Apples and Oranges, People

Today I heard something disturbing while listening to talk radio on the way in to work. A man called up and said (I’m paraphrasing, obviously) “I’m a smoker and I get really annoyed when obese people tell me it’s unhealthy. Being overweight is just as bad, but I would never tell someone they need to lose weight.” The radio host agreed, of course, said she completely understands where he’s coming from and she probably wouldn’t be able to hold her tongue. She wanted listeners to call in with some suggestions for “comebacks” this man can use. Let’s talk about why this is so completely back asswards that I would have been laughing if I hadn’t been trying to refrain myself from punching the radio.

 

First of all, let me just say that I do not condone going up to someone who’s smoking, unsolicited, and telling them it’s unhealthy and that they need to stop. That’s not my business. Of course, there are situations where this may be appropriate, such as if there are children close by, they are smoking indoors or if the person is being very rude about where they blow their smoke. However, these situations are less about concern-trolling and more about calling someone out on their public rudeness.

 

But I want to compare going up to a stranger and telling them to kick the habit, vs. telling a stranger to lose weight. The biggest difference between these two situations is that smoking is a BEHAVIOR and obesity is a BODY SIZE. There are behaviors that are inappropriate in public. There are no body sizes that are inappropriate in public. Smoking is a choice a person makes. Again, obesity describes the size of their body (sort of ).

 

Secondly, smoking in public affects other people. Secondhand smoke is a real thing that really does hurt people. If someone wants to up their chances for lung cancer that is entirely their business. However, they have no right to increase my chance of lung cancer and I have every right to not be subjected to secondhand smoke. Additionally, people have conditions anywhere from asthma to cystic fibrosis that can be exacerbated by cigarette smoke and they have every right to go out in public with the expectation of being able to breathe. Even if you believe obesity is a disease (it’s not << TW: headless fatties), even if you think it costs taxpayers money (it doesn’t), that still doesn’t change the fact that a smoker could put out her cigarette RIGHT NOW but an obese person cannot lose weight RIGHT NOW (and possibly not at all).

 

Someone who is obese, standing in your vicinity, does not affect you in the least, except maybe to offend your delicate sensibilities. They have zero effect on your life. Someone who is blowing smoke into your face however, affects you very much. One of these things is not like the other.

 

I get that this guy is probably just defensive about getting called out on his habit, but the solution is not a bigoted attack on an entire population of people. That would be like a stranger at a bar telling you that you should slow down on the drinking, and you shouting a racial slur at them. Were they a little out of line? Probably, yeah. Does that give you a right to spew prejudice about anyone who looks like them? Nope, not at all.

 

I’ll say it again: Smoking is a BEHAVIOR, obesity is a BODY SIZE.

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One Day At A Time (A Long Overdue Update)

This is hard.

For the past six months or so I’ve been doing my best. Shortly after I decided I was going to love myself and be happy I slipped right back into self-loathing and depression. Now I’m pulling myself back out and it’s HARD, dude. Real hard. Some days I feel awesome, beautiful and amazing. Other days I wonder why I’m even bothering to put the effort in when it’s so difficult and the whole world is against me and it would be so much easier to just give in, hate myself forever and be done. So here’s what I do to keep on trucking when I feel hopeless:

I read blogs from the fat acceptance and body love movement. Ragen Chastain, Virgie Tovar and Jes Baker are my role model/hero/rockstars and I read their blogs religiously. These ladies are so fantastic and inspire so much motivation and excitement in me.

I look at myself in the mirror, sometimes clothed, sometimes not, and I force myself to see how hot I am. Seriously. This probably wouldn’t have worked six months ago, but now if I try hard enough, no matter my mood, I can see how awesome my curves are. My curvy body makes me feel feminine and I like that.

I solicit a compliment from my husband. Equal parts dorky and cocky, but he’s never let me down when I ask him what he thinks about my body. I used to think he loved ME and accepted my body along with me. Now I realize that he loves me AND my body, something he’s been trying to get through my head since we started dating. (Sorry babe- I get it now!)

I look at pictures of plus-sized models and actresses to remind myself that beauty is not dependent on a size and EVERYONE’S body is perfect.

On days when I feel really down, I don’t focus on me. I don’t want to wear myself down. Motivation and discipline are finite and I’m still new to this. Sometimes my brain needs a break. On those days, I make sure I focus on other people and why they are beautiful. Sometimes I do this with everyone I see, sometimes I only employ this tactic when I’ve had an impulsive, nasty thought about a stranger. In those cases, I recognize the thought as toxic and I make myself come up with at least one reason why that person is beautiful.

I speak out against body shaming. I haven’t done this one enough, mostly because I’m painfully shy and uncomfortable speaking out against most anything. But at the very least, I make sure that when I hear body shaming, I disengage from the conversation.

Mostly, I try to take everything one day or hour or minute at a time and remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, because being me IS perfect.