Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I'm not sure why, but I read the commentary that follows articles about increases in obesity levels in various countries around the world. The most recent article was about obesity and overweight numbers in Mexico skyrocketing such that they are starting to catch up to America. Though many people believe America is the fattest nation in the world, that "honor" actually belongs to Australia.

At any rate, I was shocked to learn that the number of overweight people in the U.S. is as high as 79% and obesity levels are at about 39%. I'm surprised because I generally feel pretty isolated and most of the pictures I see are not full of fat people. Of course, this is probably because fat people scatter out of camera range when one is pointed in their direction.

One of the things which I'm seeing crop up more and more in commentary is fear of fat acceptance (which I'll call "FFA" for short). A lot of the more vocal people who read these types of articles and show the most vociferous hatred and anger toward the overweight appear to be incensed by the fact that some fat people appear not to think there is anything wrong with them. Apparently, we're just not hating ourselves openly enough to satisfy their sense that we should be really unhappy with our condition.

If I go by comments, FFA seems to be a growing condition for many people, and I'd like to assure anyone who stumbles across this blog that their fears are completely unfounded. Trust me when I say that no fat person, no matter how outwardly positive they appear to be about their weight, is really sanguine about their body size on the inside. The reason they are projecting otherwise is that you're the enemy, and they're not going to betray their soft, spongy lack of self-esteem and self-loathing to someone who has already attacked them or betrayed their prejudice.

FFA is a curious mindset because I'm not sure why it is a concern to everyone else whether a fat person accepts himself or herself as is. There are some possible reasons, though all of them are pretty weak links. One is that fat people cost everyone money because their increased health problems spike insurance premiums for all. This is the most often cited reason, but it doesn't hold water since statistics show that death at an earlier age, which will happen to fat people, means they actually are cheaper for insurance companies than thinner, healthier, long-lived people. So, if the insurance premium cost is the issue, fat is a better bet in the long run for those average-weight people to save their coins on medical expenses.

Another even stupider concern is that the overweight will inherit the earth. That is, thin people will become a minority and then the fat people will be the ones making fun of them. This excuse sounds like it comes from people who saw the Twilight Zone episode where people with hideous deformities populate the earth and beautiful, normal people who don't respond to treatment which makes them deformed are shuttled off to live away from everyone else. I guess if you feel this is possible, then your FFA may be justified, but you also may want to get some medication for your paranoid thinking disorder.

The bottom line though is that this is really about validation. Hating on fat people is one of the few politically correct forms of prejudice and if loathing the overweight isn't validated by external agreement, then you're going to have a harder time hanging on to your prejudice. I've read that people like being angry about things because it makes them feel powerful and being mad at people for being fat is such a nice target because no one is going to think you're the bad person for having such a prejudice.

FFA is really just a manifestation of insecurity that one's prejudice will lose society's blessing as more people suffer weight issues and come to empathize with the problem rather than respond with hostility. For now though, there seems to be very little risk of that happening.