I feel it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that this week is National Obesity Awareness Week. However, unlike many others, I am going to stay away from the health conditions often related to obesity. We are all aware that being over weight comes with an increased risk of numerous health consequences. However, it is important to note that being overweight isn’t always a direct ticket to these and that research has shown you can be ‘fit and fat’.
During this post I would rather focus on the social implications which are often associated with obesity. For those who are not obese it can be difficult to place yourselves in the shoes of someone who is. Many people take the view that obesity is a self-inflicted condition and so often are unable to empathise.
A few years ago I spent two consecutive summers working on a weight loss camp. There I began to understand the daily struggles and pressures which are associated with obesity. This is the key reason for this article. I wish to share them with you, so maybe like me, you’ll be able to remove some of the stigmas associated with obesity.
Obesity isn’t always a lack of self-control, motivation or self-care. Obesity can stem from a variety of reasons such as hormonal imbalances, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder amongst many others.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in people are always looking to make themselves feel better. This can come at the expense of others and obesity often seems to be the cause of some undesirable discrimination.
Along with relationship stresses, financial stresses and work stresses imagine the stresses associated with obesity; being embarrassed to eat in public for fear of the nasty looks or snide remarks from the ignorant people around you. The fear of not being able to fit in the seats of public transport, the worry of not fitting in a toilet cubicle, the stress of not fitting into the back of car, the fear of dropping something that you’re unable to pick up. The list is endless.
As much as being a healthy weight is important your insides are equally so. I don’t see the prejudice towards the TOFIs (thin on the outside fat on the inside) out there.
This week (and in the future weeks) I ask you to take a moment before you pass judgment on someone’s weight, to consider the constant health, physical, psychological and social battles they face on a daily basis.
For a further insight into the struggles obese individuals experience read my article on working at a weight loss camp (part 1). I also discuss how my experiences of working with obese people in part 2.