Monday, January 21, 2008

Cruelty, Civility, and Other Weighty Matters

Paulin wrote this essay, at times, with tongue in cheek expressions. "...theory that fat people are jolly." "...good nature might wear a bit thin..." These comments and others made reading a joy.

I suppose she is correct in her overall depiction of fat Americans. 'Fat' itself, sounds and implies far worse than the more gentle sounding 'obese'. Yet 'obese' actually means very much over weight. There definitely is a "prejudice against fat people in this country". I even harbor a prejudice, though I try to hide it. I am not thin, either! When I see an overweight person, my first thought is they don't exercise. They overeat. They are not concerned about their image. They are lazy. After my initial thoughts pass, I am more sensitive toward the person. We don't all have the same metabolism. We don't always make the best choices for ourselves.

Actually, I have these same thoughts when I see a very thin person. I first think they must have an image problem. I, too, wonder what "crazy things people inflict upon their bodies to lose weight". Paulin just asks "remember Fen-phen?" and doesn't go any further with it. Perhaps she could have, not everyone does remember Fen-phen. I only remember it because an already thin person I know used it and had major anxiety about it later.

Paulin continues with "appearance is not the ultimate way to judge a person's character or value to society". I ask, who are we to judge in the first place? I suppose judging comes natural. We see something and make an instant opinion. We call it a first impression. It's automatic. I am forever at myself to revise my first impressions; to not judge. Judging is not my profession, nor do I want it to be. I try to see a person for themself.

I think of Oprah Winfrey when she first started her talk show. Jokes about fat people and Oprah were abundant. Oprah proved to be intelligent, and the jokes faded. She yo-yoed for years with her weight, but the jokes stopped once she proved herself. Rosie O'Donnell is another female overweight celebrity that comes to mind. Her image, however, doesn't come across the same as Winfrey's. Is it because O'Donnell makes her own jokes about herself? That she doesn't look like she has tried to change her weight image? That she is a loud mouth? (I think I just made a judgement here.)

I found the information about landlords not renting to fat people interesting and completely believable. Same with the wage earnings. These facts led a lot of 'weight' to the essay. I have a female good friend who will not quit smoking because she is afraid of gaining weight - another subject Paulin touched on. She also mentioned the diet industry without going into depth on it. There are so many diet pills on the market. One can't turn on the television or listen to the radio for long without some advertisement for losing weight.

Paulin's final sentence sums up the weight issue. There definitely are many more important things than being slim.


Nicky said...

Great review! I agree with you I think we all can be judgmental at times. I know people who work and work to try to lose weight but fail. I am not thin by no means; I used to be better to myself and keep a healthy weight. I think my problem is I became to comfortable. I think the media is just trying to show us that we need to think about our future. Granted they could maybe be a little more sympathetic, and not so disgusted in over weight people. What is wrong with the world today when bigger people can't get jobs or homes. Oops I have just rambled on and on. Just to much to say about this topic.

Jennifer Silva - Colville Center said...

I don't think when people read Ann Marie Paulin's essay they're going to think she's a lazy fat person. They're going to think she's a belligerent one! :)
I often wonder how we would all see each other once the peer pressure and mainstream media was removed from our eyes. When we'd see a heavyset woman would we see just that--a heavyset woman--and not all the negative associations that often come with that image because of the way we've been raised? I think to live without that kind of ignorance and prejudice would be an amazing thing indeed! But since that's not how things are--I guess all we can do is TRY and maybe someday it will be.