The Big O is an intimate study of the children behind the obesity statistics that are shaking the core of contemporary British society. Evidence suggests that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the UK with an estimated 1 in 3 children in the UK classified as overweight or obese. The psychological effects of being fat in a society valuing thinness above all else concern me as much as the obvious health effects. But with 33 percent of our young people feeling they are not good enough is it enough just to be concerned with the physical?
Being overweight or obese is deemed to be self inflicted, or even a lifestyle choice, and the ‘culprit’ labeled, fat, lazy, greedy, thick. Obesity has overtaken cancer as the thing to fear with its stigma and discrimination following the overweight from the schoolyard to the workplace and beyond. Childhood obesity occurs in the context of a social landscape awash with high calorie, low nutrition food and sedentary lifestyles. We are now living in an obesogenic world as FAT becomes a more global issue.
Alarmist headlines fail to examine the everyday reality of struggling with weight and self-image. My aim is to show that this is a complex and nuanced subject and to tap into the wider youthful experiences of insecurity and disquiet that so many of us, myself included, went through with our own bodies and self-image during those formative and insecure teenage years.
“Please don’t patronise me with eat less and exercise more.
Walk in my shoes for a day and then tell me what you think”.
Shannon, age 14.