There’s several reasons why I want to talk about “fat shaming”, and I want to give each of their reasons proper dues. At first, I didn’t want to get into a huge argument about the subject because fighting with fat-haters/shamers is like trying to argue with Tea Partiers – USING LOGIC DOESN’T WORK! Instead, I hope to educate and inspire people to see the beauty in themselves and ignore these trolls.
Today, I came across a blog entry on Kristen Lamb’s site about bullying. While the post deals with bullying targeted at writers, Kristen offered some truly heartbreaking personal stories of her growing up in school and how bullying effected her even at work.
I was bullied all throughout school starting from kindergarten to the day I dropped out. During my elementary and middle school years, they focused on my weight. In high school, it was my sexuality. For years, as a developing child, I was told I was inferior because I didn’t have a tiny waist. This affected me deeply and made it hard to feel worthy of love and acceptance. I was robbed of an education because I had zero self-esteem or confidence to back myself up.
Thankfully, I have a rebellious nature and forced myself to complete my education by going through Job Corps. Sure, I couldn’t deal with bullies on a daily basis, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from eventually obtaining my goals of being a writer.
Second, it’s hard being gay as it is in the United States, but it’s vastly more difficult when the gay culture worships a particular body type. If you don’t fit that mold, you’re not worth talking to or befriending. So not only am I being judged by certain people in society, but I’m being rejected by the people in the gay community due to my appearance. The isolation factor increases ten fold. I kept thinking, “I’m not even good enough for a community built on creating acceptance in society.”
Luckily, there’s a subculture of gays where they prefer their men to be on the fat side. I belong to a social media site that caters to these chubs and chasers. The site is set up as a global news feed so we can see everyone’s posts whether we follow them or not. It’s a great way to meet new people, create discussions, and feel a sense of belonging. One of the posts on there today said: “someone just called me ugly and disgusting… gee thanks. :(“.
Finally, for the past week, I’ve been arguing with a user over on Reddit. There’s sub-forums known as subreddits that cater to specific topics. The name of this subreddit is r/GetMotivated. Their credo: “Get up and do what you know you need to do. Give and receive motivation by sharing pictures, videos, text, music, AMA’s (Ask Me Anything’s) and personal stories – anything that you find motivating or inspiring.” Originally, I belonged to this subreddit because I felt it could motivate and inspire me to push in my life. Then, this photo showed up:
I was immediately turned off by the insults and the rude voice used to convey the information, especially since I agree with the message. I don’t mind people learning to love and accept themselves at any weight or shape. In fact, I believe it’s the only way to truly change one’s lifestyle, such as weight loss or changing bad habits. But I don’t agree with this “healthy at any size” movement. The science provided is weak in my opinion. Obesity isn’t healthy, plain and simple. Still, I don’t believe it’s anyone’s business to force someone to change.
Drinking and smoking affect a person’s immediate environment. Drinking can cause accidents that can become fatal. Secondhand smoke has drastic consequences on another’s body. Plus, it offends the senses. Being overweight doesn’t hurt anybody else except for the obese person. So why the unnecessary need to call someone out and make them feel less about themselves?
The excuse I’ve heard most is insurance rates. Yes, obesity puts a strain on the healthcare industry and causes insurance rates to go up because the mortality rate of an obese person apparently is no different than someone who is healthy, as stated by Forbes. Which is strange since all the shamers claim the obese die quicker than healthy people.
Still, does shaming people actually help them lose weight? Art Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, says, “Many people, from your sister-in-law to ethics professors, think that the road to weight control runs directly through shame and humiliation. Common sense says that this is not likely to be true… Obesity remains a complex problem — part choice and free will mixed in with a smidgen of genetics, sedentary lifestyles and a whole lot of promotion and advertising of fast food, sugary food, high-caloric food and junk food.”
Further, from NBC’s News Health, “‘Stigma and discrimination are really stressors, and, unfortunately, for many people, they’re chronic stressors,’ says Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Puhl has studied weight bias and discrimination for 13 years. ‘And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety — that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors, so there is a logical connection here in terms of some of the maladaptive coping strategies to try to deal with the stress of being stigmatized.’”
I understand the want to fight obesity, but it isn’t going to be done through bullying. A comment left on the Forbes article suggested we go after the food industry as we did with the tobacco industry. Healthy food is expensive. I can buy 5 hamburgers for $6 filled with thousands of calories, but one tiny salad costs $5 alone. This doesn’t make sense.
In the end, shamers will come up with various arguments to make people feel bad about themselves. The funny thing is that 70% of the US population is considered overweight. Most of these comments are made by people who aren’t any different. Sadly, they’ll try anything, including bringing up stories of people who lost weight simply by changing their diet.
For some people, that works. They obviously have better confidence and self-esteem to push through the daily grind. Obese people deal with addictive attitudes, the constant barrage of advertisements for bad foods, lack of support, the sedentary lifestyles of their friends and family, their low self-esteem and possible mental health issues, some genetics, and the bullying. You combine all those things and it’s no wonder 70% of the US population is overweight.
Weight loss requires planning and taking baby steps to change one’s diet and unhealthy behaviors. I mean if you’re consuming 3500 calories and the next day you change it to 2000, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, reduce your intake by 200 calories a day for a week and keep reducing it until you’ve made it 2000 comfortably. Lastly, if you don’t normally exercise, don’t wear yourself out in one day doing one-hour of working out. Do 15 minutes a day for two weeks and increase it by 5 minutes every two weeks. It takes 6-8 weeks to change your habits.
I have ambitions this year to change things up. I no longer want to feel dragged down by my weight. I hate that my ankles are sore from walking 15 minutes or being out of breath for going up 1 flight of stairs. Still, I’m going to do things my way, slowly, and I’m not worried about losing weight to aesthetically please society. I’m going to work out to feel good in my body.
The next time someone says something about you and your body, ignore them. I know, it’s easier said than done, but don’t let them steal your sunshine because they’re miserable. Who sits around all day bullying others? Trolls. Ugly, disgusting trolls who hate their lives and want to feel superior in some way.