The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Neither acceptance nor rejection given to struggling individuals
By SHANE PECH, Opinions Editor
Published: May 16, 2012
Often, I have a clear plan for how to solve the issues I discuss in this column. This time, though, that is not the case.
That’s because there are some topics that hit each of us closer to home.
Body image is just such a topic.
It’s no secret that there is immense pressure on all of us to look a certain way. The documentary Killing Us Softly portrays in vivid detail how women in particular face an uphill battle against their bodies, media and their own psyches every day.
Despite that documentary’s assertions, this is not just an issue for women: I can attest that it is increasingly difficult to be a man and feel good about one’s physical appearance in today’s world.
So, understandably, a community has raised up against these media mandates for shape, size and otherwise.
Anyone who has spent time as a student at Seattle Pacific knows that we have counselors to help combat eating disorders, residence halls that host events promoting positive self-image and peer advisers equipped to spot and discuss eating disorders and depression.
Whether or not it is always successful, this is a school that expends a great deal of energy promoting positive body image amongst its students.
At the same time, though, food signs in Gwinn show nutritional facts and caloric content for each of its terribly small portions.
Schools all over the country are being forced to rethink their cafeteria offerings as an epidemic of childhood obesity sweeps the nation.
Adults are not exempt, as the average weight of an American has risen about 20 pounds in the last 50 years. Health care professionals the world over are rightly distressed by the huge number of overweight or obese people in our country, portending grave futures of heart attacks and adult-onset diabetes.
So whom do we listen to?
It’s clear that we need to be healthy. For some of us, health would entail gaining weight. For some of us, health requires extensive weight loss.
It’s impossible, though, to divorce those necessities from the feeling of inadequacy when we fail to meet them. We’re already in the throes of a media environment that demands we fit its ideal measurements. Facebook broadcasts our unflattering pictures worldwide before we have the chance to screen them.
If we’re lucky enough — and strong enough — to rise above those faulty expectations, it can be disheartening to hear people with our best interests in mind tell us that our bodies are not what they should be.
So what do we do? I don’t really know. As always, we should affirm each other that the way we look does not determine our value as human beings. We should strive to be healthy while maintaining grace for those who aren’t.
But most of all, I think the best we can do is acknowledge the silent struggle with self-image within everyone around us.
We need more grace for one another. Because it’s “their fault,” the world has decided that overweight and underweight alike are worthy of hatred and ridicule.
We must resist that urge. Yes, it may be as easy as calories in, calories out, but in the real world, it’s rarely that simple.
Each of us has a unique set of struggles and insecurities that affect everything we do. If people realized that, the world would be a simpler place to live.
Staff reporter Shane Pech is a senior creative writing major at Seattle Pacific.