Is it better to be comfortable or healthy?

Long Beach is breaking out the long velvet ropes, extending the nightlife scene to people who may not feel comfortable at traditional nightclubs.


Club Bounce, located in Long Beach, Calif., is a nightclub that caters to BBW (Big Beautiful Women) and BHM (Big Handsome Men). Larger dancers can hit the dance floor without fear of ridicule or judgment by other partygoers.

MORE FROM THE DAILY WILDCAT


Clubs for overweight people can be invaluable at improving self-esteem and confidence, not to mention burning calories and shedding some pounds. Sarah Maria, author of ""Love Your Body, Love Your Life,"" says, ""The better people feel about themselves, the more willing they are to make healthy choices.""


Some overweight dancers are turning their moneymakers into exercise machines. Chad Koyanagi, 30, eventually lost 50 pounds after getting out of his house and refining his moves, going from the truffle shuffle to the Tom and Jerry.


But a night out at a club that actually improves one's health seems like a magic fairytale more fit for a Fourth Avenue Christmas. In this case, perhaps such success is the exception rather than the rule.


Lynn McAfee of the Council On Size and Weight Discrimination described these clubs as a bridge between thin and thick. McAfee said, ""(It is) an amazing experience for a lot of people who aren't fat, to spend a day or night in a world of fat people.""


While society may treat big people differently, fat and thin people don't live in separate worlds. It's a harsh reality that fat people are considered superficially unattractive by many others, and nightclubs are synonymous with superficiality.


McAfee may feel as though she's part of a different world because she isn't conventionally attractive. What she's really doing by positing a separate ""world of fat people"" is contributing to the belief that she doesn't belong.


While this club is a great venue for overweight dancers to feel comfortable, it's rashly being heralded as a leap in the battle for fat acceptance.


The National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance is a non-profit founded in 1969 ""dedicated to ending size discrimination in all forms."" Citing several studies, the organization claims fat people earn up to 6 percent less than their thin counterparts and are less likely to be promoted.


While size discrimination in a professional environment is a serious concern, the quest for ""equality in all aspects of life"" presumably includes universal social acceptance of obesity, which is not going to happen.


Here's an insensitive but appropriate question: Is it responsible to seek universal acceptance of obesity?


The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination states that, ""Weight diversity is a positive goal. Our dream is a world in which a person's life, health, well-being, and happiness is unrelated to that person's weight.""


Overweight people should be free to live happy lives and enjoy great relationships, but it's a misguided fantasy to say that weight and health are unrelated, and it's irresponsible and dangerous to suggest otherwise.


The World Health Organization states that, ""Overweight and obesity lead to serious health consequences. Risk increases progressively as BMI increases."" Risks include heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.


Obesity is a health epidemic. I'm not a doctor, but I do know how to listen to them. 


Universal fat acceptance sends the message to children that being overweight is not a problem. Data contained in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveals that ""80% of overweight children (age 10-15) will go on to become obese adults by age 25."" As children begin to develop lifelong diet and exercise habits, they need to be taught that weight issues have more important consequences than just ridicule.


Fat acceptance is the defeatist approach. The message needs to provide the proper context for weight issues. One's weight should not be treated as a pretext for unequal treament, but it cannot be dismissed as merely superficial. The goals of fat acceptance should be concentrated primarily on social education for children and focus on demonstrating the negative effects of ridicule and teaching appropriate coping strategies.


Those advocating fat acceptance rightfully believe that their size should not affect how they are judged by others. However, allowing the judgments of others to shape your actions is not the way to gain true acceptance. Acceptance comes from having the confidence to go into any nightclub or social setting.


Club Bounce is a great tool for overweight people to help alleviate social anxiety, but life presents everyone with uncomfortable or unfriendly environments. Learning to make the best of it, not to avoid it, is the answer.



 — Dan Sotelo is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 


Share this article