Thanks to an initiative by the fellows over at Return of Kings, Fat Shaming Week has officially been declared. and as a result now we have a new hashtag rising in popularity on Twitter, #FatShamingWeek. It is whimsically delightful to read some of the tweets that clever people have come up with. I must admit I’ve taken perhaps a bit too much enjoyment in partaking in the fun, but we all have our foibles.
Now, much of the focus of Fat Shaming Week is targeted toward reminding overweight women that they are less attractive than thin and fit women. Amusing as that may be, I’m going to take a more broad approach here in regards to my stance on the issue.
As outlined in books like Manthropology (corny title aside, it is a fascinating work and one I highly recommend), our ancestors were in almost every way stronger, tougher, and more physically capable than the soft, weak people we are now. To put it bluntly, we are descended from hardcore motherfuckers who did whatever it took to survive and could easily go toe-toe with modern special forces soldiers and more often than not come out on top. They hiked 50 miles a day wearing 100 lbs of armor. They killed lions with spears with no help from friends or tribe members. They invented, explored, and conquered the world.
What would your ancestors think of you if they met you? Would they be impressed by you and respect you for your capabilities? Forgive me if I choose not to believe that. I’m apt to think that your physical condition would be a disgrace to your forefathers, even if you happen to be fit and athletic, and doubly so if your resemblance is more akin to a land whale and not a functional human being. How do you feel about being the weakest link in the chain of descent?
These were people with your genes, your grandfathers and their grandfathers and their grandfathers and their grandfathers and so on. They had more or less the same DNA in all of their cells that you possess now. Don’t blame your genes for making you the way they are. It’s not their fault. It’s yours.
Now, some might say that is someone’s own business if they are fat, and no one else has a right to judge them or say anything about it. This is an incredibly naive view, and not just because it lacks nuance. Like it or not, every action you take has far reaching implications. You may believe that your habit of scarfing down cupcakes when you think no one is watching harms only yourself (if you’re still being that intellectually honest with yourself), but this isn’t quite the case.
See, allowing yourself to become fat and overweight opens you up to a much higher risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Treating those chronic issues requires an enormous investment of both material resources and manpower. Now, because of how society is set up, not only are you taking money from young, healthy people who will now be paying more for health insurance they will never use (due to the Affordable Care Act), but you are also diverting resources away from people who have real medical issues that they didn’t invite upon themselves. I ask all obese people who may be reading this, how do you feel about the fact that your inability to watch what you eat is stealing precious resources away from dying children and people who have actual medical conditions that weren’t a direct result of their actions?
But perhaps that doesn’t convince you. Taking this appeal to emotion further, consider your family or other loved ones. How do they feel about your growing physical deformity? They no doubt are aware of the health risks correlated with a life of processed foods and little physical exertion. What do you think they must be going through, knowing what harm you are doing to yourself but unwilling to make you uncomfortable enough to do something about it? By letting yourself go, you are forcing upon your loved ones an unenviable burden, casting them between a rock and a hard place.
And that’s how they feel now! What do you think they’ll be going through when you have your first heart attack, or a stroke, or any of the other maladies that arise more frequently in the heavy? I can’t imagine how sociopathic one would have to be to knowingly, willingly, and purposefully put the people whom they care for most in life through such an emotionally-troubling gauntlet. It’s just mind-boggling.
Now, it is true that much of the obesity epidemic can be chalked up to the vast discrepancy between the environment that our genes are engineered to be able to handle and the environment that is presented to us as a result of living in the Western World. With federal corn subsidies, the dominance of agribusiness and “food product” companies, and the pseudoscience that passes for nutritional advice nowadays, it rather unsurprising obesity rates are what they are. That in mind, this does not excuse you from working to achieve a body worthy of a human being.
Stop eating processed foods. Avoid sugar like the plague (considering how obesity can be though of as an epidemic, I think the cliche might actually be justified here). Eat your vegetables. Go Paleo. Get some exercise, whether that be swimming, running, weight-lifting, martial arts, or whatever else you find stimulating and enjoyable. It takes time and effort to put pounds onto your body, and it will take time and effort to take them off, but all you really need to do is reverse those habits that brought you such girth in the first place. Take care of the little things, and big results will follow,
There is one final point I’d like to convey. I’m a big believer in the idea that personal virtue can be cultivated by developing within yourself the Four Cardinal Virtues. I don’t plan on explaining these virtues personally at this time (perhaps in future posts, though). You can go read that Wikipedia article if you don’t know what I’m referring to. I promise I’ll still be here when you get back.
Now, you’ll notice that two of the virtues are Prudence and Temperance. The wisdom to make good decisions and the discipline and self-control not to give yourself over to temptations are half of what constitutes virtue. To fail to exercise either is a transgression that potentially borders on the unethical.
Being fat isn’t just a blatant dishonoring of your body, your genetic code, and your heritage, it is also a fundamentally immoral act facilitated by a lack of virtue.
Happy Fat-Shaming Week.