Laurie and Debbie say:
We are all vulnerable to barrages of insults. This extremely important New York Times article provides a very clear analysis of early scientific findings which strongly indicate that
“Rigorous studies are now showing that seeing, or hearing, gloomy nostrums about what it is like to be old can make people walk more slowly, hear and remember less well, and even affect their cardiovascular systems. Positive images of aging have the opposite effects. “
(Kudos to the Times for making this one permanently available without registration.)
Ronni Bennett really nails this on As Time Goes By.
We only wish the article had covered more topics than just aging. We’ve been saying for decades that many of the diseases of “fat” are in fact caused by that same constant barrage of insults floating just below the cultural radar.
If you look at the health statistics for African-Americans and other oppressed groups in the Western world, you see the same patterns.
Color us not at all surprised.
If you hear over and over again that you are slow, forgetful, and frail, or ugly, clumsy, and stupid, your body (which is you) will believe it. In contrast, if you hear over and over again that you are beautiful, fit, smart, and capable, guess what is more likely to happen?
The good news is that the stereotypes can be resisted. As the Times acknowledges, understanding this can easily be turned into blaming the victim. Frailty, like other physical conditions, is real, and can have objective causes (and sometimes medical treatments).
The message is clear: resisting negative stereotypes, not letting insults go unchallenged, and remembering to compliment frequently are good for everyone’s health.
Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will really kill you.