It's horrible how people are nasty to other people about appearances etc - "too fat", "too thin", "big nose", "slit eyes" etc etc. As if it's anybody's business what another person looks like. Shaming over appearance seemed to be an international pastime when I was growing up - I saw it in Europe, and I saw it in Australia. Of course, broadly, bullies bully about any type of being different, because they feel better about themselves when they can denigrate someone else.
I'm sorry people were so thoughtless,
- and probably also
, did you get rude comments about being skinny? I did! "Oh, do you have worms? Are you anorexic? Do you throw up in the toilets?" I can only imagine how that would feel if you do actually have an eating disorder.
I'm going to look at genetics and lifestyle for weight in our family, but also at appearance shaming. My mother was overweight from her late 30s onwards, and increasingly so with age, and was fat shamed terribly by my (skinny) father, who encouraged my brother and me to join him in fat shaming my mother. He encouraged us to see her as a moral and personal failure, and always made rude comments about her when she was eating - which would have increased her psychological drivers to overeat. He used words like "fat pig" and "fat cow" and "elephant" and also, in German there are two words for eating: Essen
is humans eating, fressen
is animals eating. If you apply fressen
to a human, that's really insulting, the same way it would be if someone said, "Oh, have you just had a shiitake?" if they come back from the toilet. So, my father was frequently using the animal term for my mother eating, and offering to buy her a trough.
I wasn't comfortable with all the abuse in our family; as the youngest, I was the least able to defend myself too. But, my mother was constantly appearance shaming me as well - "Your face looks like a cheese! (she thought I should get a tan) Your hair is like spaghetti! You're slouching! You're a stick! The wind will blow you away! You have monkey arms! You're flat chested! You're a late developer! (when I was 12, 13)" ...she said all of these things, and often, and that was just appearance - she had other terms of insult for my character etc: "You're lazy! You're ungrateful! You're young and stupid! (my father liked using that one too) You're a snot-nose!" ...all thrown with lots of acid. Terms like "stupid cow" and "[email protected]
" and "dog" and "b1tch" and "a-hole" were routine everyday terms my parents used on each other and on me. And then there was all the hitting, and kicking, and throwing things, and Chinese burns, and the threatening and the intimidating, and bruises and blood noses, and people fighting with the wood heater poker or other tools or fists, and my mother split a wooden cutting board over my head once, and chased me with broomsticks and kicked my shins blue if she could corner me etc.
So with all of that, as a primary school kid, it sometimes gave me a grim satisfaction to see the discomfort of the people who were hurting me on a regular basis, and sometimes, if I got insulted by my mother, I'd insult her back with the fat-shaming my father was teaching us - and of course, I'd get hit for doing so. Later on, as a teenager, I thought about ethics and what sort of person I wanted to be, and stopped doing that.
I think a lot of this rubbish starts in families, in dysfunctional patterns. You don't necessarily see it looking from the outside - a lot of very dysfunctional families are respected pillars of the community. Mine were, for a long time. A charade gets played in public; it helps if the family has money and social status - as mine did - because then people won't look at them as ungenerously as they do poor people. It doesn't help that people let themselves be impressed by status.
So anyway - in my family of origin, my mother had overweight issues from her 30s and obesity issues from her 40s - and almost certainly linked to depression and other forms of mental/emotional illness. She wasn't a warm, loving mother to me (but wanted to be seen as such), but I think she didn't have any genuine warmth and love in her marriage either - and that cut both ways: They were very good at making life hell for each other, and for me too.
My brother had overweight issues from his 30s, increasing with age. It's hard to say how much is genetics and how much lifestyle, but he didn't exercise and he ate junk, and too much of it, thought vegetables were for rabbits, and also got quite an alcohol habit. My father was relatively lean most of his life, except for a "lifesaver" ring around his waist in his late 30s, which he addressed by eating less and taking up tennis and cross-country skiing. From his 40s, he worked with horses and got plenty of heavy exercise mucking out stables, feeding a dozen or more dry lot / stable horses four times a day, training them, and repairing all the fences etc.
My mother's take is that she's got the fat genes (her mother was the same), as does my brother, but that my father has thin genes and passed them onto me. I don't think it's that simple, because in that group of people, all the people who ended up overweight hated exercise and overate on junk foods, and the two people who didn't are highly physically active. Unless we're going to stipulate that an exercise-loathing gene exists... I do know that if I had my mother's or my brother's lifestyle and diet and level of non-exercise, there is no way I would be a healthy person, and I'd certainly have stacked on weight - you can see that it's possible for me just from what happened in England.
I think it's a combination of genes and environment (lifestyle, mental/emotional health etc). It's certainly true that there are "good doers" and "hard keepers" in humans as well as horses, for mainly genetic reasons, I would guess. And fat shaming helps nobody, besides being atrocious manners and indicative of a nasty personality...