There is a stigma to being overweight. There is such a stigma that we use euphemisms. Someone is heavy, or portly, or stout, or large. They aren’t ever fat or obese or even morbidly obese. We use euphemisms about everything we don’t want to deal with. Someone didn’t die. They passed on. They transitioned. They have left us. When we use euphemisms we are avoiding the truth. We are avoiding having to deal with reality when we refuse to name it.
Fat is the new normal. We Americans are so overweight that we don’t even recognize when we are fat. We think obese is 500 pounds, when that is morbidly obese. We don’t realize that you can be obese at 200 pounds if you are 5 foot 9, because that looks normal or even thin in comparison to everyone else. In spite of this collective case of denial, there is still social pressure against people who are obese.
Any deviation from the arbitrarily determined norm is seen as weak, and weakness is picked on. If you drink too much or smoke at all you’ll be picked on. If you don’t watch TV you’ll be picked on. If you vote the wrong way, dress the wrong way, talk the wrong way you’ll be picked on. It isn’t personal. In fact, it is as impersonal as possible.
The same thing happens in the animal world. Baby birds that are seen as less than perfect are kicked out of the nest. Male lions eat their young for the same reason. The herd is thinned of the weak members to make it stronger. Weakness isn’t tolerated.
Obesity is attacked because it is seen as a sign of a lack of self-control. It is seen as a sign of gluttony. At its heart it is seen as an addiction, even though few people would be aware enough to name it as such. While it would be lovely if we could all be what we want to be and nobody got bullied for any reason, there can be good in fat shaming. If it encourages a person to get healthy or learn healthy coping methods, then it has served a good purpose.
Sadly, this isn’t usually the case. Sadly, most people who use food to deal with their problems don’t suddenly learn new ways to be healthy in mind, body, or spirit. Our society doesn’t teach that. It doesn’t teach self-care. It teaches that we should blame everybody else and not take responsibility for our actions. It teaches people to be victims. It teaches instant everything. Don’t wait, don’t work for it. It teaches people to get lucky from playing the lottery rather than hard work.
We don’t need to lose weight for losing weight’s sake. The goal should always be to get healthy. We need to move more, eat better, and develop healthy ways of dealing with stress and anger. It can be done. It isn’t easy, but anything worth having isn’t easy. Health is worth having. Learning to deal with problems other than stuffing them down is a valuable life skill.