Jessica Reynolds over at Zorn's Change of Subject has a post on weight discrimination. She asked commenters to give their thoughts on the high rate of obesity in the US. Regular commenters complied with many ideas that have been considered factors or possible factors. No need to throw my two cents in on that, but I did find myself irritated by the attitude of a couple of commenters. Here's commenter BrianE:
I completely disagree. Obesity deserves to be discriminated against. Without question, this is a choice, not something people are born with (ever see a fat Ethiopian?) or have no control over.
Where does one begin in addressing this? This was my response:
Where to begin? It's patently obvious that you know absolutely nothing about obesity and the mountain of research that has been done with respect to obesity management, yet you feel not just entitled but morally compelled to discriminate against people because of your profound ignorance on this subject. Brian. Educate yourself. Your attitude is disgraceful.
A bit harsh, but I'm not one to give quarter to proud, prejudice and cruelty. I must add to my comment that even if it were true that the 95+% of people who fail to keep weight off over the long haul fail as a matter of choice, how in the world would that be justification for any sort of denigration or discrimination? Brian's attitude reminds me of people who think it's okay to discriminate against gay people because they believe (falsely) that it's a choice. Even if it were a choice, discrimination would be wrong.
Instead of scapegoating, I'd suggest a little self-reflection and some effort to improve one's own attitude. Making the effort to do so is actually much more of a choice than managing obesity is a choice.
Jessica offered a starting point in her post:
I admit, I become a bit irked when someone slightly too large tries to squeeze into the seat next to me on the bus. Then I remember: He or she is a person too, who only wants to sit down during this long commute — and I subtly scoot over a smidge.