Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shame on us all

WHAT IF we lived in a world where the first reaction to pretty much anyone we saw wasn't to figure out a way to put them down?

The fat girl in a bikini on the beach?  She isn't a "whale" who shouldn't be showing off her offensive fat rolls.  She's just a girl having the time of her life with her friends or family. 

The homeless looking guy missing a leg in a wheelchair on public transportation?  He isn't a freak who smells badly and is taking up precious commuter space.  He's a veteran of war who fought hard so that you would have the "right" to sit there and judge him.

I'm a chubby girl and, until recently, my first reaction to other chubby girls wearing certain clothing was often to say, ohmygod, she should NOT be wearing that!!  Now, I try really hard to keep my judgment in check and give accolades for having the confidence to wear whatever the fuck she feels like wearing. 

I have a severely disabled nephew who is eight years old but is unable to do pretty much anything for himself.  For eight years, my sister has essentially had an infant.  He is also the sweetest boy you will ever meet.  His smile lights up his entire face (and his man-farts can clear a room).  I am grateful that he will probably never understand people enough to know if people are calling him names.  He may be mentally retarded but he is not society's insult of a "retard."  He's just a little boy who had no control over the cards dealt to him in this life. 

Why is it often our first reaction to judge everyone around us?  Why can't we all just co-exist without putting each other down and tearing each other apart?  What if we all chose to stop judging each other and start up-lifting each other? 

I had started the #myfatwashere campaign partially because I hoped that the more "regular" people see "meaty" people doing things, the more normal it will become.  If we can watch violent movies and video games and adapt to accepting that violence is normal, then we can look at fatties walking around wearing whatever they want and start accepting that too.  Your thigh is 18 inches around.  Mine is 25 inches.  We both just have thighs. 

Try for a day to just watch your thoughts and see if you are judging people more than you realized.  It is so ingrained in us, we probably don't realize we are doing it.  Oh hey, that girl's outfit is cute.  Oh hey, that guy's gut is hanging below his shirt, gross!  Oh hey, that lady is fat and in a wheelchair, I bet she eats a ton of McDonald's!  Oh hey, look at that retarded guy, he's walking so slow and holding up this line! 

I hate shame.  I hate that in my weight loss surgery support group when many members stop coming, it is because they have started gaining a little weight and they feel ashamed.  I feel like that's exactly when they NEED to be coming to our group!  Our self-esteem should NOT be tied to the scale, but for so many of us, it is.  And the judgments of other people help reinforce the thought that being fat is shameful.  

I have been trying very hard to watch my thoughts and try to make them neutral at the very least.  I grew up in a church that bred judgmental behavior.  Even though I haven't gone to that church in 20 years, it was ingrained in me.  My mom was the worst offender.  She's gotten a lot better about it as I've gotten older and made it clear that I don't accept her judgments.  But I imagine she's just keeping her opinion to herself rather than changing her opinion altogether.  

Do you feel like you judge people unnecessarily?  How about we do two things...if you're chubby, start putting more photos out there of yourself (stop hiding from the camera!) and whether you're chubby or not, start paying attention to your judgments of others.  Let me know how it goes!

1 comment:

  1. To be upfront, I am a very judgmental individual. I enjoy people watching and over the years have associated different dress attire, talking styles, etc., with different judgments.

    I also don’t think it is at all practical from a societal standpoint for judgment to not exist. Society relies on there being a common culture of shared values, principals, beliefs, etc. for the society to revolve around. The notion that a society can exist of multiple cultures with competing values, principals, beliefs, etc. is among the most mythical ideals that I commonly hear. Hence, there are “norms” and if you do not meet to those norms, you are subject to being judged for that. Furthermore, within any society, there are subsets that will judge certain actions harsher or less harsh than other subsets of society. Nevertheless, there are societal norms which, if you do not subscribe to, you will be judged for.

    One norm that has developed in our society is that obesity is unpleasant to see and exposing it constitutes “indecent exposure.” Another norm, for which I am very judgmental of, is that, when you wear something that is intended to accentuate what you have, but you don’t have anything to really accentuate, you shouldn’t wear that. It’s indecent exposure and/or relays a message that you are full of yourself. Common examples are overweight men who wear tight-fitting tees that are meant to accentuate muscle that they don’t have and women who wear halter shirts to display a back shape that they don’t have.

    My sense is that much of your talk/advocacy of folks developing confidence in themselves and society being more accepting is very retrospective upon some strives you have made. I think that, in light of your lost weight, you have discovered a new you and have found greater interest and enjoyment in being outgoing and enjoying life in ways that you previously didn’t. You also appear committed to keeping much of the weight you had removed “off,” as having it “on” prevented you from enjoying these things. When two and two is put together, it’s hard for me to envision that, if you went back to the same weight you once were and were uncomfortable with, you would feel as outgoing and showcasing as you do today. I think that telling others who are in the place you once were that they have a beach body is not genuine. When you were there, Lori, you would never say that about yourself. I can also assure you that many of them don’t think it’s genuine either. Many of them view such suggestions as contradicting of your progression (i.e., you didn’t feel that way when you were one of them) and when they compare your body to their body, you’re not exactly one of them – at least not anymore!

    I think it would be inappropriate to convince the women in this picture that “everyBODY is a beach body.” Perhaps if they kept it to a one-piece; but definitely not a two-piece…

    With regards to your campaign against folks passing judgment, I think your efforts would be better spent convincing people who are where you once were that there’s a way out rather than trying to change society’s judgments and sponsoring a chip-on-the-shoulder and “hell with social ‘norms’” agenda.

    That all being said, I don’t know what I may have thought of you prior to your losing weight, but I can assure you now that I and many other men find you greatly attractive. You’re thick and curvy; not obese and “blobby.” The former is something to accentuate; the latter is not ;). You’re a great role model for what others who are struggling with being overweight can become and I thank you for being accessible for those individuals.

    I am overweight and do not have a “beach body,” so typically wear a t-shirt to not offend others. But getting a beach body is achievable for me and whenever I choose to make it a priority, removing the t-shirt will be all the more practical.