Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Being pummeled by The Weight of the Nation

Tonight,HBO starts to air Weight of The Nation, it's four part documentary about the hot button topic of overweight Americans,most commonly referred to as the "obesity epidemic." As an overweight American myself,I have a few decided opinions about this program(which I haven't seen but have been reading and hearing a lot about lately). Yes,we do have more than our fair share of folks struggling with their body size and some of them do have health issues because of this,myself included.

However,from what I have heard about this series,most of the material seems to be going over ground that has long been covered already. Too much advertising of fast food and the abundance of sugary,salty goods are to blame and people need to be educated about the evils of bad eating before it's too late! Well,my anxious friends,let me enlighten you on a few points.

No one denies the long term ill affects of a poor diet or that it's healthier to be at a sensible weight for your height. What the problem is that you seem to think that heavyset people don't know that and the best way to get them to change is by scaring the hell out of them in the media with all of this dire talk about how this "crisis' will destroy our country. Guess what,guys-we're way ahead of you. We've been working on this problem on our own for years(check the profit margins of most commercial weight loss programs for proof)without the lot of you panicking over this:

I know that some of you mean well with this onslaught of worry over weight but assuming that people who are this way don't have knowledge about it is insulting,along with calling it an "epidemic." If you look up the term epidemic,diseases such as malaria,smallpox,the black plague and HIV/AIDS rightly are listed. Having too many fat people is not in the same ball park or even near the stadium of suffering. Implying that overweight people are on the level of a deadly virus doesn't help your cause at all.

Getting off the personal politics here,being overweight in such a image conscious society is difficult and finding positive characters in film and TV who are large sized is about as easy as locating a discount store in Beverly Hills. However,there have been a few more prominent faces out there and some of them do address weight loss issues in a nurturing,caring manner that is far more effective than any of the bullying,boogie man tactics invading the media and pop culture these days:

It would be beneficial to those wanting to spread the word about weight loss in fictional forums to remember that fat people are people first. Not everything in their lives is about those numbers on the scale,they also have other items on their plates that are not edible.

They're also smart and savvy,such as Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds whose razor sharp computer skills help to save the day or federal prosecutor Caroline Julian on Bones who often saves Booth and Brennan from their impetuous methods of investigation.

The reason that these characters fit so well into their ensemble casts is that they are valued for their skills first and foremost, not seen merely by any perceived physical drawbacks.

Ignoring the weight issue for any character would be just as bad as paying too much attention to that factor,but it would be nice to encourage more appreciation of that person as a fully developed individual rather than the sum of their heavy parts. As RuPaul so eloquently puts it,"If you can't love yourself,how the hell are you going to love anyone else?":

So,if you really want to create a movement towards healthier eating and living,especially with the help of pop culture,stop lecturing and start treating overweight people as human beings instead of talking points. Adding some flavor and fun to the discussion will bring more guests to the table and something might actually get done. Plus,if we all start to sing a better song,dancing will follow and that's a great form of exercise that everyone can enjoy. It's a true win-win that is worth a try:

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