People often like to criticise ‘society’ for imposing certain standards on us and putting unnecessary pressure on us to conform. Whether it is something superficial such as the the need to gym a million hours to be a size zero because that’s what you need to be in order to be deemed attractive to the opposite sex and society in general, or the fact that society won’t let you become a doctor because oh, you failed Matric (and all the girls you date think you’re thick too!), this type of first world victim mentality seems to be on trend right now. But I wonder have these ‘oh no, poor me’ types ever stopped to consider whether socially-constructed systems might actually have some validity? Is there ever going to be any sort of system that is truly fair to all? Are there any benefits to just sucking it up and conforming? Is the best way to fight the system always to complain about it? And does this sympathy-seeking mentality really get you anywhere in the long-run?
So, what got me thinking on this subject matter was an article I saw doing the rounds on social media called A Letter From the Fat Person on Your Flight. At first, I felt sorry for the author who basically got humiliated by a fellow passenger on a flight because they were (I assume, physically) uncomfortable sitting next to a ‘fat’ person on a flight. As a fat child/teenager I had plenty of similar moments growing up and I’m no stranger crying in changing rooms when I couldn’t find clothes that fit or I thought no man would ever fancy me. For a long time, I tried to compensate by being somewhat smart and funny but let’s face it its not particularly cool being the fat kid. Furthermore, body positivity wasn’t really such a thing back in the day. That said, I never felt motivated to constantly complain about my situation. Of course, there were days when I got a little hateful inside thinking : ‘Who cares? Looks will fade. My smarts will carry me further in life…and bla bla bla’ but eventually I learnt that being a hater wasn’t going to get me very far so I laced up my trainers and started running (read: waddling) around the block.
So yeah, in this letter, the person vilifies the airline industry for reducing the size of their seats and suggests that we should call out people who get annoyed when they have to sit next to a larger person on a flight. They go on to talk about how thanks to these unpleasant experiences they now avoid flying which subsequently means they see less of their family and when they do fly they have to save for months to afford a first-class seat. Sigh.
Is The System/Society Really At Fault?
I honestly don’t think the airline industry is to blame here, nor is the ‘mean’ person who feels hard done by because despite paying the same price as the other passengers they’ll now have to suffer because the person sitting next to them takes up more than the allocated space. Flying is pricey and people expect a minimum level of comfort for their hard earned cash. And sure, economy class seats are cramped but is the situation really that different for a tall person? People get moody if an exceptionally tall person sticks their legs into the aisle causing a trip hazard so airlines have counteracted this by allowing vertically blessed people the option of getting at extra legroom seat at a premium (which allows them to travel in relative comfort while simultaneously avoiding the wrath of fellow passengers).
Why Do Such Systems Based on Averages Even Exist?
As with the seat sizes on planes, systems are based on averages. If you fall outside that average then its tough sh*t you’ve got to find a way around it without balling your eyes out. Putting my ‘fattism’ aside for a moment, we can look at this from another angle. To get anywhere in life these days, one needs a basic level of education. Right? Sure, there are the Lord Alan Sugars and Richard Branson’s of the world that made it against all odds and beat the system but such stories a few and far between. It makes sense for kids to study and have a matric certificate before venturing out in to the big bad world.
Regardless of what they decide to do in life, its always good to have a basic education (at least the ability to read and write) to fall back on. Of course, there is nothing to say you are thick AF if you don’t have it, but you’ll likely to find that society shuts doors in your face the whole time without it (and nobody will really fall for that sob story about a racist teacher now that you are in you 30s). I don’t see much point standing around shouting that you actually do have a brain when society wants to see a piece of paper to prove it. Of course, the education system isn’t perfect but it exists and the fact that the majority of society has endured their way through it means it still holds some value.
Does Bitching And Moaning/Playing The Victim Card Ever Help?
So, the way I see it you can spend your life fighting the system and showing society how their views are wrong but you’ll likely be waiting a long time for people to start pandering to you OR you can just suck it up, do some damn hard work and become part of the system itself.
I’m not saying things are ever going to be easy. Speaking from experience losing weight is NEVER easy. Sure, it’s all relative. Some people have faster metabolisms than others. But ask everyone at the gym, keeping your body in check is a constant battle and take your eye of the ball for a moment (or injure yourself falling off a mountain) and you can easily find yourself back at square one. But it’s a process so join the gym or running club, try every diet under the sun or get gastric band surgery, if you must but find something that works for you. Sure, body positivists can tell you to love your body the way god made it or whatever but realise that healthy positive changes aren’t a bad thing. By being morbidly obese and hiding behind some moral argument about body positivity, rather than being proactive, you aren’t doing yourself any favours. Keep hating on society all you want, but at the end of day who suffers most and increases their risk of a bunch horrible diseases, not the fat-shamers. Likewise, if your lack of formal education is stunting your progress, go to night school, get a tutor, whatever until its no longer your biggest stumbling block.
What About When It Comes To Modern Dating Systems?
Obviously, things are a little more fluid when it comes to an arena that involves human judgement. That said, I think the way of the world infiltrates dating spheres. While I don’t think that the Tinderverse is particularly nice to those of chubby side (or people who can’t spell good) beauty is in the eye of the beholder so not all is lost if you don’t totally fit the bill. That said though, does anyone really want there dating decisions to be based on being PC? Surely not, because that is how we end up with sympathy f*ck situations which are just messed up.
However, if you’ve exhausted all avenues when it comes to looking for love and still find that the fish aren’t biting you may need to change things up a little rather than complaining about the fact that internet dating platforms are full or trash, people are just superficial or that your friends never choose to play matchmaker for you. It could just be a case of running spell check through your profile or standing at a more flattering angle – but if you want to succeed you need to play the game and conform to what the system requires of you. Well that, or resign yourself to a dismal life of sad spinsterhood.
And Where Should Our Humanity Come Into Play? Or is ‘Tough Love’ The Better Approach?
Of course, I’m totally expecting to get spat on for my ‘fit in or f*ck off’ approach to life and I’m ready for all the hate coming my way. But I don’t think telling people what they like to hear is always the best way of doing things. Like in the aftermath of a break up, while it may seem that the most supportive approach to helping a friend is to hate of the ex, it’s also sometimes good to have somebody tell you that you were a douche in the situation too.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be kind to overweight people (I’ll always cheer louder for a chubby chick running a 10 hour marathon than the world record breaker) or those without a basic level of education. But simply reinforcing the belief that the system/society is at fault, doesn’t really do any good in the long term. Prove the system wrong by all means but I don’t see the point in wasting energy just hating on it. And of course, much of how we take action when it comes to this type of ‘discrimination’ depends on the situation, naturally you can have more impact when you are dealing with your bestie rather than when you are nothing more than a bystander on the flight. Furthermore, when it comes to fighting systems, you need to pick your battles. There are of course those that are worth fighting against such as those based on some arbitrary factor that a person really has no control over (e.g. racism, sexism, etc) which to me, are very different to systems that are being faulted because they can’t possible pander to a person’s individual circumstances.
OK, Rinsers. Do you think this ‘Fit in or F*ck Off’ attitude is really RUDE? Do people only support the system because it works for them? Do you think systems/societies and individuals should always be called out? Do you think that people that bitch and moan about a system that doesn’t work for them basically insult those that have worked hard to conform/meet certain requirements to be part of said system? Share your thoughts in the comments below…