Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Meet society’s latest ‘victims’: fatties, nerds and geeks

Exciting times for those of us who are fatter than we should be. The feeling of being put upon may be, at a stroke, translated into full-on discrimination status if researchers at University College London have their way. According to academics at UCL who’ve conducted research into the effects of fattist stigma, ‘shaming and blaming’ fat people is counterproductive and society needs to confront one of ‘the last socially acceptable forms of prejudice’. Their research proves that although two thirds of British adults are overweight and a third are obese, nagging and jeering at them only makes the situation worse.

Tell me about it. I am merely a stone or so overweight (a size 12 in M&S, since you ask)  – and following a useful piece in the Sunday Times Magazine last week, I’m putting it down to stress rather than greed – but you’d never think it to judge from the wounding comments of my children and their friends. ‘You’re as big as a tank’ said my daughter cheerfully. She’s seven, but it’s never too late for infanticide. ‘No, a house!’ said her little friend, who will never be invited for tea again. My son has been discussing me in this vein for years. When talking about someone properly big, he’ll say wonderingly, ‘she’s even fatter than you are’. Beasts. When the happy day comes when fat is the new black, I know who I’ll be grassing on to the thought police.

Meanwhile, there’s competition on the victim front from the geeks. David Harding, a hedge fund manager who has donated £5 million towards the cost of establishing a maths gallery at the Science Museum in Kensington, has said that ‘I feel these words [geek and nerd] are as insulting as nigger.

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