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Cancer or fat: which would you rather have?

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:05pm
Two new studies about the stigma of being a fat child in this country are sobering at best and depressing at worst.

No, worse than depressing. They're downright hideous. I cried for the children as I read these news reports. Not only for the fat kids, but the kids who were called fat even when they weren't. Because at school, there's really no difference.

Here's the opening paragraph of one news release from the
Associated Press :

Overweight children are stigmatized by their peers as early as age 3 and even face bias from their parents and teachers, giving them a quality of life comparable to people with cancer, a new analysis concludes .
The article goes on to say that

Youngsters who report teasing, rejection, bullying and other types of abuse because of their weight are two to three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts as well as to suffer from other health issues such as high blood pressure and eating disorders, researchers said.

"The stigmatization directed at obese children by their peers, parents, educators and others is pervasive and often unrelenting," researchers with Yale University and the University of Hawaii at Manatoa wrote in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin.

No wonder obesity kills.

I mean really- a quality of life similar to having cancer - What the hell is wrong with everybody? I can't imagine having to say I live in a culture where it's better to have cancer than be fat. Because hey- chemo makes you lose weight, right? That is so wrong.

I feel I could rant and rave for post after post after post about this, but I'd just turn myself into the Smooshy Faced Cat.
One of the authors of the study said this, perhaps one of the most disquieting continuing truths about fat prejudice:

"This is a form of bias that is very socially acceptable," Puhl said. "It is rarely challenged; it's often ignored."

This is the thing- you can't have "thin" be good without "fat" being bad. It was the same thing with the Nazis: if blonde -haired, blue-eyed children were "good", then somebody had to be "bad." And Hitler went about slaughtering 6 million people because of that. You can't have pretty without ugly, and thin without fat. So as long as thin is the epitome of good and wholesomeness and all the things that we're supposed to be, fat is going to be the opposite.

But what's the difference? What is the moral difference between fat and thin? It's no more than the moral difference between black and white. It's the number of fat cells; it's the amount of melanin in your skin. Black people are more likely to have health problems that whites, but that's not because of their skin color.

Get a grip, people. I do believe children should learn to love a wide variety of foods and physical activities. But not because they'll make you thin or keep you from becoming fat...just because they're fun.
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