Fat is an ugly word. No one wants to be called fat. It has come to mean that you don’t fit the cultural expectation of beautiful. So we swap it out with words like curvy or thick or chubby to make being “fat” OK.
Then you move on to the touchier subjects of body image and self-confidence. If you tell someone he or she is fat, it’s bound to end poorly and have a terrible effect on his or her confidence.
So what have we as a culture done to fix this problem? We tell people that they are beautiful just the way they are; no matter what. We say that there’s nothing wrong with being fat if you’re happy and confident. And it’s working. It’s working to propel the notion that being overweight is not really a problem.
I understand that because weight is not something I struggle with, this can all seem very out of place and out of my realm of authority. But I know that being disciplined in any area of life can be extremely difficult.
In an article from Sept. 10, 2014 by The Guardian titled, “Do you know what too fat looks like?” researchers tested a group of African American women to see how they defined obese and overweight. The group of women in Chicago were asked to “look at a ‘body image scale’ made up of drawings of women of different sizes and identify which women on the scale were overweight, obese and ‘too fat.'” They were also asked to place themselves on the scale.
Most of the participants were able to accurately decide which of the drawings represented women who were overweight and obese, but they only thought that the last two, largest drawings were “too fat.” As the article states, “in their view, it was only serious obesity that could be bad for your health.”
The article suggests that this study indicates that Americans are losing sight of what healthy and unhealthy weights actually look like, and I tend to agree.
We are afraid to confront people who are overweight and obese because it’s such a touchy subject. People worry about hurting feelings when in reality being overweight or obese already hurts people.
I understand that body image is extremely important. I’m not asking that we go criticize and critique every overweight person until they make a change. That’s not a solution. People need to be confident in who they are and in their appearances, but they also need to be encouraged to make changes when necessary.
I think this is the problem: obesity should not be an issue of appearance; it should be an issue of health. Being overweight or obese can cause a multitude of long and short-term problems. Beauty may come from the inside, but so does health.
The Bible references multiple times that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that we must glorify God with them. So as Christians, we must take care of our bodies. And as Christians we must keep each other accountable.
I understand that weight does not always determine how healthy a person is. Working out and eating right is just as important for people with fast metabolisms.
But it’s easy for someone like a doctor to tell a person that he or she is overweight. It’s the doctor’s job to try to keep his or her patients healthy. It’s a lot more difficult for one friend to tell another that same thing. Confrontation doesn’t have to be a bad thing when it’s done out of love and concern.
Our culture needs to stop pushing the “fat/curvy/thick is beautiful” stigma. Beauty doesn’t come from your weight. It comes from your heart. We need to stop being afraid to confront the health issues that being overweight and obese present. Be an encouragement for change rather than an encouragement to stay the same.
Yes, you’re beautiful just the way you are. But that doesn’t mean you’re healthy just the way you are.