Put yourself before the stigma others put on you

I’m generally down with the message of self acceptance at the core of actress Jennifer Lawrence’s presentation to Yahoo employees, reported in this HuffPo post.

But to play off her phrasing, this is just dumb:

“You look how you look, you have to be comfortable. What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb."

As if these are the only options? 

First of all, it is entirely possible to make *oneself* happy by being less overweight (note: not “thin.”). I agree that living by others’ standards does not bring happiness, but that includes not doing the opposite just to spite them! My standard should be, “what will make me happy,” and being at 210-ish, instead of 365, as I’ve been for better than 20 years, has been a strong component of my happiness.

This isn’t only a function of weight. But I can’t imagine if I’d received all the social, psychological, health, and other changes without the weight loss, that I’d consider that just as good. Weight loss isn’t the only thing, but it is one of the things.

Second, the states of being hungry or having an outsized body are not the only choices. Not only are there, oh, billions of people who don’t experience life that way, there are relatively few people who *must* experience life that way.

My big thing in this regard is that abstaining from some foods will remove a lot of the cravings that people who share Lawrence’s viewpoint experience. I used to be “hungry” most of the time, but lifestyle and food-choice changes removed most of those pangs. I’m not “cured” of rampant hunger, but I eat (mostly whole foods) 6 times a day (nutritionist’s guidance, modified over time) and I live my life in between.

These outcomes are not unique to me; I try never to forget that I’m not that special.

Finally, “you look how you look” is only partly true. Yes, some things are pretty hard wired — I haven’t heard of a height transplant, yet. But many people change hair color, or nail color, at the slightest whim — where’s the “take me as I am” there? — and some people go even to surgical lengths to achieve other changes. (I’m one of them; after my second 130-pound loss, I had breast-reduction surgery.) Why is it on this one, body size, that so many advocates plant their flag?

Fashion is a condition in the world. I have felt the sting of mockers and worse. I didn’t like it.

But as the dad of a 4-year-old, being active at 56 years old is a boon in my life, and I don’t imagine I’d have the same energy level if I was 365 pounds. For that matter, I don’t imagine I’d be 365 pounds — that’s what I weighed at age 33, and until I changed course, I was heading ever upward. I’d have weighed a lot more by now, or, more likely, I’d be dead.

Those aren’t fashion issues.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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