Brutal Honesty: You Are Fat
I had the chance to speak with a friend who lived for several years in Italy. Over the course of a long conversation, he mentioned that Italy had many beautiful women. I asked him what it was about the Italian women that made them so beautiful.
“Well, for one thing, they’re not nearly as fat as the women here.” He continued, “In America, if a person is fat, we can’t say anything about it. In Italy though, the Americans who lived there thought Italians were so rude. They would say ‘Hey, you are too fat. You really need to go to the gym. I know a good place to workout’… or ‘You really need to start watching what you eat.’”
Huh. Cultural differences are pretty interesting, aren’t they? Even our culture (for Americans at least) is helping to keep us fatter. Seriously, have you ever noticed that the word FAT is like the F-word in America? People react just as badly to this word as if you said something extremely vulgar to them.
In reality, I think the Italians were the nice ones. They had the heart to actually say what needed to be said. They were caring enough about the person to actually try to help them. How often do we actually do that?
Why is it that we can talk to a smoker and tell them that their bad habits are harmful for their health, but we can’t say the same about people who are in the habit of overeating and living a sedentary lifestyle? Does this make any sense at all?
It shouldn’t be that different. In fact, if you are overweight, I’m going to do you a big favor right now and tell you what you need to hear. You are too fat.
The good news is that you are already reading this, meaning that you are probably going to do something about it. Perhaps what we should all do is learn to break the honest truth to the people around us in a way that will motivate them to take action. Being honest with people can go a long ways to helping them change their habits. Here’s a quick example:
I knew a girl several years back who had very curly hair. She wore it in a big curly mass around her head every day. One day, I noticed she had straightened it, and it almost made her look like a totally different person. She looked much better.
Another month went by before I saw her wearing the straight hair again. She got a few compliments on her hair. She asked me if I liked it.
“Sure, it looks great. Your head doesn’t look so big now.”
Alright, I already know. I am a complete jerk. I realized it the very moment it came out of my mouth, but it was already too late. The damage was done, and I couldn’t undo it. There are a thousand other ways I could have complimented her hair in a more polite way, but that’s just how it came out.
As bad as I felt after being brutally honest to her, I noticed something. She never wore the giant mass of hair on her head again. Everywhere she went from that day on, she was more attractive. Within a month, she had a new boyfriend… something I’d heard she was working very hard at for quite a while.
Look, the point is not to be a jerk like I am, but to be honest with people in order to help them. If you can do it in a way that is not offensive, then it is best to be open and help people overcome their struggles. It’s time to start letting people know that they are fat and something needs to be done.
They need you to do it for them, because seriously, people aren’t able to be honest with themselves. People will rationalize and tell themselves that being overweight is genetic. Guess what, so is alcoholism. Should we avoid talking about it to alcoholics? Should we try to avoid offending alcoholics and smokers instead of helping them?
We have to help, because these people simply cannot do it for themselves. America is fat, so it has rationalized that being fat is ok. Think about it, smokers never go out and preach about how bad smoking is until after they quit.
The same is true about overeating. Everybody in America is doing it, so that pretty much means that none of us can really talk about it without having to worry about who we might offend. We all have to tip-toe around the fact that we are overweight.
If you’re like most people I’ve met, you are so ready to justify your own habits that you will call these views extreme. You’ll think I’m some sort of obsessive health freak, and from that point of view, it’s probably true. But before anybody decides that I’m crazy to compare overeating or junk food binging to smoking or alcoholism, consider a few facts:
- Eight out of ten people over 25 are overweight.
- Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 years old has increased 76% since 1990.
- 20% of all deaths in the United States were due to heart attacks in the year 2004.
Think about that for a moment. 20% of all deaths were due to heart attacks. Eating better and exercising really are just as urgent to your health as quitting smoking would be.
But, even still, people like us will be labeled as shallow for choosing not to date others who are overweight, overeating, and leading sedentary lifestyles. Are we really so shallow? Is it shallow to consider a person’s lifestyle choices when choosing a significant other?
I would argue that it is not. Choosing a person who wants to live a healthy, clean life is not shallow in the least bit. Live your life that way, and be honest enough with others to help them do the same… even brutally honest if necessary.
Laziness is how we get fat. Denial is how we stay that way.