Health & Fitness
Attack Obesity, Not People Who Are Obese
As a result of our growing girth, seats on buses, trains and airplanes are too small. There is disagreement on how to handle the issue. An online poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune (10/22/12) of people who use public transportation, shows that there’s an even split between those who prefer benches where people of all sizes can fit comfortably, as opposed to bucket seats.
This split is evident in the way transit agencies are dealing with the issue. In New Jersey, the transit agency is adding 2.2 inches to new seats. Agencies in other states are not willing to increase seat size to accommodate heavier passengers; they are more interested in seating capacity.
I have seen people who are obese standing on the NYC subway because the allotted available space was too small. I’ve also seen them squeeze into a typical 17.5” seat where their bodies spill over to the next seat. They get nasty looks or grunts from their neighbors. How embarrassing and stigmatizing for the person!
An HBO documentary, The Weight of The Nation, reports on a bias against people who are overweight in our society. People who are overweight describe feeling excluded and humiliated by strangers making outrageous comments- calling someone “fat” right to their face. They don’t feel safe when strangers and even co-workers make unflattering or derogatory remarks such as “you take up so much room.”
The People who are overweight feel judged and know that there is an assumption that they are lazy, sloppy, undisciplined, unhappy and unsuccessful.
How can we help?
Friends, relatives and strangers may want to help, but making hurtful comments that are embarrassing to a vulnerable person is not helpful. Obesity is a very complex issue and we should not judge people.
A personal pet peeve of mine is when a descriptive adjective is used before “person”- such as- the elderly person, obese person or homeless person. They are people- who may be elderly, obese or homeless.
We need to build awareness of this bias. It is not okay to discriminate against any group- including people who are overweight.
We have to fight obesity and not attack the people who have it. Look for ways to increase the quality of life for people who are obese that will help them emotionally and physically.
One positive way to fight obesity is to have fun making and eating healthy, nutritious food. Examples are in our book “Funny Food.”
Visit our website Funny Food Art.