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The self loathing obese man

Independent opinion by Donald K. Burleson

December 2009

Last week I was in a crowded elevator with a giant fat personWhen her floor came up, she hollered “This is my floor”, and everyone parted to allow her to exit.  But that was not good enough for her.  With an air of self-entitlement in her voice, she shouted at us:

“Get off the elevator and let me out”!

Everyone froze.  My fellow passengers were too shocked to move, and nobody was about to get off the elevator and risk someone else taking their spot.   Her self-entitled tone made me angry, and I looked her right in the eye and said:

 “How about you lose 300 pounds, lady?” 

She just sneered at me, turned sideways and squeezed past us, but as the elevator door shut, everyone erupted in laughter and agreed with me that a ginormous fat woman has no rights to make special demands of people in public places.

I was happy to know that I’m not alone in recognizing that obesity is willful misconduct, and morbidly obese people are not entitled to any special treatment.

Obese people constitute an ongoing safety hazard to the public, violating FAA regulations on aircraft, blocking passageway and exits in public spaces and violating a host of state and local fire safety regulations.

Case in point, here is a woman who I noticed because she was shouting at the top of her lungs for an attendant to take her into the ladies room.  In the photo below you can see her and the attendant, approaching with a large wiping rag in his left hand.

As you can see, she has allowed herself to get so fat that she can no longer walk without the aid of a wheelchair. and she is obviously is too fat to reach her own anus.  I shudder to think what the attendant will do with the white cloth that he is carrying in his left hand. 

As she was wheeled into the narrow passageway, she completely blocked it, preventing any passengers inside from escaping.

Some obese people requires assistance to take a dump

Before you condemn me for being a heartless meanie, let’s be perfectly clear that I am obese, and like most, I have suffer from a legitimate medical condition that predisposes me to morbid obesity. 

Obesity and disability access rights

Call me a self-loathing obese person if you like, but I work very hard to control my obesity, and I know that my fellow obese people can do the same, even when the obesity is attributed to medical conditions.

I'm a self loathing obese person

There are several hallmarks of childhood obesity and food obsessions that can only be attributed to physical problems, and I have them all:

·         Naming pets after food – Obese kids will commonly name their pets after foods!  In 1961 we got a family cat, and I named her after my favorite breakfast cereal (“Twinkle”, a star-shaped sugary cereal, a precursor to Fruit Loops).

·    Dreaming about food – I have vivid dreams about food, with visions of cheeseburgers dancing in my head.

·    Obsession with food – When I saw the movie “Julie and Julia” I cringed because as a child I bought the Julia Child cookbook and tormented my poor parents with pate and other nasty french chow.

So you see, I’m one of those obese people who can honestly claim to have a “medical reason” for my obesity, yet I know that it does not absolve me of my personal responsibility to control my weight.    I’m like a dog, always thinking about my next meal, and never satisfied until my stomach is full (with is why the gastro surgeries work, by sending false signals to the brain).

I do not allow my medical condition to impede my mobility and I do not ask for any special treatment not disabled status.  I know firsthand that morbid obesity is wholly preventable, and willful misconduct should never constitute a disability.  

The culture of the victim

Read on and it will become clear why having a medical excuse for your obesity does not matter.  Whether constant food cravings are caused by loneliness or a brain conditions, it does not absolve the person from their personal responsibility to control their cravings. 

In today’s liberal society, everybody is the victim of some disease and nobody will take responsibility for their own actions, especially when they can find some physical reason to explain their ginormous food cravings.    

Remember, while food depravation is uncomfortable and painful, it's been proven to work.  When obese people lie to me and say that they never overeat and that their 500 pound bulk is due to a glandular condition, I remind them that there were no fat people in The Nazi concentration camps.

As a society, it’s time we stopped this charade that alcoholics and obese people are somehow the blameless victims of disease without any control over their destiny.

Americans are getting fatter than ever, and more and more of them are trying to make people believe that their compulsion to eat a whole bucket of KFC makes them disabled.  If you eat less than you burn and exercise, you will lose weight, I personally guarantee it.

Obesity abuse under the ADA

Some obese people are trying to get coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as an obese person myself, I strongly oppose it.  I do not believe that people with unchecked addictions to any substances should be entitled to any special treatment under the law. 

Obese people are filing all sorts of claims against providers of public places of accommodation, claiming that the public at large should be required to give them special treatment, benefits like free double-seats and free upgrades to first-class on aircraft.  When denied, they claim that their rights under the ADA have been violated.

Let's be fair and make people "carry their own weight"

But sadly, morbidly obese people, while they have a self-inflicted disability, are not any more disabled than a practicing alcoholic or drug addict, and they have control over their own destiny. 

  • Bulk food – This is how I control my obesity, by eating huge amounts of vegetables and fruits, enough to make my stomach stop sending the food craving signals. 

  • Wire your mouth shut – Oprah has recently touted the benefits of eating through a straw as a sure fire way to lose weight

  • Gastric Bypass – This procedure works by limiting the capacity for food and fooling the brain into stopping the hunger signals. But it is major surgery and very risky.  Our maid's nephew got a gastric bypass that went horrible wrong, and had to have his entire digestive system transplanted from a cadaver.  It takes a lot of guts to do a complete digestive system transplant.

  • Lap band surgery – Lap band surgery is free for morbidly obese people under Medicaid and Medicare, and it is covered under most medical insurance plans.

It’s quite sad that tens of thousands of Americans would rather die than undertake the surgery that limits their caloric intake.  Don’t buy the crap from morbidly obese people about how their medical condition makes it such that they cannot lose weight, it’s simply not true.

Obese people often need "enablers" to stay fat

The only way that we can help these people is to confront the core issue; that grossly obese people suffer the consequences of their own misconduct, their conditions can be easily cured.  

Medical conditions and genetics do not make obesity a disability

In November 2009, Cambridge professor Sadaf Farooqi discovered a genetic predisposition to childhood obesity that is attributed to a missing chunk of DNA in chromosome 16.  This missing DNA removed a gene that the brain needs to control leptin, a hormone that governs appetite control, causing the child to feel overpowering hunger. 

But despite physical components like this, society uses a more common sense approach:

  • The Veterans Administration considers addictions (food, alcohol, drugs) to  be “willful misconduct, not covered b y veterans benefits. 

  • American Physicians overwhelmingly voted that obesity be not considered a disability, at their 2009 annual meeting of the American Medical Association.

Regardless of laws, it’s the public at large that needs to start helping the obese by becoming intolerant, just the same way that society did with cigarette smokers, an approach that saves thousands of lives.

Obese people constitute a public safety hazard

I believe that obese people should not be allowed to impose a safety hazard upon the general public:

·         Stores – People who block passageways in stores are violating fire safety laws.

·     Aircraft – The wrongful accommodation of obese passengers as disabled people has led to numerous safety hazards, violating a number of FAA regulations.  They don’t fit into the seats, and airline employees have a great deal of contempt for their ridiculous demands.  The airlines even have a derogatory name for obese passengers, they call them Shamu's,

·    Cruise ships – The cruise ship operators do not understands that obese people are not disabled, and further, they constitute an ongoing safety hazard to their fellow passengers.

Further, morbid obese people take away resources that should be reserved for legitimate disabled people.

The Obese in places of public accommodation

It’s obscene to even consider making store proprietors create special triple-wide crappers to accommodate 500 pound fat people in wheelchairs, yet every year the Department of Justice receives complaints from obese people, demand that the public pay for special accommodations for them because they lack personal self-control. 

I volunteer my time working with the blind and I don’t like it when fat people demand disabled parking stickers, especially since they are the people who would benefit the most from walking across the parking lot. 

 Whenever I see an obese person using a disabled parking space I confront them by putting a note on their windshield expressing my displeasure their gall to think that eating themselves into a wheelchair somehow entitles them to special treatment.  I don’t confront them directly anymore, because I learned long ago that morbidly obese people do not respond to kindness, only open contempt will motivate them.

It time for store to start vigorously enforcing fire safety laws and not allow super-fat people into stores if they block the passageways.  I propose that all stores and restaurants start using signs like they do in amusement parks:

Signs like these will help store owners adhere to fire safety codes

If the obese are successful, American business owners must spend billions of dollars making special access considerations for obese people, widening aisles in stores, and costing the taxpayers far more money than it would cost to cure every single obese person in America.


Obese passenger rights on cruise ships

With over 50,000 Americans cruising the high seas on any given week, I see obese people clog cruise ship passageways with their fat people scooters, and many of them reek of body odor because they are too fat to fit into the stateroom showers.  Being trapped on an elevator with an obese person can be a life-changing experience. 

Janet once started gagging because of the festering smell of a giant obese woman, a lady who refused to pay for a suite large enough to allow her to cleanse herself.  If obese people cannot pay for the accommodations that they require, they should not be allowed to travel, and the cruise lines need to stop giving them special treatment.

I’ve been given a Royal Caribbean stateroom that was adjacent to a “disabled” cabin for a super-fat person, and I was dismayed to find that they made my room smaller so that the morbidly obese person could have more free space for their massive bodies. 

Further, obese people violate ship safety regulations because their extra-wide wheelchairs block the passageways and the cruise lines need to wake-up and stop accommodating obese people. 


Obese airline passenger rights

A few years ago, one of my Vice Presidents (John Garmany) related a story where he had a middle seat between two Shamu’s, and the actual middle space was only a few inches.  There was no other seat on the plane, and being a West Point trained Army Ranger, he was used to tolerating abuse, so he shoehorned himself into the tight spot, with the fellow obese people folds of fat covering most of his torso.  Upon departure, John said that his shirt was covered with their sweat. 

It’s high time that the airlines start telling these obese passengers that they have to “carry their own weight”.  I’m obese, but I don’t impose by own poor health upon the travelling public, and if I pay for an extra wide seat, so should my fellow whales. 

But it’s not only about paying for personal comfort; there is a serious FAA safety issue here.  Witness this photograph taken by an airline attendant, showing how obese people block passageways on aircraft, against FAA regulations. 

Obese passengers may violate FAA safety regulations

I was recently on a transatlantic flight and two Shamu’s (A “Shamu” is a derogatory term used among flight attendants to refer to obese airline passengers).  I’m a licensed FAA pilot, and I know that the weight of a passenger is directly proportional to the cost of travel, so fat travelers should be made to pay by the pound, just like they are doing with luggage.

You know those metal contraptions where you place your overhead bag to see if they fit?  They need to start making seat size testers for obese passengers. 

Obesity and disability rights in the workplace

I’ve been a manager for decades, and I’ve heard every possible excuse that employees come-up with to excuse their own indiscretions.  They overeat because their spouse does not love them, they weigh 400 pounds because of a rare gland condition, and so on, ad nauseum.  It’s sad, this trend where Americans are unwilling to accept any responsibility for their own willful misconduct.

Stores and workplaces should not have to pay to accommodate huge people

Managers will often write-up a fat or drug-abusing employee for their bad work behavior, rather than confront the root cause.  When confronted with their own misconduct, alcoholics, drug abusers and obese employees will dish out and endless stream of threats, excuses and rationalizations.  I’ve known several managers who have fired people for poor work performance because they did not want to put-up with the “It’s not my fault” nonsense that alcoholics and food addicts are famous for. 

Historically, mangers are well-aware that excessive weight causes poor work performance.   I’ve known several soldiers who ate themselves into a medical discharge, back when the Army would award honorable discharges to people to eat too much. 

Being cruel to be kind

I’ve lost many friends over the years to obesity, and I can attest that kindness, pestering and cajoling rarely works.  Having been there myself, I know that it takes considerable commitment and fortitude to stop overindulging, but it’s not impossible, and I’ve seen it done many times. 

For their own good, it’s high time that society stops tolerating the obese and sends a loud and clear message that overeating is not a disability.

The problem with obesity is that the person is often unwilling to put-up with the almost unbearable discomfort that is required to get the monkey off of their back.

It’s cruel, but social ostracism and open disapproval is the most effective way for obese people to start controlling their weight.  For evidence, we need look no further than the repressive anti-smoking campaigns that were designed to inconvenience and embarrass smokers.  The ends justify the means, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved these draconian methods of social abuse.




Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

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