Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Skinny on Fat

I don’t need to tell you that fat is a problem in North America. Let’s face it, we’re chunky. And statistics after statistic (legitimate and otherwise) indicate that we’re tipping the scales more and more everyday. Hell, all you need to do is turn on the TV for a whopping 5 mins to get inundated with North American fat culture.

Fat is everywhere. Literally and figuratively. I know it, you know it, we all know it. First, the questions were “Who and what is to blame?” Let’s face it: North Americans eat shitty and don’t exercise. We’re sedentary fat asses for the most part.

We started off by blaming the fast food industry and beauty industries. The academics, activists and thinkers of the world are now talking about the way in which we’re now blaming the obese for well… being obese.

All the latest body image experts are chatting noisily in the latest journals about “fat shaming” and there’s a movement within feminism who call themselves “Fat Activists”. Reclaiming the so-called fat body. Add them to the list of medical experts who say that genes really do play a large part. (“Do these genes make my ass look fat?”) All these folks believe that shaming the individual fat person isn’t doing a damn thing for them or society as a whole.

These discussions came to a loud rumble recently when airlines in Canada announced that they would give an extra free seat to obese flyers. The logic? The seats are considered too small for the average person, so it’s practically impossible to stay comfy if you’re obese.

This of course raised a giant firestorm of controversy with people saying “Hey, it’s their fault for being huge, let them suffer!” My initial reaction was much the same, to be honest. Mostly I thought of my 6’7 sibling who is forced to duck and hug his knees everywhere he goes but nobody ever gave him a discount. And he was born that way!

Although I quickly changed my mind on this one when I read an editorial which pointed out that an extra seat for the obese benefits greatly the poor sap who was stuck sitting beside them in the first place. I imagine it was rather uncomfortable for them too.

So where do we go from here? We blame various industries for weight-gain woes but there’s a new set of industries cropping up to service the obese. Extra-large coffins, for example, is a big industry now. Should they be grouped in the same category as Burger King or are they simply… moving with the times? Should we supersize our coffins and MRI beds (as we are doing now)? Or is that enabling?

Are individual obese people to blame or is it the culture? Capitalism? Genes?

When pointing the chunky finger of blame, who should be the accused?


Yve said...

as a fat person I know the only person I have to blame is myself.

Really I can stand up and point the finger all I want but I have no one to blame but myself. Why? Because I know what made me fat. I made myself fat by my own actions, or in my case, inaction.

I was always a hefty person, taller, and thicker then my class mates but that was always a genes thing, people in my family are stocky. But somewhere in my late childhood early teenagehood I got lazy and unhealthy in my diet. I sat around and scarffed junky food. I had always been teased about being 'fat' and well, I finally was so I just went with it. I didn't realize how unhealthy it was until I went to ride my bike one summer and I couldn't keep up with my 55 year old father. So. I changed my lifestyle and my diet and now I am roughly 100 lbs lighter then I use to be, and I'm still not done. I'm not loosing weight to fit in with societies standards, oh hellz no, I'm doing it for my health.

There is no-one to blame but themselves for how they look. Their body, their actions, their outcome.

Anonymous said...

To a certain extent is the individual's fault, except in odd certain cases. I totally agree that it is our culture, specifically an unrealistic body image. For example the other day I was reading an article that reported a top survey company found that 56% think they are obese. The actual numbers are lower. So maybe it is the way our society is fixated on fat. Also not everyone is going to be a svelt small waisted person, being healthy is different than being a model.