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It’s very hard in this society not to hate fat. I don’t mean the saturated or unsaturated kind, but body fat. Much as it’s nearly impossible due to institutional racism to be White and non-racist in this society, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the cultural and institutional bias that condemns fat as one of humanity’s worst transgressions. You have a choice, however, to buy into this absurdity or opt out.
Stop for a minute and think about why you hate the fat on your body or anyone else’s. List the reasons by saying, “Fat is…” or “Being fat means…” or “Fat people are...” Now comb through your list and decide if there’s actual evidence to back up your claim. For instance, say you think, “It’s terrible that fat people are out of control.” Folks are out of control in lots of ways in this society: they work, spend, watch TV, and text too much. Do you hate them for it? Do they disgust you the way you’re disgusted by fat people? Or, you think, “Being fat means I’m a failure.” Really—what kinds of things have you failed at? Does being fat mean you’ve not succeeded at doing anything? Or does it mean only that you’ve not succeeded at being or staying at a different weight?
Now make another list of all the things you think are wrong with people. Here’s a start: they cheat, lie, bully, think only of themselves, steal, con others for personal gain, have shallow values, trash the planet, harm others intentionally, lord it over those who are less fortunate, are too materialistic, and are willfully ignorant. It doesn’t matter what you come up with. What you’re looking for are characteristics which are destructive to self and/or others. Fact is, people commit egregious acts that we don’t condemn nearly as strongly as being fat. Do you work yourself up into a lather about someone pilfering from their workplace with the same passion you feel toward an overweight person who has trouble fitting into an airplane seat? I can’t say for sure, but I think not.
Society often winks or looks the other way when someone acts inappropriately or even criminally. But society never passes up a chance to show disdain for, and often ridicule, a fat person. What scares me is that we’ve been so lulled into believing that fat is evil and the worst thing a human being can be, that we’ve stopped directing our revulsion toward seriously shameful acts like deceit, fraud, and out and out abuse. What does that say about our culture? What does that say about you as an individual? It’s time to decide: Do you want to be part of the problem or the solution? Do you want to perpetuate the fat-is-evil myth or are you willing to buck the trend, stop demonizing fat, and call others on doing so? And feel better about yourself in the process.
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