Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Right To Be Fat: Obesity As A Civil Rights Issue

This is a true testament to the fact that there are always two sides to a story. A group of American overweight individuals are tired of fighting the bulge and having low self-esteem as a result of society's oftentimes unrealistic standards of beauty.

Kate Harding, one of the anti-diet activists created a website called the fat-o-sphere, where overweight individuals can connect with one another and educate each other about health issues, including how to improve their own health. These fat-acceptance advocates are fighting to shake the negative perception of obesity in society and fight for the rights of obese individuals. Some issues they've tackled have included having larger seat belts in cars and adequate seating on airplanes without an extra charge.

While it's true that obese and overweight individuals are not, in the words of Harding, "lazy or stupid or morally suspect", I feel that promoting "health at any size" is just a disguise for the need for a lifestyle overhaul. By definition, being categorized as obese or overweight puts individuals at a myriad of health risks which affect their own personal well-being, both physically and emotionally. Although I agree that society's image of 'health' and their impression of non-size 2 individuals is indeed rather skewed, there are inherent health benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight through consuming an adequate number of calories per day and keeping physically active. "Healthy" can range from thin to curvy, but once you pass both extremes, along come the health risks.

Nowadays, maintaining a healthy body weight is becoming more and more challenging as a result of busy lifestyles, "no time" to exercise and the availability of ready-made, fast foods, but even small changes can make a huge difference. If there's one investment worth making in your life, it should truly be in your health, both current and long-term. Change can be difficult, no doubt, but you only get one shot at life. Why not live it to the fullest and take care of your health?