Last Wednesday I was getting ready for an important meeting where I was supposed to make a presentation, when I turned on the TV just because I wanted to pinpoint the exact time and temperature of the day. The TV station was hosting a talk show where the guests were some members of ALCO (Asociación de Lucha Contra la Obesidad, in English, “Association for Fighting Against Obesity”, i.e, the local version of Weight Watchers). I was in a hurry, but the little tidbits I gathered from the screen gave me the idea that these fellows were trying to justify their effort of losing weight on the grounds that fat people are victims of discrimination, that fat people are unattractive, that fat people have trouble getting clothes, and on, and on and on. My bollocks detector went wild on the spot.
I remember when Tim decided to post his photo online. It’s OK; he’s nice looking and maybe a good candidate for my youngest sister ;). But you won’t see my photo around, at least for a good while. Why? because I’m fat.
Let it be known for the record: I’m officially overweight. My height is 1m77cm and my weight is roughly 145 kg (American readers, please do the appropriate conversions). As far as I can remember, I was always that way. When I was a little child, I was fat. Even when I went into the ROTC (both in basic training/boot camp and in the Navy ROTC), and despite the fact that I graduated as an ensign with flying colors and despite the fact that every drill instructor I had took the task of getting me lean and mean, I still was very much to the “fatty” side of things.
Why? I don’t know. To everyone who knows me intimately enough, and especially to my wife, it is evident that I do not over-eat. However, hormones doesn’t seem to be the cause; my levels of tyroid hormones are always within the normal range. But the fact is, I am fat.
Being fat has some special ‘challenges’. Finding appropriate clothing is one of them. In my country, some unknown ruling hand decreed that every Paraguayan must be small and weighting no more than 70 kg. Thus, clothing for folks like me are as plentiful as a pro-life Democrat. Going in the streets also has some challenges; for example, sitting in a bus where the separation between each row is of 70cm at most can be difficult.
I just cannot begin to tell how difficult life has been because others felt the need to berate and despise me for being fat. Some have equated my obesity with ‘utter lack of even the most elementary self-discipline’ and treated me accordingly; others simply made cruel practical jokes. My teenage years come especially to mind. Boys would not accept me as a pal; ladies would run away in shock and wouldn’t consider even the slightest romantic interest in my person. I regard my adolescence an extremely dark period of my life, and I am really glad it’s over. But that’s enough; I moved on, and the LORD helped me. It’s in the past, and the past is over. That’s why I don’t talk much about it.
There’s one common thread for all these challenges: They all stem from a lack of consideration and respect for a fellow human being who still is, despite his appearance, an image-bearer of the living and most holy God. This is not a matter that should be taken lightly. That’s why the ALCO folks outraged me so much. They encountered the disrespect and discrimination, and instead of fighting it, they rationalized it, sanctioned it, and used it as an argument for their cause.
No, ALCO. I’m sorry; I’m not going to be a member anytime soon. The LORD willing, I am going to lose weight. I am willing go out of my way in that effort. I am willing to eat much less calories than the amount appropriate for a normal being. I am willing to sweat, to get cramps and to get tired after exercising daily; but I’m not going to do it for the respect I might get —that respect will be met with my utter comtempt.
I’m going to lose weight for the sake of my Lord, who requires me to be a good steward of my body, His temple; for the pleasure of my wife, to whom I am an indebted servant; and for the sake of my own health. These are, I think, very good reasons. To get the respect of a jerk or to be able to wear the latest designer clothing is not.
That’s why you won’t see my photo around anytime soon.