It’s Okay to Be Fat

It’s Okay to Be Fat

Unbelievably, the stigmatization of overweight is a very recent practice. In the past, being overweight was really appealing. One of the first representations of the human form created by humans is the Venus of Willendorf, who is chubby and full-figured. The people who created this monument may have “lived in a hard ice-age environment when traits of fatness and fecundity would have been highly valued,” according to PBS. According to Christopher Forth’s Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life, there have always been both positive and negative associations with being overweight. But according to Ken Mondschein, “body obesity may also be considered as a symbol of affluence, social standing, success, and even rulership” in the Middle Ages. For example, picture a chubby Henry VIII.

The association between being overweight and wealth or power still exists in several non-Western countries. During a ritual to celebrate the new year, men from the Bodi tribe of Ethiopia compete to become the fattest. It is an honor for the winner to demonstrate the might of his tribe. In fact, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Tanzania exhibited a predilection for chubby bodies until at least the 1990s, according to Stephen Nash, historian of science and archaeologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The invasion of Western ideas—and ideals—has caused them to lose their plump optimism, nevertheless, in recent years.

The contemporary West has decided that being obese is unsightly and has associated it with negative traits. We are experiencing an upsurge in bullying and abuse, as well as shame and stigma. This is terrible enough, but fat-shaming has also obscured a bigger, more serious issue. The obesity pandemic in our nation is a result of a collaboration between the food and medical industries that makes it difficult to obtain wholesome food at affordable rates and nearly hard to obtain patient-centered medical treatment.

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My acquaintance just discovered that her hair was starting to fall out. She was constantly worn out and had brain fog. When she visited her regular practitioner, he cut her off to urge that she try diet and exercise. Later, she saw a professional, including a gynecologist (worried it might be hormonal). The initial recommendation from each of them was to lose weight. Ultimately, polycystic ovarian syndrome and extended Covid were the cause, but it cost her money and required three trips before it was determined to be the case. This is a well-known narrative that keeps coming up: physicians’ weight prejudice prevents them from seeing the patient as anything other than “fat.”