WHAT??? Say it ain’t so, Johanna!
It’s true. Most people who are overweight or obese are aware that they could bear to lose a few pounds. Or a lot of pounds. Either way, they know it.
But how do they know???
1. They have mirrors.
2. Strangers and The Media make sure they’re told this at least once a day.
So to all the people that think they’re “helping” others by spewing vitriolic speech and demeaning other people as a way of “motivating” them to change: get the fuck out of here. You’re a part of the problem, not the solution.
I do believe it’s important that we encourage people to be active, eat well, and overall live a healthy lifestyle. I also believe it’s important that we accept that we’re all flawed individuals that deserve respect.
Just like some people use alcohol as a social lubricant or their smart phone as a crutch while alone in a public place, individuals who are overweight or obese know that their weight is something they need to work on. And sure, some people are going to be more proactive about taking matters into their own hands and turning their life around. They’re going to get active and eat better. Others won’t. They’ll need that kick in the pants and the tough love to get them motivated.
You know which people are allowed to give tough love? Close family and friends of the people in need. The people who have an intimate knowledge of the person and their history, and who genuinely love and care for the person they’re confronting. Not strangers who have no idea what that person is going through.
If you’re someone who just truly wants to help other people lead healthy lives, it is possible to promote a better way of life without putting down those that don’t appear to be following suit.
Why is it so difficult to apply this logic to health? Is it because fat people have constantly been stereotyped as the bumbling idiot in popular media? That you’re seeing these human beings as walking jokes rather than individuals trying to get a grip on this whole “Life” thing, just as you are?
Body positivity and the promotion of healthy lifestyles aren’t mutually exclusive.
Everyone deserves the right to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what they see. They should be able to walk down the street and feel confident that they look damn good that day. Everyone deserves to be able to see themselves as a human being with thoughts and feelings, rather than as a number on a scale.
For those of you who are going to read this and say, “But it’s not healthy! We shouldn’t be glorifying a lifestyle that promotes bad habits!” To you, I say: You’re not wrong. However, please don’t act like you’re the first person to ever say this. People that are fat have heard it all. They know.
Now, before some people jump straight to the comments to tell me that this idea still supports unhealthy living and is basically the crux of all that is horrible in the world, let me finish. People are allowed to love themselves while still accepting that they have flaws and should always be striving for self-improvement.
The most important step in changing your life for the better is loving who you are and wanting to do better because you value yourself. While I cannot speak for all people, I know from my personal experiences that self-hate does not motivate, but drives me even further towards my unhealthy habits.
So when I hear “tough love” from people that have no idea what my life is like, I’m not slapping on my running shoes and sprinting to the nearest kale store. More than likely, I’m slapping on my sweatpants and sprinting to my couch, where the only people I have to listen to are Chandler, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica. And maybe that’s just me. Maybe every other person in the world turns their life around while I hang out with Netflix, but I highly doubt it.
I just don’t understand why we think it’s okay to live in a world where people claim they’re “helping” others by making them feel shitty about themselves.
I don’t want to live in that world.
I want to live in a world where instead of tearing people down, we lead by example and offer positive encouragement whenever possible. Where positive change is brought on by positive thought.
Because it’s possible. At least, I want to think so.