Judgement, Body Weight and The Power Of Love
This is a guest post by Marcia Clarke. We recently connected via Twitter and she accepted my invitation to share this inspirational post. Welcome Marcia. 🙂
I’m writing this post from a place of love – my heart! And my heart’s sad now.
I felt moved to write this blog by a post I saw on social media.
A very inspirational woman I know, Charlotte of Perfectly Cast wrote on her Facebook wall. It was about her frustration at a particular individual’s attitude to people who are overweight.
A strong advocate of body image propaganda herself, not only did she find their attitude ignorant, but also rude in their ‘assessment’ of why people are overweight.
‘Good on you Charlotte’ I thought, and left a response to her post saying as much.
This incident stirred up one of my ‘hornet’s nests’ of beefs. Society’s rush to judgement on issues that don’t concern them, especially when it comes to body image.
In my opinion being overweight comes in for some particularly harsh scrutiny too. So how and why have we got into this situation? It feels as if anything goes when it comes to passing judgement? What do you think?
Do you know why one of the reasons the issue of body weight has become so sensitive? I think it’s because how you look has become so tangled up in self-esteem.
Until a few years ago I would have been totally empathetic to this view-point. Statements such as “when you look good, you feel good” were my mantra. And quite rightly so I thought. Because “appearance is everything.”
Yet, if you’ve ever studied Spiritualism or Buddhism you’ll know that self-esteem comes from within. Perhaps that’s where the problem lies. You’ve got it the wrong way round!
Granted, the way you view yourself can be influenced by external factors such as family, friends, colleagues, the media, etc. But only you can choose how much weight you give those external forces.
I feel that this obsession with looks has fed the rise in the kind of media necessary to feed such an obsession. As well as the equally obsessive interest in celebrity. This interest in the fine points of other people’s lives has brought with it, a level of judgement that random strangers feel they are entitled to take up and run with.
It’s become acceptable to publicly deride someone because of, what is after all, their personal weight. It’s an issue that 9 times out of 10 is nothing to do with random people who don’t know them.
Why do people behave like this?
- Is it because they have low self-esteem themselves, and by picking on others, it somehow makes them feel better about themselves?
- Is it because they believe that if they don’t put their head above the barriers their own faults won’t be put under scrutiny?
I ask these particular questions because one of the key motivations behind such behaviour is rooted in fear.
Fear keeps many people from speaking up and challenging things as they are. And I believe society has become designed that way.
Without getting into one of my “anti-establishment” rants, I don’t believe societies are meant to be this way. But it’s definitely what they’ve become.
From the lack of effective challenges of those with power who abuse it, down to standing up against bullying and unfair judgement. Fear has become a weapon that is ‘keeping us in our place.’
And I can understand how many people have accepted this behaviour. Have you ever stood up against unacceptable behaviour only to find yourself met with a barrage of abuse and even ridicule? It’s happened to most of us.
There has to come a time in all our lives when we stand up and say “NO.”
No, no, no!
Be the change you want to see
I’ve had people say to me before “What do you care? You’re not overweight.” And my answer is this. It’s not an issue of weight. But an issue of compassion in my opinion. Just because I don’t have a weight issue, doesn’t mean I can ignore the main psychological bullying. And the overt criticism that goes with the issue.
It’s about having a duty to stand up and have a voice. Fight for the people who feel less able to stand up and fight and have a voice themselves. I know better, so I should do better.
I believe that love is the most powerful force. More powerful than hate, fear and judgement. When you think from a place of love, how can you not care about hurting the feelings of someone else?
I sometimes hear people say that the comments about their weight don’t bother them, and that may well be the case. However, I don’t feel it’s an excuse to make those comments thoughtless and insensitive.
And truthfully, how do I know that such comments don’t bother them?
- How do I know that when they’re subjected to such harsh judgement that they don’t go home and eat the wrong kind of food to make themselves feel better making them gain more weight?
- How do I know that years of systematic judgement doesn’t leave them crying on the inside, miserable or even suicidal?
The very thought that your behaviour could lead to such outcomes should be enough to stop you from behaving like that. But alas, it doesn’t for many. A lot of what it comes down to is empathy. Or rather, the lack of it.
A lack of understanding
In Buddhism, it’s said that true compassion and true love are impossible without understanding. I firmly believe in that, and it’s become one of my core values in life.
Often when we rush into judgement about someone’s external appearance. We apply no understanding whatsoever.
For example, how do we know someone isn’t overweight because of any medical conditions they have? There are medical conditions that result in the body not metabolising food the way most of us do, resulting in excessive weight gain.
Certain disabilities or injuries can also leave people unable to exercise regularly, therefore unable to burn off fat.
Then there’s the medical profession’s answer to everything – pharmaceutical drugs. A side effect of many steroid based drugs, the contraceptive pill and a whole host of other drugs, causes weight gain. If it’s a choice between dying of an ailment and dealing with the weight gain that goes with it, of course people will choose to take the drug.
Then there’s the food we’re eating.
It angers me deeply when I see society, and in particular the media pointing the finger at people because they assume all overweight people are overweight because they’re “greedy and lazy”.
- Why don’t they point the finger at the food manufacturers that are producing gallons of toxic sludge masquerading as ‘food’ that’s wreaking havoc with our insides?
- Why don’t they point the finger at the food production system that makes unhealthy food cheap and organic or better quality food expensive?
- Why don’t they point the finger at governments that allow this to continue?
- Why? Because it’s easier to point the finger at the symptoms and not the cause of an issue. It’s easy, convenient and lazy.
Stirred up by certain elements of the media, the judges will often go on about the strain that the health issues associated with being overweight put on the health care system. They act like the NHS is somehow their own personal business they run.
How many of those people smoke, drink excessively and put their own strains on the NHS? Exactly! They very rarely mention that! It doesn’t always hurt you or affect you personally if someone is overweight. So why do you need to point the finger?
The judges will also talk about how blunt criticism is and what overweight people need to hear to make them lose weight.
For example, they find it motivating. Yes, some people are only moved by such extreme behaviour. But we’re not all the same.
Others respond to a more sensitive and considerate discussion, with perhaps a dose of firmness. But I don’t feel we have to talk to each other in such a brutal way to impact our behaviour.
The Power of Love
I try to live my life and develop my beliefs and values from a place of love. When you live that way, why would you want to harshly judge others? The answer is, you don’t!
When you live your life from a place of love, you hold back on the judgement, because 9 times out of 10 it’s not your place to judge, and why would you?
“Let he who is without sin…” and all that.
If you live your life from a place of love, when you see cruel judgement in a newspaper or magazine or on social media, you don’t need to join in that chorus of disapproval. Your concern should be how you live your life. And that you’re living it from a good and loving place.
When you live your life from a place of love, you apply empathy and understanding to those around you. Whether society seems to give you license to judge or not. Fear doesn’t rule you because you’re confident and comfortable in your own skin. So you don’t need to make others miserable for you to feel good inside.
Let’s lay off the judgement and reserve our energy for applying criticism to the right place. When that happens, I hope many more people will find themselves in a place of love.
Photo credit: FreeDigital.net
Have you ever been criticised because of a weight problem? How did you deal with it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments box below.