Whenever I see a post on the internet about body/self love that has gone viral, I always read the comments. I don’t know why I insist on doing this to myself. Because I enjoy being angry? I don’t know. But I read them anyway.
And invariably, someone, usually multiple someones, have to throw in a comment about how ‘we’ (who are ‘we’, random internet poster? Is it “us” against this dangerous person showing acceptance for their own body?) shouldn’t be encouraging someone to be “unhealthy” by supporting them in their body/self love.
Ok. Lets clear up a few things right off the bat. When a person says, “I accept myself.” Or “I love myself the way I am”, it does not mean this person is shouting to the world “I AM PERFECT! I HAVE NO FLAWS! EVERYONE SHOULD LOOK AND FEEL JUST LIKE ME!” No. In fact, a person can love and accept themselves and still strive for “better” or “healthier”.
But sometimes, healthy is a bunch of crap. At times we like to use it as a little “jab” to someone else. “Well, she has lost a lot of weight, but she just seems so unhealthy.” Or, “I know she thinks she is happy, but that relationship just seems unhealthy.” You know what? Maybe you are right. Or maybe you aren’t. Is it really your place to judge what is healthy? Are you this woman’s doctor or her counselor? My guess is no, and she probably didn’t ask for your opinion either.
Oh, I am guilty too! I have said it! I’ve said it and been genuinely concerned, and I have said it condescendingly. Then finally, I wondered why I said it at all. Even if I am genuinely concerned about someone, does it help calling them “Unhealthy” behind his/her back? Or, like our brave internet trolls, if I choose to tell someone to their face (or their Facebook page) they are unhealthy – is that helpful?
If a person is unhealthy, they probably either know it already and don’t need to be reminded, or they may be in denial, in which case your comment is only going to make them more defensive. Telling someone with an eating disorder, “you just don’t seem healthy” is very unlikely to be the straw that broke the camel’s back to cause them to get help. Or, “You know, I thought I loved myself, but some random guy on the internet who has never met me pointed out that I am overweight and unhealthy. I had no idea! Thank God he brought that to my attention so now I can finally stay committed to a diet. That idea had never occurred to me before. Thank God I didn’t make the mistake of loving myself for too long!”
I drink Dr. Pepper every day. Ask my husband what effect his badgering of my pop drinking addiction has had on the number of Dr. Pepper’s I consume each day. (hint: ZERO). In fact, if you are one of those people who wants to lecture me for six hours on how pop is slowly killing me, I am not going to stop and thank you for changing my life. I will probably drown out your voice as I imagine spitting Dr. Pepper straight at your face as you speak. BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW ITS BAD FOR ME. YOUR OPINION ISNT HELPING ME.
[DISCLAIMER: I know my husband loves me and has to spend every day of the rest of our lives with me and is genuinely concerned so I cut him some slack. And I am NOT saying it is ok to encourage an addiction. Here is what I am trying to say: I think people know when a habit or lifestyle they have is not empirically healthy. I am saying it is not OUR (acquaintances and people of the internet) job to judge and counsel and lecture people who are not, in fact, asking for our opinions or our permission to live their own life how they chose.]
What if we all stopped worrying about how “healthy” or “unhealthy” others were, and started working out why we feel we need to judge who is healthy or not? What if instead of bashing someone for not fitting into our personal definition of health, we worried about our own level of health?
Love and accept on, brave souls of the internet.