Normally I’m mentally exhausted at the end of my work day to even think about writing. Unfortunately, it has caused a lack of articles on my end.
As I was cruising through the vast amount of articles on Odyssey, I came across one that, simply put, pissed me off.
Before we move forward with this article, I want to define the word ‘shame.’
Now that we understand the word shame, let me explain to you how incredibly wrong, to some degree inhumane, it is to shame someone because of their own life choices.
Author Vica Gonzalez describes a person’s body as a ‘work of art’ by saying “Whether or not you are afraid of it or not- one thing should always be remembered: We are all works of art- wouldn't we all want the best version of ourselves and put it on display?”
I agree with Gonzalez that every single human on this planet is a work of art. We all have qualities that are unique to us, but the issue is that not every one of us has an equal opportunity. Take into consideration how location, race, education, income, mental health, and emotional health will affect our ability to progress with our ‘work of art.’ We all want to become the very best versions of ourselves. Many of us want to become “the very best that no one ever was.”
I quote the following from Gonzalez’s article:
“I believe that there is such a thing as ugly artwork. In my opinion, not living to your fullest potential, or deteriorating yourself, is ugly. Living unhealthy is ugly. And I will shame you for it if you are doing so. Because you have every opportunity to get help and help yourself- but continue to choose to ruin yourself- and that is ugly. Many people also talk about self-love and self-acceptance- but are you really loving your body if you are gradually destroying it... I assure you that is NOT self-love.”
I graduated from Queens College with a BA in Media Studies. We explored how society can define success based off of messages that they receive from different forms of media. One of those messages is in regards to self-love, self-acceptance, body imagery, and success defined by your terms.
For example, if I decide that traveling cross-country for the rest of my life is the goal that I want to achieve, then I don’t see how I am not successful. If anything, I have found a way to live life my own way. I have been able to create happiness within my own life. Which to me, that’s a successful life.
Our problem is that many of us are misguided by a popular definition of American success which equates to working full-time, making money, buying a home, getting married, having a family, and looking just like the celebrities that we see through media.
What this definition has done is create a common goal for every American to achieve (citizen or not). That is an impossible goal to achieve, currently. We are clearly seeing in the year 2016 that specific demographics are continuously in an unfavorable position when it comes to achieving this American success.
Say that you’re a single parent to two children, working two full-time jobs, make barely enough money to pay for rent, utilities, food, and other necessities. When it comes down to dinner time your only option is to get something quick on the table because you haven’t been home all day to be able to provide a healthy dinner. What’s the easiest option? Fast food. I know from experience growing up in a home where both my parents worked full-time jobs, one of them worked seven days a week, 12-hour shifts. Do you really think they had the time to go grocery shopping during the week just so that I could eat as healthy as possible so that one day I can grow up to have a ‘work of art’ body that I can put on display?
No. Their train of thought was, I need to make sure this kid eats something or else he is going to starve.
Also, do you think healthy eating is cheap? Fast food is the cheaper way to go and many low-income families choose this option because it’s either you eat fast food in your apartment or you eat healthy food while living out on the street.
The only ugly that I see here is the inability to remind yourself that there are different groups of people in this world that do not have the same opportunities or access as you do. Shaming someone because they have an eating disorder, or someone who suffers from alcohol abuse is absolutely wrong and it is an ineffective way to help that person.
Shaming people for their life choices just because they don’t run parallel with yours is inhumane. Be empathetic to a friend that you feel is making the wrong decisions. Don’t shame them for their wrong decisions, because you run a higher risk of that person dismissing you while continuing to make the same wrong decisions.
If a person feels that they’re in love with their body regardless of body characteristics like BBW, skinny, curvy, average, tall, short, bald, hairy, or any other forms, then let them live.
Embrace this idea that everyone is a ‘work of art’ and understand that what makes art beautiful is the ability for it to stand out. The ability for it to resonate with others and to distinguish itself from the rest.
Your shaming is just another form of hatred that we need to get rid of. This isn’t an excuse either. If people are dealing with substance abuse, body image, or they don’t have a clear future, then we should offer those people help.
Reach your hand out to the rest of the world and truly open your eyes to see the real beauty in not living by a common definition of success.
From the moment we are born, our bodies have embarked on the path to death. We all have a point where our bodies naturally ‘deteriorate’ and then we die. Focus on living your life in a way that when you die, you can die smiling. If you make decisions that will shorten your life, make sure you’re going to hold no regrets once that happens.
Create your own definition of success and happiness.