Fat people have feelings too!

Published: August 24, 2011
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PHOTO: REUTERS

It has been observed that obese individuals are the last people on Earth you can make fun of without a strong legal or social backlash. I concur with that observation.

Having a weight problem myself, I understand what it’s like to be at constant war with one’s own physical form. My day starts with me standing in front of the mirror, and staring at a round face, wearing an expression of sheer disappointment. I suck in my tummy hoping that it improves the way I look. It does not.

On my way to my university, I can sense hundreds of judgmental eyes following me, and dozens of lips whispering less-than-flattering comments about my weight. During the course of my day, I am likely to find a stranger or a mere acquaintance giving me “expert” advice on how to lose weight. And once every week, as I go home, some loose-lipped brat screams out at the top of his voice,

Ammi, dekho! Motu!”

(“Look, mom! Fatso!”)

The remainder of my self-esteem bites the dust. I force the lyrics of a popular Christina Aguilera song to ticker-tape through my head, “Words can’t bring me down…” hoping it boosts my dwindling confidence. It does not.

Before I come off as a wannabe messiah of the plus-sized, I should admit that I’m not entirely opposed to fat jokes. I’ve heard enough of these to write my very own joke book. Understandably, I always feel somewhat perturbed by the fact that I’m being laughed at, but I’ve learned to take these frivolous inconveniences in my stride, and laugh along the rest of the lot.

Hoping not to come off as a traitor to my kin, I confess that social pressure is imperative in keeping obesity at bay. Had it not been for the fat jokes and the relative insensitivity of the world towards large people, obesity may have been much more prevalent than what we see today.

Unfortunately, this gentle teasing often exceeds limits to take the form of harassment, as we endure a barrage of banal fat jokes that are more insulting than funny. We’re all familiar with the myriad of diseases associated with obesity, but the psychological disorders commonly resulting from obesity receive very little attention (which is basically true for all psychological conditions in our country).

Body dysmorphic disorder is routinely diagnosed among disabled individuals and teenage girls who are overly obsessed with their physical appearances, but it is also becoming fairly common among overweight people. Symptoms include social phobia, withdrawal from family, depression, anxiety and avoidant personality. The last one is of particular concern because it initiates a vicious cycle. The more a person remains cooped up in his house, the more likely he is to gain weight, in turn further draining motivation to go out in public.

I won’t deceive the overweight individuals with meretricious statements like, “You’re all fine just the way you are!” Obesity is a serious health risk and mustn’t be taken lightly. However, one shouldn’t let the social pressure get to one’s head either.

Don’t panic about your weight problem, and do not hide in despair. Maintain regular exercise and a low-calorie diet (you don’t need me to tell you that), and join an online support group if possible.  If you suffer from low self-esteem and feel constantly depressed, please do not hesitate to consult a therapist.

And world, please give overweight people a break!

In the meantime, why not find yourself a nice, little geek to make fun of?

Just kidding.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rk singh

    RUN, RUN, RUN. Simple solution.Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/ The Forbidden Fruit

    It’s not funny when people mock others over their height, weight, complexion. It’s just plain Corny! Such people should themselves be mocked, in all fairness, for being a “Fathead”!Recommend

  • n

    brilliant article! one of the best ive read on ET since a long time. thumbs up!Recommend

  • S. Marshall

    Good work, I enjoyed reading it. Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    You know. If we aint be fat, no one would be thin.Recommend

  • http://sociality360.com Chief Marketing Officer @ Sociality360

    Whatever helps you sleep at night Faraz :)

    Fact of the matter is, overweight people have no one to blame but themselves. They eat more (scarce/limited resources), take up more space on the bus/car, sweat like there’s no tomorrow and pass on these bad habits to their family and friends.

    An Olympian is the peak of human physical perfection … when was the last time you saw an obese Olympian?Recommend

  • ash 40

    Interesting ,enjoyed reading it. Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    I wonder what some people are marketing ………. people lose sight of what life is all about ……………… true worth has little to do with appearances ………….. beauty and goodness lie in a person’s character and soul ……….. depends on what you place a value on …………… if you like yourself, all else will fall in place!Recommend

  • SB Critic

    It’s true, everyone has feelings, whatever type of human being you are. It’s just when you are fat society thinks of you as a loser. You can’t change society, so let’s go change ourselves!!Recommend

  • Saad

    lol, this used to be me not too long ago! I always felt that random people were staring at me and commenting on my weight, but now thankfully I’ve controlled my weight and look and feel much better than before!

    And I would like to say to the person above, you can’t always put the whole blame on the obese people, it’s not always their fault. Genes play a big part too!Recommend

  • Paradigms

    @Chief Marketing Officer @ Sociality360:
    Ah, but surely there are deeper psychological issues that encourage overeating? Tough live is a good thing but understanding what drives obesity (including genetics) helps. Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/Tooba_Hatif toobahatif

    i knowwwwwwwww right !!! i totally get you.. I was fatso!! 2 years back.. when i started uni.. i became pver conscious about my weight.. But thank God that i’ve loose hell lot of weight!! but when people use to make fun of me earlier.. i use to cry and ask my mom.. m I not human.. why dont they consider that i have feeling too…Recommend

  • Mahwish

    Oh WOW, “Chief Marketing Officer @ Socialty360!” I’m sure you’re using up limited sources by your mere existence – oxygen, space, fuel… intelligent comments.

    Faraz – totally agree with the psychological trauma, as if the physical bit wasn’t bad enough. I used to be overweight a few years ago. But even though I’m more than normal for my BMI now, the battering my self esteem received persists, as does a very negative body image – and I’m talking about 10 years on.

    Obesity is a problem but tough love rarely helps fix it – something Mr. ‘Chief Marketing Officer’ clearly can’t understand. Recommend

  • http://Karachi Anwar Hasan

    If you have cancer you will seek treatment. If you have blood pressure or Diabetes you will seek help. If you have any life threatening illness you will see a doctor. All these treatment are very expensive and take a lot of your time.

    What you have is a life threatening illness and you need to see a personal trainer. He will be expensive and take up a lot of your time but not seeing him will prove to be even more expensive. Sell your car or use your life saving to pay for your treatment. What you lose now you can make up by living extra years.

    You need to change your mind set. Think of your illness as a cancer eating away your life. Treating obesity is worse than treating cancer (ask a cancer patient what chemo-therapy is like). But it has to be done. The only thing you have to do is change your mind set….otherwise the taunting will be the least of your problems.Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com Shumaila

    In the west as well as here alarming numbers of young people are turning to eating disorders like bulimia (binge eating followed by vomiting) and anorexia (voluntary starvation) tocontrol their weight and try to fit a social ideal. It’s sick, the presssure on these people to lose weight just cos of bullying and the psychological trauma experienced by being a fat person.

    Also it is unfair to assume that the overweight are plain lazy or eat too much. A lot if people have medical conditions or just plain slower basal metabolisms, so while its easy for you to keep the pounds off it’s that much harder for them.

    I’ve been blogging about the fat acceptance movement and body positivity since pata nahin kab on my own blog, but I’m glad you wrote about this on ET, Faraz. People need to change their perceptions and stop judging people on appearances.Recommend

  • http://meezajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    @Chief Marketing Officer @ Sociality360:
    very insensitve remark, shame on you, its because of mockery and discriminatiom over weight people that are unable to shape a normal life for themselves. did it ever occur to u obesity for some people could be due to some health disorder, a poor metabolism etc, weight gaims cause physical problems like tiredness, back and muscle aches,weakness, low energy, these symptomspverweight people haveto deal with on aday to day basis, last thingtbey need is furthr marginalisatio. and discrimination,and to people who pro ote and condition others to be phobic towards over weight people get a life, half of u do it just to give ur ownself assumed perception ego a boost.Recommend

  • Nafisa

    Fat people have hearts.
    My observation.
    I Heart Fat insaan.Recommend

  • i am mumbai

    chief marketing officer —— you are a pathetic excuse for a human being… that was insensitive … u r so lame. @ author — nice article. i feel you.Recommend

  • Ayesha

    @Chief Marketing Officer @ Sociality360:

    What an immature comment. Tsk Tsk.

    “they sweat like there’s no tomorrow and pass on these bad habits to their family and friends.”

    Umm I don’t think I sweat more than any normal-weight person and I certainly don’t think these habits “pass on” to other people.Recommend

  • Khan

    hit the gym mate, i was fat too and liked a girl , made meself lean and athletic for her , but still did not get her ;) Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Chief Marketing Officer, did you even read the article? Or did you just read the title and decided to present your opinion, as most readers on ET do?Recommend

  • http://Karachi Anwar Hasan

    My advise to fat people:
    -Use smaller plates for meals.
    -Take one helping. Take as much as you like but only one helping. This will give you a visual image of how much you eat.
    -If you feel full and there is food left on your plate throw it away.
    “It is better to throw food in the garbage than in your stomach”.

    Hope this will help.Recommend

  • Uzma

    I’m glad someone finally wrote about this. Although I’m not overweight, I’ve always felt fat jokes and nicknames are just downright mean and have never understood why its considered okay. The article that these comments sometimes become more insulting than funny-I think they’re almost insulting! And yes, obesity is not healthy, but come on, most people you know who are overweight are hardly likely to be that overweight that it would put them at serious risk of heart problems etc. Also, its not always in a person’s control if they’re overweight- it can also be genetic or the result of some hormonal imbalanceRecommend

  • Jahangir

    @The Forbidden Fruit:
    I understand the fact that it is wrong to make fun of someone’s height and complexion, that is God given and we have no control over that. However, we have full control over our weight and those who don’t maintain it are just lazy. So instead of saying anything or crying about everything, they should hit the gym and lose the extra pounds coz there is nothing stopping them. And if they “choose” to be fat, then what other ppl say shouldn’t bother them.

    What Chief Marketing Officer said was indeed insensitive and rude, but there was one thing which was right and that was obese people have no one to blame but themselves. There is no excuse for being fat. Sometimes certain health conditions cause you to gain excessive weight, but even that is curable…I know that since i know people who’ve been through that.Recommend

  • Ahmed Munir

    Good one. What i find strange that when people are turning all so sensitive about religion etc etc…they are still very insensitive about social issues!Recommend