Jan 17, 2014

Fwd: The Massachusetts Observer

The Massachusetts Observer

Roly-poly, portly, rotund, overweight, fat, obese

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 11:03 AM PST

Brent Abrahamson (a few years ago).
What's in a name? I guess it all depends on what you are trying to convey. Of the 6 words used at the head of this blog entry to describe a large person, which would you rather be called?

I suppose as one who has fit the labels and may again someday, I am especially sensitive to that. Probably the word "obese" is my least favorite precisely because it is so much in vogue today. The headlines shout about an obesity epidemic. Every news story about the topic has film footage of a street full of people busy with the hustle and bustle of the day. The cameras are focused on the stomachs and backsides of fat people. We are warned that we are in danger. Americans eat too much. If something isn't done, the story goes, we will face a health crisis.

So people do anything to lose that weight. The diet industry is very profitable. Gastric bypass surgery has become more and more common. The people who seem to be able to eat anything and not gain an ounce tell you how simple it all is. "Just don't eat," they say.

At one time, applications for employment used to require that the person applying for a job attach a picture along with the application. The practice was outlawed when it became apparent that people were not being called for interviews if they failed to meet the "desired" racial profile. People could not even get a foot in the door. They were being pre-judged.

The same can be said about weight. There was a time when that had to be listed on an application. "So what?" you say. One time, I was listening to someone who was in charge of hiring. In explaining how he sorted through applications, he said that when he looked at applications for the first time, all he read was what the person wrote down in the column marked "weight." If it was beyond a certain number, he discarded the application without reading anything else. He was certain that those people would lack the work ethic that he was looking for. They were being pre-judged.

Prejudice is such an insidious thing. It lurks in the dark corners. By itself it is powerless. It has to work through someone. It thrives though because it has never experienced a shortage of people willing to do its bidding.
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