Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The People of Walmart emails

Every so often someone sends me an email, entitled "The People of Walmart". Apparently, these are supposed to be uproariously funny. The people pictured are real people and the folks who like these emails, tell me that these people are dressed in - shall we say - less than fashionable outfits and that they "should know better" (and thus, deserve to be ridiculed?). Which isn't true of the greeter above, by the way, who simply is wearing the Walmart uniform.

It is assumed, I guess, that none of these people have computers and thus will never see the emails ridiculing them. However, today, more and more folks do have computers and so if they see photos of themselves in an email with comments like "I can't stop laughing at this", would they be very hurt? I suspect they might and if the world is hurtful enough, why take the chance of hurting someone more than life might have hurt them previously?

And we must ask, does anyone "deserve" to be ridiculed, regardless of what they wear, how old they are or the size of their bodies?

What really bothers me about these mails is the underlying "elephant in the room" which no one wants to mention, and that is that although I'm certain that outlandish clothing is worn by people of all sizes and ages, the only individuals who get pictured in the "People of Walmart" emails, are overweight and/or elderly.

So what are we saying with this email - that people of size or over a certain age, should be "open season" for ridicule? And since many of those who have sent those emails would fall into both those categories (elderly and overweight), are they laughing at their fellow humans in an effect to say "well, look how bad these people look - I know *I* don't look that bad!"?

By laughing at the "people of Walmart" , we seem to be not only reinforcing our negative feelings about our own looks or girth but letting those around us know, it's "ok" to ridicule the elderly and/or people of size. Whereas if we viewed these fellow humans, in the way emphasized in a recent EWTN "Catholic View for Women", looking for the inner beauty instead of judging them by their exterior, we might become more aware of our own inner beauty which is not contingent on having a size 0 figure or being 20 years old!

The other side of the "People of Walmart" emails and the prevalent attitudes about size, is that our children who should be nourishing well, in their developmental stages, are increasingly coming down with eating disorders and/or disordered eating, in a sad effect to avoid being like "the people of Walmart", an object of ridicule. The average 8 year old is already on a diet and restricting the very nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy!

I think we need to realize that these emails are not only hurtful to those who may be pictured in them and hurtful to some of those receiving the emails who wonder when they will be pictured but also, hurtful to the sender who is ridiculing fellow humans on the superficial basis of size and/or age.

Respect for all human beings will build respect for ourselves!


dfalk said...

You don't seem to get the point of PoW.

It's a commentary about Americans losing their sense of pride, dignity and sense of class.

Not everyone on there is elderly or overweight. What they all have in common is a lack of pride in how they present themselves to the world, which is indeed shameful.

Dignity is not to be confused with vanity. If you know you are not the age or size in which a pair of tiny shorts look appealing on you, you degrade yourself by not dressing in a fashion that is more becoming to you.

I'm only in my 30's and I can remember a time when showing off a naked pregnant stomach in a grocery store or walking around in public with a size DD chest with only a thin tank top to cover it would have not been considered "normal."

I wish that time would come back...

Sue Joan said...

to dfalk,
thanks for reading my blog and for commenting.

Of the PoW emails I've seen, 95% or more of the folks in them are either fat or old (or both).

Add poor and you likely have 100% of the folks I've seen in the photos.

Your point about clothing showing dignity is well taken, however, there seems to a variety of opinions about what is appropriate and then, too, not everyone can afford to dress up and many people do not seem to know what to wear because TLC has a whole series on "What not to wear" with many programs in the series - this series has been running at least, since 2009.

But the bottom line is that the PoW emails are not shared with the serious message you suggest but rather messages like "these are the funniest group yet" or "I about fell on my butt laughing at these." That is they are shared with a message of derision and suggesting the people pictured therein, are to be ridiculed so the content message of the emails is not at all what you suggested in your comment.

Sue J