Happy New Year Folks.
How you holding up? Been for your first run yet? Had enough of the diet adverts across the media yet? Or the constant flow of healthy food and exercise segments on day time TV?
Hmmm, me too.
The media would have us believe we have all been soooooo "BAD" over the xmas, and must make amends by restricting our food intake, and setting ridiculous fitness goals....which we kind of forget all about by the spring.
So let's talk fat shaming memes - hang on what even is a meme, I had to google it myself.
1. An element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
2. An image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.
And there we have it in number two my friends, this is what we are talking about. The internet is full of them and in the fitness, diet and running worlds even more so.
I love a good motivational meme to get me out of a low mood when things don't seem to be going my way...but what I want to talk about, are the other kind. The memes which are there to basically make us all feel like crap.
The main premise behind the new year ones is that we have all overeaten, got fat and now need to shift the weight. Now whether this weight gain is true or not is kind of besides the point because,
A. My weight is none of your business
B. My weight doesn't define me or my worthiness
C. You are assuming that I want to be slim
I posted a question about these kind of memes earlier on Facebook and had a range of responses. With a few women saying they simply found them funny, could identify and didn't really see what the problem was.
One lady put it perfectly why its not acceptable,
"It just makes me think that the only possible thing you can want to be is thin and that as a larger person I should put all my efforts into that holy grail above all else. I have wasted far too much time and effort chasing an ideal of what others think I should be. Sometimes I think it is prided above all else and fat is generally seen as the worst thing a person can be."
January is a difficult time already for many overweight folk, as its often the time for reviewing the year gone by and setting new goals. The reality is many overweight women will have had a number of years of being the same weight, or even putting on weight...so these memes act as a reminder for this so called "failure" to succeed with weight loss.
This stuff seeps in to the consciousness of everyone. The images get shared among friends and family members, with no consideration to the hurt or annoyance it might cause.
"Oh, we love you just as you are honey"
Said Mum on Boxing Day when she handed you the Quality Street and you moaned that your trousers were tight, then next minute, images suggesting we should all lose some post xmas weight are posted on her Facebook page and liked by all her friends.
Apparently, Christmas indulgence is fine if you are slim, come on lets face it you never see a John Lewis Advert with a fat family do you? No. Champagne, and profiteroles and double helpings of cheese and crackers are fine as long as you have a good metabolism and can lose the possible couple of extra pounds in time for Valentines...but us fatties shouldn't partake at all, and should feel ashamed come January when the fat police come out in force.
Well, sorry I don't buy into that.
JK Rowlings once said,
Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me
And not to me either.
I am not against people wanting to lose weight, but it is a personal choice.
Our bodies are not us, they are just the shell that house us. Could we be kinder to them, sure I bet many of us could. But only we can make that decision, no amount of aggressive, collective "encouragement" on social media will make us do it.
Two million fewer women in the UK play sport than men because fear of judgement...I reckon there are a whole heap of overweight men who have exactly the same fears too. We can not avoid the reality that for many middle aged women, this lack of activity and yes some food indulgencies is leading to terrible quality of life and general unhappiness.
These images do nothing to support people back into exercise.
So next time you see a fat shaming meme on social media, think twice about liking, commenting in agreement or sharing it. They are mean, and vile, and don't do anything to build up women.
Why not share memes that encourage each other to love our self in whatever form we come in instead?