FAT SHAMING, OR HEALTH CRISIS?

 

I recently came across the trailer for this movie in the above video called Embrace. It is about a woman travelling the world seeking to understand the body shaming culture that holds women to near impossible standards of beauty and attractiveness when it comes to their bodies shape and size. This trailer got me thinking about the concept of body shaming, or fat shaming within our culture.

From Urban Dictionary

“Fat shaming is the act of poking fun of someone for being overweight, or telling someone they are worthless, useless, lazy, or disgusting because they are overweight.  Like most terms, this has been adopted and twisted by Radical Neofeminists to mean something very different. Under the RNF definition, it means ” to make an overweight female feel in any way uncomfortable, usually by telling her anything is wrong with her weight.”
This unfortunately includes Doctors telling them to lose weight for their health and suggesting diets or friends saying that their clothes are too tight, even men very politely refusing dates because they just don’t find them attractive.”

I love the message this movie is out to spread and deliver. But I also want to say that there is such a thing as unhealthy fat and am concerned that healthy bodies message may be lost in translation. I want nothing more than my daughters and my wife to love their bodies and never be shamed or feel hate for them. HOWEVER I also want them to be healthy and understand that being over weight and losing weight when needed is not about body shaming but about looking after your self and disease and sickness prevention. Ignore all the images and glamour BS the media obsessively throws at you, but we also must take care of ourselves.

My wife knows that I love her and I do not care what shape her body is or how many curves she has, or how much fat but I do care if she becomes or is unhealthy because of weight and body fat related issues. I love my girls and especially my wife, their physical health is just as important as their mental and spiritual well-being. Everything is connected in one way or another. Our physical health effects our spirituality, and mental well-being not just physical condition.

In an effort to avoid body or fat shaming we tend to shy away from these issues and avoid talking about them, or encouraging active weight loss activities for fear of being perceived as fat shaming our sisters who need our support and love. I know for myself, I have a very difficult time knowing how to effectively approach this issue with my wife who is over weight. I want her to know that I love her and want what is best for her health and well-being. I fear that helping her to work towards a more ideal weight may cause her to feel unloved, unattractive or that I am comparing her to other, skinnier girls and women. I fear that she may feel that my love is dependent on an ideal body image or weight. All of which is not true at all but understandable conclusions and feelings, even if rationally she knows that is not true.

Capture

Obesity has become one of the largest major health epidemic in north America. The stats reflected by stats Canada in the above screen shot indicate that up wards of 60% of the population is overweight or obese. This is a serious health concern and needs to be taken seriously. By comparison, cancer, which is the single biggest killer, as reported by the Canadian cancer society (https://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/cancer%20information/cancer%20101/Canadian%20cancer%20statistics/Canadian-Cancer-Statistics-2015-EN.pdf) shows infection rates at 40% while diabetes rates are 10-20% prevalence. Obesity is as much as a problem as diabetes and cancer combined.

In Canada we have a socialized public health care system. This system is supposed to ensure that everyone gets the health care they need when they need it. Every dollar spent on preventable illness is another tax dollar taken from hard-working Canadians. A Globe and Mail article shows that Obesity and weight related health problems are costing the Canadian economy over 7 billion a year. This is a massive burden and cost to Canadian tax payers. This is a very preventable cost for so many. I certainly do acknowledge that there are those with very real and valid uncontrollable health related problems; Many with genetic pre-dispositions to over weight and obesity. For those where health problems and genetics is not a factor this message is for you today.

Obesity leads to numerous health related problems including, but not limited to

Coronary heart disease
High blood pressure
Stroke
Type 2 diabetes
Abnormal blood fats
Metabolic syndrome
Cancer
Osteoarthritis
Sleep apnea
Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
Re-productive problems
Gallstones

Getting back to the fat shaming issue. One must ask when is it ok to talk to someone about their weight problems? When someone has a drug problem, often their loved ones will stage an intervention. When someone is an alcoholic we will send them to AA meetings. When someones behavior becomes problematic we take measures to correct it through counselling and medical intervention if needed.  When it comes to the obesity epidemic all to often we are silent. When we do speak up and say something we risk vilification, ridicule and hatred for speaking to the health risks and telling women that they should lose weight for their own good. This Problem does not just affect women, but men as well are just as prone and in some cases more likely to be prone to this problem. Despite this, it is only women we cannot speak to about their weight problems.

For those that smoke how many times has someone come up to you to tell you that you should not smoke because it is not healthy for you? How many times has someone told you that you should not be eating those chips, donuts, etc… I know from personal experience that when I have walked into work with pop, chips, and junk food, I get that look from people which says “OMG I can’t believe you are eating all the unhealthy junk food”

Our governments have taken the time, resources and money to educate the public about not smoking, drinking responsibly, to avoid and do not use illegal drugs etc… They claim to care so much for our health and well-being yet by comparison there is very little in the way of campaign for healthier bodies and working towards obesity elimination which is the cause of more health related problems than illegal drug use, smoking and drinking combined.

Given all of this, why is it “fat shaming” given all the problems and issues obesity contributes to as well as the plague that it has become upon our society. This is clearly a serious public health crisis and a issue that needs to be addressed.  We are a fat, sick and nearly dead society that is so terrified of offending someone regarding their life choices that we fear to tell them “you are too fat, you need to lose weight, stop eating that junk and fattening food. Get more exercises and take care of yourself.” It does not matter what your genetics are, what your health conditions are, there is no genetics or health disease that makes it impossible to be anything but obese. It may be much more difficult for some, they may have to work harder at it, but it is not impossible.

It is time to become more active, eat better and focus on our health. By doing this we will not just improve our physical well-being but our mental and spiritual well-being as well.  Don’t drive, leave the car at home. Bike to work as much as you can.  Grow a garden. Cut out high sugar, fatty process foods. Become more active. Take a daily walk. Get exercise and stop spending so much time in front of the computer or the T.V. Take the bus and walk that last few blocks to work, home and play. It is time to Cut the.

Carbonated Drinks

Refined sugar

Artificial sweeteners and colors

Processed foods

and eat more

Fruits and Vegetables

Organic lean proteins

Omega 3 fatty acids

Drink more water

It is time we start to recognize it for what it is, which is a plague on our health, a plague on our economy, a plague on our productivity and a plauge on our spirituality. I will leave this picture from a well-known Pixar movie and just let that sink in for what our future holds if we refuse to acknowledge this serious and dangerous health epidemic that plagues our culture and way of life.

walle-socialnetwork01

The choice is yours. Unhealthy obesity and diets should be something worth shaming, just as drugs, alcoholism, smoking and other forms of unhealthy behaviors and ways of life are. Cut the C.R.A.P and eat more F.O.O.D

Taking care of ourselves is essential to our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. If you are to achieve all that your God, or Gods want from you then why would you ignore something so important as your own health. This is not what God intended for you. I believe that we are all spiritual beings with divine potential and our existence does not end at death. I also believe that how we treat our bodies in this life affects not just our physical reality but our spiritual health as well. If we are to obtain the highest levels of spiritual health, it starts with taking care of our physical health. Take care of yourselves. Live well, eat well, only then can you be well physically, mentally and spiritually. These are steps and things I am trying to do for myself and my family. Will you commit to making these changes in your life?

And if you are not a believer is any God or Gods it makes no difference, your physical and mental health are just as important. Period.

And that is the Gospel according to Andrew

Thoughts on the Canadian TV and Internet market.

DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE AND IS NOT REPRESENTATING THE OPINION OF MY EMPLOYER OR ANY RELATION TO IT. I HAVE DONE MY BEST TO MAINTAIN GENERAL POINTS OF VIEW AND HAVE MADE A STRONG EFFORT TO AVOID ANY SPECIFICS RELATING TO MY EMPLOYER OR OFFICIAL POSITIONS OF MY EMPLOYER. EVERYTHING SAID IN THIS POST IS SOLELY THE VIEW POINTS OF THE AUTHOR AND NOT THOSE OF HIS EMPLOYER

For this post I am deviating a bit from the general theme to talk about something I am faced with on a daily basis in my line of work and something that I think is worth understanding and talking about.

Working in the T.V/internet industry in the position that I work in I understand and hear that consumers in this country are not happy with the cost of service. In some cases they are getting outright angry over it and feel they are being robbed, ripped off etc. I could tell you all the cliché answers about demand, network investment, T.V. production cost etc. but ultimately it all falls on deaf ears all to often no matter how true and accurate those answers may be. Consumers in general, simply put, do not care about any of that and are getting tired of hearing the same old excuses, reasoning and story lines every time their bills go up.

Because so much of what goes on is not immediately visible to consumers, most do not see any additional benefit or value, only being billed more for the same. (That at least is the perception and for many perception is reality for those consumers, which is where my job comes in to help them understand the value and reasons for increasing cost.) When new channels are added it does not matter to so many because they did not ask for it or they do not watch them. When a new HD channel comes out it is not new to them because they had it in standard definition or they feel since they were paying for the channel anyway, why should they be paying more just because they have it in HD now. While consumers are using more internet every year, the access and user experience does not change much. How they access and what they are accessing does but from a consumer perspective the unseen invisible reality of just keeping the internet on from their view-point simply does not warrant an increase in cost because keeping it working is not an added value, but is exactly what they pay a bill for. This perception is understandable. The problem is as demand increases, ISP’s must continue to invest billions in their networks to support increasing demands. Breaking down the individual cost to each consumer and assessing rate changes to meet that demand on a individual basis is just not practical.

Costs continue to rise and I can’t help but wonder how high costs have to go to break the industry. Consumers will continue to cut back on how much they are buying or canceling services all together. This is most notable in the cable T.V. service side of things. When people cancel cable service, often enough it is not to change T.V. providers, but cutting the cord all together because the cost is just not worth it to them any more. Cancelling internet becomes a game of where can you get a promotional price and for how long. How high of a price will the market bear before there is a revolt. I hear you, I hear your frustrations every day. I understand your frustrations. Internet has rapidly become a near essential services such as water, electricity, and other such utilities and because of this people are frustrated with how much it costs. Like other utilities, inflation, maintenance and delivery cost are causing it to rise while their incomes are not going up nearly as fast and their buying power is diminishing. Those who work in the industry often take the brunt of such concerns and frustrations.

From my personal view-point, the single biggest contributor to this problem is promotions. When you first sign up for a service you get a discount for 3,6 or 12 months or what ever the promo term is for. When that is over your bill increases usually anywhere from 40-100% more than what you were paying on promo. When you have been used to paying low prices, then your bill goes up it is no wonder why you would want to cancel unless you get a discounted rate again. This leads to the classic promo hopper situation where you have a group of people who will just hop from provider to provider, always taking a promo and never paying full price. I do not blame them at all for doing this. While I fully understand the value of the service and the benefits, I also understands the desire to pay less for service ongoing rather than paying full price. I can also understand how consumers do not see the value in the higher rate when all to often they are offered promo rates for signing up, and discounts for keeping the services on after the promo is over. This has created a unrealistic perception of actual value.

Inevitably anytime a customer calls into their providers retention departments they will be offered some kind of promo or discount on their service in an effort to avoid cancellation of the accounts because of the promo being offered by the other guy, or to alleviate their feelings of the serviced being over priced. This however, has the effect of re-enforcing the idea that the internet and T.V services is not worth the prices billed in the first place. What it does is sends a message to consumers that the services can be sold at a lower price to begin with. It drives un-healthy market realities for service providers who find themselves in a constant battle over regular vs promo pricing on services. This reality of how the market works in this country I believe is the single largest contributor to consumer churn and is also the most preventable type of churn in the industry. The problem is no one is willing to implement the solution (I will get to my proposed solution shortly) because the first one to do so will be handing over a huge advantage to their competitors who will likely milk it for all its worth thus perpetuating a cycle of unhealthy customer acquisition and loss and I believe in part contributes to higher prices in services, even if only to a small extent. While consumers may benefit to a degree, business can only benefit in the short-term. The cost of retaining customer in this way is inflated dramatically both in terms of marketing dollars (the cost of acquisition) and the hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost revenue via discounts and promotional rates to maintain customers with no guarantee of retaining business when the offer is over. Calculated risk maybe, but nonsensical from my perspective.

The solution for what I feel would be healthier competition is really quite simple. This industry could take a lesson or 2 from the cell phone industry. While I do realize the cell phone rates are quite expensive in Canada, the overall churn rates are quite a bit lower, while I have not confirmed this as fact, it is certainly my perception. When you sign up with a cell phone plan, you have a few choices. Pay full price for your phone on a month to month contract or get a discount on your phone for a service contract that is typically 2 years. What you do not get is promo rate on your service plan. You pay the full price on that from day 1 for as long as you have the plan. Rate increases are virtually un heard of, at least in my experience my rate has not changed till I choose to change plans. I tend to change providers when my contract is up, but only because I am shopping around for the best service plan on the market at the time. I do not expect a promo rate on my plan nor is one ever offered. If no other company has a better plan, then I stay where I am and either go month to month or re-sign with new phones with my current cell phone provider. I can trust and rely on my monthly bill to stay the same every month, year after year,  till I choose to make a change. Cell phone providers in Canada compete on the merits of the full, regular priced service rather than constant promo hopping discounting service. The result is cell phone provides must compete on network size, features, capacity, quality of service, customer service, hardware offerings etc…

When I talk to people in a professional or casual capacity, they almost never complain about their cell phone plan price, but almost always complain about their home internet and T.V. service rates. Why is this despite significantly higher internet rates and voice plan costs? I would argue that this is because when it comes to cell phones, people know what to expect and accept the regular prices because they are never, or at the least very rarely ever offered anything but regular pricing, while on home internet and T.V. services they are almost always offered a promo rate, and other discounts both when they start with the service or when they call to cancel the service.  How can the industry as a whole end this kind of churn, simply put, stop offering promo rates and focus on selling the product at an overall lower regular price. Offer discounted hardware for service contracts, charge full price from the start. Perhaps this way consumers can save a couple of bucks a month on each service while changing the way people think about the service. Think about what is being provided rather than how cheap can you get it. Perhaps then we will see less churn, healthier retention rates for all players in this game, happier customers and more realistic expectations for everyone involved. By doing this service providers will have to provide excellent high quality service consistently in order to maintain customers, rather than short-term discounts which all to often only delay the inevitable.

I know this is wishful thinking, however fellow consumers, perhaps you can do yourself a favor and just refuse to accept temp intro rates, only ever discuss regular rates and make a choice based on reg prices and included service and features. If you won’t pay full price for that product or service, perhaps you should consider if it is worth having at all?

P.S. Sorry if there are spelling or grammar errors in this one. I wrote this after being tired working late and likely missed some key grammar and spelling errors. Thanks for your understanding