Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Campaign to Fight Obesity - Sending the Wrong Message?

I just read an article by a presumably overweight woman, who used to be overweight as a child, criticizing some recent adds aimed at targeting overweight parents and their overweight children.  Although I don't really have issues with the adds, and feel like they target unhealthy eating more than they target fat people (although, yes, the parents and most of the kids in the adds are visibly overweight), she has some good points about criticizing an entire group of people who happen to be fat for various reasons, be it heredity, inactivity, disability, or overeating.  She also brings up the fact that the food production system in America is intrinsically flawed anyway and should receive more criticism than the overweight people it assists in producing.

"The truth is that we live in a country where the system of food production is colossally fucked. There is a systematic campaign to trick people into eating garbage because garbage is cheap to produce. There are whole communities who either can't afford or physically can't access fresh, healthy ingredients. The "obesity epidemic" is not a "fat kids love Cheetos epidemic." No fat people are up in arms when you criticize Kellogg's for claiming that Frosted Flakes are "part of a nutritious breakfast." No fat people get defensive when you make fun of that LUDICROUS Nutella commercial where the mom says she feeds her kids candy-spread for breakfast because it's "wholesome nuts with a hint of cocoa" or whatever. Because those things? They are what's known as ACTUAL PROBLEMS.
And you know what? Even if we managed to fix our insane food production and distribution system, there will still be fat people and that will be just fine. There have always been fat people. There are fat people like me, who hardly ever eat any processed foods. There are fat people with glandular issues. There are disabled fat people who would love to exercise but can't. There are healthy fat people. And sure, there are fat people who—fuck it—just really really like Cheetos. Guess what? Those people are allowed to exist too! There are a million different kinds of fat people in the world because FAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. And kids are people. And if your solution to this "problem" is telling already vulnerable fat kids that they're an epidemic that's ruining the world, then fuck you. Try harder."

~ Lindy West, It's Hard Enough...

I believe she is right in pointing out that fat people will always exist, for a number of reasons, and should be regarded as valuable, contributing members of society.
I recently read one of the old Hardy Boys mysteries to my eight year-old daughter, and found it refreshing to notice that the boys' friend (can't remember his name) was openly referred to as plump or fat, because it simply was not an insult.  It was simply a fact, the same way you'd refer to someone's red hair or freckles.  He was a valuable friend who assisted in their crime solving, who happened to be chubby and liked to eat.

Whoa, revolutionary!

~ Liz

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