Fat Porn

In the May issue of The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has written a piece called, “Fat Nation,” in which he recounts his own struggles with obesity as he discusses the growing social problem:

“For the average fat person, life can be an endless chain of humiliating experiences….A television executive once remarked to me that my career as a political analyst would ‘really take off if [I] would just lose a few pounds.’ When I was fat, I avoided meeting people’s eyes. I didn’t want to subject them to my ugliness. Unfortunately, our culture reinforces this anxiety by turning obesity into pornography” (p. 77).

Thankfully for Ambinder, he found a solution to his obesity–a solution that has a relatively high success rate: bariatric surgery. I’m not sure I agree with all his policy prescriptions, but the article is insightful and interesting.

Like many, I have seen people I love struggle with weight issues, including obesity and eating disorders. It is painful to watch physical health deteriorate–but just as agonizing to observe the spiraling emotional descent into despair.

I am not obese by clinical standards. My BMI is 25.9; 18.5-24.9 is considered “normal weight,” 25-29.9 is “overweight,” and 30+ is “obese.” I have been trying to lose a little of the 45 lbs. I gained in college, with some success. But I don’t think anyone would consider me to be fat.

Ambinder calls our society’s obsession with obesity, “fat porn.” The popularity of shows like “Biggest Loser” and “More to Love” are an interesting and troubling phenomenon. Those of us who are at (or near) normal weight watch these shows with the sick fascination that draws us to Jerry Springer and train wrecks, fearing that we may someday end up like these poor fat folks. It reflects a attitude just as sinful as the gluttony and concupiscence that can lead to obesity and eating disorders.

I confess that I have not always looked at those who are obese with the love of Christ. My personal experiences with weight issues have made me more empathetic, but I still have a long way to go.

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About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, exiled to the land of Phillies fans…an Old Testament professor and former liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth…eldest sibling to three, brother-in-law to Josh and Hannah…uncle to Marshall.
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One Response to Fat Porn

  1. Pingback: Best of 2010 | think hard, think well

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