Just finished reading Sarah's very justified rant on the crap people take for being fat. No question, women get a lot worse crap than men do, but I wanted to chime in and say that being a Person of Girth, as I have sardonically labeled myself, pretty much sucks on both sides of the gender aisle.
I was fortunate enough to grow up fairly slim, both by dint of having a lot of growing to do (it takes a while to get to 6'2") and by my parents' keeping me enrolled in soccer, baseball, football and the like until I got to college. That's where the bad eating habits (which were never a bother when I could consume three or four thousand calories a day with impunity) that I got from said parents (who are both People of Girth in their own rights) began to catch up with me.
Cut to married life (infamous for increasing waistlines at the best of times) and the souring thereof, and eating to feel better, since nothing else helped. I don't think my ex would ever admit it to herself or to me, but it can hardly be ignored that she married a guy who weighed 215, and divorced a guy who weighed 315. She never actually said as much, but I have to assume that hopping in bed with someone more than twice your weight, no matter how enthusiastic, sincere or even familiar he might be, wasn't always great fun for her.
Cut to the past year's dating efforts. We're wired as higher primates to seek out the healthiest possible examples of the species to mate with, so to an extent anyone who's outside the "Baywatch" norm is at a disadvantage, but there's a good reason (well, several, but one germane to the discussion) why I haven't been playing the field much, and that's that I look in the mirror after a shower and can't imagine how anyone could ever be physically attracted to me.
As if wearing clothes comprising sufficient material to make sails, "growing out" of belts, and feeling the stair-climbing popcorn start in your ankles as you age weren't enough... All my friends (and several light acquaintances) tell me that I'm a great guy, very dynamic and easy to talk to and get to know, yadda yadda, and they are all very politely mystified as to why I'm still unattached. I know they mean well...
Make no mistake: I know my waistline is my own responsibility. I've lost 25 pounds since Christmas. Only fifty or sixty more to go, and I'll be able to even think I'm on a level playing field with the remainder of humanity. Yahoo. Life does go on, and I as a human do keep trying, but The Count has reached 758 days as of today, with no serious prospects in sight.
So, yes, there's a pretty severe cultural bias against obesity. In a day and age so obsessed with obliterating discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, class and other differences among human beings, it's a shame that a difference that crosses so many of these lines is itself a basis for petty, nasty, puerile behavior like that Sarah reports from Portadown News' message board.
And FWIW, Sarah, I (and I'm sure I'm not alone) don't think you're horrible to look at. :-\ Fer Christ's sake, people, when otherwise fine-looking examples of humanity (neither Sarah nor myself are missing any limbs, have been disfigured by acid, fire or disease, or are grossly asymmetrical of limb in any way) are convinced they are repulsive to the public eye, there's something wrong.
The subconscious can't take a joke. Those of us battling our own bodies and habits already know we're fat; already know we're at a disadvantage in the dating game; already know that fat people are automatically ridiculous, harmless and safely discounted in daily discourse. Give me one good reason for kicking fat people when they're down (which is pretty much all the time when it comes to such questions, in case you hadn't figured it out by now), and I'll shut up.