After comedian Bill Maher made a call to bring back “fat-shaming”, or humiliating someone judged for being fat, I wanted to re-publish this post.
Anyone who looks at me for the first time will notice that my stomach…well…sticks out. I am overweight, and there is no doubt about that fact.
I will even admit that I’ve had my insecurities, at times, about the fact that I am overweight. Part of it is because of how I look, because honestly I often haven’t liked the look of my stomach sticking out. Part of it is the very legitimate concern that, because I’m overweight, I am at an increased risk for just about every health problem ranging from heart attacks to arthritis at an earlier age. And then part of it is that I feel like I’d be perceived of poorly because I look a little fat.
I think that these insecurities—insecurities which seem to be shared by many other people who’ve struggled with body image issues—need to be broken down for everyone’s sake:
The Idea that a Stomach Sticking Out (or Jiggly Arms or a Fat Neck) Looks Ugly
I could be wrong, but I think this message has been sent because the idealized bodies in our society are viewed as athletic men with six-pack bodies and women in fashion who wear size 0 clothing. As such, many of us strive for that size 0 or that six-pack body. And I can’t lie—at times before, I have been envious of guys with six-back bodies from a looks standpoint.
For people who feel this pressure, you ARE beautiful. And I mean that. Just by virtue of the ways you can help people by using the body you have, you are beautiful. Whether you are of a healthy weight, overweight, or underweight, you are beautiful because you have a body that you can use to give smiles, help others in various ways, and make the world a better place.
Concerns about Being Overweight and Having Health Problems
We hear all the time about how overweight people are at risk for everything from arthritis to heart disease. People of a healthy weight don’t need to tell those of us who aren’t about all of the potential health problems as if we’re ignorant; I, and many other overweight people, know and are aware of these issues.
At the same time, it’s also not healthy to be underweight. Being too underweight comes with health problems as well. Furthermore, taking measures too drastic to lose weight could result in anything from eating disorders to exercise addictions, which also are not healthy.
The bottom line is that, while it’s ideal for people like me to lose some weight, none of us should go to the other extreme and try so hard to lose weight that we create a new set of health issues.
Worries about Being Perceived of Poorly Because of Looking Overweight
Many of us, myself included, worry that, because we’re viewed as fat, we’ll be viewed as: a) lazy, b) not conscious of our health, c) couch potatoes, d) sloppy, e) not having the “right” kind of body to attract a significant other, or f) some or all of the above.
I do not belittle any of these insecurities because, quite frankly, I’ve experienced all of them! People who have no idea how many miles I like to walk when I relax in my free time have told me to “go to the gym,” and people who don’t know how hard I’ve worked to tweak my diet have questioned whether I care about my health, for example. And, as silly as this sounds, parts of me wondered at times in the past if my not having a girlfriend had to do with my not having the right physique.
If you experience any or all of these insecurities, too, my big encouragement is that we should not let ourselves be defined by how others view us, or how we think others view us. We should define ourselves in other ways, and hopefully ways that give us more fulfillment and happiness than stress and dismay.
While the individual insecurities are different, there’s one central theme with each insecurity. Namely, they all revolve around concerns that our bodies are not sufficient, that they are not “enough.” And that is a lie. Our bodies are enough. Believing anything short of that would be unjust to ourselves.