I hate to get political but this is definitely something that needs to be talked about: public perception overweight people. New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently went on David Letterman to discuss his weight issues because rumor has it he’s contemplating a run for the White House in 2016! In the middle of his conversation with Mr. Letterman, he stopped to eat a donut to add a little humor to the interview. Shortly after his appearance, former White House physician, Connie Mariano, M.D, told the world she was worried Christie might have a heart attack or stroke while in office. But Gov. Christie claims he’s “basically the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen in your life.”
There were several questions came to mind after reading and watching this story and the commentary that came along with this story. Firstly, does his weight interfere with his job performance? Would we even be talking about this issue if he were stick thin? Overweight people get judged before a single word is said. There are so many stereotypes floating around like being sloppy, lazy, smelly, and out of control and it’s very hard to get people to look past these things. That DOES NOT mean an overweight person is not capable of being successful in life.
I have noticed the way people talk to me now versus when I was obese. The problem is overweight people make people uncomfortable. People can’t help but stare at you, place pity on you and talk really bad about you…and yes, some people actually do it to your face. These are the moments that overweight people try to shrug off. (FYI: I will always consider myself overweight because it was something I had to deal with for so long. Just like any other addiction, I did have an addiction to food and non-activity. This is a battle I continue to fight every day of my life.) I still remember the day I was walking to my car in graduate school and a bus full of children leaned out their windows and called me fatty. It was a humiliating experience but things like that do happen.
Gov. Christie also did something most overweight people do, he made a joke out of the situation. As an overweight person, there are so many things you try to justify to yourself. I can’t even count the times that I made a joke out of eating too much or picking on my weight before others could do it to lighten the mood. In this case, Gov. Christie ate a donut on national television started the joke so others would laugh along with him and not at him. Do I wish he would have done something different? Yes! The problem is most overweight are not in a position to have a voice and rarely ever speak their mind because they are ashamed and/or trying to shield themselves from some type of pain. Christie is in a unique situation where people are paying attention and our interested in what he has to say. This is his time to start something and I really feel like he missed his moment. Instead, he went for the joke, which is fine, but he could have used that joke in combination with some true words. And saying you’re basically the healthiest fat guy doesn’t really count. He could have taken a stand by saying he was competent to do any job just as well as anyone else or maybe brought light to how overweight people are treated.