In reading through yet another “fat people” thread, (If you’re too fat to fit in your seat and you can’t pay for two, then don’t fly!!!) I had to give some consideration to an idea.
No two human beings are alike. No two bodies are alike – not in their needs or in their shortcomings or their points at which they are healthy or unhealthy.
And while I’m certainly not suggesting that someone at 300 pounds or more is healthy, I’m also struck as we’re told just this month that statistically, and judging by the current standards, 2/3 of Americans are overweight and a full 1/3 of Americans are classified as obese. Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite true, especially since this is based on Body Mass Index, which treats muscle as equivalent to fat in its narrowly constructed ratio based standard.
I think that we should consider this – in the modernized parts of the world, people are getting larger. This is true. But it may well be that the previous “set points” and strictures of weight and body mass are becoming outdated – and more quickly than we are willing to revise them – because they are based on modes of life which no longer apply. We are no longer living in an industrial or agrarian age, this is a technological age unlike any other. Our roles in the world have changed dramatically in just the last generation.
We have vehicles which take us where we want to go, we don’t have to hunt our own food or build our own shelter, and the majority of us are doing work which requires far more by way of mental agility than physical and those who are doing physical labor continue to have their jobs made progressively easier by new technologies. Even the most mundane tasks have been made considerably easier – compare the weight of a vacuum cleaner circa 1970 to today, for instance, or the number of homes without microwaves or dishwashers. Our physical loads are vastly different and continue to become lighter.
So it seems to make sense that our body types have and will continue to evolve accordingly. Part of that, it seems, is to be heavier. Instead of continuing to work from a more weight = absolutely unhealthy mindset, perhaps we need to work from a natural weight = healthy mindset.
A part of that, obviously, will be rethinking design to accomodate our technological age bodies. Whether that means making things stronger or larger or simply more comfortable – as our technological age bodies also seem to be more tired more often, not because we’re doing hard work but because we’re doing so much work – why is it important for us to cling to our almost puritanical notion that larger is bad and cannot be budged for even the tiniest bit. (Even beyond the 17.2" airline seat - a width smaller than my Apple Pro computer keyboard.)
What say you, Dopers?