So. The photo to the right shows people taking an escalator to a fitness center. It crops up regularly when people want to talk about how Americans are fat and stupid, because only a stupid person would take an escalator when they were just going to work out anyway, and if people would just take the stairs then they would not be fat.
Can we stop this, please? Aside from the fact that the photo is a good 5-10 years old and the line of reasoning presumably older (from the first days of escalators, I imagine), you don’t look clever and superior. You just look judgmental. Actually, check that–you just are judgmental: saying judgmental things makes you, ipso facto, a judgmental person. And, given that you think that people who ride escalators are worthless societal leeches, you don’t get to complain about how I refer to you.
To head off the inevitable objection of “If someone broke his leg skiing or something, then it would be okay for him to take the escalator, but those are clearly able-bodied adults!”, let’s start with arthritis. Swimming is good for arthritis. Therefore, an arthritic might join a gym to swim, but have trouble getting up the front steps. While advanced cases may require a walker or cane, the early stages of arthritis can cause significant pain while remaining externally invisible except upon close examination. And some types of arthritis strike young people and even children.
I could name any number of other injuries, illnesses, and disabilities that might lead to the same situation; the point is that you shouldn’t judge because you don’t know. People with non-visible disabilities face hatred and discrimination every day from people who assume that, if you don’t look disabled, you couldn’t possibly be disabled*. Don’t be one of those people. You can’t get much lower than picking on the disabled.
Here you may gird your loins and say that, sure, some people who take the escalator to the gym might have legitimate health problems, but some of them have got to just be fat lazy slobs, amirite? So let’s talk about obesity.
First, being overweight does not mean that someone is lazy! The idea that everyone could be thin if they just didn’t sit on the couch all day eating bonbons is insulting. Diet and exercise are factors that contribute to weight, but so are metabolism, body shape, and other factors over which one has no control. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome affects about 5% of women, is often undiagnosed, and causes–you guessed it–obesity.
Second, the fat=unhealthy myth needs to die a painful death. An obese person may be unhealthy. Or he or she may be an Olympic weight lifter. And it isn’t like thin people never suffer from lifestyle-related health problems, either.
Third, maybe an obese person is taking the escalator because he or she has joint problems and/or shortness of breath because he or she is overweight. You’re shaming a fat person for going to the gym! Gyms already have a problematic tendency to cater to people who are already fit, rather than those who are trying to get fit. This may be an inherent problem to some degree, but I’m pretty sure the solution isn’t to mock people and blame America’s problems on them.
Finally, maybe the escalator-taker has absolutely no excuse. He or she is able-bodied and plans to go straight to the stair climber. It’s still none of your damn business. That person’s silly exercise regimen affects you exactly not at all, and your snide superiority is far more unattractive than taking an escalator to a gym could ever be.
EDIT: Read the comments for more examples of judgmental people who are incensed at the idea that they shouldn’t consider others inferior to them based on their lifestyle choices.
*Not to suggest that people with visible disabilities don’t face discrimination, because of course they do.