07 March 2012

Blowing Things Out Of Proportion


Walt Disney World is retooling an Epcot exhibit on childhood obesity after critics complained it was insensitive to obese kids and reinforced stereotypes.
The interactive exhibit, Habit Heroes, featured animated fitness superheroes Will Power and Callie Stenics and super-sized villains Snacker and Lead Bottom, who eat junk food and watch too much television. Critics said the exhibit reinforces stereotypes that obese children are lazy and have poor eating habits.
Doctors say obesity can sometimes be attributed to genetics and certain medications, and food can be used as a coping mechanism.
"We’re appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination," the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance said in a statement.

Three things:

First, the reason why stereotypes about fat people exist is because, for the most part, they are true!  Most fat people do have poor eating habits, and most fat people are lazy.  Sure, the standard American diet of highly processed food doesn’t do anyone any favors (it would be difficult to imagine someone overeating, say, a bunch of carrots), but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to eat lots of junk food and never do anything strenuous.  Anyhow, there is generally a correlation between fatness, inactivity, and bad eating habits.  Making this claim isn’t stereotyping; it’s statistical analysis.

Second, while it’s true that medications (read: synthetically derived chemical compounds) and genetics can play a role in obesity, these are not, relatively speaking, major or common factors.  In fact, one’s aforementioned diet and exercise play a considerably more prominent role in determining weight.

Third, why is there a national organization dedicated to fat acceptance?  Why should anyone accept a state of being that correlates to serious health problems, imposes heavy costs on taxpayers, and increases aggregate ugliness?

How can anyone claim to care about other people and not speak out when they engage in self-destructive behavior, like being obese?  How can anyone say they want what’s best for the country and be accepting of people whose lifestyle will indisputably impose increased social costs* through increased health spending?  Quite simply, the fat acceptance movement is asking people to approve of a costly, destructive behavior, as if social acceptance of obesity will somehow negate its actual costs.

Quite simply, obese people need to be ashamed of their obesity, and they should use their shame as motivation to start engaging in healthy behaviors.  Fighting people who hurt their feelings won’t solve their larger problem; getting into shape will.  And if mockery and social stigma help motivate fatties to lose weight, then the fat acceptance movement (talk about an oxymoron, amirite?) is the worst thing in the world for those for whom it claims to advocate.

* I say this in light of the current march towards universal health care.

4 comments:

  1. ...why is there a national organization dedicated to fat acceptance?

    Everybody needs a job and the market for this job was growing. It is no wonder that someone would eventually write books and start lobbying for fat people to feel better about themselves and force thin people to cater to them.

    (airline seats?)

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  2. @Prof. Hale- True enough, I suppose. Still, it is a bit mind-boggling that fat people apparently feel the need for an advocacy group.

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  3. it's the other way around. Advocacy groups, seeing everyone else is already fully represented, target fatties as their meal ticket.

    Those degrees in minority and women's studies are very flexible. professional complaining can use any object just as well.

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  4. @Prof. Hale- fat jokes never get old, do they? Talk about a target-rich environment.

    Anyhow, I see your point. I guess we'll always have professional complainers.

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