Saturday, 28 January 2017

Approval of Obesity

Let me state here and now that I was once what was then generally known as a Fat Lump. At sixteen I was decidedly overweight and on only one occasion made the horrifyingly embarrassing mistake of getting on the `I Speak Your Weight’ machine at Charing Cross Station. The memory makes me shudder. It seemed to me that I was fighting flab for years and I often claimed that I could gain weight on a diet. I’m not sure now how true that latter contention was, but I do remember saying it. Once upon a time it simply was not a good thing to be fat and not so very long ago either. Thankfully I lost the weight dramatically, suddenly (long story not for today) and though I would like to say that from then on I never looked back that would also be untrue. I tend to gain weight very quickly and easily but these days I seem to have less trouble losing it. When I was still running school holiday courses for children as recently as 2006 I can recall being advised by those who knew best to remove an image of an overweight ten year old on our advertising leaflets because it `sent the wrong message’. I took the advice. So it was with some scepticism that I began to take note of the Embrace Fatties trend that is firmly taking hold in this part of the globe – and I am sure elsewhere also. New Zealand is host to large numbers of large people of course and as every local schoolchild is aware, in some Pacific Island communities Big Is Beautiful. The Oldest Son reminded me quite recently that here in God’s Own Country, we long since ceased to argue about that. He said I would get used to the trend then he added that not so very long ago we all had to remember not to use the term Mongol and keep up with how we were now required to refer to African Americans. He further pointed out that excess weight is a disability like having no legs. Nevertheless the hasty manner in which we are being primed for not just Acceptance of the Obese, but Admiration also is a little too rapid for me. Overweight twelve year old boys waxing lyrical about healthy budget food cartons delivered to the family’s door pop up during commercial breaks on Prime Time TV, followed by travel ads fronted by larger than necessary young women cheerfully displaying their holiday wardrobe of huge and unflattering sundresses and the corpulent middle aged no longer make room for others on buses during rush hour travel. All of this headlong and reckless rush towards approval and approbation has been eclipsed for me this week, however, by an astonishing video clip on social media featuring a most unfortunately obese teenage ballet dancer. Even more bewildering are the comments made by one viewer after another, applauding, boosting and encouraging her. Maybe I’m simply becoming a crabby and cantankerous old crone – after all it would be true to say that I still grapple with same sex marriage so it could be that a confidently rotund teen proudly pirouetting will never get my vote.

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