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Stigmatizers Rob You of Your Life

By Dr. Molly Barrow

Are you overweight and lonely? Have you suffered from bullying, discrimination and exclusion? Are you only three years old? Stigmatization that reduces the characteristics of a person to one trait such as fat, black or old begins in children as young as three years old according to a study done by Cramer and Steinwert in 1998. Stigmatization begins with the perception of a physical distortion or a behavioral difference that allows others to reject and disgrace another human being. Negative treatment of people who are outside the norm physically is stigmatized to the point of discrimination in job applications, higher education, income level, advancement and relationships.

The media does its part by presenting ideal physical norms skewed sharply to starved looking bodies rather than healthy athletic bodies. Extremely thin biceps that one sees in photographs of Hollywood’s A-list starlets are often an indication of severe anorexia and still these sick young people are revered by the paparazzi. Is the media frenzy fascination waiting to see the death of an out of control teenager with the anticipation of an exciting car crash or train wreck?

Have you watched a movie or news reel from the thirties or the forties? The majority of the bodies are slender. Yet, one third of all Americans are now obese. What did they have then that we do not have now or is it a question of what they did not have? Additives, food coloring, preservatives, fast food, depleted soils and brain washing commercials seducing us with succulent close-ups of the sugar-wheat-dairy triad. Why don't we feel or look like the happy people in the commercials? Oh, can they be deceiving and lying, perhaps even poisoning our cells with their fake, dead food? Even the diet business appears to be a multibillion dollar scam as most authorities caution against the yo-yo dieting that results in additional weight gain.

Lifestyle changes rather than deprivation will bring you the healthy body that you seek. If you are obese and sedentary, shamed with low self esteem then you may have a long road ahead of you to change many years of habits. Do you want to take a different path? Let us begin with the shame.

People are afraid of different. Different had life survival threats thousands of years ago. People needed to recognize their own kind, species, or tribe for safety. That survival skill remains within our psyche. If you are different – taller, shorter, heavier, lighter, darker, bigger nose, smaller eyes, whatever….people will attempt to push you out of the group, creating a tight circle of sameness around themselves so that they can feel less frightened. We are doing it everyday with skin color, political opinion and religious intolerance, as well as physical differences. Some societies like ample hips and big people. Some societies like long earlobes and stretched necks. Some value tiny feet. It is all so arbitrary and such nonsense.

It is up to you to refuse such discrimination by frightened urgent Stigmatizers. If you have a unique body part you have a right to the little corner of the earth that is yours. No one can impinge on your life opportunity or dictate to you that you must be ashamed. Only you can do that to yourself. You make yourself ashamed. So, start there. Drop the shame right now.

Charge forth amid others frightened sniggering, sarcasm, comments or stares and do what you want to do. Their discomfort is their primal fear of strangers, strange and new. Clearly, it is better to be strange than fearful. Without shame to tie you to your darkened room, perhaps you will join in with some joyful activity or take a walk in the sunlight.

Think about how you look on the inside more than how you look on the outside. Your liver is constantly trying to detoxify your dirty blood. Any positive behavior other than sitting and eating empty calories that overloads your liver and kidneys is good. Every minute you are partaking of life is a minute you are getting fit. If you are panting, then you are signaling your bone marrow to make new blood. It may be hard to keep going and your body will hurt. Your feelings may be trod upon by cruel people but do not let anything stop you. Check with your doctor first and get a plan that is right for you. Demand good health and recognition by health providers who are often the worst Stigmatizers.

Imagine that you commit to eating six mini meals the size of your two palms of pure organic vegetables, good fats, lean protein and low glycemic carbs in addition to an hour of cardio a day that makes you breath heavily, then stretching with Pilates or yoga and add lifting light weights three times a week. Miraculously, you will change for the better. These kinds of changes are for life. No one taught us these habits when we were developing, but we as a country need them now. There is no excuse with the health education available for schools and parents to provide less than perfect health for our children today.

The point is that you can believe that you are great as you are right now. Unless you accept that you are a worthy beautiful person regardless of any differences from your society’s norm, you may not ever take that first short walk. Olympic athletes look the way they do because of the choices they make every day. Are you a Stigmatizer to yourself? You can only begin to make loving choices for your sweet body when you choose to love your self

Read other articles and learn more about Dr. Molly Barrow.

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