Monday, October 3, 2016

Appearances

*As I began to write this post, I realized that I had never mentioned here that my mother passed away on August 6th. She made it past her 98th birthday and had a good life. This hasn’t been an easy summer but I’m doing ok (and so is Ray).

I had a rather unusual conversation the other day while I was waiting to see my new doctor. The person offered his condolences on the passing of my mother and then went on to comment on how amazing it is that she lived to be 98. Many people have mentioned her age so I wasn’t all that surprised, however, he added that it was especially amazing due to her size. Interesting comment. (My mother was a large woman and had been most of her adult life. She was only 5’4” tall and weighed roughly 220 lbs during the last year of her life.) The conversation continued and I happened to mention that my oldest son is now 40. “Really! And how old was his dad when he died?” 42. “And two of his sisters died young too. One of them drank a lot, didn’t she? Your son should be fine as long as he doesn’t abuse alcohol or drugs.”

O.o

In case you’re wondering, the man is still standing and didn’t require any medical intervention after our conversation ended. I wasn’t offended by anything he said because I’ve known this guy for decades and he’s… different. He meant no offense and none was taken. I’d like to clarify that my dear sister-in-law did enjoy her beer but that is not what killed her. All 3 of those siblings died of massive heart attacks out of the blue at a relatively young age. They had bum tickers, they weren’t overweight and were fairly active people.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I began to think about what was said and what was implied:

My mother lived to a ripe old age, despite the fact that she was overweight, which this person felt was unusual. My first husband and his sisters died at a young age and appeared to be healthy humans so there must have been something they did to hurry their deaths.

Appearances.

Our society spends SO much time worrying/obsessing about what someone looks like and makes assumptions based on those looks as to what that person’s health might be. (Appearances also cause people to make assumptions about someone’s moral fiber and whether or not they are “worthy”, but this is about health and you don’t want to get me started on that other can of worms.) Just because my mother was heavy, this person assumed that it was a miracle that she lived so long. He knew nothing about her health. He assumed, based on her appearance, that she was an unhealthy individual. Mom suffered with bad knees, which was definitely exacerbated by her weight, and couldn’t see due to macular degeneration, but her overall health was fine. Her heart was strong. She survived lung cancer (never smoked) and other various things throughout her life but she was damn healthy! Heck, she still had all her own teeth! My first husband, on the other hand, was a healthy-looking man. He had developed a bit of a gut but he was active and didn’t appear to be ill, and yet he died so young. This just threw my acquaintance. He couldn’t comprehend how this could be! So unless my son abuses drugs or alcohol, he should be fine. What???

I’m so tired of how people are judged because of how they look. Fat-shaming is a perfectly acceptable form of bullying that is getting worse as the people in our society get larger. I have learned that weight loss is not as simple as calories in/calories out. I have learned that exercise can be difficult when you’re dealing with pain. I have learned that dealing with diabetes/elevated blood sugar is different for each individual. I have learned that “doing what I’m supposed to do” isn’t always easy when a low mood hits.

Fact: There are overweight people who run marathons and/or work out regularly.

Fact: There are overweight people who eat very healthy diets and thin people who eat nothing but crap food.

Fact: There are skinny people who are in horrible health.

Fact: Overweight/obese does not equal “unhealthy’ and thin does not equal “healthy”.

I am certainly not suggesting that people not worry about carrying excess weight. I feel that everyone, size aside, should do their best to improve their diet and add regular exercise to their lives. The point of this post is to, hopefully, have people stop and think before they judge. I’m most likely speaking to the choir, since if you’re reading this you are already well aware of how much stigma there is in the world and how important it is for us to take care of ourselves regardless of our size, but I simply had to get this off my chest!

The next time you see someone who is overweight and eating dessert, don’t judge! How is it your business what that person eats? Just maybe they have been rocking a new food plan and are simply having a treat! Maybe it’s their birthday. The point is: don’t judge. You have no idea what their life is like.

If you see someone in the grocery store who has a basketful of processed carbs, don’t judge. Maybe they just need some education about how to improve their diet. It’s not your job to correct them or look down on them.

The next time you see some thin person rocking some yoga pants, don’t assume they are healthy. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they are “better” than you just because they look like something the media has made us believe is the ideal.

To all the haters out there: Just. Stop. Who the F*** do you think you are?

Regardless of my size, or my health or the fact that I choose to go without makeup and fancy hair, I walk with my head held high because I know that I’m a good person. I’m someone who is kind. I do what I can to be as healthy as possible. How I look, what I believe or what food plan I choose to follow doesn’t make me any better or worse than the next person.

Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

5 comments:

  1. Kate, this is why I love reading your blog, and why I think you're such a super individual. Miss you.

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  2. What a mean sounding thing to say. That person didn't mean any harm and it's best to just forgive people like that and go on with life. What a kinder world it would be if everyone would live by, "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

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  3. I already love you, but this post makes me love you even more!!

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  4. I agree! I feel like my doctor considers me to be "sort-of" diabetic. First thing I was told was that I didn't look like my blood work. High cholesterol, high glucose, high a1c - and I am thin, active and eat good for me foods. Go figure!!

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  5. Loved reading this blog, you think like I think. I lost my 93 yr old mother in May. I am struggling with my diabetes and am trying new insulin which is hard because of the side effects. I have to lose serious weight and it is such a struggle, I get discouraged. Will keep plodding on.

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