Lets face it, I know there’s a voyeuristic speck in all of us, prompting us to pause our insta scrolling on a good weight loss before and after pic. Yes, I’m guilty. I’m sad to say I may have even zoomed in on a few ~ I know, it’s pathetic! You will find though that these before and afters do gain a huge amount of attention. We hurl out praise and adoration and label such as heroes, champions and warriors. Whilst I think this is fine, and yes, it’s damn hard to lose weight. Full cred to anyone who achieves it. Well done!!! I do think however that our societal standards may need some recalibrating.
I’m stirred to talk about this issue through watching a couple of legit heroes in my family. These women both suffer invisible illnesses. You will never hear them complain yet hehind their smiles, lipstick and positivity they fight these illnesses every single day, and it’s damn hard. One of these incredible women suffers unbearable back pain and debilitating autoimmune disease, the other fights chronic vestibular migraines. Part of their fight for health has included healthier food choices, which as a side effect, has lead to them losing considerable amounts of body weight.
I’ve watched these women at social gatherings be encouraged and praised for losing weight. Enquires…. How did you do it? How did you lose the weight? Yet, not a word of encouragement, for the battle behind the weight loss. Which is a bit insulting really. I guess it’s easier and less confronting for friends and family to judge on surface value. To appraise on appearance, without the need to enquire on a deeper level. I myself get this all the time and I know it’s common amongst invisible illness fighters. I am frequently told, Oh you look well or healthy or fit. It totally cracks me up, knowing full well; I’m none of these. Would you believe a doctor recently refused me treatment, because I looked too well! Not even kidding!
Why is it, as a culture, that the majority feel more comfortable complimenting weight loss than encouraging people with a disability? Why so uncomfortable? Chronic illness not brought on by poor choices or lack of self-control. Still we are more comfortable celebrating, without hesitation, people’s ability to stop putting crap food in their mouths. Bravo! We enthusiastically cheer.
Let me tell you, losing weight and eating healthy is the simplest part of these women’s journeys. For these champions the real fight doesn’t just happen at mealtime but all the hours in-between too.
Interestingly enough, unlike the typical crash dieters who do so purely for weight loss purposes, both these women have kept the weight off. Why? Because their focus is not what am I missing out on, but rather what do I have to gain from good nutrition. Neither are on “diets”, but instead embrace as a lifestyle. Their focus not how they LOOK at the beach, but rather feeling HEALTHY enough to go to the beach!
Its fascinating to me, how uncomfortable people can be about things they don’t understand. One would think lack of knowledge would encourage people to ask questions and learn? In my experience, this is far from the case. Why is it completely ok to talk about struggles at work without judgement? No one ever thinks of it as negativity, but rather that they are just stating the obvious, that their day was hard.
Yet to talk about struggles with physical or mental illness is weak? Frowned upon. It’s considered negative and giving up. I can say today was hard and painful and still be full of hope and believing for a miracle. Pretending it doesn’t exist does not make it go away. Not talking about it doesn’t make your prayers stronger (don’t even get me started)!
I’m not talking pity parties or self indulgent “why me” conversations. I’m well aware pity parties and healing cannot co-exist. I’m talking real conversations. Opportunities for cheering that equal our support for skinny bodies. Opportunities for those invisible soldiers to be seen. Opportunities for support and encouragement, rather than shame. There is nothing shameful about fighting a chronic illness everyday. You are my heroes.
So next time you find yourself commenting on how someone looks, which I’m not saying is a bad thing. Who doesn’t like a nice compliment? I do. The question is, does it have to stop there? Maybe next time you could ask yourself… Do I care as much about how that person is feeling, as I do about the way they look?
Food for thought.
Love Meli xx
ye dc xx