Opinion

Fat-Shaming Is Not Okay

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Ginny Grabowski lives in Alaska and has an MS in Exercise Science & Health Promotion and has been transforming lives since 2003.

We have survived the first of the Presidential debates. With all of the pre- and post-game analysis on social media or via news outlets, one quote has been conspicuously absent from the dialogue.

Throughout the entire hour of jibs and jabs, a single quote stood out to me as a giant red flag. And yet, it has been completely ignored (almost). A few days after the debate, Dr. David Katz posted an article on Forbes.com that focused on this quote. But overall, the media and Americans have ignored it.

To what am I referring, you ask? When the candidates were discussing “cyber,” and the role that Russian hackers may have had in getting into the DNC e-mail system, Donald Trump quipped, “It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”

Wow! My immediate comment to my husband was, “Why would they have to weigh 400 pounds?”

Now, to be fair, I am probably more sensitive to weight/appearance/fat-shaming comments than most.

What concerns me most about this comment is the way in which it was swept under the rug and ignored. Every news outlet rehashed the same “fact-checking.” I must have read six or seven “analysis” reports that said more or less the same thing. Not one noticed this comment slip through.

Why do I care and why do I hope you will care? Because it is this insidious discrimination that creates bigger problems. The association of the negative with obesity creates an underlying bias against over 30 percent of our population (the latest stats show more than 30 percent of American adults are obese and these numbers continue to rise among our children).

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When comments such as this are ignored or glossed over, they create an “us” and “them” mentality. Comments like this, coming from someone who positions himself as a leader, set a disturbing tone that will be adopted by people who already have this mentality for whatever reason.

In my experience, if you can build a barrier of negative feelings for one group of people (in this case, obese people), you can create barriers against any and all other groups. I am sure that hackers come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Stereotyping a hacker as someone who is obese is unfair, at a minimum. In the larger picture, it demonstrates a bias that is unacceptable in someone who proposes to become the leader of the free world.

My goal in writing this opinion piece is not to pick a candidate and no, I don’t expect to persuade anyone to change a vote. I do, however, want to start a conversation about what can be done to remind ourselves that we are all human. Period. We all come in different shapes and sizes, colors and beliefs. It is the differences among us that make us uniquely human and uniquely ourselves.

Do I want everyone to be healthy and happy? Yes! Healthy transformation is what I have dedicated my life to helping people achieve. In the meantime, each of us is on their own path. We all figure things out in our own time. Supporting each other, encouraging each other to be the best we can be is why we are all here.

Insidious division-creation and attaching physical characteristics to “evil” is disturbing when your neighbor does it. When someone who proposes to be the leader of the free world does it, it should sound all kinds of alarms and be a call to action.

What can you do to bring people together and remove division?

Ginny Grabowski lives in Alaska and has an MS in Exercise Science & Health Promotion and has been transforming lives since 2003.

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