Friday, May 28, 2021

Why Fat Shaming is Counterproductive


"If you are overweight and your parents are overweight, the inclination is to blame genetics...did fatness genes get passed on, or was it overeating behavior? After all, fat people tend to have fat pets." ~ Tim Ferriss

As most of my readers probably have noticed, there has been in the media a lot of talk about “acceptance” of obesity and “body positivity.” People who dare to criticize the obese for leading what is clearly a highly unhealthy life style which both shortens their average life expectancy and leaves them more vulnerable to a whole host of rather unpleasant diseases like serious COVID complications are torn apart for being “fat-shaming” monstrous, offensive people who are trying to shame people for how they look. TV talk show hosts Bill Maher and James Cordon got into a public tiff about this.

We now have plus sized Barbie dolls as well as celebrities like Lizzo sing the praises of having a large body. How dare anyone “fat-shame” anyone?

Actually I agree that fat shaming is a waste of time and is in fact counterproductive, but maybe not for the reasons most people think. On the other hand, turning unhealthfulness into a virtue is not exactly a smart thing to do either.

Now of course some people put on weight much more easily than others. Some people have diseases like hypothyroidism which cause obesity, although they are treatable in the majority of cases. But significant obesity (and I am NOT talking about just being somewhat overweight) is due to serious over-eating and avoiding exercise which is, like I will say about substance abuse in an upcoming post, self-destructive behavior.

It is certainly not genetic, as there has been a huge uptick in the number of obese individuals in many countries over the last thirty years or so, and to my knowledge there have been no selective breeding programs for obesity. There were very few kids with weight issues when I was in school in the fifties and sixties – unlike today.

In my model, self-destructive behavior is a form of self debasement designed to keep the person from self-actualizing in a way that might seem to threaten family homeostasis. In this model, obese people do not need to be shamed, because they are already feeling ashamed of themselves. In fact, they are frequently doing what they do in order to generate shame! They are, in a sense, trying to feel bad about themselves. Therefore, if you shame them, you are in fact reinforcing this tendency, and they get worse rather than better. The shaming serves as a “reward” (in the behaviorist sense, although certainly not in the usual sense) for the behavior that leads to the obesity!

Of course, if other people don’t say anything about the problem, the self-destructive behavior still continues. Truly a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation for anyone who is truly concerned about the health and safety of an obese individual.

The key to solving this issue is understanding of and empathy with the collective forces that have led to this unfortunate behavior, and honestly taking responsibility for one’s own behavior. A tall order for those enmeshed in this kind of groupthink.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Healthy versus Unhealthy Love

It's best to be able to take care of your spouse's needs while still being true to yourself and taking care of your own as well.