In summary: tiffabee posted “French Women Don’t Get Fat: Part III.” She was sitting with a woman from New Jersey on her way back to the airport, during her trip to Paris. Fifteen minutes into the ride, the woman starts talking about how there were “no overweight people in Paris.” Since the two of them (tiffabee and the woman) would be considered not overweight, tiffabee made the point that the woman just assumed she would engaged in the negative, hateful talk about fat people. Of course, tiffabee did not (hooray!).
However, there were some interesting comments to the post (some which had nothing to do with the post itself, as is characteristic of our weight-obsessed culture, which uses nearly any hook to harangue fat people and/or the obesity “problem” — which was, quite delightfully, tiffabee’s point all along — thanks, commenters, for playing into it so well! LOL ). Here are two comments I specifically addressed:
But come on, you have to admit, being obese isn’t healthy; it’s not comfortable either. I am constantly pissed off at how the inner thighs of my jeans wear off so quickly to the point of tearing.
I’m all for body image acceptance; I wish I loved my body more than I do. I also wish I was healthier. In the context of my family medical history, my obesity isn’t a good omen.
In the end, it’s not really about fat for me; it’s about health, which is NOT equal to thin (see Nicole Ritchie and most runway models); but obviously, we’re all susceptible to the popular conception of beauty, so all people tend to focus on is whether I’ll be able to wear a bikini or not.
It’s a vicious circle; if a less-than-stick-thin woman wears a bikini, people will stare and gag; so that woman will focus on getting thin so people won’t react that way; so then she’ll be the next one to stare and gag at the next fat woman that wears a bikini; and it goes on and on and on…
I don’t think that O’Maolchathaigh was equating obesity to immorality. He was merely saying that obesity is a problem.. not that obese people are.
I agree with many of you that people should be more accepting of overweight people. But we all make judgments, so I don’t see the point in being angry about it. When tiffabee says that she thinks people in LA could stand to gain a few pounds, she is essentially judging them on their weight. We are all guilty.
If we cannot say that people should lose weight, who are we to say that people should gain weight?
Unless we look at eating disorders such as anorexia and bulemia and so we must intervene for the people’s well-being. In which case, we must also say that we must intervene and say something about the eating disorder of eating excess to the point where you are putting your life at stake.
I think regulations on diet and exercise are important if a person cannot stick to one to save their lives (meaning this in the most literal way). That doesn’t mean I think all non-fat people should go out and start forcing overweight people to go on a diet. But some people are in need of regulation from a dietician or some kind of accountability from a friend or family member.
It’d be nice to acknowledge, also, that a lot of the spoken judgments about obese people stem from insecurity about one’s self-image. Perhaps that is the problem– the declining self-image today– and not the “status quo” or a lack of societal acceptance.
And my response:
I don’t “have to admit” being obese is unhealthy. You cannot look at a person and determine their health based on how much they weigh. That’s absolutely ludicrous, and no different from statistically-based assumptions about sex, religion, and class (i.e., not all women like romantic comedies, not all Catholics have big families, not all poor people live at McDonald’s).
Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I merely understand the nature of statistics, and I also understand how odds ratios have been used in the calculation of obesity stats in order to make some “risk factors” seem far, far more determinant of health status than they are. Read about that here: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2006/12/study-sidebar-odds-ratios.html
Besides, carrying the torch of healthism doesn’t give you to the right to impose your beliefs on someone else, regardless. You don’t want to be fat? Fine, don’t be. But don’t start making blanket statements about connections with health that you don’t understand, and using the “but it’s obvious!” non-argument to make your case, and expect anyone to take it seriously. Also, don’t assume that the rest of us ascribe to any so-called “popular” notion of attractiveness. I certainly do not.
“If we cannot say that people should lose weight, who are we to say that people should gain weight?”
Someone can be starving to death and need to gain weight (because it’s been shown, over and over, that without food you do indeed waste away and die, regardless of who you are). But no, nobody on the street can be *sure* of that. In fact, last time I checked, health and medical issues are *private,* and are supposed to be your and your doctor’s business. The point is, no one can tell by looking at someone what their health problems were, and even if they could, then it woulds STILL BE NONE OF THEIR DAMN BUSINESS.
The problem with our society (in respect to weight issues) is that people make other people’s weight their business. Family members, friends, teachers, bosses, colleagues, and strangers feel free to comment on your body, what you’re eating, or subject you to long tirades on their own weight issues, eating, dieting, etc. Food has become a symbol of morality and strength amongst more than just fringe circles, with Mickey Dees seen as the lowest of the low and vegan whole-foods local markets seen as the pinnacle of morality. People feel free to sneer at or feel superior to others (especially if they’re fat) if they’re seen eating the “wrong” foods, buying the “wrong” groceries, or feeding their kids the “wrong” foods. Think I’m exaggerating? Ask any fat person who’s grocery-shopped. Ask someone who eats fast food in public if they don’t feel embarrassed if they think they’re eating the “wrong” foods, or if they feel proud if they just have a bottled water and an energy bar.
We’re taught to be “proud” of weight loss, that it’s an “accomplishment.” How can you extract that from morality? Accomplished = good, = better than non-accomplished, i.e., better than people who didn’t lose the weight. Weight loss, for all but the very thin, is generally seen as an accomplishment.
Gaining weight is seen as an accomplishment only in extreme cases, usually when dealing with people who are severely underweight. Even pregnant women are being increasingly coached not to gain “too much weight” during pregnancy, or they’ll risk having a big baby. Of course, this is completely unsupported by *any* evidence at all, at best a misinterpretation of diet.
The fact is, most of the commenters here can’t imagine a society where people *weren’t* morally judged based on their weight. Healthism is just another excuse for passing moral judgment on those you believe are being “willingly” unhealthful. Athletic injuries are quite common; and, you can easily argue, athletes bring them on themselves by being athletes in the first place. Yet there is no vilification of these “unhealthy” people. &etc.