I'm sick of being bullied about being overweight. I'm sick of hearing about how I am a drain on public resources. I'm sick of hearing about how I am lazy, weak-willed, unhealthy and ignorant. I'm sorry I'm slow walking up the stairs at a railway station. I'm sorry you have to see me eat in public. I'm sorry you hate sitting next to me at the movies because my shoulders or thighs lean against yours. I'm sorry that all your public health messages and general disdain has still resulted in a population with a growing girth. Perhaps it's time for something different? Perhaps this approach needs to end?
I've always battled with my weight. Sometimes I've won, and others, like these past ten years of my life, I've well and truly lost. Just as Kermit loves to say -- it ain't easy being fat. People who are obese sometimes have dependency issues. They may use their food addiction to gain short term comfort, or muffle pain. Sound familiar? Fat people love food. Alcoholics love booze, drug addicts love drugs, gamblers love the thrill of a bet. The difference is when alcoholics, drug addicts and gamblers decide that they love themselves enough to quit, they simply stop. Albeit the process often is painful and hard, but they can just stop.
They practice demarcation. They empty bottles; enter rehab to get clean and delete gambling accounts. There's a ritual to it and they are able to remove temptation. This helps to focus on their inward needs, rather than an outward fix.
Obese people can't remove the temptation.
They can't lock the food up in a cupboard, move away from a food supplier, or stop spending at the supermarket. They must remain surrounded by their addiction. Indeed, they must continue to use it every day. Imagine saying to an alcoholic that the only way they can get off the booze is to continue to drink it, just choose their alcoholic beverage more wisely. Do you think this would stop their habit?
In addition, a drinker that quits will show different, sober, behaviors. A gambler that quits has more money to spend. A fat person who begins a diet will still look fat and addicted for quite some time.
Although I haven't done any empirical research on it, I think I can confidently state that many fat people carry around a high degree of personal shame. Those that claim they're proud of their Big Beautiful Body are lying. They're just trying to survive in a world where the overall message is that they are drain on everyone else. They're the ones who have a small semblance of self-esteem left. The rest of us prop up the ever growing diet industry -- trying paleo diets, diet shakes, diet pills, boot camps and even reality TV where skinny people get paid to scream at fat people.
I always loved watching the TV show Intervention. The one where a person was shown hitting rock bottom in their life just as their family and friends intervene to urge them to give up their damaging addiction. I always wanted to see the person recover from their addiction. Typically they would hear the messages of love, remove themselves from their addiction, and decide their love for self was greater than their love of the drug of choice.
Instead of weight shaming people perhaps it's time to intervene with a message of love.
Seems to me that skinny people understand the importance of self-love to maintain a positive body image. They care about themselves enough to choose health over the next donut. Yes, I acknowledge that for some it's purely about ego but for many, being skinny tastes better than being fat. They get it.
Imagine being in a world where you are constantly bombarded with messages that say you're a failure, you're unpleasant to look at, you're hopeless and lazy.
Think about what would have happened to many of those addicts on Intervention if that had been the constant message throughout the show. On top of that, their addictive habits are never removed from view -- they must keep using. They'd still be addicted or dead.
So yes, I'm singing. Singing for a new approach. If the shaming isn't working how about love? How about reminding us that love for ourselves means love for our body. How about helping us with support and encouragement. Learning to ride a bike usually happens with other bike riders cheering us on -- why can't we do the same for fat people? It's hard to maintain a sense of self-love when the message is you're not worthy. Yes, I know the choice is mine and mine alone, but it would be a much easier decision when love is all around.