I felt called today to talk about fat shaming and fat phobia, and whaddya think I see, but this article on Yahoo!:
"Employers tried the carrot, then a small stick. Now they are turning to bigger cudgels...So companies are taking advantage of new rules under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul in 2014 to punish smokers and overweight workers."
NOTE: This is a somewhat angry post, because this sort of thing makes me somewhat angry. Sorry in advance!!
Because shaming a person works SO WELL into making them lose weight.
You know what fat shaming does? Fat shaming makes a person avoid a doctor for over 4 years. Fat shaming means neglecting health for fear of a reprimand from a doctor - for being told to "lose weight" instead of having a solution to a real health issue. Fat shaming means that a person doesn't even TRY to improve her situation - why bother, when everyone is going to stare at you in the gym, wondering why you even bother to be there? Fat shaming means living a mediocre life of a second-class citizen. Because the clothes are ugly, people look at you like a burden, and the world groans as it has to accommodate your larger derriere.
Would a NORMAL person go up to an anorexic and shove bread into her mouth, screaming, "Just eat!"? Would a sane individual tell a bulimic, "Just don't force yourself to throw up"? Would you go to a crack addict and say, "Why don't you just stop snorting?" Of course not!
Being fat for many people is just like that. *I* was just like that. I was addicted to food. I was addicted to the sugar, salt, and fat. I couldn't get out of it by myself. The only thing that really helped me was a REASON to get better (health crisis), the support of family, and a big dose of HOPE. Shaming me into losing weight never worked - I just stopped going to the doctor or avoiding the people who were like, "It's so easy to lose weight!" Losing weight for a food addict is like telling a heroin addict it's easy to stop shooting up. It's not easy - it's TOUGH!
I understand our nation's concern with obesity. I totally get behind that - we need to be better about what we put into our bodies! I talk all the time about being Healthy over being Skinny (I believe that complicated idea that you can be healthy at a variety of weights, but being overweight/obese is a point of concern). But going after the hurting people isn't going to help - especially in such a mean-spirited, harsh manner.
When we had the war on drugs, didn't we try going after the drug cartels? To fix the body image disorder, isn't the focus on society and its small-minded view of beauty? Why then should we fix the obesity epidemic by shaming the PERSON?
No, the way to fix the epidemic is to get back at the root of the problem: the FOOD INDUSTRY. These are the people pumping our foods with chemicals designed for MORE MORE MORE. Our portion sizes are enormous. The calories in even a decent portion are ridiculous. And the pervasiveness of food and fatty foods is obscene.
Where is the government regulation to them? Where are the mandates that these industries have to make sure that foods aren't more than X calories with Y carbs and Z grams of sodium? They don't exist. Sure, things are wee bit better now than when books like "The Fast Food Nation" first came out. A lot of places don't have the "super size" option, Burger King came out with the "Satisfries" and most places put a salad on the menu. But the amount of things the food industry is allowed to do to our food and never is checked is wrong.
Instead, it's the addicted's fault for being fat. Instead, the regulations come upon US.
This needs to stop. We need to stop the fat shaming. We need to stop looking at a fat person and calling her "lazy" and "stupid". We need to stop the fat jokes, the fat phobia, the farce that "losing weight is easy and fat people are just lazy". No, we aren't "lazy" and "stupid" and losing weight is HARD WORK when we walk around with temptation every day. It's like a smoker working in a hookah shop, a sex addict working at a brothel, a shopaholic driving by a Nordstrom's every day or an anorexic in the modeling industry.
Instead, we need to focus on a person's HEALTH. What's more important than a number in your jeans or on the scale is your HEALTH. Yes, sometimes HEALTH = WEIGHT, but not all the time. At 180 pounds, I was healthier than I had ever been, I was still considered "overweight".
I thank you for putting up with this emotional, angry post. But I remember how I was 110+ pounds ago, and I am speaking up for that girl, in the hopes that the many, many other girls just like me won't suffer the same shame and mistreatment than I did. I may not be "fat" anymore (though at hovering around 157, I'm still "overweight" according to the BMI atrocity), but you are my family, and I hold you close to my heart.