From fat acceptance to fat celebration

I’ve been a fan of Bill Maher for years. My husband and I used to watch his show weekly and especially liked his “New Rules” section and closing monologue. Nowadays I listen to him via a podcast when I’m out for my daily walk, usually the day after his show.

In his most recent show, Real Time with Bill Maher, his monologue was about obesity – many times using the term “fat.” I was a chubby child and I know how that term hurts. My father called me “fatty” until I naturally lost my chubbiness when I went through puberty. Lucky for me but not so lucky for others.

There has been a lot of scuttlebutt about Maher’s recent words – in fact, fat people complained that there is not enough support for them and denigrated the adored singer, Adele, for losing weight in the last several years. Another thing he pointed out is the new way of making men’s business suits – with drawstring waistbands so men can adjust them as their stomachs enlarge after a huge meal. Really now? That’s going a little far in my opinion.

Here are some highlights of what he said, which by the way I totally agree with:

Maher began his closing monologue on Friday by saying: ‘Everybody should be allowed to let themselves go a couple of times a year — like now, the dog days of summer. School’s out, rules out.

‘And the holidays, that’s the other “OK I’ll let myself go” time of year, and who can blame us — it’s the end of the year, structured around feast days.’

But, he said: ‘There’s a disturbing trend going on in America these days: rewriting science to fit ideology or just to fit what you want reality to be.

‘We’ve gone from fat acceptance to fat acceptance to fat celebration,’ Maher continued. ‘This is new — to view letting yourself go as a point of pride.

‘Now the term body positivity is used to mean “I’m perfect the way I am because I’m me,”‘ he said, adding: ‘It’s Orwellian how often positivity is used to describe what’s not healthy.’

Maher then went on to explain that the notion of ‘healthy at any weight is an unchallenged lie that people tell themselves [so] they can go on eating whatever they want.

‘Obesity is horrible for the immune system,’ he said, noting that it could lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke.

And during the coronavirus pandemic, many studies found that those with the greatest risk of dying from the novel virus were those who were obese.

But the obesity rate has only been increasing over the years.

According to a study by Johns Hopkins University in December, the country’s average Body Mass Index, a measure of body fat based on height, weight and age, increased 4.6 points over the past four decades.

As a result, the Washington Post reports, the number of overweight people between the ages of 18 to 25 went from about 18 percent in the late 1970s to nearly 24 percent by 2018.

The largest spike in weight measurements, however, was in the prevalence of obesity — defined as having a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher — which increased from about 6 percent to nearly 33 percent over that time period.

And at the same time, the percentage of adults with a BMI indicating a normal weight dropped from about 69 percent to 38 percent.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control says, the U.S. obesity rate was 41.9 percent from 2017 through March 2020, and in 2020, all states and territories reported having more than 20 percent of adults were obese.

The estimated annual medical cost of obesity was nearly $173 billion in 2019, the CDC reports, and the medical costs for obese adults were an average of $1,861 higher than medical costs for people at a healthy weight.

‘Somehow 50 years ago, this country looked entirely different,’ Maher said in his closing monologue. ‘You don’t think it was a struggle for them? You think cake wasn’t delicious in 1969?’

‘And that’s the saddest part, because we can do this, I think, but by lying about it and making excuses, psychologically it’s telling ourselves that letting ourselves go is the best we can do.

‘And I got to believe that as Americans we can still do better than that.’

Thank you, Bill Maher. Please keep reminding us how being fat is detrimental to our health in so many ways. Maybe people will finally get your “Fat Splaining” message.



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  2. Joyce Goldberg says

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