Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Being Mindful of What We Say: Fat Shaming Wounds Others and Defiles Us

In Matthew 15:11-20, Jesus instructs: "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

To love God and neighbor, fulfilling the two great commandments, we need to be mindful what we say to others. In society today, people are feeling far freer to say what is on their minds, regardless of how their words will impact those who receive them. Fat shaming is all the rage and society encourages this harmful behavior in a lot of different ways. To understand what fat shaming is and how it impacts others, take a look at the following article through this link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fat-shaming-makes-things-worse

Even with the best of intentions, telling someone something they already know full well will not encourage them to diet and live a healthier life. We need to ask ourselves why we feel compelled to tell someone they are fat in the hopes they will take a better life path. There's an assumption behind that "you're fat" shaming. That assumption, whether conscious or not, is that the person is lazy and if they just had a little more gumption, they'd lose weight. That's a dangerous assumption and an insulting one. None of us knows a stranger's story. We don't know the circumstances of their lives. We have no idea whether they are trying or have tried many times to lose weight. In following through with that impulse, we defile ourselves and harm the other person. Once the message has been delivered, the deliverer goes on with their day and probably forgets the encounter. The recipient of the message has been harmed, burdened with more unwanted emotional baggage, and perhaps heading down the road to depression or worse. It's more infuriating when that message is delivered by a skinny person who has never once in their lives struggled with weight issues. That person simply has no clue what the overweight person is struggling with. 

Much better to reign in our tongues, mind our words, and instead try to truly help our neighbors, taking the real time and effort to help those who truly need help and to be kind to everyone, making kindess a habit that improves lives (the other person's and our own), a habit that will never defile us. 

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