Even our children are getting too fat ... and it is not hip

UNDER all those layers of fat that she now carries, Lebo Mashile is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met.

I remember that when I first met her the width of her entire body was the width of her one thigh today. She looked exquisite. Most important of all though, she looked healthy.

I respect Lebo. I think her work is excellent. I love her like I would a sister. I would never have singled her out for this topic had I not caught her on Karabo Kgoleng's Afternoon Talk show on SAfm, saying proudly that she stands for the big woman and that in time she will do some rhymes for the fat man too since she at present feels she only has energy for the plight of the proud fat woman.

Now imagine how much energy she might have had she been half her size - like she used to be!

What she said would be okay were it not said on a family radio station that goes national. We can make personal decisions that affect us negatively on our own. But to then spread them to our kids and make them sound sexy and right is irresponsible.

Growing fat takes a lack of physical movement on a regular basis and overeating. The results are dismal, unattractive and unhealthy. To stay trim you have to do just the opposite.

It is not correct to grow lazy, then fat and then go around trying to make it look and sound acceptable.

I am sure there are people out there who clinically can't help being overweight. Let's not be mean to them. Let's understand and empathise with their plight. But the majority of us simply become lazy at some point and then, finding it difficult to reverse the effects of this sloppiness, end up fat.

Most of our cabinet ministers are overweight. Young people are beginning to emulate them. They are even writing poetry in praise of this horrible state of affairs.

Our children are becoming obese at ages below nine. Forbes rankings put us 76th out of 194 countries in terms of obesity, and we're quickly climbing.

This is wrong.

I'm writing about this because as a rule it seems that local men and women believe that fat is hip, that it is a natural progression to adulthood, that it is a sign of maturity and prosperity.

These are all mythical beliefs because being fat is the exact opposite of these things.

For my part I can't wait to see Lebo in her rightful body size. For the rest of you, please, start by eating half of what's put on your plate and walking as often as you can. Fat is not hip.