Thin Privilege and Fat Logic
Normally it's bad form to start an article with a bunch of pictures. So what? This is the Douchebag of the Month Column; we're not up for a Pulitzer. So we're going to start by rustling your jimmies.
Welcome to the world of Thin Privilege: a term concocted to make obese people -- the vast majority of whom simply refuse to exercise sufficient hand-to-mouth control -- into a persecuted minority.
"Thin Privilege" is a concept onto which many overweight and obese people have latched in recent years, spurred on by movements such as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), in the face of simmering resentment that seems to be building about the impositions the obese cause on the health care system and public spaces in general.
Part of the purpose of society is to take care of its weakest members, but when that weakness tends to be a result of a willful negligence to one's health, an unwillingness to make good decisions, or bluntly, an inability to keep one's hand away from one's mouth, the burden on society becomes unnecessarily heavy, and many of those who are putting in the effort to carry their own weight, begin to resent carrying more than their own responsibly-managed share.
"Privilege" is a fairly recent tool used by activists for framing social issues in the context of an oppressed minority looking out onto the advantages of being part of a majority group. In some cases, such as "White Privilege", the term has legitimate uses, especially in making certain people see that things they take for granted in their lives are as much a result of their luck as any other factor.
Can't handle having your feelings hurt by people who point out the reality of your situation? Well then partner, just create your own minority group and *bam*, now you're being persecuted.
But you can't fill in the blank that precedes the term with just anything, simply because you happen to be a constituent of a particular group of people who want to complain about their treatment by society. In a rational world, you'd never see a 'hygienic privilege' site dedicated to people who are upset for being treated poorly because they refuse to shower and brush their teeth.
Yes, we are comparing people who refuse to address their weight issues with those who refuse to bathe; both are a part of routine life maintenance conducted by functional, well-adjusted adults, capable of making good decisions in their long-term interests. And don't confuse the issue; you may not be at society's optimal weight, but you should constantly be trying to achieve your own optimal size and level of fitness, whatever that may be. Avoiding personal hygiene creates an increased likelihood for both catching and spreading infections and diseases, and so does refusing to be physically active where possible and make smart choices about the things that go into your mouth.
Now let us introduce you to the underlying foundation of Thin Privilege: Fat Logic
Fat Logic is the term used to describe the mental contortions that justify one's refusal to improve their situation by making better choices. There is evidence to support the conclusion that obesity negatively affects your ability to think clearly, and Fat Logic goes a long way towards demonstrating that in some sense, Obesity is a mental disease.
Sure, the world's always going to be populated with people who make bad decisions that ruin their lives. Self-destructive behavior seems to be as Human a trait as walking upright. But the problem is that self-destructive behavior doesn't occur in a vacuum; others are affected by those bad decisions. If irrational people only hurt themselves with their bad decisions, nobody would really care; the problems would eventually go away on their own, one way or another.
But nowadays, thanks to the advances in modern medicine, social safety nets, and entire industries of people who exist solely to keep dumbasses alive, stupidity no longer selects itself out of the gene pool. And worse, it imposes its burden on most on those who do make the good, tough, decisions with their lives; whether it be through increased taxation to support a progressively more unhealthy population, or through increased costs of services to make up for lost revenue due to the need for special accommodations for the obese.
For example: Al Lutz is a serious Disney fan - he runs MiceChat.com, a Disney fan site which covers the multi-million dollar Disney parks and resorts. He's also been stuck on the world-famous "It's A Small World" ride, due to the passengers on his boat being too heavy, personally witnessing park staff being put in the awkward position of having to request certain passengers disembark the ride.
"If these boats get stuck . . . they have to send someone back in there to lighten the load on the boat," said Lutz. "They've even built a platform next to that curve because they've had so many problems."
Well-known for its celebration of the world's different cultures and the song played on an unending loop, the famous ride has been in service for almost 50 years . But in 2007, according to Lutz and the New York Times, the depth of the river had to be increased to accommodate boatloads of passengers who weigh more than when the ride opened. And while Disney did not release the figures, it can be assumed that the bill for increasing the depth of the river was at a minimum of a few hundred thousand dollars if not into the millions; a cost which is passed on to the consumer through ticket sales and, ironically, concession prices.
Fat activists refuse to acknowledge the impact of obesity, not only on public health, but on social order, and insist on imposing the consequences of their poor health choices onto others.
Shame is a concept most people grasp when they're young; you feel ashamed when you're caught in a lie to your parents, or for embarrassing yourself by acting in an inappropriate manner in public. Different cultures have different levels of shame. In China, large sections of the population think it's perfectly fine for their kids to drop trou and take a crap on a public sidewalk". Children over a certain age who did that in much of the rest of the world, would be shamed by their parents so as to prevent that kind of unacceptable behavior in the future.
But when some people reach adulthood, they get an expectation that they're now free from the feeling of shame, regardless of how out-of-line with the general culture their behavior may be. After all, everyone is born equal, so everyone's behavior should be tolerated equally, right?
Studies have shown that scorn doesn't accomplish its intended effect of motivating most people to improve themselves. We're not arguing against this. Our argument here is that shame and scorn are how society draws the line at behavior it collectively deems as inappropriate. And with 78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations, a 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990, and eight out of 10 over 25's overweight, that's a pretty good indication that a line needs to be drawn.
At the end of the day, "Fat Shaming" an individual probably isn't the best way of motivating them towards achieving a healthy weight. But then, neither is Fat Enabling, by accommodating the delusion that it's perfectly fine to be obese.
Shame not only can, but should be collectively heaped upon groups who espouse anti-social, unhealthy, or dangerous views. If a society does not express contempt for people who are a net drain on it, but instead tolerates or even celebrates those people, that society is not going to be around for very long; some other society with its values and priorities in the right place will ensure they fade into history.