Sometimes, conversations about weight can pop up in unlikely places. Amy V. alerted us to this post at The Simple Dollar, a blog about personal finance, in response to a reader comment.
Being fat is voluntary. People make a choice to eat unhealthy and not excercise. Therefore, it should never be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This was such an egregious comment that I felt the need to clearly respond to it.
Being fat is sometimes voluntary, but in many cases it is not. Many illnesses bring on unwanted and unwarranted weight gain – my uncleâ€™s liver problems caused him to gain huge amounts of weight with basically no change in diet or activity, going from a formerly rail-thin person to someone who was very overweight. Many medications bring on unwanted weight gain – many thyroid medications, resulting from conditions present at birth, result in excessive weight thatâ€™s far beyond the choice of the person.
The problem with being overweight is that sometimes it is the result of personal choice and sometimes it is not – yet it is often assumed that it is due to poor choice, a trap that Lindsay falls directly into.
Yes, itâ€™s true that an overweight person might result in a greater cost for a business that might hire that person – theyâ€™re statistically more likely to have heart disease, etc. However, one could make the same argument for a female – theyâ€™re statistically more likely to have children than men, thus theyâ€™re more likely to need maternal leave and incur replacement costs. Yet the former argument is accepted, while the latter argument is sexist?
Forms of discrimination that are clearly based on factors that are beyond a personâ€™s choice – sex, skin coloration, ethnicity – are clearly frowned upon in modern society. Just because we went through revolutions throwing off racism and sexism doesnâ€™t mean that there arenâ€™t still big forms of discrimination out there.
The way I see it, a person is a person, and as Martin Luther King said, a person should be judged by the content of their character. Being overweight might mean that they have some personal issues – or it might just mean that they were born with a thyroid condition. Either way, what matters is how they treat others and what they produce with their time.
Amy also suggested keeping an eye on the comments, so of course I did. Here’s a sampling:
Racism and sexism are still â€œout thereâ€ too, you know.
I’m glad someone jumped right in with this, because the idea that we’ve “thrown off” racism and sexism is clearly ridiculous. Sorry, Trent.
I have to disagree. The percentage of people that are overweight because of a medical condition is pretty small. Nearly 80% of diseases are curable/treatable by a healthy diet and regular exercise. We as a country just do not understand how to eat. We watch everyone else eat crappy food or massive amounts of food all the time, and we think we deserve to do that too. Being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese is really bad for you. If was all understood just how bad it is, we would all work harder and make better decisions…
Another problem is everyone thinks they are somehow the exception. It is pretty likely you arenâ€™t. Your body is the product of your diet and exercise. If you have just â€œalwaysâ€ had big hips, thighs, ankles, etcâ€¦.. It is because you â€œalwaysâ€ havenâ€™t eaten right, eat to much, or donâ€™t exercise enough.
There are _some_ people that are overweight as a result of a medical condition, the vast overwhelming majority of overweight people are overweight because of poor choices. The â€˜averageâ€™ amount of television a person watches is something like 28 hours per week. Combine that with a diet of frequently eating out, sugary beverages, and lack of exercise and you will get a population of overweight people. It is as simple as that.
First of all, racism and sexism are not gone the way of the dodo bird, and the revolution ainâ€™t over. To think so would be narrow minded. As to the wieght issue, theres a big misconception that thin is automatically â€œhealthyâ€, and that people who are overweight are automatically â€œunhealthyâ€. In my case, overweight at 58, I have normal sugars, cholesterals, so on and so forht, and I do aerobic exercise five times a week. Lots of thin people the same age cannot say the same thing.
If we agree with Lindsayâ€™s premise that overweight people should not be covered because they are overweight by choice (which I already have a problem with – discrimination by religion is illegal, and religion is ostensibly a choice), knowing that not everyone who is overweight is overweight by choice, who makes that determination? A non-profit commission? A government agency?
I donâ€™t care if you have a thyroid condition or anything else- your body canâ€™t gain fat unless youâ€™re eating excess calories. Genetics, liver problems, thyroids donâ€™t cause weight gain- eating excess food does. The former issues may change the limit on what â€œexcessâ€ means, but thereâ€™s no disease on earth that will just force someone to spontaneously gain weight without eating.
Iâ€™m tired of people blaming Darwin when Doritos and drumsticks are 99% of the problem.
Well, John, Iâ€™m tired of people who think that what one weighs is anything other than a personal matter. Seriously. Of all the things you could choose to judge a person by, their weight has got to be among the most stupid, arbitrary choices there is. Frankly, if I felt the need to do that, Iâ€™d be asking myself what nasty thing in myself needed to chase around looking for some childish basis to put other people down.
Trent is right when he says that â€œwhat matters is how [people] treat others and what they produce with their time.â€ Anything else is superficiality.
There is, of course, lots more.
Posted by mo pie