“I’m addicted!” “It’s a total time suck” “I can’t stop checking in!!” “It’s just an exercise in voyeurism and exhibitionism.” “It’s a substitute for real intimacy.” “Do I really want to know what EVERYONE is having for breakfast???”
These are all descriptions that people have shared with me about Facebook and I can’t say I disagree. But as Tevye would say, “On the other hand…” For me, it has also been a portal to people and organizations adding knowledge and depth to my personal life and professional pursuits. Occasionally, the two overlap.
I reconnected with a childhood friend via Facebook and after the usual reminiscing of boys, teachers and most incredible concerts of the 70’s (Sly and the Family Stone at Madison Square Garden and Janice at the Fillmore) we found ourselves in present time. This is a turning point in The Facebook Friend Continuum. Once the past is rediscovered, like a safety deposit box of memories, gone through, validated, dusted off, blanks filled in, and carefully put away, what is left in terms of continued meaningful contact?
Sometimes, differences in politics eclipse the common bond of childhood and you pack the person away as part of your history but no longer check their updates. Other times you may actively defriend someone realizing that they have become (or always were but when you were 10, who knew?) too abhorrent to have their posts show up on your page…or wall…(I’m a bit embarrassed to admit but I am still unclear what the difference is between my wall and my page).
Delightfully rare is when you find someone that even as adults you share common ground and if you were to meet that person for the first time today, chances are you would be friends. I recently had this experience with “Vee” who unbeknownst to me, had been reading my blog and keeping up with my posts. She messaged me that she found great comfort and inspiration in the size acceptance, health at every size® message that is woven throughout most of what I write. I in turn deeply admire her paintings that she shares from time to time. They are poignant in their frankness and familiarity of subject. Honest and clear, qualities that she appreciates in my writing I value in her art.
Indisputably, Vee is talented successful and educated. In Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, these are all characteristics of someone who would be confident and self assured. Sadly, in the real world, it came as no surprise when she wrote to me about how she feels like a failure because in her mother’s eyes, Vee is too fat.
“But, do you still love me?”
This was the question Vee asked her mother recently when she took an emergency trip to Florida to tend to her mother’s every need after Mom’s 7 hour spinal fusion surgery. A woman in her mid fifties puts her life on hold, during the holidays, takes a taxi from the airport directly to the rehabilitation facility to be with her 80+ year old mom. Mom, who is immobilized, incontinent and, in my opinion, inexcusably inconsiderate, greets her daughter with,
“You look disgusting, why don’t you lose weight?”
But NOT inconsistent. Ah, if we could blame it on the pain medication or some cognitive disorder that had her mother blurting out crazy incoherent insults to anyone who walked by. But this was completely in sync with her mother’s normal affect and typical lack of affection. The familiarity of the reproach did nothing to soothe the sting but for the first time Vee changed her lines in their script. She looked at her mom, and inquired,
“But Mom, do you still love me?”
Think about this scenario…a woman is there to provide unconditional love and help to her mother. Her mom whose body is in complete disrepair yet still feels superior to her healthy helpful daughter based on the singular criteria of weight. And because Vee, an accomplished talented grown woman is still, as most of us are, invested in our parent’s love and acceptance she is brought to tears by her mom’s words. Vee is not alone. So much of our fat shame and self loathing is really about not feeling loved. Not feeling worthy of love. Not being good enough, right enough or thin enough to be loved. It doesn’t matter that we know how ludicrous these judgments are because we have been abused and brainwashed for so long, we instinctively try to defend and justify our weight and bodies.
“After I popped the question, she dropped it but meanwhile I overheard her telling 2 different nurses that I used to be so pretty. Plus her aide told me she talks about my weight to her friends all the time. For Christ’s sake, I’m 145, not 245! Okay, so my ideal weight is 118, realistic weight is 125. But I’m 55 going through menopause, not looking for a husband so I could use a break, thank you very much.”
So I ask you…
Why all the hate? Why do we, as a culture, continue to assault and insult our daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, co- workers for having bodies that are fatter than we think they should be for whatever reason or justification we may think supports this behavior?
You are breaking someone’s heart. I guarantee that your well intentioned, “I’m just doing this because I love you,” script is causing more harm than health. And heaven forbid some day you find yourself lying in bed after surgery and you are lucky enough to have someone there to care for you, try this on for size.
Be happy their body is strong and able enough to transfer you to a wheelchair, or lift you up to change your bed pan. Be grateful that they love you, even though your body is no longer “perfect.” And be open to the idea that maybe…just maybe…that person may have a chance to be happier with a little dose of appreciation and acceptance.
In Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, Vee’s mom would have just said,
Here are two wonderful blogs about love and acceptance that you may enjoy.
And here is the link to STAND 4 KIDS, a campaign against the Strong 4 Life Campaign that is shaming children in the name of helping them.
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