post by Bill Gardner
Jonathan Chait, commenting on the criticism that Governor Christie appears to lack discipline, because he is fat.
The American overclass prizes thinness... and the disgust privileged Americans feel toward fat people, who are more likely to be poor and middle-class, dresses itself up as medical advice... The premise here is that weight is a marker of personal discipline, and anybody who’s fat must simply be too lazy to take care of themselves. This conveniently fulfills the desire to categorize obesity as a character flaw, but ignores the extreme difficulty of sustained weight loss.
Chait is absolutely^3 right. Being heavy or obese is not a character flaw.
But even that argument is wrong if the premise is that it would be okay to be disgusted by obesity if it were a character flaw. Having a character flaw -- being narcissistic, being dependent, being anti-social -- should evoke our empathy, not our disgust.