Posted by: CeCe | November 4, 2013

On shaming and human worth

I wasn’t going to write this, because I feel that I’ve already more or less touched on it too many times before.  However, this is something that’s really been bothering me the last couple days, and I feel that I absolutely must express my thoughts before I burst.

It all started when a friend commented on someone’s post of a blog that was full of fat-shaming.  I won’t post it here, because I don’t want to direct any more traffic to their site, and to tell the truth, the post itself and the vast majority of the comments were so disgusting and cruel that I don’t want to subject anyone else to it.  I had to restrain myself from commenting and telling some of these people what I thought of them and their pettiness, and I’ve been stewing on it ever since, alternating between fits of anger and then inwardly berating myself for taking it so personally.  However, my issues with it weren’t how it made me personally feel, because truth be told I’ve heard it all.  I was bullied too much for my weight throughout elementary, middle, and part of high school for it to do more than make me shake my head sadly.  No, my thoughts went immediately to young women like my nieces, and my friends’ daughters, and what kind of human being (using the term loosely) would treat any person so cruelly.

The next thing that happened was witnessing someone making a horrible remark to someone whom I love dearly.  I won’t name that person here, nor how I know them, but if they read this, I’m sure they’ll know it’s about them.  The remark was about their weight, and it was needlessly cruel, and utterly pointless.

There were many ways I wanted to address both of these.  My first thought was to take the aforementioned blog, and rewrite it so that instead of being about fat women (and only fat women, obviously, because fat men are no problem /sarcasm), it was about too-thin women, or too-thin men.  It would be easy.  But then I thought, maybe people wouldn’t understand that it was satire, and maybe I just don’t have it in me to be so heartless, even when it’s satirical.  My second thought was to maybe go the educational route, and let people into an overweight person’s mind a bit, such as how weight for many people tends to be a vicious cycle.  This was jokingly addressed in Austin Powers, when the character Fat Bastard says, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat.”  For many overweight people, this is how it is.  They’re doing well, eating well, exercising, losing weight, then some fool with a complex yells something horrible out their car window while they’re taking a walk, and they go take solace in food, and then before long, they weigh even more than they did when they began.

And speaking of yelling things out car windows, there was a guy on that blog that actually suggested exactly that.  Great idea, because apparently it’s a crime to be fat in public, even if you’re exercising.  Let’s just do that to everyone who doesn’t fit our particular idea of beauty.  See a too-skinny man?  Scream “beanpole” at him, tell him to eat more protein and lift weights, because obviously not fitting into society’s definition of beautiful makes one a failure as a human being.  Never mind the fact that you can’t tell anything about anyone’s lifestyle just by looking at them.  The only thing that you can tell is that they’re too fat, or too thin, or just right in the middle.  You don’t know how they eat, their medical history, whether or not they exercise, whether or not they used to be more overweight or used to weigh less or are struggling with an eating disorder or are just naturally thin.  So who made you the body-type police?

And never mind the fact that our worth is not determined in the least bit by whether or not we fit into the societal definition of “beautiful”.  Does being “beautiful” make you intelligent, compassionate, a good friend, a good mother or father, a good spouse or significant other, automatically successful, good at your job, a good person?  No.  But some people seem to act like it does.  These people act like everyone owes them, and the rest of the world, the ability to fit within a narrow definition of beauty.  But in fact, most of us do not fit into that, and most of us never will.

Okay, this post got away from me a little bit there.  Go figure.

I’ve said before that it’s much more important to cultivate “intelligence, wisdom, patience, open-mindedness, compassion, empathy, kindness, generosity, creativity, humor, and love for yourself, others, and the Earth (and, if applicable, God)”, rather than to try to fit someone else’s definition of beauty.  I would also add loyalty and honesty to the list.  Here is the thing: A person’s worth is not determined by how physically attractive they are to others.  Let me say that again:  A person’s worth is not determined by how physically attractive they are to others.  

If you’re not attracted to people who are overweight, fine, don’t be attracted to them.  If you aren’t attracted to people who are thin, then don’t be attracted to them.  Either way, that’s no reason to shame someone into being what you think they ought to be.  Their right to exist is not dependent on whether or not you find them sexually desirable.  They don’t owe it to you to fit into what you believe they should be.  I’ve said it before: The world does not revolve around you.

As for everyone else, don’t be ashamed of who or what you are.  Your worth is not determined by how “beautiful” you are, but by the person that you are.  It’s through cultivating the qualities I outlined above that a person becomes truly beautiful, and unlike youthful beauty which is so impermanent, those qualities will last forever, and those are the things that people will remember about you.

You are so much more valuable and precious than you may realize.  Be kind to yourself.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment; what is beauty to you?  Do you think there are other important characteristics that a person should possess that I didn’t mention?  Thanks for reading!

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