I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed this week, and saw a picture that caught my attention. The picture depicted some folks strolling the streets during a local summer festival. The woman in the picture is overweight & wearing shorts that are visibly too tight and quite short; the man is of average height/weight, and has a braided ponytail halfway down his back. The picture was obviously taken to poke fun at this couple (the caption accompanying the picture clearly stated the intended purpose of the picture). This picture was similar to those ‘People of Wal-Mart’ pictures (although I am convinced some of those absolutely have to be fabricated), & obviously the photographer was hoping the photo would elicit the same people shaming/humiliation reactions as those outrageous Wal-Mart pictures.
I began reading comments people made about this picture, &, of course, they were in keeping with the tone of the photo’s caption (and intended purpose of the photo). There were many comments questioning the thought processes of the individuals in the picture; comments illuminating the obvious fact that the woman was overweight; others simply enjoying the hearty laugh provided by the picture; and other comments stating that when one dresses in such a manner, one deserves to be ridiculed.
My heart began to hurt & I became teary-eyed as I read comment after comment. I felt so bad for this couple. They were not doing anything unusual; they were clearly enjoying the festival, strolling down the street, hand-in-hand –oblivious to the fact that they were the butt of someone’s joke on Facebook. I’m sure this couple had no intentions of ‘going viral’. The people making these callous, cold, dehumanizing remarks about this unsuspecting couple are my friends. When I realized that my friends were making such comments about this couple, I automatically began to wonder if they would have said the same things about me two years ago? Now, I have to say, I have always been conservative in my dress & don’t wear (and have never worn) short, tight clothing; however, the thought that people might have said similar things about me because I was so overweight laid heavy on my heart. A couple of days have gone by and I cannot get that couple & the comments made about them off my mind.
I steadfastly believe that we must live & let live. Just because someone has a different sense of style doesn’t mean they should be ridiculed. I have imagined over & over how I would feel if I was the woman in that picture; what if I logged onto Facebook & saw a picture of myself being ridiculed because of my appearance? Each time I think of this, I cringe–once again, I am heartsick for this couple.
I can’t help to think of the woman in the picture, in particular. Having struggled with a weight problem myself, I believe I can relate to the feelings and inner struggles many overweight people commonly possess. Maybe this woman (like me) is in the process of losing weight & hasn’t reached her goal yet. If she knew this picture of her existed on Facebook, I can almost guarantee it could become a barrier in her weight loss. What if this woman is mentally/emotionally unstable–what if she saw this picture & it caused her to become suicidal? I shudder to think of all the ‘what if’s’.
1 Corinthians 16:14 CLEARLY tells us, “Let all that you do be done in love.” Instead of tearing each other down we should be building each other up; all of us, each one, has struggles. We don’t know what burdens others are carrying on their shoulders, but we do know everyone carries burdens–some of us are better at hiding our burdens. Our job should be to help lighten the burdens of our brothers & sisters. If we vowed to do everything in love, burdens would begin to be lightened, healing would begin, & the world would become a better place.