#32: Our Perception of Others
Friday, July 31, 2009
Recently, I began thinking of famous overweight people. I realized I was not imagining these celebrities as fat people but simply as people accomplished in their particular field.
The insight was that if someone is outstanding in their chosen endeavor, they are not perceived as overweight or heavy, but simply as a person.
When, for example, the great actor Jackie Gleason's name is mentioned, the first thing to come to mind is likely not, "Man is he fat," but rather an image of him playing Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners sitcom, or as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and the Bandit movies.
When we think of Luciano Pavaroti, the image that springs to mind most likely is, "One of the world's greatest opera singers," not "Man, is he fat."
Celebrities' fame leads us to see them not as overweight but as exceptionally talented and skilled people.
Why is it, though, that everyday people who are not famous and who are overweight are often ridiculed, shamed and demeaned?
Why must it take a measure of fame for the public to gloss over a person's weight? How do we change other people's perceptions?
By one person at a time, starting with ourselves. We shouldn't judge, demean, shame or ridicule others because of their weight. In our eyes let us view that person simply as someone who loves and is loved and someone with dreams and feelings.
And we need to stop thinking of ourselves as fat or heavy or obese and begin thinking of ourselves as people of worth, people of importance to our families, to our work and to our communities.
It shouldn't take people of fame to change our way of seeing others.
But, for any meaningful change in perception to occur, we must start with ourselves.