What we can change, and what we can't

Maybe now I’m piling on, but I’ve got one more thread to pick out of the confrontation between Wisconsin fitness scold Kenneth Krause and news anchorwoman Jennifer Livingston. See my first two comments here and here.

As you probably know, viewer Krause sent e-mail to Livingston, complaining about the poor job of role-modeling she’s doing by appearing on-air in a less-than-slender body. She responded to him on air, and has since been Today-showed and otherwise lionized for how she has stood up to Krause’s bullying.

Most of the talking has been done by Livingston, so most of my reacting has been to her, but for the record, nothing I’ve learned inspires admiration in me for Krause, getting unsolicited body-shape criticism sucks, and I have reacted strongly and negatively when I’ve received it.

Now, to that thread: As Krause did, Livingston framed the issue to be about role-modeling, and addressed her comments “to the kids out there who are struggling with your weight, the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face.”

That’s some questionable lumping together. Of that group, the middle three are very broadly considered out of one’s control, and therefore, to me, belong separately.

It’s true that I often argue for food addiction, which is distinguished by a biochemical sensitivity akin to allergy, as being out of one’s control, but I include a crucial difference. I can get (and have gotten) treatment for my condition, allowing me to live in normal-size body for more than 20 years. There’s certainly no treatment, nor should there be, for skin color. Ditto for sexual preference. Some disabilities do require treatment, as does acne.

Though it’s certainly unfair to those affected — I sure wasn’t happy when I found out I was a food addict, knowledge that I extendedly fought but finally acknowledged — we have a choice whether to do the work. The facts that the changes might take effort, might hurt, might dominate one’s life — these are all true, and highly lamentable, if that’s how one looks at them. But none of them reactions will change the fact of the condition itself.

While we’re cheering the perceived takedown of a lout, even a bully, let’s not conflate things we can change, things we can’t, and things we choose to accept.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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