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Fatty, fatty two-by-four

by Neena Louise

With the New Year upon us, I am truly amazed at the plethora of weight-loss commercials that have suddenly jammed the television airwaves. I suppose a lot of people resolve to lose weight every New Year, but it was still quite startling to see the commercials appear before the New Year had even begun. It got me thinking...

Every day on television, I hear another reason why being fat is reviled and equated with death: it causes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, fertility problems, cancer, etc., etc. It seems every time a new report suggests some new deadly disease fat people are supposedly prone to, television presents it as an inevitability, and urges people to eat less and exercise more. Well, gosh, that's so simple, isn't it? I wonder why no one's ever thought of that before? So, I guess no thin people have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, infertility or cancer. Puh-leeze.

Like most Americans, however, I do prefer slimmer to fatter (not only on myself, but on others), though I think that has more to do with the attitudes I was raised with rather than what I see on television. But slimmer does not mean skeletal. I was stunned when American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson proclaimed she "wouldn't give in to the pressure to be thin". Huh? What? I look at this young woman and wonder what the hell she's talking about. This woman is not fat. She's not chubby. She's not even chunky. She's thin. And she's being pressured to lose weight?!?. Are we so far gone in our brainwashing that we can't even recognize a thin person when we see one? I find that disturbing.

I hear it every day on TV and can't help but feel sympathetic toward fat people. Not only are they social pariahs simply for how they look, but now everyone assumes they're disease-ridden as well (which gives all the shallow people politically-correct permission to hate and fear fat people). I can't help but wonder: If something like 60% of the American population is classified as "overweight", and extra weight causes all these horrible life-threatening diseases, WHY IS THE AVERAGE LIFE EXPECTANCY INCREASING??? I keep hearing how fat in our society is an "epidemic". If it's such an epidemic, why aren't people dying by the millions? I would have thought that the 60% of the population that is overweight would be bed-ridden, riddled with disease or dead by now. And yet I see them on television every day. Every single day, some news segment shows a lot of large bellies and backsides ambling down the sidewalks while a reporter rambles on about all the doom and gloom of being fat. Then why are all these big people walking around, seemingly ok? If fat really was such a killer, why aren't they showing big bellies and backsides half-dead in a hospital? Wouldn't that make more sense if being fat was the death-sentence it's being presented as?

Why does television rarely stress how much more important health is rather than those numbers on the scale, or the size of that clothing tag? How are fat people supposed to get out and get moving when television is giving the rest of society permission to ostracize and ridicule them? While digging for research, I found a study that doesn't merely "suggest", but proves that fat people who exercise regularly are actually three times less likely to die prematurely than thin people that don't. Furthermore, it is absolutely possible to be fit and fat at the same time. Why haven't I ever heard this report on television? And why has there never been a study about the possibility that fat people may die prematurely due to doctor-avoidance (or worse - medical neglect), rather than because of excess weight? I've heard from many fat people that they don't go to the doctor - for whatever reason - because they're sick and tired of being given a weight lecture every single time they go. Case in point is singer Luther Vandross. His mother reported that he had a headache for six days, but wouldn't go to the doctor because he had put on weight and didn't want to be lectured. He nearly died of a stroke - a stroke that may have been avoided had gone to a a doctor regularly.

I know plenty of fat people that are healthier than their thinner counterparts, but they can't get anyone to believe it - even if they can prove it with medical tests and family history. I can understand that. When television harps on all the evils of fat, they forget that a large (no pun intended) segment of the fat population is perfectly healthy. If they weren't, there would be no diabetes-, cancer-, or heart disease-free fat people in the world. And there are. The vast majority, in fact. Why haven't I heard that fact on television? Does TV (or the associations that take advantage of TV's lust for hype) seriously think they can scare people into changing their lifestyles with all these frightening "scientific suggestions"? If they do, think again. It didn't work on smokers, it certainly isn't going to work on fat people, so stop wasting your resources by trying.

The trouble is, whenever television does something stupid like seize on the latest half-truth from some vague science or exploit a normal-size person as fat, it's almost impossible to undo the attitude that results when all the sheep-like morons believe every word. New prejudices are born every day because of this irresponsibility. How much do you want to bet that if tomorrow the entire scientific community disproved every single theory and suggestion derived from the latest anti-fat study, or if it was proven that being skeletal was a bigger risk than being fat, television would say absolutely nothing about it? Our society has been brainwashed to despise fat people and many just need permission to hang onto their prejudices - the kind of permission television gives with its daily fat-is-evil messages.

This must stop.  
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