I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago when I accompanied a commission of enquiry around the country to examine the question of violence against women. After ten days of horror stories, I started feeling like I was suffering from PTSD and almost forgot that there are lots and lots of good men out there who wouldn't lay a finger on anyone.
I'm starting to feel the same way about how fat people are portrayed and portray themselves on the Internet. After reading many blogs in the weight loss community, here's the impression I get:
- fat people are all current or recovering binge eaters
- fat people are all addicted to sugar, fat, carbs, name your poison
- fat people have been or still are junk food addicts
- fat people know that they must shoulder all the blame and responsibility for the fine, fat mess they've got themselves into.
- S. who eats with gusto, exercises obsessively and looks like she just came out of a concentration camp.
- C. who eats with gusto, cooks with gusto, isn't particularly fond of junk food, goes to the gym fairly regularly and carries around a nice chunk of extra weight.
- J., who has slowly gained weight over the years, though he walks at least an hour a day and does not eat gargantuan quantities of food. He recently cut out drinking a glass of unsweetened juice before bed, has cut down his portions slightly and has been losing weight slowly. He is not on a diet.
- I., a woman in her sixties who was quite slim in her younger years and now is rather round. She is the epitome of an intelligent eater: always the last to finish her food, does not stuff herself, exercises regularly.
- L., who has not eaten red meat in over twenty years, is interested in healthy eating and yoga; managed to successfully keep her weight at around a "normal" BMI until she had a child; is now somewhat overweight.
- Cl., whose weight has never fluctuated more than a few pounds during his 70 -odd years on this planet. Has been known to lose weight and look gaunt when having health problems. And his 30-something son looks exactly the same.
- B., a fitness professional and certainly one of the fittest people I know, totally vegan and yes, overweight.
- S., who was anorexic as a teenager. Now eats normally though never quickly, dislikes sweets, is neither fat nor slim, with just a bit of middle-aged spread.
Please don't get your knickers in a twist. I don't look down on the weight loss community. It's full of brave people fighting high odds against them. It's just that I see a very different world around me.