Monday, 15 November 2010

The Big Issue

This is going to sound really harsh. But please bear with me. The thing is, I have a really big problem. With big people. Fat people, to be precise. Hang on, before you turn off your laptop in disgust, let me clarify. It’s not with fat people themselves, but with how people react to the tubby underground.
I have been there, you see. Overweight. Obese, even, in my younger years. It wasn’t much fun. Yes, it was my own fault. I ate too much, and, abracadabra, a moment on the lips became a lifetime on the hips. Until I got my head together and started eating what my body needed rather than pigging out at every given opportunity.
The thing is, a lot of fat people eat to comfort themselves. Some people smoke, some people drink, some people inject heroin into their veins. Some people reach for food. The difference is, you can’t hide food like you can a lot of other things. A Mars Bar too many a day has a very noticeable, visual impact, in the way that a lot of vices do not.
Okay, so your average crack addict might be easy to spot for most of us, and no-one likes sharing a lift with someone who has just smoked a packet of Camels or downed a bottle of Jonny Walker. But, generally speaking, they are left alone. No one would dare openly criticise someone with a proper addiction, would they? It’s an illness, surely?
However, when it comes to fat people, things are very different. Being overweight is associated with being greedy, lazy, “letting yourself go” even. The NHS cries about the impact obesity has on its overstretched resources on a weekly basis, failing to mention that vast amounts that has been spent for years on other unhealthy lifestyle choices. Then there is the media. Daytime television is crammed with stories of fat people desperate to turn their lives around, and Z list celebrities happy to help them on their way to a place in our slim society.
It’s not that I think it is wrong to help people lead a healthier life. But I think we have got to the point where those above a healthy BMI weight are ridiculed for their weakness. “Slovenly”, “heaving”, “gut-busting” are all words that are often used to describe those of us who are above your average weight. Experts are sent in to help them mend their ways on prime time television. As for drinkers and smokers? No-where to be seen.
Several weeks ago I was listening to the radio when a DJ was talking about the “obesity epidemic”. His solution was to have fat people followed by a version of Mr Blobby making disgusting squelching noises 24 hours a day. Apparently this was very funny, in a way that having an alcoholic followed around by the glugging sound of wine being poured from a bottle is not.
So, what does this teach us as we sit in front of our televisions, deliberating over which vice we should turn to in our hour of need? Do we choose fags, which make our clothes stink and will no doubt lead to lung cancer when we get older? Booze, which will make our nose go red and bulbous before our liver packs up? Either will do, because, at the end of the day, they are addictions. They are taken seriously. Users receive sympathy, not ridicule. But, food? A big bag of Kettle Chips and a slab of cake? Don’t even go there. Yes, there are health problems attached to all of the above, but worse still is the mocking of the media that your lack of control, your sloth, your greed, that eating too much will be sure to provoke.
You have been warned.

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