Let’s start with the facts. I am 5’6 and weight 234. According to the Body Mass Index, my 37.8 rating is considered ‘obese’. When I come across articles about the obesity crisis, doctors broaching the subject with patients, and now the word ‘obesity’ itself as a dirty word things tend to tilt towards the personal. I remember getting teased for my weight combined with my name (‘Fat-Fat-Fatima’ usually sung in a sing-song sort of way.) Sensitive doesn’t even cover the conflicting emotions I feel over the issue. I do want to feel healthy. I can’t, trust me I tried, to get myself down to ‘skinny’. I remembered getting down to a size 14 through watching what I eat and lots of exercise. I wanted to get smaller, a size 10, before adult life picked up and I neglected to get back to the gym never mind maintaining what I weighed at the time.
I feel lucky my doctor never broached the subject, nor berated me into losing weight. I have felt berated and it does more harm than good. People can talk at me about high blood pressure, diabetes, and a whole host of issues. However, I will lose weight for the same reason I took up running–I do it for me. I confess to attempting weight loss for the sake of catching a guy’s eye. To write the words ‘big mistake’ doesn’t even begin to cover the understatement. I didn’t feel great doing it. I felt miserable and didn’t question the lunacy of the quest, or the worthiness of the guy in question. I didn’t question I just did. Well this time I question the whole ‘obesity crisis’ while I get back into running.
I see the same reports on television and print. It’s always the same image of people shot from behind, or decapitated, while going about their usual day. Nobody thinks their body will end up on some news report, with this omniscient narrative making judgments or tying it into yet another study. (Exercise works or it doesn’t; Limit this food or that food; Insert another obesity fact of the week.) Today I saw one article with the shot of a woman from behind. Yes, she was heavy and had a cane meanwhile the comment boards tutted about her state. Nobody thought to ask about a possible car accident limiting her mobility. Medication? Any guesses? No? Why bother to guess if judging makes one feel so much better.
Alright the last sentence sounded snippy. It’s hard to feel civil anytime the topic rears itself and now people believe giving people ‘the truth’ about their weight in a doctor’s office is coddling a person, enabling their behaviour much the same way people say nothing about a drinking problem. In fact it’s a question to ask my doctor on my next physical. If you had a doctor never saying anything about your weight, despite wishing this heavy body had a zipper to shed the heavy coil, ask why your doctor never says anything? The article makes a valid point about finding a way to talk about the problem without compounding the shame people already feel. People do feel shame. On the other end, the seething you see from people hissing ‘back off’ needs to be heard.
At some point people say ‘what’s the use’ and give up. People love to point out a problem, but never point out a solution. Some people are not gym rats, so don’t recommend the gym. How about a walk? How about learning to run? Whatever the solution acknowledge the road is hard and it will hurt from time to time. I don’t want a quick solution and I don’t want a ‘Biggest Loser’ odyssey. Please let people tackle this issue with dignity and above all remember a person carries that body. Reach the person and perhaps the rest will fall into place.