Note: This will be the final “Old Crock” published by the Synthesis. Jaime opted not to write a farewell column.
I’m going to get way out of line here and take a position that isn’t currently the “let’s-all-feel- good-about-ourselves” party line of politically correct attitudes. I’m talking about the campaign against “body shaming,” and the accompanying notion that we should smile on our brother, even if he’s gotten too fuckin’ fat to pass through the front door and has been confined to a bed where he spends his days watching Judge Judy and eating ice cream by the half gallon.
Like lots of our less appealing emotions, shame has its uses. It may even be necessary for our survival. Even cruelty, as shitty a human attribute as can generally be found, has a place in the mix of emotions that can sometimes stimulate people to action they need to take for their very own good.
For a couple of decades now, we’ve been experiencing an epidemic of obesity that has been turning us into a nation of fat fucks, often too damned overweight to get into Walmart to buy cheap shit and bulk quantities of Cheetos unless we’re in a government- provided scooter allowing us to avoid ever taking a single step. I’m talking here about people who are in their 30s and even much younger, obscenely obese already, indifferent to their health or their appearance, human pie holes constantly being stuffed with harmful sugars and fats in the most mindlessly gluttonous of ways.
But god forbid if our faces should ever twist into a rictus of disapproval for people who’ve eaten themselves into disability, virtually useless hulks of brooding fat barely able to move beyond reaching for their next Big Gulp and Econo-Sized quantities of Pop Tarts.
A little shame can nurse and nudge us toward sometimes desperately needed self-improvement. When I see the parade of undulating blubber in Walmart, or Costco, I see lots of shame and depression, wallowing in defeat and apathy that will lead to early death for lots of people, lots of loss for those who love them, and big and unnecessary medical bills for the rest of us to pick up.
As I disappear ever more deeply into the forest of age, some old values cling to me that younger people are rejecting. There are things I still think are worth keeping—virtues like self-discipline, a modicum of self respect, a determination to resist personal weakness and self indulgence when such traits are not serving us. As a person who took a little too long to admit a problem with alcohol before, at last, allowing shame to usher me toward sobriety, I think a little “body shaming” may be just what the doctor ordered for some people to assert a little control over their lives, their health, and the hope for better personal futures.
And yeah, I know, there are people with thyroid conditions and other anomalies, but the fat fuck brigades are mostly people who can’t get a handle on counting calories, exercise, avoiding processed food, and managing a little healthy self respect. Their obesity meets at the intersection of laziness, correctable ignorance about nutrition, stupidity, and a failure of pride. There’s lots of traffic where those thoroughfares intersect.