The obesity epidemic

Posted on May 8, 2012 by

Another day, another diet. Sometimes I do everything right and the scale moves up a pound, then I spend a week gorging on cake and beer and I lose five pounds. The frustration is endless, but so far I’ve managed to maintain my weight for over a year now, and it’s actually trending downward again. I am no longer obese, even if I am slightly overweight. Good for me.

Why bother?

In comparison to everyone else in this region of the country, my fat self was thin, and I carried my weight well. Now I’m considered “skinny”, and people — even men — pressure me to eat more. This is something completely laughable to anyone used to normal-sized women. Every time I visit Europe, I receive a reality-check: I’m still overweight. Fifteen more pounds to go, all American protestations to the contrary.

Rather than fat-shaming or even thin-shaming, our society has degraded to normal-shaming. The shrinking middle is increasingly being caught in the crossfire between the Fat Acceptance and ThinSpo camps. Being 15 lbs overweight means I have a target on my back, as I can’t fit comfortably into either camp, and their snipers are taking aim. Whereas I see myself as being attractive but slightly chubby, I’m publicly derided both as being a hideous whale and an arrogant minnow, depending upon your particular brand of insanity.

Thanks to dress-size inflation, I get the satisfaction of wearing a size “small”, even though I’m quite large.  When I go shopping, I am sometimes disappointed with how the “plus size” racks have nearly taken over the clothing sections. It’s become more and more common for me to be unable to find anything under a size “large”, which is a surreal experience. I’ve gone from being the perpetually-plump girl, to being the perpetually-plump girl surrounded by the morbidly obese. I became thin without actually changing size.

If I worry aloud about my weight, I’m admonished to focus on my “inner beauty” — something I never heard when I worried aloud about my clothes and hairstyle. The “inner beauty” meme comes out whenever someone focuses on something they can’t change, but is my weight something I have no control over? I’ve been told that my thyroid is to blame for my extra fat, but the thinner I am the less problems I have with my thyroid.

Well, I’ve decided to maintain my weight for my thyroid’s sake, since nobody else seems to care. Really, nobody cares. That’s why America is majority-overweight and there will eventually be more people obese than at their normal weight. Is obese the new normal?

It sure feels like it. I’ve grown accustomed to walking behind people waddling so badly that they can hardly move forward, and rather rock from side to side. I see large people drive around in their even-larger cars, or comically squeezing into normal-sized vehicles with their stomachs pressed against the steering wheel. I see bikini-clad girls with belly rolls, and the men who desire them. I’ve adjusted to the fate of being wedged in between two enormous people on my next 9-hour flight. I see men stuffing food into faces so bloated that they look like their heads might explode at any minute. I watch children whose parents are torturing them with bad food struggle to play on the playground. I go out to eat with my own children, and the portions are so large that we split a single adult meal three ways, and everyone walks away overfed.

Sometimes I do lose my motivation, but then I see all this and decide to skip that cupcake I was eying. America has made me lose my appetite.

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