Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is fat the new race?

Beauty standards are slipping. Slipping down an increasingly-slim slope, that is. Whilst the fashion and beauty industries are thriving on the insecurity of millions, recent health scares and financial penalties such as those promoted by Giles Coren in 'Tax the Fat' serve to confirm that 'institutionalised fattism' is big business.

Recent coverage has provoked an understandable backlash and the fat-acceptance campaign in the US is bigger than ever. Concentrating on the positive aspects of being comfortable with one's body, these organisations campaign to end the open-marginalisation of overweight and obese individuals in society.

As doctors, we are indeed guilty of institutionalised fattism. Countless studies have proved that obesity is indeed linked to a higher incidence of ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension & many other physical/psychological consequences. We try our hardest to keep our patients healthy, in deference to the Body Mass Index charts.

Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a 'state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'. If somebody is happy in their overweight body, then who are we to judge them as unhealthy & paternalistically instruct them to lose weight regardless of whether they want to or not? Many lead stimulating and productive lives, as shown in this most-entertaining reply to Rachael Cooke's almost-offensive piece in last week's Observer.

Read Cooke's semi-classist take on life in a fatsuit here.

3 comments:

Giskin said...

This is a really controversial issue and it's hard to know what to think! Being overweight is linked, judgementally, to character in that a lack of self-discipline is often assumed. We do live in a culture sadly obsessed with body image.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed those folk have not gotten fat... yet. And there is always a yet in their life most of the time.

Catharine Zivkovic said...

I am fat...and the biggest "fattist" in town. It's not about being sensitive, it's about health. Should we accept smoking as a "choice" too? Lots of apparently healthy people do it. No, we know better. Medical professiionals need to help fat people by giving us the sense that we can change. We need to be supported AND held accountable.