Why calling someone fat is good but calling them overweight is not

WalrusWhat are we saying when we say someone is “fat”?
We are acknowledging that when we look at them we see fat, jiggles, rolls, chunk, blubber, etc. For instance, this Walrus pictured here that I’m leeching from boldts.net. He’s fat, is he not? That’s just what he is. Not like it is bad that he’s fat. He’s just fat. He’s got a lot of fat on his body. For all I know, the walrus could be a she, but let’s just pretend that it is a he for the sake of the fat conversation. So, we have a fat walrus here. We don’t say the walrus is overweight do we?

What are we saying when we say someone is overweight?
Well, we are essentially saying that there is a standard weight that someone (or some walrus) is supposed to be and that they are over that ideal weight. Now, how is this different than saying someone is fat? Saying someone is fat is making an observation (remember the fat walrus from boldts.net?) Saying someone is overweight is actually passing a judgment upon that person that they are not the prescribed weight that they should be given their gender and height.

One might make the argument that calling someone overweight is merely making an observation that the person is over the weight for their given height and gender according to some standard outlined by some doctors in some country on some planet in some solar system in some galaxy in this universe. However, change doctors, country, planet, solar system, galaxy, or universe, and that same observation might not hold up. Also, I would then have to argue that unless you knew the exact weight, height (and gender) of the person you are judging as overweight, you really have no idea. They might just be extremely bloated!

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  1. being fat is indeed a relative generality….where’d you get the Al Sharpton image for this post?

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