Body Shaming vs. Coddling
Body shaming isn’t cool. For some people, 100 pounds is a healthy weight; others feel good around 200. As humans, we’re all basically just like different types of monkeys, and our different sizes and features are simply products of our biology.
The Internet age has brought body shaming to new extremes. Take, for example, the reactions to Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime performance. If you didn’t hear, some limp-dicked sociopaths essentially wrote about how fat she was for showing her stomach.
It should go without saying that Lady Gaga is in phenomenal shape. Performing those crazy dance moves and singing at the same time is a feat of cardiovascular endurance that most of people cannot dream of doing. But, nonetheless, people felt compelled to talk about her stomach.
The fitness industry is largely to blame for body shaming on a cultural level—pictures of six-packs, rippling biceps, and V-shaped backs have become the bare minimum for entry to a fitness magazine. However, when it comes to long-term health, being slightly overweight is not a health risk as long as you are an active individual (i.e., someone who moves for an hour a day). Being sedentary is about the worst thing you can do for yourself; it is far better to be active and overweight than sedentary and skinny.
When it comes to the individuals doing the body shaming, though, you cannot blame the fitness industry for assholes with computers. No matter what size, race, or nationality, most people are awesome, but some small percentage are always going to suck. Lady Gaga can just brush it off and count her millions from the massive spike in album sales resulting from the Super Bowl performance. Your average person can unfriend, block, or otherwise discontinue contact with negative people, because you don’t need that kind of noise in your life. (Unless it’s your family, in which case I’m sure you have a whole other list of problems, and this one isn’t very high on that list.)
There is a flip side to body shaming, and it’s talked about much less. I’m referring to coddling.
It isn’t nice to call people fat. I personally reserve the word for the macronutrient or adipose tissue, but even without the term, there is almost no polite way to tell someone they need to lose weight. On top of that, telling an overweight person that they’re just “big-boned” isn’t productive. The best strategy is to talk about how much better they’ll feel, sleep, and fuck, but still challenges abound.
In the politically correct America of today, obesity is considered a disease. To be sure, there are thyroid problems and prescription drugs that can strongly influence your weight, but in all likelihood these rare conditions don’t affect you. Obesity could be a disease in a social context—it certainly qualifies as an epidemic—but medically speaking, it does not fit the bill. Becoming overweight as a result of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is not a disorder. Your body is reacting to stimuli (or lack thereof) exactly how it’s supposed to. If you bought a plant and didn’t water it, and then the plant died, you wouldn’t say, “There was nothing I could do, it had lack of water disease.” The same should translate to humans and lack of exercise and nutrients.
In addition, Cornwall and Stoner say, “labelling obesity a disease may absolve personal responsibility and encourage a hands-off approach to health behaviour.”1 The American Medical Association’s decision to label obesity a disease was based on the idea that doing so would force physicians to take this epidemic more seriously. The only problem is that now one-third of the country is technically “diseased,” which is a bit insulting to people with serious diseases, like the 584,000 who die of cancer each year, or the families of the 93,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Regardless of how you categorize it, obesity is a huge problem. And while the advice that you should love your body unconditionally is a nice idea, I guarantee you won’t love the litany of health problems that go along with obesity. All love is conditional—you wouldn’t love your partner as much if they were cheating on you and stealing your money to bet on dog fighting every night.
Love is actually an effective weight loss strategy, as long as you make sure to love the things that move you forward, not those that hold you back. Love working on your health, love the improvement from yesterday, and love the confidence you build.
When it comes to body shaming, cut that shit out of your reality. If it is a problem with a specific individual, talk with them or ghost them. You’ll find they likely have some self-confidence issues themselves. But the truth is, in the big picture nobody gives a shit about how you look. If you are exercising, there is nothing wrong with some extra thickness. All the strongest people I know have it. Love the body you feel good in and ignore everyone else.