Fat Shaming

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the story about Jennifer Livingston, a local TV anchor (well, local to me, anyway), who spoke out against an offensive email she received that basically used fat shaming to ridicule her in reference to her ‘responsibility to the community.’ If not, go and watch the video, I’ll wait.

Today, Jezebel ran an article/post about being comfortable with your size, and while I agree, I’m motivated to ask, “What is the line between being comfortable in your body and ignoring the significant health risks of obesity and unhealthy eating patterns? How do we give people the confidence to accept themselves and to make healthier choices without ‘fat shaming’?”

And I understand the argument, and I applaud the ideal that your size should NOT define your character or describe your intelligence because, let’s face it, Character is epigenetic. But ‘intelligence’, now, intelligence can (and should) be a part of the argument. People who go from obese/overweight to ‘normal’ have seen significant improvements in cognitive performance, memory and even improvements in brain disorders like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc…

And, as far as a ‘better citizen’, fit people have fewer sick days (keeping costs to labor down), fewer trips to the doctor (keeping health/sick care expenditures down), fewer diseases later in life (long term health/sick care, insurance premiums, etc) and they tend to have healthier kids, who do better in school.

There is a HUGE societal impact, and we are seeing the costs played out in productivity, insurance/health/sick care and education. So, how do you have (or even start) the discussion with someone you care about? Or, as a trainer, how do you approach the subject with a potential client?

The line between concern and shame, of course, is different with each person – and VERY specific to language. As Ms. Livingston so elegantly put it…”Do you think I don’t know?” You have to know the person, and seek to understand their specific situation. You are going to be opening the door to all their empty places, and if you shame them, you will lose them.


About cacharbe

Software Engineer, ALM Specialist, Professional Improviser, Lv 1 Certified CrossFit trainer. I eat Paleo and coach others in being successful eating whole, unprocessed, nutritious foods.
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2 Responses to Fat Shaming

  1. Dana says:

    Fitness is not the opposite of fatness. It is the opposite of being out of shape. Which does not mean round instead of straight up and down. It means you’re weak and you have no endurance.

    There are fat triathletes out there. Fat marathon runners. And slender couch potatoes. We could argue all day long about which exercises are healthier than which others but at least consider that for a start.

    In my experience people start feeling better after changing their diets and other habits and before they ever slim down. IF they ever slim down. They don’t always. But given the choice between a halfway improvement and none at all, I’ll take the halfway improvement.

    And you know you don’t shame smokers or drinkers, so lay off the health argument.

  2. cacharbe says:

    I have the impression that you neither read my words, not those of the references that I made. I posted this discussion as a trainer and as someone who was on the verge of morbid obesity before changing my habits.

    And , for the record, a shame the fuck out of smokers and abusive drinkers. You don’t know me at all.

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