EVAN: Alright, ladies and gents, tonight Gordon and I are going to talk about a subject that may just help blot out the memory that was Man of Steel, and that is: fat people.
It was his suggestion, so I’m going to pass things off to him and get the ball rolling [no pun intended].
GORDON: More specifically, it’s the treatment we seem to offer the overweight in this country. I’m guessing you’ve seen at least one heftier person riding around the aisles of a grocery store in those little scooter things.
EVAN: Not so much here in Canada, but yes, they are indeed around. Again, no pun intended.
GORDON: What got me thinking about the subject was this picture, which popped up on a site Evan and I browse a few days ago:
GORDON: Now, yes, before the chorus of protest rises up- this kid could have some sort of debilitating spinal issue. It’s possible. It’s just not likely.
As Evan can confirm, I am a gambling man- if I were putting money on this picture, I’d be backing the theory that this kid can walk just fine.
EVAN: A gambling man living in Vegas, how do you cope?
GORDON: I don’t like bright lights or people; it keeps me out of the casinos.
I guess the question for the night is, can we call BS on stuff like this, and if so, when?
EVAN: See, I guess we first have to fine what “stuff like this” is referring to. Is it just for the obese who scoot around on four too-small wheels, or is it to any person who looks like they’d have trouble fitting through a subway turnstile?
GORDON: It’s be the latter, I guess.
EVAN: Just to be clear for people, we are not talking about girls [and some guys, too] who complain that they’re “so fat!” A little bit of padding around the midsection is not the subject of this talk, and neither are people who are ten pounds or so overweight.
We are talking about people who are actually obese. And I am going to provide a little bit of my opinion by stating that it all comes down to personal responsibility. Agree/disagree?
GORDON: Speaking as someone who has to endure commercials like this:
I don’t think it’s such a stretch to maintain that the idea that we’re responsible for what we put inside ourselves should apply as much to food as to tobacco smoke.
EVAN: I was going to chastise you for falling back on your tobacco argument again, but yes, fair point.
As someone that’s barely seen any of it, I feel like an episode of The Simpsons really helps illustrate what we’re talking about. Do you know the one?
GORDON: I presume you mean the one where Homer gets purposefully fat to the point where he’s qualified as a disabled and gets to work from home.
EVAN: That is exactly the one.
I do not personally think that being obese equals being disabled.
GORDON: Well, you can’t deny that it does severely limit what you can do.
EVAN: But should it count as a disability? I mean, I’m going to assume that most people paralyzed from the waist down aren’t that way because they just couldn’t stop running across heavily trafficked roads.
GORDON: Heh. No, I agree with you- it was something I was thinking about earlier. Yeah, you can take risks in life. Skateboarding carries with it the risk of injury. Obesity, however, does not simply hit one like a truck.
EVAN: How about moving away from disability towards discrimination. Surely you’ve heard about people complaining about how they’re treated on airlines-
GORDON: I believe a story just came out recently about especially large passengers being charged for their own body weight.
If that’s the case, I think I should be able to bring heavier suitcases for being skinny.
EVAN: I mean, fat people are gonna be around, right? How is society as a whole supposed to deal with them?
GORDON: Well, let’s not forget that poverty is a major factor in obesity. By no means the only factor, but it’s still there. Now I don’t want to tout this line too much, not having the healthiest lifestyle myself, but I do think there needs to exist some sort of line-
If anorexia is viewed as a failure of our social standards surely the same must be said for the opposite end of the scale. NO PUNS, EVAN.
EVAN: That was all you, man.
But yes, we do have fatty, high calorie foods pushed at us the second we get online, turn on the TV, or step out the door. For the most part we’re not exactly being told “EAT YOUR VEGETABLES. I THINK YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH SODA FOR ONE DAY.”
GORDON: I’d jump back to the anorexia example and point to our women (and, to a much, much lesser degree, men- mostly it’s women) are told to be horrifically skinny. What the media tells us should be disregarded. As tiring as it is to have a message shoved down your throat, I don’t think we get to blame the TV for making us fat or skinny.
How about we set some ground rules? Some basic stuff every member of society should be able to do?
EVAN: I’m all ears. The floor is yours.
GORDON: I think every non-injured, non-disabled (disease included) member of society should be able to run… let’s say a block.
Obviously, older people won’t be expected to do this, but I think it’s reasonable to expect more or less everyone to be able to get a decent speed going, you know?
Barring genetic or glandular problems, I think most everyone should be able to fit in an airline seat and still be able to put down the armrests.
I think you should be able to see your feet.
I’m not advocating some twisted eugenics crap by any means.
I just think that this should all be the general norm in a relatively healthy, responsible, self-controlled society. If there’s a kid drowning, I think you need to be able to put up a commendable effort saving him or her, you know?
EVAN: To speak for the both of us, I’m going to try to sum up what both Gordon and I are saying.
We are not paragaons of good health. Gordon smokes and drinks a fair amount [to fill the hole we, his friends, have excavated in his heart] and I am at least a little bit overweight.
That being said, we believe in being relatively healthy. Eat a few vegetables every day, be able to walk around for half an hour without complaining about your feet hurting. These are all things that will prevent one of us from ballooning up to an enormous size [Gordon’s metabolism is like crazy good].
It does not take much to avoid the road to obesity, is what what we’re putting out there.
GORDON: I work with a population that’s almost exclusively impoverished, and even then, obesity seems more an issue of a sedentary life than one of cheap-but-bad food.
You know what?
Emboldened by your support, I’m going to start calling for some changes around here:
I. Obese people don’t get to use the scooters in grocery stores. Those are for the elderly and the disabled.
EVAN: II. Obese people aren’t allowed to complain when they’re forced to buy two seats on an aircraft.
GORDON: III. Obese people do not get to claim to have a disability. Doing so is an insult to individuals who actually do have glandular and genetic issues.
EVAN: I actually think that third points wraps this list of changes up pretty well, which is great since we are well past time.
GORDON: People, you did an awesome job responded to our last talk, but you didn’t leave any suggestions for next time.
If you don’t leave a comment, Evan and I will do nothing but start nasty rumors about you. Like the one reader who used to be a dude
EVAN: To end with, Gordon and I don’t really know any obese people, and may have a differing opinion from you as a result. Feel free to add to this discussion, and either agree with us or tell us how very wrong we are.
GORDON: And give us some topic suggestions.
EVAN: That’s all for today, folks. We’re out!
Not mentioned: pregnancy. Pregnant women gain a lot of weight and after the pregnancy it doesn’t always just… go away with the baby.
Also, the unfortunate point that, once overweight, it’s much harder to lose weight than it is to maintain it. I guess that goes without saying.
I loved Gordon’s list of things most people should be able to do.
I find Gordon’s tobacco analogy pretty compelling. While I think that society could use less of an interventionist attitude when it comes to our personal lives, if its going to exist it might as well be applied evenly across the board.
The AMA actually gave obesity official ‘disease’ status recently. Which means physicians and other health professionals actually have to treat it, instead of simply suggesting dieting and treating other obesity-related diseases. The hope is that a new label is a step towards changing society’s perception of obesity, but I personally doubt it’s going to make a huge difference.
Pingback: Reading Digest: Foreign food Edition | Dead Homer Society
My mom has a theory that childhood sexual/physical abuse can lead to obesity in adults. Psychologically, and sometimes physically, the weight acts as a shell of protection against future abuse. An example would be a good friend of hers who was trapped in an abusive marriage for many years; she gained weight intentionally so she would be too heavy for her husband to pick up and throw.
Obviously there is no one reason for anyone’s weight struggles, but I think it is always wise to air on the side of compassion rather than apply a list of “shoulds”. I’m sure most obese people wish they could see their feet too, but I’m quite sure having expectations for people does very little to actually change their lifestyle. On the other hand, a fat tax on fast food along with marketing restrictions (especially when targeting kids) might make a dent in obesity rates…
I live in Mississippi. Second fattest state in the union. yay? Ironically, the town I live in is the healthiest city is Mississippi, but still, I know a lot of fat people. At least down here, it has a lot to do with what people think is healthy, and with education. They hear on Dr. Oz that fish is good for you, so they keep eating fried catfish at the local diner. Seriously, that is not a made up analogy. I know those people, and I eat at that diner sometimes. Veggies are good? Well I eat fried okra. Or boiled to death (but delicious) collard greens. I could go on, but I’m tired of typing.
You are proving all of my presumptions about your state true.
Pingback: The (Inner) Beauty Problem | Culture War Reporters
Pingback: Culture War Correspondence: Healthy Living | Culture War Reporters
Pingback: Why We Don’t Need Fat Acceptance | Culture War Reporters