And Another Thing…

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The Blame Game, Plus-Size Edition

Apparently, being fat is contagious, at least according to results reported in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.  The study reports that a thin person is 57% more likely to get fat if he/she has a fat friend.  The risk is 40% with a fat friend and 37% with a fat spouse.

In the NY Daily News article on the study, Dr. Louis Aronne, a weight management doctor, is quoted as saying that there may be an unintended result of publishing the study:

 “There’s a danger that people will be biased against the overweight even more than in the past,” Aronne said. “Is a mother going to say, ‘I’m not going to let my kid play with an overweight kid because it’s going to make my kid overweight’?” 

Gee, you think?  In our modern age where parents screen and regulate every possible contact or influence in their child’s life, how can they hear about this study and not freak out?  I can hear the conversations now: “Y’know honey, that Smith kid is a polite, well-behaved, fun boy, and his parents seem very nice as well.  But I don’t think we should let Junior play with him anymore. He’s fat and it might rub off on Junior.”

Although I am fat, I am not a “fat rights” advocate. I am not going to whine, weep, and wail over alleged “discrimination” against the overweight.  I don’t blame my genes or my potty-training. It is my problem and my responsibility to fix it.  And in most cases, I think this goes for others.  Except for those who have an illness or disorder, everyone is responsible for their own physical condition.  If you are fat, then it’s on you, not your fat friend, sibling, or spouse.  Having said that, I do take exception to those who presume to judge my character or intellect by my weight.  If you are heavy, there is an unfair tendency for people to think that they know everything they need to know about you on sight. This is the root to the behavior of avoiding fat people as job candidates, friends, and significant others.  And frankly, my Christian brothers and sisters, you are some of the worst to judge and look down your noses at heavy people. Everyone has a struggle, a bad habit, something about themselves that they want to change. Fat people are at a disadvantage because our struggle is visible to everyone around us.

I have a story about this, of course. Several years ago my mom and brother both happened to be in town visiting and went to church with me. A well-known church of Christ preacher (one of our progressive brethren, no less) was the guest-speaker that Sunday. My brother, like me, is a large man. When my mother, brother, and I were walking out of the auditorium, we went through the door where the guest speaker was greeting members. My mother was ahead of us, so she introduced herself to him and introduced my brother and me as her sons. No kidding, this well-known progressive preacher looked at my brother and me and said to my mother, “You must be a good cook.”  I asked him if they had stopped teaching manners in preaching school.  The look on his face was worth taking the insult.

If you think I have a chip on my shoulder about this, you are absolutely right. 35 years of this crap will do that to a person. I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself I can tell you that I don’t want anyone’s pity and I won’t tolerate anyone’s rudeness or condescension.  And finally, all of my thin friends: if you start to get fat, don’t go blaming me.

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Filed under: Rants

6 Responses

  1. johndobbs says:

    Great post! There is a preacher in this area who NEVER FAILS to make a comment about my weight whenever he sees me. We are not old pals who rib each other about something. I went to see him in the hospital after he had an operation and when I walked in the room before I could say Hi or How are You he said, “hide the food, John’s here!”. I actually wanted to elbow him in his stitches. I do not think he means to be insulting…but you can bet I do not seek out his company!

  2. odgie says:

    I hear you, John. Your colleague sounds like a classy guy. Most times I am willing to turn the other cheek, but I have a harder time with Christians, who are supposed to know better. Something I obviously need to work on.

  3. Hey, Mike,
    I came across your blog and was particularly interested in this entry. I, too, have had rude comments aimed my direction by “well meaning” brothers and sisters. One was really funny, or so I remember it. Many years ago, I had lost 65 lbs., so this “well meaning” sister was encouraging me. She said to me in a conspiratory manner, “I just don’t know how overweight people can eat like they do. When I see an overweight person eating an ice cream cone, I ask myself, ‘Why???’.” I asked her, “Do you ever eat ice cream cones?” She said, “Yes, but….” and glanced down at her slim self. I asked, “Well, why do you do it?” She said,
    “Well, I like ice cream….but….” glancing down at her slim self again. I said, “Well, that’s why overweight people eat ice cream.” She no longer felt conspiratory with me. 🙂 On the other hand, I have been considering my responsibility to be a healthy weight for some time now. I do believe part of the problem is genetic, but even so, I can lose weight. And I have diabetes, so if I want to live a long life with my husband and children (and soon to be grandson….) then…. I keep thinking of Esau, who sold his birthrite for a single meal. You know, it’s always about a single meal…. And I think about Jesus who said “My food is to do the will of my Father who sent me.”
    If I could put those two things in my mind and my heart….before I take an unthoughtful bite. Anyway, I still think it’s okay to like ice cream….and eat it too, once in a while.

  4. odgie says:

    Hi Jerri,

    Thanks for stopping by, and commenting. I understand where you are coming from. I commend you on your willingness to give folks the benefit of the doubt (regarding their being “well-meaning”). I guess that I am a little more cynical: I am inclined to think that they are taking a cheap shot rather than doing anything helpful. Yet another thing I need to work on.

  5. Well, notice that “well meaning” was written in quotation marks. I think people THINK they are meaning well. Almost nothing evokes emotional response like the weight issue, especially with women. I am just starting to realize that women fear being overweight and most of the time believe that they are, regardless of their size. The older I get the more I realize that weight is not the issue…it really isn’t about me….not about what I think or even what others think. It’s about what’s true and real and my need for God’s power and forgiveness.

  6. Matt Smith says:

    By the way, my kids are not fat! 🙂 Now I on the other hand have slowly been packing it on. But I eat to cope with stress which there has been plenty at work lately. Hopefully that will start to settle down.

    Hope all is well up there!

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