Allow me to start this blog with a simple premise – some people talk without thinking or knowing the facts. An example of this is late night cable talk show host Bill Maher. This is a guy who wants thousands of Americans to lose their jobs and their livelihoods just to unseat a president he dislikes. He is the king of asinine statements that get people talking so I guess that’s his gimmick. Last week he went into a rant about the need to bring back ‘fat-shaming’. He started by saying that last month 53 persons died in mass shootings but 40,000 died from obesity. He never mentioned doing his show from the south side of Chicago of east Los Angeles and get those illegal guns away from streets gangs dealing drugs and fighting for territory. No, he just moves on to embarrassing people who are fighting various biological and psychological ailments as the way to thin down America.
Maher’s plan in his segment is to shame people out of being fat the way we shamed them to not smoke cigarettes. “We look like a completely different race of people,” Maher said. “Now look at us. We wear our ancestors could have used as a sail.”
He went on to say “Being fat isn’t a birth defect. Nobody comes out of the womb needing to buy two seats on the airplane. Here it is in a nutshell from the New York Times: Poor Diet is the Leading Cause of Mortality in the United States. Everyone knows that obesity is linked to terrible conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and virginity.” He also wants the Democrats to include in their health care reforms that ‘Americans eat shit and too much of it. I am glad Maher is such a nutritionist and health expert when it comes to weight control and obesity. Now let’s get into facts, especially where teens are concerned.
First, let’s look at genetics. According to the Mayo Clinic. ‘the genes you inherit from your parents may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite and how your body burns calories during exercise. Obesity tends to run in families. That’s not just because of the genes they share. Family members also tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
I have firsthand seen the struggle for people who want to lose weight deal with shame, guilt, fear and anxiety. They are dealing with the trauma of how their physical condition was caused – abuse or bullying in childhood or lack of positive relationships. They join a fitness club but feel unmotivated to workout on a recurring basis. This happens as they are surrounded by hardbodies or people growling lifting weights. I personally recommend Planet Fitness as this is a anti shame club and people of all shapes and sizes go there.
Let’s take willpower out of the equation that Maher believes is why we need to shame people out being fat as he states. Other factors that lead to obesity include food addiction. Yes, this is like drug and alcohol addiction and can be just as dangerous and just as difficult to detox from. This is especially true when most of the commercials on television is what the Mayo Clinic refers to as ‘aggressive marketing’. When I was teaching, I could not believe how many times I heard kids talking about some pizza place or new snack they saw on tv during the game or reality tv show they loved. Add to that all the coupons we get stuck in our front door every day and all the junk mail coupons for food high in carbs and low in health. To place blame at the feet of the American people like Maher does is beyond moronic. I detest boycotts, but I would love to find out the businesses that sponsor Maher’s show every week and how they are connected to the food industry.
I wanted to focus on young people from my time as an educator and what I witnessed when it came to students who had a large figure. One thing teasing these students did was to piss them off and make them eat more as this was the equivalent of a fix or high for them. They felt pleasure when they ate because for that short time, they felt a pleasure and not voices in their head. I have had students in tears about peers bullying them not only during recess or physical education class, but online on tablets given to students for educational purposes from major corporations. These students did not realize the administration had a trace of all these messages and websites visited and were quickly taken to task. Unfortunately, by the time the bullies were discipline, deep psychological damage was done to the victim and their learning suffered. The ‘fat-shaming’ worked in reverse and motivated students to gain weight. In addition, they were depressed and alone during recess and lunch, had few if any friends, had poor self-esteem and some developed serious mental problems that were out of my purview and required counseling. There was also the talk of suicide from one of my students as they were ashamed and so depressed, they wanted to just escape from living. Thankfully, this student got assistance from a caring counselor and made progress of overcoming bullying and shame. I am going out on a limb and guessing that Bill Maher never worked in a school and had to deal with students that were in these situations. Is he planning on going to school and telling kids to just stop being fat and shaming them? Boy do we ever not need this kind of motivational speaker talking to young people.
Of course, we have not mentioned what happens when ‘fat-shaming’ works to an extreme. Those out there who are close to my age remember Karen Carpenter. She had an amazing voice but was referred to as ‘chubby’ by a local disc jockey. She became obsessed with her weight to the point where she developed bulimia. At this point in time, treating bulimia or anorexia was unheard of and she died when her system simply gave in when she was trying to put weight back on. What happens when a girl hears that one of the Kardashian’s wants to drop baby fat to look better for her millions of Instagram followers. What message does that send. What are the pressures of celebrities to stay extremely slim do to young people who are their fans and followers? They get terrified of food and will not even put down anything to stay at an unrealistic slim size. If Maher were to start a ‘fat-shaming’ campaign, what would that do to Americans who dropped weight too fast or developed diseases on the other end of the spectrum. If you think kids are not exposed to these pressures you are living in a fantasyland and do not see the magazines they read, social media they are exposed to and tv shows they are watching.
Thankfully, there are those who are leading the ‘be proud of yourself’ campaign. Demi Lovato recently did a photo shoot that showed her cellulite as a message for young people to be proud of who they really are. Other celebrities that are on this what I would call the anti-Maher train include Ashley Greene, Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Camila Mendes and Meghan Trainor.
Bill Maher and others like him who think that shaming and bullying is the way to treat psychological ailments and addictions should be forced to attend an overeaters anonymous meeting or a wellness clinic where he would be exposed to both people dealing with large bodies and those afraid to eat for the same shaming reasons and are now facing potential hospitalization. Maher does not see the whole picture but then again, he wants us all to get laid off, not be able to pay our bills and face being forced to the streets so we get a new president in the next election.
I can imagine that Mr. Maher would lose any sleep over an economic recession the same as not caring about American fighting several real traumas and health issues on both sides of the weight spectrum.
Bill Maher – congrats – you are an IDIOT.
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