Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mae: Oh, the hypocrisy

I've had this post brewing in the back of my mind for several weeks based on a 'feeling' I get when I'm at work. Then, as though someone were listening to my thoughts and wanting to prey upon one thing known to put my into a panic-induced tizzy, I see the headline: Health-care workers face lifestyle pressures.


I am not a health-care worker, but I work in the field healthcare. I am surrounded by doctors, nurses, residents, OTs, PTs, SLPs and any number of other allied health professionals all day long. I was beyond thrilled when I learned that I got this job, but didn't fully think through the scenario of 'fat girl working with people whose jobs it is to promote healthy living.' I didn't fully appreciate the extent to which my weight would be cast in the spotlight precisely because of the environment in which I work.

Enter the hypocrisy. I may be overweight, but I am active and generally eat very well (obviously too much, but well). I do pretty much all of the things that the literature tells you to do in order to live a long and healthy life (don't drink to excess, eat lots of fruit and veg, don't smoke ...). So why is it that I should be judged any more or less on my 'lifestyle' than than veritable throngs of doctors and nurses that I see smoking their faces off outside my office and just past the doors of the emergency entrance? Even the article above talks about weight and exercise, with no attention given to any of the other vices in our lives that can stand in the way of good health.

People who are overweight have no choice but to wear their stress, poor coping skills, shitty genetics, etc., whereas alcoholics or smokers can hide their dirty little habits from public view. Would I feel any more confident about taking health advice from someone who was overweight versus someone with nicotine-stained fingers who smells like an ashtray? Absolutely not.


  1. Annie sez: I actually thought about that (sort of) as I walked past the little smoking club outside the doors of your building (and of the Cancer Care building next door) last Wednesday.

    A different perspective: maybe they're not judging you for your weight as much as you are? They are possibly just thinking "God I love to smoke" or "God I have to quit smoking," or "GOD IT IS COLD OUT HERE." Ha!

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - and maybe it's because I, too, am sensitive about my weight - but it seems to me like fat-ism is the last remaining politically correct/socially acceptable prejudice. I've been astounded by the number of people whom I know would never even consider uttering a racial slur or a homophobic remark, but who are very comfortable mentioning how someone's really packing it on, or even commenting on how a large woman in a food court "really shouldn't be ordering that."

    It seems like because (in most cases) our weight is our "fault," it's OK to judge us for our weakness.

    Hmmm... now that I think about it, I think I'll have to post on THAT later this week!

  2. Mae sez: I know for a fact that people are judged on their weight/looks/appearance in my direct work environment (maybe not by the freezing their arses off smokers). I hear it come from the top all the time. Being greeted with "Oooooh. I didn't know you looked like THAT..." by my now-superior on my interview day should have been a clue : )

  3. Wow - that would have been a reason for me not to want the job! :o) Obviously you were hired, though, so maybe you've taught her something.

  4. Annie and Mae,

    I am so proud of both of you and that you're doing something, something that is very difficult to do, about improving your health and lifestyle. I know it's easy for others to say, but really, don't care about what others may think or even about their own issues, the only thing that matters is you and that you're happy with yourself, whatever size that may be. There were MANY people who completed the marathon in Athens who didn't look like "typical" athletes, which just goes to prove that you don't have to be super fit to accomplish something amazing, you just have to have the will and work hard.

    And I think Annie is right. I think you are much harder on yourself than everyone else is. We all have body issues. All of us.

    As for the smokers, I can only imagine that the reason most of those people are still smoking is because they do not have the strength to do what you are doing. The gratification from a cigarette can't possibly be worth the stink, cost, potential for disease/death, disappointment of friends and family... I don't think there are too many smokers out there anymore who want to be smokers (Gessus especially in the winter in Winnipeg!), they are just not strong enough to quit. Another perspective: maybe they are thinking "look at her, she thinks she's so good, not having to have a stinky butt before she goes back inside the warm building"... ha

    So go girls, go!