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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How Much is Enough?

This morning I stumbled upon the RedEye's cover page which featured the word "fat-osphere" and nearly lost my cool. It's not often that I get the chance to lose my cool before 7am, but there it was, staring straight at me. Begging me. Just dangling that abomination of the English language in front of me as if I weren't going to lose my cool.

The article (if you can call two pages of fluff about "fat people blogging" actual journalism) was not what offended me. There's a bunch of people out there who are overweight and are blogging to spread acceptance of the overweight to all of the internets and kudos to them and let's all eat a Kudos bar (whatever happened to Kudos bars? you never see them around anymore) and ha-ha we came up with this word "fat-osphere" to join fat people and the blogosphere. What got me going was the picture(s).

"These people are FAT??"

Maybe it's that I'm an elitist when it comes to my own disability/minority/issue. I AM FAT. One look, no question, case closed. I SEVERELY dislike people using the word "fat" in my presence when it is being used to describe someone who is not on a "one look, no question, case closed" level of obesity. Any time it happens, I want to shout, "THAT is NOT FAT! THIS is FAT!" It especially aggravates me when it's someone complaining about themselves being fat in my presence when the numbers don't lie and I AM TWO OF YOU PUT TOGETHER, YOU DUMB BITCH!

Are the people being talked about in the article overweight? Probably. Even though "overweight" and "obese" are currently overused as subjective words and their objective meanings are even more ridiculous because they rely on the BMI - a system created by a mathematician several centuries ago doing population studies and has nothing to do medically with anything.

Does that mean that they should unquestioningly call themselves "fat"? I don't think so. I think there's reasonable doubt. And while a debate could ensue and they could possibly win the argument to use the term, that's not a solid enough case off the bat to unflinchingly use it without the debate.

I can't be the only one out there with this problem.

I'm sure that there are people who have gone completely bald and overhear some guy with a receding hairline talking about how he's "going bald" or maybe a guy with legit symptoms of male pattern baldness (in a classic horseshoe pattern) using the term "bald" to describe himself and these completely-bald people get offended because THAT guy still HAS SOME HAIR and it's not a slam-dunk case of baldness, buddy!

Even in current politics, we've got the issue of the two "fighting minorities" on the Democratic ticket: the woman and the black guy. And yet, Obama's been put under the microscope about getting to use that term "black guy" for himself. Depending on who you are and your background, you might think that's up for debate and not at all a slam dunk case. You could be a well-to-do high-class attorney who thinks that any skin tone darker than a week in the Bahamas is "undoubtedly black". You could be an African-American who emigrated from Nigeria and judge the term "black" on roots and heritage connecting back to Africa and judge Obama accordingly. Many people have been judging Obama's decision to be the "black candidate" - and battle lines have been drawn numerous times as a result.

I'll even throw in a quick joke about Hillary Clinton getting to refer to herself as the "woman" candidate. Sure, most of America takes it at face value and simply assumes that it's correct, but I KNOW people out there who doubt it. Usually jokingly, but sometimes a little scary on the seriousness side as well. And frankly, I've never seen any proof either way. Of course, I don't use the internets for searches of presidential candidate pornography. I have much bigger tasks at hand. Like complaining about people calling themselves "fat", I suppose.

Which brings me back to the question: How fat is "fat"?

I'm an objective person. I'd like to say that the cutoff for unquestionable "fat" terminology would likely be a cutoff between 270 and 290 pounds, provided that the stomach sticks out further than anything else. I wouldn't want to discriminate against the weightlifters, who have lots of muscle mass that weighs a lot. You really don't want to discriminate against people who can break your spine.

Please, let me know what you think. Are you a member of some terminology that is also being infringed upon by those whose status is debatable? Are you "fat" and have a different idea for a cutoff point for those who want to be in the club without having to argue over possible membership? Do you just want to call me an "asshole"? Are you an "asshole" who wants to suggest a cutoff point because too many "half-assholes" are infringing upon your unquestionable "asshole" status?

Please leave a comment. And let's explore.

(RedEye - the "fat" picture/article is rotating screen #2)

1 comment:

rachel said...

I don't think you can put a weight limit on what is considered fat. It's directly proportional to height. A 4'11 chick would be fat as hell if she weighed 160 lbs. A 6'2 man would be underweight if he weighed the same.

Since you asked for definitions of what makes someone fat, I'll give a long specific definition of "weighing over 120% of the maximum weight in the 'healthy' range for one's height when that weight is caused by excess fat rather than muscle or pregnancy."

The 'healthy range' for one's height is that one at the doctor's office. So for example, at 5'8 I believe my 'healthy range' is around 140-160 lbs. That would mean that if I weighed more than 192 (120% of 160) I would be unquestionably fat unless that excess weight was because I was a bodybuilder or pregnant.

I don't know what the medical definition of obese is, but in my mind 'obese' is fatter than 'fat' which is simply noticeably overweight. Setting the limit for 'fat' at 270 minimum would make no sense for anyone shorter than 6 feet tall. A 4'11 chick could weigh half that and still be pudgy.