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Health & Fitness

Never judge people by the size of body

Never judge people by the size of body. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Never judge people by the size of body. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

“I have been a big-sized person ever since I was a child and I never minded about that. The last years have, however, become difficult for me mentally because I tend to get hurt by fat-shaming especially in the workplace. How do I deal with this?”

On August 28, 1963 (a few months before Kenya’s independence) Martin Luther King Jr made his now famous speech on the situation as it was in America then, and his dream of a future for America. More than 55 years later, I could make the same plea in my dream to your workmates who truly ought to judge you “by the content of your character and not the size of your body”.

At the time of the speech, I was old enough to have witnessed colour bar in Kenya. It has been described by historians many times, but in a truly segregated Kenya of pre independence, we could not enter the bus through the front entrance, could not receive medical care at The Nairobi Hospital (European Hospital at the time) or the Aga Khan Hospital, and both Delamare boys and girls schools were for Europeans only. African boys and girls were later admitted and the schools, which were subsequently renamed Upper Hill School and State House Girls schools.

Kenyan people were segregated not by the content of their character but on the basis of the colour of their skins. Asians lived and went to school in Ngara and Parklands while African locations were Eastlands; Bahati, Kaloleni and Ofafa Jericho.

To come back to your question, and to illustrate how ridiculous we human beings can be, black people lived in one area while white people lived in another (the Anglican Church was not different and Africans worshiped the same God separately from the Europeans).

It is, therefore, possible to see a country where tall people had their own estates and lived separately from short people. All we would have to do is make laws that define what short means (in centimetres) and do the same with tall. In a similar vein, doctors would come up with measures that would separate fat from thin. A law could easily define by Body Mass Index (BMI), which school your children went to and where you might receive medical care.

You would of course not be able to live with your thin brother or parents, or even children. They would live in the land of thin and you in the land of the fat with others like you. This proposition sounds almost ridiculous to state, but in reality, that is what we as human beings can go to extremes in deciding who to shame and in some cases, who to kill.

Without wishing to go overboard in this illustration, one is reminded of the events in the 2nd World War in which six million Jews died, not because they were fat (or thin), not because they were tall nor short, neither because they were clever or not, but simply because they were Jews.

Over the centuries, Christians and Muslims have at different times suffered death because of their spiritual beliefs. Between AD 1096 and 1291 the bloody and ruthless expeditions by Christians led to the death of many Muslims, all in the name of God.

Sadly for you, we digress again in trying to answer your question. Yours is personal and not to do with Jews, Christians or Muslims. Yours is about fat shaming at your place of work not in the whole country.

In a recent article, Bob Collymore of Safaricom comes close to answering your question when he effectively states that companies make great profits when they put their staff at the centre of focus and attention. In essence, his proposition is that a happy employee is a productive employee. A sad employee (like you) will not be productive and both he and the company end up losers.

Depending on where you work, a good starting place might be the HR department where you may get clarity on company policy on bullying at the work place. In addition to any help you will (hopefully) get, you might need some help to deal with the issues of your self-esteem.

It is true that there are thousands of oversized people in Kenya who are happy and proud of being perfect figures in God’s creation. Such confident people hold (the correct view) that their creator meant them to be as He created them. There are groups of such people who might help you live with yourself.

Additionally, if you still have other issues with self-esteem, a competent mental health expert might be of some help.

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