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There’s been a recent outburst of fat shaming lately. Fat shaming is basically the act of making someone feel like crap because of their size. It’s always, always been a problem, but what’s brought the added attention to it as of late is an opinion piece in Marie Claire magazine called “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?)”, by Maura Kelly. Kelly was basically responding to the TV show “Mike and Molly,” about an overweight couple who meet via Overeaters Anonymous. As Kelly says, “So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine [sic] addict slumping in a chair.”
Okay, so we’re comparing overweight people to drunks and heroin addicts? Classy. But it’s not like she’s the only one. If I had a gallon of gas for every time I saw a Facebook status this Halloween weekend that decried the “fat girls” who dressed in “slutty” costumes, I’d have enough gas to drive my car to a McDonald’s in Buenos Aires. Did these people ever stop and think, for two seconds, that there’s a lack of store-bought costumes for women that AREN’T “sexy” versions of something? Or maybe, just maybe, these “fat” women wearing these costumes aren’t ashamed of their bodies, no matter that society tells them they should be?! We always feel bad for people who are anorexic or bulimic, as we should, but we regard people who are overweight as disgusting. So people are expected to be somewhere in between, which is difficult. It requires constant monitoring, which some people just can’t do. Also, overeating (or binge eating) is a genuine eating disorder. Sure, there are people out there who simply don’t care about how they look, about their health, and about what they eat. Some of these people are thin and some are fat. But there are also people who just feel the need to compulsively eat, just like there are people who feel the need to compulsively NOT eat, or people who feel the need to purge. We never acknowledge that, though, because we’re too quick to shame them for “making a choice” to be fat.
For easy use, here’s a list of things to remember before you make a fat joke, or write that Facebook status about the fat girl in your sociology class.
1. It ain’t cheap to be healthy.
Why else would notoriously broke college kids gain that “freshman fifteen?” They can’t afford to eat healthy. I personally am broke, and while I like to cook and eat vegetables and try new things that are generally healthy, I’ve recently had to cut back a bit on my grocery spending, and so it’s mac and cheese, soup, Rice-a-Roni, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and pancakes for me. Would I rather be buying portabella mushrooms to make a light pasta dish, or Asian vegetables for veggie lo mein, or fresh broccoli to make broccoli in brown sauce? Yes. But making recipe-based foods is expensive in general, and even more expensive if they require fresh produce. I eat Lean Cuisines, but I get burnt out on them. Also, it costs money to work out. Not everyone can afford a gym membership. Sure, there are other ways to work out, but gyms are convenient and easy. Too bad not everyone has the privilege to be a member of one. Being healthy and eating healthy is a definite class issue. If people really cared about “fat people” assaulting their eyes, then maybe they should work to provide produce to poor people in some way (grow it and sell it cheap at a farmer’s market, or work at a soup kitchen and help promote healthy eating there), or maybe they should organize free exercise classes, or maybe they could have a few less-privileged friends over for a veggie-filled meal once a week. I realize that this would be asking a lot, but aren’t we asking just as much of some people to be eating healthy or exercising all the time when it’s just not an option, due to their finances? If the weight issue in this country bothers you, then perhaps you should turn your attention to the poverty issue as well, and that includes the healthcare issue.