Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fattism

There's been an interesting debate today on the BBC website about whether obesity discrimination exists.

I've found it fascinating, although I've not registered to make a contribution. I'm fairly undecided as to where I stand on this. On the one hand, I can quite believe the result of the study that fat people do face discrimination. My own personal (and limited) experience is that when I applied for a training contract 6 years ago (god! so long!) I had a whole string of interviews, but only got offers from the two firms I'd actually worked in for a week or two. Coincidence? And to some extent I can understand why it happens. I don't agree with it, but I understand.

But on the other hand, the response of some of the contributors astounds me. The generalisations are stunning. All fat people are lazy, apparently and there's nothing that can't be solved by eating right and going to the gym. It's all our fault. We don't deserve to be employed.

Now whether there are some merits in those arguments for some people, a sweeping generalisation like that just makes me angry. Maybe I was lazy before I started on this journey, and maybe I didn't care about my appearance or my presentation, but the quality of my work hasn't changed over the past year. I'm still the same person, and however much I weigh from day to day doesn't really affect that. You see a different person at different stages in this process, but deep down it's all the same.

The person you saw at 17 stone or 16 stone or 15 stone certainly wasn't lazy and certainly did care about what she was eating, just because I was still obese didn't mean I wasn't thinner than I had been, or that I wasn't completely focussed on making myself healthy (which by the way was more of a distraction from work than being obese ever was!)

For me, yes, going to the gym and eating right has made a hell of a lot of difference, but I'm not everyone. The answer isn't always that simple. Sweeping generalisations don't take account of circumstances, and the broad statements I've been reading are far too cliched to even believe people think like that. Maybe they don't. How do you express complex opinions in one paragraph, but I was still left speechless on more than one occasion.

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I've been thinking more about how I'm going to celebrate getting to a healthy BMI. I'm planning something nice and indulgent and luxurious to treat myself, although the details aren't quite there yet. Although I then started thinking about it bit more, and I thought of another thing I may be able to do to celebrate.

It's a long shot, but it's doable. There are 8 weeks til Christmas. I need to lose 14lb. That's less than 2lb per week. It's possible.

I hesitate to set it as an "official" Christmas/New Year goal, I can't expect to lose at 2lb per week so close to goal, and I've got a couple of holidays eating into those 8 weeks. But you never know. There's still a chance I could be sitting down to eat that turkey at a healthy weight, which would be the best Christmas present I've ever given myself.

2 Comments:

Blogger kathrynoh said...

I think the fact that people could say that fat people are lazy and that all they need to do is diet and exercise is a form of fattism in itself. It always astonishes me that people would say something like that. It's like telling an alcoholic all they need to do is stop drink. Of course, it's true but it is such a simplification of the real issues.

I've never had any concrete proof of discrimination as far as work goes, but sometimes you just notice that look in people's eyes when they first meet you. I know that I've been to job interviews where I've been treated in a dismissive manner before the interview has even started.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Kery said...

What kills me in the "fat people are lazy and can't do good work" generalization is that nobody would ever think that perhaps a person is fat because she works *a lot* and pours all of him/herself in making hir/his job right? After all, when you start work at 8 am and ends up at 9 pm after putting in long hours, when you do that regularly because the job is demanding/you love it and don't see time flie/anything, do you really have the time and energy to prepare a healthy meal and exercise after (or before the day starts)? I don't think so. The thing is simply that there are, roughly, two sort of people here: the ones whose bodies can cope with the unhealthy lifestyle without getting fat (note that it doesn't mean they ARE healthy "on the inside too"), and those whose bodies can't. It doesn't mean we're lazy, just that we've gotten a bad genetic deal that demands more effort from us to not become predominant.

8:14 AM  

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