Lyda here. Anna-Liza sent me something that got me thinking. I’ve been working on this too long, and I’m just going to post it, whether it is any good or not.
It’s time to shut up about “the Cost of Obesity.” The article ends with a suggestion that the candidates support a ban on weight discrimination. My favorite part (page 2, second paragraph) is how the cultural stigma about being overweight contributes to negative health effects.
Size-ism affects employment, education, medical treatment, and self-esteem. The media often portrays fat people as lazy, stupid, crude losers. Peers, teachers, employers, medical professionals often treat the overweight – and those with different body sizes and types and differing physical abilities, anyone who doesn’t seem “normal” whatever the hell that is – with contempt, as if they are less deserving of respect. As if they are, in fact, less than human.
This behavior would be outrageous if directed at any other group. A doctor, a teacher, a fellow student, a boss treating someone unfairly because of their ethnicity or religion? Intolerable!
So why would it be okay to discriminate against someone because of their body?
People who would never attack someone’s religion or ethnicity think nothing of criticizing a person’s weight, food choices, and exercise habits. This happens to people who are “average weight” and those who are “very thin” as well as those perceived as overweight. Ya’ll know how I feel about turkeys who intrude into someone’s personal life and choices without being invited.
People who would never tease someone with a disability think nothing of joking about a person’s height, body type, or athletic ability. People who would never denigrate someone’s heritage or sexual orientation think nothing of putting down a person’s hair style, clothing, or grooming.
Thinking nothing is the problem.
It is exhausting to deal with these attacks – and the more often it happens, the more it impacts self-esteem. This is harmful for children, and it’s no picnic for adults either. It creates fear and hatred.
What to do about it?
We can all work together to create an environment where every body is respected. Whatever size, whatever shape, whatever physical abilities, whatever the outer trappings.
Whatever the inner trappings too. It’s important to remember that we really don’t know what another person is dealing with. At USM, it was said over and over again, “Each person is really doing the best they can at the time. If they could do it ‘better,’ they would.”
One does use discernment to choose one’s friends, for example. And actions have consequences, sometimes including incarceration or hospitalization. But discernment is different than judgement. Consequences are different than hatred.
Hey, good news. You really are doing the best you can do in each moment. Give yourself a break.
But I digress…
Together, we can create a climate of respect and tolerance.
We can treat each other as fellow beings worthy of respect and love.
If you have any questions on how to do this, I would suggest you consult the nearest dog or cat. They’ve got this down, ya’ll.
Okay, all together: “I’d like to teach the world to sing…”