July 14, 2013

Did Zimmerman gain all that weight to aid in his post-acquittal disguise?

Watching the verdict announcement last night, I thought: If it's not guilty, he can just walk away... except he can't. He has no further business with this court — as the judge put it — but he has the task of finding a way to move forward into the rest of his life, which includes so much hostility — death threats and all — from people he cannot identify, while he is stuck with a famous face.

So how does he change that face? One way is to drop the packed-on poundage, which bloated and puffed up his face. He can grow his hair and beard, wear glasses, adopt an alias, and relocate to some part of the country where people don't expect to see him. But by packing on over 100 pounds before the trial, he created a face that he now has the power to radically modify. That weight, because it was rapidly gained, should be relatively easy to drop. And, remember, there was evidence at trial that Zimmerman had previously worked hard at weight loss and his success was impressive.

At trial, Zimmerman suffered the humiliation of looking like a pudgy dweeb. Millions heard witnesses describe him as — even in his pre-weight-gain form — a fat and unathletic guy. But that guy is the guy he needs not to look like. Well, no one really wants to look like that, but he has far more motivation than the usual obese person to lose that weight. His very special needs for disguise and for a positive path forward in life coalesce powerfully with the mundane enterprise of working out and eating sensibly.

I don't know if that was deliberate. Maybe his weight gain was caused only by stress or by stress plus a strategy to inspire empathy — that poor, stressed man — or maybe he gained weight to make a visual argument to the jury that he couldn't possibly have thought of himself as a prowling vigilante capable of confronting an athletic teenager.

Whatever the reason, his huge weight gain is now the basis of an excellent opportunity to become unrecognizable.