Friday, January 29, 2010
"You're fat because you eat too much."
Do you find this image and message to be offensive? It's one of many illustrations inside of the book "Better Homes & Gardens Diet Book" published in 1955. What I've learned from reading my vintage source materials over the years is that it was socially acceptable to use the word "fat" to describe someone who was overweight, although not to the person directly since good manners and decorum was still in full force. In other words, in magazines and books, there were no references to "people of size." People were called "fat."
It may seem striking that the message above is placing responsibility for being overweight strictly on the individual. Medical conditions aside, today it seems that there are books, talk shows, articles and news stories about how the current obesity epidemic is due to many reasons other than we eat too much for our lifestyles and dietary needs. That kind of talk is very good for selling products that promise to take the place of willpower and the basic math of calories in versus calories burned. While it may seem mean and insensitive, the fact is that obesity wasn't the wide-spread problem that it is in 2010. It's hard not to consider the role that outward societal pressures and norms may have played in that equation.