Your friend has never been particularly fit nor particularly interested in nutrition. Maybe she was your old college roommate, and you have distinct memories of late nights, bad decisions, and otherworldly alcohol consumption. But something has gotten into her lately. Maybe she started going to that new yoga studio down the street. Or she hired a personal trainer. Or she started running and has fallen in love with piling up miles.
She’s not obnoxious about her healthy pursuits. She still talks about literature and movies and books and the occasional reality TV show. It’s just, now when you suggest drinks or happy hour she tells you that she’s scheduled for a class or a lift or a run.
You have a choice to make here. You can be supportive of her new healthy lifestyle, perhaps ask her questions about her yoga studio, personal trainer, or running coach.
Or you can do what a lot of people choose to do and be an asshole.
Unsupportive friends do whatever they can to derail a newly fit person’s journey. “Come on, just skip the workout,” these people will say.
Some version of this happens in work settings all the time. Someone decides to stop treating their body like a dump truck at lunch and instead of going out for bar food he brings lunch from home. But instead of asking how this person is going about overhauling their lifestyle, people pressure him to eat garbage alongside them.
We rightly have pushed back culturally against body shaming and unrealistic expectations of women in particular to “be thin.” But it’s okay somehow for us to make fun of the friend who favors organic food, perhaps even more expensive but high-quality food, and home-cooked food over fast food, microwaved food, and processed food.
Why do we make fun of fit people? The simple answer is that our ridicule reveals some insecurity about ourselves. It sounds like trite analysis, but I think there’s something to this.
Have you ever met someone who’s incredibly accomplished, good-looking, and nice? And your initial reaction rather than appreciating the opportunity to meet this person was to search for something wrong with them? I sure have. If I find myself comparing my accomplishments to someone else’s and see that I don’t quite measure up, sometimes I’ll start deducting points from their side of the ledger to make myself feel better. I’m not proud of these moments, but I know myself well enough to be able to admit to them. Getting older has done wonders for helping me realize that talent, merit, accomplishment, and admirable traits aren’t a zero-sum game: there’s enough out there for all of us. Still, I can be petty just like anyone else and it ain’t pretty.
If you find that a friend or family member is making an effort to live a sustainably healthy lifestyle, be supportive. Ask questions. JOIN THEM. Your ridicule and shaming of their choices could quite possibly undermine their efforts–leaving both you and them less healthy.
Besides, ridiculing someone else for doing something positive for their wellness just isn’t a good look. Don’t do it. Ever.