It sucks being discriminated against, whether that's on the basis of your race, gender or the fact that you don't fit in a regular airline seat. However, stopping discrimination against (and abuse of) fat people could be near-impossible.
Picture by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
In an article at The Conversation, ANU politics lecturer Ryan Walter argues that it's unlikely that discrimination against the obese will change in a current society because of other factors:
Fat discrimination is the direct consequence of exactly those everyday values and practices that we use to regulate our relationship to food and public life. Anti-discrimination should therefore be seen as contesting with deeply entrenched values and, in relation to food, the odds are against the crusading outsider.
In essence, Walter argues that people who eat healthy food are showing off both knowledge (of nutritional values) and "moral" behaviour (being able to restrain themselves to "good" choices). Given the high value we as a society place on both those approaches, it's hard to imagine us deciding to be kinder to others:
The problem for ending fat discrimination is that this widespread regime is completely inimical to the call to respect obese people – they are clearly positioned as failures in this art of living.
Walter also notes that obese people can appear to impact on our sense of "personal space", which is also a widely-respected social value. As he stresses, that doesn't mean discrimination is fair or right, but it does lower the odds of eliminating it. What do you think?
Does the art of living make fat discrimination common sense? [The Conversation]