Monday, 23 September 2013

Should “I will stay slim” be added to your wedding vows? A/Prof Wendy Brown says “no”.

bride and groom 125Australian Women’s Health asked two experts the controversial question: “Should “I will stay slim” be added to your wedding vows?”

Associate Professor Wendy Brown, Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education replied with a firm "No".

“Marriage is an institution based on love,” she said. “Not health, nor appearance. It’s a contract between two people, promising to share their lives together through good times and bad.”

She also drew attention to the double standard between obesity and other diseases.

“If writing this requirement into a vow is about delivering a preventative health message, we’d have to be consistent and also require that our partner never take up smoking or drive too fast, always wear a hat and sunscreen, take daily Vitamin D and always participate in disease-screening programs,” she pointed out. “These things have not been suggested. So it’s likely that those suggesting this weight-maintenance vow simply do not want to be married to someone who’s fat.”

“This reflects the stigmatisation and judgement that obese people experience,” she continued. “Would we ever argue that contracting a different appearance-altering illness, such as hair-loss or a skin condition, should be grounds for divorce? You could argue that the difference is that obesity is “preventable”. This is possibly true, but not always, and a lot of other diseases in the West are potentially preventable too. Why is obesity treated so differently?”

On the other side, Former Australian Olympic track and field athlete Jane Flemming argued that agreeing to stay slim was agreeing to live longer.

Surely if you’re committing to marriage, part of that should also be promising to stay in good health for as long as possible,” she said.

She also argued that gaining weight would make you less attractive to your partner.

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