Most of us understand that bigotry and discrimination are Bad Things. In the living memory of most adults, the world has changed substantially on this issue.
My parents’ generation thought nothing of using, even in polite company, words and names which discriminated in the worst way against a whole range of persons who were not like them.
They would not have burned crosses on front lawns but neither would they have marched to prevent bigots doing so.
But thanks to a diverse range of courageous activists, times are changing for the better.
Access to public buildings, services and social life has been made better for the disabled. Same sex marriages are, at last, being recognised and most reasonable and intelligent people strive to prevent others being punished (discrimination is unjust punishment) for their skin colour, racial origins, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
As most fat people know, things in our sector of society are changing too, but for the worse – thanks to a well-funded, well-orchestrated campaign to convince the world that obesity is due to moral weakness and greed.
Thin people can chomp through boxes of chocs, keep the fast-food outlets going and eat buckets of Haagen Das without adverse comment.
An unscientific study done in Auckland recently involved a sight-survey of customers using 4 of the main fast food outlets. (McD, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC) over a period of 3 days.
Well over 89% were regarded as “average or below average build”. And it’s not rocket science to see that if these businesses relied upon 11% custom from “over average build” to keep profits up, they’d all close.
Maybe you’re thinking New Zealand doesn’t have so many fat people and that’s the reason why so few were seen making the panicked dash to grease-laden, sugar-saturated foods the media would have you believe we crave.
An advert on radio and TV here currently states that “60% of Kiwis are overweight or obese” (it is, of course, an advert for a diet plan).
We do have big people, of all races, but one of the reasons why this figure of 60% is questionable is because we now measure overweight in a diferent way.
A few years ago, women of size 14-18 would not have dreamed of calling themselves big, not even plump! We were “well-made” and “well-built” – phrases which reflected the idea that good health and attractiveness came from a beautifully proportioned body.
No one in their right mind believed a woman in a size 14 dress was X-Large, or that size 18 was Supersize (I said “right mind” not “gullible and easily fooled”) but the fashion and related industries changed the sizing downwards so rich women could fool themselves that they were actually thinner than they were – and popular sizing followed suit.
Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, we all knew it was ridiculous but no one dare say so.
And if we did who listened?
Then came the BMI (never designed to apply to individuals as it is totally inaccurate when used in isolation). Applied by insurance companies and government departments, the latter at least should have known better, the former were in it for the money – it made millions of thin people “overweight”, overnight.
So when you read that a high proportion of the population are overweight, you have to ask how real these figures are and, more importantly, who gains when we think it’s true?
I’ll tell you. Diet companies, pharmaceutical firms, fashion, food, drink and cosmetic industry, music and film conglomorates, banking and insurance – is it any wonder they want to keep us fooled?
They’d lose multi-trillions if we suddenly regarded hip size as irrelevant.
The diet industry alone is worth $100 billion just in the USA, every single year – compare that to the cost of the Iraq war or NASA space shots, and you have some idea of the obscene annual profits made by just that one sector of the body-image-dependent corporates.
Who loses? To begin with, the millions of young girls changing from child to woman and whose burgeoning figures are seen as “fat” when they go above size 8.
They often end up with mental illnesses called anorexia nervosa, (which kills more kids than heroin and has the largest non-recovery and fatality rate of any mental illness) and bulimia nervosa (which was born with the diet industry and has increased in direct proportion to its power).
Then the the kids who are bullied – sometimes to death – because they are not rake thin.
So if you subscribe to the idea that we should all be thin for healths sake, or that only thin people are attractive and acceptable, take a look at what or who twisted your thinking.
It was exactly this sort of propaganda which once convinced society that ethnic minorities and the disabled and those with a homosexual orientation were deserving of blame and therefore deserving of punishment.
Times are changing, we know better now, common sense and humanity is prevailing.
Isn’t it time fat-phobia was examined, seen for the unmitigated bigotry it represents, and the money-making potential that drives it?
It just takes a handful of decent, fair-minded people to stop, look at the facts, not the propaganda and say ‘Enough’…then be determined to spread the truth, rather than lies.
Maybe you’ll be one of those people who will lead the world in changing things for better for people who may have gotten fat through illness, medication, dieting, genetics or indeed any number of normal, ordinary ways – which deserve no blame.