Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weightless in Britain

As youngsters, we referred to the comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as Fat and Skinny. Of the team of Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, everyone described the latter as the Fat One. Of the Dean Martin and Gerry Lewis twosome, Lewis was known as the goofy-looking guy. All these performers capitalized handsomely on their physical features.

For the latest example of a legitimate concern on the verge of going wrong, we have a report of the British Parliament, Reflections on Body Image. Some honourable members want it declared  a hate crime to describe a person as "obese" or even to draw attention to a person's weight. An All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image has recommended criminalization of "appearance-based discrimination".

Much of the report was based on the fact that more than 50 per cent of the population have a negative body image. That statistic from the U.K. Centre for Appearance Research. The Centre also states that 20 per cent have been victimized because of their weight.

A key person involved with the report suggested that doctors should refrain from telling patients they have excess weight. "If they don't feel overweight, and there are no health indications, what's the problem?" she asked. Studies have consistently shown that overweight people underestimate how fat they really are.

It is to be hoped that, before any legislation is enacted, a more realistic view of body image will prevail.

No comments: