Meowser's comment on an earlier post got me thinking. She wrote:
"Whenever I see/hear anyone complaining about fat people walking around, or at the gym (where we're just piddling around and slowing things down for the buff crowd, you see, no fat person could possibly be getting an actual workout there), or dancing, or riding around on bikes, it totally gives the lie to the "unhealthy! unhealthy! diabetes! diabetes!" meme. Because people like that would totally rather we stay home and stuff our fat faces where they can't see us, rather than actually move around. I believe my mother cares about my health. I don't think some random stranger who doesn't know me really gives a damn if I'm "healthy" or not, and in fact, it would really piss them off no end if I had numbers proving that, apart from my weight, there is nothing wrong with me.'
I've been thinking as fat-as-a-symbol, the way it's most often used: as a metaphor for imperialism, greed, overconsumption, etc. Meowser's comment makes me wonder if it's also used as a symbol for questioning authority. Do fat people stick in the craw of the entitled thin establishment because we're not following the rules? Because we aren't doing whatever it takes to get thin, and stay thin? Do we piss them off because we're perceived as thumbing our noses at the authority figures?
I find it interesting that in a time of such extreme individualism, this is one area where being quirky, or not fitting the mold, is perceived as being unacceptable. We've become such a tolerant society in so many other ways. Though I know we have a long way to go on racism, still we've come a long way. When I was in college I was at the center of a near race riot, caused in part by my dating a black man and by the reactions of both whites and blacks on campus. That wouldn't happen today, not even in the deep south. The kind of anti-Semitism I bumped into as a child wouldn't be tolerated today, either.
So what is it about fat that gets people so riled up? Maybe fat people challenge, by our very existence, the marketing economy we can't escape. We're not buying into the pills, creams, products, etc. that are supposed to make us thin. (Though God knows many of us *have* bought those things, in the millions.) Maybe it's that fat people are perceived as not buying into the marketing imperatives about aesthetics, which are used to sell everything to everyone, from cars to cereal. We're not good consumers in the broadest sense of the word.