By Sandy Long
I can hear you now, “What? Sandy Long, who preaches against bigotry and discrimination, is saying it is ok to discriminate now? What’s up with that?” NO, I personally do not agree with discrimination, but it appears that some people, including those in government,t do agree with it, in matter of fact, promotes it. Yep, I can hear those wheels turning in your minds, “there are laws against discrimination, people do not discriminate too much these days, what in the world is she talking about.”
There are two areas that are fashionable to discriminate about against people; I am only going to talk about one of them, obesity. Have you been paying attention to not only what is going on in the trucking industry, but throughout the business world? Company after company is either not hiring people above a certain body weight or making them enter weight loss programs. In trucking, companies are blatantly discriminating with saying if you are above a certain body weight; do not bother to fill out an application. If they said outright, as they are about obese folk, if you are black or brown, gay, a Christian, then do not bother to apply, my gosh, they would be in court in a Minnesota second! But they get away with it about obese folk.
The government is supporting mandatory sleep apnea testing, not for every driver, but for those over a body mass index of 35…so called obese folk. This in the face that many people diagnosed with sleep apnea are of ‘normal’ body weight. If the government said that it would require every black truck driver to be tested for sickle cell anemia, which is only found in darker skinned races, Jesse Jackson would be making a flight to DC and organizing a protest!
This discrimination against obese people goes further and for some reason promoted by the federal government. From ObesityMyths.com, “It’s not just the official category of obesity that has been affected by numerical hocus-pocus. Thirty-five million Americans went to sleep one night in 1998 at a government-approved weight (I never knew there were government ‘approved’ weights for people, when did that happen!–SL) and woke up “overweight” the next morning, thanks to a change in the government’s definition. That group includes currently “overweight” celebrities like Will Smith and Pierce Brosnan, as well as NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. It even includes George W. Bush, considered the most fit president in U.S. history. “Overweight” had previously been defined as a BMI of 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women; in 1998 it was lowered to a BMI of 25 for both genders.”
“The 1998 redefinition prompted a group of researchers to criticize the new threshold in The American Journal of Public Health. They wrote: “Current interpretations of the revised guidelines stigmatize too many people as overweight, fail to account for sex, race/ethnicity, age, and other differences; and ignore the serious health risks associated with low weight and efforts to maintain an unrealistically lean body mass. This seeming rush to lower the standard for overweight to such a level that 55% of American adults find themselves being declared overweight or obese raises serious concerns.”
The discrimination against obese people started about 150 years ago when the only people who were fat were those rich enough to afford to eat regularly and who had sedentary jobs. These ‘fat cats’ were considered to be dishonest and lazy. (Three of our presidents were obese according to statistics, and many were considered overweight by today’s standards.) Somehow, this perception of those rich folk was transferred to the common population, about the time that the diet and pharmaceutical industries got started in the late 1800’s. This perception has increased to the extent that obese people are made articles of fun and are discriminated against routinely in the workplace these days.
While it is true that people have become increasingly overweight, perhaps that is more a symptom than what is really the ‘disease’. In his article, ‘I Hate Fate People’ in MensHealth.com, Richard Conniff cites facts and figures about obesity and people’s perception of ‘fat’ people including the statement that he ‘hated fat people’.
As I was reading his article, getting more angrily frustrated the more I read, I was surprised to see, “So after all this, do I still hate fat people? I don’t. The world is already full of stupid bigotry, and what fat people endure is stupider than most. “Every fat person I know has a ‘mooing’ story,” says one fat activist. (That is, some jackass has mooed at them in a public place.) Giving them a harder time than they already have is like being a grade school bully who zeroes in on the obvious target, sometimes with horrible consequences. Adolescents who are teased for being overweight are two to three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors, says psychologist Rebecca Puhl, Ph.D., the research director for Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. And yet even health-care providers commonly—and mistakenly—believe that a strong dose of disapproval encourages people to lose weight.”
Conniff continued, “Instead, the social stigma just keeps fat people away from the doctor, out of the gym, and afraid to do anything other than stay home—and eat. When a doctor sends a patient away with the vague admonition to lose weight, the advice often just discourages a return visit, in part because those words alone generally produce no results. Ignoring the weight issue entirely might actually work better. For instance, a program at the University of Nevada simply taught people how to handle the social stigma and distress that came with obesity. Weight loss followed almost incidentally, perhaps because the program taught people coping mechanisms that didn’t involve food. A focus on health rather than weight also seems to help. Research suggests that when doctors issue “walking prescriptions,” patients are more likely to increase their activity levels. “Walk 1 mile. Take 6 days weekly. Increase dosage at will.”
Imagine that, give people some tools to use to deal with their size other than eating and they lose weight, amazing concept! Along with that, how about treating obese people like how you, who are so perfect, want to be treated. As far as our government and companies promoting discrimination against obese people, well I imagine that will take a few lawsuits to change and they will happen. There are now support groups for obese folk who will encourage them to sue for their rights under the Constitution.
While you may get a kick out of laughing at that obese person, just remember, there but for the grace of God go you…and you ain’t dead yet friend, who knows what your body changes may bring you as you age. Remember that!