The Elephant in the Room

I hope you managed to see my previous post that is the precursor to this post!

But just in case you missed it…

This won’t make sense if you don’t listen to the podcast so here is your homework:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/589/tell-me-im-fat

 

I have been brooding about this topic for at least a week; questioning whether I should write about it or not and I find myself convincing myself not to and then again finding myself convincing myself I must. What a predicament! 

This topic is touchy, tricky and will probably hit you somewhere between offended or reflective and I apologize in advance.

When I first started listening to this podcast I told myself to have an open mind and really listen to the words, stories and explanations. I digested the ideas, feelings and information over and over and I just can’t wrap my head around a few things (which probably why I am here…).  While there are a couple issues discussed in the podcast that I don’t quite agree with, like the ORU “scandal” ,those really aren’t the focus of my post today and I don’t go over them.

Listening as someone that is not overweight I am indeed “on the outside looking in” but I think there is something missing from this segment; the part where this isn’t just about being “fat”. The guests on the podcast give you the general feeling that ALL people that aren’t fat judge people that are, considering them less worthy of normal manners or sympathies because of their weight.  They tell you to stop “fat shaming them” or telling them how wrong they are about their life because we don’t really “care” about their health. Going further to express that, in reality, we just find them gross or negligent or lazy when that may or may not be the actual case-and that it truly isn’t any of our business anyway.

I am going to stop short of going full on “politics” as things like: The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare and Welfare benefits ALL come to mind because they are, as a tax paying citizen, INDEED my business and if there happens to be a condition being treated under any of those aforementioned entities caused by the pre-existing condition of unnamed subject then maybe I AM a little miffed.  ANYWAY.

Here is my deal.

I take care to listen to my vessel, keeping health in mind for myself, my family and OUR future…because I want to have one. I call this: Personal Accountability.  Now I do realize that every person has a different amount of personal accountability or a shifted view from what I consider personal accountability and I am here to tell you that it is OK! But don’t assume that I am somehow un-phased, above scrutiny OR an overly judgmental human because I hold MYSELF accountable.

I beg the question, Have you ever been the presumably skinny girl in a group of slightly overweight/obese or otherwise unfit individuals? That judgmental stigma that is suggested throughout the podcast goes both ways my friends. While there are many that ASSUME that if you are fat you are not fit; there are those that ASSUME that since you are fit you don’t have to try to be that way. I don’t know how many times I have heard, “O, I bet you eat like a mouse!” (in a southern drawl to boot) “Honey, if I had your figure…O well, time will take care of you!”

….No one ever asked about how I was up at 6am to run, in the gym lifting after work or the walk I took after dinner.

….No one ever asked about how I took the time to understand that I need X many calories in a day and how to properly manage them throughout the day to fuel and not overfill my body.

People ASSUME a LOT (on both sides of this coin), like I don’t have to work to remain HEALTHY (notice I didn’t say thin).

One other thing that strikes me in this podcast is one guests suggestion that “we”( as in thin people) don’t like that fat people (her words, not mine) take up more room in on an airplane, in a restaurant or _____ (you get the idea). Well… I hate to sound-rude. BUT, I think it is kind of rude to expect it to be ok for you to spill over into my seat making my trip even more cramped than it already has to be (we are talking coach seats people, I ain’t rich) and then expecting me to just roll with it and not be a little annoyed.  What if we swapped? Would you be ok with me taking up my seat and half of yours? This isn’t judgment; this is showing decency and courtesy towards others and personal space (I paid $ for my seat too…)am I wrong to want to expect my personal space to be respected?

I think the thing that frustrates me is this stigma that this “judgment” only goes one way; I am here to tell you that it doesn’t.  I have been the subject of much scrutiny for being thin (ASSUMED with no effort at all or not eating at all), considered unintelligent for being a blonde-and considered even more so by being blonde AND being young…er than others (though I am losing that one quickly), eyed suspiciously for not helping myself to a “all you can stuff” free food bonanza at work and considered extreme and radical for carving out time to go the gym several times a week. I’ve been told I am too skinny, too muscular, too fat (yes, that has happened), too fit, ugly.  I have been told this straight to my face and I am expected to take it in stride and not be offended. BUT if I told someone that they are overweight, obese or fat to their face….things like this podcast happen (by the way, I would never tell someone that with intention to hurt them).

It is mentioned in the podcast that there are MANY considerations to take in when you are looking at someone’s weight; genetics is one. I get that, some of us are pre-destined to have bigger bones, carry our weight in our hips or around our waist more easily. Some of us have broad shoulders and long legs. Some of us are born under 10lbs and have a fair chance at being healthy, active, whole-spiritually, mentally and physically even if that doesn’t  necessarily equate to being  thin- O wait, that is 99% of us.

Another that needs consideration is medical conditions that cause unintentional weight gain…and even weight loss. I can agree that it is impossible to know what a person is combating in a snapshot of time while we pass them on the street or see them in the store. But that also brings us back to assumptions. Assumptions are a dangerous thing and often hurtful thing!

However, I will venture to say that there are MORE conditions or diseases caused BY weight gain than weight gain caused by conditions/deseases.

The socio-economical factor is actually more detrimental and foreshadowing than the “genetics card” or even the “medical card” in my mind; I am talking about habits, lifestyles and education levels.

If you grow up in a family that knows nothing about nutrition, does everything in its power to play to convenience and simplicity (taking the elevator vs. the stairs, eating out at Italian buffet vs. cooking at home) and doesn’t at least make a small effort to be healthy then it makes perfect sense that you, your parents and their parents…and their parents’ parents are all overweight. What I call the domino effect occurs naturally within the family unit and it truly answers the statement, “I don’t know why I am overweight”- you’ve never known how NOT to be.

On the flip side, if you grow up in a family that puts at least small efforts into staying active, eating for nutrition; planting seeds of knowledge about both of those things (or effort to that affect, even if it’s misled or false information)-it makes perfect sense that you would be relatively trim, athletically built and have more endurance. It also answers the question (that you might have a hard time answering), “How do I stay healthy?”-you’ve never known how NOT to be.

I do not believe it is overly difficult to stay HEALTHY (notice I didn’t say skinny) and I personally have no ill feelings towards anyone that has a six pack of abs or not a single one-as long as you are indeed HEALTHY.

And here in lies my question; are you? Be honest. Are you HEALTHY?
Do you take the time to learn about different types of foods, what is considered healthy vs. not healthy? I am not even suggesting that you HAVE to exercise but are you able to walk up a few flights of stairs if needed without feeling like you need oxygen or able to walk the dog and enjoy it without being overly winded? What if your child wants to play tag or run around the house, can you accommodate them or are you more apt to turn them towards the TV or video game? Do you take medication for conditions that could possibly become unnecessary with less fat in your diet, losing a little weight or being a little more active? Don’t misconstrue my intention. I am not telling you that you are less or more for your answers here, I am simply asking for self-reflection.  If you answered yes to the “healthy” question- GREAT! I don’t care if you are thin, fat or somewhere in the middle-as long as you FEEL and ARE HEALTHY.

See, I reject this idea that I don’t “care” about an overweight individual. I care. I care more than just about your physically appearance. How are you feeling mentally? Are you HAPPY (and I am here to tell you that thinking you’ll be happier skinnier is a fallacy that needs to DIE)? Are you indeed HEALTHY-in a way that you feel good about?  How is your family; are is your KIDS healthy and happy-are you striving and able to give them a good start to a FAIR fight for a decent future?

The answers (to all my questions posed here) will be multifaceted and everyone will have a different interpretation of what is whole and healthy for THEM. And you know what? That is OK.

I want you to understand something. Some of the most gentle, caring, BEAUTIFUL souls I know couldn’t fit into a size small, or a medium for that matter, and I couldn’t care one iota about it.  Those wonderful few that I allow close enough to know me well enough to understand that I have no true malice towards just about anyone no matter their shape have given me the chance to love them without prejudice and I am thankful for the opportunity.

I think what I am trying to do is ask for something.  Give me some credit, a chance to prove that every person that I come in contact with comes to me on a level field. Whether you run 10 miles a day or eat McDonalds for every meal, I meet you with ZERO presumptions or assumptions-do me that same honor. I can’t speak for everyone, nor do I try to (and I definitely don’t want to) but I know my head and I know my heart.

As my friends (whether we are friends or strangers it really makes no difference) thick or thin, fit or fat-you are not judged by me, I am much more interested in your whole health and your whole heart.

To Whole Health with my Whole Heart,

Liz

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2 thoughts on “The Elephant in the Room

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