Friday, May 9, 2014

Questioning Obesity - What is Your Perception?

Yesterday one of my LJ friends posted a very basic statement about obesity and perception. I want to pull that topic out and look at it a bit more closely today. 

Time to examine a topic of societal interest. Life isn't just fluff and bunnies, after all. 

The basic topic had been the increase in obese children and how it concerned him. All to the good! Obesity is a world-wide problem that will affect the health and well-being of 1000's of children and adults. He said the following paragraph: 

One has only to walk down the main street of this small town to see that a large percentage of children, teenagers and adults, especially females, are grossly over-weight. And the number seems to be growing. Why? Is it the wrong type of food, lack of exercise, or just plain laziness? It cannot be healthy and must at some stage become very embarrassing, especially for young girls.

(italics are my addition)

This is part of an advertising campaign for Obesity is a
problem at any age, but more children than ever are obese.  That
obesity is caused by many factors, though, not just the buffet line in the ad above. 

Now, I really don't have a problem with society perceiving obesity as an issue that is on the increase. My friend is absolutely correct - it is an epidemic in our modern society and the reasons for obese people are myriad. But I did call him to task about his words "especially females" and "especially for young girls". I called him on his terminology, because I think there are an equal number of obese males out there as females. His response was: 

Yes of course obesity and ballet are relevant to both sexes. I was very much aware of that as I was writing. ... But one must admit that one notices girls and women more than boys and men in both cases.

(once again, the italics are my addition)

Like father, like son? Obesity is not just environment and
food choices. Basic body type is genetic.
I will never be 5' 8" tall with a very low body mass index.
My personal genetic profile won't allow me to be
taller than 5' 6" and gives me a propensity to gain
weight in my midsection. 

I'm not posting this to embarrass my LJ friend at all. Some of what he was discussing truly merited comments and thought. But I am curious and throwing this out to my LJ friends. Do you notice obese females more readily than obese males? How about in children? Are the girls the first to catch your eye, or do you just notice all obese children and then mentally separate them by sex. 

Would you be more likely to ignore the weight of these
women if they were nicely dressed in finer clothing that
suits them more than the tank tops and denim? 

I do think that often obesity is forgiven and overlooked more often in males than in females. As a female who is overweight, perhaps I'm more conscious of it because I wish I was back to my weight of twenty years ago. But I've worked with obese males in the past, and their weight problems seem to often disappear under the carpet of a well-cut pinstriped suit. 

Santa Claus is one obese businessman who has made his
weight a positive instead of a negative. Can you imagine
an obese tooth fairy though? 

I know that obese children have a difficult time through school. My nephew was seriously overweight throughout school and was teased and ridiculed for years. He finally found acceptance on the football field where his weight was suddenly seen as an asset instead of a problem. 

So I ask all of you. Is society more apt to focus on an overweight female than a male? Are overweight males given more leeway and societal understanding for their physical appearance than a similarly overweight woman would be given? And how about you? Are you overweight? Have you ever received snubs or been ridiculed for your weight? I'm opening this topic to discussion, please share your experiences and feelings with me. 

Happy Friday! 

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