Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Weight of Society

I am always trying to be aware of the beliefs that our society and culture teach us.  Most often we don't notice them until our resulting beliefs and actions rub up against a different one.  Then we see that something is different and wonder why.  If we follow it up and talk to the person we may learn to see ourselves a little different and sometimes we learn to believe something different if we recognize we were clinging to some false beliefs. 

It seems that is the case with body weight and what is an ideal body size and/or type. 

I've had a male co-worker recently talking to me about his desire to lose weight.  He is a tall fellow and remembers some of his younger days when he was athletic and won awards and championships with his sports participation.  He wants to get his body back to where he was so he can have more physical successes instead of memories.  I told him the memories were good enough for me! 

I read a blog that points out that our societal beliefs are incorrect in many instances regarding body size (click here to go to the article).  Of course who knows who to believe nowadays?  It seems you can find some authoritive opinion saying anything from both or every side of an issue and the truth gets murkier and murkier. 

What I see, is that when we develop these cultural beliefs that we often marginalize groups of our society.  In this case we marginalize big folks.  We teach them that they can't do what they want or reach their potential or their value is diminished.  People in positions to do so may withhold job opportunities, or friendship, or support for folks who are not within the normal weight range.  Even more tragic is those withhold love and kindness because someone doesn't fit our idea of a good body weight.  To give a quick example with body weight--how is it that we have such a large range of acceptable weights for men and such a small range for women.  Women outside of the range get demeaned and diminished.  Men outside of the range are often ignored. 

I have another friend who told me recently that his wife was hoping he would gain weight.  He said it was one of the few things they disagreed on.  He liked his weight and felt good. 

Our society wants our men big and imposing and our women petite and trivial.  Those that don't fit the societal mold run up against road blocks to try and force them into the mold or make them sorry they don't.  Of course many folks who don't fit the mold are strengthened mentally and over achieve because of the opposition while others wilt and retreat, seemingly from the pressure. 

I like what the gospel teaches--just love them.  Judging or inforcing some societal standard is not the way.  Worry about ourselves.  If we want to be a certain way and can attain it then do it, but don't try to make others like you through intimidation and coercion.  If you want to encourage others to find the way you like, prefer or think is healthy then only use persuasion with love unfeigned, the only acceptable method that respects their ability to choose and our ability to accept and care about them regardless. 

1 comment:

  1. (another blog i somehow missed!) i hadn't really thought much about this before in terms of what is socially acceptable as far as weight goes according to gender, but i think you're right - overweight men are much more accepted than overweight women. it's good that we have the ability to turn aside societal norms that are not worth living by and just love people anyway!!! loving people is the best :)


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