Every time you turn the TV on, every movie you see, every magazine you pick up, you see thin, sometimes too thin, men and women staring back at you with perfect skin and perfect bodies and they are portrayed as the general society. It’s very rare that you find someone like Oprah Winfrey and has public struggles with her weight, or Kathy Bates that has aged very well, but like most Americans have seen days where her weight was less of an issue. What I am trying to say is that there are very few role models out there for women or men that are not perfect. The unfortunate part of all of that is that the average, everyday person is not.
Now “not perfect” and “gross obesity” are two different things and they are viewed in different ways. Not perfect is the person that you see on the street everyday, that struggles with their weight, but still maintains their overall health. They may be 20 to 30 lbs overweight, may have some skin issues and the remarks you hear are, “they could be beautiful if they just lost a little weight”. Haven’t we all heard that? “It’s a shame he’s chubby, he is such a good looking kid!”, Sound familiar? And one of my all time favorites, “ they could really be somebody if they just lost a little weight.” As if, because they are a little overweight it somehow makes them nobody. But in reality, the way society views weight, these are all somehow accurate statements.
Lets be realistic, twenty to thirty pounds overweight, you are viewed as less attractive, and on many levels if you are less attractive you are also viewed that you are less intelligent. So for the person slightly overweight, you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself to be taken seriously. To show that because you may be a little fat does not mean you are a fat head.
So take the grossly obese person. Almost everyone knows someone that fits this description. If you have walked down the street with them, you will notice how they elicit stares. I’ve got news, this is not envy. Most often it is pity, sometimes it is repulsion, sometimes people will even cross the street to avoid you. Small airplanes will make them sit in different sides of the plane, and this is not to be discriminatory, but because small planes need a weight distribution. I have gotten on elevators with people and had very heavy people get on and everyone check the weight restrictions on the elevators.
The view is one of them being an anomaly, almost like the freak show in the carnival. They are viewed as being lazy, because how do you get that size and do anything? The truth is, that once their weight gets out of control and they fail to contain the effects, then after a while, they really can’t do anything. There was a man that recently died at 52 years old. He was over six hundred pounds and had not gotten out of the chair he was in for over 2 years, the chair actually fused to his body. Now if you do not move out of a chair in two years, how do you do anything? How can you possibly a productive part of society? They recently decided that gross obesity is a valid reason to apply for Social Security disability. They, statistically will have more health issues, they are at greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and a plethora of other ailments. So is it any confusion why some people may view them as a burden on society? They draw from tax payers dollars and increase everyone’s insurance rates.
In essence, there are people out there that have worked for the last fifty years or so paying into social security that they cannot collect until they are 67 if it still even exists, but if you eat pizza and ice cream all day and watch soap operas and Jerry Springer to a point you cannot move, then you can file for welfare or social security disability.
There are a variety of health issues that can cause significant weight gain. Menopause is no friend to any woman I know. It slows your metabolism, destroys your energy levels and makes you cranky, besides the weight gain. But using a self inflicted issue like this for Social Security Disability and having it be allowed, is ludicrous, especially when most insurance companies will pay for gastric bypass or lap-band surgery to give them back their health. There are many options available for people that have their weight that far out of control, and in essence it is no one else’s fault but theirs that they allowed it.
I guess what I am saying is that I have been 130 pounds and I have been 195 pounds, and the way people look at you, the way you are treated and the respect you are given is entirely different. The view is, that if you cannot control your own body, how can you have control over anything else in your life? In many instances, if not all, that is true. Some people eat because that is the only control they have in life. Most eating disorders come from stress, depression, unhappiness and lack of self worth. It will then become a vicious cycle until they decide to stop it for themselves or they die. Because the heavier they become, the more it feeds the problem. It’s up to them.
Craig Ferguson said on his late night show that he was looking at a dieting program. “People pay big money for it and it’s no mystery, eat less and move around more, it works every time.”