I need a vacation.
That’s what eight days in Disney World with two kids will make you feel like.
This wasn’t my ideal type of vacation (I’d rather do something in nature than be surrounded by people and pavement), but my wife and kids were all gung-ho about Harry Potter Land, or whatever it’s called, and so we went.
The hotel pool was nice.
And both before, during and after I kept hearing people talk about the obesity problem in the United States.
And, well, that was exactly what I saw. I tried hard not to judge. I wasn’t always successful.
Fatism – being prejudiced against the overweight – is still considered perfectly acceptable by many. Obesity researcher Dr. Yoni Freedhoff has called attention to it many times on his Weighty Matters blog (here is one such example).
The old opinion of how the obese are just lazy gluttons with no willpower seems to be strong as ever. We judge what we see on the surface. I did see obese people riding scooters and I had to force myself to remember that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than just someone who doesn’t want to walk and can’t resist greasy food. Genetics, upbringing, emotional and psychological issues, income and the obesogenic environment all play a role in creating a society where two-thirds of the population is overweight.
Am I saying that people shouldn’t try to lose weight and we should just all be completely accepting? Hell, no. I’m a big fan of pursuing lofty physical goals in a realistic manner using patience, planning and persistence. However, trying to guilt trip people into weight loss via prejudice is an exercise in folly. It’s about providing support and encouragement to achieve one’s individual potential.
So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t judge. If you’re fit and see someone who is overweight, understand that there is a host of issues at play behind the excess body fat. From my most recent personal experience I know it’s hard to rise above some feelings of prejudice, but do it anyway.
As a society, we’ll all be better off for it.
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