Saturday, September 01, 2007

What If It Were Okay To Be Fat?

I guess we're not going to get to that. Same as we won't get to "it's okay to be poor." It's not really okay, but many many people are that way.

What if we could get to "you're okay even if you're fat (or poor)"? What if we -- we being all us humans, fat ones, skinny ones, even ones with chicken pox -- could accept that although it might be a big drag to be fat, it's not a sign of your flawed character.

Every overweight person wants to lose weight. That seems like a safe generalization. Some don't even try, but many, many do. Many try desperately their whole lives. And if (or perhaps it's more accurate to say when) they fail, they hate themselves. It's painful enough to live with obesity; to live with self-loathing and an endless sense of failure too, it's too much!

Of course, the overweight person isn't her only harsh critic. She has the rest of the world chiming in. A celestial choir providing an endless soundtrack of blame and condemnation: you're greedy; you have no self-control; you're a slob; you're lazy; you're weak.

Being fat sucks. Same as having asthma sucks. Or food allergies. Or a weak heart. Or thinning hair. Or gray hair. Or diabetes. But at least sensible people aren't going to look at a your wispy tresses and think what a greedy, lazy, pig you must be.

Although it's not universally true, it is possible in educated communities today to suffer from depression and not be harshly judged for it. It's possible for people to understand that depression is a physical condition that generally won't just go away because you want it to. Not everyone understands that, but at least some people do. Even in my lifetime, I think I've witnessed this transition. Maybe because of the advent of anti-depressants, it's easier to recognize and accept the physical, or chemical, elements of a mental or emotional state.

Maybe if a pharmaceutical method of dealing with obesity is developed, that consciousness can come to our cultural response to fat people too. Think of all the deeply held convictions we've given up as we've learned more about how humans work. There's the mental health one. The color of your skin doesn't make you inherently better or worse. We don't have to convert all cultures to mimic our own. Children can be heard and seen. It's good to bathe.

But we've got a long way to go. We can't even accept that this person's view of the afterlife isn't a good enough reason not to wipe out their whole society. I fear that fat people will be out in the cold for a few more generations.

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