I just watched the most interesting Canadian documentary produced in 1969. It's called "A Matter of Fat", and can be viewed (for free) on-line by anyone who is interested. The movie is about a the efforts to lose weight by a man who weighed around 350 lbs. as well as about the state of understanding of weight loss at that time. It also covers the attitudes and perceptions of fat people by those who have never suffered from a weight problem.
When I discovered this movie, I expected it to be full of quaint, almost comical observations and theories about how to lose weight and what caused people to become fat. The shocking thing was that everything in this movie is very close to what is talked about and believed today. If you set aside the fashions, the cheesy music and tone of the narration, and the overt nature of the diet pill scam industry, it's all pretty much as valid today as it was then.
For me, the interesting thing is that there was research into several things which I have come to believe. One point was about how people who are overweight don't know when and how much to eat and that they cannot interpret bodily cues. I have written several times that I believe my ability to know how much to eat is completely broken, so I think I'll have to monitor what and how much I eat forever. The research portrayed in this old movie validates that notion from both a biological and psychological viewpoint.
The other thing which the movie postulates which many people believe is true, but it often rejected by normal weight people is that some people will gain weight on very few calories relative to average people of their height and weight. The man who is featured in the movie is told that he may have to eat as few as 1200 calories per day for the rest of his life to maintain a normal body weight. Of course, he undergoes medical starvation as a means to lose a lot of weight, so it is possible that his metabolism by the end of the process has been damaged and could rebound. That being said, it is clear that the idea that you can eat a lot less than average people of your height and still gain weight was known over 40 years ago, yet it is rejected in this day and age.
The main difference between this movie and the way information about weight is talked about today is that the tone actually seems more compassionate. While some judgmental and self-serving commentary is on offer, the overall theme is one of understanding that fat people suffer challenges that thin people do not. They do not struggle with the same problems that we do, and therefore it is completely wrong to talk about how thin people hold their hunger in check, exercise willpower, or work hard to remain trim while the overweight give in to temptation and are weak.
Though sometimes my writing about these topics makes it seem as though our lot is hopeless, I choose not to view it that way. I think by understanding that our challenge is greater and knowing the source of those difficulties, we can find the power and the planning to overcome them. As long as we stop thinking we're like everyone else but somehow fail, we easily fall into a pattern of thinking we're inferior. We're not. We're just different and require a harsher lifestyle if we want to be at lower weights.