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Posts Tagged ‘shame’

Shame is a funny emotion. We feel shame usually when we’ve done something unethical to others, or when we’ve done something embarrassing. It seems that shame in our culture is now looked upon as something no one should have to feel for any reason and to be avoided at all costs. The thing is, feeling shame is often the first step towards making a positive change. If you feel shame about something you’ve done, you know that it’s something that should be corrected, and it can motivate you towards taking the first steps that’ll make it right.

Some people in the Fat Acceptance movement claim that anti-obesity, health-related ads are “shaming,” and that a doctor telling you that you should lose weight for your health is “shaming” and that pretty much anyone who claims that fat is a choice is “shaming” to fat people. Also, in our very politically correct society, shame in general is looked upon as something always to avoid. The thing is, anyone who’s personal choices leads them to be a burden to others should feel some amount of shame. You can compare it to someone so addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, or gambling that they’ve burned through the family savings accounts and fail to provide for their children because of their vices. If someone loves food so much that they’d let themselves get so bad that family or friends have to take care of them, they should feel some shame about it. FA will probably agree with the drug addict/alcoholic analogy, but if you include fat people in the equation they feel it’s unfair. But I tend to disagree because eating too much food for your body to use in your normal activity level is a choice. If the only person who has to live with the choice is the choice-maker, that’s fine. But if someone else has to somehow care for the person who makes the self-destructive choice, we’re crossing over into the territory where it becomes someone else’s problem as well. For one to allow that to happen, one should feel ashamed.

Instances where shame shouldn’t be a factor do exist. For instance, a child should never feel ashamed that their parents divorced, a victim of sexual or any other kind of abuse should never feel ashamed of the fact that they were a victim of said abuse. If anyone gives their 100% best effort at something and failed, they shouldn’t feel ashamed, but rather proud that they tried and be motivated to try harder for next time (nobody can be the BEST at anything at all times). But if someone makes a choice, and that choice yields bad results for not only the individual but those in the individuals life, then shame is warranted, and can be a positive emotion.

Basically my main point is that shame can sometimes help a person get better. If an alcoholic feels intense shame that he let his alcohol abuse hurt his family, and it can motivate him to give up alcohol and make right those wrongs, then shame is a good thing. If a person who’s let themselves become disabled because of their weight and their spouse or parents have to care for them and they feel ashamed because of that, then maybe they’ll be motivated to lose enough weight to be independent again. I’m not saying one should feel ashamed for not looking hot in a bikini or speedo, here, but if one gets fat enough that they need assistance doing normal things, perhaps they should feel some modicum of shame.

While we’re on the topic of caring for a disabled loved one, I will say this: if your spouse is in an accident which renders them disabled, and you end up taking care of them, that’s understandable. If your spouse eats their way to a size which they become disabled at, and you end up taking care of them, that is unfair. The reason for that is getting fat was their choice, while an accident that makes a person have a disability was not a choice. The reason I bring this up is the “for better or worse” vows at most weddings. A lot of fat spouses will argue that their spouse vowed to love them unconditionally, but that’s unfair if the “condition” was brought on by choices. What the “for better or worse” vow was created for, was for cases like the first scenario, where something bad, outside of your spouse’s control, happens. It’s not an accident to eat too much, exercise too little, and get very fat. It can FEEL like an accident if you’re not watching yourself then one day wake up to realize how fat you’ve gotten. It’s an accident when you get in a car wreck and become a paraplegic and can no longer do certain things for yourself. Alcoholics and drug addicts are shamed for making life hard on their families, and their addictions are the results of choices. So if someone is FAT and is a burden on their family because of it, it’s wrong for them to be shamed, too? I don’t get it.

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