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Good Health Through Thick and Thin

January 17, 1998|FELICIA K. CLARK | Felicia K. Clark, a model, lives in Los Angeles

The revelation that comedian-actor Chris Farley's death was caused by drug usage and not obesity calls for a message from the size acceptance community.

Sixty percent of American women wear size 12 or larger. The media take every opportunity to jump on anyone who is fatter than what is deemed socially acceptable and irresponsibly fuels weight prejudice, resulting in convincing the public that every person who isn't anorexic is flirting with death. Since size 12 is an average size but still considered too large, you can only imagine what a truly large person must endure when average-sized people are attacked and made to feel that their bodies are public health enemy No. 1.

No, Chris Farley wasn't average-sized. However, can you honestly look at such an agile man with athletic prowess and call him a "couch potato?"

Did anyone speculate about the health history or eating habits of River Phoenix, who also died of drug usage? Do you know if he had other health problems, or did your size prejudice lead you to assume he was OK aside from his drug usage? The media acted responsibly in River Phoenix's case and extended him the courtesy of waiting to hear the coroner's report on his cause of death--a courtesy not extended to fat people, because the cause of death for "fatties" seems so obvious, right?

Many large-sized people are healthy, active and happy with their bodies. As a plus-size model who stands 5 feet 9 and weighs 240 pounds, I can say that I do exercise, eat lean and have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Fat bigotry escaped the wave of political correctness which made us think before stereotyping minorities, women and others. Displaced bigots found another target in size prejudice, masking it behind a concern for health. Never mind the emaciated females who are too thin to menstruate, regurgitate their meals and smoke to curb their appetites. They look socially acceptable and escape the unsolicited health screenings by unqualified lay persons who consider themselves experts on the issue of weight management simply because their scales report their weight to be under their own maximum weight tolerance level.

The argument that thin people "help" fat people improve their health through making weight an issue has no merit. Health is a balance between one's spiritual, mental and physical self. Self-esteem is to mental health what working out is to physical health. The self-appointed fat police, who destroy the self-esteem of large people seemingly for their own good, are not helping to combat obesity. They are feeding their own deprived spiritual souls, compensating for their inadequacies through looking down on others.

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