I'm not one for looking at reality TV shows of any kind but one late night found me meandering over Katie Hopkins and her strange quest to gain and lose weight to prove that if you have the will it can be done.
In part of the programme she ran the gauntlet of 4 large ladies for committing a hate crime by insisting that at their size they couldn't possibly be healthy, or at least not for long.
Then she made mincemeat of a psychologist claiming to specialise in eating disorders. I think that this expert was trying to change Katie's views about people's failure to lose weight. The best that this psychologist was able to do was declare Katie as lacking in compassion.
"Would I employ you if you were obese? No I would not. You would give the wrong impression to the clients of my business. I need people to look energetic, professional and efficient. If you are obese you look lazy."
"To call yourself ‘plus size’ is just a euphemism for being fat. Life is much easier when you’re thinner. Big is not beautiful, of course a job comes down to how you look."
This set me to thinking and I did a straw poll here at our offices. We would employ people who are overweight but the larger the person, the more the hesitation. They say that when we make decisions about staff, the decision is made in the first 15 seconds. We have about 15 seconds to make an impression on an employer. There is a tipping point between yes, perhaps, and no. The larger a person is, the more something else has to be there, like a fabulous smile, radiant hair, and a sparkle in their eyes.
Is this right? Maybe yes and maybe no, it is how it is, the world was never fair.
I deal with this controversial issue at our trainings. Can we have an obese eating disorder therapist or an obese therapist helping someone to lose weight. Everyone wants to say yes of course, good therapy is not about what someone weighs. But they are probably thinking NO. This applies to therapists who are underweight just as much as it applies to therapists who are overweight. Would you want your anorexic daughter to be treated by a skinny minny who lives on mung beans and salad?
I found myself leaning toward Katie for her ability to say what she thinks. It's controversial but it should lead to honest debate. I work with people who can't lose weight and I often find that many people do what is easiest because discomfort of any kind is hard to bear. To walk instead of sitting in front of the TV, to give up drinking alcohol which is laden with calories, to refuse to pander to children who demand their daily dose of crisps ......is just too hard so we give in to a need for comfort that is VERY, VERY deep.
The current focus of science is to try and find reasons for obesity which are not anyone's fault like genes or hormones. This demonstrates that some people have a harder job to maintain their weight than others so they look at people who are slimmer and say they're lucky. But that isn't true, many people who are normal weight work at it all the time like, learning how to cook, and it has become their habit. At the heart of it all, some people cannot tolerate discomfort.
Katie hasn't said that obesity is anyone's fault ... I think....but I think she is saying that you can run but you cannot hide. The Health At Every Weight philosophy is one way of hiding, because if you are too thin or too fat you probably aren't very healthy. The it's in my genes approach is another way of hiding. Some parts of us must be accountable; and if you cannot be accountable you are........ unaccountable with whatever that implies. Or you prefer to live your life with less discomfort.
Oh heavens, Katie got inside my head. Take her out someone before I lose my friends!