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Rant & Rave

By Jennifer Chang

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Slenderness given
too much weight

THE other day my aunty told me to take a full body portrait of my cousin, who is 40 but looks 30. She told me to take side and front views so her daughter could see how much weight she had gained.

It was kind of funny at the time. However, my cousin looks like she wears a size 5. I'm about 5 feet tall and I wear a size 9. I remember thinking, "Wow, if she is fat, then what am I?"

Have you ever noticed people always comment when they see people who have gained weight? Instead of saying, "Wow, she's friendly," people say, "So and so is so fat!"

Perhaps people have nothing better to talk about and weight gain is a more interesting subject than the weather.

Like many of my friends from high school, I've gained about 12 pounds since graduating.

My mom used to wear a size 3, but now she would be considered "average" in weight. I guess with age people have a tendency to gain weight.

Realizing this, some of my friends have joined gyms or health clubs to stay in shape. I have another friend who one week is eating only vegetables, and the next week is eating only meat. At this point, I have no idea what she is eating.

I also have friends who don't eat at all. Should weight gain matter this much?

IN today's society, image is everything and being fat can be a detriment. You never see a fat lady running for the Miss America title, broadcasting the weather or serving meals on an airplane. People join health clubs, go on fad diets, or order "fat free" everything to realize their ideal image.

In our culture, being skinny has definite advantages.

My older sister was once a Narcissus princess. She wore a size 3 when she was on the court. The contest focused on areas of accomplishment based on interviews and a talent competition and personality. However, it is rather obvious that had she been fat, she would not likely have had the opportunity to travel to China, win prizes, eat extravagant dinners and participate in all the Narcisscus festivities.

It's a sad reality but it is true.

I wish I could give the male judges the benefit of the doubt, but I really don't think they would have voted for her if she had 30 extra pounds to squeeze into a cheong-sam.

Society tells us being thin is attractive. In the competition for jobs, mates, sometimes even friends, people have a tendency to favor those who are most attractive.

Where weight is associated with gluttony and sloth, thinness is associated with being outgoing and smart.

But not everyone tries to be skinny to fit in with society. Sometimes weight gain can put health at risk. For instance, one of my former teachers says he is trying to lose weight because he has a history of family health problems.

He frequently rides his bike from the Salt Lake area to the University of Hawai'i for health reasons, not because he's worried about his body image.

In any case, we shouldn't judge people by their weight. Yes, weight gain can be detrimental to our health, but must we always choose to reward people who are naturally skinny?

Most times, if people are overweight they already know it and they don't need to overhear the whispers behind their backs. So, the next time you see old classmates who have gained weight, skip the rude comments and notice instead their bright smiles, their great grades, their new jobs or their nicely painted nails.

Jennifer Chang is a student of civil engineering
at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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