America has forgotten the value of shame. Like feelings of joy, fear, pain, sadness, anger and sympathy, shame plays an important role in directing an individual toward exhibiting behaviors that will produce the most desirable outcome for himself and his society.
American society has unmoored itself from the concept of personal responsibility. Shame becoming taboo was a predictable next step in this regression. For once we decide that we’re no longer personally responsible for acting out the vices we’re predisposed to, what is then left for anyone to be ashamed of?
We can’t shame the glutton any more than we can shame the drunkard husband that beats his wife and kids. Each is simply acting on the inclinations that are unique to them as individuals.
As always happens when longstanding moral imperatives are deemed outdated and no longer relevant, the rapid descension down this slippery slope lagged close behind. Destructive behaviors that were once considered shameful aren’t simply tolerated today. They’re celebrated.
With this upending of values that once held together the civil society shame is now reserved almost exclusively for a new and unexpected target. It’s now those of us who refuse to indulge in celebrating deleterious behaviors who are deemed worthy of collective shaming in America.
Yes, we have come to a point in our continuing slide into degeneracy where the only time it’s acceptable to dole out shame is when it’s directed at those pointing out the shameful behavior of others.
SJWs have even concocted words like fat-shaming and slut-shaming to aid with stigmatizing those that would dare have the nerve to point out that one might benefit from exercising a little self control over such impactful matters as nutrition and sexual activity.
Shame is a powerful means of dissuading undesirable behaviors that lead to calamitous outcomes. Conversely, erasing the shame associated with immoral acts subsidizes them by omission. As such, it’s no coincidence that people engaging in casual sex and consuming excessive calories are now the norm after being the exception just a generation or two in the past.
The efforts to stymie the shame associated with conduct that’s been deemed a bane on society have been wildly successful.
American evangelical churches rarely address gluttony. Dad bods are glorified in mainstream media. Fat women are encouraged (usually by other fat women) to believe that they’re just as beautiful, healthy, and desirable as their firm and fit counterparts.
Men with the courage to share the facts with these women regarding the health risks associated with being fat are scolded into irrelevance by being labeled as “mansplainers”. As if it’s somehow morally reprehensible for a person of any gender to warn someone of impending, yet completely preventable, pain, suffering, and early death.
The truth is, what men and women in super-sized America need less than anything right now is silence and acceptance. Americans who are killing themselves in the prime of life by overeating and being sedentary shouldn’t be celebrated. They should be ashamed, and that shame should drive them to make positive changes. I refuse to be complicit in my fellow Americans engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
They are free to live how they please. But they’re not exempt from others exposing their shameful choices and encouraging them to change.
Fat-shaming is often directed entirely at one’s physical appearance, but being fat or obese is merely a symptom. So, if we’re going to fat-shame someone with the intent of helping them to get fit and healthy, we need to attack the problem at its source.
In other words, we must make sure we shame them for the right reasons.
Fat-Shamed for a Lack of Self Discipline
Body fat is the most direct indicator for modern medical practitioners to determine the risk one has for developing myriad debilitating conditions, up to and including death. The data is clear. The fatter you are the more likely you are to die or be diagnosed with disease. This is true at any age.
It’s a blessing to live at a time in which an abundance of affordable food is available to us. We should be thankful that we no longer have to be out in the fields performing back-breaking work from dusk till dawn just to feed our families (and perhaps earn a minuscule profit in the process).
All that’s required of us today is to have the self discipline not to eat ourselves fat and sick. Literally.
It’s no secret what causes fat gain. If you eat more calories than you expend you’re going to gain body fat. Everyone over the age of ten knows this.
Therefore, the only explanation as to why more than half of American adults are obese or overweight is that they’re choosing to be that way. They know the consequences. Yet they still choose to eat so much food and exercise so little that it becomes a danger to their health and degrades their quality of life.
I’m speaking as someone that was once medically obese. I entered college when I was eighteen years old at a very lean 170 pounds. I left at two-forty, having acid reflux and high blood pressure, looking nothing like I did as a freshman 5 years earlier. I saw what I was doing to myself along the way. I knew what was causing my body to balloon and my health to decline.
But I kept drinking copious amounts of beer, eating fast food past the point of satisfaction for nearly every meal, and not making the time for physical activity.
My fraternity brothers would crack jokes about how I went from having a six pack to having a pony keg. I didn’t resent them for their comments. They were right, and I knew it. So I did my best to laugh along with them and bury the shame I felt inside.
I didn’t try to justify my behavior with excuses. I knew I’d only be lying to myself.
There was a grocery store just two miles from campus. I could have made time to buy and prepare healthy food options. My college campus had a full gym I could access any time of the day. I deliberately chose not to do that which I knew would bring me the greatest long term benefit and satisfaction.
This is true of every obese or overweight American today. If you’re overweight or obese, it’s your fault. Nobody else is to blame.
You’re an adult. Act like it. It’s time to take responsibility over your circumstances and show some self discipline.
I’m not here to lie to anyone or sugarcoat the truth. That’s what pop culture does. And it isn’t helping anyone except those profiting off of telling the itching ears of the weak minded what they wish to hear.
The truth is that you should feel ashamed at being fat or obese as an adult. It’s utterly shameful that you would allow overindulging in the pleasure of eating to be prioritized over your health, quality of life and longevity.
Everyone inherently realizes that it’s an unwise decision to trade unrestrained eating for excessive body fat, disease and early death. Indeed, trading any momentary sensual pleasure for bodily harm, suffering and death is a shameful transaction.
Is there anything more worthy of shaming than an individual being unwilling to do what is necessary to stop destroying their own body?
Fat-Shamed for Making Excuses
If there’s a silver lining covering my own physical self destruction during my college years it’s that I never made excuses. I owned up to what I was doing to my body and understood that I alone had the power to change it. I simply made the conscious decision to continue indulging my appetites, understanding that I would have to accept whatever consequences might result from it.
This went on until I finally realized how insufferable my life had become after living enslaved to my stomach for over half of a decade.
I’ve found since reforming my body that the mindset of owning the consequences of one’s actions is rare among fat and obese people. As I began working to gain control over my health and body composition, my fat and unhealthy friends and family members did what most miserable people do… They tried to discount my efforts.
Their attempts to sway me in my resolve to get fit did nothing to deter me. I knew what I needed to do and my focus remained steadfast on my goals. I let the haters hate; I kept grinding away being pissed off for success and watching my progress continue to build week after week.
After several months the incredible transformation that had taken place on my physical appearance and self confidence was undeniable. All the back handed comments meant to dissuade me at the outset were laid bare as nothing but a defense mechanism by those unwilling to make similar changes to better themselves.
They told me it wasn’t worth it and that it would be too difficult because they didn’t want me displaying the truth that they were fat and unhappy solely as a result of their own choices. They told me I couldn’t do it because they didn’t want to feel ashamed at not doing it for themselves.
They despised the idea of somebody proving it possible, because that would cause all of their excuses to crumble.
Excuse making is the currency of validation for fat people. They justify eating themselves fat and sick by excusing their condition away as being the result of big bones, poor genetics, healthy food being too expensive, a thyroid condition, etc. These excuses are nothing but lies people tell themselves to quell their nagging consciences. It’s delusional.
40% of Americans are obese. This isn’t the result of nearly half the population being afflicted with an unfortunate thyroid condition. Even if they were, the excuse would still be completely bogus. Yes, an inactive thyroid requires greater caloric restriction to maintain a healthy body weight. But it doesn’t cause a person to gain 50 or 100 pounds of fat unless it’s coupled with the ingestion of excessive calories over many months or years.
Placing the blame on one’s genetics is also a red herring. Obesity wouldn’t have been nearly non existent in America just a hundred years ago if genetics were to blame. What’s changed is the abundance of affordable food and a refusal to put the appetite in check.
You’re fat because you eat too much and exercise too little. Period.
If caring for your body is a priority you’ll choose not to shovel a reckless number of calories down your esophagus and find 2 or 3 hours a week to exercise. That’s all there is to it.
I can respect someone who’s intellectually honest enough to admit being personally responsible yet unwilling to take corrective action. But using excuses as a defense mechanism to shirk culpability for something that’s completely within one’s locus of control is shameful.
Fat-Shamed for Valuing Life So Little
“Health is our greatest asset in life and many Americans are living well below the poverty line.” – P. D. Mangan
Like it or not, having an exorbitant amount of body fat communicates laziness, poor personal standards, and lack of discipline. It’s only through this combination of characteristics that one becomes a fat body.
Most damning is the fact that living perpetually fat and unhealthy displays a meager valuation of life. Can one logically destroy by their own actions that which they truly hold to be dear and valuable?
I was recently at a local theme park with my wife and kids. As we were walking around to and from the various attractions I made it a point to survey the physical condition of those around me.
The number of people that were fat enough to be forced to traverse the park with the assistance of motorized carts was sobering. These were non-elderly men and women that had allowed their physical condition to get so far out of hand that they could no longer even walk for an extended period of time.
I couldn’t help but ponder the shame I would rightfully feel if I allowed myself to eat so much and move so little that my quality of life crumbled to the point of being unable to walk on my own two feet. Feeling shame at this is not only appropriate, it’s completely deserved.
The kids of these immobile individuals were forced to walk slowly as they observed other children playing and sitting on the shoulders of their more able-bodied parents. How pathetic it is when we allow our desire for food to prohibit us from interacting with our kids optimally.
I wonder what might have been if someone had taken the time to forcefully confront them over the damage being done to their bodies 50 or 100 pounds ago? Did someone want to speak out, yet feel compelled not to out of fear of being labeled a ‘fat-shamer’? Would being saved from having to move with the assistance of a machine be worth hearing a harsh message from someone that cared enough to deliver it, even if it caused a few feelings to be hurt?
What a disservice we do to our fellow man when we stand by and remain silent as their bodies are unnecessarily brought to ruin. It’s unfortunate that silence is now the natural consequence of living within a cultural zeitgeist in which it’s taboo to confront others when they engage in destructive behaviors.
As men we must remember that living virtuous is not about toeing the lines society has drawn for us. It’s about doing the right thing – the loving thing – regardless of the consequences. Confronting others to save them from impending danger is one of the most loving things we can do for them.
While this confrontational posting may be harsh, it’s nowhere near as harsh as no longer being able to move your body through space with your own two feet, a heart disease diagnosis, or worse.
Life is valuable. The reality is that every minute we have on this earth to spend with those we love is a precious gift. Those that spit on this gift by eating their way to physical debilitation and an early death deserve to be shamed.
Fat-Shamed for Negatively Influencing Others
We all have people in our sphere of influence that look to how we live as an example for how best to live their lives as well. Our spouse and kids are obvious examples, but there are many others. Oftentimes we’re setting an example for others without even realizing it.
I help out with the AWANA program at my church. It’s a program held on Wednesday nights that’s designed specifically to teach kids about Jesus through the application of worship, Bible study and the memorization of scripture. There’s also a time of recreation where the kids go to the gym and play any number of games that require them to be physically active. This past year I was a leader for this recreation time.
I take ownership over my body, so it’s a rare occasion when I’m drinking a soda or an energy drink. On one particular Wednesday evening my mind was dragging after a stressful day at the office. I decided to grab a can of Monster on my way to church. I opted for the obnoxiously large 24 0z. version. Like I said, it was a rough day.
As the kids started filing into the gym I was quickly downing my drink before the activities began. A 3rd grade boy walked over to me and commented that his parents wouldn’t let him drink Monster.
And then he said something to one of his fellow 3rd graders that had an immediate and lasting impact on me. He said, “When I get older I’m going to drink Monster all the time just like Mr. Craig.”
Until that brief interaction I hadn’t even considered that this young boy might look up to me. Yet he saw me as someone he wanted to emulate when he became a man. I wonder how many other children might have had similar thoughts that went unexpressed at that moment? It’s a humbling thing to consider. And it drives home the point that the way we live has an impact on others, for better or for worse.
I was ashamed at the example I had portrayed to an impressionable young mind. Hearing his words slugged me like a swift blow to the gut.
I pulled him and his friend aside and explained to them that I seldom drink energy drinks or soda and that drinking them all the time is not a healthy aspiration to have. I wish I had gone further in using it as a teaching moment to explain how drinking these kinds of beverages leads to fat gain, loss of bone density, cancer, diabetes, addiction to sugar in the pleasure centers of the brain, etc.
It’s startling to consider that something as innocuous as drinking a can of Monster has the power to influence the behavior or others. If something so mundane as a drink doesn’t go unnoticed, what kind of an impact do you think one’s eating habits and physical appearance might have on those that look up to them?
You may not have had the kind of eye opening experience I did, but impressionable people are observing you nonetheless.
It’s important to bear in mind, as well, that the tighter the bond we have with someone the greater our influence over them will be.
There’s a reason a child’s greatest risk factor for being obese is having obese parents. There’s no more impressionable relationship than the parent-child relationship. Kids observe their parents and follow their lead.
Fat or obese parents should be ashamed over the health-depriving example they’re living for their children who will likely follow down the same pitiable path.
Fat or obese individuals without children should be ashamed over the message they implicitly communicate to every single man, woman and child observing them within the positions they occupy.
Your life is a billboard to those around you, advertising the things which you deem to be valuable. Subliminally messaging a blatant disregard for one’s body is disgraceful; it implicitly communicates to others that it would be profitable for them to do the same.
Spokespersons for such messaging should be ashamed for using the power they have to influence others so carelessly.
Fat-Shamed Into Positive Change
This posting is not meant to stand as a defense for shaming others simply for the sake of tearing another down as a means of propping ourselves up. It’s meant to push back against the absurd notion that shame is to be discounted and universally restrained.
Shame is valuable. It’s the psychological heat that wells up inside when we fail to live up to our potential. How we respond to shame is what we ought to be examining. We can ignore it until we become desensitized to its smoke signals or we can use it to ascend unto higher planes of self actualization.
Shame is a call to action. Its beckoning us to action is something that won’t leave us as long as we live. None are immune to feeling shame and no amount of Salon articles saying otherwise will change this.
Our culture is tirelessly working to abolish the idea that shame has any value. I can’t stand for something so nonsensical. Shame has its rightful place and we should think twice before we do away with it.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself why it was put there in the first place.”
The fence of shame was removed with little consideration over it’s protective value to society. Instead, we are encouraged to be apathetic as those around us kill themselves and treat their health and physical appearance with disdain.
America doesn’t need apathy. Indeed, if there’s one thing America could use right about now… it’s a good fat shaming.
– Craig James