The other night I was flipping through channels when I ran across one of my old favorite 90's movies, Shallow Hal. For those of you that haven't seen this charming little flick, here's a quick rundown on the story:
Hal, played by the chubby but lovable Jack Black, is a typical shallow guy on the prowl for hot women who are way out of his league, and consequently ends up rejected by all of them. One day he gets stuck in an elevator with famous self-help guru Tony Robbins, who-after several hours of being subjected to Hal's views on pursuing "perfect" women-hypnotizes him, only allowing him to see a woman's inner beauty. For the rest of the movie, Hal gets the attention and affection of what he thinks are beautiful, supermodel-thin women, including one, Rosemary, who really captures his heart (played by the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow). She is smart, funny, and kind, but Hal is the only one who sees her as the thin, picture-perfect dream girl. The rest of the world, including Hal's best friend Mauricio, see reality. Rosemary is actually a very obese woman. [On a more touching note, Hal sees the pediatric burn victims at Rosemary's volunteer job as perfect, unharmed little children.] Eventually, Mauricio hunts down Tony Robbins, who gives him the antidote to the curse. Hal finally sees the "real" Rosemary...but loves her anyway.
The truth is, this movie-while sweetly attempting to help its audience see that beauty really does come from within-received a ton of criticism, especially from the larger population who took it as nothing but two hours of fat jokes. I can see why it may be interpreted like this, especially when Rosemary's chairs continue to collapse, much to the shock and dismay of Hal. But I think what the writers are attempting to do, albeit crudely, is to purposely perpetuate stereotypes in order to drive home their point. And face it, as a society, we are not the most sensitive of creatures, especially those of us who have never been overweight (or otherwise "imperfect").
I have to admit, even though I have a good amount of weight to lose, it's still somewhat shocking when I meet or see a very obese person. It's not because I'm mean or critical, it's because the notion that obesity is bad has been so ingrained in my being for so long that it's impossible not to think that way. When I look in the mirror, I may not see what society or the medical community views as "obese", but I definitely see a person in danger of never being truly happy because of her weight. What's wrong with this picture? Movies like "Shallow Hal" tell us to love yourself and others regardless of weight, which in the best of circumstances would be ideal. But for those of us who live in this reality, it's not so easy...in fact, it can be downright impossible. And although we may not want to admit it, we do it to others too. What a double standard! Not one person on this earth is perfect, even if he or she may look that way. And yet we continue to look down upon (or in the very least give a sideways glance to) those that don't meet the standards to which we have grown so accustomed.
As the New Year approaches (and the end of my blogging contract), I think more about what I have learned in 2010...what I've done to improve me health, what I've done to sabotage it, what I've blatantly ignored, and what I've promised to do better with in the future.. In the spirit of the holidays, I better also try to focus on how I view others and in turn, how I treat them. There is no denying that that there's a direct connection. I'd like to think that I always treat others how I want to be treated, but to be perfectly frank, there are plenty of times when I jump to conclusions and wind up thinking unkind thoughts. I'm sure this translates through to the way I talk or how I act. What if being less judgmental with ourselves and with others was guaranteed to mean there would never again be another news story about bullying, teen suicide, or school shootings? What if it meant there would be no need for eating disorder treatment centers? Even in a world filled with media-inspired ideals of perfection, perhaps a little tenderness could actually cure what ails our hearts. Something to think about.
Published On: December 16, 2010