It started slowly.
First, Article 2 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights was updated. Now,
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, size, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
This seemed reasonable enough. With 95% of the Western world qualifying as clinically obese with a BMI of 40 or higher (a threshold that was adjusted mid-21st Century at the behest of the ‘National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance’), People of Size no longer approved of strangers judgingly plucking sugary items from their grocery carts or having to shop in a separate ‘Plus Size’ designated section of a clothing store. These actions were deemed oppressive, on par with the battles of various minority groups the world over. A range of actions, from inconveniences to cruel remarks, now fell into the realm of fatphobia, and fatphobes (even self-hating People of Size) who practiced such behaviour were thrown to the courts.
Though life expectancy plummeted to 65 years, reports sponsored by the ‘Healthy at Every Size’ movement stated clearly that this was due to the ongoing opioid epidemic and systemic gun violence in poverty-stricken districts rather than obesity-related illnesses, a phrase that only fatphobes deployed in their attacks against the lifestyles of People of Size. Bariatric ambulances were just called ‘ambulances’, and medical equipment had all undergone extensive research and upgrading to accommodate every conceivable BMI. If a hospital or medical practitioner was found unable to comply with this requirement, no matter how extreme the patient case, they faced the death penalty, a punishment quickly re-instated once the Corrections Corporation of America did the math on the cost of keeping severely obese prisoners incarcerated for life, no matter how short. This was, of course, death by guillotine, as no injection would be quick and lethal enough on an obese body not to be particularly torturous and lingering.
There had been an initial uptick in the economy despite economists’ gloomy forecasts. Some industries fared poorer than others. Airlines soon had to reduce the number of routes they flew once they were made to increase the sizes of their seats to accommodate larger, but fewer, passengers. This wasn’t an issue for the general population, however, who no longer traveled frequently due to decreased physical mobility. Restaurants, on the other hand, flourished with this same rule in place. Bigger customers meant bigger orders, bigger portion sizes, bigger drinks, breakfast/lunch/dinner parties, bills, tips, more courses and more recommendations to friends. As this lifestyle grew, so did the clientele. Tourism did particularly well. Americans became a novelty act, gimmicks that attracted fascination and amusement from other countries.
Less migration meant a reliance on increased immigration to fuel the economy. Increased obesity meant a decrease in fertility rates and, soon, adoptions from poorer, thinner countries became a necessity, forever changing the look of the West.
War was conducted remotely from behind office desks through cyber attacks, drones, and robotic automation, and at home the decline in physical mobility also meant a drop in crime. The last high-speed car chase was recorded near the end of the year 2200 and home invasions were unheard of. Gradually, high-rise buildings were neglected and passively converted into overgrown monuments to a previous century. Single-storey buildings and apartments became the norm and cities sprawled outwards, wider and wider, mocking its thick inhabitants with gross metaphor. Advanced high-speed transport networks were required to connect people to places, taking the form of comfortable seated travelators, and accidents were few. With a mandatory universal basic income allowing increased spending, the economy flourished.
There were murmurs of an underfat person, the last with a BMI under 25, living off the grid out in the country. She had escaped the thin camps designed for the force-feeding and fattening of the underfat to acceptable weight levels. Being thin was made illegal, starting with social concern about ill-health from undernourishment and any form of caloric restriction classified as an eating disorder, to government mandates. A black market for vegetables, kept alive by the isolated underfat and smallfat, hummed softly, secretly beneath city streets. Unable to get jobs, they were reliant on the goodwill of fuller-figured friends and family to shop for them. Unable to enter mainstream society some would occasionally don fat suits to huddle bravely, silently in the furthest, darkest corner of a movie theater. They became a community of expert tailors, crafting their own clothes from over-sized second-hand clothing, bought from stores that no longer catered for negative sizes, artifacts of a forgotten history.
And so the weighty ruled.