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You mention we have a culture where people are encouraged to take care of their health and bodies, but what does that have to do with acceptance of other people’s bodies and how can we actually tell that someone is actually healthy? I go back to my earlier point- healthy people come in all shapes and sizes (look at Olympic athletes from gymnastics to polo). I don’t like the impression that Vancouver has a healthier climate because deep down inside it is also one littered with rampant eating disorders. This is a timely discussion because it is one that keeps coming up in everyday conversation within my circle. There is no personal fault in being fit, but that also doesn’t give us the right to impose our personal objections on other’s lifestyles, or even judge who is fit and who is not.
Sorry my comment got cut of- I was saying that I don’t necessarily agree with this article only because it is difficult to measure health and fitness. I have been a victim of bodysnarking by both women and men, and I am a competitive athlete. Vancouver is one of the most judgmental cities I have ever dwelled in, and I have heard everything on me criticized from being too fat to too skinny to having too large muscles, you name it. The worst is when people cloak their judgment in pretending to be worried about someone’s health, because they are only doing that because they are able to hide their judgment in concern. We need to call people out on that. The truth is no one has any right to comment on anyone else’s body. Vancouver has a very defined aesthetic and I think there is quite a lot of pressure to fit closely to that mould. You feel like a freak if you don’t.
Sorry about the broken comment, the one above is supposed to pick up where it leaves off here. This is a super important discussion and I would love to hear what others have to say.
I agree with you, Denise. I don’t think people should judge others on appearance or lifestyle (I actually said in the piece that those who do should be ashamed)…my point, however, is that just because a city’s culture values health and well being doesn’t mean the city actually discriminates against larger, overweight people. Individuals, yes…and that is wrong. But the city in general? That’s where I don’t agree. But I am also very interested to hear others opinions on this. You’re right, it’s an important conversation. Popular culture, in general, has perpetuated a ridiculous standard by which individuals measure themselves and others. For this, I hold mainstream media accountable…not Vancouver.
I agree, the city itself cannot be blamed. The many, many individuals in the city who do this should be ashamed (and that is a lot of ashamed people, including myself because although I don’t say it outloud I certainly do pass judgement everyday). It is a mental overhaul that needs to happen. Whenever we talk about the mental overhaul in conversation with friends, it inevitably comes up that someone will say ‘well, are you saying that we should embrace fatter people and their lifestyle? Because judgment exists for a reason…’ and to this I think that it is a matter of being more accepting of ALL bodytypes in general. As to why Vancouver is has such a high population of judgmental people, and also healthy individuals, a friend of mine has a theory that it is simply a result of the ethnic/cultural diversity of so many people moving here. It is hard to find someone who is still in Vancouver that actually grew up in Vancouver, and typically those people are the least judgmental I know. I spoke with a med student once who said over in 2010 82% of the women and men they treated in her practicum program for eating disorders had recently (in the past 5 years) moved to BC. Its all very bizarre.
Melissa, while I appreciate what you’re saying in your artice (everyone is entitled to their own opinion) I think you missed the general point(s). Allow me to educate you. Point 1: the author would like to see people be more accepting (in general) of all sizes and shapes. It doesn’t mean liking, just accepting that people do, in fact, come in all sizes and shapes. Point 2: Keep your unsolicited opinions and insults to yourself. Just because a person doesn’t fit into the category of what you find to be ideal does NOT give you a right to openly insult them – grow up. Point 3: Some people are overweight due to medical issues and have NO control (at all!) over their weight. These people can be as healthy as possible in terms of how they care for themselves and what they eat, but still have some extra poundage due to medications etc. While Vancouverites shouldn’t apologize for taking care of themselves, they should learn to keep their big fat mouths shut and just let people be who they want to be. After all it’s only the most insecure people who feel the need to insult and judge others.
I have visited a Reitmans store (normally specializing in plus sizes among their selections only to be told “We don’t get many fat people in our store, try Surrey.” I wonder if it hadn’t been average BMI ME shopping and had in fact been my partner who IS plus sized if the reason might have been more sugar coated. On that reasoning, I wonder if you Melissa are of an average or lower BMI and if so can actually even accurately relate to the topic. Try shopping for plus-sizes at the Wal-Mart by Canada Way and Boundary Rd; you will see a George Plus sign over an area containing no plus size items. A cashier explained to me, “We really only get Asian customers here.”
I think the mistreatment you spoke against does exist in a larger part of the populace here in the lower mainland, but I question how a city really CAN apologize as a whole anyway.
I agree with you Denise. Vancouver is DEFINITELY the MOST judgemental place I have ever lived and I have lived in Canada and the USA. I guess that means that Vancouver is VERY insecure.
I always find it interesting when someone who would have never experienced this sort of thing writes about it.
No offense but this city, as a whole, is EXTREMELY judgmental. I go out in a cute dress, as a fat woman, and I am openly gawked at. I’ve had to call someone out for trying to take a photo of me with their camera phone. I’ve had people hurl insults from cars. I’ve had people curl their lips in disgust and whisper and laugh to their friends.
I go anywhere else in Canada, in the US, and I’m not met with half as much naked hostility. There is SOMETHING about Vancouver and the people in it that make them HATE fat people. And it’s not at all ridiculous for someone to say something about it.
Does this mean EVERYONE yells things at cars, makes fun of me when I exercise or glares at me when I do the simple task of nourishing my body with food? Not at all. But they aren’t exactly standing up for me either. The city’s obsession with being fit and healthy is fine but that plays into some extremely patriarchal beauty standards as a whole, and we place extreme values on thinness as beauty and health. The reality is much more complicated.
No one in that article, or anyone commiserating with it, would say that being fit is bad. Most of us, in fact, believe in body positivity and the fact is? There’s no right way to have a body.
As for stores not carrying plus sizes: There are exactly TWO store I can think of that carry my size. Yet I know a LOT of fat women. We all shop online and trade clothes and thrift. There’s a demographic here, but we’re second class and we’re not seen as valuable. So I think it’s false to say that demographics ALWAYS dictate availability.
Dee, how can you presume to know that I have never experienced discrimination or judgement based on my appearance? Just curious, since you don’t actually know me.
Based on photos, you are a thin white women. I’m not saying you haven’t been judged, but you haven’t felt fatphobia firsthand. Unless you’ve lost an extreme amount of weight, in which case I apologize for my assumption.
Also– out of all of that, that’s the only thing you pick out of it?
“There is SOMETHING about Vancouver and the people in it that make them HATE fat people. And it’s not at all ridiculous for someone to say something about it.”
Yet…there is something ridiculous about someone wanting to say that Vancouver (in my opinion) does not HATE fat people. My piece was saying that not all people here fall into the same category as the insensitive idiots mentioned by Walker. As someone who was born and raised here, these are not the values I believe this city has. And, I feel like I can comment on it.
And…I never said I know what it is like to be fat or that I’ve experienced “fatphobia”. I do know, however, what it feels like to be judged and discriminated against based on my appearance…I think any woman can relate to that.
Calling an entire city judgmental is the most ridiculous notion I’ve ever heard of. There are 2 million people in the lower mainland. There are good and bad apples everywhere. Calling the city judgmental as a whole is like stereotyping an entire race or religion. Totally baseless.
What a derogatory condescending article I read of Melissa Carr (Guest) this morning. If you cared about someone‘s health you go into medicine, and become a dietitian, etc. you don’t insult them or make comments about them, point fingers and say that is what you will look like, and yes people do it all the time. My advice is take care of your own, be a good mother, don’t buy an Xbox and cook instead ordering out all the time, and go out running for 30 consistent minutes a day with your kids for a good cardiovascular workout to teach them how to be fit (ya right)! I am 60 and divorced. I’m 5’ and weigh 175 pounds. I have a broken arm that cannot be in a cast, and advanced arthritis in both knees. I am an older woman, but not an old woman. These two conditions can occur at any age and are very immobilizing, hence weight gain. Yet none of these can be seen with the human eye. I work in health care and understand health issues. Here is an example of how tolerant people are of weight here. I’m in the elevator at the sky train this very morning, and this elderly man looks at me and says, in a crowded elevator, ‘you would be a knockout if you lost 50 pounds’. How is me being a knockout improving my health? Men in particular have no problem whatsoever saying after sex, you could lose some weight. Again, are they concerned about my health? After the man said that I made the usual funny type comment after i.e. more of me to love, however, I actually felt like slapping him across the face. Then I got on the train and read this article THERE IS NO FAULT IN BEING FIT and felt COMPELLED to write about this. Well Melissa, I am pointing my finger at you, and you can choose which one. Assumption of overeating is what I am getting at. Assume is the vernacular. I don’t date by the pound, I date by the number of brain cells. People will say if you are insulted ‘well I am just being honest’. No honesty is when someone asks you a direct question and you give an honest answer. Blurting something out like that is stating your own opinion out loud. That is hurtful and insulting!
Mary…I agree with you that nobody should point fingers at people and insult them, or judge others based on their appearances. I think it is disgusting that people act like this. My point was that you cannot blame an entire city for the actions of some horrible, rude, obnoxious citizens. And, in turn, one should not assume that because someone values fitness and health, that they discriminate against those who are overweight.
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