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.