At what age?

There’s a lot of hate out there for the overweight.

I recently read a blog where the blogger was voicing their opinion of charging more for health insurance for those who are overweight and smokers.  There are a lot of people clamoring for an increased health insurance premium for the overweight.  I’m always struck by how fiercely those people speak out against the overweight – such animosity!

And let’s face it… in our society…. being overweight is something which is seen as shameful.  In fact, shaming the overweight is a common daily occurrence in every town in America.  Every.  Single.  Town.

Add to this that I’m back to tracking calories and so I’m perusing the MyFitnessPal message boards just to get my mind into the game of weight loss and already I have to step back from the message boards because there are so many incredibly fit people there degrading others who ask for advice.  Now most of them don’t mean to be anything but helpful but some of those people cannot possibly fathom what it’s like to be very overweight and just starting out.  You’re new, you’re scared you’re going to fail just like every time before, and you’re looking for advice.  Just today someone posted that they couldn’t find where to enter their walking as exercise and someone posted back that it was rubbish to log your walking anyway as that wasn’t a real workout.  (Trust me, I had to hold myself back from finding the medical article which stated real facts where walking was better for your overall health than running.)

See… there was someone looking for help on weight loss and exercise and instead of help… they faced what they’ve been facing for a while now… ridicule.

What I’d like to know is… at what age does it become acceptable to shame the overweight?

I doubt many of us would blame a 2 year old child for being overweight.  Rather, we would blame their parents.  So how about a 6 year old?  Do we want to explain to a 6 year old that they are overweight and begin giving them body issues which may develop into an eating disorder?  12 years old?  15?

Let’s face it folks, even if you wait until the age of 18 you’re being an asshole.  Someone who was raised in an unhealthy eating/living environment has developed their unhealthy relationship with food early on – and has lived with those disordered eating habits for years by the time they are 18.

Let’s look at my life.  I was never exposed to the concept of moderation.  You want it?  Eat it.  It never occurred to me that desserts shouldn’t be a regular part of life.  You know what wasn’t a regular part of life?  Vegetables.  I was pretty certain I hated vegetables.  And salads.  Gross.

When I went off to college I continued my disordered eating.  There were plenty of others around doing the same and so it just never clicked.  And when I moved out on my own?  I made the foods I grew up on.  Fried potatoes.  Lots and lots of fried potatoes.  I ate fried potatoes nearly every night growing up.  And yes, they are delicious.

My point here is that I find it absolutely ridiculous how easily people feel it’s perfectly find to shame the overweight.  They like to oversimplify as well.  “All you have to do is exercise and eat less.”  It’s really not that simple.  My dysfunctional relationship with food is a permanent part of me.  Habits are hard to overcome.  Many of us have deep seated emotional roots in our eating.  How dare anyone think it’s just ok to point a finger and call me fat and lazy?  Where was DCFS swooping in to rescue me from the eating habits my parents were teaching me?

If you wouldn’t do it to a 5 year old, don’t do it to an adult.  Have the common sense that these behaviors were learned and practiced for YEARS before that person became an adult.  Nested in those behaviors are there stress coping mechanisms, their depression coping mechanisms, their memories of their parents and their home… It’s not simple so shut your  mouth and offer support – not shame.