Everyone’s talking about that overweight anchorwoman, Jennifer Livingston, who defended herself against a concern troll who emailed her.
Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Livingston called him out on-air and pointed out that fat people KNOW they are fat and don’t need it pointed out by random strangers, and asked him if he really thought that his rudeness set any better of an example.
So now the world is full of people applauding this woman for standing up for herself, while others go “but he’s right, you know.”
I had to listen to it on the radio this morning. The male DJ was totally behind Livingston, while the female DJ kept saying “yeah, but he had a point. I mean, would it be okay to have a fat children’s show host?”
It was all very Helen Lovejoy.
Sure, Jennifer Livingston wasn’t smoking on tv, or guzzling potato chips while delivering local news, but she did commit the fairly sizeable (pun intended) crime of BEING FAT PUBLICLY.
Fat people, just by going on tv, looking fat, are telling our kids that it’s okay to look different from the anorexic models in the fashion magazines.
And we don’t want THAT, do we?
And, the woman DJ argued, what is wrong with a little concern trolling now and then? As she and many commenters on the Youtube clip point out:
a) The concern troll emailed her in a private email, so it’s not like he was mean to her in public, which is the important thing.
b) The email was written politely and didn’t use the word “fat”.
c) The emailer was just trying to help.
After all, aren’t we all morally obligated to offer help to someone who walks around being fat all the time?
a) Maybe they don’t know they’re fat, and need someone to tell them. It is entirely possible that they haven’t glanced in a mirror, looked down, or checked the size of their clothes in years.
b) If you don’t actually use the terms “fat”, “pig-like” or “tub o’ lard”, and as long as it is phrased politely, it is completely socially appropriate to go up to a stranger and suggest they reconsider their physical flaws.
c) Won’t someone PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
There’s just a couple teeny little points, though, that I would like to add as fat-for-thought to the people who make these delightfully smug little arguments.
Obesity Is Not A Choice Or Habit
Anyone who thinks that a fat person is actively waking up each morning and thinking “hmm, I think I’ll be fat today” is a complete idiot.
Our society places a huge weight (pun still intended) on being thin.
People, especially women, want to be thin. I have yet to meet a woman who says “I think I looked better at 200 lbs, so I’m trying to pack it back on.”
That may have been a thing in the ’30s, but it sure isn’t these days.
You can make choices that may or may not affect your weight, like where to eat, how much to eat, and how often you exercise.
There are also lots of bad habits you can develop which can contribute to weight gain, like eating junk food, watching TV instead of exercising, and drinking soda pop.
Obesity itself is neither a choice nor a habit. It is a physical state of being and if you think that it is a visible proof of your bad choices, you’re wrong there, too.
Obesity Is Not Proof of An Unhealthy Lifestyle
Weight is not a barometer for health, nor is it visible evidence of your diet, exercise routine, or anything else.
The causes of obesity are many and complex in nature.
Some people find it easy to lose weight. Some people find it hard to gain weight. Some people find it hard to lose weight. Some people find it easy to gain weight.
Slim doesn’t automatically mean “healthy”, either. People with cancer are thin, but not healthy. People with anorexia are thin, but not healthy.
The world is chock full of people who eat potato chips, and McDonald’s, and who don’t exercise, and who are still within a normal weight range. You probably know people like this. Do their hummingbird metabolisms make them healthy, despite a diet of fast food and pork rinds?
For every person who is slim despite an unhealthy lifestyle, there is a person who is overweight despite a healthy lifestyle.
I know a lot of “fat” people who work really hard to be healthy.
One goes to the gym regularly and eats like a rabbit, but has never managed to get the weight off of her thighs.
Another stuck strictly to a diet and exercise program designed and supervised by a physician specializing in weight loss, and did lose a lot of weight… but is still well into the obese range.
Then she wrecked her knee and spine while at the gym one day and gained some of that hard earned weight-loss back because she was on strict bed rest for months while waiting for surgery.
Meanwhile, the world is just full of skinny people who have never worked so hard for something their entire lives, who feel free to judge her, because when they pass her on the street, they think “she must be doing something wrong because she doesn’t look like me.”
Oh, and the best part is, science says that obese people are doomed, because the more closely you watch your diet, the more food your body demands. So the world is full of fat people who are doing their best and still getting fatter.
On the other hand, studies show that even thin people can be fat, whereas obese people who do live healthy lifestyles are… healthy.
So you can’t look at someone who’s fat and say “oh, they must be so unhealthy.”
It turns out that they may actually be healthier than you.
Or maybe science is wrong and obese people are just lazy and greedy. You can tell by looking at them.
Because they’re fat.
Obesity Is Not A Moral Issue
I don’t care who you are, or how ugly you may look. You are not morally obligated to look more attractive for me or my children.
Hell, you aren’t morally obligated to do anything that doesn’t directly affect my child, and that includes indulging in those bad habits that may contribute to obesity.
If you are running red lights, sticking your knife into people, or sexually molesting people, then that’s a moral issue.
But your weight? Not a moral issue.
You are not morally obligated to change your looks for society.
Do it for yourself.
Do it for your health.
Do it if it makes you happy.
Do it if you CAN.
Don’t do it for the CHILDREN.
Healthy habits are built at home. They don’t come a kid from looking at a fat person on the street and thinking “yeah… why SHOULD I exercise, anyway?”
And even if children did think that way, should we pass laws requiring people to get their teeth straightened, because crooked teeth tell kids it’s okay to not wear their retainers?
At what point does personal appearance just become… personal?
Then again, maybe appearance does matter, but are fat people really the ones who influence our kids?
Is Beauty A Moral Issue?
Are parents actually hearing their kids saying “Mom, I want to be fat when I grow up, so I can be a successful career woman like Jennifer Livingston”?
Somehow I doubt it.
We admire and emulate the beautiful. That’s why commercial actors usually aren’t overweight, or slovenly, or buck-toothed. Because we want to be like the beautiful people.
I bet that that same news show with Jennifer Livingston shows fast food commercials during its commercial breaks.
Which of the following women is setting a worse example for your children?
Maybe thin, beautiful people are the ones with the moral obligations.
They’re the ones we want to imitate, the Barbies of the world that little girls hope to be like one day.
Maybe skinny people should refuse to eat ice cream in public, or sit around at McDonald’s, because they are setting a bad example by showing off unhealthy habits.
They are telling kids, “Yes, you can eat fatty foods and still be thin.”
In fact, maybe fat people are doing a good thing by walking around in front of kids. The fatter the better, and preferably doing unhealthy things. They’re doing their bit for society not by setting a bad example, but by demonstrating a great warning.
Then you can point to them and say “hey, if you don’t eat your veggies or take gym next semester, you’ll end up looking like that guy.”
It wouldn’t be true, but you know, whatever.
Somehow “I can’t promise that you won’t be fat some day, but if you eat healthy and exercise you’ll at least be more likely to be healthy” doesn’t have the same cachet.
Maybe that’s why no one says it.
Look, there are people out there who eat too much, and eat the wrong things, and don’t exercise, and gain weight as a result.
I am one of those people.
But I know a lot of people who are not.
I know skinny girls who eat more than me and fat people who eat less and visit the gym more. And you can’t pick us apart by just looking at us.
Besides, maybe I should get REALLY fat and eat McDonald’s publicly a lot, while wearing a big sandwich board saying “KIDS, DON’T BE LIKE ME”.
I’d just be doing my part. For the children.
And it would be delicious.