2.28.2007

#56 - Fat bigots

Fat is one of the last socially acceptable prejudices. We have politically correct names for everything. People aren't retarded, they're mentally challenged. You can't call someone a cripple, they're handicapped. We don't call 'em poor people anymore, now they're low-income. Even crazy people are now schizophrenic or bipolar or manic depressive. What about fat? Nope, no politically correct terminology here, just fat. People aren't allowed to be bigots anymore, at least not in public. But this doesn't hold true for fat. I mean, who hasn't heard a fat joke recently?

Fat people are totally discriminated against in the workplace. Did you know that fat people earn significantly less money than thin people (about $6000 less/year!)? If employers are given a choice between hiring a well qualified heavy person versus a less qualified thin person, they will most likely hire the thin person. The reasons behind this are that fat people will make the company look bad. This hiring discrimination is particularly true for high exposure jobs such as receptionist or sales, where the employee would frequently come into contact with the public. Also, fat people tend to have higher incidences of disease (like diabetes and heart disease) and will therefore theoretically miss more work, leading to reduced productivity. Also, all those visits to the doctor will cost the employer more in health care costs. So really, it all come down to the almighty dollar - fat people cost too much, either through increased health care costs, reduced productivity or the fact that your obesity will repulse and turn away all potential clients. I was reading this article about fat discrimination in the journal Obesity the other day and I had to quote them. "Overweight employees are assumed to lack self-discipline, be lazy, less conscientious, less competent, sloppy, disagreeable, and emotionally unstable. Obese employees are also believed to think slower, have poorer attendance records, and be poor role models" (Puhl et al., 2001). Doesn't that just hit you with a ton of bricks? That really hits me. Can you believe this is what people think? It really hurts to hear this, but it makes me want to change my appearance. So I guess these misconceptions, however negative, are motivating.

I think the major misconception of fat people is that they are lazy, stupid people that eat like pigs. In fact, obese people often eat less than thin people (of course it also means they're probably exercising less too). This ignorance doesn't take into account genetics or aliments. Being fat is seen as a life-style choice. So the thought is: you brought this on yourself so you are a totally acceptable target for ridicule. It's the blame game. You made yourself fat so you'll have to deal with discrimination. Too bad. I didn't purposefully subscribe to the super-size me plan. Weight comes on gradually. 5 pounds here, 10 pounds there, up and up by little increments until, before you know it, you hit 200 or 300 or more. I didn't choose to be fat. For me it was a combination of lack of exercise, genetics, insulin insensitivity (hypoglycemia - which forces me to eat frequently), a bad habit of emotional eating, and a love for chocolaty good desserts. I wish I would have known that if I would have committed a little more effort to diet and exercise as a young person, I could have avoided obesity in the first place. Obesity wasn't a choice, it just happened.

By no means am I running out and joining my nearest fat acceptance association. I hate being fat! For some reason these fat loving organizations make me cringe. It's true, becoming fat isn't a choice, BUT you do have a choice to do something about it and change. It's not healthy to be fat. You'll have bad joints, and probably end up with diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. I just can't condone the idea of loving being fat. Don't get me wrong, I love myself, I just don't love my fat. There is nothing wrong with learning to love yourself no matter what weight you are, but becoming complacent and deciding you'll be fat forever doesn't seem right. I just hate it when I hear about a fat person trying to get disability. It took simple changes in our diet and activity that caused us to get fat, so it should take simple changes to lose weight. Sure little changes won't result in dramatic and fast weight loss, but over time you'll get healthy. It doesn't need to become a disability. I hate to say it, but I think I often buy into these stereotypes of the obese. When I see someone much fatter than me, I think to myself, "Why can't they just eat less and exercise?" I'm sure everyone thinner than me thinks the exact same thing about me.

Fat bigots aren't going away. They will be there forever. I guess we just need to ignore their ridicule and gain strength from their evil comments and agendas. But I guess, in the end, if you want a job or a raise or a promotion you'd better lose some weight!

11 comments:

Silas said...

You know, this is something that I have been thinking about for a while now. People are so much nicer to me now than they were when I was 336 pounds. More smiles, more jokes at the checkout counter, more helpful at service desks, etc. And while I like the niceness and the help, it sometimes just seems so disingenuous. When I know how they reacted to me three years ago...

I don't comment much, but I really wanted to here. Keep it up.

-Silas

Anonymous said...

You've been mentioned on Mark's Daily Apple! Check it out.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-big-fat-blog-post/

Lorrie said...

You're so right. Anyone with a lot of weight to lose can relate to this. I had such a hard time finding a job in manhattan when I first moved here because of my weight. I finally found a job in a more open environment in Brooklyn at a non-proit agency. I feel like people see me as lazy and stupid because of my weight. Its so disheartening at times.
Lorrie
The Token Fat Girl

Anna said...

Unfortunateley, that is part of the reason I decided to start losing weight. i am going to graduate from collegeg in May and I noticed all of the girls who were already getting jobs in my field were the ones who were cute and petite.

And no matter how much we want to deny it, health care is a huge concern and when your overweight you do tend to have more health problems.

It doesn't really seem fair but I guess that is just how the world works.

Anna

sarahaarssen said...

Hi! I found your blog from the fatfightersdirectory.com.

I just wanted to say that I've posted a similar post about what it means to be fat and how fat doesn't define you. It's in my February 2007 Archives if you're interested in reading it.

nato said...

I tend to disagree with you on your premise that people don't choose to be fat. Granted, nobody says to themselves "I want to be 100+ lbs overweight", but it was the choices I made that made me fat...nothing else. Yeah, a lot of people in my family are overweight, but again, that's because of lifestyle choices and not genetics in my opinion. It was about making the choice to take the easy way out whether it's driving through McDonald's, or staying on the couch when you know you should be working out. I got tired of the excuses last October and made some changes. Just like the choices I had made thusfar have made me fat...the choices I've made since October 10th, 2006 are making me thinner.

Anonymous said...

Ah the insidiousness of bigotry. I have two friends who I have known since nursing school who are absolutley gorgeous inside and out. I started to notice how strangers - people getting into lifts, waiters, specialist doctors- responded to them favouably from first contact. They were always treated politely and positively. They were in a kind of benevolent cycle. They never had, or had very few negative first impressions. So of course they see the world as a glowing warm place which then made them more beautiful. Now, as a non beautiful fattie, my world is one where I am judged non favourably. No wonder I'm a crotchety, suspicious of niceities old boiler. And what's worse I too favour the beautiful.

Anonymous said...

BEING FAT IS A CHOICE. NO ONE FORCE-FED YOU, YOU WERE THERE FOR EVERY BITE!

Apparently, fat people don't hate being fat as much as they hate exercise and don't hate being fat as much as they love eating more calories than they burn.

It is pretty simple math

calories in > calories out = fat

Anonymous said...

Apparently the last poster is quite ignorant. Eating one meal a day or nothing a day will actually make you gain MORE weight. You need about 5 SMALL portions every day.

I go to the gym daily. I eat correctly. I have normal blood pressure. I have normal cholesterol. My weight is the only thing that is not "normal."

People like you are the reason that I was at one point bulimic. I gained more weight after I went to doctors after that than ever, even after eating correctly.

Do NOT ever tell a person to "put down the fork" when you do NOT even know the person's history.

People like you, I wish, would become fat, just to know what it's like. No matter what you do, how much you exercise, how long you exercise, you barely lose a pound.

Sarah said...

Being a small 20-year old swedish girl of only 123 pounds I really can't relate to any of your problems, but I have spent all day reading through your blog from your first entry and so forth! Now you may ask yourself why a girl with no weight problems is reading a blog ABOUT weight problems, but the truth is I'm one of those people who really feel attracted (in a friendly way hahaha, I'm no secret admirer) to people like you - people who are strong and charismatic and determined. I've been mesmerized by your writing; I absolutely love it. I love this entry the most though because you point out what is so important when it comes to losing weight; accepting and loving yourself while also accepting that the excess weight is not your friend (unfortunately). It IS unhealthy to be overweight, and it makes me so happy that you are the strong woman you are, and that you have decided to reward yourself with the gift of a long and healthier life. I truly believe you will reach your goal (I haven't read your latest entries yet so I don't know how things turned out for you)and I think you deserve it. Good luck on your journey, and know that you have support even from someone in a country as far away as Sweden.

Sharilee said...

Excellent and true post! I just recently started a blog and my first post was about this very topic. http://prairierprincess.blogspot.com/2009/08/100-lbs-to-go.html.

Yes, you really have to deal with people's perceptions of you. I am a very sensitive person, and can usually sense others's perceptions of me. It's very painful at times. Good for you for acknowledging this truth. Take care!