Fairy tales of fat


WOLFVILLE (CUP) — I recently found myself offended during my university class on historical fairy tales.

When people delve into the realm of fairy tales and find these stories weren’t created by Disney, they are often surprised by the actual content. But it wasn’t the blood and gore that offended me. The class was tasked with re-writing a classic story, and one student decided to base his story around “the plague of obesity.” I sat in the front row while this student read his story to the class. His re-envisioning was of Little Red Riding Hood as a gluttonous sloth of a human being.

I sat uncomfortably for five minutes while he fired joke after joke at the expense of fat people, and was disheartened to find most of the class laughing along at the expense of this “dumb” fat girl.

Obesity is a touchy subject that has not yet been properly publicly explored. Apparently, because I am obese, people think they have the right to insert themselves into my life and make assumptions about me and what I am like.

I listened while the presenter talked about Red’s new lip balm made of butter and how the wolf could crawl to the grandmother’s house faster than the waddling Red (who stopped halfway there, of course, to eat a cheeseburger). I kept telling myself that this should not offend me, and that I should try to be more light-hearted. I also tried telling myself that people with these opinions are not attacking me personally — but the fact is, they are.

I am sure most people will dismiss this as a whiny fat girl blaming everyone else for the way she is. I am honestly not here to blame anyone for my weight, nor am I here to apologize for it. I live a perfectly normal life that I am extremely happy with.

The problem I have is the openness people feel entitled to when attacking obesity.

Obese people seem to be the last group of people that can openly be made fun of. This no doubt stems from the idea that fat people are stupid, that we chose to be fat, that we are too lazy and that we eat too much. Case closed: all fat people solved in a neat little (big) box.

I do not care what you think of me — especially since you’re basing your opinion on my weight. I do not have time for people who assume that I am at McDonald’s four times a week, as the story in class suggested.

When you attack fat people, you are not helping us. When you discuss fat people in terms of obesity, all you do is make us feel guilty for the way we look.

Do not quote statistics to me about health-care costs and other problems that go along with obesity, because I have been scared away from going to the doctor. It has become so bad that I am convinced that if I go in with a broken arm, the doctor will tell me that it is because I am fat and that I need to lose weight.

I have never stepped into the gym on campus because I am terrified of the looks I will get as a fat person trying to exercise. These stereotypes are just as hurtful as the misinformation about nutrition that leads to problems like obesity. Misinformation fuels obesity, but that still does not mean that you can assume that a fat person is stupid.

Yes, escalating weight is a real issue in modern society. Yes, we live in an extremely high-fat and sugar-based society. Making jokes and mothering fat people is not going to make this problem go away. Many fat people suffer from eating disorders, and the guilt that is placed upon them by this ignorant attitude fuels their eating. Welcome to the cycle!

So, congratulations — you found one of the last groups of people that it’s acceptable to stereotype! You can make fun of us because we’re too busy being McDonald’s-fuelled, gluttonous slobs to defend ourselves.