Monday, October 6, 2014

In Fear of Shaming (A Rant)

Recently I saw this posted to my Facebook news feed:

The gimmick is that a “smart utensil” has been created that vibrates if you try to take bites of food any fewer than 10 seconds apart. The idea is if we can slow down the speed that people will eat, they will start to feel full before they’ve eaten as much as they normally would. Weight loss ensues. 

The complaint is that this is “food shaming”, and is therefore inherently bad. 

On the heels of the “Fed Up” trailer that I ranted about earlier, where we shouldn’t be held accountable at all for our expanding waistlines, I started to think more about shaming and accountability. 

The HAPIfork

The idea that shaming of any sort seems to be sprung from the problem of “victim shaming” when it comes to issues of abuse and rape. This is totally warranted because, by very definition of a crime being done TO someone, there is a victim. The person at fault here isn’t the person that was acted upon, it is the person who did the crime. It’s the abuser. The rapist. The thief. Whatever the case, when you have one person doing something legally or morally wrong to another person, you put blame on the doer, not the victim. 

Where this goes wrong is when we start saying anything that involves consequences of one's own actions is "shaming" them. In this situations, they aren't victim to anyone except their own choices. It's not shaming to point out a consequence and explain why it happened and how one can avoid it. 

In what should be an obvious case, Rob Schneider got booted from the State Farm ad campaign because of his very vocal stance against vaccines. He voiced these ideas and no one is obligated to support him for it, especially when that someone is in the business of promoting vaccines. This is not "belief shaming," this is just cause and effect. 

Now food shaming. How can someone make you feel bad about what you eat? Either you enjoy it or you don't. You either accept that you're going to put that cookie in your mouth, or you feel bad for making that choice already, and someone pointing out that it might be contradictory to your goals merely brings emotion out. 

I just had a Triple Dipper appetizer at a Chili's Too here at the Oakland Airport. Alone. It was, according to MyFitnessPal, about 1700 calories all said and done. Go on and try to shame me for that. I knew full well what I was getting myself into. 

Me, in response to buffalo wings.

Thing is, when it comes to "size shaming", "fat shaming", or "food shaming", calling someone names and trying to make them feel bad is just you being a bully and NOT going to help a situation. However, suggesting that someone should lose weight for health benefits and suggesting they change the way they eat isn't shaming. (Unless you go up to a stranger and say this. Then you're a bully here, too.) Pointing out facts of a case (you eat more than you need, you don't believe in science, you ran with scissors) isn't shaming. 

When you are bigger than you want to be, it's pretty much a matter of eating more than you need. Yes, certain macronutrients can make you feel full longer (thereby controlling calories), and other macros or flavor combos can make you crave more food shortly after eating (thereby increasing calories). And when it comes to specific goals, certain things need to be taken into account. But the 10,000 foot view is, eat what you need, less to be smaller and more to be bigger. 

Why is it shaming if we say that? There needs to be more personal accountability when it comes to advocating for healthy lifestyles. If you don't like where you are, reach out to friends, family or professionals to help you get there. 

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