August 13, 2012

Shrink to Fit or One Size Fits All?

So there's this guy in Newfoundland (that's in Canada for my international readers...who make up most of my readership I might add) who is begging his provincial government to travel out of province for an MRI for a condition he may have. Why travel you may ask? He happens to be over a certain weight and size for the MRI machines they have within his province.

So this gets me thinking....after reading more articles on the structural accommodations made for our "growing" society, I wonder if it is such a good idea after all. It's like this bug or animal I read about a while back....who fills the space provided for it. It grows to the size of the space it occupies (I'm sure it has limits)....or was that a dream I once had? At any rate, could we be making a big problem bigger by providing a one-size-fits-all environment?

Try to imagine a life in a body that doesn't fit the average chair. Everyday movement would be difficult and uncomfortable. I couldn't tie my shoe or reach the steering wheel of my car, or even move about freely in one of those teeny tiny shower stalls because of my size. The things I take for granted would be difficult to impossible like negotiating a crowded restaurant or slipping in and out of a theatre seat.  What I do know is if I suffered great anxiety over sitting down in public (which, talking with a few clients of mine, is a real fear for many people with obesity issues) I would do my best to shrink to fit the world in which I live....not search out a larger chair.

It's hard for me to write that because it sounds kinda blamey....or judgey. I am honestly wondering if our societal attempts at re fitting our chairs, cars, and medical equipment to accommodate for a larger person isn't creating more of a problem rather than a solution. Would people shrink to fit if we didn't have a "one size fits all" option? Thoughts? Of course there are always special cases (and I'm not talking about those).

Saunders Law of behaviour change suggests that people only change when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same. It's funny that I never studied this "law" in graduate school, but find it the most influential in real life. When people have finally hit their "rock bottom" and are in pain (physically or mentally) they are ready to change...and change they do. However, if the environment changes to suit them, are they as motivated to change to suit their environment? For example, I know that when I'm wearing my elastic waistband pants, I am more inclined to eat my face off because I'm comfortable. However, when I am strapped into my jeans I tend to stop (lest I have to cut myself out of them or suffer through horrific gas pains that mimic the pain of organ failure). Lesson? Elastic waistband pants rock!

It's definatley a sensitive topic for me because in no way do I want to insult or disrespect a population I try so hard to understand and support. BUT, my interest in change is what is fueling my question. If we do see a world that offers larger seats on airplanes (carrying less people and, thus, charging more for the ride) or cars built to suit how could that change our economy? More importantly, how could this effect obesity rates?

By asking this question, I sound like all the change or accommodation should be placed on the invidual. In fact, I'm suggesting that it is a partnership between society and individual. Instead of spending money accommodating the larger person, why can't we take this money or work towards a legislation that works to change the environmental cues and offerings that promotes our international waistline expansion? I also acknowledge that we live in a capitalist society that promotes serving the public demand (and that demand is easy, quick, painless, tastey, and comfortable).

I have no idea..I think I broke my brain thinking about it.

K

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