Rod Dreher

This material is going to be familiar to many of you from an earlier series of blog postings here, but here’s a piece I’ve done on obesity as a moral issue. Excerpt:

Anyone who wishes to exercise self-discipline has to swim against powerful cultural currents.
But it can be done, and done relatively inexpensively. I’ve done it several times before, and have maintained a reasonable weight for long periods of time, until falling back into bad old habits. What people like me need is encouragement to try again. Well-meaning people like Harriet Brown who, in a recent New York Times column, decried the social stigma overweight people must bear, are not helping the cause.
“Despite the abundance of research showing that most people are unable to make significant long-term changes in their weight,” wrote Brown, a journalism professor, “it’s clear that doctors tend to view obesity as a matter of personal responsibility. Perhaps they see shame and stigma as a health care strategy.”
Granted, it’s cruel and offensive to make fun of fat people, and I devoutly wish we would scorn the stick-thin, unhealthy runway models held up by the fashion industry as iconic. But do we really want to remove all stigma from being overweight? I don’t want to become comfortable with my beer belly, not only because it’s going to mean a greater chance that I’ll be chronically ill in the future, but also because I cannot yield to the excuse that controlling my weight is beyond my control.
Put another way, I don’t want society to give me permission to be a glutton, any more than I want society to give me permission to indulge in lust, greed or any of the other deadly sins. Reformed alcoholics and ex-smokers wrestle to control their potentially fatal weaknesses. Why should current or aspiring ex-fatties like me expect anything different? Nobody tells them they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for being in thrall to immoderate drinking or smoking, thus undermining their fight to conquer what was killing them before.

Charlotte Hays reviews a book by a libertarian journalist and former fattie who came to see his weight problem as connected to his lack of maturity. Excerpt:

The Urban Hermit is the saga of how Sam MacDonald lost more than 100 pounds, got out of debt, and ultimately transformed his life from one that approximated those of the disheveled losers portrayed in the movie Knocked Up. In fact, MacDonald has said that if a movie is made of Urban Hermit, he’d like to be played by Seth Rogen. MacDonald thought of himself as the Fat Bastard.
When the book opens, the Fat Bastard is a fun-loving, underachieving Yalie who lives in squalor with his cousin, Skippy. Skippy and Sam, who miraculously does manage to hold down a job at a small suburban newspaper in Laurel, Maryland, are “two good-natured, booze-soaked idiots who love drinking and spending money and letting the dealer come over with Ecstasy and cat tranquilizer when things got strange.”
Although MacDonald may have weighed more than 300 pounds, it wasn’t stepping on the scale (in fact, he didn’t get on the scale at the outset) that set him on a new path. It was debt.

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