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13 September 2013

The Fat Liberation Front

Large people of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your weight, says CyberShrink.

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Large people of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your weight, says CyberShrink.

For very obvious reasons, we fat people of South Africa will form a formidable pressure group, as we have such a large membership - whose members are larger than ours?

We're not looking for girth control, and argue that the state should recognise reality, and make required provision for wider seats in taxis, buses and planes.

Don't come to me and try to blame the fat for being large – for many of them junk food is all they can afford. The state seems totally uninterested in South Africans with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, indeed absolutely any other condition at all except HIV, and cares not whether they receive proper treatment for these afflictions, let alone free treatment with free medicines. It would make sense for the state to subsidise nutritious food significantly, and encourage fast food that is delicious, affordable and nutritionally sound. Devise diets that are practical and interesting.

The cult of the size 0

Take steps to stop the pernicious and similarly unhealthy cult of the size 0 and thinness. Bony is not better, and it is not beautiful. The physiques now treasured in models and magazines would in previous eras have been considered signs of mortal illness. Why has malnutrition come to be regarded as an art form, not merely in those with anorexia nervosa, but also among fashionista?  

Stop expecting fat people to apologise for their shape and size. Come back Botticelli and Rubens, all is forgiven! Over the centuries and in many cultures, fat was indeed beautiful, and seen as not merely attractive but as obviously demonstrating that the person had worked long and hard enough to be wealthy enough to feed themselves and their families on the best food available. People envied the large man with fat wives.

Where are the fashions, for men and women, designed and created to make large people look good?  Why must we make do with scaled-up versions of whatever is this year's form of anorexic Chic, designed for flimsy wraiths?  Why is Woolworths full of Slim-Fit shirts, when we are not a Slim-Fit Nation?  

Fat is Beautiful

Fat is Beautiful. Artists knew this over the centuries, but it has come to be forgotten. Fat is friendly, ample, generous. Except in really badly designed confined spaces, fat is non-intrusive --- the fat person is only clogging up their own arteries; we do not, like the smoker, share our carcinogens.

The famed author G.K. Chesterton wrote that the actual lines of a really fat pig are amongst the loveliest and most luxuriant in nature. "There is no point of view" he reminded us, "from which a really corpulent pig is not full of sumptuous and satisfying curves." Examine a pig from any point of view, from the top of a tree, a ladder, even an office building, and so long as it is still visible, it is beautiful. Chesterton reminded us that fat figures have "that fuller, subtler and more universal kind of shapeliness, which the unthinking mistake for mere absence of shape."  

And fat is cheerful and friendly. It's not just a cliché that fat people tend to be jolly and have a good sense of humour - we have to. We're the butt of so many bad jokes, we prefer to get in first, and with a better joke. When I was still at school, a friend said to me "You know, what I really like about you..." (and I cleared my throat and waited for something really profound and moving) "is that when you laugh, so much of you enjoys itself".

Fat also has a distinct spiritual quality. The ancient monasteries were mistaken in seeking to achieve humility through ascetic emaciation. As Chesterton, again, pointed out in one of history's great truths: "It may be that thin monks were holy, but I am sure it was the fat monks who were humble". To be fat is to get laughed at, which can be a more wholesome experience for the soul of man than to tie one's belt tighter in vainglorious and self-important glee. There is a svelte smugness, a bonier-than-thou self-satisfaction, about the thin man that really cannot be good for his soul.

And fat can be sexy, too. Fat people try harder, and are more comfortable to abut against than the skinny, with all their bony sharp angles - a comfortable companion, well-upholstered but pleasantly yielding. Lacking the narcissistic delight in their own physique, they can be more appreciative of and attentive to, their partner.

And so it is that as President-For-Life of the Fat Liberation Front, I call for public support for our movement. We have not yet decided whether to stand in the next elections. We wait for instruction from our members.





Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.

 

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