Fat Shaming and Chronic Illness

meghan-duthu-114575It’s almost mid January and everyone is probably working on their new year’s resolutions to work out more or do whatever it is they resolved to do to shed those extra pounds in 2018.

Personally, I never make resolutions, but that is a topic for another post. If I did, though, it wouldn’t be to lose weight. Not only because I believe that our society puts too much emphasis on people’s appearance, but also because I already lost some weight. I had my annual physical a few weeks ago and I lost 22 pounds. Pretty good, right? Well, not according to my doctor. There was no congratulatory recognition or positive affirmation. Nope. Just some paperwork that said my vitals and diagnoses — one of which said that I was still overweight. It even showed my weight from last year where I was over 20 pounds heavier.

I know people assume that men don’t worry about their weight, but that is total B.S. We have issues around our bodies just like women do….but that may also be another topic for another post.

While I had checked off my annual physical from my list of things to do, I also needed to find a new allergist. I have a condition called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and finding a good doctor to treat it can be really challenging. So when I learned about a new allergist who said he knew about my diagnosis, I was feeling hopeful. We talked about my issues with the disorder and at the end of the appointment he said, “You know, you should lose some weight.” I told him that I lost 22 pounds. He said, “Well, keep it up.” In my head I said, “Thanks, jackass.” Out loud, I said that losing weight does not cure MCAS — to which he remained silent.

It seemed like everyone, everywhere I went, was fixated on weight.

Just when I managed to get it out of my mind, I turned on the TV today and saw Megyn Kelly issuing an apology for making questionable remarks in regard to people’s weight.

You can see the video here:

Why is most of society obsessed with people and their weight? Did it ever occur to people that not everyone wants to devote all their free time to going to a gym and going on fad diets?

But the biggest thing is that those of us who are chronically ill may have weight issues for a vast number of reasons, some of which are out of our control. Medications and medical conditions that keep you inactive can cause weight gain. Genetics play a role. Being house bound can keep you overweight. Having an eating disorder contributes. And on and on…

I have had weight issues my whole life. I have heard it all from all the thoughtless and cruel people out there in the world. I have learned to tune them out and though it doesn’t affect me the way it used to, it still remains an obstacle in being heard by doctors and accepted in the world. People judge you. They make assumptions they shouldn’t.

So here’s what I’m suggesting. Don’t comment on people’s weight. Don’t shame people for how they look, whether you think it is within their control or not. Live and let live.

People who are chronically ill don’t need to hear negative remarks about their appearance. We already are hurting inside about being sick and feeling bad about what we wish we could do. I wish I could be more active and I wish I didn’t have a disorder that makes me take medication that causes me to put on weight. I wish I had better genetics. But this is my life. I’m working at accepting it and myself. I don’t need your opinion about my appearance. Just because you lost weight doing x,y and z, doesn’t mean that everyone else should do it, too. It doesn’t mean it will be POSSIBLE for everyone else to do it.

All of this left me thinking that more people’s resolutions should be to mind their business more often and be a little bit kinder. Not being a jackass will make you more attractive than a gym membership ever will. Just something to think about…

Christianity: A Religion of Minding People’s Business

liz99-252849I have a problem.

I no longer see the message Jesus taught in what is modern day Christianity. I see churches and religious people minding everyone’s business. That seems to be their religion — policing. It’s almost like they ask, “How can I mind my neighbor’s life choices, sexuality, gender identity, birth control and everything else?” rather than, “How can I love my neighbor?”

And I’m not just referring to conservative Catholics or Evangelicals. Even more liberal organizations like Fortunate Families posted on their Facebook page that they understand people have been wounded by the church but their page is not a forum to “vent” and they would like to “move onward.” And that, any comments that do not adhere to that policy will be deleted. The Executive Director private messaged me and told me that he believed this was the “Christian thing to do.” Really? So, we can’t be authentic even in places that are supposed to advocate for our authenticity? Your “Christianity” once again involves policing what everyone else is doing and it’s not fueled by compassion. It doesn’t want to hear people out and delve deeper into conversation — it’s just about following the rules and making sure everyone else does, too.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that we should live however we feel like and not be held accountable for our behavior. What I am saying is that Jesus did not tell us to go around watching what everyone else is doing, and then instruct us to decide if we think it’s valid or acceptable and then go and tell certain people that they now will be excluded based on our limited evaluation.

Gay people can’t get wedding cakes in some states. Women have to constantly fight opposing legislation for their right to birth control. Catholic hierarchy is obsessed with who is doing what with whom in the privacy of their own bedroom. LGBTQ people are denied communion and proper funerals. What religion is this? Why would anyone want to be a part of a religion like that?

The answer seems to be that it appeals to people who like control. It’s a way to assert power over the congregation or the community. Is this what Jesus taught or taught against?

When I was in Catholic elementary school, we heard about this carpenter guy from Nazareth who went about healing people, including them and loving them. But you know what else he did? He got pissed. He turned over tables, rebuked religious leaders and he spoke out against injustice and exclusion—sometimes very harshly. He advocated for the outcasts in bold and rebellious ways. So much so, that it got him killed. This is the Jesus I’d like to see more of in mainstream Christianity.

But if you can’t be that radical, then at least mind your own business.

What if we let people be who they are, sans the policing? What if we gave gay people their wedding cakes and trans people respect and women their rights and people who were abused by the church their fair, uncensored say? What if we practiced loving our neighbor more than minding their business? What if we validated and affirmed people for who they are and the diverse gifts they have to offer the church and the world? Would that look more like the church that Christ came to build? I think so.