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Friday, 21 January 2011

Lonliness and obesity

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
Mother Teresa

When I was in college, I had the privilege of hearing Mother Teresa speak. She was a tiny women, physically, but the scope of her eyes, as she looked around the crowd, and the power of her words, as calm and composed as she was as she spoke -- were immense!

I had desperately wanted to go to India to work with her. I had worked with Father Ed Brady, the Dean of Human Peace and Development at St.Joe's in Philly, to help alleviate the local hunger and malnutrition problems in the poorer areas of Philly. You see, early-on, even before I studied nutrition in depth, I realized that being obese, doesn't necessarily mean a person is well-nourished. In fact, many obese people, especially children, are 'malnourished' and 'undernourished' in the necessary nutrients. I know I was. So, as ironic as it may seem, getting involved in Hunger and Malnutrition, even though I struggled with my weight, was not entirely crazy. The world isn't always as simple as ignorant, self-righteous people would like it to be.

Anyway, Father Brady had spent 18 years in India with Mother Teresa. He told me I needed $800.00 to go. I didn't have that kind of money, then, nor did my parents. But, as Mother Teresa spoke, it seemed she looked DIRECTLY at me as she explained that there are all kinds of 'hungers' in the world -- the 'hunger of the human heart' being, probably, the most devastating. She said that not all of us are called to go to India and/or minister to the physically hungry, but, rather, to listen to Our God and to hear our own call as to where we must serve Him best.

People suffering from obesity often are so heart. They are ignored, have no one who loves or admires them, and often, are made to feel invisible. People are always talking about being and staying positive, and embracing the 'can-do' attitude, and reaching goals, and being always GREAT ....accomplished, great-looking, famous, powerful. So, lonely, 'pathetic'-looking obese people are only a very tangible sort of sign of 'failure' or problems or negativity to many many people. And people and society don't WANT to be confronted with these images -- it's ALL about -- perfect, beautiful, pleasing, and, again, that over-used word --POSITIVITY!!

Don't get me wrong, of course, I strive to be positive and want people to look and feel their very best. That's why I'm here -- remember ....'we mean to be the people we mean to be' and all that. But we need each other to lift one another 'up' and to recognize that we are all suffering -- in some way. People that suffer from obesity just happen to 'wear' their problem on their body. Just as the person who is physically hungry needs food, or the person who is going through a painful divorce needs support from friends, or the person who is depressed needs medication and therapy -- a person who is obese needs and is WORTH looking at, helping in EVERY way that is possible, and LOVING!

And, that makes me, even more, want to open my eyes and heart to those people who are SO beautiful, but obese. Those of us who struggle with our weight, need to find ways to engage ourselves so that we don't feel so 'different' and dis-enfranchised -- certainly not to the point of being 'left to be lonely' and, thus, 'alone', on our own, and 'abandoned' when it comes to dealing with our weight problem in CORRECT ways -- to treat and prevent it.

What I'm trying to say is -- people who are struggling with obesity need to feel AS VALUED and DIGNIFIED as the uber-fit celebs or local 'hotties' or people who are NOT obese or who never have been, as they work WITH CARING professionals or family members or friends or spouses or other PEOPLE, to get healthy and look better.

And, I'm not talking about espousing the 'Fat is beautiful' attitude or campaign. IMO, that is delusional. Fat is NOT beautiful -- it's unhealthy, it's unsightly, and it's heart-breaking -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I would be wrong and remiss if I didn't point that out.

I just want to encourage lonely, obese people to feel they are worth it -- worth asking questions to any fitness guru they find on-line, worth seeking the CORRECT help they deserve, worth knowing that they are attractive and beautiful and that they need to do what it takes to take care of the body they are born and blessed with. And that DOES mean losing weight! They don't have to do it alone and there are genuine people and places available that care.

Smile! :)

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