Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fat Shame.

We've all heard the saying that kids are cruel, but adults aren't much better.  One of the worst things that happens when we grow up is that most of us forget what it was like to be a kid.  If we remembered what it was like, then maybe we would treat each other a little better.

When kids are cruel, it seems to me they are doing 2 things. First, they are experimenting in methods of verbal communication. Second, they are learning how to deal with emotions and emotional arguments.  They learn what language or inflection is threatening, coercive, or hurtful to others.  We learn to be mindful of other people's feeling, but as kids, we hurt a lot of feelings in the process.

Calling someone fat or ugly, or saying someone is ugly or stupid because they are fat is a part of kids figuring out boundaries.  What we are seeing now is adults engaging in the same hurtful rhetoric that they should have gotten over as children.

Adults are cruel.

The way I see it, fat shaming among adults stem from 2 things. Some adults engage in this as a push-back against what they see as political correctness run amuck. 'You can't make fun of anybody anymore!' Adults also see Fat Shaming as some sort of tough love for all of us fatties out there. Fit or even just average people can't wrap their heads around fatness and tend to oversimplify the causes of fatness.

If you think being thin is only as simple as, 'not eating so much' or 'putting the fork down', then you may logically conclude that fat people are just lazy or unaware of how fat they've become.

There is also some dubious health information out there that enable these attacks on people of heft.  We see many stories online where every conceivable ill in society is 'linked' to obesity.  So adults may feel they are fulfilling some duty as a citizen to make you understand that you or myself are just lazy and gross.

Regardless of the reasons, there really isn't a pathology ascribed to fatness where you can pinpoint the exact weight or body fat percentage where heart disease or diabetes starts.  Keep in mind that all the literature talks of 'links', not a causation.

You can't tell someone's health just by looking at them.  Rubenesque Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, was given a clean bill of health that runs contrary to conventional wisdom concerning his large frame. He made a joke at himself by coming onto a late night talk show and eating a donut.  

But notice that despite being healthy, Chris Christie quietly had bariatric surgery done.  Why? Because being fat means you are not taken seriously.  This is a stigma aided by misinformation from public health advocates and fueled by a push back of what some perceive as an overwhelming amount of political correctness.

Here, you see Joe Rogan reacting to fat advocate's reaction to a picture posted by a fit mom with the phrase, 'What's your excuse'.  

Listen to the inflection in Joe's voice and how he talks over his guest who tries to tell Joe that it isn't quite as easy as they think to lose weight.  Unfortunately, his guest is a 'biohacker' with some pretty interesting and unproven theories about weight loss and supplements.

Joe Rogan was a national Tae Kwan Do champion in his youth and working out has been so normalized that he feels ill if he misses a workout.  So from his perspective, anyone can do what he does because he does it.  His guest tried to make a point that certain exercises are probably too hard on large people's joints, but was talked over by Joe's tirade.

So you have this sort of unempathetic 'bro' attitude toward fat people as well as a lashing out against fat people if they speak up about being marginalized.  Athletes get a high from exercise, and fat people feel run over by a truck.  Do these guys think that their tough love really motivated people to go out in public and run/walk/lift weights?

'It's so great to be associated with people feeling good about themselves'

So is Adam Richman saying that fat people feel bad about themselves?  Some do, sure, but our body size is a lot more complex than some mental issue.  The trouble with this statement is that success and confidence are associated with a body shape, and nothing else.  Does Adam Richman really think that he got so big during Man Vs. Food because he lacked self esteem?

We can't all afford to have a dietician design a diet for us and we all don't have the time to break our day's eating down to a 150 calorie mini meal every 2 hours like Adam did to try to recharge his metabolism.

Metabolism is often the answer, too.

I can safely say that I eat much less than I did when I weighed 100 lbs less.  This doesn't seem possible until you account for metabolism.  I used to eat way more, and this, added lots of weight.  At a certain point, I started eating less with only brief moments of hero eating mixed in.  It didn't work.  My metabolism slowed.  Eating doesn't energize me, it makes me fall asleep.  To lose weight is arbitrary, but if I make an effort to weigh a lower number, then the best bet is to do it slowly and incorporate exercise and surround myself with people who won't snicker at me in a gym or make fun of my bike with the oversized seat.

People who have their pictures mocked online aren't motivated by the abuse, they are withdrawn further... depressed, not really wanting to join the cruel world that waits to mock them in person.

In the end, this debate on fat shaming has nothing to do with what people look like, it's about treating people with kindness and dignity.  Don't laugh at a big person trying to lift weights or ride a bike or run...or just go for a walk.  Befriend them.  Introduce them to your girlfriend's single friend.  Let them know it's ok to be a person and exist in the world.

This sums up the feelings many normal sized people have, unfortunately.

I'll leave you with an image of what is in all of our best interests to fight against.  This is Hollywood actor, Nick Searcy.  He plays the Chief on Justified.  Patton Oswalt guested on this show... How would he feel about working with Nick Searcy, knowing how vile he is?

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