Friday, January 12, 2007

The Last Acceptable Form of Bigotry

In our politically correct age, it's no longer acceptable to make fun of minorities, nationalities, senior citizens, folks who wear glasses, or people with mental of physical handicaps. We can lampoon politicians and celebrities with the meanest of spirit, but they're public figures so to some extent they have accepted that risk.

But it's still okay to make fun of fat people--not famous fat people, but just overweight people in general. I remember when I was much younger, in my 20s, and I was walking into a restaurant in Houston with a friend. Some guys about our age came out as we were going in, and they made it a point to loudly proclaim how glad they were they had gotten their meal before we got there because there might not be enough once the fat chicks chowed down.

I wasn't that overweight at the time. And it pretty much ruined the meal and the evening out.

But as adults we develop a thick skin over time, and learn to talk back or ignore. Kids don't have it so easy.

A recent Canadian study found that overweight girls, ages 11 to 16, were 90% more likely to suffer abuse about their appearance than "normal" weight girls. Another study, this one out of Rutgers University, found that prejudice against fat kids had increased by 40% since similar studies were done in the 1960s.

If we teach our kids not to make fun of people who have different skin color, why is it so much harder to teach them not to make fun of people who weigh more? Probably because the parents are folks who, 20 years ago, were making fun of other overweight folks at restaurants in Houston.

'Nuff said.

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