About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
"Lookism" about fat people??
First off, the segment presented an informal survey done in the streets of New York. ABC's people went around showing three photos of a woman -- same head but different bodies (average, slightly overweight, obese). Ah, the pleasures of image-enhancing software! They asked men how they rated the three "women." Big surprise, the ratings were highest for the average body, less good for the overweight, and decidedly low for the obese. The comment was that this was evidence of "lookism," i.e. of discrimination based on looks. My (non fat) ass! It would have been discrimination if the interviewed people were about to hire somebody for a job that wasn't obviously related to physical appearance (such as model for Victoria's Secret). But the survey simply told us what we already knew, and moreover what's perfectly normal: fat and obese people are not attractive!
That, of course, doesn't mean that overweight people shouldn't do anything in their power to feel better about themselves, though by far the best thing they could do is to eat less and exercise more (again, I speak for personal experience here). But to accuse the rest of society of discrimination based on aesthetic standards, c'mon!
The segment became even more ridiculous when it showed a beauty pageant for fat women, featuring a special section on lingerie. A beauty pageant? Talk about political correctness. Have these people not considered that it is the concept of a beauty contest that is demeaning to women in general, not just fat ones? And I'm sorry, I tried to see the featured models as sexy and beautiful (as the voiceover shouted they really are), but I still prefer Victoria's...
To top it all off, the segment ended with the anchor asking the obvious question to the overweight guest: what about health? Isn't it true that being overweight carries health risks? The implication being, isn't it a bit dangerous to extol the virtues of being obese? The answer was astounding: first, the guest argued, just because the majority of overweight people have health problems it doesn't mean that everyone will. Duh, would be Homer Simpson's insightful comment. Second, she said, it's all about your body: exercise and take care of it, and you'll be fine. Right, you would also be less fat...