Sloth – Jessi Kneeland

Hello friends,

Today I want to talk about an important concept that many of my clients come across:


When I work with someone on body neutrality and self-confidence, part of my job is to help them figure out why avoiding losing weight or changing the look is so important. The answer is usually complex, layered and deeply unconscious, but finding the answer points us in the right direction.

One answer that comes up all the time is the fear that "people think I'm lazy." Logic tends to work: when I lose weight (or don't lose weight), people think I'm lazy.

That seems pretty self-explanatory until I ask why it matters and the answers really get vague.

The general idea is that being lazy is a kind of moral failure, a deeply incomprehensible lack of character that a person should feel ashamed of.

And of course, we are all taught that we can judge someone's moral character by the size and shape of his or her body. If you are fat and out of shape, it's because you are lazy and bad. If you are skinny and fit, it is because you are disciplined, self-controlled, hard worker and morally fair.

Then that's the core.

Fatophobic messaging says that we find out whether a person is lazy or disciplined, out of control or out of control, just by looking at them. Losing weight can sometimes mean responding to virtue as a desire for people to know that we are good people.

This is of course not true. People in thin bodies do not necessarily have to work harder, more disciplined, "under control", and morally better than people in larger bodies. (This is the subject of another article, but why not check it out.)

But it is vigorously programmed into our subconscious mind to interpret body shape / size as evidence of human character, value, and state.

And that's the real problem.

More than the actual interpretation (that fat = bad and thin = good), I question the importance we attach to signaling virtues, the credibility we give to our moral ordering and character appreciation, and the support of subconscious Puritan social casts this culture.

I might be able to convince you that being fat is not a proof of laziness (by science), but much harder would be to convince you that being lazy is not a character mistake or being lazy does not mean that someone is an immoral person who deserves less happiness , success, joy, social status and confidence. Right?

But this is a more important issue because as long as you believe in all these laziness things, you can by no means be comfortable or accept a body that can accidentally (even incorrectly) transmit to a world that you are lazy.

You know me? But what is even laziness? What does it mean and why is it so nasty?

The first definition I found on google about lazy creature was "unwillingness to work or use energy." This is interesting because saving energy (unless we spend it on minor tasks) is a basic transaction for all living organisms. If that is the definition, at the cellular level we are all literally lazy. We wouldn't live otherwise.

But, of course, that is not exactly the definition people are going for. When used lazily as an insult, images of a slow, unproductive, laborious, sloppy, useless and weak willpower tend to be falsified; a nasty slug or spine door travel who can't or can't stand up enough to take part in life.

The word used in this way is so dripping with righteous contempt that the definition hardly even applies to the real person.

Instead, it refers to some of the compositions of humanoid imagery we have come across, from those that fit into a category deeply coded into our bones as "other", by people whose existence violates our moral sensibility.

Scanning their brains, I see thousands of people playing video games in my parents' basements, people who are not so fat they can't get off the couch, and welfare queens who have babies to stop working.

Feared and ashamed of such people, we have no choice but to despise and protest their supposed existence. But these people don't really exist. In any case, not as individuals. Even if one fell into these categories, they would still be perfectly round and healthy people with a story, family, childhood, hopes and dreams, and hobbies. They would still be the person who does their best.

No one is really as lazy as this image of the morally corrupt laziness we seem to be fighting.

It is worth saying that our susceptibility to fear of laziness is rooted in some old-school Bible crap. Sloth is sin, idle hands do hell, etc. Being self-controlling and avoiding the temptations of the devil means not to mass or think impure thoughts. Now, that will never mean skipping the gym or eating over 1,800 calories.

I think the Puritan Victorian English people who founded this country really endorsed our obsession with diet and exercise, because it consisted of punishing ourselves with ill health, trying to cleanse and devoting ourselves to obsessively hard work and self-control.

But it goes even deeper because our historical obsession with moral correctness lies in maintaining the social caste system. Identifying some as a lazy, weak, immoral hunger person allows us to maintain a sense of social status above them, to maintain a sense of superiority and social positioning.

To condemn all that resembles laziness is upward social mobility. Today's version of marriage is visible abs and squat prey – both of which give you access to a higher social caste, greater power and status, and more options.

The desire to distance ourselves from laziness is partly ego and partly pragmatism. It can be used to replace a true sense of self-worth with a smoothie's sense of justice, and it can also be used for legitimate social climbing.

What are we doing about it?

I recommend that we acknowledge that we are all lazy. Apart from the laziness of the living organism, which I have already mentioned, we all have all the qualities of character. We all have the power to do both good and evil, hard work and laziness, intelligence and stupidity, kind and meaningless, logic and emotion.

There is no point in trying to decide who you are because you have the ability for all of them and you can undoubtedly display them at different times. The desire to figure it out is an attempt to understand where you fit into the social box. But you are not just one thing. Nobody else, either.

Being human is much more complex, slick and more interesting.

I therefore recommend that you stop chasing. You're lazy and you're disciplined. You are weak and you are strong. You are being checked and also out of control. Life goes from both; life is about it all.

Fortunately, none of these things are inherently bad and mean nothing to you. Being lazy is just another healthy, normal and appropriate way to be sometimes. Just like going to hard work is just another healthy, normal, fit way to be at times.

The only reason you believe one is good while one is bad is because we needed a way to maintain the social caste system; needed a way to find out which people were high and low status just by looking at them. We wanted social order and an image of upward mobility.

So we demonized half of the human experience and supported the other.

For many of my clients, breaking down fat phobia and moving towards body acceptance is only possible after letting go of their relationship, and the concept of noticing the whole virtue and labeling myself in moral boxes.

Otherwise, how could anyone on earth abandon obsessive exercise or diet control, face the fear of losing weight, or accept their body knowing what it offers?

As always it is curious to hear your thoughts, and on the eve of a happy Christmas when you get into such a thing.



PS I can't believe this decade is almost done.

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