Dear Friend (or whatever you are to me - family member, senpai, acquaintance, random blog reader) who happens to be overfat:
I hope you are able to love yourself despite your weight and/or body composition.
I hope you value yourself for the wonderful person you are, and for the unique and awesome contributions you make to the world that have nothing to do with your physique.
I hope you feel lovable, and sexy, at least to the extent that you want to be.
I hope you never confuse your value as a person with the number of boxes in your sixpack.
I hope that you never look at a model or athlete and feel bad that you don't look more like them.
I hope that you never avoid situations - like wearing a bathing suit in public or talking to someone you're interested in or dancing at a party- because you're ashamed of how you look.
I hope that you never starve yourself to look better for a special event like a wedding or a reunion.
I hope you never have surgery, take medication, make yourself throw up, or go on a liquid diet to lose "weight" and shed unwanted pounds.
I hope you're never ashamed of the joy you take from eating.
I hope you never blame yourself for the weight you've put on over the years.
I hope you never feel bad about who you are.
I hope you never suffer any ill health effects from the excess fat you're carrying around.
I hope you're happy, and that you remain happy for the rest of your life whether or not you lose any weight.BUT...I also hope you learn to eat in a way that makes you leaner and healthier.
I also hope you figure out what makes you eat too much and gain the strength to stay away from it.
I also hope you find a better source for dietary information than Dr. Oz or Oprah.
I also hope you develop a healthier attitude towards both food and exercise.
I also hope you maintain the belief that even if your body fat isn't your fault it is still under your control.
I also hope you learn to celebrate wonderful events without indulging in empty calories.
I also hope you find the joy in being thin and fit and having a six pack.
I also hope you see that while being lean and healthy doesn't make you a better human being, it does improve your energy, your sense of well being, and probably your longevity and basic human capacity (ability to move furniture, carry luggage, stuff like that).
I also hope that you develop advanced fitness goals and work every day to achieve them, such as doing chinups, running a marathon, or kicking a certain somebody's ass in the dojo.
Sincerely and Osu,
There was a picture and associated story going around my Facebook friends a few days ago that prompted this letter. It was about some gym that had a sign up encouraging people to lose weight by saying, "do you want to be a mermaid or a whale this summer?" In the story one of the gym members went on about how it's better to be a whale because they have friends, are real, get to have sex, etc. It's a cute story, and I understand, I think, where it comes from - it's the same root idea that has people telling plump teenage girls that it's okay to be plump - because you don't want them starving themselves or doing self-destructive things because of low self esteem.
A lot of my female friends "liked" and shared the post, and there were a lot of "that's the spirit!" comments attached to it. And I, being a contrarian, couldn't get into the spirit of it.
You see, I DON'T want fat people to feel bad about themselves. But I DO want them to feel motivated to change. If someone is told over and over again that it's okay to be fat, that it's normal, or average, or not their fault, or even in some way BETTER than being thin, then why would they put in the effort and will to lean out and stay away from the delicious foods that got them that way?
I have a daughter. I hope she always feels great about who she is. I also hope she wakes up one day and decides to start exercising and eating better, because if she doesn't then she'll end up on a pizza and chocolate diet as an adult and never leave the couch - that's her tendency (which I can recognize because she gets it from me). I was motivated to change by a deep sense of insecurity - I felt bad about the way I looked my entire life. Is it possible to work to make those changes if you don't feel bad about it? I'm not really sure... I hope she can be motivated to put down the pizza and get onto a treadmill, or into a weight room, without any shred of negative feelings... but I'm not sure that's really possible.
I think that there has to be a middle ground. Self hatred is never good or productive. Being too self-satisfied is probably also bad for people. Chubby people shouldn't hate themselves, but they shouldn't be too happy with their body fat either.
So if you know any fat people, don't torture them or tease them or pick on them or work to make them feel bad. But don't keep telling them that they're perfect just the way they are either. Find a middle ground - find a way to tell them that you love them so much that you want them to be healthier. Show them that you value them so much that you don't feel the need to eat pizza and ice cream when you're together in order to have a good time, that you want them feeling so good physically that they can share more stuff with you, like hikes or long sparring sessions on the beach... or whatever.
Hopefully you'll do a better job of explaining this than I have!