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Still thinking about that previous blog

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I used to volunteer at a women's shelter. I facilitated support groups for women who were dealing with violence. I gave and received training on all kinds of prejudice and oppression. My last blog drove me to revisit some of that old training.
We humans are an intensely social species. From our very earliest ancestors to recent times, the survival of the individual depended on being part of a group; to be cast out was usually a death sentence. Things like where the individual fits within the group, the willingness of the individual to support the group, what the individual can expect to receive from the group - all these things we sense at a level way below intelligence, because that instinct precedes intelligence by many millions of years.
Part of the survival of our earliest ancestors depended on knowing who is 'us' and who is 'them', and adhering to our own group even if the group caused us pain. As I said above, to be cast out almost certainly meant the individual would die. So we are powerfully motivated to conform to whatever group we see ourselves as belonging to.
We live in a culture that views some people as less valuable and desirable than others. One name for that preference is prejudice. Those who dominate the culture can enforce their prejudices on the less dominant. That enforcement is called oppression.
The prejudice against fat people is one we are all familiar with. Adagio-con-Brio was noting the bias against obesity among medical professionals. Adventureseeker blogged about how differently people treat her now than when she was 100 lbs heavier. I bet everyone on Sparkpeople can relate personal stories of being treated badly because of their weight.
My problem, what I was writing about in that previous blog, is that I agree with my culture about fatness. To be part of this society I accepted many of it's decrees, (but not all - wonder why?) among them I accepted the decree that fat people are less valuable, less worthy, less intelligent, less beautiful. I took in the judgement of society against me and people like me, and accepted it as true. It has colored my attitude towards myself and people like me.
Whether I stay fat or become fit I have to get rid of this oppression I have internalized. It's not acceptable to judge an individual by any aspect of their appearance.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • STR458
    the question is do I really want to know what else I align myself to that's socially acceptable .... *cringe* emoticon I'm too skirred to pry under that rock emoticon
    1665 days ago
    " It has colored my attitude towards myself and people like me.
    ....It's not acceptable to judge an individual by any aspect of their appearance."

    It is not acceptable, but unfortunately it happens. Thanks for sharing.
    1670 days ago
  • KACAR51
    emoticon I did a blog about this subject too!
    1671 days ago
    I don't think I was treated differently so much when I was obese, as expected to act differently. It was assumed that I would be happy to be last, content to not be able to do things that thinner people did, expected to be less agile and fit. Now I'm slimmer, though still not slim, I find the same expectations because of my age. At 62, I'm expected to be last, content not to do things like younger people do them, and not as agile and fit as those younger than me.

    They really do get a nasty shock! emoticon
    1671 days ago
  • MAWMAW101
    My belief is that because of advertising we are all fed the logic that only tiny, fit people should appear as smart and in control. It is still a man's world and so the sexual (romance) part of the equation still exists.
    I think I need to go back and read your previous post.
    In the mean time I hope you have a great Sunday and know you have made a difference in this world by your volunteer work!
    1671 days ago
    I am a fat person that have never been treated worse than the "normal" beside me because of my weight. Except for one area - romantics. I was rarely asked to dance - (a phenomenon I compensated with getting used to ask men to dance before I had the time to notice that nobody wanted to dance with me, if I waited too long I notieced and then did not dare because shame struck...) I was always the girl holding the handbag of the friend while she was dancing, I was always the "funny" friend of the beautiful girl, men used me for the first contact and then moved their interest to my friend.

    One thing is that I agreed with them, I never even tried to compete on the love arena and I never flirted that much myself not to make a fool of myself. Before hubby most "partners" were one-night-stands and nobody involved being sober...how pathetic!

    But otherwise - in working career, in social situations, in education – I have never felt being different treated. And I don´t know if it is me being naive and innocent or if it is a fact. When there has been a choice between me and some other candidate and I did not get it - was my overweight the fact that tipped the decision in the other persons favor?

    As a redhot feminist I suspect women to be naive or blind if they say that they have never been treated different then men - am I blind whenI say this about me being obese? Don´t know. But I DO know that I hear many comments that reveals contempt of obesity, and I do believe those who share experiences about being outcasts.

    The root is assumptions and generalisations - and we have to remember that those are survival assets - to decide if somebody is friend or foe is essential.

    It is when you can´t go beyond your generalised assumptions and in sweden there is a proverb that says you shouldn´t judge the dog after the hair (I think the english correspondant is "do not judge a book by its cover,"

    But a wise woman would take in mind thedifference between a toy poodle and a dobermann... and then move on to observe waggling tails and firendly ears.
    It is not smart do dimiss all these ideas as shameful or bad - they have an underlying purpose that is mostly grounded in survival - the thing is to use our mind to undress them and then find new thoughts and decisions...

    Thanks for writing, love this subject because it is important!
    1671 days ago
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