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My rant on overweight justification in America

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ScOULaris

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Some of the discussion in this Christina Aguilera thread inspired me to go on a rant about something that has always bothered me: Americans' attitudes toward being overweight.

Here was one of the pictures that sparked the discussion in that other thread:



Since this is GAF, the discussion in the thread consisted mostly of funny GIFs and comments about how far Christina Aguilera had fallen with regard to her appearance. About six pages in, however, this particular post caught my eye:

magicstop said:
You guys are pretty pathetic. Is it a wonder that so many women have issues with their body image, suffer from eating disorders, etc?
I just take solace in the fact that most of you guys hopefully aren't this disgusting in the real world when you open your mouths.
I found myself getting irritated by the apparent thought process behind this post. It has become all-too-common for "society" to be blamed for women being either significantly overweight or dangerously skinny. There is always talk about how women are under so much pressure to have the perfect body, but supposedly that pressure leads to them going to one extreme or the other? What a crock of shit. Nobody is to blame for your body but yourself. Period.

First off, I would like to acknowledge that upkeep with regard to one's appearance is of more importance for women in society than men. There are all sorts of socio-biological reasons for this, but that is not important for this discussion. That being said, everyone (I would hope) feels a responsibility to themselves to be healthy and look presentable. A big part of staying healthy is eating right and not letting yourself become overweight or even obese.

I made a thread once asking GAFers what their #1 dealbreaker was with regard to the opposite sex, and the vast majority of responses were "fat" or "overweight." Before you start labeling all of those people as "shallow," take pause for a moment to realize that those responses were indicative of an almost universal fact: fat is unattractive and indicative of poor health. Blaming society for the "pressure" to maintain a healthy weight and figure is simply looking for excuses for your own failures or the failures of others. The human motivation for staying healthy and attractive predates organized society by a huge span of time.

Since I've already rambled on enough with no clear thesis, I'll switch to bold font to highlight my main point: Americans have a skewed (and wrong) perspective of what is normal or acceptable with regard to weight and body composition. A consequence of that flawed thinking is the tendency to justify either their own or others' weight problems by saying that it's unrealistic to stay healthy.

Let's face it: America is the most overweight nation in the world by a landslide. People here think that, in order to not become overweight, one would need to adhere to a crazy diet of nothing but bland foods and exercise religiously. People think this way because that provides an excuse as to why they, themselves, are overweight. Overweight is the norm, and having a healthy body is the exception. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE CASE. Most of my experience with cultures in other countries has been from my frequent visits to Italy over the years. Since I have family over there, I have probably traveled to Italy at least 10 or more times so far. You might look at Christina Aguilera in that picture and think, "Come on, she's not that fat." You're right in that she's not obese, but you're only justifying her unpleasant figure because you're used to seeing fat Americans everywhere.

In Italy, Christina Aguilera would probably have a very hard time finding any article of clothing to fit her, even in the largest sizes available. They simply don't make clothing for a woman of her size over there because the populace is in much, much better shape on average. It's not because they "walk more" or are more physically active than the average American (at least not significantly so). They stay thin while eating all of the foods that are often demonized in the States: carb-heavy dishes with pasta and white bread with every meal. So how do they stay so thin while Americans continue to balloon? Portion control. Plain and simple, their meals are smaller than ours. Being thin over there isn't something that people go out of their way to achieve, it's just how it is because they have a healthy diet and lifestyle.

I'll never forget when an Italian cousin of mine made his first trip over to America about 15 years ago. We were at the mall with my mom and some other family members, and my mom asked him, "So, do you see any cute American girls?" He replied, "No. Everyone's fat." It was like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. After hearing that, I couldn't help but notice how many people are not only overweight, but just straight-up FAT. It was embarrassing, frankly.

If this ridiculously long OP has offended Overweight-GAF, then I can only half apologize. I understand that it's very hard to lose weight once you've put a lot on, and a lot of the time people put on the extra weight at a young age because their parents never taught them about healthy nutrition. I do understand that getting down to a healthy weight once you've become fat is much easier said than done. What I am trying to say, however, is that we all need to have a realistic understanding of what is overweight and what is "normal." Christina Aguilera in that picture is overweight. Period. She might not look huge compared to the waves of uber-fat Americans that you see every day, but that doesn't change the fact that she is fat. If we hold each other accountable under realistic judgment and stop acting upon the politically-correct tendency to defend the weight problems of others, I think we'd be better off.

Thus ends my rant. Hopefully we can get some good discussion going here with viewpoints from International-GAF for a broader context, but I have a feeling that everyone's just going to call me an asshole.
 

ChiTownBuffalo

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Jan 26, 2009
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Moving from Colorado to Chicago was a shock. I never knew Americans could be so fat.
 
Dec 8, 2008
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ScOULaris said:
I found myself getting irritated by the apparent thought process behind this post. It has become all-too-common for "society" to be blamed for women being either significantly overweight or dangerously skinny. There is always talk about how women are under so much pressure to have the perfect body, but supposedly that pressure leads to them going to one extreme or the other? What a crock of shit. Nobody is to blame for your body but yourself. Period.
1st paragraph nails it. The rest is pretty good too.
 

Stet

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Jul 15, 2006
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Well, they used to be right. The backlash over people wanting models to be too skinny was justified, but now people confuse "healthy weight" with "overweight."
 

Guzim

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FunBoy said:
I want go to America one day it will make me feel like a model!
If you were to talk to a lot of GAFers here in the U.S., you would find out that they see models everyday working in the grocery store or McDonald's.
 

dragonelite

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ruxtpin said:
There's a chick at my work who was attempting to gain enough weight to be eligible for gastric bypass surgery.

hmm
Wow why would you want to do that.
Risk your life and get fattier will make it only harder to drop fat and it makes it easier to get all that weight back.
 

Ignis Fatuus

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As far as I'm concerned being fat is a strong indicator of bad character. Only a lack of self control or education or both can account for it.
 

jmdajr

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Yeah I don't really jive with "God made me this way!"

No, You and Dunkin Donuts did.
 

WEGGLES

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CrazyDogg77 said:
So what you're cramped for 5-6 hours at most usually.
That's if I DON'T have a 400lb person taking half my seat...

I ride a bus 2 times a day. Not getting to sit because someone can't put the fork down sucks.
 

angelcage87

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To the OP,as an Italian migrated to Argentina,the situation in here is even more extreme.Not only fat people are completely non-existent in here,but the majority of the population seems to be in perfect shape,even at older ages(50-60),it's incredible to see so many good looking people.
 

spidye

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Ignis Fatuus said:
As far as I'm concerned being fat is a strong indicator of bad character. Only a lack of self control or education or both can account for it.
bad character? what about people who went through abuse, and therefore fell in obesity. believe me most of them don't have a "bad" character.
 

JORMBO

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I went to Kohls last week to buy some plain medium sized tshirts. All they had were XL and XXL.

Damn fatties
 

ScOULaris

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angelcage87 said:
To the OP,as an Italian migrated to Argentina,the situation in here is even more extreme.Not only fat people are completely non-existent in here,but the majority of the population seems to be in perfect shape,even at older ages(50-60),it's incredible to see so many good looking people.
That's the impression that I got from the Argentinian Dancing with the Stars clips that have been making the rounds on GAF. Gat damn @ Cinthia Fernandez!
 

CrazyDogg77

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WEGGLES said:
That's if I DON'T have a 400lb person taking half my seat...

I ride a bus 2 times a day. Not getting to sit because someone can't put the fork down sucks.
Yeah i bet that does suck. But its not like people get fat just to make other people uncomfortable.
 

ToxicAdam

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America doesn't have an obesity problem, they have a depression and anxiety problem.

In the past, our grandparents would self-medicate with drink, smokes and drugs. Now that we have made all of those things more expensive and scarce we are self-medicating with food. Copious amounts of cheap, sugary, processed food.
 

JABEE

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Ignis Fatuus said:
As far as I'm concerned being fat is a strong indicator of bad character. Only a lack of self control or education or both can account for it.
Would you make same argument for depression patients? They are supposedly not entirely in control of there actions, because they have a mental issue. Would you make the argument that depression is a result of bad character since being overesting can be associated with depression?
 

jon bones

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Guzim said:
If you were to talk to a lot of GAFers here in the U.S., you would find out that they see models everyday working in the grocery store or McDonald's.
yep its called living in new york city
 

jmdajr

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Dr Eggman said:
Eh, there's some genetic component into it, let's not totally dismiss that.
I agree. Everyone's metabolism is different, but I doubt hunter/gatherers ever got that big.
 

Chiave

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You are what you eat. Aesthetics aside, being a fatty means poor health in general. And I'm not going to lie, fat women tend to piss me off.
 

ScOULaris

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ToxicAdam said:
America doesn't have an obesity problem, they have a depression and anxiety problem.

In the past, our grandparents would self-medicate with drink, smokes and drugs. Now that we have made all of those things more expensive and scarce we are self-medicating with food. Copious amounts of cheap, sugary, processed food.
Nah. Look at this link again: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity

You see Japan all the way at the bottom of the list? They're more anxiety-ridden than anyone. They self-medicate with suicide, though.
 
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