The Morality of Weight

Is being “overweight”* a moral issue?

(And what is “overweight”?)

No, unless you are a glutton but most people who are called “overweight” or have weight or body issues are not gluttons. They are just fat and there is nothing wrong with being fat and healthy. Thin is thin and fat is fat and neither are a moral failing.  Too many factors go into weight. And experts knew back in 1998 that being “overweight” is not a health risk but the dieting industry doesn’t want you to know that (Fat!So?, 1998).**  And that diets have a 98% failure rate meaning those who lose weight will gain it all back in five years.**

The thing is until rather recently, weight, obesity, mental health, physical health isdues, etc. were thought to be moral issues.  And many still think they are. If a person was overweight, that person was at fault because they chose to eat too much or to not exercise.  A person chose to be fat so they needed to wise up to their choice to be fat and unhealthy and go on a diet and exercise.

Women are bombarded with the message that their bodies are fat and ugly.  To fix this they must diet, exercise, lose large amounts of weight, wear makeup, and dress in a specific way.  Only then will women be considered beautiful and desirable and worthy of consideration.  Or, you are not a woman until you barely eat, exercise three times a day, weight only a 105 pounds, and look like you stepped out a Victoria’s Secret ad. So “supermodel thin.”

Again, turning the female body into an object of economic consumption.

But this is a recent development.  Until the 19th century, fat women were celebrated and thin women were looked down upon.  This had to do with economics.  Fat women could eat more therefore they had more money to buy food so they were probably rich or at least well off.  Thin women did not get enough to eat so were more likely to be poor so more likely to be servants or working and not have much money.  So being fat was a sign of wealth.

The change from fat, rich women to thin, rich women is still motivated by wealth.  Just look at what the working poor can buy or those on food stamps versus the wealthy or middle class.  Fruit, meat, and vegetables are now more expensive than processed foods so those on a restricted budget are limited in what they can buy especially when they have to feed a family.  So it is NOT their fault they are left with poor food choices that may cause weight gain. And it is not their fault they do not have access to healthy food choices.

Being fat is not a moral failing.  It is a failing of food producers, grocery stores, governments, employers, etc. who influence food prices and choices and monetary wages.  So you are not sinning by being fat.  I am not sinning by being fat.


*Overweight is an arbitrary term with no real medical definition.  The BMI  (Body Mass Index) is also arbitrary and is based off of height and weight lists that were, again, arbitrary.  No real science exists to support any of these fraudulent devices.

**Wann, Marilyn. (1998) Fat!So? Because you don’t have to aplogize for your size.
(While dated, it is a good mix of fat positive support and healthy living.)



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