Monday, March 23, 2009

Pointless Arguments: She's Not Fat!

We had just left a birthday party. The last words my mother had given the girl as we were leaving had to do with her weight: I didn't hear the whole exchange but I at least heard a reference to 'pills'. My brother and I were upset with my mother about this; not the nicest thing to leave a birthday girl with!

Me: "She's not obese." Why was I saying this? I had seen the girl, she was quite badly off. Just because she still maintained something like the hourglass shape did not mean she was not clinically obese. Thinking about how overweight and obese practically looked like, my mother was probably right.

My mother: "Did you see her? She is!"

Me: "She's only overweight." Why was this point so important to me? Was I prejudiced in some way? Did I need to think of this girl as "only overweight" because I liked her? Because she was a nice girl from a lovely family, who couldn't possibly let this happen to their lovely girl? Has my training in medicine already caused such a terrible overreaction to anything I perceive as unhealthy? I had even begun to go as far as to consider obese children as neglect and bad parenting; was I unwilling to apply this harsh label?

Mother: "It's causing her liver problems!"

Me: "The one thing obesity does not cause or worsen is liver problems." I was not even 100% sure about this, but I said it anyway. I checked with my friends later: forgot about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Ever since I've started my course, I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to smoking, drugs, alcohol and obesity to name a few things. I'm not sure how much of this is an overreaction, especially compounded on top of my Islamic beliefs.

I just don't want to turn into my mother in this scenario, overzealously dispatching advice 'as a friend' or in unsuitable situations. I don't want to see everyone as a disease or a potential disease, not a person. The last thing that girl wanted to be reminded of was her health problems, on her own birthday party!

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