Let’s Stop Hating on Each Others’ Bodies (and On Our Own)

Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light. – from Science and Healthy with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

In the 1960s, you could eat anything you wanted, and of course, people were smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, and there was no talk about fat and anything like that, and butter and cream were rife. Those were lovely days for gastronomy, I must say. – Julia Child

Last week a video clip came through Facebook featuring TV anchor Jennifer Livingston responding to a viewer who had written to her: “I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.” Jennifer Livingston’s response to this viewer was pretty powerful, and empowering. “I am, ” she said, “much more than a number on a scale.”  http://www.tvweek.com/blogs/tvbizwire/2012/10/video-tv-anchor-goes-on-the-of.php

Not long after this, I saw that the hilarious and talented Melissa McCarthy (of Bridesmaids and The Heat) had encountered a similar sanctimonious criticism of her weight by well-known movie critic, Rex Reed, who wrote: “As a critic whose opinions are constitutionally protected by law, I stand by all of my original remarks about Melissa McCarthy’s obesity, which I consider about as amusing as cancer, and apologize for nothing.” I love how McCarthy responded to Reed’s comments: “”I felt really bad for someone who is swimming in so much hate… I just thought, that’s someone who’s in a really bad spot, and I am in such a happy spot. I laugh my head off every day with my husband and my kids who are mooning me and singing me songs.”  http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/rex-reed-refuses-to-apologize-for-melissa-mccarthy-comments-i-stand-by-all-of-my-original-remarks-2013216#ixzz2ejUgTepD

It would seem that people who are perceived as “overweight” by others are, basically, being told that they have no right to use their talents and gifts and shouldn’t be allowed to be seen by others because it might set a “bad example.”  Overweight people should be, like, invisible…? Hide themselves away until they can present bodies that others find acceptable…?

And… SERIOUSLY?!!

Why do we do this to each other? Why do we feel we need to hate on other peoples’ bodies? Why do we think the size of other people is any of our business? Why do we feel the need to label everything and everyone as good or bad, right or wrong? And what makes us think that our unsolicited advise to someone else about her weight is in any way helpful to the other person?

***

Okay, what I’m about to present isn’t very Christianly Scientific, I guess – but I feel the need to present it just the same. After I read about the experiences of McCarthy and Livingston, I thought I’d do a little research about the correlation between being overweight and ill health. I’m guessing most of us have just sort of accepted what “experts” have told us about the bad effects of being overweight on health – certainly Rex Reed and the man who criticized Livingston’s weight have bought into the idea that being “overweight” is harmful to one’s health – and appear to have used that idea as an excuse to look down on others. But is it really true, from a medical standpoint, that being overweight hurts your health? Curious, I googled.

I found several sites that actually contradicted the commonly accepted meme about weight and health:

“Being overweight linked to lower risk of mortality” one headline reads.  http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/02/health/overweight-mortality/index.html

“Obese individuals with at least moderate CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness) have lower rates of… all-cause mortality than their normal-weight but unfit peers. In fact, death rates in the former group are about one half those of the latter.”  (Editorial, JAMA, 2004) And “If the height/weight charts say you are 5 pounds too heavy, or even 50 pounds or more too heavy, it is of little or no consequence healthwise – as long as you are physically fit. On the other hand, if you are a couch potato, being thin provides absolutely no assurance of good health, and does nothing for your chance of living a long life.” (Steven Blair, P.E.D., Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, 1997.)  http://www.obesitymyths.com/myth4.1.htm

“Recent research suggests that people who are obese but metabolically healthy are in no more danger of dying from heart disease or cancer than healthy, normal weight people.”  http://news.yahoo.com/yes-obese-healthy-185800882.html

***

Okay, all that aside…

Do we think that we’re healthy because we don’t smoke? Do we think that we’re healthy because we eat right, exercise, eat an apple a day, get 8 hours sleep, take our vitamins…? Although it seems sensible to me – and natural – to move, play, run, dance – to express the movement and grace of God –  I also believe it’s natural for us to be healthy – I don’t believe good health is something we have to “earn” by rigidly following a checklist of do’s and don’ts. I believe good health is our right and it’s ours to claim right now.  I also believe that beauty is ours to claim right now. None of us can be “too thin” or “too heavy.” “Beautiful” is not something we have to work on becoming. I believe we’re already there. We can recognize it, right now, in ourselves, in each other, and in all of God’s creation.

***

As the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories. – Mary Baker Eddy

 Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man,  governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and  grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness. – Mary Baker Eddy

Immortal men and women are models of spiritual sense, drawn by perfect Mind and reflecting those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense. Comeliness and grace are independent of matter. Being possesses its qualities before they are perceived humanly. Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. – Mary Baker Eddy

It is ignorance and false belief, based on a material sense of things, which hide spiritual beauty and goodness. – Mary Baker Eddy

Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth. Sickness should not seem so real as health. – Mary Baker Eddy

Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.

– Chris Tomlin

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Stop Hating on Each Others’ Bodies (and On Our Own)

  1. Perspective is everything, Karen. Thanks for the reality check! The more I work at seeing what is amazing and innately good (because God-given) in others, the more I see it in myself, and the more I realize that all criticism of others stems from a deep insecurity on the part of the criticizer about his/her own goodness.

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