"obese" and "overweight" are morally loaded terms

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

I found a most surprising passage:

'Fatima Parker, UK spokesman for the International Size Acceptance Association, says "obese" and "overweight" are morally loaded terms.
She would rather celebrate "fat", ridding the word of its pejorative undertow.'


Do you happen to share the woman's point of view, dear native speakers?

Source


I do hope the thread is within the scope of this place:D

Thank you!
 
  • mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Generally, remarking directly about someone's weight, regardless of the word used, is offensive. The only context where it would be used unoffendingly would be in a doctor's office.
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Errr, morally loaded?

    Sounds as if she's scared that everytime someone says overweight they're thinking of starving children and the waste of resources. I'm pretty sure that's not the case. Obese sounds pretty offensive, I suppose.

    That article looks more like a joke to me, they can't be serious!
     
    Last edited:

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I tend to think of "overweight" as harmless and of "obese" as clinical. I guess either could sound offensive; also, I do associate "obese" with the phrase "morbidly obese" to some degree--which I suspect I've encountered a few times in fiction and in humorous contexts, which is not, as they say, a good sign.

    I don't know that there is a moral dimension or connotation to either word.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    It tends to be the people with the weight 'problem' who consider any reference to it to be 'morally loaded': not helped and further compounded by books with titles such as "Fat is a Feminist Issue".

    Deliberately targeting or picking on (being derogatory about) anyone for an obvious 'condition' (real, imaginary or self-concocted) is certainly discourteous.

    That said, in the UK (my wife's a theatre nurse), the terms 'obese' (be that clinically, morbidly or super-morbidly) and over weight are not terms which need to be avoided as they refer to a specific condition. We've to be very careful not allow the politically correct battalions to distort or hijack the way we use language.
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Oh, now I get it. You want to know if these words carry with them a sense of immorality on the part of the person who is obese/overweight/fat/etc. I would say no, not that I've ever been able to pick up on.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Perhaps the reasoning is that the existence of fat on the body is what makes a person "fat", so the description is a statement of fact. Overweight suggests there is a standard which has been exceeded (over-) and obese etymologically suggests a consequence of eating, which must imply eating too much, otherwise the word would be meaningless. Both those imply judgement (comparing against standards) rather than simple description.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    Perhaps the reasoning is that the existence of fat on the body is what makes a person "fat", so the description is a statement of fact. Overweight suggests there is a standard which has been exceeded (over-) and obese etymologically suggests a consequence of eating, which must imply eating too much, otherwise the word would be meaningless. Both those imply judgement (comparing against standards) rather than simple description.
    There is a 'standard' for measuring a person's fat, called the Body Mass Index (BMI), which allows you to see just how over weight you are.

    Judgement is not necessarily to be decried either - we all judge (i.e. use our judgement) every day of our lives. Sometimes we might refer to it as discretion or discernment, but we definitely judge any number of criteria every day; it's a perfectly natural and acceptable human activity.
     
    "Overweight, "obese" and "morbidly obese" are medical terms.

    I can understand why somebody would think that words denoting weight are emotionally loaded terms, but to say that they are morally loaded is to presume the existence of a moral code that needs to be proved before it can be cited.
     
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