Sunday, June 27, 2010

We, the "Vincents", of the world

There was a movie made in 1997 called "Gattaca". For those who haven't seen it, it's a movie about a near future world in which genetic engineering allows parents to make sure that their children are the best they can be. It isn't that they become "super people" so much as all possible weaknesses are eliminated and strengths ensured. The children are still limited by the genetic material of their parents. If you want to see the movie and don't want to be spoiled, I advise you to skip the remainder of this post.

The movie operates from the point of a view of the main character named "Vincent". Vincent is what is called a "God child" by people in this society. That means that he was simply conceived naturally without any sort of manipulation on the part of his parents. He has a congenital heart weakness, and is seen as being of limited potential and inferior to children who have been engineered to be a distillate of the best genetic material their parents had to offer.

Vincent has a younger brother named Anton who has been manipulated genetically. While Vincent's parents love him, they expect little from him compared to his brother, and his mother worries about his heart weakness. Despite his brother's genetic superiority, Vincent always manages to out-swim him when they compete to swim the furthest in the ocean, and Anton cannot understand why his inferior brother always beats him (and in fact often saves him from drowning).

Vincent has a dream to travel to space, but only the best of the best are allowed, and "God children" aren't even given a chance and Vincent is stuck doing janitorial and maintenance work. Children who have not been bred to be excellent are stuck with menial tasks because before one can even apply for a lofty position, one has to submit genetic samples to prove ones potential. In order to gain entry to the space program, Vincent uses genetic material from a crippled former runner who has some of the best genetic material in the world. This man, despite his advantages, is a drunk and a wreck who never realized his potential and walked in front of a car to commit suicide when he failed to take first place in a race which he should have one according to his genetic pedigree.

In the end, Vincent rises above all of the other applicants and realizes his wish to go into space. Despite the fact that he has a multitude of genetic disadvantages and weaknesses, his strong effort to do whatever it takes pay off in the end. Those with genetic advantages don't try as hard as he does, and get their rewards more easily, but he ends up succeeding beyond their capacity through his strong effort.

Sometimes I write about all of the obstacles and disadvantages of being fat, and how hard it is to overcome. From the fact that stress eating is normal to delayed leptin responses that keep us from feeling full to the fact that the number of fat cells in our body make it harder to lose and easier to gain, we have a steep mountain to climb relative to people who are thin when it comes to dealing with food. That being said, it is possible to overcome your genetic and psychological obstacles and to come out all that much stronger a person on the whole on the other side.

Those that have it easy never have to grow to do what we have to do. They can take it for granted, but you can bet that whatever you learn from the process will serve you in every area of your life. You may have to work far harder at it than those who are naturally inclined to being thin, but you can be the equivalent or healthier than a person with a natural disposition to be thin. This notion is not just in a science fiction movie about a near future dystopia. I have never felt more certain of that than I do now. The first step, however, is accepting without fear, resentment or anger that we will have to try harder and that nothing is inevitable, no matter what your genes indicate or the people around you believe you are capable of.


KyokoCake said...

Sometimes when we are out on a long walk or especially running my husband (that is one of his favorite movies) will say to me to not leave anything for the trip back, just go as far as I can. I always think it's so geeky of him to quote the movie but it really is a good message too, that you can't just say someone can go farther or do more just because they're smaller or thinner or anything :)

Human in Progress said...

This is my favorite post of yours.

screaming fatgirl said...

Thank you. :-)