It’s time to talk about fat. Fat people. Obesity epidemic. Diabetes. Heart Disease. Shaming. Blaming. Positivity. Diets. Intimidation. Effort. Rejection. Guilt. Loss. Pain.
Bearing the load of the world? Come to terms with the damaging weight of social exclusion with Ecopsychology and acceptance
We are more than our bodies. But all social emphasis is still on our inadequacy. It is never okay to shame someone for their weight. It is not even okay when you assume you truly care about that woman’s health. Let’s face it, we’re more judgmentally shaming of women, after all.
Today, pardon the pun, there are literally tons of stories out there about people wishing to claim their human right to respect. People will clutch onto their dignity and strength for as long as they can. But it is past time for the non-fat to do their part as well.
Donald Trump famously shamed Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. Do we really believe that this gorgeous woman was a disgusting, hideous pig? If we do, that is largely — again no pun — a YUGE part of the problem. But I think it’s even a weightier problem than that.
Trump’s supporters often describe Ms. Machado’s failure to remain “pretty enough” on her own weakness in not being able to meet the job requirements. But, of course, Donnie’s supporters often diminish any despicable thing he says with a rancid rationalization that forgives hate-speech and justifies injury. Those of us struggling with our own body positivity haven’t a chance, if not even Miss Universe is good enough.
Having imperfect skin, not enough height, too much weight, not perfect proportions, aging past twenty-four, being the wrong hue of human, looking too asymmetrical, being too timid, or too outspoken, smiling too much, or not smiling enough, dressing too young, or dressing too slutty. None of us, by these standards will ever be good enough, especially so long as we’re only defined by the unmet approval of others.
My personal belief is that blaming the victim of fat is counterproductive and cruel. And although I often write about the destructive power of scape-goating, I really have come to believe that we do need to look more closely at the very profitable industries that keep us addicted to fat, sugar, diets, and an impossible standard that even ultra-skinny bitch super-model- types readily admit is false. Already passable as good enough women, they are photo-shop sculpted to pin-point, precision perfection with the same type of technology that sells us our own inadequacy.
There is a madness to this — an unspoken social contract that insists only Disney Princess maidens may apply — and no one wants to admit the Empress and/or emperor has no clothes. Of course, she, and sometimes he, has no clothes, because there are no such people! They have no being. Who has being? Every single one of us who has fretted over our own physique.
Human bodies meet harsh judgment every day. Like race, and gender, it is only quite recently people have let the fatties out of the closet, so to speak, to be regarded as full human beings. This makes sense. Yet, as an ecopsychologist, there is so much more connected, as all things are, to our eager willingness to join in fat-shaming, the controversial ‘health’ aspect of it, and the unchecked privilege most every human being shares of needing, if only unconsciously, to belong to the right group of people.
There are the better people, the right crowd, the winners, the comers from a ‘good’ family, the power dynasties, the bold and the beautiful, the young and the restlessly relentless go-getters who will try anything to find their inner winner. And even the best of the best of the most powerfully perfect representatives (think of Oprah Winfrey) eventually come to terms with accepting they are not Barbie dolls, they are participants in the messy being we call life.
Fat is also ubiquitous among all of us who now are sold processed and sugar laden food. Yet, I’ve not read many articles so far about corporate-executive shaming for those billionaires who are fine with the profits of addiction, and less generous with their praise of Alicia Machado type people. Recently, we are exporting the western diets that cause obesity, and we are not necessarily shaming the commerce that will no doubt lead more people to feel fat.
We’re fat because our bodies evolved to store fat, but we are also fat because hefty bank accounts store profits for the rare ones among us who can afford plastic surgery.
It is all connected. It is all messed up. The over-farmed Earth is being deforested for more livestock, but also for more addictive fossil fuels. Oceans, forests, reefs and prairies are being depleted. There are shortages in some places. Too much concentrated wealth and fat in others. None of this is by accident.
Think a little harder about the whole equation we so often hear. Weight loss is easy. Just eat less and move more. Well, short of moving to a planet of sustainably nourished Olympic athletes, those diets, lifestyles, and values are not the ones offered here on Earth.
Not yet. A new equation needs to be considered. A world with emphasis on well-being over profits, where less processed food is affordable and more value of interactive locavore foraging is rewarded would be nice. Instead of being expected to just eat less, we just eat less damaging junk. Instead of being scolded into exercise, we encourage a reconnection to a natural world where our ancestors walked, rowed, ran, swam, sang and danced.
But until people are not going to look down on you for jiggling whatever rolls of fat you personally feel comfortable with, we’re going to continue an exclusionary madness. Emotionally bruising comments often lead to the psyche soothing cupcakes, the siren song of self-pity ice cream, or the truly loving reassurance of those who offer comfort food that only becomes uncomfortable in the form of guilt later on.
Our emotional well-being matters as much as our physical well-being. We need to begin to find our kindness to one another matters. We need to treat all people of varying weights, colors, genders and more, as worthy of a new social contract that recognizes our shared dilemma, even those big as Mother Earth concerns, that put profits before the health of whole nations.
Start with yourself. Love the body you have. Begin to love others as well. Love beyond rigid boundaries of a destructive social contract that is based on smug superiority. It really is true that those who put others down do so out of their own inadequacy.
If we can love other people, I am convinced we can eventually love all the biodiversity of Earth that sustains life. We can enlarge the circle of compassion, to not just include fat people, but to gratefully wrap our arms around the world.
Please share, highlight or comment if this article caught your interest, Thanks Christyl Rivers