You dared show up in public not looking like this?
(Courtesy of indiyanews.com)
Reading through a friend's Facebook status update, it amazes me how incredibly callous and unthinking we have become these days, to the point that decency seems to have gone out of fashion, to be surreptitiously replaced by ill manners.
My friend, "Alice", was having lunch with her mom at a new restaurant, and her mom called up an acquaintance to join them. As soon as this person arrived, the first thing she does is look at Alice, and mouths the line "Don't you have any plans to lose all that weight?" She then takes her seat, and talking to Alice's mom, proclaims "You know, every time I see Alice, it's like she's always getting..." then trails her voice off, adding a knowing smile, as if she had a private joke.
I must mention that this person is not Alice's friend. They know each other only by osmosis, through Alice's mom. She is also not Alice's personal doctor. Therfore, I am aghast that Alice had to endure all this - and believe me, it would be suffering to have to eat through lunch with such a creature - because they hardly know each other.
Is it because they knew each other sparingly, that she had the audacity to call attention to Alice's weight?
On what planet can this be considered "proper social conduct"? The intent of the commenter was obviously to embarrass Alice. It wasn't even a veiled attempt, it was outright ridicule and open-faced social hostility. There wasn't even a vain stab at appealing to Alice's health, with the pretense of being concerned with her physical well-being. It was the English version of the "greeting" we hear in the vernacular, "ang taba taba mo na!" (you're practically obese)
I have a friend who has also faced this same ridicule, but from the opposite end of the spectrum: whenever he is walking and a strong gust of wind blows, his tormentor never fails to advise him to hold on the railings because baka matangay ka ng hangin (you might get swept up in the wind).
This seems to me to be an indication on how caught up we are, to the point of obsession, to look a certain way, and that any deviation from this supposed ideal is to be ridiculed, laughed at, be ashamed about, as if we are nothing more than how we look.
A cursory look at the commercials that bombard us every night on television unfailingly reminds us that being too fat, too thin, too dark, too Asian, too old and any other "horrifying" natural state should make us all hang our heads in collective shame, and they have the added bonus of pontificating from the podium of shallowness because these advertisers have the perfect pill, lotion or procedure to "fix" what's "wrong" with us, and we must therefore be "at fault" if we insist in being the same way, forever excluded from the inner circle of physical godhood.
Even the newer type of reality shows hammer the same point - now stylists, hairdressers, make up artists and other "surface" professionals are getting their 15 minutes, emphasizing what they deem to be "negative" as gospel truth.
It's come to the point that a friend's 5 year old daughter is refusing to eat dinner, and when her mom asked her why, it was because her classmates have called her "fat" and that "swimsuit season" is coming up.
Are we not seeing what this is doing to the next generation?
Are we waiting for teenagers - possibly your own - to take their own lives just because they look "different"?
Are we agreeable to children obsessing over their bodies the way many adults have made it "fashionable" to do so?
Do we think it now acceptable to shame someone for how they look?
Have bad manners become the new way of showing "we (supposedly) care"?