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Shedding pounds or self-esteem?

People of all different sizes throughout the world struggle with the dilemma of changing for the wrong reasons

by SAKINA HUSSAIN Section Editor

  People all over the world are constantly part of the struggle that is self-image. Everyday we are faced with a new list of standards that have to do with race, sexuality, and most commonly, weight. 

  Obesity is an epidemic in America, and a number of different programs and campaigns are going all out in order to decrease the number of obese people in the United States First Lady Michelle Obama herself is leading a national public awareness campaign called “Let’s Move.” According to ABC news, the purpose of the campaign is to eliminate childhood obesity by helping parents make better food choices, offer better food in schools, and encourage children to exercise more.  The intentions behind programs such as “Let’s Move” are almost always good, but that does not necessarily mean that the results will be just as good.

  The problem with these programs is the stigma that they induce. Although the point is to help overweight people pursue a healthy lifestyle, the message that is sent is more along the lines of “We love you, but right now, you’re just not good enough.”

  Undoubtedly, people will argue that this is not what is really being said, and anyone making that inference should be more sensible. However, when a person is bullied and criticized constantly about his/her weight, it almost becomes instinct to take the negative meaning behind all weight-concerning comments.

  Of course, there are a certain number of people who will understand that the intentions behind these programs and comments concerning their weight are for their own good, but the people who are unable to see anything but the negativity behind said programs have to be taken into consideration.

  There are several factors that lead to obesity and even more factors that have to do with the difficulty of overcoming it. All of this needs to be considered when trying to come up with a horde of weight-loss programs that are mostly good for increasing stigma among already insecure obesity “victims.”

 The first thing that people need to understand is that even if a person is overweight, they can still be healthy. If that is the case with someone, then the best thing to do is to leave them be. Pressuring someone else to lose weight for the sole purpose of looking better will increase insecurity and will send the wrong message.

  If, however, someone is overweight to the extent that it is affecting his/her health, then a loved one can and should encourage him/her to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Even in this situation, though, it has to be emphasized that the person in question is aiming toward becoming healthier because that is top concern.

  Here is when problems begin to arise. Being overweight tends to begin at a younger age, therefore leading to the person being ridiculed and criticized by peers and even some cold-hearted and ignorant adults throughout all his/her life. So, when trying to help this person become healthier, even if the point of improving his/her health is clearly emphasized, said person will most likely feel insecure about the fact that he/she is being forced to change.

  Acceptance is something all people strive for, and the perfect body image, in today’s society, is a large part of receiving that acceptance we all so badly want. Even when someone manages to be accepted, there is still the question of being loved. When people are being told, “Sure, you’re fat, but I accept you,” they will begin to fear if acceptance is interchangeable with love and loyalty. The sad truth is that these people most likely are led to believe that the two are, in fact, not interchangeable. Sure, their friends will say that they accept their weight, but then, they will stop talking to them.

  Not only are there endless programs dedicated to controlling children’s weight, but there are also several programs dedicated to anti-bullying that completely ignore weight discrimination. In fact, the only state that outlaws weight discrimination is Michigan. This is most likely because people probably feel that if they ward against weight discrimination, then it might be interpreted that they are saying, God forbid, that being fat is okay and that fat or overweight people should not be punished.

  Now it only makes sense to say that if people believe that being told to lose weight equates to not being good enough, those people are insane. However, if it is possible that being told to stop bullying innocents in the form of overweight people could lead to the belief that being overweight is completely fine, which it is, then people will do nothing about weight-related bullying so as not to send the wrong message. The sad part is that this is not even exaggerated.

  The bottom line is that being fat, overweight, obese, or whatever you want to call it is not a bad thing. There is a difference between being fat and being unhealthy, and it is time people learn the difference. People can absolutely be large and beautiful, and it is time people learn how to accept that. It is time that people start paying attention, stop being ignorant, and start accepting each person for who he/she is.

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