I admit it, I am a fattist. Every time I see a fat person I want to throw up. I can’t stand the sight of that blubber blubbering around. If I see a fat person walking into Burger King I am tempted to make a citizen’s arrest.
Now I see that Britain is officially the fattest nation in Europe with a shocking 59% of women judged overweight or obese. This is more than half the female population. What the hell are they thinking about? Chips and deep-fried Mars Bars? Obviously not their health or how to look good in skinny jeans.
OK, so I may care more than the average person about the way people look. But It’s not just the fact that I hate the idea of someone with so little will-power or care for themselves that they let themselves get into that state. There is the deadly serious side to obesity.
Do you know that being overweight knocks NINE YEARS off a person’s life? And how much is the medical care going to cost? And who pays for that?
We don’t mind looking after smokers on the NHS, after all they fund a large part of it, but how are you going to feel when you realise that a vast amount of your hard-earned money is going on treating people for this obesity epidemic? Reinforced beds don’t come cheap. Nor does the medical care to treat cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and a whole host of other effects of stuffing your face at every given opportunity. And before you all start writing telling me for most fat people it’s a medical condition, I sat next to two extremely experienced doctors at lunch yesterday and asked them how many people were fat due to a medical condtion. The both shook their heads.
“Hardly any at all,” said one, “the most common medical condition would be a mental disorder that leads to over-eating. Other than that it’s simply life-style. And eating too much.”
But being obese is no longer a personal lifestyle choice, it’s an issue we’re all going to have to deal with. And look at. And while I’m ranting; a friend of mine used to extremely thin, not through any eating disorder, she was just thin. People would often come up to her (even strangers in the street) and ask “do you ever eat?” How come you’re allowed to ask that of thin people but were you to ask a fat person if they ever stopped eating you would be judged incredibly rude?
Maybe it’s time we started asking them that question, it might make them stop and think before they stuff in that deep-fried Mars Bar.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008
It is currently fashionable to be thin, not wear fur, care about the environment etc etc and so on and these things are therefore ‘good’, but what will be said when (not if because all fads and fashions come around again eventually) being fat, wearing fur and not giving a damn about others becomes fashionable again. It IS a lifestyle choice to be fat – just not a (currently) ‘good’ one and these fat people pay both tax and national insurance just like the smokers.
Hi Helena! I have to say i agree…most people today dont pay attention to what they eat, as long as it’s tasty and makes them feel good! we are what we eat…so if we eat crap, what does that make us?? it’s sad really…
I was amazed to see children eating so badly in schools in Britain!! Has Jamie Oliver’s campaign changed anything at all? I hope it has made parents more conscious about how to feed their children and to start changing habits at home in the first place! what Jamie did was great i think…someone had to make people realise that it’s all wrong! Mind you, it pains me to see that the number of fat children is increasing in Italy…But what can really be done? I feel sorry for those who are obese because obviously they feel really bad and their only comfort is food…So although i agree with you, i dont feel like throwing up when i see them, but i wish i could help! i went through binge-eating when i was a kid because i was bullied at school…thank god i realised what i was doing before i became fat!! but i really needed help, and sadly, nobody really understood what i was going through and i dont blame them. people cant help you if you dont make the first step.
anyway, that was long, but i think your topic is very interesting, and i thought it was really brave and honest of you to share your opinion! most people think the same way but won’t admit it. what’s going on is schoking and scary, and i hope things will change soon!
Ciao ciao bella! Lx
I do agree. I can’t help thinking the same when a fattie is tucking in. It seems so gross somehow, if I’m honest , which I am aware is not at all PC of me.
I’m not sure “fattist” is the correct appellation. Like “stoutist”, it could also stand for approval of overweight people.
I’m a wobble bottom, lard arse, blubber belly. I’m obese and cuddly. I’m a big bear, and thankfully, quite a lot of women like that in a man. Does that mean you won’t lunch with me in Geneva in June? I had planned perche filets in a white wine and lemon sauce.
I used to be slim. I was as slim and trim as Mick Jagger, Paul Jones and Terry Stamp with whom I would drink and play in Chelsea pubs and clubs. I was so slim and tall my modeling career was even moving – *Here I am in ’68 in Paris for American Vogue doing some daft Euro-hippy spread.
Alas, I am no longer willowy.
Something happened. I’ve never eaten a deep fried Mars Bar, set foot in a McDo or a Burger King. I don’t take sugar, eat chips, sweets or cake. But I enjoy my wine. It just happened. And now there is too much of me, but can too much of me be a bad thing.
I must raise a voice of protest when people start making assumptions about other people’s lives based solely on their appearance. Not everyone has the emotional and financial wherewithal to combat being overweight. Everyone is built differently. There are some studies that have shown that there are genetic markers linked to being overweight. Some people can eat whatever they like and never put on a pound. Some of us just have to look at goodies and we put on weight. We are all too busy and too stressed by the requirements of modern living. We rush from point to point and do not take the time to eat properly. I cannot wholeheartedly endorse a society that makes our appearance the sole litmus test of our self-worth. It is very shallow and hurtful to judge people in this way. There are things such as character and intelligence that are equally important. I can’t help getting older just as some folks cannot help being fat. I think it is time that we start showing some compassion for all of our fellow human beings.
Are there really deep-fried Mars bars??? Just the thought turns me off food of all kinds for at least several hours.
My husband & I are thoroughly enjoying our farmers’ market and I find that I can no longer even look at the “fresh produce” section of my supermarket.
I agree with some of the readers who say that one’s image is not wholly controllable. However, when I finally was able to obtain good psychiatric care for my anxiety and depression, I found that pounds began to just melt off. There’s no longer a “compulsion” to eat, to shop, to escape life! I’m getting re-acquainted with a Self from long, long ago. Plus fitting into some “old friends” in the closet!
I agree with Sharyn. I used to have an hourglass figure but when I hit my fifties, I suddenly lost the waist that made my bosomy figure so alluring and became ‘fat’. Like Graham, I never eat junk food or sweets, rarely even eat fried food but I have filled out.
Am I then to be despised? And be assumed to have a lifestyle which I do not?
Shame on you Helena!
I’m not sure about Britian and the continent, but obesity has a strong corrolation to economic background here in the states. You’ll find the worst obesity problems in the poorest places like Native American Reservations and Harlen County, Ky (coal mining county of my family where people still often don’t have indoor plumbing). Lipids and starches are cheap. White bread is cheap. My immediate family is working class/poverty line. I stress about my brother’s health constantly. He’s obese and 10. I hate it. I don’t get much say though because I’m “not mother.” There is a lot of people, like my mother, who are uneducated about how to use their funds to the best of their ablilities, so my siblings are fed the wrong foods. Intead of plenty of brown rice being bought, my mother knows cheese sandwiches made out of white bread and american cheese.
So like I said, I don’t know about there, but to judge someone based on their locks, here, is to often judge them based on their socio-economic status and that makes us about as good as a villian in a Dicken or Austen novel.
While I do agree that a certain amount of middle-aged spread can be put down to ageing, there are things that can be done to avoid this (increasing the amount of exercise you do, for example) and this is not the kind of excessive fatness I am talking about here. I am talking about the clinically obese, people so fat they need a double door.
What I loathe and detest is obesity brought on by ignorance, laziness and lack of self-discipline. And of course it is also linked, as Amber says, to your class, but surely even the most uneducated person knows an apple is better for you than a deep-fried mars bar?
I am not judging people by the way they look, but by the way they have let themselves degenerate. We could all be fat and unfit, it’s so much easier isn’t it? I am about to go and do half an hour of yoga and sit-ups, would I rather sit on the sofa with Leo and watch Scooby Doo than put myself through my regime? Yes, most certainly, but then I’d end up with a fat bottom…the choice is ours to make. Unless you’re a French woman of course, in which case you just slap some anti-cellulite cream on your bottom and hope for the best.
And we could all let our children eat Coco Pops for breakfast instead of porridge, how much less complaining we would hear, but who is that helping except for the makers of Coco Pops?
Well done, Helena!
You are my hero! I do try not to judge people based on their looks, but a fatty stuffing her mouth with cheese dripping domino pizza makes me sick and, sorry, I do think she must have rubbish instead of her brains!
I grew up in the 1980s in the Soviet republic of Estonia and consequently had a bit different childhood from a normal Free World child. Different in a sense of what I used to be fed, amount of sweets I had swallowed as a kid and amount of time I spend glued on to the TV screen or any video game. That is it, I guess. Yes, also I have never travelled to Bulgaria or Tenerife for my winter break, thanks God.
I was a healthy kid. We ate lots of greens, dinner without having a salad was not imaginable! Most of the people had there own gardens, so we would grow our own veggies and fruits, all organic! Chocolate was a weekly treat, and again it was a quality chocolate. I did not know what a Mars Bar was. Now, the reason why we were allowed chocolate only as a treat on the weekend is that our parents new, that too much sugar is no good, and that is not because they watched Jamie Oliver shows, it is just self explanatory. And, the fact is, we did not have fat people. Period. There were no fat people around. There are still very few overweight people in former Soviet Union.
My point is, it is not hard to be healthy. You do not have to be super reach for that. Just as Helena points out, exercise, walk or cycle everywhere and do not eat those mars bars, coca-colas, McDonald’s (do you know, that in Estonia, for example, McDonald’s never made it, there are only about 5 restaurants around and it is considered poisoness food for stupid people and definitely NOT FOR CHILDREN).
I think, what makes me mad most, is watching all those parents stuffing their kids with junk, only because they have such a busy lifestyle and KFC Chicken is such a handy dinner option! My mom Always cooked! I feel so sorry for those kids, they have never been normal, their reality is FAT and they do not have a choice! And the peak of how deep the whole concept of accepting fat as a reality is in the UK is the newest competition for the UK surplus beauty queen (or something like that). They had her pics in the Hello mag and, my God, the girl is fat! Nothing else, she is overweight.
I travel a lot around the world, and I have never seen so many fat people as in UK and America. It is not a pleasant sight. Maybe that is why there are hordes of British and American men roaming the streets of former Soviet capitals looking for their beauty queens?
I’ve read all this with a morbid interest. I am, what I consider to be overweight but deep down know to be an okay kind of weight just not the skinny person I was in the eighties. Looking back at myself in the eighties however, I wasn’t skinny I was unhealthy (I tucked my t-shirts into my lycra mini skirts for goodness sake). Nonetheless, I cannot put my weight gain down to the numerous children or middle age spread. It is purely the result of too much good food, good wine and a pathetic attitude to exercise. The fault is purely mine and not age nor genetics.
That doesn’t stop me hoping for a miracle, that one day I will look at myself in the bath and, with my own personal Eureka moment, realise that I am displacing 50% less water than yesterday. I eat sensibly, but with love and with wine. I cook from scratch almost every day (not necessarily out of a puritanical desire to be the perfect mother, often because it never occured to me to buy the short cut !). I am heading, slowly back in the general direction of my pre-children body, and the knowledge that I will be spending the summer in the company of some Italian goddesses is impetus enough to lay off the fermented grape and stick to the H2Om, well for a while at least!
I rather like round people. They are usually more relaxed and happy than the thin ones. But these people who eat hamburgers whilst walking the streets and are obese need help. And, by the way, I don’t think anybody pays as much tax as the good old smokers. And they stay thin too! The ones who worry about what they look like are the worst. It’s what you feel like that matters darlings.
It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who gets the most incredibly rude comments and questions (from total strangers!) about being thin. GAH.
I see the ‘fat issue’ has attracted a lot of post – unlike the St. Trop one – we’re all too envious not least because you must have
childcare well sorted – confirms my theory that journalists are
often on freebee whirls – you had some at your spa retreat, no?
lucky them! About the fat, loved Gillie’s comment – I’m sure she
speaks for a lot of us – I used to be so thin I’d disguise my legs
with double socks, now living in the land of pasta and pizza and
long convivial meals it’s a battle to disguise the bulges. Helena,
you’re impressive in the way you get ideas and work on them –
working from home often takes off the edge.
Okay, so this is an old post I’m commenting on. After reading your most recent post, I decided to go back through the old ones to find out how you ended up in Abu Dhabi. I started with May.
Anyway, i have to say, now that i live in france, each time I return to the states, I can’t help but notice all the overweight people, even some in my family. I commented to my French husband about this and he asked me if I would ever get fat. No, I said, I’m too damn vain. Even if I could stand to lose that last 5 kilos of baby weight. Vanity is not good, but for goodness sake, neither is the opposite.
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I am a nurse and I have just written my dissertation on obesity stigmatisation. I aim to do my Phd in the same subject.
Opinions like yours are sadly very common and do nothing to help people who are overweight or obese. 90% of obese people have gone to extreme lengths to lose weight, and many of the people who make you ‘want to vomit’ have actually lost more weight in their lifetime than you actually weigh. However, each time they diet their metabolism slows permanently so that every time they eat normally again their bodies store more fat, which makes it harder to lose weight. The obese people we see every day are likely to be on an extreme diet right now. They are likely to have lost a lot of weight already, and yet you still see an overweight person. They see you looking at them in disgust and think ‘what is the point?’
Obese people are not happy, they do not want to have to carry execess fat around all the time, especially in hot weather. They do not want to be that way, and I can guarantee that they have tried to lose weight seriously several times. Try to be less judgemental, because it’s not nice.
So, I am a few years late reading this… but I have only just stumbled upon your site after finally receiving your book “….impossibly French” this morning, and deciding to look busy at work buy hitting up googles all-you-can-eat service. And here I am.
THANK YOU for mentioning the kind of hypocritical backlash one gets when turning the intrusive questioning away from thin people, and on to fat people. When I was younger I was very skinny, and I will always remember the day I was in a shopping centre with my mum and we walked past someone eating McDonald’s at a table, who saw my hip bones poking out between my jeans waistband and t-shirt, and actually started shaking their head at me, as though I was being insulting merely by being myself.
I’ve had all sorts of rude remarks made, or flase assumptions made, about my size, and yet whenever I dare mention that overweight people suffer from too much Wendy’s, not “big bones” for example, I know I have just performed social suicide.
Just why are fat people protected, and thin people disarmed?!
PS: sorry that was so long, but I also want to say you write with a freshness I admire. I am off now to read more of your blog. thanks!
From down here in wee New Zealand!
Hello and thank you for the lovely post, it’s a great topic and I am determined to write more about it!