April 26, 2012

societies accepted prejudice

I'm well aware that some of my posts about my overeating aren't pretty, and that some people will be uncomfortable with my rampant and destructive overeating. I am trying to keep a promise I've made with myself- to accept responsibility while at the same time striving to shed guilt and leave shame behind I don't think I am shirking if I say I don't believe that I could have behaved any differently than I had. There is a paradox at work there. At each particular moment and with every bite of food I took in, I had a choice. By eating so rampantly, I made the wrong choice again and again. But in a broader, deeper way, I don't believe I had a choice at all. Something was controlling me.

If the exact nature of the fat disease is beyond my understanding, some of its implications have become painfully clear to me during the 7 years I was overweight to obese. During the time of 2000-2007 I had been shunned for dates, heard unkind nick-names, I came to know firsthand about our culture's deep biases against fat people.

Like every form of prejudice, those biases interfere with our being seen as individuals. Once someone got to know me I became a person. I was Cody. But until that point was reached-if it ever was- I was a stereotype, a silhouette, a cut out with a rounded shape not deemed to be attractive.

If the bias against fat begins as a prejudice regarding how we look, it ends up running much deeper. People tend to make all sorts of assumptions about those of us who are fat. They tend to imagine that in some perverse way we have chosen to be fat and that we could be thin if only we'd get a grip and show some discipline, if only we'd rise up off our fat behinds and get some exercise. In allot of cases its not that easy. Unfat people tend to blame us for our burden even though its our burden, not theirs.

Not only do many people disapprove of us for being fat; they feel perfectly free to show it. Even now, in the 21st century, as we are finally becoming respectful of diversity in things like race and gender, we as a culture still seem to condone sneering and smirking at fat people. Unfat people seem to think it's fine to stare at what we order in restaurants and glare if it doesn't meet with their approval. Fat jokes are still a staple of so-called comedy on TV and in the movies. Fat stereotypes still abound. A fat man is likely to be presented as falsely jolly or a pathetic man. A greedy politician will nearly always have an ample belly. A hero's side kick may be portrayed as fat, for comic relief. The hero of course will be lean.

These insensitive representations of fat people are bad enough if we think of fatness simply as a human difference. They become simply inexcusable as we accept the idea that fatness isn't just a difference but a disease. Can you imagine civilized people making jokes about any other disease the way they make jokes about being fat?

Now, even if you refuse to admit that fatness is a disease let me ask you, why is it ok for our society to treat fat people like they are diseased. If your friends with one, or God forbid you date a fatty, -as if being with a fat man cast doubt on their own attractiveness. Some of the people I've debated this with say it’s because fatness is a choice. We are fat because we are too lazy not to be. It’s true, I can, just like any other fat person could, take steps to become thinner, or in societies eyes become better looking and more attractive. A person who gets cancer, isn't it their choice to get treatment. If they are unsuccessful at that treatment, could any person in their right mind make fun of them or treat them unkindly? People make that choice to treat fat people poorly all the time. I felt horrid about myself every moment I was fat. I didn't like myself. Others made me not like myself, because they acted like they didn't like me. Others treated me differently once I got fat who had never treated me poorly before. I'll never forget the day a family member whom I loved and trusted pulled me aside and told me to be a good Father and husband I needed to not be overweight. Why would he say that to me? I was still the same person I was before I had gained my weight. I feel so bad for people who are fat because of the way they are treated. Treating someone differently because they are fat, being uncomfortable having to talk to one, or being disgusted if you are on a blind date with one is a prejudice. Think prejudice is to harsh a word? Could someone imagine the uproar there would be if someone actually suggested a person of color get some kind of treatment to become less dark so that they will be more successful, trusted, or even accepted? How virulent is today's bias against fat? I recently came across a study in which a group of college students were asked whom they would least likely marry. When the results were tallied, it turned out these students would Rather be wed to a cocaine user, a former mental patient, a shoplifter, a sexually promiscuous partner, a communist, an atheist, or a blind person than someone who is fat. Welcome to a fat person’s life. That's what people hint, and even say to us every day.

Be nice, fat people are human too. We have emotions just like everyone else, if anything we are even more sensitive than most because we are so often the brunt of mistreatment. Don't treat us differently because we're the same person no matter what we weigh. It’s not healthy to be overweight, but we shouldn't be treated like we are doing something wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i just love this post!thank you!!!