I remember how refreshing it was when “political correctness” became the buzz word and I no longer had to tolerate subjugating conversations with local perverts & bigots at work.
Then somewhere along the line political correctness became more than just about offensive sex/race talk at work. Suddenly just being honest became a crime, and telling anyone anywhere what they didn’t want to hear became impolite. Denial & enabling became the polite thing to do.
Obesity is the perfect example of this:
I started off hot to trot. Then I took a sedentary job with high metabolism 20 somethings that ate gluttonously and I joined in. We had pancakes almost every morning, and fries with gravy every lunch. I quickly gained 20lbs & some well-meaning men I worked with commented on both my unhealthy eating & sudden weight gain. I was “insulted” because it was “none of their business” and it was “rude that they talk about my weight.” I felt smugly justified in asserting my right to gluttony, free from verbal harassment.
My getting fatter was enabled with “love your curves” media campaigns that set to not just normalize, but celebrate North American obesity trends. Everyone else was getting fat with me, so I wasn’t alarmed at my weight gain.
Then I suffered an injury that left me housebound for a year. The only part of my body that wasn’t betraying me was my appetite, and I consoled myself with McCaine’s Deep & Delicious. I gained 100lbs….in one year. I wasn’t concerned about it at all. If anything I was fascinated at what my body could morph into.
When I returned to work I thought it would melt off but it didn’t. I work long hours, rarely eat at home, and therefore almost never cook. Our dinner diet is a rotation of Swiss Chalet, and every other thing you can have delivered. Lots of highly processed ‘snack foods’ as well.
Three years later and I am as fat as I was when I first got out of bed after my year of convalescence. I am feeling the effects too- joints are crushing, knee/hip pain, out of shape breathlessness, eternal exhaustion etc. Thankfully I don’t get my self-esteem validated by my looks, or I’d really be in trouble, because I look like shit.
When I say this out loud, not as self abuse, but as an absolute fact, women get offended. How dare I call myself fat?!! I must not love myself!
Let me clarify: Its not admitting that I am obese that is self abuse, its continuing to eat like a glutton despite my obesity that is self abuse. People politely telling me ‘you’re not fat, don’t disparage yourself’ are enabling my self abuse. You don’t look at a heroine addict and say, “don’t call yourself a junkie, its just a little poke” Somehow public discourse has this issue confused in many ‘in denial’ women when it comes to obesity.
As a writer for some professional websites, I learned that obesity was causing an economic crisis in an industry you would think was totally unrelated. This industry is a huge economic energizer & the stats I found out were staggering. As a fat person, I felt completely responsible for my part in this travesty. I was completely unaware of how my self indulgent lifestyle was impacting the economy locally & the availability of a needed commodity in developing nations. It made me totally re-think my relationship & sense of entitlement about food. Then at dinner I ate too much & had awful indigestion- mentally I could not let it go. I thought it would be prudent to educate the public on one surprising example of how North american obesity is negatively impacting the population here & abroad. If it affected & inspired me this deeply, maybe it would enlighten others who maybe are just as oblivious as I was, an hour ago.
I submitted the article & it was rejected immediately. I was told it was “insulting to larger people who we know represent a significant portion of the population.” From a business perspective I agreed with their choice to pull the piece, as it could have caused a shitstorm, and that would have been counter-productive to that particular publication. Fair enough, wise PR choice. I get it-totally.
What struck me though, is that suddenly, even mathematical facts are considered inappropriate and insulting. Society would rather decimate an industry that provides employment than have to admit it eats too much crap. WTF?
Maybe its time we wake up and realize a few things:
Its not OK that we are eating ourselves to death. If I was drinking, drugging, or cutting myself to the point of being unhealthy and affecting the economy, there would be an uproar about “my disease,” and rightfully so. North America has gotten so serious about mental health issues, they often go to the point of stupidly criminalizing it. Yet food abuse is looked at differently. Its culturally celebrated in North America.
I believe gluttony is a mental health issue. I believe people who overeat are filling a physiological void, just like someone who can’t just have a drink, but has to get drunk is.
We have no problem discussing the abuse & severity of alcoholism, smoking cigarettes or doing drugs. Yet when it comes to food, suddenly its hush-hush.
1 in 10 Canadians is food insecure & more than 40% of Americans are in severe poverty, yet as a continent, we are still getting fat. This tells me there must be shit in our food that is doing this. Italians & Portuguese LOVE to eat, yet you don’t see obesity rates like ours over there. As a culture, europeans oppose GMO’s & eat mostly from their own or family garden. I eat mostly at drive-thru’s…I’m fat.
The fact that I cannot share honest industry statistics because they would be insulting tells me that North Americans are the grandest sheeple on the planet. Canadians just can’t stand hearing that they are doing something wrong.
There is something wrong that I can get 1000 calories in 10 minutes in this country, while across the world people are starving in refugee camps. Something is fucking wrong with this global picture. It is WRONG.
I have learned over the years that anytime someone has said something that I felt was “insulting” often had a grain of truth to it. Whenever I have been accused of something I truly am innocent of, I might get pissed off, but the word “insulted” isn’t what comes up. Whenever I find myself feeling insulted, I check my ego at the door and try to see the accusation from the perspective of my accuser. I really want to minimize my douchebaggery, and the only way to do that is to look at myself honestly, and accept criticism when its due.
Is it embarrassing to admit I wronged myself or others? Yes. Does it sting to look at my imperfections? Yes. It sucks actually. There is no worse feeling in the world than looking at your faults with blinders off. Good news is that you only have to do it once. Look at yourself once, admit you fucked up, and then you are no longer doomed to repeat the same painful pattern, no longer have to embarrass yourself by being a douche.
Some people are obese due to medical, hormonal, medication issues. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about people like me, who just eat too much crap. I should be making my local farmer rich, not Monsanto.
Dear Canadians: We are fat. We eat too much crap. People on the other side of the world are starving on gruel while we gorge on bacon flavoured cheesecake. Its not fair, its wrong. Our gluttony is causing us medical issues, affecting our health care system & decimating entire unrelated industries. Worst part is, industry experts can’t even tell you about it, because all you do is get “insulted.” God forbid somebody point out a failing about you. We are not perfect. Globally we are a problem.
Its time we own our shit, and for the world’s sake, put the fucking fork down Canada!