Every time I see this meme, I think about who I was when I first started seeing it on social media. I was one of those people on the couch. It would get added, in my head, to the litany of body shaming voices I’d hear every day.
Today is reminds me of a specific conversation I had once. It was the night before I gave, what turned out to be, one of the biggest public speeches of my life. I had a “friend” spend well over a half hour on the phone telling me she was “worried” about my weight, and how pretty I would be if I lost some weight. She had just watched an infomercial for some new miracle product and she would help me with the money if I would just give it a try. It was so easy, even I could use it.
You can imagine what that did for my confidence. It certainly made standing in front of that podium a bit tougher.
For the record, the speech went well despite the nerves.
Even now, I still strongly identify with those “on the couch.”
Some need understanding. Some people have real limitations, and should never be treated like they have less drive and motivation because their limitations are different than yours. Additionally, you have no idea what kind of journey someone is on before you take time to truly meet them. So, don’t be judgmental.
Some need encouragement. This is where my old self was. I had a lot of people telling me what I couldn’t do. There was plenty of rhetoric and social stigmas telling me what I, as a fat person, should do. It wasn’t until I was introduced to people who encouraged me to look beyond these messages, that I began to find my strength. So, be kind.
And, some, are just arm-chair life coaches who would rather exercise their vocal chords and impose their limits on others. For whatever reason, they feel the need to either judge you for your own limitations, or impose theirs on you. Much like the other two, the reasons for their behavior may be a mystery. You never know the trials someone is going through, but we are all going through something. So, be forgiving.
But, maybe the idea I wish people understood about memes like these, is they perpetuate the idea that a healthy lifestyle is a race. A competition. It helps further the societal bullshit that those who are doing the “right” things to be healthy are somehow better members of society. This is neither kind, non-judgemental, or forgiving.
If shaming people was an effective catalyst for weight loss, there would be no fat people.
If you have a competitive spirit, then join a league. Judging people because their skills and abilities are different than your own is unsportsmanlike conduct.