It is nearly impossible to travel outside the comforts of your home without being confronted by the rampant obesity problem in the United States. From the grocery carts full of high-calorie processed food to tighter squeezes around the conference table to parents watching their children play on the park bench, the widening waistline is hard to miss.
And it's even harder to not judge.
not-world-famous blogger recently caught flack via GOMI for posting a
photo and order of two gentlemen she saw at Starbucks. The men were
obese, and she was frustrated by the poor choices they were making.
After reading the criticism on the forum,
I'm sad to say that I went to the post (since removed) and left a
critical comment, feeling very high and mighty. It was the first of an onslaught of harsh words for the woman who was probably ignorant (initially) to the power of her words and actions.
While I don't regret
the comment I made as I believe it was not overly vicious and fairly
well meaning coming, I'm not so sure I had the right to make it.
Admittedly, when I see a mother pushing a grocery cart with 12-packs of
Mountain Dew that I roll my eyes. I feel sick to my stomach when I see
people do more than indulge in a restaurant. My gaze stops when I see
someone morbidly obese.
I am not proud of those statements, and I
truly do my best to suspend judgment. I make a concerted effort to
catch myself in the act, so to speak, and force myself to step back. I
ask myself if that's how I would have wanted to be treated when I was
obese. Would I have wanted to be treated that way, with such disgust?
answer, obviously, is no. It can be a hard line to walk, though. The
one between not wanting to accept - even condone - poor decisions and
letting people live their lives, especially when the judgment comes from
a well-meaning place. I try to keep a few things in mind when I'm
facing a not-so-nice side of myself.
People do not always know
what's good and bad. It might seem inherent that fruits and vegetables
are better than chocolate bars and chips but the healthy food world can
get murky beyond the basics. I would often order pasta dishes and salads
thinking they were better than burgers and fries. Ruby Tuesday was a
favorite haunt of mine when I was at my heaviest, and I'd often eat a
Cajun pasta dish with the salad bar. The item is no longer available but
the Parmesan Shrimp Pasta has 1,065 calories and 54 grams of fat. By
comparison, a Classic Cheeseburger has 907 calories and 59 grams of fat.
Obviously, the pasta was not a better choice.
Don't assume you
know their motives. Whether it's a grocery cart full of crap or a
fat-laden, calorie-rich meal, a person might not be the intended
consumer for the products. Right or wrong, I buy Mark frozen pizzas and
cookies at the grocery and I'll purchase non-diet soda for parties. If I
got to Starbucks, I might be ordering a drink for myself and a friend. Just because I get those things doesn't mean I'll be binging later.
untraveled. When we see someone who is obese, it's easy to think you
know her story. She sits at home and eats ice cream out of the carton.
She orders a large size No. 1 from McDonald's on the way home from work. She says she would only
run if being chased by a saber tooth tiger that emerged from the
space-time continuum. And it could be true. It could also be true, though, that she's already started to make
changes. She's lost 20 pounds and hit a milestone at Weight Watchers.
She walked three miles for the first time ever. Sideways glances and
unkind thoughts will not motivate her or encourage changes. They will
set her back.
Being at a healthy weight does not give you special
privileges. After a particularly hard run or long race, you might find
me in line at Menchie's, throwing brownie bites and cookie dough onto my
frozen yogurt. My favorite post-half marathon meal is french fries from
McDonald's. And I definitely rode the "I just ran 20 miles" train longer than I should have. Those foods are just as bad for me as they are for someone
who is obese, and I can't judge others for eating them if I do.
and blood. Judgment can often turn an overweight person into an object,
devoid of feelings and rights. But underneath it all, they are human.
They have blood pumping through their veins. Feelings. Insecurities.
And, last time I checked, all people were deserving of life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness - not judgment and scorn.
What are your thoughts?