I submit the following term to the American vernacular…
Terminography: to hijack and redefine terms to fit a socio-political and/or socio-cultural agenda. More commonly associated with marketing, service, and sales professionals as a way to SELL MORE PRODUCT and/or SERVICES.
Term 1: “Skinny Fat”
(Original) Medical Community Definition:
Skinny Fat is a medically descriptive term used in dialogue to differentiate between obese patients at risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome and those that fall within normal weight ranges, but have large amounts of fat collected around their internal organs. Internal organ ‘fat’ is a highly correlational risk factor associated with heart disease and metabolic syndrome, equal to (visible) excessive weight gain.
This explains how many people classed as overweight or even as ‘obese’ can still have ‘normal’ blood cholesterol levels. And why men are more likely to get heart disease than women. Men’s physiology tends to form fat around the organs before transporting it to other areas of the body. Women’s physiology tends to send fat reserves to the thigh, waist, and hip area first.
- “Although the patient is not overweight or obese, they exhibit instances of skinny fat. Scans of the internal organs show large areas of fat accumulation.”
(Later) Fitness, health guru definition:
Skinny Fat is a misconstrued interpretation of the medical term, used to describe a perceived lack of excessive muscle tone. It is more than often used to shame or otherwise guilt ‘skinny’ people into joining their gym or fitness program. Often, it is also used to justify to their overweight and/or obese patrons how the lady at the office (that doesn’t overeat and only walks 3 times a week, exercises at home, and hikes on the weekend) can maintain a normal weight and size.
- “Pshaw! Her? She doesn’t even lift weights! Just look at those biceps!” *sneers and shifts to the next weight machine* “She’s just skinny fat.” *grunt*
(Now) The office overweight hen party definition:
Skinny Fat is another misconstrued interpretation of the original medical term and is similar to the Fitness and health guru definition, with less precise requirements. It is often used as justification in the context of pizza and donuts consumed at the Wednesday brunch that the skinny lady at the office politely refused to participate in (and instead enjoyed a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread, an apple, and a handful of snack carrots).
- “Oh, her? She’s just skinny fat, she doesn’t even have a gym membership or use diet shake meal replacements.” *takes another bite of bacon and pepperoni pizza slice quickly followed by a sip of a 40 ounce diet soda*
THEREFORE: The term, Skinny Fat, DOES NOT refer to those individuals that maintain a healthy weight and BMI, by eating a heart healthy and BALANCED diet, and leading a moderate to very active lifestyle. Being ‘fit’ in the gym membership way does not mean that you will not still be ‘skinny fat’. Skinny fat is solely dependent upon your DIET. Not the verb “Diet”, but the noun “Diet”, which means “the food that you consume on a daily basis and the nutrients that you derive from said food”.
From the archives; A Rulebook for Arguments 3rd Edition, by Anthony Weston:
Multiple Logical Fallacies are associated with the practice of (my newly created word) terminography. The terms can often appear in more than one fallacy in a single conversation.
In its’ pure form, the misused versions of the term skinny fat is simply a Persuasive Definition and/or Weasel Word. (Changing the definition to fit the argument using emotionally charged/driven dialogue.)
But also, depending on the context, can be considered:
- Poisoning the Well. (Bullying 101)
- Ad Populum. (Mob mentality)
- Complex Question. (If you agree, you’re wrong. If you disagree, you’re wrong.)
- False dilemma. (Providing only 2 options, when there could be many.)