I’ve lived in Los Angeles for twelve years. I’ve been thin there, and I’ve been fat there. Right now, I’m somewhere in between. Working on it. Getting there. Apparently I’m not-fat enough that folks feel comfortable expressing their feelings about fat people around me. Yay! Lucky me.
Now, in general, I think our society is pretty judgmental. But it’s fair to say that when it comes to weight, L.A. is probably the most judgmental place in the world. (Except, possibly, wherever my mother happens to be. When it comes to weight, she's in a judgmental league of her own. Sorry, Mom, but you know it's true.) There’s nothing worse than when a skinny person who has always been skinny and never had to seriously struggle with food issues or weight issues gets all uppity about fat people. “I mean, they know what they have to do,” they say. “Is it so hard to exercise?” And my personal favorite: “Just eat less, for God’s sake.”
Let’s entirely disregard the many emotional triggers that cause people to over eat. The Judgmental folks certainly do. And frankly, those reasons are too varied to cover in anything less than a multi-volume tome. I will say, though, to the Judgmental folks, if you don’t struggle with any of those emotional triggers, count your blessings. Try being thankful, instead of judgy. And take a moment to examine your own triggers, because you know you’ve got ‘em. (Everyone does. They just come out in different ways.) What do your triggers cause you to do?
Moving on to the “they know what they have to do,” argument. Recently I listened to a conversation in which WP tried to explain to a couple Judgmental folks that there are huge segments of our society who, in fact, don’t know what to do to lose weight—and in fact, if they did know would have an almost impossible time actually doing it. I didn’t participate in the conversation because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to keep the annoyance out of my voice, and I’m horribly averse to conflict. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since, so here’s what I would’ve/should’ve said:
First, people eat the foods they were raised eating. If you weren’t raised to eat veggies and fruit and whole wheat whatever, that stuff just doesn’t sound good. Not only does it not sound good, it takes a long time for it to start tasting good. When my taste buds want my grandma’s fried chicken, and instead they’re getting a skinless grilled chicken breast… well, bore me to death why don’t you? It takes a lot of effort and discipline to retrain your mind and body to want and like healthy food. If you even know what “healthy” means. Which brings me to…
Many people (I’d even say most people) know absolutely nothing about nutrition. Nothing. It’s not taught in most schools, and it’s not taught in most homes. That’s hard for some people to fully comprehend, particularly in Los Angeles, where HEALTHY is ubiquitous. I'm thirty-seven and very well-educated, yet until recently, I knew diddly about nutrition. (Even though I'd read a bunch of books. My mind's like a sieve with that stuff.) And it doesn’t help that most Americans have no concept of appropriate portion size. We are the culture of bigger-is-better. That’s changing, but very, very slowly. Combine that with our stressed-out, over-worked lifestyles, and the multitude of root causes of emotional triggers for over eating… Of course there’s an obesity problem.
You think I’m done? I’m so not done. But the rest will have to wait until tomorrow, when we’ll get into WP’s diabetes diagnosis, grocery stores in the “bad” part of town, the time it takes to eat right, and exactly how much I pay every month to be healthy...