I’m a guy. More to the point, I’m a guy who likes to look at attractive women in swimsuits. This isn’t a news flash. It’s not even an opinion. It’s just a biological fact.
At least it used to be.
The other day my wife sent me a link to the hottest trend in swimsuits: the Fatkini. Now I can’t get that image out of my mind. It’s truly frightening.
Last weekend I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie called World War Z. It’s about the coming zombie apocalypse. You know what? America being overrun by hoards of flesh-eating zombies doesn’t scare me. A sandy beach overrun by size 20+ women in two-piece bikinis, that scares me.
Now I’m having terrible nightmares about the Victoria’s Secret catalog showing up with one of those monstrosities on the cover. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to open my mailbox again.
Don’t get me wrong; I know what this sounds like. I’m actually not that shallow. To tell you the truth, I never got the whole zero-sized model thing. They look like stick figures on crack. Not attractive. I’m not into plastic surgery, either. Women with low self-esteem and zero self-confidence are not a turn-on.
The reason why I’m overemphasizing all this superficial stuff is to make a point.
If an alien from outer space monitored our media transmissions, it would read all about plus-size blogger Gabi Gregg and her Fatkini and Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael “I only want thin beautiful people in my stores” Jeffries. And it would think there’s a battle raging in America, a battle for acceptance of the new reality, plus-size people.
In reality, none of that matters. What matters is an epidemic of humongous proportions that really is raging in America: our obesity crisis. The growing waistline and declining health of Americans of every demographic and gender across the board. As horrible as that sounds, the real problem is so much bigger than that. It affects every single one of us in countless ways.
It’s about big business. We all talk about how much the obesity problem costs American companies, but there’s a flipside to that. Retrofitting everything from our wardrobes, furniture, and automobiles to airplane seats, wheelchairs, and MRI machines is huge business. It means a ridiculous amount of revenue for a lot of industries and countless companies.
It’s about selling Americans a fortune in BS. One market research firm says the weight management industry will reach $41.8 billion by 2017. But here’s the thing. The more Americans spend on quick fixes, miracle diets, supplements, and all sorts of weight loss systems, the more obese they become. None of that stuff works.
It’s about our politicians trying to grab the limelight with typical overzealous, overreaching, over-regulation. The Federal Trade Commission has issued broad, sweeping guidelines on how food companies advertise and sell to kids. We have ObamaCare to take care of us. San Francisco banned Happy Meals. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sugary drinks. As if any of that will help solve the problem.
I’ll tell you what will solve the problem. Two words. Personal responsibility. That’s right. Each and every day we make choices about what we put in our bodies. How we treat our bodies. What we do with our recreational time. Every day we make health and lifestyle choices for ourselves and our children.
We say there’s a childhood obesity problem in America but, in reality, children don’t make those choices. Parents do.
Kids don’t drive themselves to McDonald’s or the supermarket to buy crappy processed foods full of sugar and fat. Kids don’t decide how much TV they watch and video games they play. Kids don’t stop kids from being kids, from going out and running around and playing outside.
Parents do all that. Why? Because it’s easier to pacify kids with fast-food, TV, video games, Facebook, and YouTube than it is to be tough parents. It’s easier to just let kids do what they want to do.
Should it surprise anyone that the war on drugs hasn’t done a thing to stem all the drug and alcohol abuse among teens? Who do you think they learned it from? The biggest drug problem in America isn’t teenage drug abuse. It’s prescription drug abuse – by adults.
Our children don’t have a health and obesity problem. We do.
Acceptance of plus sized clothing; government regulation; elective surgery; miracle drugs and supplements; weight loss diets, pills, and system – none of that will fix the obesity problem in America. Only we can.
When we start taking personal responsibility for our actions, our choices, for being adults who, for whatever reason, choose the path of least resistance instead of taking care of our own and our children’s health, that’s when we’ll start to see an improvement in our obesity problem.
When we’re willing to work hard and do the heavy lifting instead of letting ourselves become addicted to drugs, gadgets, games, TV, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a nanny state that takes care of us, that’s when we’ll start becoming thinner and healthier again.
Speaking of being thin, I owe that to my parents. They had discipline. They lived within their means. Nothing was easy. We didn’t have much in the way of gadgets or toys. We couldn’t afford to eat out. And they put such crappy food on the table that all I could do was stare at it and play the waiting game until they finally gave up and let me go out and play.
Somehow, that turned out to be more than I needed. It still is. It’s more than anyone needs.
Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive and author of "Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur." Learn more, contact Tobak or follow his new blog at stevetobak.com. Any opinions expressed are those of the columnist.