Self-Efficacy in a World of Obesity Acceptance

Why am I only motivated to blog by things that frustrate me?  Today in a class I was given a writing prompt about whether obese individuals are to blame for their weight or if their environment is responsible.  As I’ve written many times before, the idea an environment can be totally to blame for someone’s weight, namely obesity, is ridiculous.  When did we start allowing people to play the victim to results of personal decisions?  People decide they don’t need to be educated on making healthy choices, they decide not to go a little further for healthier food, they decide the health of their kids just isn’t that important.  We give them television shows because suddenly it’s become revolutionary to be accepting of an obese body in a society that values a thinner frame.  But it’s not about body size or looks.  It’s about HEALTH.  Recently a video received so much negative attention for calling out fat people and their poor choices.  The video creator is a comedian so everything should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s nothing about which to get so worked up.  She actually makes many valid points about health risks and life expectancy.  Everyone tries to make it about looks and that’s a personal superficial problem.  We should be thinking about the inside, as in organ health, bone health, and blood level normality.  It’s not about fat-shaming, it’s about unhealthy lifestyle disapproval.  Why are you taking your body for granted?  Why is our society so quick to give up on self-efficacy?

The only excuses are those the self-victimizers create for themselves.  I’ve done the SNAP challenge, I’ve shopped at unrealistic places for groceries, I’ve lived in an apartment where the only grocery store was accessible miles away by bus; the people truly in food deserts are rare.  These people literally live in the desert, miles and miles from grocery stores.  But then ask yourself, ‘Why am I choosing to live so far from a grocery store?’  On an unemployed college student’s budget, I took the 6 downtown to Target or Whole Foods and carried bags nearly a mile from the bus stop back to my studio.  Eating healthily on a budget while living far from a grocery store is no excuse to eat frozen pizzas from the nearby gas station until an individual and his or her family is obese.  Read a book.  Google some tips.  Phone a friend.

Today, what got me particularly upset was my classmates’ acceptance of this self-victimizing behavior.  “Healthy food is really expensive.”  “People don’t have time.”  “Portions at restaurants are too big.”  “People don’t know how to cook healthy foods.” You’ve got to be kidding me!  You’re a nutrition professional of the future and you’re perpetuating the cycle of victims.  People will continue to blame society and tell their kids it’s society’s fault they can’t eat well or exercise, then dietitians will say, “You’re right, life is hard for you.  Don’t worry about it, just take these drugs for your high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes paid for by taxpayers.”  People can’t be motivated to change anything if they think they’re not responsible and there are easy “fixes” like drugs that can keep them living another day to make poor choices.  We need to stop promoting the victim role.  Stop giving food stamps to those who are going to spend them on unhealthy foods for their kids.  If food stamps could only be used on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. and the users needed to complete a 10-minute lesson on making healthy choices every time they picked them up, people could start taking more responsibility for themselves and their kids.  You can make a difference in your life and the lives of your kids.

Let’s make it about body health instead of body looks.  Let’s promote healthy choice self-efficacy instead of accepting unhealthy lifestyles.

3 thoughts on “Self-Efficacy in a World of Obesity Acceptance

  1. While I admire your commitment to your own healthy eating and exercise, I think it’s important to remind that the lens that you view, interpret, and experience the world through is different than that of many other American people. The reality of food deserts in low income communities is the result of limited nutrition and physical education underserved schools. A community can’t demand that what it does not know it needs. Though many communities are making strides, such as North Minneapolis’ Friday Farmer’s Market, many are still stuck in a cycle of poverty that doesn’t allow extra money for organic groceries or extra time for preparing wholesome meals. Single family households, parents who work multiple jobs, & people with disabilities are just some examples of time consuming life experiences that would prevent everyone from having the time & convenience luxury of shopping at Whole Foods, or the local grocery store, especially in the middle of a food desert. I absolutely agree that as a whole, we need better educated, motivated, & active citizens but I do believe that it’s important to come from a place of understanding and compassion in order to solve these problems.

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