I’m reading two really cool books right now – “Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture” by Professor Amy Erdman Farrell, and “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” by Professor Linda Bacon.
Both of these books are helping me to understand the hugely significant issue of body size in our culture. But, I’ll get to that in a minute… First, I want to explain what prompted the title and purpose of this blog:
A couple of months ago I got into an unfortunate altercation about driving with someone in another car.
Actually, a man and his wife were altercating and I was trying to keep my calm while explaining that they were going 65 mph in 45 mph zone around a blind curve, and thus I couldn’t see their car when legally turning right on red.
Anyway, long story short, this guy was so mad at me (probably because I refused to get mad and would only calmly reply to him) that he screamed, “YOU’RE FAT” and gunned his engine, running a red light in order to get away from me.
Here’s the interesting part: He could only see my head and shoulders.
Take a look at my picture on this website’s homepage. I definitely do not look fat from the shoulders up. Those of you who know me can attest that if he had seen my posterior he may in fact have been within reason calling me fat.
The point was though that he used body size – specifically the idea of being fat – as the ultimate derogatory statement.
While infuriating to me at the time, the use of the word fat as a demeaning statement was also very, very intriguing.
Think about the supposedly comedic trash talking we hear on TV about being fat – “you’re momma’s so fat…” In that case, fat is funny and demeaning. But it’s not only being used to demean the person’s mother, but also the person to whom the comment is directed, who may or may not be fat.
We are so prejudiced against fat people in our society that we have allowed airlines to double-ticket fat people for their seats. We allow comedians to joke about it as if it’s just another funny topic. And, in my opinion, the worst offense of all, is that we have allowed a multi-billion dollar “diet-industrial complex” to develop that manipulates people into believing that they MUST spend money in order to be THIN, THIN, THIN.
The research on this topic has shown that being fat is not the key to good health.
This is especially true for women. In fact, women who are what even the medical community considers to be overweight, are actually more likely to live longer, healthier lives than their skinny counterparts.
I’ll write more on the research baking this up in a later blog – or you can read one of the aforementioned books. In the meantime, I’m hoping that we can start a dialogue about what it truly means to be fat in this country.
Is it really such a horrible thing that an angry man should scream it as an insult from his car? We truly need to think about what I call “fat bigotry” and how it is hurting many, many people.