Equality in Ireland?

By Fiesty Fox, a Fattitude Intern*

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Change is good. Especially when the change means history-making progress. Recently, by popular vote Ireland became the very first country to legalize same-sex marriage! This news is a game changer and I hope it sets off a very positive ripple effect that encourages other countries to do the same.

That being said, is it bad timing to mention I have a bone to pick with Ireland?

The Irish government may believe same-sex couples deserve equal rights, however, according to an article written on Business Insider by Conor Barrins on May 6, 2015, titled, “Fat Ireland No Surprise to Obesity Experts,” they aren’t extending the same courtesy to fat people. The Irish government believes obesity is a, “treatable condition caused mainly by lifestyle factors.” Donal O’Shea, Ireland’s top obesity expert, believes the Irish “obesity epidemic” is worse than past outbreaks in Ireland of Cholera and AIDS. Ireland’s Department of Health is clearly committed to this issue, which isn’t a surprise because another expert, Maureen Mulvihill, was quoted as saying, “The Irish are eating themselves to death.” Meanwhile, the host of Ireland’s equivalent to, “The Biggest Loser,” believes the country is receptive to change. Of course they are. They’re being told that by being fat, they are worse off than if they had Cholera or AIDS! I am willing to bet the shame factor for fat people is pretty high in a country that thinks this way.

I had high hopes when I saw another article written in, “The Irish Times,” on April 25, 2015, by Mark Hennessey with the headline, “There are worse things in this world than being fat.” The article is about Stephen O’Rahilly, a Cambridge University professor who is working to find the causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes. I like that O’Rahilly acknowledges that some people have a genetic predisposition to be fat, but then he goes on to say that action needs to be taken on all levels to control Ireland’s rampant obesity problem. Some of his suggestions include regulating locations of fast food restaurants, controlling the portions business serve customers and offering incentives to those who avoid sugary drinks. Rahilly thinks Mayor Bloomberg had it right when he tried to ban large sodas. A lot of time and energy is being spent focusing on limiting induviduals and treating them like children. How about we focus on some bigger issues such as the crime rate, the homeless, the hungry, and education? Can they leave fat people alone, please?

So, while Ireland gets my Mazel of the Day for the great strides it made this week with regards to marriage equality, it also gets my Jackhole for cultivating an environment where fat people are not just shamed, but are treated as though they have no self control and are made to feel like by being themselves, there is something deathly wrong with them.

*This blog post is the opinions of a particular Fattitude’s interns – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.

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