“Hey, Fat Blubberton, will you cry if I take your cookies?” – Every Fifth Grader at Cambridge Elementary in 1995
I don’t want to claim that my life was too incredibly difficult growing up. I don’t want anyone to assume that I am comparing my personal pain or tragedy to their own. Perspective is important. Still, I can’t look back on my childhood without being consumed by anger. I generally ignore the fact that I didn’t come into this world at age 14. It just sucks to think about my life before that.
I was a Fat Kid
Now, I’m sure someone has some pictures of me when I was younger that make me look chubby and cute, but the truth is, I’ve always been a tub. I have never had any form of muscle definition, and I never will. Even when I was regularly lifting weights, I didn’t get rock hard and streamlined, I just got bigger. It has taken the majority of my life for me to accept that my body is my body, and even now, as I sit here, I find it hard to be okay with my chub rolls.
Today, I was doing my afternoon Facebooking, when I came across a friend’s discussion about a 7-year-old girl forcing herself into diet and exercise 1. This little girl had heard from a friend that she was supposed to be dieting otherwise she might get fat. Her mother found a note in her room detailing her outline for what she was allowed to eat and what exercises she should do every day. She was shocked that her prepubescent daughter was already developing body image issues 2.
The world is cruel. Here in the US, we pride ourselves on how far we’ve come. We champion causes of injustice and discrimination, and then we turn around and actively mock overweight children on television. We have a culture that tells us everyday that being fat means one of three things. You are either stupid, evil, or dirty 3. Even when they aren’t portrayed as being nasty, moronic bastards, they’re always the joke.
It isn’t just our entertainment, either. Even the First Lady of the United States is anti-fat kid:
” It’s an issue that has people talking all across the nation, but it’s not always one we think about as a local issue. But, if ignored, it’s an issue that can drastically alter the economic landscape of our cities and towns for generations to come.”
Normally, I love our First Lady. I think she’s got it going on, and if I could go 3 rounds in a boxing ring with any celebrity, she’d be the one. (LOOK AT THOSE ARMS, SHE HAS THE ADVANTAGE HERE) The problem is that she’s gotten hooked into the new fad that’s sweeping the nation: Hating Fat Kids.
Her heart is in the right place. She wants kids to be healthy. The problem is we’ve been conditioned by years of Infomercial Science to believe that weight and fat have a bearing on health.
When we attack people with extra body fat on the pretense that their body weight is harming them, we are only justifying our own insecurities about our bodies. You don’t ignore hundreds of clinical tests about the real causes of diabetes and heart disease if you want people to be healthy. The truth is diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease 6. Diabetes itself is a genetic condition unrelated to body fat.
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.
So what is the real reason we campaign against obesity?
Because it is still socially acceptable to hate fat people. We even hate ourselves. We are four times more likely to have emotional issues 7. Of course, the reason we’re depressed is because we’re fat, and not because we spend every day being actively tormented by the entire world around us 8.
Instead of teaching our children to live a healthy lifestyle in the body we have, we tell them that their body is diseased and filthy. We use children’s entertainment to re-enforce the association of Fat with stupid, dirty, and evil. If we do show them a positive example of a fat person, they have to be extremely old.
It’s okay to be old and fat, since nobody will find you attractive anyway. You know, because you’re old.
So, yes. There is an epidemic. It isn’t obesity. It’s Body Dysmorphia 9. This is what is really destroying our children. It is what is ruining our economy. It is what is ripping people apart all over the country.
What do we do to stop its spread?
Stop treating the chubby-kins like they’re animals and embrace the fact that we’re human too.
- Huffington Post: 7-Year-Old’s Diet List ↩
- Original Mamamia Post ↩
- TV Tropes and Idioms Lists of Fat Idiot, Fat Bastard, and Fat Slob Examples ↩
- White House Official Press Release of the First Lady’s Speech Transcript ↩
- Time Magazine article on Metabolic Health ↩
- American Medical Association FAQ on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease ↩
- Eureka Report Article on APA Reasearch ↩
- No real report here, just a link to the 55.8 MILLION results for “Hate Fat People” on Google ↩
- Wikipedia ↩