The NY Times has posted a number of reader responses to an “advice columnist’s assertion that pretending that obesity is not a problem may prevent hurt feelings but compromise health.”
In the small world department, one of those responses is from 83-year-old writer Anne Bernays, a great-niece of Sigmund Freud.
Bernays writes (emphasis mine):
The trouble began, I think, when euphemisms took the place of hard reality, such as the many ways of saying “fat” without using the actual word: “husky,” “pleasingly plump,” “statuesque,” “big-boned,” “ample” and many more.
Add to this semantic trickiness the idea that if you bring people’s attention to the fact that they could look and feel much better if they dropped, say, 15 pounds, you’re being offensive. You know they’re overweight and so do they.
I’m one of those old-fashioned women who refuses to believe that, given the choice, a woman wouldn’t rather wear a size 10 than a size 16.
I say small world because back in the early 90s, I knew Bernays. We were both sopranos in the Cambridge Chorale (now Cantilena). Bernays is from the generation before mine, so yes, she’s definitely old-fashioned. And I’m sure that most women who have grown up in our Western culture (most alive today given that Twiggy was named the “Face of 1966”) might rather be a size 10.
But that doesn’t make it healthy or right.
See Dr. Barbara Berkeley’s response for a more reasoned (IMO) opinion.