I’m Not Fat, You’re Fat!

One in a series of posts on my struggles with maintaining a healthier weight, starting in early 2019 and working into the present day

One of the reasons I said that nobody wants to be in the fat club is because they often don’t view themselves as fat even if they technically are.

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research reports:

While the CDC may classify more than one-third of Americans as obese and another third as overweight, the public don’t see themselves that way. In a 2014 Gallup poll, just 5% say they are very overweight, while 35% say they are somewhat overweight, and 56% believe they are about right. These numbers are comparable to the results of a 1965 Harris poll, long before the rates of obesity began to climb rapidly, which found 38% of respondents considered themselves overweight, and 55% about right. In a 2013 Gallup poll, 51% said they would like to lose weight, a number essentially unchanged from the 52% who said so when the question was asked in 1990, despite an 11 percentage point increase in the obesity rate in that time frame.

But this it’s not just ourselves we have blind spots about. It’s also our family members. A 2009 Ipsos-McClatchy poll found that only a third of participants said weight was a minor problem for their families, while about half (49%) said it was no problem at all. 

So, fat is in the eye of the beholder. That unknown kids on the playground over there? Yep, that kid is definitely overweight. But my kid? Nope, no way. Sure, maybe he has heavy bones, but that’s not the same as being fat!

Our Blind Spots

It’s hard, perhaps impossible, to view ourselves objectively. Mentally, we often view ourselves through one of those fun-house mirrors that slim us down nicely.

Of course, it can go the other way as well. There are truly thin people who view themselves as overweight no matter much they actually weigh. This can lead to anorexia and can literally kill you.

We need to be realistic without being judgmental about our bodies. This isn’t always easy. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Feature image is Watkin Fat Cat by Allen Watkin. Wikimedia Commons.

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Mark R. Vickers

I am a writer, analyst, futurist and researcher. I've spent most of my working life as an editor and manager for research organizations focusing on social, business, technology, HR and management trends. But, perhaps more to the point for this blog, I'm curious about the universe and the myriad, often mysterious relationships therein.

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