Friday, February 26, 2010

The Other F Word

There's been a lot of talk about the issue of fatness recently.  With ABC's Nightline debate or "face off" between the fat "supporters" and the fat "haters," Kirstie Allen's appearance on Ophra to talk about her new show on her weight struggles, and Kevin Smith's too-fat-to-fly incident, just to name a few (very few as it's on almost every morning show and cable news program).

It's been frustrating listening to all the media reports on this issue.  Every story the media does is either about how fat is killing America or let's love ourselves no matter how fat we are (as evidenced by the Nightline piece).  Neither of these really address the very serious issue of health.  Everyone is scared of offending one group or another.  Is it OK to be fat?  Obviously there is no one answer to this, even if the media wants to boil it down to a yes or a no.  Like most things in life, it depends on the particular facts of the case (can you tell I'm a lawyer?).

Science is science and no matter how uncomfortable it makes some groups, it's important to look at how weight and physical condition is impacting your overall health.  Does it matter if your size is not what one group or another considers "beautiful" or "sexy" or anything else desirable?  No, not really.  Standards of beauty are so diverse - throughout the world and throughout the ages.  So I completely support the notion that you should love yourself and feel beautiful regardless of media or society's norms, whether you're bigger or smaller than what these norms dictate.  However, I reject the notion that you should do that with a blind eye towards your own health and physical well being.

Here's a picture of the Nightline debate.  The video of the debate is included in the link above.

Here's the video about Kevin Smith's ordeal.  I think his situation raises a bunch of issues of its own but my thoughts on that will have to wait for another time.  :)


  1. There are so many issues involved here... And they're not always related.

    To take a story about someone who did fit in a seat being asked to leave the plane (because there was some question of whether they could fit in the seat - who is right here...?) and then start talking about how you should feel good about yourself no matter what your size... Well those are two completely different topics.

    Health doesn't figure into passenger rights - but it absolutely does figure into feeling good about yourself. If you are "morbidly obsese" then you need to lose weight. Not to look like a super model - but to have a chance at living a full life span.

    The only two issues at all related are positive body image and health. So I guess I'm just saying that if you're going to use an story about whether a passenger should buy two airline seats or not as an exucuse scream "sizest!" and tell overweight people that they are beautiful just the way they are...then you are inviting in the topic of health as well.

    Isn't this one of the reasons that people turn off the TV and read the newspaper?

  2. Kate - You're totally right, the airline seat issue is complex in its own right. I'm torn on that one. I was recently on a flight and there was a very large women next to me. I was sitting in the window seat and because her body was coming into my seat I felt very claustrophobic and uncomfortable. On the other hand, I felt sad for her and put myself in her situation. I know I wouldn't want to be singled out for that issue on a flight. How horrible would that be?

  3. this is a complicated situation....but my kindra once asked me a very innocent question...

    "if a person is skinny, why can we say they are skinny but if a person is fat, then why can't we say they are...because they are"

    people don't look in the mirror and not know what they are. it is what it is....(or is that too harsh???)

    it is all about being healthy and happy with yourself and also about not being ignorant on both sides of the fence.