I’ve been thin, overweight, obese, skinny and ‘average’. Right now I’m not where I want to be at all, but here I am. Having been in all these “categories”, I have very distinctive memories of how I’ve been treated in them all. I’ve been judged, mocked, praised, cat-called, laughed at, and a host of other things pretty much in all the sizes I’ve been. Sure, I got a lot more praise and cat-calls when I was in the “socially acceptable” range, which, in the time that the phrase “socially acceptable” was the way things were for as long as I can remember. Today, I’m supposed to be accepted for who I am, no matter what my size is.
Today, I read a news story about a celebrity, who is full-figured, being commented about by a long time health and fitness celebrity. I found myself incredibly conflicted about which “side” I sided with. Depending on which approach you want to take, either side has some valid points. If you look at it from the health and fitness side, America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. In 1990, 15% of the population could be considered obese. By 2010, 36 U.S States have 25% or more obesity rates, and in 12 of those states, the rate is 30% or higher. Also, two out of every three adults is either overweight or obese (69%!) These rates are shocking to say the least. I’m not excluding myself from the statistic either. The fitness celebrity commented that we should not be “celebrating her body” while talking about the other celebrity. Her fans were immediately upset and posted angry retorts. It’s difficult to hear the unsolicited comments for sure, but I really can see both sides. I don’t know either person and am not a fan of either individual, so this is truly related to the comments.
Without knowing the medical history of a person, we can only make assumptions and judgments, if one chooses that route, based on the individual we see from the outside. Have you ever heard about the untimely passing of someone in amazing health and being shocked by hearing they had a heart attack or some other ailment we don’t associate with “good health”? Or what about the 114 year old who admitted to smoking every day? I’m sure there are exceptions to every ‘rule’, every situation and lifestyle. We are constantly bombarded by health news that borders on pseudoscience, flip-flopping advice [eggs are good, eggs are bad, eggs are good] and other just plain incorrect news [all carbs are bad! all fat is bad! “X” diet the only way to lose!]. So when someone says that a celebrity (or anyone else for that matter) who is visually not where they should be according to a chart or other common belief system, who are we to judge them? Should we all strive to just mind our own business and let the individual choose and guide her own path? Or do we just support them in their artistic endeavor or make comments that may have grounds in science, but are obvious and not necessary?
With all of that in mind, I think back to several situations where I have been judgmental of others in my life. There was a time when I was deceived by someone who went out of their way to conceal their health and condition and for that, I felt I had the right to my opinions in that particular situation. However, I am honest to a fault mostly and that is a factor in the way I handle things.
Thinking back to all the different body types I’ve “sported” over the years, this is pretty true. Being more unhealthy has often had the result of making me more tired, in more pain and other things that can reflect negatively on my daily life, but it didn’t change me. I would say that perhaps the happiness part could be a bit of misstatement here. I was happier, but it was because I could do more, I had more energy, my pain was less, there were physical manifestations that made my life better perhaps, but overall happiness? I guess that’s subjective.
Maybe the bottom line is that there is just too much everywhere. Too much social media, television, billboards, in-your-face advertising and not enough interaction that strives to help us achieve our personal best. Longevity, health and feeling good doesn’t come from a powder, a bar, a shake or a piece of exercise equipment. It truly is something inside of you. I’m still not sure whose “side” I’m on in the celebrity debate [why I am fixated on that story surprises even me, who normally doesn’t care AT ALL about celebrities], but I know that the story caught my attention because it truly resides in the bullying world.
What are your experiences with health, body shaming (fancy word for bullying someone for their weight) and other shaming issues?