Be honest. When the American Medical Association announced that it would begin classifying obesity as a disease, you thought of me, right? You thought I’d go off on a rant, lambasting fatsos for their personal choices and scolding the AMA for giving an excuse, for making it easier to get coverage.* You pictured me, gesturing with both hands and these strangely dark eyebrows, verging on despair. In your head, you heard my New Jersey accent return in brute force (like it does whenever I yell), pointing out all of the faulty logic in such a decision, but mostly directing my ire and loathing toward obese people who need to get their shit together. Because thanks to obesity, it’s too soon to make a James Gandolfini fat joke. Oh, and now I’m the asshole?
So here’s the deal. The way I feel about obesity already offends you enough. I thought maybe it would be better to redirect my animosity toward an equally deserving group, who always seem to get away scott-free. A bunch of jerks who keep a low profile, who may even be so bold as to hurl insults at the FUPA-laden tourists, the offensive linemen without the offensive line, or the Revolting Blobs wrestling with their weight and self-esteem.
Those guys already know we’re talking about them. But there’s a whole kingdom of people who don’t even know they are slovenly, phlegmatic, and gross. Yeah, I’m talking about you, Skinnyfat.
Skinnyfat people. The ones who don’t bother exercising because they assume they don’t have to work out to maintain a totally passable, even enviable, physique. Skinnyfatties who can liiiike eat whatever they want because I don’t know, they just have a really fast metabolism or whatever.
Right now, as they’re reading this, they’re doing one of three things:
- Nodding in agreement because they don’t know that I’m talking about them; or
- Recoiling in horror because this is the first time they’ve ever considered that maybe it isn’t what’s on the outside that makes you healthy, but your habits; or
- Scoffing like, “Bitch, you’re just jealous.”
I promise you, I’m not. I’ve seen a lot of you after college. And then you get married and try even less, if that’s possible. Boys and girls, it does not get cuter with time. It becomes more and more of a problem. Those skinny ass legs might look great in light denim skinny jeans, but when it’s shorts season, girl I can see your calves wiggle with atrophy. And dude, maybe your belly lacks the unsightly front porch that most of your frat brothers have, but when you take your shirt off, all I see are the first few moves in Connect Four. I’m talking about your rosy nipples and a flat board, bro.
Every morning, I run past a bunch of people busting their asses just to maintain. Just like me and everyone else who didn’t battle Persians in the movie 300, these people have some issues about their body. Yeah, we’ve got some extra wiggle. We’re thicker than we’d like. Our arms are a little jiggly or we’re just generally round – just like our mom or dad. But believe me, we are handling our goddamn business. We know this shit isn’t easy. We know that what we eat and how much we exercise have a direct impact on our health and well-being. And so we keep on our grustle and hope to see and feel results.
But you, skinnyfat? You definitely die first in the zombie attack. And you’re no help whatsoever in the case of an alien invasion. You’re just deadweight, holding us back, hoping your good looks will save the day once again. Thanks for nothing, you sinewy fuck.
You may not remember when people say that thing like “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside; it’s what’s on the inside that counts” because you’ve always had the luxury of disregarding it. Wearing your slim-fitting suit or your size 0-2 dress, no one ever noticed that on the inside, you are beginning to atrophy and decompose like month-old steamed broccoli.
Over time, your inert, inactive body will start to manifest some symptoms, or maybe it already does: No musculature. No cardiovascular strength. Terrible lung capacity. Poor bone density. A dangerously low or dangerously high resting heart rate. Low blood pressure or high blood pressure. Issues with cholesterol. Maybe your back is sore or your “knees are shot” or you can’t run a mile.
Those sound familiar, right? Like some fat guy, right? But wait, you’re not fat, right? You just looked in the mirror and you’re totally not fat. So then how in the world…?
I know this is probably coming as a shock to you, but I’m only breaking the bad news because I care about you. And also because you probably haven’t even considered the fact that while you may look great at 18 or 25 or even 40, someday your weak bones will give way. And then you’ll be the one with the hunchback. I’m not trying to spread panic, but it’s time that the skinnyfatties stopped coasting.
If you think that the visibly fat guys are the only ones who need to to get their asses out there and do something about it, then I’d like to take you fishing in the Sahara. I’d like to show you Kim Kardashian’s post-doctorate thesis. What I’m saying is that if you think you don’t need to work out because you’re naturally thin, then you’re a blazing fool.
Being naturally skinny doesn’t mean you get to stop trying. It doesn’t mean you get to sit back and watch while the chubby guy from your office eats salmon and spinach for lunch and then gets his sweaty ass on the elliptical for 40 minutes, three days a week. It doesn’t mean you can just make a sign to cheer on your roommate (the one with the unfortunate hips) as she runs her first half marathon, and maybe does or maybe doesn’t lose weight.
It means you have a head start. It means you’re privileged. And just like Paris Hilton or Billy Madison or anyone else who inherited good fortune from her/his parents, it’s your responsibility to do something with that privilege. So, go do something.
Start right now because it’s only going to get harder and worse. It’s not going to be easy, and you’re not going to see results right away. Trust us. We know it sucks. It’s going to hurt and you’re going to want to quit. But I want you to remember that inside you lives a fat, lazy person who just happens to be lucky.
* Look, I’m not an idiot. I know the AMA made this decision to draw attention to obesity as a public health crisis and to make it easier to provide preventative care and treatment. But I didn’t get my Master of Public Policy for nothing. There are advantages and disadvantages to increasing access to care, and It’s too soon to know the intended or unintended consequences of this shift in position. But if obesity rates decline by a statistically significant margin over the next twenty years, I will gladly remove my hat and sing hymnals praising the AMA. While maybe I don’t understand the logic behind classifying something as a disease, I do commend AMA’s effort to do something. It seems a backwards and strange way to encourage behavioral change, but what do I know?