Tolerance is a Weighty Issue.


There seems to be a growing animosity, an arrogant rejection, of the plight of the overweight.   We claim fat people are the biggest cause of medical concerns … as if that means we care about them.  Interesting that the only people I know who have diabetes right now are all “skinny.”  We don’t want them to post pics of themselves claiming to be “beautiful” or be seated next to us.   We insist they are “ugly” and “disgusting.”  We get angry that they should claim to have any rights, or that they should protest against the way they are treated.

People insist “fat” people are not discriminated against in the same way that a gay person or a black person is. 

If you are overweight you are automatically assumed to be “stupid,” ” lazy,” and “unattractive.” It is assumed that you lack self control, you overeat, you are unhealthy, and you don’t care. You are denied jobs, called names, and you are treated differently. You are forced to live in a world that does not accept or accommodate your size, no different than a “little person.” Take a look at what is offered for clothing for the large … you move from beautiful colour and shapes in “regular” sizes to dull uninteresting limited “sacks.” Evidently when you are large you are not expected to ever go out or to enjoy looking nice.   The inference is that  no-one will even care what you look like, so why bother.

I recently read a written comment that a gay person cannot help being gay, but a fat person can diet.  Fat people are on the bottom of the totem pole.

There was a time when everyone thought gay people could just control themselves and stop being homosexual…. that it was a chosen preference. We have certainly proven that is wrong just as this world has had to learn that the colour of our skin is irrelevant and being a woman does not mean you are weaker, less intelligent or incapable of doing anything but cooking and cleaning.  I wonder why we never seem to learn from the lessons of the past or wake up to ourselves? We seem so proud that we now accept gays, that we are feminists and are for women’s rights, but what happened to remembering what it was like to be on the wrong side of the fence, ridiculed and outcast . . .  to be the ones without any rights? Why aren’t those who were once the outcast now the first to stand up and fight for the rights of others?

Yes,  there are people who overeat and are overweight who could change their diets  or exercise and be healthier.   Just like there are African Americans who break the law and deserve to be in jail. We are outraged at the idea that someone might suggest all African Americans are criminals. In the same vein, not all overweight people are overweight because they overeat. People are overweight for a variety of reasons.

Poverty in Australia, for example, might send you to the food bank. There you will probably get fruits and veggies from local farmers that could not be sold. You could scratch the dirt and throw some seeds in and grow a ton of fruit and vegetables. Fruits grow wild and are free for the picking. Throw a line into the ocean or a river and you have fish …. all healthy food.  Poverty here does not mean you forgo healthy food.   In Canada, for another example, poverty sends you to the food bank where there are seldom perishables because we don’t grow much and they are our most expensive part of our diet. Particularly during winter months, which can be up to 8 months of the year, we are limited to stockable items … like pasta, beans, canned goods.  Families that struggle are often left with food choices that fill up a hungry family, but do not provide a very healthy diet, and are probably the worst foods to eat if you are struggling with weight. The very agencies and outreaches set up to help feed these people are the ones often providing cans of tomatoes, spaghetti and dried soups. Christmas drives to help the food banks are “bring a can of something.” Fruits and veggies are sometimes “the treat” of a families diet. Some of what contributes to being overweight may have to do with limits of what is available to be eaten.

I would add to that the growing evidence that the additives and crap put into our food, approved by our governments, is also a factor.

Second of all I would like to offer an observance of mine. My husbands family are all tiny petite women. They have the fastest metabolism I have ever seen. They are not thinner because they work at it, deserve it, eat healthier, or have done the right thing. In fact, my step daughter eats more junk than I have ever seen anyone eat and she eats more food than I can imagine. She is always eating, always hungry, but she never gains a pound. She does not exercise, she is not healthy. I know of other overweight women who do exercise, regularly get out and play sports, and eat very little and are very healthy ….who cannot lose the weight. They have very slow metabolisms. Some of what contributes to being overweight has to do with metabolism.

You also have the issues of genes. I was always the tallest girl in my class, with big bones. I was never going to be petite or thin. Nothing I can do will ever change that. More and more they are finding there are probably other genetic causes for being overweight, in fact actual causes of someone being overweight no different than the reason some people get cancer, or diabetes … not something that anyone has a “choice ” over or can do anything about. Some of what contributes to being overweight has to do with the cards you are dealt.

Some people actually do have illnesses and difficulties that make it impossible to exercise or impossible to lose the weight.   The illnesses may even be the cause of the weight gain and not a result of being overweight in the first place.  Sometimes there is an underlying emotional trauma that causes a person to overeat.   We don’t say to the person suffering with anorexia .. just eat something. We see that as a complex eating disorder and we afford them some compassion. There are eating disorders of all kinds. Some of what contributes to being overweight may have to do with legitimate medical reasons.

Some people cannot afford to go to gyms and again … live in Australia … you can walk pretty much any day of the year.  Want to play sport here? Most sports played here simply requires basic clothing, a ball … and you head over to one of the many sport fields or just find a park or an open area. In Canada, again the weather is a factor. Almost all sport requires specialized equipment that is expensive and you must belong to a club or pay to use indoor facilities. Overweight people who go to a gym often find themselves in the minority of the taut muscled and sculpted bodies of men and women running around in cute little leotards looking fabulous already. They look on knowing no matter how hard they work and how much they lose, they are never going to look like that.  Finding the discipline to just work on your own in your basement with what you have may be something some people can and would do but there are plenty of people who can no more do that than they could work from their home.  We are all different and we can’t tell someone else it is easy just because it might be for us.   Some of what contributes to being overweight has to do with finances and opportunity.  Some of it may be about our personalities and our need to have a space and a team to help motivate us.

Some people would like to be on top of things and would like to get out but getting out means dealing with the taunts, the looks, and the judgements. People don’t even give you a chance to find out who you are once they see you … all the assumptions are made. People don’t assume all coloured people are stupid. They don’t assume all gays are unattractive. They don’t suggest that all women lack self control.

They do about overweight people.

Eventually the “fat” learn their lesson. Look away from them enough times, make disgusting faces, move away, say unkind things enough  . . . and they get it. They accept that they are embarrassing and that no-one wants them around and they stay inside their homes with themselves and the only comfort becomes food. The taunts and judgements don’t motivate them, they defeat them. They gain even more weight. And if judging them does not motivate them, then the only reason you are doing it is to be nasty. Feel better? Some of what contributes to being overweight may have to do with the judgments poured on them.

The truth is you have no idea why the person standing next to you is overweight. You really do not have ANY idea. We don’t condemn the women with breast cancer whose daughters end up with the same and say, “wow, if she would just have changed her diet, exercised some self control and had a brain in her head, her daughters would not have to go through the same thing . . What is wrong with her?”

Stop it. The tears are real. The pain is real. NO-ONE chooses to be overweight anymore than they CHOOSE to be gay. Some compassion and understanding are in order here.

(Yes this is a repost from a previous blog but it is well worth saying again and again and again … until we get it …)

3 thoughts on “Tolerance is a Weighty Issue.

  1. A lot to think about in this post, but for me I have to be careful not to just nod my head, and say, “yeah, that’s why I’m fat.” Personal responsibility comes into play too, even if we are genetically, medically, financially, or otherwise predisposed to be fat. Thanks for giving me something to reflect on.


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