This is going to be a sensitive topic, and I thought about waiting to share my thoughts on this until people became more accustomed to my personality and content, but I figured there’s no time like the present. You guys are going to figure out my views eventually anyways, so there’s no good reason to hide them now.
I could ease my way into this, but I think the best way for this to be presented is for me to come right out and say it.
TELLING SOMEONE THEY ARE OVERWEIGHT IS NOT FAT SHAMING
I know, I know, that’s not necessarily a popular opinion. I will agree that when you come at someone aggressively, telling them they’re a “fat sack of lard” and they need to starve themselves, that would be considered fat shaming. But people who do things like that probably have a heavy dose of Karma coming anyways.
What I’m mostly talking about, is how we avoid discussion about being overweight and we don’t want to talk about how unhealthy it is. Obviously, if you are 20 pounds overweight you aren’t going to die. It probably barely effects you. But if you’re more like 70 pounds overweight, there is a real issue going on. Usually it’s psychological. There are a myriad of reasons that someone may be overweight besides just simply taking in too many calories, and that’s something that we really need to keep in mind here. There are many approaches that we could take to address this issue, but the one that seems to be chosen more often is to ignore it and pretend that there’s nothing wrong with being obese. That is a HUGE disservice to people who really need help before they literally eat themselves to death.
When we ignore the problem and pretend the risks don’t exist, we kill people.
Imagine if a smoker were to go to his friend’s house. The people who’s home he visited know about his addiction. They know this raises his risk of heart-disease and cancer. They realize that his organs aren’t quite functioning right and it could cause him to eventually die an early death. But then when he comes over, so as to not hurt his feelings, they say “I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with smoking. I’d rather someone be happy than meet some societal standard that we’ve placed on ourselves.” When what they could’ve said was, “If you would like to stop smoking, I can help find you some resources that would make it easier for you. Let me help.”
You might be thinking that my example may be a little extreme. Possibly apples and oranges. But if you were to stop and think about WHY someone doesn’t stop smoking, you could say that a lot of those would also apply to WHY someone would overeat compulsively, or choose foods that keep them at an unhealthy size.
- Lack of self-esteem
- No support network
- Lack of proper role-models
- Friends who do the same thing
- Underlying mental-health issues
- Constant media overload
So maybe we could actually be helpful and raise awareness instead of plastering obese models on magazines and calling our weight problems “fixed”. No amount of body-positivity is going to turn obesity into an asset. We have to face the music and change the way we approach the topic for the sake of the people who are directly impacted.
Let me clarify – I DON’T want people to hate themselves. I don’t want overweight people to see themselves as ugly, or worthless. I am not asking for obese people to be social outcasts who aren’t allowed to go anywhere without skinny people berating them. I just want us all to recognize that being overweight is essentially the “check engine” light of the body. It could mean anything. It could be as simple as a loose gas cap. It could also mean that you need to drop a ton of money for a new catalytic converter. It could also be nothing. Which is similar to those people who are only overweight until they stop drinking “Big Gulps” from the gas station.
Making observations about people is not always shaming, sometimes it’s actually caring.