Obesity in the media

This is a tough topic to tackle, but I do want to say a few things about it — so please forgive me if anything I say causes offence.

I accept all people and think everyone is beautiful. These are just some observations I have from working in the industry that I do.

The media is known for its preference for slim people. This has pretty much always been the case.

Times are changing, however, and people who aren’t as slim as others feel that they, too, deserve to be represented in the media. Right now, acceptance is growing and equality is thriving. More and more “plus-sized” models are appearing in clothing adverts, and body size is becoming less of an issue.

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That being said, this is not the case for every outlet (media and otherwise), and there are still many people out there who feel underrepresented.

Here are my views on the matter. I work for a health news and information website, and as such, I know quite a bit about the dangers of being overweight and obese. Actually, the dangers are becoming more prominent.

Excess weight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, some cancers, heart disease, and premature death. The fact of the matter is that more people are overweight and obese now than ever before, and noncommunicable diseases are growing in prevalence across the world.

I therefore think that some media outlets are wise in their decision not to feature plus-sized models.

The media’s role in our modern-day world is very influential, and for it to promote unhealthful eating would be even more irresponsible than if it didn’t.

Promoting overweight and obesity in a world that is already in the grasp of an obesity “epidemic” would be foolish. While I hate to have to say this, this is a big part of the reason behind the media choosing not to feature plus-sized people.

Personally, I don’t think this issue comes down to “fat-shaming,” “inequality,” or “bullying” — just common sense.

You can’t please everyone

I noticed something recently: no matter what you do, there’s always someone who’ll be unhappy about it.

This is true even if you do a nice thing for someone! Here’s a good (albeit annoying) example: you’re in queuing traffic.

A junction joins the road on your left-hand side, and traffic is queuing to come out of it, to join the main road that you’re already on.

You choose to do the person who’s waiting at the junction a favor — after all, you’re not going anywhere fast — and let them out in front of you.

They’re grateful, so they wave and thank you for it.

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But to the person behind you, that’s just one extra car that’s now in front of them. This one extra car could be the difference between making it through a green light and having to stop when it turns red again. To them, this action isn’t kind; it’s selfish.

And that’ll always be the case in life. You just can’t please everyone — it’s impossible. My advice to you would be to stop trying. Do what makes you happy. And if doing a good deed for someone else makes you happy, do it. Don’t think too much about anyone outside of that immediate context.

Please don’t hold yourself accountable for other people’s reactions and emotions. Just hold yourself accountable for yours.

In conversation, consider others

Most of us will have felt the guilt of saying something insensitive to someone without thinking first. Their face will drop and you’ll feel terrible.

I was in this situation, albeit as an observer, lately. Let me explain. My partner wants, more than anything in the world, to work in the rail industry as a signaller. However, he’s colourblind.

So, we’re not sure whether he’ll be able to secure an operations job. Anyway, we were spending an evening with one of his friends, who does happen to work on the railway. One of that guy’s friends, whom we didn’t know before that point, was also present.

We got to talking about my partner’s aspirations and the fact that he’s colourblind. This guy looks up from his pint and simply says, “You’re fucked.”

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It broke my heart. We already knew that my partner’s career goals were somewhat unlikely to become a reality, but hearing it put so blatantly and unashamedly just shook me.

My partner’s a tough cookie, so he just let it slide, but imagine how hard that must have been to hear. What’s worse is that the guy probably has no idea how much it hurt us both (looking back, we should have said something, but we were both in shock about how brazen this guy was).

I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: please think carefully before you voice your opinions. You never know who you might hurt.

Pretence and perception: Let’s try to quit untruth

I’ve noticed that a lot of people make choices based on the effect that they think it will have on their appearance — not physically, but the way in which they are perceived by others.

This is pretence; these people are purposely giving others a false idea of themselves. And they will do this to try to garner popularity, gain approval, secure a job or other such opportunity, or even get themselves a romantic partner.

Not only is this downright dangerous — can you imagine telling your new boss that you love dealing with spreadsheets only to be given an important project and then have to admit that you lied and risk being fired? — but it is also dishonest, a surefire way to guarantee short-term gains but dodge anything that might become long-term.

I knew somebody on a literature course who would very blatantly pretend to enjoy every single book they ever read. Surely there’s got to be one they didn’t like? Apparently not.

Obviously literature is held in high regard, and anyone with a degree in the subject will know that an active perusal of books is — or was, at least — taken to be the mark of a rich, intelligent, and successful individual.

I can only assume that this person believed that was still true and wanted to present themselves as some kind of educated gift to society.

Pretending to like something to fit in with, or elevate yourself above, your peers is an everyday falsehood and another barrier to achieving authenticity and truth.

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In my opinion, people whose internal and external selves purposely differ or clash — note: I am aware that some people live with mental health conditions that may predispose them to such symptoms — cannot be trusted.

In short, these individuals are actively lying to you for their own short-term gains — namely, to obtain your approval.

Presenting a false idea of yourself will prevent long-term relationships or connections because you will either have to keep up the untruth for the rest of your life (surely an impossible task?) or come clean that you lied. Honestly, people will like you more for being true to yourself (and to them).

I’ll conclude by asking you, “What’s to gain from pretence?”

The inevitable visitor

If you only come to life when something
in the media gets you down,

if you only start to defend ‘rights’ when
it is yours being threatened,

if you only fight back when words are
spoken against your honour,

if you only take action when it becomes
necessary to do so,

if you live your life with your image in
pride of place,

don’t expect karma not to grace your
presence some day.

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On manners

Are people getting ruder? Do you hold the door for people and become disappointed and frustrated when they don’t bother thanking you? Do you go to the ends of the earth for your friend, only to have your efforts totally ignored?

Personally, I’m beginning to notice these things more and more, and it’s so annoying. To me, it spells ungratefulness and shows people as inconsiderate.

When someone does something nice for you — no matter how small or trivial it is — you should tell them that you appreciate it. Just a simple ‘thank you’ will make the world of difference, seriously.

When people don’t do this, it makes me wonder why I bothered, and of course I don’t want to think that way. I bothered because I wanted to make a difference to somebody’s life, but I do also think that I deserve to be thanked for it.

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Here’s an example, from my life, that frustrates me to this day. In a tragic accident, one of my closest friends died. I also happened to be best friends with his girlfriend, having lived with her for a year prior to the start of their relationship.

When he died, I was always there for her. I lived across the country, but we had daily chats and phone calls and I even went to visit her over 200 miles away. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through, and I wanted to show her that I cared.

Fast forward 18 months, and she’s deleted me from Facebook and no longer bothers to talk to me. We never even had an argument, and I always supported her.

Really? That’s the thanks I get?

Be mindful of the things other people have done — maybe even sacrificed — for you, to make you happier. Thank them. Tell them you appreciate it, even if it’s as small as someone letting you skip ahead of them in a queue when you’re in a rush.

‘I hate the way you make me feel’

If you spend a lot of time around someone, you’ll start to notice little habits, sayings, and behaviours. And although they might be a nice person at heart, some of the things you notice can unsettle you or make you feel uncomfortable, guilty, or awkward.

Some things are OK here, and other things certainly aren’t. It’s OK if you don’t like the way they make you feel, and it’s OK for them to have their little habits. But it’s not OK when they continue to make you feel bad and you don’t say anything, and it’s not OK when they know full well what they’re doing and how you feel but continue anyway.

I know somebody who doesn’t let anything I do or say slip past unnoticed. You’d think they’d have better things to do, but it seems that they prefer watching what I’m doing out of the corner of their eye. Every single change in my tone of voice gets picked up and commented on, and every twitch in my facial expression is analysed.

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And I’ve found that it’s exhausting trying to control these things and wondering what will be commented on or picked apart next. Why can’t I grimace without being asked why or judged about it? And can’t I just say “Don’t worry about it” without somebody thinking it has a hidden meaning, or that I’m hiding something?

I’m sure this person is lovely deep inside, but I hope they spend some time thinking about how their actions make people feel — especially if they make a person feel ashamed, judged, or sad.

Just think about it — are your words, actions, or reactions met with sadness? Let’s change that.