Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chewing the fat

The world is full of terrible people who likes nothing better than to pigeon-hole others; may be it makes their lives easier if they can categorise individuals (a la non-scientific Linnaeus). But the uglier truth is that many people enjoy putting others down to make themselves feel better.

Skin colour, height, size, employment, disability, sexual orientation, social mobility, religion etc etc etc is fair game for segregating people into the category known as "Others". These "Other" people are denigrated, scoffed, ridiculed and held in contempt because they are different. For certain criterion, such as body size, the negative reaction can be really overwhelming.

Reading this article is very sobering, but not really surprising. How many of us have gone to a physician, asking for help and was met with contemptuous dismissal? I suppose doctors are human too and have all the requisite human failures like a meanness of spirit or prejudice, however inadvertent.

This line from the article gave me chills.

"Over the last few years, fat people have become scapegoats for all manner of cultural ills."

From global warming to skyrocketing healthcare cost? Oh wow. Surely it has nothing to do with people relishing high-energy lifestyle that strains the world's resources. *insert eye rolling*

Another line that got me thinking was " ... who wouldn’t dream of disparaging anyone’s color, sex, economic status or general attractiveness, yet feel free to comment witheringly on a person’s weight."

People seem to think that criticising you is a way of showing their concern, but I think they ought to examine their motives a little closer. Is it really concern that motivates you or is it just a way for you to feel superior over the other person? If it is the first, are you aware whether the language you used was hurtful or did you make an attempt to be clear but with consideration of that person's feelings?

Please, you can lie to others but you shouldn't lie to yourself. Your expression, body language and word choice speaks loudly of your true intention. Let's be honest. You want to make yourself feel better by making someone else feel bad about themselves. You do think that you are better than that person and that you have the right to speak what you want because you're just "concerned and being honest about the issue".

So before you want to make a personal remark to someone else regarding their appearance (or marital status and other potential minefield topics), stop and think for a while. Consider why you need to say it; if you have run out of casual conversational gambits, try the weather. It is better to be boring than to be unpardonably rude.

Just sayin'.

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