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The Obesity Offense

I’m tired of suffering under the oppression of being fat. Obesity is socially constructed, and sometimes a person can carry around some extra weight and still be healthy. I used to watch the World’s Strongest Man competitions. While most of those guys lack washboard abs, they are strong enough to dead lift two young women or pull a plane strapped to a harness on their backs. Various cultures have changed the definition of “fat” throughout history. It is not a constant variable. In some cultures, being chubby is viewed as a positive symbol of fertility, strength, or security. If a concept can mean different things to different cultures across time, then it must be a socially constructed idea.

You may not realize this, but there is a skinny bias which you slim people probably aren’t even aware exists. Your thin privilege helps you when interviewing for jobs, when searching for a mate, and even when you try on clothes. I, however, am treated like the “other.” I rarely see images of people who look like me on television, movies, or commercials. I never see an Abercrombie and Fitch ad with chunky folk. Where is the romantic comedy with two overweight people, coming together to find love? Fat people do show up in comedies from time to time, but usually as bumbling idiots or brash humorists who are insensitive and mean. The stereotype of the “funny fat guy/girl” has been perpetuated in all facets of the media. It shows that my people only seem to exist to be laughed at. Do you realize that it’s a big reason why so many of us are introverts who are afraid to come out of our shells? Being ridiculed for being different is something which many other groups have suffered, but they all love to laugh at us.

There are genetic factors at play as well. I have a family history of fat people, therefore I believe that I am fat based on biological principles, rather than by choice. It is hard-wired into my DNA, and I can’t change it without surgery. No matter what diet I try, or how often I work out, I still cannot lose enough fat to slide comfortably into my assigned BMI category. According to a June 2013 Time Magazine article, they have discovered various genetic mutations in mice which translate to humans whose effects range from increased craving of high fat foods to realizing that some people simply “sequestering fat rather than breaking it down for energy.” So not only has the definition of obesity changed over time in our society, but I may be at risk for genetic issues which would keep me in the obese category no matter what I do.

Healthy eating may not be as easy as prescribed in the media. For those of us fat people who are also on the lower rungs of the socio-economic status ladder, we may not be able to just go out and afford grass fed beef, almond milk, or gluten free flour. Whether our genetic disposition is a factor or not, some of us have no choice but to eat less healthy alternatives. MSG in fast food makes it addictive, but it is often cheaper to eat at McDonald’s than at home. It is much less expensive to by 80% lean meat than 93%. Canned vegetables are worse for you, but cost less than their fresh counterparts. So you see, even grocery stores seem to be against us.

I think we need to stand up for rotund rights! Let us march on Washington D.C. and demand that fat people get our own special protected class! Businesses should no longer be able to discriminate against the double-chinned. The media must stop the portrayal of only the skinny to sell products! We deserve equality! Michelle Obama can rally against childhood obesity all she wants, but as one who is clearly not genetically predisposed to being fat, she is simply exerting her own thin privilege in trying to combat an illness which may not be treatable. It would be akin to wearing a $12,000 dress to a party while telling the rest of us that she understands poverty and we all need to suck it up and spend less on extravagance during these tough economic times. Instead of trying to force all of us to fit into the skinny person hierarchy, we should focus on removing the negative labels and stereotypes affecting all of us. This is the civil rights issue of our time!

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