As a psychology major I took several sociology classes. I really enjoyed those classes and I particularly liked studying/learning/talking about social cultures and norms and why people act as they do in groups. I tend to think of things on a global level and get a little too excited sometimes. Be that as it may, something happened today and it struck me that it really is almost a social commentary and I wanted to share with you guys and get your thoughts.
When I weighed over 300 pounds NOBODY - and certainly not strangers - expressed concern to me about my weight. Now I had people laugh at me, yell things out windows, whisper behind my back and things like that. But as far as stopping me and expressing genuine concern for my health? Nope. It never happened.
Because THAT my friends would certainly violate some sort of social code. I mean we don't stop someone we don't don't know and say "Hey, you are clearly hugely obese. You are putting yourself at risk of all sorts of health problems and are eating yourself into an early grave!” No - laughing at someone - that's pretty accepted, but not sticking your nose in to express a concern about someone’s health!
Then I lost weight and started running. And since I started running I've been told - on a unsolicited basis mind you - by complete strangers (as well as people I know) that:
- Running is bad for your knees
- Running is too much stress on the heart
- “John Tesh said on his radio show that you shouldn't run more than 20 miles in a week. you know!”
- Running is terrible for your joints and you'll be in a wheelchair by age 60
I've been stopped while out running for "being dressed in too light clothes for the weather” and told I would get hypothermia.
Today it was still hot and humid, but very cloudy and I headed out to run. It felt good at first but as I narrowed in on 4 miles the 78% humidity was catching up with me and I was sweating pretty good and breathing hard. I approached an intersection where a very large woman in a tank top was walking slowly and sweating profusely.
As we neared each other she shook her head and said something to me. I pulled off one ear of my headphones and said "What?" "You need to stop running! " she said earnestly "It's too hot! You're going to get heat stroke!"
I laughed, told her I would be fine and carried on. And as I ran I reflected that it is so funny that now that I'm doing something healthy, people feel that they can comment on their concern for my well being! NOW they are concerned about my health!
What if, after she said that, I had told her I appreciated her concern but that she should really think about losing some weight because she is at much higher risk of dying of a heart attack than I am of dying of heat stroke! No, that would have been rude, right?
What would be the reaction the next time someone decides to comment on running being horrible for my knees I told them that eating that donut is horrible for their heart?
I don’t mean in a malicious or snotty way – what if it was meant out of true concern – presumably like the comments on my running.
I imagine it would go over about as well as a huge fart in church as the saying goes. But it’s funny how the social norms allow for this type of butting the nose in is perfectly acceptable but weight comments – not so much!