American men are much more likely to be overweight than women. Does that mean we need to get on their cases?
Salon's David Sirota points out the double standard: 70% of American men are overweight, compared to 54% of women, but women are the main target of the diet industry. The reason: "a chauvinist culture whose double standards demand physical perfection from women while simultaneously celebrating male corpulence." While some of Sirota's examples don't quite ring true (Chris Farley's obesity sparked significant criticism and concern, not just "veneration"), his analysis of the way American culture generally accepts overweight dudes while insisting that women strive for toothpick physiques will surprise no one who's been paying attention. His solution is a little surprising, though: Weight Watchers for everybody.
Sirota applauds the weight-loss company's recent advertisements for men, calling them "a welcome, if belated, step toward addressing a deeper gender disparity in how we portray weight." But the way to resolve this disparity isn't to make people of all genders pour their hard-earned cash into the American diet industry, whose products often don't work. Instead, how about we decouple people's health from restrictive standards of attractiveness, and focus on making sure everyone has access to healthy food and exercise. That way, instead of extending fat-shame to a whole new group of people, we can offer them well-being and acceptance instead.