I was told someone had responded to my Fit Shaming article and that I should read it. Normally, I ignore anonymous responses to anything I write but I figured I might as well give it a read. (Although the person who sent me to the article was also anonymous, kind of a jerk and very well might have been the writer him/herself.) Then, I figured I might as well respond, mostly because I was amused how someone could ask me to reply in a courteous nature while also insulting what I write, how I write and why I wrote it. Let’s see if I can show how the high road is actually taken. (Probably not.)
Dear Anonymous Tumblr Poster,
I am going to have to start this entire response off by stating that many of the questions you ask about what is fit or what is healthy or what is a variety of other things were, intentionally, left without definition. Why? Because ANY definition, no matter how vague or specific, will somehow be incorrect and leave one group or another out. As such, I figured that relatively reasonable people could come to an agreement on what fit or healthy or anything else you asked me to describe is. Ergo, I left its actual description blank. (Although a Fit Vs Healthy blog may be in the works.) As that seems to be the crux of many points you made, you will have to accept this as my answer to all of them. (I will add, however, that without a doubt someone could look “fit” and still be unhealthy. Many examples, recently and unfortunately punctuated by the passing of professional wrestler Ultimate Warrior, come from the world of professional sports. Many of these men and women look to be at the pinnacle of health but inside are probably wrecking their bodies with drugs or other unhealthy items.)
Perhaps it was a poorly written sentence but when I said “And for the purposes of this article, I am focusing mostly on women and body issues for them...” I was not stating that I knew what body issues for women feel like for women. I was stating that I was going to focus on the way that people speak about women’s bodies as they are usually the ones in question in all the instances I was referencing. Even though many people can succinctly speak about complex issues that do not personally involve them, I was not trying to be one of those people. (This is in response to your comment of …”more importantly, he is certainly not in a position to comment on how women feel.”)
You asked if I was a medical doctor which I am guessing was rhetorical. Nevertheless, I am happy to answer in the negative there. I am still 100% certain one does not need to be a medical doctor to read what medical doctors write and understand them. And when I don’t understand them, I have a litany of medical doctor friends from all differing backgrounds and specialties whom I call upon when I have questions (which is often.) Of course, this ignores the fact that medical doctors themselves constantly disagree on a multitude of different subjects. That said, you had no problem stating what is fit and you claim not to read any actual medical journals. In fact, you stated many certainties (hedging some with “may” and “might”) without cited medical background. Why did you do that? Because your blog is not a peer-reviewed journal, you probably are not being paid to write it, or a variety of other things that allow you to have an opinion which, if stated relatively well and without ridiculousness, reasonable people will accept.
As for judging, we all judge every day every minute everywhere we go. People complain about making generalizations or stereotypes but both exist so that we can speak about broader topics without having to name Steve from Poughkepesie who I grew up with and know every single thing he has done for the past 15 years. Judgments are a part of life. I hardly think I made any unnecessarily harsh judgments in my post but perhaps I need to read it again. (OK, just did. Nope.)
You asked (adding “philosophically” as if that automatically makes it a more learned question) why we would care if everyone is fit or healthy? I honestly do not even know how to answer that question and not because it is like Plato's Cave and stumped me. Seriously? Why should we want people to try to not be ill or unhealthy? Does that not answer itself? You throw out a strawman argument about unhealthy people potentially being a"...Pulitzer Prize author, or a brilliant musician, or for christs sake, someone with a thyroid disease and no medical insurance” as if I said that we should round up the unhealthy people and throw them in an internment camp. You actually quoted me but seemed to miss what I said. I said being fit is a goal everyone should strive for. You asked me why. If you can give me one legitimate reason why they should NOT do so, I would be amazed. Because by your logic, being fit apparently would take away their prize writing ability or musical talent.
I can think of nothing that is not improved by being fit. I am not saying that Tolstoy should have worked on his lats more or Yo-Yo Ma needed to really nail some jump shots or that Harriet Tubman was fine and all but I wish she had done some pilates. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if those who contributed so much to our society, but died because of self-afflicted health problems, were around a little while longer to make our society even better still? (Pro tip: That is rhetorical. Of course it would be.)
In your last portion you said that me stating “we definitely should hold the applause for those who actively chose not to be fit” made you sad, reverting to your original statement of what is fit, healthy, etc. If you actively chose NOT to be fit, you are hurting yourself, and, to many degrees, many others. I detailed this in greater extent in my Cost of Obesity article (which I linked to in the article you are having so much trouble with.)
The result of all of this remains exactly what it was when I first wrote my article: the world needs healthier people. If you disagree with that then you probably agree with most of what Fox News talks about as well.
Self-Proclaimed “Extreme Athlete” Dane Rauschenberg
p.s. If you truly want to have intelligent discourse about the subject, let me know who you are and perhaps we can actually, you know, discuss it.