Friday, March 11, 2011

Is childhood obesity a problem?

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Me at 130 lbs

Should kids be stigmatized for being fat?

My own experience reveals a different emphasis. Kids--and adults too--are stigmatized for not being rail-thin. A person, generally a female person, is expected not to have an excess ounce on her frame, or she is unacceptable.

Here's my life story: I was a skinny kid and a picky eater until I was 11. Then I started to put on weight, including a small pot belly, I was as ashamed of this as if it were a serious deformity. During high school (5'3", 120 lbs), I felt gross.

In my first year of college, I gained the freshman ten, meaning that I weighed 130 lbs. I went on a diet and lost 12 lbs, which made me tremendously happy. I've been exercising and trying to lost weight ever since. However, instead of losing, I have gained a pound a year for 40 years. The only reversal of this trend came when I had surgery a few times. Each surgery resulted in the loss of 15 lbs--then I resumed my annual weight gain.

So this is the story of my life. I have been exercising and dieting since I was 16 and am in good health and overweight. My mother, on the other hand, with the same build as me, did not exercise or diet and gained weight every year until she died at 78, except for periods when she was ill, which made her temporarily lose weight.

I feel bitter about always worrying about my weight, when objectively I was not really fat. A woman who is 5'3" and weighs 130 lbs in not fat. She's just not skinny. I would be ecstatic to weigh 130 lbs again, or even 140.

My point is that society makes a fuss over not being thin, as well as being obese. Models and movie stars are gaunt, or else. The beautiful Jennifer Lopez is constantly chided for being fat! Marilyn Monroe would never make it nowadays. People who are not thin are unacceptable in this society. And the more thinness is stressed, the more obesity and anorexia we see in young women.

What's wrong with this picture?

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