Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Okay to Be Fat?

I've been noticing a trend on social media, and in society in general, that I ultimately felt like I needed to comment on, if not for educational purposes, then just to get things off my chest.  The trend relates to an important issue facing our young ones, as well as grown women and men.  The issue is body image.  With the prevalence of magazines, television, and celebrities influencing our impressions of what someone should or shouldn't look like, there is a rise in the United States of people experiencing eating disorders, depression, and even attempting suicide based on unrealistic, often fabricated, concepts of beauty, sex, and what's physically attractive.  Young people and even adults face the daunting task of comparing themselves to Photoshopped images of models, men and women whose full time job is to be fit and exercise, and the idea that there is a standard for beauty and this standard is in someway attached to a person's worth.  All concepts we don't need to place on the shoulders of young individuals trying to find their way in the world, going through a host of physical changes, and already struggling with self image without the aid of such expectations.  The trend I have been noticing, however, rather than combating these ideas with helpful, supportive ways to achieve self esteem and good health, combat them with the idea that being obese is perfectly fine.  After all, you should just be happy with who you are.

Well, as with almost all extremes in America and in popular culture, I whole-heartedly disagree, and can already feel the rancor of the masses that support this new idea.  I will state very clearly, that this is my opinion and all that I ask is you hear me out.

No one should be made to feel like less of a person for the way they look.  No one should be discriminated against for the way they look, or any reason for that matter.  No one should have to suffer with self hatred and depression because of the way they look.  It's only natural then, to help people come to the understanding that's it's okay to be just how they are.  I am not a tall man.  In fact, I'm kinda short.  At 5'7'' I'm never going to reach the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets without climbing on the counter.  There will always be a host of Cosmo style articles related to women's preference for tall men.  Tall men are more successful.  Tall men are seen as more confident, commanding, and desirable.  And I could certainly wallow in self pity over my plight as a short guy.  Or, I could accept this unchangeable fact about myself, and be happy with who I am.  It's okay to be 5'7'', just as it's okay to be 6'8".  Some people have round faces, some angular.  Some have a big nose, some little upturned ones.  Some have dark skin, some pale.  Scars, long toes, short fingers, curly hair, blue eyes, wrinkles, freckles.  All okay.  In fact, it's wonderful to have such diversity.  It's wonderful to be just who you are.  Being overweight, is not who you are.

Telling an entire generation of young people, who are living in a country facing an obesity epidemic, that it's okay to be overweight is not the answer.  Obesity is a prescription for a lifetime of ailments, diseases, and health problems.  Want to ensure that America's youth will have a shorter life span than previous generations?  Tell them that being fat is just who they are and there is nothing wrong with that.  Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, vascular disease, stroke—all thrive with obesity.

"In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese." —CDC

Instead of allowing ourselves to be caught up in the ridiculous influence of magazine models, and superstar actors, and rather than making obesity an acceptable norm, let's promote health as something to look up to and toward.  Learning about what types of food you put into your bodies, getting up and moving around, taking care of yourselves.  Because ultimately, if you don't, then when you get older, someone else is going to have to do it for you, and then it will be too late.

We should be accepted for who we are.  We should learn to love ourselves, faults and virtues alike.  And all the more reason, we should care about ourselves enough to treat our bodies with nurturing respect.  We deserve to be the healthy, happy, best version of ourselves we can be, and believe it or not, having a healthy weight is not something some people are just born with, and not all that complicated to achieve.           

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