The fat man is in the eye of the beholder. Cornell University study reveals that many factors besides appearance influence how we view overweight people.
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Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight.
In the social world, however, things are not like that.
We have very subjective and fluid definitions of what it means to be fat or thin.
And that changes for different groups.
So says a new study from Cornell University (United States).
"It seems that obesity is in the eye of the beholder."
So summarized one of the authors, Dr. Vida Maralani.
Previous studies have linked obesity to a particular socioeconomic profile.
Specifically to lower wages, limited family income, marriage rates, and spouse earnings.
But the new approach looks at these factors over time and across gender and race.
Two groups of 6,000 volunteers were followed in 1979 and 1997.
Both groups were followed up again seven years later.
One of the most notable findings was how much society expects white women to be thin.
"We have found very consistent standards for white Americans in all outcomes and over time."
For white women, the thinner they are, the more likely they are to be married and have higher household incomes and higher wages.
For African Americans, the link between body mass and these results dissipates in the late 1990s.
"People seem to have become more tolerant of larger bodies (in this group)."
The study was published in the scientific journal Sociological Science.
It highlights how thinness rules dominate women's lives.
The pressure from society is for us to fulfill a successful role that is already determined.
For anyone out of the script (or out of costume), applause will be scarce.
Let's make them at least warmer.