This recent Salon.com article sparked quite the discussion in our office on Friday — the author, Paul Campos, claims that anti-obesity is the new homophobia. But, while we understand the importance of fighting intolerence of every type, we think this is a bit of a stretch. The thesis has been Campos' calling card for years now, though the argument feels tenuous at best. The thing is, although overweight people undoubtedly do experience discrimination, they have the same legal rights as anyone else — and that's not true for homosexual men and women. In fact, while any decent judge would easily rule in favor of a person denied rights due to their weight, people in some states are actively working to legally deny those same rights to gay people. And in light of all that, Campos' argument feels insensitive.
That said, the unfortunate phenomenon of "fat shaming" is important to address in what's supposed to be a PC age. Obesity is a real problem in this country, but it's a health problem, not a moral or social choice (though, of course, neither is homosexuality) — we don't mock people with lung cancer because of their choice to smoke, and we should offer the same respect to people struggling with their weight, or those with a gene that makes losing weight near-impossible (and also remember the fact that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and don't always wear a size 2).
But, since this all seems like common sense, we have to ask ourselves: Why is this even an issue? America is supposed to be a place where we can live and let live, so long as we don't hurt each other. The fact that "fat shaming" happens at all is baffling at best and at worst, indicative of real malice and disrespect.
It's our dearest dream to live in a world in which people of all shapes, sizes, interests and sexualities can just treat each other like what they are: human beings. But for now, it seems like common courtesy doesn't apply to people who don't fit into some false conception of normal. One concession we'll make to Campos' article? The same could be said about homophobia.
Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.