03 January 2014

Fat Shaming vs. Loving Your Body

Two sides.  One battle.  Who will win?

In the first corner, Fat Shaming.  The Villain.  It's more than bullying - it's a culture.  Women - nay, men and women - feel pressure from society to be thin.  Sure, it's healthy not to carry extra pounds because you avoid health problems that way.  But media takes it further than that, with its omnipresent airbrushed sex-object supermodels.  Have you felt this?  I have.  America says that if you're not skinny, your value is poor.  If that gets inside your head, as it got inside mine when I was a brainy boy-crazy hormonal 7th grader, it can mess you up.  (Not that I wasn't already messed up, like any 13-year-old.)  Fat Shaming is what can lead to such mentally unhealthy favorites as bulimia, binge-eating, and anorexia.  No fun.

On the other bench, Loving Your Body.  The Hero!  It doesn't matter what size you are - you're beautiful.  Confidence is better than being thin.  It's like therapy after years of coping with the Fat Shaming culture war.  You can't bear the stress of that anymore, so you Love Your Body.  It's yours, and it deserves to be cherished instead of hated.  What a relief, not to base your value on your weight anymore!  You have so many other positive attributes.  Next to these, whatever your dumb scale says is irrelevant.

Okay, I'll take my tongue out of my cheek now.

It's true that fat shaming can lead to some pretty horrible mental states.  What media giants like Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret do to their models is absurd.  Can we lose the airbrush already?  It's 2014.  I think men and women can handle looking at REAL people in their ads.

Clearly the scary one on the left will incite children to become lesbians or something. Thank goodness they've included the more reasonable breakable-waist look. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/)

But fat shaming is not what I'm about here.  Obesity is an epidemic.  You don't need to look like you just fell out of an H&M ad or anything, but being healthy is a goal worthy of every single American.  And it's a goal you can attain on your own, without a professional snapping pics and Photoshopping the daylights out of you.

Health is great.  It's one of those things where you can't know how good it feels until you have it.  Who cares how much you weigh if you're healthy?  At 5'6'' and 129lbs, I constantly have to pull this pair of jeggings up, but when I sit down my belly folds over them and muffin tops out.  This fails to shake me because I could step outside right now and run a half marathon (if winter would just stop sucking already - I'm looking at you, Minnesota weather patterns).  Most days, I eat either constantly or like 8 meals per day.  I feel awesome.

And this is where loving your body comes in.  We can't keep rationalizing away the extra pounds.  If you're not healthy, you know it, and your body isn't thanking you.  Don't get me wrong - loving your body is great, no matter how many pounds you carry, but loving your body isn't the same as being healthy.  If you wind up with diet-related high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, osteoporosis, sleep apnea, gallstones, or diabetes, technically it is still possible to love your body.  But there are more immediate concerns.

If you really love your body - I mean, I sure love mine - don't you want to provide it with the gift of health?  Treat it to a delish home-cooked meal of brown rice, beans, and veggies; take it to the gym for some activity?  Depending on where you're coming from, this can be tough, I grant you.  But it's just starting that's tricky.  Figure things out.  You can acquire healthy food without breaking the bank.  Veganism isn't the only way to achieve optimal health, either (though I am quite partial).  If you can't afford a gym membership, get a workout DVD.  Busy?  Pfft, so am I.  If I can hold all these strings together while eating right and exercising everyday, so can you, muffins!  Once the routine is established, it's easy as pie.  Then you'll start feeling better.  In a way you may have never known existed before.

Whoever you are, you're beautiful.  I think so and I hope you do too.  Unless you're Kim Jong Un.  Did you hear he may have fed his uncle's corpse to 120 dogs?  You wouldn't do that.  But you WOULD get on your treadmill and have quinoa and kale for dinner, 'cause you're a champ.