This week, in a particularly ridiculous moment, a Boston doctor decided that she would not treat patients over 200 pounds. She suggested that they should, instead, be sent to treatment centers. Meanwhile, Harvard professors think Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program doesn’t go far enough and people should be legally required to exercise (this sentiment was apparently followed up by enthusiastic applause. Some other governments have also been in favor of this).
These are not random people on the street who want to inform passing overweight women that they’re overweight (often by saying something sparkling like “you fat!”). They are not somewhat senile grandmothers in the grocery store who want to inform you that you don’t need all that food if you’re overweight. These are intelligent professionals. Yet, they seem about 3 martinis away from saying “you know, I just really hate fat people.”
We are a culture that seems, pretty in-arguably, to do everything possible to shame and deride anyone overweight. Which is funny, because 1/3 of us are obese (a whopping 42% of Americans are expected to be obese by 2030).
But why do we care? Okay, the doctor could be open to more malpractice lawsuits if she operates on unhealthy people. That kind of makes sense, though it does not make sense if your reason for becoming a doctor was “to serve possibly sick people” and not just “some people who seem in tip-top shape going in.” I suppose, an overweight population could cost us more in taxes on medicare, but we do choose to live here, and taxes – a portion of which will be used to support the other people who live here – go along with that.
I am not that concerned about those two things, and I think many other people are not daily concerned with them, either.
However, there is not a day of my life when I do not worry about my weight. I count out precisely 1,200 calories. I am convinced I am nowhere near skinny enough. I am convinced I will never be skinny enough. I just spent ten minutes debating whether or not to eat a piece of ice cream cake that was in the office. On one hand, it was my favorite flavor of ice cream cake, and you can’t just got into a store and buy ice cream cake anytime, so the opportunity doesn’t present itself more than once or twice a year. On the other hand, if my weight goes over a certain amount I feel a real and true fury at myself.
I thought about why I feel that fury for a second.