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The Value of a Weighty Person | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Value of a Weighty Person

The other day, msn Finance published an article about the potential savings to the US economy if nobody were fat. Never mind that the author’s math doesn’t add up on any level. After all, she assumes that a) every fat person eats lots of Big Macs and b) no thin person does. She also assumes that McDonalds would survive – nay, would continue to be profitable – if instead of selling Big Macs they sold ‘little steamed chicken snacks.’

In this Thintopia suggested by the author, diabetes and heart disease would nearly disappear. What’s more, apparently nothing else would kill us! Insurance rates would plummet and more money would go into preventative care…or:

That sounds good, but Roland Sturm, a senior economist for Rand in Santa Monica, Calif., doubts anyone would pay for preventive care. More likely, he says, some doctors would be on the street. “They could drive cabs,” he suggests.

Of course, no thin person has diabetes or heart disease or suffers a stroke, right? And nothing else would come along to kill us because if we would just stop being fat, clearly we would live forever. And people are only willing to pay for catastrophic health care over preventative or maintenance care because…well, we’re not entirely sure why, but since an economist said it, it must be true.

And of course, in this new nirvana, nobody would ever take a sick day because we all know that every time someone calls in sick at work it’s because of fat…not colds, flu, sprained ankles, or a host of other ills that befall everyone, fat or thin. Our dependance on foriegn oil would evaporate as our trim little bums would lessen the strain on our SUVs and airplanes could fly with less fuel making up for the difficulty of getting a bunch of lardly butts into the skies. Farmers could stop growing so many sugar beets which we bad fat people have been demanding and start growing lots of vegetables which fat people never, ever eat, of course. Because clothing manufacturers wouldn’t have to cover such a wide range of body sizes, they could – and of course would! – concentrate on covering a much wider range of body types. Yes, it is because I need a size larger than the average store carries on a regular basis that some deserving thin person is unable to find pants that fit both her hips and her waist properly. I stand utterly chagrined in the face of such logic.

Really, if we would all just stop being fat, everyone would ride unicorns and find true love, tra la.
The thing that worries me most, however, is not the way the math doesn’t add up, but the fact that our very individual human lives, whether fat or thin, are treated as a matter of pure economics. Our value as people does not diminish because we need health care or transportation or food. Our value depends so much more on what we bring to the people around us. So what have some fat people in history brought to our world that’s worth having? What could a fat person possible have accomplished? Well, here are a couple examples I think are worth considering.


William Howard TaftWilliam Howard Taft is the only man in US history who has served both as President and as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Other offices he held included: Solicitor General of the United States, Governor-General of the Philippines, and Secretary of War. As president, he worked to bust the trusts, improved the postal service, and strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission. He was a staunch advocate of world peace, as well.

Elizabeth Cady StantonElizabeth Cady Stanton is best known for her pioneering work in the early feminist movement. She worked tirelessly throughout her life for not only voting rights for women, but property rights, employment and income rights, child custody rights, and changes in divorce laws as well. She was also an outspoken abolitionist and a crusader for temperance. She wrote the Declaration of Sentiments delivered at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848. This declaration formed the basis of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Along with Susan B. Anthony, she remains one of the best-known figures in the struggle for equal gender rights.

Orson Welles Orson Welles was the enfant terrible of both American stage, screen, and radio in the 1930s and 40s. Controversy surrounded him every bit as much as his talent was lauded. His 1939 premiere of the Mark Blitzstein pro-union opera Cradle Will Rock has gone down in history as the only theater production in US history to be shut down by National Guardsmen. Not so easily stopped, Welles, producer John Houseman, Blitzstein, and the cast moved the show to another theater. Since the cast was prohibited from performing, Blitzstein started the show sitting at a piano onstage. The cast did their parts from their seats in the audience.

This was, of course, not Welles’ last brush with public controversy. When his Mercury Theater on the Air performed their adaptation of War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938, panic swept the nation as people tuned in late and failed to recognize it as a radio play.

Welles’ best known and most lauded creation, however, remains his 1941 film Citizen Kane. Enough said.

Love him or hate him, the landscape of American film and stage would be a very different place had Orson Welles never existed.

Ma Rainey Ma Rainey was one of the first professional blues singers, and among the first generation of vocal artists to record professionally. Known to many as The Mother of the Blues, she also fostered other singers in their careers, most notably Bessie Smith. She recorded more than a hundred songs – quite a feat in the 1920s! – including such classics as C.C. Rider, Jelly Bean Blues and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Other examples? I could name dozens. Alas, I don’t have the room or the time to add them all to this list. But there is one more link I’d like to share with you all about a man who hasn’t conquored worlds, run governments, or set the arts world aflame, but is still clearly a very precious human life. In response to the article I referenced above, another writer wrote a love letter to a fat man. Read it. I dare you not to be moved and touched as I was. The worth of a human life cannot be measured by weight, but it should be measured by the impact for good on those around. This man may not be a mover and a shaker on the world scene, but he is obviously a man of great worth. What a pity the woman who wrote that first article cannot comprehend something so basic.

22 Responses to “The Value of a Weighty Person”

  1. dowdydiva April 27, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    My gosh.
    Let me add to the list – any musician named “Fats”, Andre the Giant, Fat Joe, Winston Churchill, Gertrude Stein, William “The Fridge” Perry, Nathan Lane, Jackie Gleason Wendy Shanker, Kathy Bates, this list could go on forever….

  2. M.K. Hobson April 27, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    And as a converse example, Adolph Hitler was a trim, toned vegetarian.

    Thanks for this post. I adore this blog immensely.

  3. Oromin April 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    In my immediate family, my mom and I are both overweight, my dad is fairly thin, and my brother is about average. My parents are about the same age, but my dad is the one with much more health problems. Even though he’s thin, he’s not physically fit at all, plus he has both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, along with a bunch of other, less serious problems. My mom’s health isn’t perfect, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the health problems my dad does. I love both my parents, but it’s definitely not true that fat people are the only ones who have health issues.

  4. Twistie April 27, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Yes, dowdydiva, there are so many great examples down the ages and up to the present moment. A few more names: Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Beverly Sills, Charles Frederick Worth, John Adams, Queen Victoria…and the list does indeed go ever on and on.

    M.K. Hobson, yes, you are correct…though I would be loathe to note Hitler as a poster boy for either thin or vegetarian people. ; )

  5. KES April 27, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    My fiance is 6’2″ and 250 some pounds. He describes himself as fat, but he is the sexiest man I have ever met and I wouldn’t trade him for any amount of skinny, trim, men. Thank you for linking to the love letter. It just reminds me how precious my fiance is, how precious every human life is, and that you can’t turn them into numbers.

  6. Constance Kent April 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    Orson Welles was damn sexy as well as a genius.

    Speaking of fat men in the movies, Philip Seymour Hoffman is an amazing actor: the talent (utterly convincing as well as riveting), the warmth and humor he projects, his sheer versatility (he can play just about any character). Where would the indie film industry be without him?

    I was recently introduced to “Iz,” sadly deceased but whose angelic voice will live forever, and not only in his home state of Hawaii.

    And speaking of recently lost but much missed singers, Pavrotti?

  7. question, though April 27, 2008 at 6:07 pm #

    Are you saying that none of these people would’ve accomplished what they did had they not been fat?

  8. Sarah April 27, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    question, though: The author is saying that fat people can be beneficial to society. She was contrasting the article which says fat people are nothing but a burden.

  9. paeanoid April 27, 2008 at 8:10 pm #

    Hands down, the funniest part of the article is where the author states that it’s unclear if fat people are paid less because they are fat or if they are fat because they are paid less. It’s the former, she speculates, since “there’s some evidence of discrimination against the obese.”

    No, really? Whatever makes her think that? After all, she’s merely suggesting that the world would be a better place if fat people just disappeared. And assuming that fat folks spend their days either gorging on Big Macs or lolling around the house after calling in sick (again). Nope, no discrimination there.

  10. CJ April 27, 2008 at 9:20 pm #

    I would like to point out that NO thin people smoke, use drugs, or get any type of preventable or unpreventable cancer. Further, thin people never get STD’s because they are morally more righteous than us fatty’s. It’s good that thin people never have exercise related injuries such as strains, sprains, pulled muscles, or back injuries. Also, since thin people are also smarter and more alert they never get in car accidents. Thin people could not possibly have an eating disorder or malnutrition problem that would require care. Finally, thin people are genetically perfect in such a way that they are never born with genetic diseases. This must explain all the problems occurring in Africa- Those Fattys!

    To add to the list of fat people of value- Many of America’s mothers and fathers!

  11. shiloh April 28, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    If people would stop obsessing on what they look like and just get on with the business of living!

    I’d rather have 60 great years living life to the fullest, enjoying everything and everyone I love, instead of 100 years of being a skinny ass self-righteous sourpuss.

    Why does science assume that everyone wants to live to 100 or 120? It’s not about quantity of life but quality.

  12. gemdiva April 28, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    Shirley Skeel needs immediate therapeutic intervention from a licensed mental health practitioner (preferrably a fat one)! The kind of “everyone is thin” world that she espouses totally fails to take into consideration the cost of eating in the manner that she advocates. I’ve been on plenty of diets in my day and they are all invariably pretty costly. Yes it costs money to eat healthy. Many people have a carb rich diet because they can’t afford to eat any other way. Someone from msn Finance should know that.

    Perhaps Ms. Skeel foresees a world of largesse (no pun intended) on the part of the wealthy, who will be so overjoyed at the improvement in the scenery (no more fatties blocking the view) that they will be overcome by philanthropic zeal and subsidize a healthy diet for those near or below the poverty line.

    OK, I’ll climb down from my soap box now.

  13. Twistie April 28, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    //If people would stop obsessing on what they look like and just get on with the business of living!//

    And that, Shiloh, was precisely my point. Taking care of oneself means eating nutritious foods, moving in ways that make us feel stronger and more energetic, and remembering that emotional health is just as important as bodily health. Weight is morally neutral. Fat or thin, the value of a person is determined not by the scale, the mirror or the strength of one’s limbs, but by the content of our hearts and how we choose to share them.

    I also agree that 60 years as a happy person giving joy is far better than 100 years of negativity…but fat or thin doesn’t make the difference.

  14. Bridey April 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    I’d change the terms of this just a bit to say: If there were no fat people or smokers, no one would ever die.

    Regardless of how one feels about smoking — I’m not wild about it, myself — it’s interesting to see the same arguments that were so successful in marginalizing smokers, particularly the “cost of health care” argument, being used against fat people. Indeed, I believe the notion of “secondhand fat” has already been floated.

    Obviously, this “cost to society” stuff resonates with many people. I have no particular position on whether it is or was an appropriate approach to the smoking issue, but seeing this mode of attack spread to “the obesity crisis” rather makes me wonder who’s next.

    (And CJ, how could fat people possibly be getting STDs? Nobody ever has sex with fat people.)

  15. Cat April 28, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    Twistie and M.K. Hobson: Hitler was not a vegetarian. He never stopped eating meat entirely. Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism_of_Adolf_Hitler

  16. Cat April 28, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    Hmmm. I am not sure if my previous comment is lost in moderatorville or if it just didn’t show up at all, so let me try again. Twistie and M.K. Hobson, Hitler was not a vegetarian. He did, at times, keep to a vegetarian diet, but never for any appreciable length of time. Here is an article on this topic: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/hitler.html and there is also a Wikipedia page devoted to the “vegetarianism of Adolf Hitler,” which discusses his fondness for such dishes as squab and sausages.

  17. jess April 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    This topic is so interesting. About nine months ago I moved to Hong Kong, a country where the average size woman is about a US size 4. Finding clothes is hard enough in this country, and I can’t even begin to discuss the looks locals will give me because I am a size 18. They automatically assume that because I am 1.) American and 2.) fat that I must a.) eat McDonald’s every day and b.) never exercise…. when in reality, I probably eat just as healthy as they do (if not healthier), and I walk on average an HOUR a day in my commute alone. Societal pressures are the same everywhere, as are assumptions. Sadly this is a worldwide misconception. A conversation with one of my local colleagues brought up the fact that part of my being overweight is contributed to genetics! She was shocked, as if this thought had never occurred to her.

    I’m glad to know there are people that can sympathise with me, because believe me… a big girl feels even more big & alone in an even smaller world like HK.

  18. dcsurfergirl April 29, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    Not to mention Camryn Manheim. And Liz Torres and Sally Struthers played terrific supporting characters in “Gilmore Girls” that happened to be plus-size.

    I am for improving health and if weight loss makes it happen, ok. But expecting an entirely thin nation is unrealistic.

    How was all that cost data calculated?

  19. Lori C. April 29, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    My husband, and his entire family, are all tall and thin. My family, in contrast, are all shorter than average and a little on the plump side. However, his family has the cancer, hypertension, high cholesterol and thus high chances for heart disease because of their diet. My family has never had a family meal from McDonald’s and our major medical issues are seasonal allergies and seasonal allergy-induced asthma. His mother, after being told by her doctor that she was a heart attack waiting to happen, has stopped making comments about my “health nut” family and is finally taking my advise to put down the soda & drink a water instead.

  20. Poochie May 6, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    My favorite line was: “$487 billion in gas, sweat and stretch pants”

    Seriously?

    Luv
    Poochie

  21. Anonymous October 20, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Nice information dear! My friend’s mother is dietician at Delhi Hospital said that 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soaked in curds and consumed in the morning in empty stomach prevents diabeties and also helps diabetic patients to recover.

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