The stigma of being fat

Updated: Jul 27, 2014, 22:41 PM IST

Being overweight is a stigma in our society. Aren`t overweight people human beings? Why do people have wrong notions about fat people? I am overweight but does that necessarily mean that I am unhealthy? Obesity is a disease afflicting children in urban population and definitely on the rise in India. And being fat also does not imply being obese.

In our society, people don’t know the difference between the two. If they see a fat or a healthy person they start commenting on their weight and size. Why should it matter to people if the other person is fat, healthy, overweight, oversize or for that matter even obese?

Being fat means being overweight and is generally defined as having more body fat than is optimally healthy. And it is a common condition, especially where food supplies are plentiful and lifestyles are sedentary.

Whereas obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.

I was a healthy kid during school, a little plump, and I am still that way and I still remember how people used to look at me and mostly guessed what they might have wanted to ask. And it bothers me, though they might have never said it directly but sometimes a look says it all.

Will they be able to bring about a change in their life by commenting or telling them constantly about it? Why does physical appearance matter so much in our society?

Nowadays, appearances seem to play an important role in our society. Everyone is so concerned about looks of others, but they don`t have the courtesy of not judging others on the basis of their weight and other physical factors.

Whether it is magazines, or picture-perfect silver screen, women and men in our country are striving to be size zero. The fashion world thrives on thin people. And the `healthy` are seldom represented. The only reason fat people are shown in popular media is so that they can be an object of ridicule. No fat person is ever taken as a main protagonist. He or she is always the centre for jokes.

Most of my friends accept me as I am, but I have often been subjected to this unfairness by people whom I don`t even know. Random people have come up to me to suggest how my lifestyle is wrong – without even knowing whether I have a medical condition or not. I don`t want to explain to them that I have a body type, or my genes play an important role in how I look. People judge before they can even get to know me.

The strange bit is that I have realised over the years that staying healthy is much more important that staying slim. The two don`t necessarily go hand in hand. I have much more stamina than many of my so called `well maintained` acquaintances. I can play, run, work and manage my home without getting tired. I eat healthy and exercise as much as I can. Why do people have to barrage me with advice about diets and quick ways of losing weight whereas these fads do more harm to your body than good.

Life has much more to it than looks. And looks fade – it takes only a few days from being thin to being anorexic – which is also a rising epidemic amongst teenagers. And a very dangerous trend.

I hope people know the difference between being fat and being fit and also stop judging people by the looks. It is high time we start looking beyond the façade.

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