Yesterday on his wildly popular weight loss blog, “Jack Sh*t Gettin’ Fit” posted an open letter to a morbidly obese couple that he ran into a few times while on vacation last week. The author has a big following, and I find his posts are often good for a laugh, or a sigh, or a kick in the pants. This particular post was an interesting read. Angry, passionate and well written, it was filled with blunt observations about the eating habits of the couple and as well as some uncharitable assumptions about other aspects of their lives and the effect of those things on their children. It certainly sparked some lively conversation.
Among the responses, it would seem that most people were a member of one of two distinct factions:
1. That was awesome and you’re my hero!
2. That was hateful and you should be ashamed of yourself.
And me? I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. The truth is that I know exactly where angry diatribes like that one come from, and I also know how much validity there was in the content. It can be really, really hard to watch other people making the same mistakes that you’re ashamed to have on your own resume—especially when you’ve finally found something that’s helping you rise above those old habits, when you’re pretty sure that you’ve finally made progress toward beating your own demons and you wish that everyone else would wake the hell up and get with the program already. Hubris is a natural consequence of success, and the feeling of power that comes with control is a force to be reckoned with.
When I read Jack’s letter, I admit that I understood where he was coming from, that I nodded my head as he called out the trappings of obesity and how it affects those closest to us and that what is touted as a personal lifestyle choice is often anything but. But I also admit that I found some of what he said cruel and spiteful, and that while the subject matter didn’t give me pause, the spirit in which it was conveyed did. Maybe I felt so conflicted because I saw myself all over that letter.
I saw myself in the anger it conveyed, in the calling out of truth without remorse. I saw myself in the disgust over the choices the couple made, in the confidence in the choices I was now making and how much better off my life was as a result. But I also saw myself in the faces of the couple he wrote about, in each movement from plate to mouth, in the way it feels to have others scrutinizing your choices, in the assumptions that others make about you behind your back, or right to your chubby face. I’ve seen those scenes play out from every seat in the house, and I’ll be damned if I can pick which one had the clearest view.
One of the very best (and most frustrating) gifts that this ongoing weight loss journey has had in its hands for me is a heaping helping of humility. I’ve felt the almost cosmic power of unshakeable self-control, and I’ve felt the despair that comes with losing my grasp on it. I know that very often the behavior that I find the most objectionable in others is usually what I can barely stand to look at in the mirror. Jack’s open letter to that couple brings home to me just how powerful both feelings are, but it also cautions me not to forget that “they” aren’t the only ones out there judging us by our actions, but that “we” are ever watchful as well.
I’m glad that he posted that letter, and I’m glad that I read it. I believe that breaking the silence that surrounds obesity is key in the fight against it, and that when it’s easier to talk about the fat it’s easier to fight it. And people sure are talking…
Been a long time...
1 week ago