Editorial: The weight of discrimination

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With the so-called obesity epidemic on the apparent rise and the obsession with weight on the forefront of Americans’ minds, it’s no wonder that discrimination runs rampant against those deemed too large by society.

The latest example of the attack against obese people comes from Maura Kelly, a writer for Marie Claire, with an article titled “Should ‘Fatties’ Get A Room? (Even on TV?),” which has since been taken down from the site.

  In it, Kelly details her disgust with the TV show “Mike and Molly,” a comedy which revolves around two obese people who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous group and begin dating, and how it evidently promotes obesity.

Kelly goes on to make large (no pun intended) assumptions about the health of overweight individuals and chronicles her repulsion of the idea of seeing “two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other,” along with other equally appalling and hateful comments.

Though Kelly did issue an apology and explained that she has battled anorexia and body issues, the fact that she was able to publish such an ignorant story in the first place is worth examining.

Fat people are routinely discriminated against in modern society. Headless torsos of obese Americans pepper the news and new diets that promise immediate shedding of pounds appear out of nowhere everyday.

Television shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Thinervention with Jackie Warner” are shown in constant rotation, with the contestants routinely humiliated for letting themselves become overweight.

Thinness is not a determinant of health, though it’s marketed as the ideal in the United States. This type of thinking is inherently damaging to individuals who don’t fit into the image of “perfection” and, let’s face facts, never will.

Many misconceptions and stereotypes have arisen from size discrimination, and  fat, a word used to describe adipose tissue, has become synonymous with traits like smelly, unattractive, lazy, gluttonous, and lacking of self control.

Airlines now charge large people double for their tickets and so called healthy people are constantly telling overweight people to take charge of their lives and lose weight.

Whether or not someone wants to lose weight is not up to Marie Osmond, Valerie Bertinelli and Jillian Michaels. It is up to each individual to make his or her own body choices.

For those who struggle with weight issues, it is often a life-long battle filled with ups and downs. Kelly’s comments only serve to perpetuate the stereotype that obese people are somehow less important than anyone else.

It’s not up to anyone to make assumptions about someone’s health by their appearance alone, and Kelly is promoting a culture of self-hate, discrimination, and the idea that it is OK to comment on other people’s bodies.

Shaming people is not the way to help them make a change, and it’s not anyone else’s business to try to “help” someone else by taking issue with the way they look.

Anyone who chooses not to watch “Mike and Molly” should do so because it’s a terrible show, not because the actors are overweight.

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