fat in a thin society
Whether we like it or not society says, if you’re thin then you’re "sexy, self-disciplined and well-adjusted”. On the other hand, if you’re fat, then "you’re out of control, sloppy and self-idulgent”.
Let’s confront this issue full on, and blast the myths dealing with size and our acceptance by society based on that size, out of the window, right now!
At least 60% of all women are obsessed with a real or imaginery 5 to 20 kgs of fat. In many cases, they’re the only ones who can even see it. Yet, it can keep them from buying clothes, going for a swim, doing anything physical. It can also impact upon their social activities, and networking with both men and women. An inner voice tells them they have to wait until they’re thinner. And they listen, over and over again. (We’ve done the same, if we are honest with ourselves.)
Women in past years have spent hours debating the “fors” and “against” the Scarsdale diet, the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Easy-Slim, Ultralite, Sureslim, 16 day diet, the Israeli diet, Tony Ferguson, Nutri-slim, Nutrisystem, appetite suppressants, carbohydrate diets, grapefruit diets, egg diets, the water diet, the beer diet, the Beverley Hills Diet, the this that and the other diet. Most women who have even been a "little" overweight have gone onto stringent diet regimes, discovering to their dismay and adding to their burdens of guilt, that none of them were successful.
Now we seem to be going through yet another tunnel of discovery (or denial whichever) in that many women take pains to explain that they are no longer “hung-up” about weight, size and shape; that they’ve come to acept themselves as they are. And yet, they’re seen to be popping the latest “diet” pill or attending the gym for fast-loss weight programmes, or visiting weight-loss “weekends away” at health farms, including B&Bs right around Australia (not to mention Europe and the USA). Can't they see they're contracting themselves?
And this of course doesn’t even enter the conversation of “cosmetic surgery” - another word in many cases for extreme and invasive WLS which presents untold risks whatever the advertisements say! But I won’t get into that subject at the moment.
In many ways our obsession with thinness has never made less sense than it does today. Governments (State as well as federal) are now slamming down on the so-called “obese” - a hatefilled word in anyone’s language - and threatening to penalise them by charging them a yearly “fee” top-up to their Medicare premiums. They’re also considering penalising people who are overweight and who will not agree to WLS, by insisting thast they do so - in the interests of the country’s economy no less. Who’s taking into account the additional health risks for the patient, I wonder?
But everyone from health and medical practitioners, those within the fitness industry - the sensible ones that is; psychologists; psychiatrists and more professionals in between, as well as you and me, know that body weight has as much to do with hereditory genes as willpower and that permanent weight loss is far more complicated than we once believed. We’ve learned that the old standards for our ideal weights were set unrealistically low - just look at the controversy surrounding BMI - and we knnow that the starvation diets of the past are counter productive and potentially dangerous.
But for too many of us, the message hasn't sunk in. There seems to be a huge gap betwen what we know in our minds and how we actually feel about ourselves.
Believe it or not, but our preference for almost fleshless bodies is fairly rare in historical and cultural terms. Even in the recent past, large breasts and flaring hips padded with flesh were seen to be acceptable if not preferable. The Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe wold be considered unaccceptable today - she was seen to be the symbol of sensuality and seduction in the mid 60s and yet compared with today’s young women (and incredibly so many of our 30, 40 and 50 year old women who are starving themselves silly) she would be classified as “too big”.
Plump, curvaceous women are prized in countries like Sierra Leone, Mauratania and many parts of West Africa; as well as the Pacific Islands (Tonga, above). Chunky, fabulous young women and matrons, swishing and sashaying as they walk, seductively tantalising men of all ages. They carry themselves with a jaunty confidence in their own worth and desirability. Why not read the Precious Ramotswe books to get a better idea of a “traditionally built” woman looks like, feels like and her confidence in her own value and importance.
On the other hand, Western Society regards fat with horror, similar to the attitude held by the Victorians in relation to “sex”. At a time when we’re increasingly sensitive about insulting other minorities, fat people are still fair game.
In the real world it seems that it’s OK to discriminate against the fat, even though we are told that ‘discrimination is now illegal - oh, yes? just who is kidding who?)
Studies in the USA, Europe and Australia have found that fat people earn less money than others. They are less likely to be hired or promoted. They routinely face ridicule from their doctors (still!). They even face more resistance when seeking accommodation.
To be continued ...