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.