Do you agree that obesity is unacceptable in our society, despite the fact that 2/3 of us are overweight or obese?
Absolutely. Those able to attain fitness now are in almost an elite group. 200 years ago, if you were thin muscular and tanned it was because you were poor and had to work outside at hard labor and eat the all natural food grown in your garden or on your farm. If you were fat and pale it was because you were rich enough to stay inside and eat processed food like white bread. Brown bread? For the paupers! Now white bread (and rice, and pasta, and a million other processed foods) are for the "paupers" whereas the really healthy organic food can be very expensive. The cheapest I have ever seen organic raw milk is around eight bucks a gallon. Whole grain bread is three times the price of white bread. Organic veggies? Whew. Unless you are pretty darn well off, you can forget eating the diet that the "paupers" ate 200 years ago. The elitism can be more pronounced when you figure in a gym membership, and figuring out the time to workout around your job, and other obligations. I am not saying you can't be fit if you aren't rich, but it sure makes it easier. I also don't think this sort of elitism is the only driving force behind the prejudice, but it's definitely there.
What about prejudice against fat people - have you experienced it?
Yes, it exists and I have experienced it. Granted it all happened when I lived in New Orleans where everyone is drunk and completely uninhibited. Then again, if you want to know how someone really feels about something, ask when they are schnockered. People on the streets have yelled things at me like, "Hey fat girl!" "Hope we get to the buffet before you do!" And while bike riding, "You better pedal your fat @$$ harder than that." Despite all this, I am guilty of it myself. I have said to people around me, "Shoot me if I ever get THAT big." It's not something I am proud of, but I can't deny it exists. Of course when I see someone who is painfully skinny I say, "Man, that girl needs a sammich." I am working on changing all of my prejudicial behavior.
Do you agree that it's the last remaining socially acceptable prejudice?
No, not the last, but definitely the most popular.
Do we blame the victim, and if we do, is it a fair criticism? Can we do better than "eat less, move more"?
Yes, we blame the victim. On a very straight and narrow line of thinking, it could be said that of course it is the victim's fault, nobody held a gun to their head and said, "Eat, eat more, and don't get off the couch!" But this very one dimensional line of thinking leaves out many other factors that could have seriously contributed to the weight gain. Many people who experienced abuse (in any form) will subconsciously put on weight as a means of "protection." Prescription drugs can do it, getting off illegal drugs can do it, lack of education can do it (remember the days of "eat all you want as long as it's fat free"?), genetics can contribute. My personal opinion is that the media is one of the most heinous contributors right now. 70% of the commercials you see on TV are for unhealthy food (Did you know that 85% of statistics are made up on the spot?
). Next time you are in line at the grocery store, look at the women's magazines. The headline says "LOSE 14 POUNDS A WEEK" and just below it is a picture of a double chocolate cake, the recipe for which can be found inside, probably the next page after the miracle diet. They use cartoon heroes to sell junk food to our kids. As if they didn't wouldn't eat the ice cream if Spongebob's face wasn't attached to it! Personally, I have tried to teach my children about the deceptions of advertising, and have tried to explain that it is done only so that someone can make a buck. It is working to some small degree.
I think we can absolutely do better than eat less, move more. That's easy to say to someone who needs to lose 5 pounds, but I think we need to delve much deeper into why I got to be 150 pounds overweight in the first place. If I can answer that, maybe eating less and moving more becomes a reality. I also think our society as a whole needs to have a lifestyle shift toward health. Let Spongebob advertise oranges, put gyms in our offices, make gym memberships tax deductible, create healthy fast food, because let's face it, that McDonald's grilled chicken salad may be better than the Big Mac, but it's still a loooooooong way from healthy. (Ahem, Michelle has cleared her throat and stepped down from her soapbox. Thanks for being patient.)