In response to Carol Weston’s supposition (Is Obesity O.K.?) that we should quit not talking about obesity, I must wonder where she got the idea that we’re not talking about it incessantly? I feel bombarded by messages from every quarter that say that I—an educated, accomplished professional, mother of four successful adult children, happily married for 27 years, and both healthy and fit—am “less than” because thin is not also one of my “accomplishments.”
The reality is that our thin-focused, dieting, fat-shaming culture does nobody any good. Eating disorders are being triggered in ever-higher numbers in part due to our rigid, black and white health messages—eat clean! sugar is demonic! fat is evil!—and obesity is still on the rise.
The obesity epidemic is due to a complex interplay of agricultural policy, urban design, educational policies, social welfare issues and myriad other factors. If you want to address these under the premise that improvements in these arenas are good for all of us--in the form of affordable nutrient-dense foods, fewer food deserts, more walk-able cities, physical education and nurses back in schools, decreased crime so neighborhoods are safe for outdoor play, etc. than please do so.
Addressing the obesity epidemic at the personal level is ineffective, misguided, mean-spirited and wholly fruitless and the evidence is clear on this. Judging the girls as you describe yourself doing in your piece may make you “feel” like you are helping others, but you’re not; you are hurting them and it’s not an act of concern, it’s an act perpetuating the myth that the size of your body makes you morally superior to them. It does not.
Jennifer Denise Ouellette