Fat does not equal lazy; fat does not equal bad; fat does not equal overeating; fat does not equal ugly. Fat oppression is something so prevalent in our society, yet Americans refuse to recognize it as a problem or even an issue. After hearing an amazing woman named Nomy Lamm speak this weekend, I could not longer let this issue be ignored. (Lamm is a fat oppression activist and has been published in Ms. magazine). Fat oppression exists in this society and we all must recognize the damage it does to everyone, especially fat people.
Fat is not a bad word. I use the word fat just as I would use the words short, tall or blonde. The only thing wrong with the word fat is the manner in which it is used by the majority of people in this society. My friends involved with fat oppression use the word fat as a means of reclamation (a la "queer") and I choose to do the same.
The central problem with fat oppression comes from the way in which we as Americans are taught to look at people. Everywhere we look - TV, movies, magazines and so on - thin people are portrayed as glamorous and cool. The encouragement of dieting is terribly prevalent and the dieting market takes in billions of dollars every year. Our society is obsessed with fat and the loss of it.
The irony is the fact that a majority of Americans are fat by national standards. Over 90 percent of women don't conform to the diet standards developed by insurance companies in the 60s. The media create a need to lose weight because they realize most Americans aren't statistically thin. By creating a standard of what is "normal" and then creating a need to achieve this normality, an industry of dependence is born - dependence upon diet pr...
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...re does this leave us to deal with the problem? First, be aware of the fact that discrimination exists and attempt to deal with it when it comes up. Don't buy into the beauty myth that is so pervasive in this society and don't patronize organizations which continue to perpetuate this (Calvin Klein, the new ASUW safe sex posters and so on.). Demand clothing stores to stock more fat-sized clothes and criticize them for price increases for fat people.
But the bottom line is to treat fat people just as you would any other person. Recognize fat people have to work incredibly hard both mentally and physically to do the same things a thin person takes for granted (i.e., going to the beach, flying on a plane). The excuses aren't going to cut it anymore. People should be judged by the actions that they take and the opinions they hold, not for the body they were born into.
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