I'm a big fan of The Huffington Post, which you might know since I feature Arianna Huffington in my "Gallery of Gorgeous Women" to the right. But this week I was frustrated to read an article by Vicki Lovine on HuffPost that claimed we needed to stop staying away from the word "fat."
As you may know from my "Fat is off the List" post, I firmly believe that we should not use the word because it's almost always used in a hurtful and derogatory way, but this article argued that the politically correct desire to not call people fat is making us fatter.
I don't buy it.
And here's why I disagree: I don't buy into the idea that the obesity epidemic in our country is related to people being nicer to each other. In other words, I don't think our collective girth is growing bigger because people think twice about calling someone "fat."
Instead, I believe that America is getting bigger for three* simple reasons:
1) Because we don't exercise nearly as much as we used to. From my way of thinking, this is especially true of children—a major contributing factor to the shocking increase in childhood obesity—and you can read why I think that in the second of my posts on that subject.
2) Because we eat far too many processed foods and don't cook enough at home. One of the big reasons this is more of a problem than ever before is because processed foods have become incredibly cheap to buy as well as available on almost every corner in America. In fact, in my "Processed Foods and Little Pink Houses" post, I argue that's the reason why working class people are the segment of our society that are gaining weight faster than any other group.
3) Finally, I believe that our country's obsession with dieting makes us actually eat more. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when we tell people that they need to look like Angelina Jolie to be beautiful, it makes it very easy for them to give up trying to be healthy and grab another box of Mac 'n Cheese. I truly believe that as long as we hold women to standards that are unattainable for regular people, we will have an obesity problem in our country.
And that's why I completely disagree with Vicki Lovine. She believes that if we start using the word "fat," we can start shaming people into being healthier. Sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me because if there is one thing I know it's that making people feel bad about themselves does NOT help them. In fact, the first step to being healthy is feeling good about yourself. And I stand by my belief that until we accept ourselves the way we are, we will never lose weight.
I'll even take it a step further and argue that promoting the use of the word "fat" is, in fact, fattist.
Can you imagine if we proposed using another derogatory word to make a different group of people change their behavior? What will Lovine propose next? Using the word "retarded" more so people act smarter? I hope that the recent debate about that word proves why taking digs at those who are struggling with any issue doesn't work.
Lovine says that we need to start calling people like me fat, but despite my strong desire to do so, I will maturely refrain from calling Lovine the "R" word.
*There is also evidence that the chemicals that are now so ubiquitous in our country are making us fatter as I mentioned in my post on that subject.