Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another Great Read - Fat MicroAgression

I came across this article the other day. Blogger Melissa McEwan asked overweight women and men to tweet examples of Fat MicroAgression. What is Fat MicroAgression? It's the small comments and remarks made to overweight people every day, often hidden as fake compliments or helpful suggestions. As I read through it, it saddened me to think of these comments being lobbied at overweight people as if somehow we have the right to comment on other people's bodies or that we know better what will or won't work for other people.



I can't imagine that when you suggest diet or exercise to an overweight friend, you truly believe you are telling them about some crazy new thing they've never heard of before. And, just because a certain diet or way of eating or a certain workout worked for you, does not mean it will work for anyone else. We are so individual - in how we eat, think, live, exercise, work etc - we can not have a one size fits all mentality to health.

Further, just because you are skinny, does not mean you are healthy and therefore should be telling overweight people how to get healthy. In fact, there are many examples of overweight people who are healthier than their skinnier friends. When I ran the SeaWheeze this year, I saw a ton of overweight people who were clearly healthy and fit enough to run 13.1 miles, a distance many people never even contemplate trying.

And yet, I recently confided in a friend that I wanted to compete in a bikini competition in 2014 and her reaction was good for me, but that's not her favorite body type. And this hurt and irked me a lot, kind of how I imagine the Fat MicroAgression feels for overweight people. I am finding myself more and more frustrated by the constant need to talk about peoples bodies. Whether you're making a comment about someone being fat or someone being thin, someone being fit or someone being overweight, why are we so obsessed with sharing our opinion on how other people look? Does stating a fitness goal automatically open you up to unwanted feedback? Does someone asking "do I look fat?" mean we are free to tell them how we really feel?

If you have a true concern for someones health and you are close enough to them that your concern is relevant, find a kind way to talk to them. I am not suggesting you watch someone you love descend into anorexia just because you don't want to talk about their body or that you sit back and watch your family balloon up to 400lbs while you hesitate, too afraid to speak up. But unless you are very close to the person, and you are truly concerned for their health, I think it's time we STOP commenting on how other people choose to live and look. I choose to be more muscled than most women - that is MY choice. I don't need your validation but I definitely don't need your criticism either. Friends of mine who are overweight and happy do NOT need your validation or opinion or criticism either. Friends of mine with naturally thin bodies don't need your vote on that. Friends with dancers bodies don't need it either. Friends with a few extra pounds don't need it either.

Maybe it's not just Fat MicroAgression we should be talking about. It's Body MicroAgresssion. A phenomenon that in general applies mostly to women and prevents us from being more than just a body. And it isn't right.

Have you experienced Fat/Body MicroAgression?

What did you think of this article?

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