulging on his birthday, and skipping the gym in favor of surfing the Web. “This week should show to you that if you don’t put in the work, you won’t lose the weight. It’s not rocket science. I’ve lost weight 26 weeks in a row without fail—the first week I give just a little bit of slack I gain half a pound,” Tyler then resolved to resume his arduous exercise routine and cut back on the junk food. His plan sounds both admirable and exhausting, and raises the ques...
  • Paid Family Leave: Share Your Best (or Worst) Horror Stories

    Lew Daly's impassioned editorial on the need for more paid family leave in the U.S. elicited a strong reaction from readers. The commenters are split between those who think more time to spend with an ailing family member or newborn baby is an essential part of building a strong society, and those who think Americans need to plan better for their own medical needs, whether expected or not, and not rely on the government. (In between these two sides, of course, are those who think blame should be placed on illegal immigrants, unwed mothers, women of childbearing age who dare get jobs in the first place, and women who get pregnant on purpose to game the system. Which reminds me: if I have to go to one more baby shower for a friend who got herself knocked up to cash in on that extra three-week vacation ...) ...
  • The Human Condition Comes To Amazon's Kindle

    We're very pleased to announce that The Human Condition is now available for your Kindle (you do have a Kindle, correct?) Now you can take us on a train, on a plane, in a box... you get the idea.  It costs $1.99 for a monthly subscription. Each purchase comes with a 14-day free trial and the delightful-sounding Amazon Whispernet. (Apparently, that's a very fancy name for free wireless delivery, which one could argue is a very fancy process.) And while you're shopping at Amazon, NEWSWEEK Magazine is also available for the Kindle. Aside from getting all the content that's published in the magazine for the month, you'll also receive all our web-exclusive content. That means new articles every day, like the investigation into why ladies love vampires, a look at Facebook at 5 years old, and extra doses of your favorite columnists, like Sharon Begley and Eleanor Clift.It's only a matter of time before we're all getting our news from electronic devices...
  • Takeaway From The Takeaway: Don't Let Reality TV Turn Your Kids Into Judgmental Jerks

    Just as I suspected, my time on The Takeaway this morning discussing the impact of reality TV on teenagers had me sounding very much like an old-fashioned school marm. There I was talking about values and judgment and parental supervision, while 17-year old Grace stole the show with her concise analysis of the current reality lineup. Initially, I thought the issue was more about what kind of bad behavior kids could learn from reality TV. Teenage brains aren’t fully developed, meaning they’re not as able to make sound decisions as (some) adults. They’re also in a process of figuring out who they are and what they like—a process that can be influenced by what they watch, what they listen to, and what they see their friends doing. Would seeing good looking, well-edited, casual-sex-having, AMEX-toting, underage-drinking teens on TV ruin the moral compass of “normal” kids? As host John Hockenberry pointed out, however, kids aren’t stupid. They know that these shows are staged, that the...
  • The Human Condition on PRI's 'The Takeaway'

    Set those alarm clocks, Human Condition fans (and by that I mean "Mom"). I'll be on Public Radio International's morning talk show The Takeaway this Monday at 6:20 a.m. (ET). We'll discuss whether parents should be worried if their kids are obsessed with reality TV. Does the excessive cursing, nudity, and inane behavior shown on screen rot young minds? Will watching too many episodes of My Super Sweet Sixteen convince young girls that the only way have a proper birthday party is to invite Young Jeezy and ride in on a white tiger?  Or is it healthy to expose impressionable youths, in the controlled environment of their own homes, to the morons and sociopaths that litter the reality-TV landscape?Let me know your thoughts on this issue below ... and tune in Monday morning at 6:20 to hear my take.  I will be joined by an actual teenager, making my slightly-behind-the-times pop culture references seem even more dated.
  • This Week in NEWSWEEK: Ted Kennedy and Others Explore the Drama, Intrigue, and Passions of Health Care

    NEWSWEEK's health-care coverage has been amazing this past week, both online and in the magazine. And for those of us who are more interested in petty manners of dating etiquette than one of the most important political and social issues of our time, reading the assorted NEWSWEEK articles has been a great way to quickly feel like a health-care expert. Still unsure if you have the time or dedication to dive in? Allow me, a newly minted health-care expert, to summarize. First, Jacob Weisberg argues that a country’s health system reflects its values, and ours is currently falling short in three key areas: moral, economic, and socioeconomic. Moral because the "random unfairness that condemns the uninsured to bad health and the risk of untimely death offends the national conscience," economic because we already spend way too much for a system that doesn't really work, and sociological because it doesn’t recognize the character of the American workforce: ...
  • Beastie Boy MCA Has Cancer of Salivary Gland: Tour Canceled and Album Postponed

    MCA, a.k.a. Adam Yauch, will need surgery and radiation to attack the cancer, which is located in his parotid gland and lymph node. The good news: Yauch says the cancer is localized, and that treatments won't affect his voice. He describes the diagnosis as a "setback and a pain in the ass," but a treatable one. According to the American Cancer Society, salivary gland cancer is rare: about 2 cases per 100,000 people per year in the United States, which is less than 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Says the ACS, "Two out of three salivary gland cancers are found in people who are 55 or older. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 64." Yauch is 45. The American Cancer Society's Salivary Gland Cancer Facts 
  • Better With Age: Tom Watson and Other Over-40 Sports Sensations

    Editor's Note: Since posting this article on Friday, Watson played some more fantastic golf, coming from behind to finish the Open tied for first with Stuart Cink, a 36-year old America. After missing a 10-foot putt in the playoffs, Watson placed second—not bad for a man who will be kicked off the tour next year, when he turns 60, but not enough for me to win the bet I made with my editor. Tom Watson, you owe me a dollar.  Tiger who? For most of yesterday, the British Open was dominated by Tom Watson, the 59-year-old American who has been playing professional golf for 38 years. (Watson ended the day one stroke behind the leader, and was in an eight-way tie for fourth place as play continued today.) While hitting the links is sometimes unfairly maligned as a hobby for retirees, competitive golfers usually hit their stride before 40. Older golfers have had their moments: at 53, Greg Norman held the lead for most of the 2008 British Open before tying for third place, and Jack N...