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Bring Out your Fat-Suits

Tyra Banks, Maria Menoulos and now an un-named model on the Today Show have all taken to the streets in padded suits and jowel make-up to expose with hidden cameras what it's like to be overweight in America. And ... Are you ready for this? It's not fun. Tyra was absolutely in tears. I mean, really, is this what it's like not to be a Super Model? Poor baby, how could she take it for the few hours that she didn't have everyone kissing her butt?

Well, there are a lot of people who could tell her what it's really like, and a lot of them are living here with me in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is now the most overweight state in the USA. And the US is the most overweight country in the world, so if you happen to notice the Midwest sinking a little in the middle that's the reason why. I guess we should take 'pride' in being the pudgiest of the pudgy, but I don't know if I feel like jumping up and down yelling 'We're number one!' because it would take me so long to get out of my LaZee Boy, and by then I'd be winded.

I don't know what motivated all of these people to dress up and pretend to be heavy and not beautiful for a day. It must be like a sort of tourist destination for them, as in: "I wonder what it would be like to be ordinary and not splendid and wonderful?" This is their self chosen penance for having it too damn good, with the only difference being that they're just visiting, and can rip off the blubber make-up when they've had enough.

Overweight people are treated poorly. There's no question about it. And a lot of people have no sympathy for a voluntary condition like obesity, because if you think about it, no one has to be fat do they? These people should just not eat so much, right? It's never, ever as simple as that, of course - unless it's not you. Then it is. Excess weight is one of those conditions that's also considered a moral failing to many.

From an evolutionary standpoint - or intelligent design standpoint, if you insist - obesity indicates unfitness in a potential mate. It also indicates, for a male, that the woman is potentially pregnant with another man's child who you wouldn't want to raise as your own, would you, you big brained ape, you? The dismay that humans feel towards the non-healthy is in reality innate in the species; we either evolved or were designed that way.

I can't claim to have spoken with every three hundred pound person in the world, but my experience has been that when you find somebody that heavy, you inevitably find somebody with a lot of trauma in their life. Ask and I guarantee that you will hear a horrible story or two that will bring you to tears. The excess eating is medication to kill the pain. So, not only are they living with the awful things that caused them to overeat in the first place, but now they have also the scorn of society to deal with.

I haven't seen the entire TV pieces from Tyra, Maria or the Today Show so I can't tell you what lessons they may have had to teach. I find it personally distressing that for almost certain they will take up the cause of this 'new form of discrimination' for a day or so, then abandon it for the next 'new form of discrimination' that comes their way. Maybe along the way they'll actually succeed in helping those who need that help. Or maybe they'll just get higher ratings.

About the Author: Steve Sommers is the author of Breakfast with the Antichrist. His new novel, Rexroi, along with the best of Australian Science Fiction - is available as an ebook at, OR if you ABSOLUTELY need to turn pages when you read - at

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