I just read this opinion piece about how fat shaming can literally break your heart. I’m not a surgeon, but I do not think the author understands what the phrase “literally breaking your heart” means. She writes: “When it comes to the way people stigmatize different body shapes and sizes, words can hurt more than just your feelings. New research suggests they may have real health consequences. People who reported feeling diminished by negative stereotypes about their weight were three times more likely to have a heightened risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke than people with similar weights and mental health who did not feel affected, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity.”
The study’s lead author, Rebecca Pearl, says that “It is not acceptable to shame others because of their weight,” she continues, “It is important to understand that obesity is not the result of laziness or a lack of individual willpower.” (Well, we will get to my thoughts on that further down.) She also says, quite sensibly in my opinion, that setting specific, achievable, concrete goals to improve health behaviors can also help people be more confident and ignore the negative stereotypes out there.
You’ll notice that the study is funded by Eisai Pharmaceutical Co. Regardless, once again we are told that, as a society, we are to blame for the health of fat people. That when confronted with, as the study calls it, weight bias, fat people self stigmatize because of the people around them. Specifically, according to the study, that the people around them are viewing them as stereotypically lazy, lacking willpower, incompetent, unattractive, and are blaming them for their excess weight. I’m not sure if these fat people have actually interviewed the people around them to come to that conclusion, but I’d place a heavy wager on a resounding no. That’s a WHOLE lotta conjecture on their part. Let’s just suppose for a second, though, that this is true. That everyone around a fat person is denigrating and devaluing them. Forcing society to be nice all the time is never going to happen. Ever. You cannot suddenly make all the people who are supposedly mean to fat people vanish. So, what’s the alternative? I suggest personal accountability.
Lest I be accused of fat shaming, being fataphobic, or unable to understand “the struggle”, I want to make something clear from the get go. I think having a positive body image is something to strive for. However, I will never believe that normalizing an obese, unhealthy body is ultimately going to make anyone feel better. Why would I applaud a very serious medical condition? If we believe in established science, then normalizing fatness is stupid. Vilifying others who point out the fact that fat is bad for you is stupid as well. When I give talks or write about obesity, I am not body shaming. I’m talking medical reality. How many people that are accused of being unsympathetic to obesity are actually just refusing to give in to the delusion that obesity is beautiful or that a surplus of fat is just curvy and bootilicious?
I’m just not going to compromise on this, because I would be a hypocrite. Obesity will put your health at risk. Further, it will put a strain on our already overloaded healthcare system. We’ve been dealing with obesity for decades, and it’s not getting better. I refuse to simply accept that the way to battle this problem is just telling every corpulent person that they are perfect just the way they are. They are not. If someone has an increased risk of depression, anxiety, body dissatisfaction, and low self esteem, perhaps they should stop blaming others for that, and look inwards. Instead of asking others to change to conform to what would make them feel better, perhaps a better choice is to effect change in themselves. It’s character building, or so I’ve heard from Wilson Phillips: “I know there’s pain. Why do you lock yourself up in these chains? No one can change your life except for you.”
I write as a fitness professional, cautioning you that obesity can have a genuine adverse effect on your health. It’s completely preventable, and I think that is where some people can take exception to what I am writing. Not everyone buys into the preventable argument. There’s always those but’s, which is fitting as I deal in butts.
I believe it is because how much we weigh is so often linked to our outward appearance. The fact is that what we look like on the outside should really not be a priority. What should be paramount in our minds is what we look like on the inside, and that’s why I will never be on board with fat acceptance.
When a person is fat, there’s stuff happening to their body that’s not likely to make them jump up and down with happiness, which ironically can be part of the problem, non? There are emotional and mental issues at play, to be sure, but the more immediate concern is the body. The heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, colon, joints, skin, brain, gallbladder and urinary bladder are all stressed. Seriously stressed. And we should all be acutely aware of that. I will not sugar coat this. Let me lay down some cold sober facts on the buffet table:
Buffet Fact 1 Deposition of fat around the abdomen is one of the most important factors associating obesity and urinary incontinence. Similarly weight reduction and weight reduction surgeries have shown a beneficial effect on urinary incontinence symptoms.
Buffet Fact 2 One of the major causes among the many risk factors for gallbladder disease is obesity.
Buffet Fact 3 A 2010 study on the brain found cognitive function showed negative associations with obesity on measures. One hypothesis cites the deteriorating white matter that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain, which send signals around the organ. This white matter sheathing has been found more damaged in the brains of the obese.
Buffet Fact 4 Maintaining healthy skin is also more than a cosmetic concern. The outer layers of your skin are the foremost barrier to your bloodstream, which means they also serve as the gatekeeper for infectious agents. What begins as a stretched layer of skin may turn into serious illness, all because the body’s mass outmatched the skin’s elasticity.
Buffet Fact 5 As obesity becomes more prevalent, we continue to see a rise in arthritis. The percentage of arthritis cases linked directly to obesity has risen from 3 percent in 1971 to 18 percent in 2002. A person with obesity is around 60 percent more likely to develop arthritis than someone of normal body weight.
Buffet Fact 6 Researchers haven’t found the connection between obesity and most cancers to be all that strong, except for colon cancer. Among both men and women with obese classifications, colorectal cancers arise with startling frequency.
Buffet Fact 7 Obesity has been considered as a risk factor for pancreatic diseases, including pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Severe acute pancreatitis is significantly more frequent in obese patients.
Buffet Fact 8 Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for chronic kidney disease and are associated with the progression of the disease. Metabolic syndrome is also a risk factor.
Buffet Fact 9 In terms of liver-related morbidity and mortality, obesity is even more dangerous than alcohol consumption, a study of more than 100,000 women has shown.
Buffet Fact 10 A study published in 2010 showed large amounts of adipose tissue diminishes the lungs overall capacity for air. This in itself poses significant risk for poor ventilation, which can both exacerbate existing respiratory diseases or produce the same side effects even in the absence of those diseases.
Buffet Fact 11 There’s no two ways about it; the heart feels the greatest effect from obesity. The muscle itself works harder; the risk for blood clots increases; and the resulting blood circulation throughout the body suffers overall.
I’m as happy as a tick at a dog show for anyone who is managing their health and fitness levels. Whether that is eating nutritious food, getting active, or preferably, a combination of both. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, quite similar to viewing a newborn kangaroo.
I believe that our health is worth more than what Social Justice Warriors would like to cram down your throat. Instead of forcing everyone to accept and celebrate obesity, perhaps instead we could all just love ourselves enough to make thoughtful and informed choices about what we put in our piehole.
Maybe we could take some time to include movement in our day to remind ourselves that we are valuable, that our bodies are beyond price, just like in those MasterCard commercials. Our bodies should certainly be looked after and treated well. There is so much in life that we have absolutely no control over, but making the effort to be in control of our weight should be a priority for everyone.
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