Health is Pop Culture
Where Sympathy Meets Accountability
Times have turned turbulent and health has now become pop culture. The entire globe is debating public health and policy; many of us are frightened (with good reason); we’ve seemed to enter a Twilight Zone episode where we’ve become divided into camps (gulp) defending or shunning big pharma.
We’ve lost a large sense of common values that truly united us as a country, even through some of our most horrific or uncomfortable times. With this deterioration of a unifying thread of values comes finger pointing and a complete lack of sympathy, empathy and understanding.
So, let’s get this out of the way.
I am on your side.
I want the absolute best for you. And I want you to live a long, fulfilling life on your terms. I understand that even the simplest of concepts to keep yourself healthy – that you may very well be aware of – are not always easy to enact.
I get it. But as I wrote earlier last month… health is now political. And therefore, our health (or lack thereof) is now pop cultural. If it’s not pop cultural, I’ll be one of the men leading the way to make sure that is.
Politics is downstream from culture. We hear it all the time. What happens first, in the market of ideas, slowly spreads by word of mouth, over social media, on viral clips and op-ed articles. Something becomes trendy, topical, cool.
Corporate America gets ahold of and, somehow, monetizes it. It becomes mainstream, finds its way into our home conversations over cocktails and dinner. It crawls its way into politicians’ abodes and soon becomes a talking point we hear in debates, election cycles and that we see in policy bills. Policies and politicians begin driving the culture.
This is the cultural pathology.
Somewhere along the way, we let health become one of these subject matters. We’ve pushed for so much sympathy and understanding that we left accountability standing by its lonesome on the curb. “Big is beautiful.” “Be proud in your skin.” “Empathy.”
They Don’t Want You to be Healthy
I told you I’m on your side.
Keep that in mind as I now recalibrate. This has been a long, drawn out, methodical process of getting you, me, us to settle for mediocrity. To not strive for greatness. To become dependent on a system that will milk you for your discretionary income until your final days. To chastise anyone who dares toss out the slightest critique of anyone overweight, out of shape or practicing poor health. To call fitness models and those on the cover of health magazines narcissistic.
We have had so many opportunities to correct our obesity problem in the states but scared men and women have gone silent, afraid of looking like unsympathetic bullies.
Health magazines have long been critiqued for sexualizing women as objects. For flaunting skin baring covers on the rack of every grocery store checkout line. For making the near perfect body the only desirable body in the mind of the superficial male. Thus, making the average women feel inferior, self-conscious and anxious. Men who lift weights are called brotards and meatheads incapable of intellectual discourse.
Make the strong and healthy feel abnormal. Drive the culture. Normalize obesity, anxiety, disease and the need for pharmaceuticals.
Pardon me, but get the fuck out of here.
For years, I bought into this bullshit. Maybe we shouldn’t put the “perfect” body on the cover of a health magazine. Maybe being proud of yourself for being fit is just act of selfishness in some ways.
Where the Hell is the Balance and Nuance?
I do not want to hear we need more sympathy and awareness surrounding body image, mental health and/or obesity. Thousands of campaigns, support groups and PSA’s now flood our airwaves and timelines.
A massive outpouring of sympathy regarding mental health has been thrown behind the likes of Demar Derozan, Kevin Love, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka. As it should have been.
The point is, the message exists. It’s out there. You are not alone. Others – even the most successful – have the same human flaws, self-doubt and fears. And we stand with you.
The fact that you are not alone is not supposed to then allow you to simply accept your current state. It is supposed to give you peace of mind that your situation is normal. And it should give you a sense of ease that you can begin tackling your problems.
But here’s the slight of hand that the marketeers and talking heads pull. They make you feel like a major part of these problems are the people that don’t experience your anxiety. That their success, ability to overcome mental hurdles or get in shape is the cause of your pain and suffering.
How dare someone flaunt their success, especially in the physical form when so many out there are struggling?
Do not let them do this anymore.
Wake up. Healthy people being proud of their health is not them poo-pooing your shortfalls. They are not saying to you: “look how great I am and how bad you are.” In fact, it’s the exact opposite. They are trying to inspire you. To show what is impossible. To let your fear and disbelief go (Matrix reference). Put yourself out there.
Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat. Succeed.
It’s the ones that ONLY tell you “It’s OK” to be proud of being unhealthy or depressed that often want you to stay right there in a perpetual state. The ole misery loves company. If you put in the work to get out of your funk or to lean up your body or to attempt to feel physically sexy?
You may just bring to life how much that person “supporting you” is not willing to put in the work themselves. The work to be happy, better, healthy. And then they’ll resent you for caving to superficial social pressures. Wake up.
It IS ok to be depressed, overweight, out of shape. It is a beautiful thing that humans can acknowledge an area of their life that is suboptimal… and correct it. It is not OK to acknowledge a shortfall, state your desire to correct it and then do nothing.
How often on LinkedIn do you see an entrepreneurial influencer tell us “It’s not the result, it’s the journey and the process”? Or to “Stop chasing the money”? These message all come from billion-dollar net worth individuals to boot. Why can they make such statements? Because they worked hard and learned that the money came because they followed the process. And they also acknowledge that not everyone will achieve the same material success but will find the same inner peace and happiness on the chase to provide value and act with purpose.
Why is health so different? Why does the empathy card get played so often, so quickly? I know health is personal. I know body image can be paralyzing and intimidating. But the same mindset should apply to anyone who is trying to create, build or grow. Happiness should be found in the process and in the chase to achieve greatness. Just as a small business owner may never become a tycoon, most of us on the road to health will never become worthy of magazine cover in our bathing suit. And THAT is ok.
The system is against us. Health is Pop Culture.
Our health is not priority in this free market. Drug companies have created something for every ache, pain or depressing thought. Doctors are not always informed on preventative measures.
Insurance companies do not reimburse for healthy investments only for procedures once we are ill. In our latest podcast with Dr. Phil Ovadia, he states that 88% of us are metabolically unhealthy. That our health institutions classify health KPI’s (bloodwork, weight, vital signs) with “normal ranges.” But the normal/average range in America is UNHEALTHY.
Unhealthy has become normal. Healthy has become abnormal. And that’s where the monetization and economizing of the ill kicks in.
On the flipside, WE have not demanded enough from the free market on the front end. We have demanded quick fixes in the form of fad diets, trendy exercise programs, cosmetic procedures or anxiety pills. We enable those who are struggling to just accept their misery and not strive for more. We take food selfies of cake, pizza and greasy fried foods after a night of boozing.
We can do better.
And no matter what “they” say, I am standing with you. But I’m likely standing behind you so that I can give you a light push towards optimal health. Don’t be fooled by those standing in front of you trying to turn you around to the same road you’ve been down time and time again.
We will now unite again on an issue that should be non-controversial… our health. Being healthy, strong, beautiful and sexy is sublime. If the population makes healthy “normal” again, we turn the market upside down. They now have to monetize and market to us with better options/solutions.
They can’t turn us against each other when we are encouraging each other and applauding those who achieve the highest goals. Not at someone else’s expense but for their own well-being that inspires others to do the same. I’m inspired by all of you who are in good standing health, that accomplish amazing physical feats and by those of you just starting out on your journey to health freedom.
Strength in numbers. We just need to speak up.