Shame in shaming
ON APRIL 8, a man went on Facebook and posted a photo of himself (in T-shirt and shades) and a woman (in bikini) on board a yacht.
Accompanying the photo is the now-famous post which reads, in full:
“After a long and thorough thought, I’ve decided that I’m 100% in favor of fat-shaming. I think the world would be a better place if all these weak minds that are captive to their bad food habits were constantly told to get off their f*cking couches and stop being little b*tches.
Nothing motivates people to get into shape like insecurity. Not vanity, not health, not personal records, not clinical narcissism—NOTHING. Also, painstakingly sick of 2018 political correctness and all this ‘I’m offended’ bullsh*t. And, come on. The internet has provided us with a seemingly endless array of tried-and-tested diets and literally thousands of different kinds of exercises. With all this data at your fingertips, choosing to not even try is tantamount to obscene levels of laziness and/ or stupidity.
You got one body. Take care of it.”
Social media users are angry, and quite predictably so. Who is this fellow, after all, who thinks he is entitled to shame fat people and characterize them as lazy idiots?
The man likely knew that his message was going to attract attention and fan a wide range of emotions. He posted his choice words anyway—this can only mean he feels so strongly about fat people (we wonder—did he have a bad experience with them, or was he himself once fat?), or that he really does not care what anybody thought of him.
What is enraging is the way he characterizes fat people as having unhealthy eating habits or refusing to get off the couch. What about those who have had weight struggles all their lives? Or those who have medical conditions?
Perhaps some who are not happy with their current weight or shape may have at the very least doubted themselves as well—but that is their own personal struggle, something a smug, arrogant stranger has no business inviting himself to.
The man also forgets that plenty of fat people simply do not care, likely because they have better things to be preoccupied about: improving their skills, widening their knowledge, taking care of loved ones, helping other people—and yes, respecting others however they may look like or whatever their beliefs might be.
The truth is, the perfect shape is a construct fed to us over generations. We are told that one must be skinny, or fair, or tall, or curvy in order to be considered attractive. The campaign has succeeded so much it has caused too many people to have low self-esteem or spend unnecessary time, money and emotion trying to look perfect. Numerous businesses have profited from the insecurity they have created.
Sure, we should all aim to be “the best version of ourselves.” Certainly, being able to wear the clothes we want to wear and feeling confident about how we look sounds like fun, but it should in no way be confused with self-actualization. The best argument for being in good shape is to take care of our health so that we can do the things we want to do and be around for the people we love for as long as we can.
Still, in the end, the yacht fellow is perfectly within his rights to express what he feels about others. The good news is that we still live in a democracy.
The better news is, we are also be perfectly within our rights to reject what he says.
If there is anything anyone should shed, it is bigotry—against people of certain faiths, of a certain body mass index, of a certain sexual preference, and yes, against bigots themselves who think they are better than the rest of us.
We’ve got one mind. Let’s keep it open. In these precarious times, the last thing we need is unnecessary hatred and resentment.