If you’re still here: thank you. And apologies for ranting. I warned you I’d be more open on this blog about my life and my feelings…I hope you share freely with me as well. :)
So, the other side of things. I play devil’s advocate with myself because I am clearly crazy, but it makes for some interesting inner monologue!
I can only speak for America (USA), but I do believe the average person automatically sees overweight people as ‘less’ than acceptable weight people. Less attractive, less interesting, less capable, less intelligent, etc. On a personal level, everyone in America knows a fat person who they think is awesome. But they’d also say either (a) this fabulous person would be a better version of themselves at an acceptable weight, or (b) this fabulous person isn’t actually overweight. Both ideas reinforce the idea that overweight=less than, and acceptable weight=better than. The more overweight, the worse; the more acceptable/underweight, the better.
So it isn’t shocking that the most popular people in the highly visual world of social media are often on the thin side of acceptable weight. And that’s not really a problem in and of itself. It’s the fallout that is the problem. The fallout is that overweight people see who’s popular, believe that they are ‘less’ than these personalities, accept that there’s something wrong with them, and marginalize themselves. In sewing, overweight people routinely admit to not sharing their makes on their bodies or at all because their weight makes them unacceptable. They admit to not even bothering to make themselves anything in the first place, because their large bodies make them unworthy of custom clothing. They don’t start many blogs, or blog very often if they do start a blog, or bother taking high quality photos for their blog if they’ve even gotten that far.* They don’t buy the pretty, stylish patterns or eye-catching, fashionable fabrics.
All the stuff we like online is aspirational, inspirational, or motivational. We aspire to be what we “like” — pretty fabrics, cute little dresses, gorgeous hand stitching — things we wish we could pull off in real life, but in reality don’t or rarely attempt. We are inspired by people who do attempt things and succeed at them: the person who sews her own wedding dress, a wardrobe for her bun in the oven, or transforms a love of fabric into an online fabric store.
And then there’s motivation. There’s a lot of that, especially on Instagram (where I looooove to hang out, join me!): the wonderful words that give us a buzz and get us thinking ‘I can accomplish my goals today’ and ‘I can live the life of my dreams’. But how effective is motivation? Do we double tap when we hear the call to action because we’re actually going to take action?
My mother is a big Biggest Loser fan, but she joked that if Jillian Michaels showed up at the house, she wouldn’t open the door. (For the record, I wouldn’t either. That woman is scary!) But her saying that, says something. Motivation is nothing without effort, our effort, and generally speaking, if we need the motivation we’re unlikely to make the effort. In other words, if we need someone to tell us we’re beautiful before we blog regularly, take high quality photos, and buy and make nice things for ourselves–we’re probably not going to blog, photograph, self-prioritize, and self-embellish.
So how can overweight people be helped if they can’t be motivated to help themselves? I feel that this is the million dollar question. People, when I say I think about this day and night I mean I’m even mulling this over in my sleep. It’s a question that haunts me. Partly because an answer could have ramifications for any and every other marginalized, ‘less’ than demographic, partly because a budding desire for a makeover has me questioning my beliefs, values, and goals.
There will be more on this theme moving forward, and I really hope you stick around and join in the discussion. I promise there will be sewing and pictures accompanying these heavy thoughts!
*My photos don’t suck because I have body hangups, they suck because I’m not a very good self-photographer. :-p