Headlines blazed across the television screen this morning, NUMBER OF "OBESE" AUSTRALIANS REACHES 'STAGGERING LEVELS'
For a woman who wears size 20 clothes (and sometimes I have to buy sizes 24 and 26 even though I don't change shape or weight in order to get something to fit), I have come to the stage where I am no longer willing to be categorized as a burden to Australian society because of my size.
In reading a lot of material about plus-size (much of it from the archives of plus-related books and articles as well as contemporary writings), I've come to realise that in the past as well as the present, we have been given the most humiliating descriptions possible and we've been expected to accept that discrimination without a murmur.
Personally I've been told that:
- if I want to be accepted as an equal in the work-scene I have to lose weight;
- if I want my views and balanced opinions to be listened to seriously about all manner of issues, then I should lose weight;
- if I want to be accepted as an intelligent woman ( a lot of plus size women are considered to be dull and not having much sense), then I would have to lose weight;
- if I want to be accepted as a patient in many small as well as major hospitals then I would have to lose weight;
- if I want to be treated respectfully at many restaurants around the country and to be seated comfortably at one of their tables, then there was an inference that I should lose some weight - ("we can't provide chairs for people who aren't standard size" I've been told more than once). Just exactly what do they mean by "standard size"? - should everyone be identical in height, width, shape, size and looks, so that we are "standard'?)
- if I want a reasonable range of clothing to choose from then it would be preferable to be a few sizes less
and the list goes on.
It's when the health industry publicly gets vocal in their non-acceptance of us that things start to turn nasty. For the media is always eager to sensationalise reality and they grab hold of what the health industry state, and we become the agents for not only discrimination but ridicule. The health industry has the ability and the opportunity to improve our lives by seeing us as we are, and then working with us to assist us to become more healthy. Working with us means NOT to insist that we lose weight by outrageous diets or disfiguring and dangerous surgery. Too many studies have been carried out that now claim it is not necessary to be thin to be healthy. We get blamed for being who we are when if the health and fitness industry looked deeper into the question, they have it within their means to enhance our lives as they are right now.
So the health industry reminds us that we are fat and overweight and then the media takes up the message and emblazons the television screens, the national magazines and even the newspapers with reports and photographs that do nothing to assist in our self-esteem.
Because that's where the whole subject loses its way. If society and this includes the media and the health industry, were to readily accept the plus-size woman and encourage her to make the very best of what she has, then she would become healthier and happier. And with that her self-esteem would rise.
It's self-esteem that we have to aim for, first and foremost.
© Rose Davida