Cruel and insensitive people have used the “F” word for decades. No, I don’t mean that “F” word. I mean “FAT”. However, applied to most items in this world, any description that pertains to generous proportions is considered appealing. Just think about a large juicy steak, a fat salary, plump cushions, big hair, full lips, large breasts, a spacious car or a huge yacht. Why is it, therefore, that when a person is labelled as “fat”, it is considered to be an insult? My belief is that it is generally because of the association of the word “fat” with lazy, gluttonous, slovenly and unattractive. And therein lies the misconception about overweight people.
There are many reasons why a person may be above the recommended weight specified on those ridiculous height and weight charts, but fatness and fitness can be in accord with each other. A person’s size is not an automatic indicator to their level of fitness. I know large people who are exceedingly fit and thin people who are exceptionally out of condition. Some people, even though active, may be genetically predisposed to a slow metabolic rate and resultant heaviness, some people may have a medical condition that causes excess weight and, yes, some people may be large because they eat a lot. But, so what? Why should other people be offended by someone’s size? Do we point and jeer at supermodels because they are bony? Do we shout, “Oy! Skeletor! Mind you don’t spear someone with those ribs!” when they rattle down the street? No. Of course not.
We should feel a lot more offended by the actions of others whose choices do affect us. Smokers, for example. Smokers are the first to scream, “Freedom of choice” and yet, as a non-smoker, I do not choose to have tobacco smoke blown in my face by an inconsiderate passer-by, but it happens. What about terrorists, thieves, people who physically and mentally abuse others, drunk drivers, unscrupulous salespeople and all the other despicable criminals in this world? Being fat is not a felony, but causing eating disorders as a result of the ongoing obsession by the media to publish images of emaciated models is, in my opinion, a crime.
A report by the British Medical Association states that Anorexia is a “culturally bound phenomenon largely associated with Western industrialised societies” and that “in societies that do not value thinness, eating disorders are very rare.” The report goes on to say, “In general there is a negative cultural attitude to being overweight or obese – overweight people are mainly portrayed as figures of ridicule by the media, and successful female celebrities find that their weight loss or weight gain is the main focus of media attention and speculation.”
The report substantiates its claims through evidence from countries newly exposed to Western media culture. “Ann Becker, an anthropologist at Harvard Medical School, who has been studying eating habits in Fiji since 1988 has identified an increase in eating disorders in Fiji since the arrival of television in 1995. In 1998, she conducted a survey of teenage girls in Fiji and found that 74% of them felt that they were too big or fat. This contrasts with the traditional Fijian preference for large builds for both sexes and previous research that indicated that thinness was associated with social neglect and deprivation.”
Work with your body rather than against it. Everyone is pre-programmed to be a certain shape and size and you should make the most of the attributes with which you were blessed, rather than strive to be something you’re not and ultimately end up damaging yourself in the process.
Remember, being fat is not a character defect, being discriminatory is.
Written by Janet Garnett