Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Just don't let it get to you." - Fact or Fiction?

I have a friend that I respect and admire very much.  He is talented, smart, innovative and self-confident.  There are many ways that I wish I were more like him.  That said, he has a definite blind spot, one that is actually a positive in moderation, but he takes to extreme.  My friend, whom we will call X, firmly believes in Mind Over Matter.  If you are tired or hurting, push through it.  If you are angry or sad, suck it up and move on.  If you feel as though someone else is putting you down, just don't let it get to you.  And yes, while I agree that we cannot control the actions of others, we can only control our own reactions, we part ways on the subsequent thoughts.

You see, I don't agree with just not letting it get to me, ignoring it and continuing on my own way no matter what.  When it comes to social iniquity, that sort of "ignore it and it will take care of itself" attitude is not in my personality because it doesn't work.  If we ignore it, that doesn't mean that it will go away, it just means that the people who feel that being obnoxious, rude, or cruel will continue to do so without repercussion.

I believe in doing what we can to make the world a better place for everyone, not just ourselves.  I believe in letting people know that certain comments or actions are unacceptable.  I believe that EVERY person has the inherent right to be treated with courtesy until they prove that they have forfeited that right.  We share a social contract with one another, and the growing tendency toward verbal abuse, rudeness, and outright hostility to whichever group happens to be the current target needs to be stopped.  The only way to stop it successfully is to bring enough social pressure to bear that those who continue such practices are given the clear message that their behaviour is NOT acceptable.

The other day, Mr. Stephen King posted an admirable article discussing how many of those fortunate to hold positions in the financial top 1% feel that they should pay more taxes.  (WARNING:  Which is NOT the point of this blog, so folks who comment on that part of my entry will probably not have their comment approved.)  Unfortunately, Mr. King felt the need to make some unacceptable references to Governor Christie's weight.  Another friend (mutual to X and myself) posted a link to the article.  I replied that while I applauded Mr. King's main sentiments, I was dismayed that he'd felt the need to body-shame to do it.

X didn't see my concern, and said that if someone is upset or shamed by their body, it is their own choice and their own perception.  Again, I agree with him to a point, but not past that point.  I don't believe that we should allow others to make us feel ashamed of ourselves, that we have the right and the responsibility to ourselves to be proud of who and what we are, no matter what our shape or size.  Our bodies are amazing things, and should be celebrated in all forms.

Where I again part ways with X is simply that, unlike him, I am very aware that not everyone is strong enough to be able to cast off the burden of public opinion.  I have been one of them, and still struggle against the deep currents of negativity directed at fat people every day.  When someone is bombarded with messages about how they are weak, lazy, gluttonous, worth less than others and should be ashamed of themselves, it is hard to maintain the strength to resist those thoughts.  After a while they creep in, they worm their way into your mind and eventually through everything that you do or think about yourself.  You start to believe it, and start to hate yourself for your weakness.

So I am here to say to those of you who think that it is easy to just let it slide when you see something that is inappropriate and hurtful, "Just don't let it get to you" may work for you, but if you are only concerned with yourself, then you're just as bad as the ones who are being cruel to begin with.  We can't expect everyone to be the same as we are.  We can't expect everyone else to have the same strengths.  It is our responsibility to use our strengths to cover for the weaknesses of others, just as it is their responsibility to use their strengths to ease our weaknesses.  If we can do that, then we all grow stronger together as a consequence.

Make a joke about it if you like, comment about how all of those fatties just need to not let it get to them, or whatever allows you to feel that you're off the hook when it comes to letting others know that body or size shaming is unacceptable.  Keep thinking in your mind that people should just shake everything off and be stronger.  I'm happy that you are sure enough about yourself and your body that it isn't a problem to you.  I do wish, though, that for just a little while you would feel compassion instead of smugness, empathy instead of scorn, and understand that maybe...just maybe...those people who you envision as being weak are actually as strong as you (or even stronger) because despite being told that they are lesser beings almost 400,000 times per year, they continue to try the best that they can every day.

It's easy to be strong when you don't have to be.


  1. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

  2. It is a shame that everything comes to the size of someone. When all else fails, but blame and same on the person if they are fat. I feel all I can do it "chip" away at it a little at a time. We all can do is that and eventually we will be accepted...the walls will come down. (Did I make any sense at all?) LOL


All comments are moderated, so if you don't see your comment right away don't worry, I'll review it and add it as soon as possible. The only time that comments won't be approved is if they are inappropriate. And yes, I am the sole arbiter as to what qualifies as inappropriate. :)