James Fell is tired of “Fit Mom” Maria Kang and here’s why!
With her latest piece for Time Ideas she’s made her opinions abundantly clear, again: It’s okay to be proud of being fit, and you fat people should try and be like her, because being fat is bad. What’s your excuse?
I’m cool with taking pride in fitness, as well as advocating others to adopt lifestyles that involve chasing ambitious health and fitness goals. I encourage my readers all the time to go hard and fuel it with good food. I provide them with realistic advice on how to integrate fitness into a busy life in the obesigenic environment, finding their own sustainable level of “good enough.”
But I leave shame and guilt out of it. I try not to get into fear too much either, even though there are things to be fearful of when it comes to obesity (that’s for a future post). The problem with shame, guilt and even fear-mongering over obesity is that they are crappy motivators.
I don’t think Maria is such a good motivator. She doesn’t even see the shaming she engages in. I really didn’t want to write about her again. I was asked/paid to do it once and, since everyone seemed to be so black and white on the issue, failing to see the gray areas, I figured I could weigh in. (Again, it wasn’t the photo that was “controversial,” it was the shame-inducing header I have a problem with, coupled with a non-apology follow up and now an ongoing stream of more of the same.)
And then someone sent me her latest article, and it got me thinking about why. Why do Maria and so many like her not see the shaming against ALL body types that is rampant in society? It’s not just the fat shaming that I wrote about here, or even the thin shaming that I wrote about here. It seems like every body part we own, from top to toenails, is subject to public ridicule, whether it’s too veiny, bulgy, flaky scrawny, purply, wrinkly, saggy, droopy, bumpy, pokey, Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc …
And why is that? Why all the hate not just for others, but for ourselves? Part of it is evolution via natural selection. We’re naturally attracted to healthier looking people as potential mates because it’s an indication of them providing us with viable offspring. To a certain extent, what we find attractive is coded into our genes. How romantic.
Beyond that, we have capitalism run amok.
Humanity became the dominant life form on the planet because we played the survival of the fittest game better than any other species, and we’re still playing it; against each other. Whether you realize it or not, whether you even want kids or not, at least part of your psyche is driven by the desire to have your genetic material live on and live well into future generations. Part of that involves picking the best mates, and one way to get that mate is to look good yourself.
And so the marketers instill in you a fear of being a gargoyle to get you to buy a product. Watch TV or flip through magazines or glance at web ads that specifically promise to make you look better in some way. It’s all a play on your insecurities that you’re not hot enough, and therefore your genes will go the way of the Neanderthal if you don’t buy what they’re selling, or something.
There is big business in making people feel bad about the way they look. Sometimes, making fun of the way other people look is big business, like the latest cover of National Enquirer.
That’s a lot of body hate for one page. These bodies are all “disasters,” featuring “skin disease” and “botched breasts” and a “belly nightmare” or a “freaky face-lift.” A man has “boobs like a lady,” and one woman has a “sunken stomach” while the other is “scary skinny.” Oh, and everything is all caps with exclamation marks, so you know it’s serious.
And guess what companies all have large advertisements placed inside that very issue:
- Sensa “weight loss system”
- Purely Inspired weight loss supplements
- Xenadrine weight loss supplements
- Garcinia Cambogia weight loss supplements
- A strapless bra that promises “No more sagging bust!”
Things that make you go, Hmmm …
Evolution and the media are in league to make you hate the way you look, and to judge others just as harshly. Playing this game doesn’t take you to your happy place. It makes you miserable, and it makes others suffer as well. The stream of hate is continuous, only partially because I see this magazine at the checkout every time I go to the grocery store, with every week it being a different version of the same thing. There are other magazines, ads, TV shows, billboards, people and our own internal thoughts that perpetuate the hostility.
We are, all of us, homo sapiens. “Sapiens” is Latin for “wise.” And what does “wise” mean? It is, “Having the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.”
You don’t have to fall victim to your genetic impulses or buy the load of bullshit that gets blasted out by the media. You, as a wise human being, have the ability to judge what is true, right and lasting.
You can stop hating others’ bodies, and you can stop hating your own.
And if you want, you can also change it. You can aspire to be stronger and faster. You can aspire to be leaner and healthier. You can aspire to jump higher, throw further, live longer, love stronger, eat better, be nicer and generally wring every bit of awesome of out life that is within your grasp.
You can aspire to better things, and it starts with ditching all the hate, guilt and shame.
You can aspire to be your own version of awesome.