Stigmatizers Rob You of Your Life
Dr. Molly Barrow
Are you overweight and lonely? Have you
suffered from bullying, discrimination and exclusion? Are you only
three years old? Stigmatization that reduces the characteristics of
a person to one trait such as fat, black or old begins in children
as young as three years old according to a study done by Cramer and
Steinwert in 1998. Stigmatization begins with the perception of a
physical distortion or a behavioral difference that allows others to
reject and disgrace another human being. Negative treatment of
people who are outside the norm physically is stigmatized to the
point of discrimination in job applications, higher education,
income level, advancement and relationships.
The media does its part by presenting
ideal physical norms skewed sharply to starved looking bodies rather
than healthy athletic bodies. Extremely thin biceps that one sees in
photographs of Hollywood’s A-list starlets are often an indication
of severe anorexia and still these sick young people are revered by
the paparazzi. Is the media frenzy fascination waiting to see the
death of an out of control teenager with the anticipation of an
exciting car crash or train wreck?
Have you watched a movie or news reel from
the thirties or the forties? The majority of the bodies are slender.
Yet, one third of all Americans are now obese. What did they have
then that we do not have now or is it a question of what they did
not have? Additives, food coloring, preservatives, fast food,
depleted soils and brain washing commercials seducing us with
succulent close-ups of the sugar-wheat-dairy triad. Why don't we
feel or look like the happy people in the commercials? Oh, can they
be deceiving and lying, perhaps even poisoning our cells with their
fake, dead food? Even the diet business appears to be a multibillion
dollar scam as most authorities caution against the yo-yo dieting
that results in additional weight gain.
Lifestyle changes rather than deprivation
will bring you the healthy body that you seek. If you are obese and
sedentary, shamed with low self esteem then you may have a long road
ahead of you to change many years of habits. Do you want to take a
different path? Let us begin with the shame.
People are afraid of different. Different
had life survival threats thousands of years ago. People needed to
recognize their own kind, species, or tribe for safety. That
survival skill remains within our psyche. If you are different –
taller, shorter, heavier, lighter, darker, bigger nose, smaller
eyes, whatever….people will attempt to push you out of the group,
creating a tight circle of sameness around themselves so that they
can feel less frightened. We are doing it everyday with skin color,
political opinion and religious intolerance, as well as physical
differences. Some societies like ample hips and big people. Some
societies like long earlobes and stretched necks. Some value tiny
feet. It is all so arbitrary and such nonsense.
It is up to you to refuse such
discrimination by frightened urgent Stigmatizers. If you have a
unique body part you have a right to the little corner of the earth
that is yours. No one can impinge on your life opportunity or
dictate to you that you must be ashamed. Only you can do that to
yourself. You make yourself ashamed. So, start there. Drop the shame
Charge forth amid others frightened
sniggering, sarcasm, comments or stares and do what you want to do.
Their discomfort is their primal fear of strangers, strange and new.
Clearly, it is better to be strange than fearful. Without shame to
tie you to your darkened room, perhaps you will join in with some
joyful activity or take a walk in the sunlight.
Think about how you look on the inside
more than how you look on the outside. Your liver is constantly
trying to detoxify your dirty blood. Any positive behavior other
than sitting and eating empty calories that overloads your liver and
kidneys is good. Every minute you are partaking of life is a minute
you are getting fit. If you are panting, then you are signaling your
bone marrow to make new blood. It may be hard to keep going and
your body will hurt. Your feelings may be trod upon by cruel people
but do not let anything stop you. Check with your doctor first and
get a plan that is right for you. Demand good health and recognition
by health providers who are often the worst Stigmatizers.
Imagine that you commit to eating six mini
meals the size of your two palms of pure organic vegetables, good
fats, lean protein and low glycemic carbs in addition to an hour of
cardio a day that makes you breath heavily, then stretching with
Pilates or yoga and add lifting light weights three times a week.
Miraculously, you will change for the better. These kinds of changes
are for life. No one taught us these habits when we were developing,
but we as a country need them now. There is no excuse with the
health education available for schools and parents to provide less
than perfect health for our children today.
The point is that you can believe that
you are great as you are right now. Unless you accept that you are a
worthy beautiful person regardless of any differences from your
society’s norm, you may not ever take that first short walk. Olympic
athletes look the way they do because of the choices they make every
day. Are you a Stigmatizer to yourself? You can only begin to make
loving choices for your sweet body when you choose to love your self
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