Bearing up under a mountain of prejudice
Fat Chance 7.30pm, SBS
REMEMBER the playground rhyme, ‘‘ fatty and skinny went to bed/ fatty rolled over and skinny was dead’’? An overweight friend of mine swears there are moments when he feels like doing that to those he calls the skinny fascists. The thin people who tell him he’s fat, as if it’s breaking news.
‘‘ No kidding! Really?’’ he’s tempted to reply, acting thunderstruck. ‘‘ Gee, I’ve never noticed I’ve got a gut like Humphrey Bear. Damn those banana muffins Joyce in accounts keeps bringing in.’’
What’s worse is that these eagleeyed observers seem to know with almost religious- like conviction what’s making him fat.
Too many fatty foods. Or carbohydrates. He must be devouring super- sized meals. Or polishing off half a cheesecake every night. He must have fat parents. Or fat friends who share his love of gluttony. He must be greedy. Or just damn lazy.
Obesity is a hideously complicated phenomenon, one whose cause and effect even medical experts and nutritionists can’t agree on. The most consistent remedy they serve up is to reduce kilojoule intake and increase exercise, but if it were only that simple. If weight control were a movie, for example, we’d still be in the silent film era. Safe effective drugs to reduce weight are still in their infancy. Forty years of diet books — and billions of dollars in research and development later — and more than 90 per cent of dieters fail to keep the weight off in the long term.
It takes a fat person to really understand the truth behind that grim statistic, to know what it’s like to carry about extra weight every day of your life, to be the target of jokes and patronising comments.
Yuka Sekiguchi, a Sydney- based single mother who is both the subject and director of tonight’s documentary, knows that prejudice well.
She has been overweight since she was a toddler in Japan, fattened up like a calf by her dad, who was convinced that America won the war because of its junk food diet.
On the eve of her 50th birthday, Sekiguchi is determined to get down to a healthy weight range, which at her height of 160cm means dropping from 93kg to 57kg. She consults a dietitian, a liposuction surgeon ( who she has the hots for) and a psychiatrist. But it’s when Sekiguchi visits Yvonne Allen, founder of the legendary eponymous introduction agency, that you realise what she is up against.
‘‘ For every Ms Hippo, there is probably a Mr Hippo out there somewhere,’’ Allen says reassuringly, after intimating that Yuka’s chances of finding a mate are up there with cloning the dodo. Mercifully, the eversmiling Sekiguchi — and her program — rise above such tactlessness.
Grim statistics: Yuka Sekiguchi battles her weight and a tactless world