|Vancouver, British Columbia. (Shutterstock)
Emily Walker has travelled the world, but the West Coast is the only place the plus-size woman faces the wrath of overzealous health nuts.
“To take the time out of their day to point out that they have a problem with you because of your weight … that is something I’ve only had happen (to me) in Vancouver.”
Facebook and Twitter feeds were abuzz in recent weeks after the American ex-pat wrote a blog post titled, “I’m fat Vancouver. Get over it.”
Walker, 27, slammed the way fat people are treated in the city she’s lived in for most of her 20s. She recounted instances of men making vicious remarks about her appearance, and decried the limited clothing options available in stores.
Although the denunciation came off angrier than she intended — Walker insists she loves Vancouver despite its problems — she said feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
But she is ready to head back to her native Portland where she said people are more readily accepted for being different.
Ultimately, Walker believes her experiences tie into a broader issue many Vancouverites share.
“I think this is just another form of social isolation going on in the city.”
No matter how she feels about how she’s been treated, she said the Vancouver lifestyle has rubbed off on her. Walker has taken up yoga, began walking everywhere and has lost weight during her eight years here.
Furthermore, the city’s healthy reputation — with yoga studios sprinkling the landscape and its easy access to cycling — is not without merit.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, the city’s life expectancy is 82.4 years compared to B.C.’s 80.9 years. Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates Canada’s average life expectancy at 80.8.
Despite the fact the city offers easy access to outdoor activities, Body Exchange fitness program CEO Louise Green said obese people on the West Coast are chronically underserved.
“I think that Vancouver is pretty elitist,” Green said, adding there’s a psychological barrier for overweight people approaching fitness when they live in a city seemingly swarming with individuals in good shape.
So Green established a health program exclusive to obese women with the goal of providing a support system for a healthier lifestyle.
Although Walker said many of her issues stem from Vancouver’s social isolation problems, Green pointed out the women in her programs can finally befriend others who share similar problems.