Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The University: An Institution for the Corruption of Youth. No 37: Pandering to Fatties

 In today's enlightened times, it is no longer acceptable to refer to someone as fat: rather, they are to be recognized as the victim of an eating disorder, i.e, the disorder of eating too much. Moreover, as we learn in a report from Ottawa's Carlton University, the sight of a weight scale can be "very triggering" for fatties.

But not to worry. In the nation's capital, sensitivity prevails, and Carlton U.'s recreation and athletics department have removed the weight scale from the university's gymnasium.

Not all students, however, found this an acceptable response. An online backlash ensued, prompting Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton, to inform the CBC that the scale was removed:
... in keeping with current fitness and social trends. ... If you need a number to focus on ... we suggest using girth measurements.
One might have thought a tape measure would be as triggering to the circumferentially challenged as a weight scale. But that question aside, isn't being triggered what keeps we weak-willed mortals from straying too far from the straight and narrow path?

Would it not, therefore, be better for people just to get used to the fact not only that they are fat but that however much they may deny the fact of their fatness to themselves, fat is how the world sees them? Would not the resultant triggering of our young fatties better motivate them to combat their "eating disorder" by skipping the coke and pudding donuts after a workout in the gym?

Now I'm not saying its easy to control one's appetite or that those of us unchallenged by needless flab are without our own moral challenges. Moreover. I realize that some people put on weight more readily than others, which is just one example of the unfairness that is a feature of human existence. But to protect fat people from reflecting on their fatness only compound their problem by denying them motivation to solve it. What they need, is not less incentive to manage their diet, but much more.

In the old days, which is to say my youth of more than 50 years ago, fat kids were called fat. My sister, for example, had a plump school friend known to all and sundry as Tubby. I last saw Tubby a year or two after both she and my sister had left school. Tubby was now Margaret, and wow, what a transformation. With all excess mass shed, only the nicest curves remained.

How much Tubby suffered at school from her nickname, I have no idea. That was an issue almost certainly never discussed among friends. In Britain during those early post-war years people never seemed to be triggered, and kids just put up with unheated classrooms, school yard beatings, ruthlessly disciplinarian teachers and not so gentle name-calling. What psychological trauma marked the transformation of Tubby to Margaret we can never know, but whatever the cost, it must surely have paid off in the marriage market.

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