Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘weight discrimination’

Obesity – Fair Game

I get it. Rex Reed didn’t like the movie Identity Thief starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. Although Mr. Reed believes the movie is far from an Academy award-winning production, that doesn’t give him license to trash Ms. McCarthy, not based on her performance, but rather on her size.  We learn from Mr. Reed that Ms. McCarthy is “tractor-sized”, a “female hippo”, and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”

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Mr. Reed’s comments are small-minded and intolerant, but not surprising. Unlike most other forms of prejudice, the obese intolerant blame the obese for their condition and the resulting humiliation, embarrassment and inequality they suffer at the hands of the intolerant.  That little turnabout permits the intolerant to express their prejudice with impunity, as Mr. Reed did. For the most part, the intolerant may be right. There’s no federal law punishing weight-based discrimination and only a handful of state legislatures have seen fit to enact such laws.  Without legal prohibitions, the intelligence and talents of the obese, which are unaffected by body type, go untapped. A full 16% of the employers questioned admitted that obesity is “an absolute bar to employment”.

There’s little to stop the weight discrimination and obese intolerance that flows from the bigot who feels justified in his bigotry. Stereotypically, from an early age and out of the mouths of elementary school children, the obese are accused of being “dirty”, “lazy”, “ugly”, “stupid”, and “sloppy”. That’s how early this intolerance starts.

Since obesity cannot be hidden, the obese are obvious targets for the ostracism, humiliation, despair and, at times, violence that follows them throughout their lives.  Such visceral disregard seems strange given that over 50% of our population is overweight (which may include Mr. Reed) and 18% are obese. See,

As a society, we cannot afford to lose the inherent abilities of over 18% of our population. The time has come to “separate our weight from our worth” (Kelsey Rae Eller,  If we succeed in making that separation, then we not only free the obese to maximize their potential, but free ourselves from our unworthy intolerance. In that regard, Mr. Reed would benefit from tuning in to Ms. McCarthy’s acclaimed television show, Mike and Molly. There he’ll see that the overweight can, for example, be caring, loving, intelligent and talented, maybe even more so than Mr. Reed.

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