My post last Friday about the evidently malnourished Australian Miss Universe contestant got me thinking about judgment … specifically, my unconsious (human?) tendency to pass judgment.
I called this woman out here on my blog — a disordered eating recovery blog — for being too skinny (at 5’11 and 108 lbs.) and for possibly having an eating disorder … in spite of her denial of it being true.
I called her out because in looking at her, I was concerned that this is the image our children see.
I called her out because I was both sickened and saddened — sickened that she looked so skeletal, and saddened that her figure personifies “beauty” to some … possibly even some of my own readers or followers of “thinspo” (the pro-ana movement).
The irony is, if I saw a morbidly obese person on the street, who might not be in the best health either, though I might make a superficial judgment in my head (as in, stating the fact that the person is morbidly obese) … would I devote a post about it?
No, I wouldn’t.
Why? Well, first off, I live in the U.S. where (though I take personal issue with the forms of measurement) most Americans are considered “overweight” and 30-40% are classified as “obese” … so it wouldn’t be a unique situation.
But even more than that, while perhaps being morbidly obese is frowned upon, being “overweight” isn’t necessarily shunned here in the U.S.
Let’s be real here. In our weight-obsessed culture, we can say it’s better to maintain a “healthy” weight than to be significantly overweight … but the reality is, thin people contract diseases, too.
And not everyone is made to be a size 4. Sure, most Americans could probably afford to eat less, move more, drop a few … but tons of research has shown that we’re better off being fit and a little overweight than “skinny-fat.”
So I can totally see why the urgency or desperation just isn’t there for those of us in the “overweight” category to waste time obsessing over 10-15 lbs.; hell, I’m technically in that category (again) now, myself, despite being fit … and look at how much of my time has been wasted thinking about it!
When I look at it that way, it’s ridiculous.
Anyway, if I see someone who is morbidly obese on the street … I’ll be honest, I don’t always think twice. If I happen to notice them, it often triggers a little sadness, reminding me of some insecurities I felt when I was heavier, myself.
Or maybe just the same I wonder if they are happy, regardless of their size. For all I know, maybe they subscribe to the “fat acceptance” movement and are 100% content with themselves as they are… could I begrudge anyone that level of confidence? Certainly not!
That said, in my heart, I don’t buy that anyone is truly happy on either extreme side of the equation: skin and bones or morbidly obese. People on both sides might argue their own personal truths til the sun comes up … but I just don’t know … I can’t imagine being truly happy on either extreme side, especially since I personally have had trouble in the gray areas myself.
But really, ultimately, who am I to judge? I’m just a girl who was chubby all her life, slimmed down, gained some back and is, once again, struggling for body acceptance.
So since scientifically we know being extremely obese isn’t any healthier than someone insanely skeletal … then I can’t help but wonder … why is it so easy for me (or anyone) to pass such scathing judgement on someone deemed too thin and not on someone severely overweight?
After some soul-searching, the only thing I can come up with is I’ve never been skinny, so I don’t know what it’s like to have someone (wrongfully) accuse you of having an eating disorder when genetically, you’re just thin.
But I have been chubby, and I think that’s why I empathize more/identify more with the morbidly obese cross-section of America than I do with the bony sliver of America.
In addition to that, I subscribe to the belief that weight/size –though it is not necessarily set in stone — is a genetic trait; I really think some people are simply predispositioned to be heavier.
(Note: In my family, we say, a “Jeanettic” predisposition, referring to my maternal grandma, my beloved Bubby, who never met a salami, blintz, or knish she didn’t like and came from a long lineage of Russian and Polish Jews).
Though some might work hard to change their shape, our bodies do have a natural set-point, and so even if they get there for a minute, they might never fit the government’s standards of being “normal.”
But some things are just “Jeannettic.” Personally, even at my thinnest, I still had broad hips and shoulders, big legs (everything just slimmed down) … and even at my heaviest, I had an hour-glass figure and a fairly lean mid-section.
(And truthfully, for all my moaning about wanting to re-lose this weight … I’d rather carry these extra pounds and be fit and healthy than consumed with DE thoughts or engaging in DE behaviors. Losing weight helped me fit into new jeans and boosted my stamina as well as confidence, but it certainly didn’t make my life problem-free).
So while someone could suffer serious health risks from being too heavy or too thin, I think my experience with being on the overweight side of the equation is why I passed judgment in this instance, whether it’s right or wrong.
Deep down, I know that weight struggles come in all shapes and sizes. Someone’s five pounds to lose for better health is someone else’s fifty, and some people struggle to gain weight while others struggle to lose it.
I don’t like being judgmental, and don’t like to think of myself as someone who is judgmental, but I guess as humans we’re all judgmental in one way or another.
That said, I’m realizing my commentary about Miss Australia could have had a more concerned tone, because ultimately, I am concerned, about her and the message she sends to the world.
Admitting that I’d freely post about someone too skinny and not someone too heavy is hypocritical; I realize this. But I hope you can see where I’m coming from.
I truly hope I didn’t offend anyone by calling out Miss Australia; I still stick to my assertion that she is too thin. But I do hope that if she does have an eating disorder, she is able to get the help that she needs.
And that’s not judgment; it’s concern and honesty.
I leave you today with this thought: in a perfect world, this post wouldn’t need to exist.
How about you? Do you pass judgment on other people based on their size? Or make assumptions that you’ve found to be false? How can you curb the judging voice in your head?