Slim people are happier, apparently.

So slim people you have been told. You are happier. Full Stop. If you aren’t happy why not? You are after all slim. Now excuse me while I remove my tongue from my cheek before it becomes permanently embedded.

Slim people are happier people. Moreover, their happiness is more profound. Despite the eternal stereotypes of the ever-smiling, rotund, fairy godmother, and the paunchy, ho-hoing Santa Claus, the research supports a rather different reality.

The research says so people and The Research never lies. You may be thinking that there must be some new diet behind this and congratulations you are correct. Dr George Blair-West has decided that all fat people ‘eat their feelings’ and if only we could find meaning in our lives then we wouldn’t eat so much, would naturally lose weight and in finding meaning would become happier and slim. Voila. All you have to do is buy the book. The power is within you!

Now I am not a Dr. Nor am I a dietician or any sort of expert on food, eating (well I am pretty good at eating), eating disorders etc. I am also pretty good at being fat, having maintained fatness for a good number of years now. I also consider myself to be pretty well content. I enjoy a lot of privilege, I have achieved many of the things I have wanted to do, like being a parent, owning as many cats as I want, having chooks and things like that. So all in all I’m pretty damn smug content. Overall I would say I am happy. But apparently not as happy as a slim person.

But I’m wondering if we step beyond the stereotypes and ‘you can do this too if you just buy my book’ and actually look at the reality of life for fat people if perhaps we might not tease out some more reasons why a slim person might be finding life a bit easier or the road less rocky.

So teasing: yes I am aware that all sorts of children get teased at school, but fat kids are an easy target and the targeting isn’t just confined to their schoolmates. Sometimes it is in the frickin curriculum.

Clothes: shopping can be a horrible experience when you have to seek out specialty stores to find your size clothes. I know that there are many people of all sizes with this problem, but for your average able bodied slim person walking into a shop and being confident of being able to find something in your size isn’t an issue. Whether or not it looks good, fits properly, is in your price range etc is a factor but slim people could be happier because at least the clothing exists in the first place.

Media: slim people are more likely to see positive image stories about themselves in the media. Fat people are more likely to see themselves (sometimes literally) as ‘headless fatties’ in zomg obesity crisis stories. Strangely enough this can make you unhappy.

And so on and so on. Once again the proposed ‘cure’ focuses on making fat people ‘unfat’ rather than telling society to take a running jump and treat everyone as human beings.

Although I don’t experience it, I am guessing that being POC, having a disability, or in some other way not fitting the general societal approved model just adds more layers of crap to this.

So Dr, I think fat people being unhappy is more likely an effect of society in general being really fucking crap to fat people and not because we need to find more meaning in our lives. Perhaps less meanness in our lives would be a good start.



Categories: Culture, health, Life, media, medicine

Tags: , , ,

8 replies

  1. Wow, the people whom society regularly and consciously makes feel miserable about themselves are less happy than those who are upheld as more desirable/healthy/valuable by default? Colour me surprised. *shakes head*

  2. Actually, the research (and the article) suggests that people are thin because they are happier rather than the reverse. Which is actually interesting and novel research that might actually help people and change the way people think about obesity. It actually says that losing weight will not make people happier.

    Obviously this is population level research. It should not be read as implying that people cannot be fat and happy.

  3. Emotional eating is not the only reason people get fat. If this was targeted at only people who eat to deal with their emotions (which is pretty much everyone at one time or another and not everyone gets fat) then that would be one thing. But this guy is selling this as the ‘answer’ to the ‘obesity crisis’. Stereotyping doesn’t actually help anyone but I’m sure it will help his book sales.

  4. Actually, the research (and the article) suggests that people are thin because they are happier rather than the reverse.

    ::raises eyebrow::
    I’ve grown much happier in recent years, the very ones in which my weight has increased. The causes are not connected and my eating patterns are not involved.

  5. @Jo – my thoughts exactly. It’s a bit like those homophobes who say there must be something wrong with being gay because gay people commit suicide at a higher rate than straight people.

  6. Doon my way, there is an idea that people put on weight after they get married because they are content, so weight gain is seen as a reflection of happiness – eating a whole different set of emotions!

  7. “People are thin because they are happier”?
    I REALLY think it’s “people are happier because they are thin”. We are relentlessly negative towards people who are Not Thin in our society. We tell them they are unattractive, unlovable, unhealthy and refuse to make affordable and beautiful clothing available to them. When a Not Thin person loses weight, they will be inundated with praise about how good they look.
    If I surveyed 135 people about their feelings, I can bet I’d find the skinnier ones report as happier. You have to have the hide of an elephant to feel confident and happy in your self if you are Not Thin.

  8. Has anyone read the new piece on Feministe about weight loss? It’s interesting itself and links to some very good articles about what the weight loss industries don’t tell you; it also has follow-through links to The Fat Trap (okay, everyone’s probably already seen that, but I hadn’t).
    There are a couple of NSFW pics in the Feministe piece.
    This is the New York Magazine article it links to.
    ::crosses fingers I didn’t stuff up the html this time::

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