Fat-shaming May Curb Obesity (<——–Make sure you read the article)
My initial reaction to this article: “Seriously, WTF!!!”
I have some VERY strong reactions to the proposed ‘fat-shaming’ tactic described in the above article…
First of all, folks who are overweight face enough shame and ridicule within their own minds. When I was at my heaviest weight a few years back, I dealt with those shameful thoughts and ideas about myself from the time I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night–what I’m trying to say is those feelings of shame NEVER disappear. I was honestly my own worst enemy, and this led to some serious self-loathing and depression. Did these feelings of self-loathing and depression motivate me to finally begin losing weight??? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I chose to make the decision to begin my weight loss journey IN SPITE of these feelings. Those feelings of shame make you feel as if you are not worth making a change and you get what you deserve.
Secondly, society already places a harsh enough stigma on being overweight–we SURE AS HELL don’t need public service messages making shame and humiliation politically correct jargon used to correct the obesity epidemic. Again, speaking from personal experience, THIS WILL NOT WORK! As I’ve said before, I’ve been overweight for much of my life, and I know how most of the public feels about overweight individuals. I now see my overweightness as my own personal scarlet letter. Just as the scarlet letter in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel was a vehicle allowing Hester Prynne to see the true nature of humanity, my extra pounds allowed me the same clarity.
A few years ago when I would go out with others, I began noticing that waiters/store employees/cashiers NEVER spoke to me; they always spoke to whomever I was with instead. Once I noticed this phenomenon, I made a conscious effort to observe the behaviors of those around me; and time after time, I was NEVER approached or given eye contact. That alone spoke volumes to me–these people couldn’t talk to me; it was their way of silently shaming me for my overweightness (as if I was not worthy for conversation with them).
I’ve mentioned before that I have battled with weight off and on my entire life. When I was in high school I was always on a diet (thanks to my mom). I wasn’t significantly overweight in high school, and for the most part I didn’t face a lot of ridicule from others during that time…UNTIL, I was a senior. I was on the yearbook staff my senior year…and one of the ‘perks’ of being on the yearbook staff was eating lunch in the yearbook room. I always packed my lunch (well…my mom always packed my lunch to make sure it was acceptable according to the diet I was on that week). Most of the time, I had a cup of soup meal requiring to be reheated in the microwave. Luckily, we had a microwave in the yearbook room…unfortunately there were about 10 people waiting to use the microwave each day. One of the other yearbook staff members brought a bag of popcorn everyday for lunch, and his popcorn took almost 10 minutes to pop (the microwave wasn’t the most efficient). My cup of soup only took about one minute and a half to warm. One day I asked that said guy if I could heat my soup up first, and he just looked at me while his friend said, “You can sure stand to miss a few meals, why don’t you start with today’s lunch.” I cannot begin to tell you how humiliated and shamed I felt–the fact that I can remember his hurtful, hateful words almost 20 years later illustrates how words cut us like a knife; and sadly those wounds never, ever fully heal. After his callous statement I was painfully aware of how others must have perceived me, and thus began my personal feelings of self-loathing and self shame. ***Just a little side note: my closest cousin married the guy that made that little comment to me (she had no clue what he said as I was too ashamed to share that with anyone). Again, thanks to my own personal scarlet letter, I know exactly what kind of person that man is. I know he is a vile, hateful, entitled little man. I am no longer that quiet girl filled with self-loathing and shame; I am now an empowered woman realizing that I have contributions to make in this world. Believe me, I WILL confront this man regarding his callous words spoken to me years ago, and I look forward this opportunity (more than you can ever imagine).
Thirdly, CHANGE MUST COME FROM WITHIN! I’ve shared before that I have tried to lose weight many times throughout my life, but I was never fully successful. The reason I never had lasting success was because I wasn’t the one committed to the change–I was often making a change because someone (usually my mom and grandmother) were pressuring me into losing weight. Until I made the decision to make a true lifestyle change for myself, I was unable to be successful. A big part of my lack of success was due to the self-loathing feelings that built up over the years; I felt I wasn’t worth the change, I wasn’t valuable enough to make a change, I wasn’t good enough for the thought of a different life. Shaming pushed me down at every turn.
I am no longer that girl filled with self-loathing and shame. I’ve lost almost 200 pounds and gained self-confidence, value of self, and a true love for myself. This didn’t happen because I was shamed into submission…this happened in spite of the shame. I finally woke up from the shame-induced slumber I had been in for years, and realized I was ready to take control of my life.
So, speaking as an expert on this topic–NO, SHAMING PEOPLE INTO LOSING WEIGHT WILL NOT WORK!!! In fact, it is quite an inhumane way to treat those already struggling with shame, self-loathing, and depression. SHAME ON THOSE proposing this method.