There are a lot of things that bother me in this society. I can’t stand the way we judge people by their image and I can’t stand the way we find so many ways to find others as inferior without realizing. I also can’t stand when one comes up with excuses to make up for why they judge others from their outside image – Yet it becomes difficult to explain why I can’t stand these factors of society added together.
Ever since I was little, my father had put on weight. It never occurred to me that it was out of the ordinary, and when the words ‘big and fat’ were used to describe him I picked up the language and would characterize him in those terms as well.
I would’ve been six or seven when I was told that ‘big and fat’ weren’t nice words to call someone. It stumped me. I had always known that words like ‘damn’ and ‘crap’ weren’t nice, and I always knew never to say ‘shut up’. But why was it suddenly mean to say those two words I most frequently described my own Dad with?
It’s not hard to realise that in this society, we strive to be healthy. Having so much access to food and resources, we fear that we’ll be unable to stop giving in. This fear is what pressures us; it’s what stirs dieting fads, weight loss exercises, and the negative portrayal of those we deem ‘overweight’. We’re taught all through school that our physical fitness is vital to live a successful life, and that healthy eating and hours of exercise a day will enable us to accomplish that. Bullying those bigger than us becomes natural, as we were always taught that the bigger you are was ‘bad’ by those adults who were meant to teach us the difference between right and wrong.
To be honest, I wasn’t any better than those so called ‘mature’ adults either. I had always been reasonably athletic, but I thought it of an accomplishment that my weight was lower than most of the other people in my class. If we were weighed in physical education I’d act as if it were a test, asking others how much they weighed and in response I’d tell them that I weighed less, as if that was something to be proud of.
This obsession with health and weight was drilled into my head at such an early age that I’d think of myself negatively without realizing it. It would just be simple things at first- I might see an advertisement on TV about how junk food would make you gain lots of weight and I’d vow never to eat a chip again. However, the time would come when I’d eat that occasional Hungry Jacks or McDonalds and I’d panic that I’d become so unfit and unhealthy and would double in size by the minute. Other times I’d eat a large meal and see that I gained as much as a kilo since the last time I set foot on those scales and cry in disappointment that I had ‘let myself go’. I was soon weighing myself every night and constantly running around the house all the time in order to keep up my idea of a ‘good body.’ This was all when I was 8 years old to just about a year ago.
Of course, I never had the willpower to turn down a meal or any type of food for that matter – but it did make me lose faith in myself and my self-confidence without me being aware.
Again, it was only small things at first. I’d see pictures in magazines of those obese or overweight and think ‘my legs look like theirs’, or I’d stick my stomach out in front of the mirror and get annoyed at how fat I had let myself become. I couldn’t take any compliments about my body image, as I had the idea that they were lying or being polite because they didn’t want to tell me what I thought was the truth.
I have no intention of pointing fingers here, but I have to say that school was definitely not a big help. I’m not the only one in this world, this country, and even my school and class who thought negatively about their body- in fact, it was and still is quite common. People of all shapes and builds would think that they were ‘fat’, from the constant exposure to those who happened to look slimmer, or those who were thought of as ‘more healthy’. And since the idea was enforced into our head so often that ‘overweight’ was such a bad thing to be, positive body image was not something easy to come across.
Throughout my school years, not once have I been told to ‘love yourself’. We are taught what we should and shouldn’t do, who we should aim to be and who we shouldn’t. Teachers and schools expect that confidence is a given, that we don’t need it to be taught and that kids will automatically learn that we are all worth something. They forget how our education is one of the biggest influences of our lives, and with this constant pressure of what we shouldn’t become; it seems easy to suspect that we are already doing something wrong. Sure they had good intentions - it was just the way it was taught that needed some consideration.
And to be plain with you, I’m not shunning physical health. I 100% agree that we should do what we can to stay healthy, by eating and exercising in balance and variety. However, I believe that emotional health is equally as important- however it is not emphasized nearly enough as physical fitness is. All around us we’re told to be ‘healthy’, yet their idea of this is purely an ideal weight, putting pressure on us not to be over a certain size, shape or number. Sure it burdens us to look after our body, but the way they do it is by frightening us of being not accepted by today’s society. Not only is that kind of stress lowering people’s confidence and self-esteem, it sends a message that is downright wrong- that unless you meet our principles of healthy, you’ll be considered inferior to those around you.
Currently, I try to eat healthy and I exercise when I can. However, my reasons are different- I find myself happier and ‘fuller’ when I put effort into my physical fitness. I don’t care to examine the size of my body for too long and I refuse to set foot on any scales.
I found my self-confidence slowly but surely; it was only when I took the idea away that ‘fat’ was bad that I was able to lift myself up, and I must say I never felt better.
How did I take away my idea of ‘fat’? It was from people just like me, who’d complain about their image even when I could clearly see how beautiful and healthy they were. I’d tell them that and just like I was, they wouldn’t believe me. I understood that this was the exact situation I had been in but reversed, and I could feel somehow, that sometimes our society didn’t always get things right.
I can’t stand it when someone uses the word ‘fat’, or when someone uses the excuse that they’re ‘unhealthy’ to point out their weight in a negative way. It enforces the idea that those with bigger bodies are inferior, and enforces the stress and pressure on society to aim to be a certain shape. I now understand why it's not nice to call someone 'big and fat', yet lots of people today still don't.
I’m sick of this constant finger pointing and jeering, yet we all happen to be a part of it without us realizing. Wake up society! Think for yourself for once.
This is a fantastic article! I'm so happy to read this - there is a lot of pressure on today's generation to be skinny and thin to be considered attractive. However, one can be muscular, fit, HEALTHY and be attractive all at once!