Ah, Reddit. The beacon of modern discourse! Where you can post pictures of random things and talk about it endlessly with complete strangers. What did people do before the internet? Recently, a Reddit user posted a photo of an obese mannequin, and while some of the responses were downright ignorant and condescending towards the larger members of our society, the overarching theme of the thread was that obesity is a serious issue.
Yes. Yes it is. But it’s not because 1/3 of America is greedily stuffing their face from sunrise to sunset. It’s not because we’re some disgusting country full of fatties, unlike China (as one Reddit user said, only to get shut down by another who pointed out that China is currently struggling with a rising obesity rate). It’s because the food systems in this country are worse than Chris Brown’s twitter feed (RIP).
We’re the country that had to come up with a term like “food deserts,” because we have densely populated areas that have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutrition education is just barely beginning to pull itself out of the food pyramid mindset, which is so outdated it might as well be covered with hieroglyphics (wait, it kind of is). Most food deserts are in low-income areas, so it’s not that people want to go to a fast food chain or eat a microwave dinner, it’s that those are their only options.
The time it would take to drive to a supermarket in a more affluent area, the cost of gas/bus fare to get to and from there on a regular basis, and the time it takes to cook are huge hindrances to someone working two jobs, let alone trying to raise a family. SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) don’t cover things like vitamins, and only recently have CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and farmers’ markets begun accepting food stamp cards.
This doesn’t mean that everyone who is overweight is poor. It doesn’t mean that anyone from a low-income household is obese. It just means that the reason we have an obesity rate, and one that is so high, is because our social structure and food systems are the biggest enablers of it.
So before you gasp in shock at an oversized mannequin, perhaps think about the true implications of it – not that we’re a country full of greedy, overfed burger addicts, but one that needs to seriously rethink its food systems. Between our lax GMO laws (that are pretty much the most ludicrous in the world, and focused on benefitting the seed company, even if its at the health cost of the consumer), and the immensity of our class division when it comes to nutrition, there are a lot of ways to look past an XXL mannequin.