In their latest attempt to peddle hate and lady-on-lady crime in exchange for dropped jaws around the globe, The Daily Mail ran a piece yesterday entitled, "Why are today's young women so unashamed about being fat?" written by Linda Kelsey, a self-described, unapologetic "fattist." In her own words, that means she believes that extra weight is "unattractive ... unhealthy, and, given the problems that being fat can cause, it should be as unacceptable as smoking."
Kelsey illustrates her spite with an anecdote about three young women she witnessed at the airport who were "not chubby, but fat. They had bulging bellies and billowing pillows of back and shoulder stuffing, punctured by flabby arms and lardy legs that no amount of fake-tan could disguise." As a result, Kelsey seems to believe these girls would hate their bodies and be "racked with self-loathing," but instead "they were doing a grand job of projecting exactly the opposite impression." Gasp!
Finding herself face-to-face with these young women's "let-it-all-hang-out faith in themselves and a don't-give-a-damn attitude to their evident obesity," Kelsey expressed shock and dismay. Don't these girls know they're supposed to hate themselves? Make a more concerted effort to HIDE themselves? Be perpetually apologizing for merely existing at a size 18?
And don't moms of these girls know that by sending a "dangerously misguided message of body acceptance," they're "guilty of benign neglect instead"? Like, hello, you need to be calling your daughter "fatty" and telling her that there's no way she'll be able to make friends, let alone find a man if she "lets herself go."
Kelsey's vile attack on these young women is precisely what's wrong with our culture's attempt to tackle the "obesity epidemic." Not only is fingerpointing and calling kids out as "fat" (and, thus, lesser than) scientifically proven to backfire, but what Kelsey doesn't seem to understand is that most frequently, no one is choosing to be overweight. Issues like lack of education about proper nutrition and exercise, lack of access to healthy foods, food addiction, or hormone imbalance are at the root of a young woman's weight problem.
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Very rarely is anyone -- let alone kids, who are subject to horrible taunting and judgment from peers on a daily basis -- simply too "greedy, ill-disciplined, and or ignorant," as Kelsey suggests, to lose weight. They're not totally oblivious idiots! They know they're overweight. They're not taking pride in it. Let's be real: Who would want to be a subject of ridicule and criticism? A target of those who've never had a weight problem (like Kelsey) but have no problem assuming they understand and passing judgment on those who do?
Angry pundits like Kelsey can rave out about how we're too accepting of the overweight and obese these days, but that doesn't change the fact that torturous discrimination against people for their weight -- no matter the root cause -- is alive and well. Women 18 to 25 earn 12 percent less than thinner counterparts and are more likely to be found in low-paying jobs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
And I know better than Kelsey because I experienced it firsthand: From the time my personal "battle" with a fluctuating scale began at 10 years old, I had to endure name-calling and torture from peers. And from that point on, I did everything I could through my adolescence and 20s to try to fit a standard of attractiveness and fitness that can be extremely challenging -- even to this day -- to achieve and maintain.
It was only recently, at nearly 30 years old, that I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. Genuinely okay with not being a size 2, and positive that I'm worthy of everything someone who is more easily, naturally a size 2 is! Maybe even more so, because weight has nothing to do with self-worth, intelligence, ability, etc. And the threat that it does isn't going to work anymore -- at least not on me. Take that, fattists!
But maybe it all boils down to this: Kelsey, who is a mom of a 26-year-old son, openly admits she does not have a daughter. Maybe if she did, she'd realize that her attempt to knock some sense into "fat girls" is utterly misguided, hugely heartless, and thoroughly misses the point.
What's your reaction to Kelsey's piece?
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