Friday, November 12, 2010

I Cried

I am watching "What Would You Do?" on TV right now. It's only been on for five minutes, but it has dredged up an huge... IMMENSE amount of emotion for me, to the point I am sitting here in tears.

If you didn't watch it, basically it is showing "healthy" weight people making comments to "fat" people in grocery stores based on the contents of their grocery cart (sugar, fat, junk). The people are actors, though. They just want to see what other people will do or say. Will someone step in when a stranger tells a heavy woman she is poisoning her child with the food in her cart? Will anyone say anything when a heavy person is being loudly verbally reprimanded by a stranger for eating processed foods?

"People wonder why they're fat!" (laughter)

If you haven't watched it, you should. I can't even begin to describe the things said by people.

But I didn't start typing to tell you about the show. I started typing because of the wave of emotion that hit me as I saw that heavy woman shopping, and the thin person berating her.

I am that woman. I am. Still. I don't care if I end up weighing 130 pounds and only eating salads and tofu. I am that heavy woman. When I hear the comments, they are PERSONAL to me. The fat jokes, the rude weight remarks. It hits me right here. I started crying immediately. Not so much because of what was being said.

But because people agree with it.

People don't usually shout at strangers in grocery stores. Mature adults don't often stare and snicker at the contents of a fat person's cart and say "Hey put down the cupcakes you cow, I am going to have to pay for your medical care when you get diabetes in 10 years." But you know what?

A lot of people think it.

A lot of people look at people and think that stuff but don't say it. And it kills me, it really does, it breaks my heart that people looked at me and thought those things, about how if I'd stop buying junk and have some vegetables I wouldn't be so fat. About how my weight was my own fault. About how I was just a big woman buying crap food and getting fatter, a liability to the public.

Maybe it hurts so much because that is what I thought of MYSELF at times. But I thought it was my little secret. I didn't know everyone else saw that I was fat and buying junk food. I didn't realize anyone had those thoughts when they saw me at 278 pounds in my car, alone in the parking lot cramming a Big Mac down my throat. I didn't suspect that anyone thought the horrible things about me that I thought of myself. That I tortured myself with. I felt so much shame. So very much.

I was really awful to myself sometimes. Called myself hopeless and fat and lazy. Thought about how if I'd just put down the bacon cheeseburgers I would lose weight. I abused myself in my head. And to know that other people... complete strangers... agree with those terrible, abusive thoughts is just overwhelming.

I know people think it. I read blogs. I read stuff on the Internet. I watch the news. "Hey fatty put down the cookies!" I know they look down on us. I always felt like a second class citizen when I was morbidly obese because I stood out, and people looked down on me.

And now they don't, and now they say things to me they would never say to an obese person. And people who never knew me when I was obese make comments about obese people that make me sick. And I say something about it, I tell them that is wrong. But I go home and cry because they were talking about ME, even though they didn't know it.

I thought about that today walking home from my daughter's school. I thought, gee. I feel like an average person. I do not stand out. When someone sees me and has to describe me they might say "the woman with the long wavy reddish brown hair" or "she was wearing a green sweater." They would not say "the heavy set woman" as their first descriptor. I fit in, physically. People can't tell. I have a secret. But I won't ever fit in mentally. I don't want to. I am the sum total of my experiences. And I won't forget the agony it took to get me to where I am today. I won't forget the pain and the hopelessness and the feelings of self hate because of what I ate and how I looked and felt.

That's why I cried. They were talking about ME. It hurts. They are talking about people I care about... about you, and my mother, and my friends. They are making judgements and believing them. They feel superior somehow, because they don't have the weight problems I've had. They think they are better, morally, for choosing a carrot over a candy bar. Why, why does the world have to be this way?

I cry, but in the end all I can do is be different. Be kind. Have compassion. Don't judge. All I can do is educate. Instead of melting into an emotional puddle over this stuff, I have to stand up and be the one in the grocery store who says, "hey, back off. It's none of your business. Leave her alone." Instead, I have to finally grasp that I AM NOT INFERIOR because I was fat... or WHEN I was fat. No one is inferior or superior due to body size.

I hope someday the whole world believes that, too.


Ann @ BodyAmbition said...

Wow, I can really feel where you are coming from. Our society is based on appearance and perception. The reason people can think this way IS because they don't have that connection to the the problem, they are emotionally detached from it or choose to be. And its not just thin people, I know many overweight/obese people that berate others and themselves for the way they look...

When my skinny sister says something funny or snarky about a fat person on TV, I think that she could just as easily be talking about me. Its another case of "being the change" - I can only control my own views and so I can choose to value people for who they are rather than what they look like and that will have to be enough for now.

Mom to the Fourth Power said...

I hope so too. I am that fat person inside still... I feel it all like it was me. I so relate. It seems perfectly acceptable for people to be prejudice towards heavy people... but you'd get shot down in a heart beat showing the same prejudice due to race or religion, etc. But it's NOT acceptable. The world can change, though... one person at a time! We can change the world!


Marie said...

That is one of my concerns about socialized type medicine. If everyone is paying for each other's medical care, everybody's weight DOES become our business.

Many bad health habits don't "show." Overeating usually does.

Beth at Obesity Strike said...

Great post, Lyn. You know, I use the word "fat" all the time and don't mean it in a negative way but in a way of reclaiming that word, it used to carry such shame and abhorrence for me but now it is what it is: fat. I attach nothing to it other than the reality of it.

I have thought that maybe I need to state as much on my blog and your post has swayed me to take that action. I forget how much fat prejudice exists, probably because it is not as prevalent in my life here in the UK as it was in the US (where I lived in Texas - in one of the "obesity capitals" of the US). I see very few obese people these days in London but when I do, it is always a humble reminder of my own reality.

And it is an odd experience to be living with that "secret" as you say, of living life as a "formerly obese person". There are many areas of prejudice that one can escape from and live life on the other side like one can with obesity.

Diandra said...

Geez, as if people were heavy because they didn't care... most people I know who weigh more than average (and some significantly more) eat to satisfy some emotional need... in my family, love is shown almost exclusively by food. When I visited my mother two years ago for christmas, on the second day she made lasagne "with some extra spiced butter and sour cream and cheese on top, just for you". Uhm, thanks, Mum, but stuff like that might kill me someday. (No, I didn't say that. I ate a tiny piece of the lasagna and had fruit afterwards.) The basic things overweight people are trying to get by food seem to be love, comfort and protection. And with people around who can be so mean to each other (if you aren't "fat", they will find other things to say and think behind your back, don't you worry!), where else should they find it?

Beth at Obesity Strike said...

Er, yeah, my comment should have *obviously* read as: "There aren't many areas of prejudice that one can escape from and live life on the other side like one can with obesity."

I did try to edit it before I posted. Grrr.

Driven Mad said...

Although I can't say I've seen the show that you've referenced, I will admit that I have looked at very large people, not in disgust or with scorn, but with fascination. I have wondered how someone can let themselves get so large as to be morbidly obese. I've certainly gained weight at times in my life, but I've also reached an "enough is enough" stage, when I have said to myself that it's time to hit the pavement and workout.

I can imagine the thoughts, feelings and emotion you still harbor, within. But you have accomplished an amazing feat. And you did it, simply because you wanted to. You avoided surgery, drugs and doctor intervention. Your power to change is immense. You have proven that. And, that's a very attractive quality. Embrace that and your confidence and sex appeal will flourish. I'm blown away by what you've done. It means something.

With respect to the comparison of prejudice to someone's weight as holding equal weight to prejudice of race or religion, all I can say is that most people aren't born morbidly obese. It's dangerous to assume otherwise, as a statistic.

You've done an amazing thing.

Anonymous said...

I hear you! So many people have issues with substance abuse or other "addictions." And these all affect people's health -- it's just that the side effect of the one we deal with is so darned visible.

My husband's family is very prone to describing people in negative terms -- a big FAT man, stringy hair, a huge nose. I cringe inside every time.

Loved your post about "Where will you be" too. I'm going to write it out TODAY. Committing! Thanks, Lyn. :)


Anonymous said...

I do resent having to pay for other people's addictions, be it food, alcohol or drugs. I've been overweight too but I know it was my own fault. I did have emotional issues but so don't other people who manage to take care of themselves anyway. I was inspired by one such person. She had plenty of personal problems, but managed to stay away from addictions and exercise too. If she can do it, so can I. I have tried to stop feeling so sorry for myself. I am into tough love.

Ms. PJ Geek said...

What a post. Good thing I didn't watch tht show. It would have been so upsetting to me. I would have cried too.

I have had people comment when I'm buying food. Not when I was 345 but now that I'm 225, I've had the checker say about my 'chocolate' Zone bars. At 225 I'm still obese, but not super uber morbid obese. "Oh someone has a sweet tooth!" Or they say nothiing, and I find myself wanting to clarify.'these Little debbies and HErshey bars are for my husband' ( they actually are)...

And I admit I look at what people buy sometimes and think "Oh she's on a frozen food / lean quizine diet" .or " Uber , organic veggie mommie"....Can't help it but working on it..and trying not to judge. Trying to give a sympathetic smile to the chubby girl buying a large frozen Tombstone pizza and pint of Ben and Jerrys that were my favorite binge after a bad workday.

And I'm a nurse in the health care profession and work at home on computer and telephone with coworkers, both doctors and nurses, who don't actually know or see me. We have super obese patients (300-700lb range) and their comments about them are not much different than the comments they make about folks in the 220's. I get my feathers ruffled and occasionally say something or sometimes I don't. IT gets me when I see Doctors document "pleasantly obese" and the person weighs 170 lbs.

Andra said...

I was watching Thursday's CSI and the foreman of the jobsite they were investigating came out of the trailer and he was a tall, quite chubby guy and Nick called him "Big Man" first then "Hoss" a little later. I was FURIOUS. It was so subtle but so insidious. Had the foreman been a dwarf, there is no way he would have been able to get away with calling him "little guy" on television.

Colleen said...

I don't know if this counts as passing judgment but when I see a larger sized person eating/buying lots of junk food, it strikes me as sad. Not really much different than someone smoking a cigarette with a hacking cough, or an alcoholic with their booze in a brown paper bag at 2 PM. It's an addiction. It's sad. I feel sad that they are not making better choices for themselves.

Admittedly if I see a 'normal' sized person buying the same food, I do think "I wonder if/when that's going to catch up with them" (meaning eating junk). Because you can be thin with diabetes and high cholesterol too.

Pudentame said...

HOORAH and WOW! Round of applause to a humane human being. Thank you.

marie said...

I don't want to watch that show because I can imagine well enough just how mean people can be.

I worked at Wendy's a few years ago, and back then I was overweight but not as overweight as I am now. You don't want to know just how mean some of my coworkers were (men mostly, but women too). They weren't mean to people's faces, but the second somebody left, they would tear them apart. It was awful. I stopped working there because I could not stand the work environment.

To this day, I'm terrified of going to fast food restaurants. I still go, but I have to work hard not to think of what the people will say after I leave. I've ordered a second drink with my takeout order just so it would look like I was sharing the food. I know that sounds crazy, and it should be nobody's business if I want 2 cheeseburgers and a large fries today you know.

And I get so angry when people make comments and people in my family try to convince me that not everybody thinks that but really, I actually believe that most people are judgemental.

My roommates' friend came over a few years ago and we were watching biggest loser, and she exclaimed, "Oh, the fat people show", or something like that, and it took me everything not to start crying right there and then. I'm as big as some of the smaller women on that show. It could be me. And that this girl would come into my home and say something so judgemental.

It hurts. I have a much thicker skin now and try to let the comments or looks not bother me. But people are so mean.

Becky said...

When most people say or think these things, I genuinely believe it is not because they're trying to be malicious. Our culture is becoming more and more aware to how harmful obesity is to our health--of course they're going to have a reaction. They're having a reaction to what they're seeing, but they don't know what other kind of reaction to have. I lost close to 100 pounds. Even I have a reaction when I see an overweight person. However, my reaction is that most overweight people have no idea that life could be different. Those of us who are hurt and outraged by other reactions need to work to educate people. But we also need to come to terms with overeating being a part of that "personal choice to harm myself" group that alcohol, cigarettes and other addictions fall into.

Erin said...

Okay, first off, I need to qualify myself as someone who has been recovering from severe eating disorders for more than 20 years, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about these things...a LOT of time.

Now, I would never, ever watch such a show. I don't do it...I don't find cruelty amusing. I refused to watch the Biggest Loser for the first two seasons because I was sure that it was just a show that was making fun of fat people and I refused to be party to that. The show you've described seems to do just that. I don't understand what happened to the basic rule of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" regardless of who can hear you.

Now, as for what people are thinking, it seems to me that being fat is simply a symptom of being unwell (ie., out of balance, out of whack). I know for myself that when I'm putting on weight, it is a manifestation of real struggles I'm dealing with mentally. The hard truth is we are in control of our weight. It is easy to blame the messengers because they are cruel, but their ultimate message is legitimate. We are in control. The problem isn't the cheeseburger, the Big Mac, or the cupcake, however...those are just the symptoms. I wonder if it is almost like some people response to cancer or death, you know? Haven't you heard about people falling away from acquaintances who have cancer or who've experienced a death in the family because they are almost afraid it is "catching"? I have. I wonder if this cruelty is actually symbolic of something like akin to that fear of it being something they can catch.

When I described all of this to my husband, I tried to explain that what you see on the outside is never what I see. I work hard to reconcile the two, but is can be so difficult. Unlike the drug addict or alcoholic, we have to make peace with our addictions because we MUST have food, but because we are constantly faced with our anesthetizing drug of choice, we must have steely control to overcome our personal demons.

(I know I rambled on. I just followed my thoughts...sorry.)

Anonymous said...

If I read one more comment about how people who point out to overweight people -- who are STRANGERS TO THEM -- that they shouldn't be eating or buying something because of their apparent weight problem, I'm going to throw up the 12 chocolate cupcakes I just ate!

I have been on both sides of major weight loss (130 lbs.), and the idea that anyone who has ever confronted me WASN'T being malicious or nosy or completely out of line is belied by the fact that they actually thought that it was any of their business to make such remarks in the first place. Unless you want me examining your pap smear results and discussing your multiple sexual partners, you can eff-off. I have rarely even HAD health insurance because of the economy and the way most workplaces categorize workers precisely so that they can avoid extending such benefits (and I hold a graduate degree and work in my field), so all you hand-wringers out there complaining about how much you're paying for my weight are also making specious, self-justifying arguments that are really upsetting me because the carton of ice cream I'm trying to eat is melting while I'm putting you in your place!

Fat prejudice is ubiquitous, and it is still an accepted practice to be publicly fat-intolerant, as if fat is "catching" (well put, earlier poster) -- truly the last bastion for loud-mouth a**holes, and no amount of rationalizing makes it okay. NONE.

It's heartbreaking for me to see morbidly obese people because I know at least some of their struggle. That they haven't yet found their "cringe" weight is no one's business, not that you have any clue as to whether they have had their epiphany yet. Consider this: Most people fall off the weight-loss wagon -- or struggle internally about it nearly non-stop -- because their serious efforts on the food and exercise fronts are so slow in the reward department, so our outer selves don't reflect the pace of all the blood, sweat and tears.

Just because weight -- generally and for most people -- is something within our control doesn't mean ANYone has the right to judge anyone else, and certainly no right to confront them with their smug superiority. Are you people FOR REAL? I'm guessing you're also the folks who don't give a panhandler any money because you're CERTAIN they're going to run out and spend it on booze or drugs -- or so you tell yourself. Or, maybe you're just cheap. Your compassion is truly underwhelming. (*DING* Hey! My HotPockets are ready!)

And if an obese person hasn't had their epiphany yet that moves them to change, that's still no one's business. We've ALL been trying to cure emotional issues with food, just as alcoholics do with booze, etc., etc. If it were a matter of just listening to all the internal and external abuse, we'd all be thin and happy and not wasting time reading these blogs or trying to educate ourselves on how best to undo the damage.

If there is someone out there truly concerned about rising health care costs vis-a-vis my weight who wants to foot the bill for MY health insurance, I promise I'll eat right and exercise every day so that they can continue to feel better/thinner (po-tay-toe/po-tah-toe) than me. You’re awesome for caring. I just need to finish off these crackers and Cheez-Whiz first.

CK in CO

Beth in NC said...

I can so relate. I'm still overweight. I'm not where you are and though I look at myself and say, "I'm not where I was" I still feel like the biggest person wherever I go.

I can relate. (((hugs)))

Taryl said...

Those comments hurt so much, you're right. And knowing people think it, even if they don't say it, hurts just ss luck (and makes me wonder what else they're not say g, fi that is what they feel comfortable enough to blurt out to some poor, random person).

The best we can do is live by example and teach our kids the value of each person is based on the content of their character, not any physical or ascribed characteristic they possess. It might not take away the sting we'll always feel as fat women who happen to be wearing thinner bodies now, but long term it is the way to win the war, raise a generation with kindness and consideration for those around them, and humility over the fact that their own circumstances could change at any moment and they might be the person on the other side of the exchange.

Rachel said...

I use to be over weight and I know those comments can hurt. There are some "fat people" who do make me sad though. It is my family and friends that I see self sabatoging over and over again. I do not pass judgment on those I don't know but it makes me upset when those I love are killing themselves and won't recognize that it takes the healing of the mind to really escape obesity forever. You can lose weight and physically look great but if you are hurting on the inside it will eventually all come back. Food is the drug of choice and like any addiction it is a constant struggle. It will be a loosing battle until the whole self is ready to heal. My heart aches when I am asked for advice or help and then it is ignored. Why, why can't you love yourself enough to help yourself? Sorry for the rant.

Anonymous said...

There's an anonymous commenter on here who said something about having a "tough love" approach. I think my highest BMI has been about 32 so I've never been outrageously overweight, but still been overweight my entire adult life and much of high school. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome so I have always been active trying to lose weight but usually end up bouncing back easily due to my condition (but hopefully not this time). Although my eating hasn't always been perfect, I was confused about my weight gain because I have been working out constantly throughout my youth and I was diagnosed with my condition until age 20 so I didn't understand why I would run 3 miles a day and GAIN weight, etc and everytime I would hit 200+ pounds, I'd snap out of my Oreo binge and get back to work. I think as a result, I have sort of a complex opposite of yours-- I'm not the now-178-pound woman who used to be over 200 pounds, but the 178 pound woman who is supposed to be 150 pounds or less. So when I see people who are overweight people, I think I "judge" but it's kind of a Jillian Michaels "tough love" approach--- like, HOW did you allow yourself to get like that? Wasn't there a point when you realized 200+ pounds wasn't healthy? Wasn't there a fire inside of you that wanted to change? etc, etc. I always sort of feel mean and judgmental when I think these things, but at the same time, the intent of it is for the sake of health and not necessarily the aesthetics of their body or the taxes I pay for their ailments (I mean, if they die or are injured in a car accident, my tax dollars probably pay for all of the emergency personnel and their medicare, etc the same way it would pay for their diabetes).

I think it's good to cry about this- but not because obese people are getting their feelings hurt. I think it's much deeper than that. We live in a society that throws us so much misinformation about diet and fitness and so many advertisements for unhealthy lifestyles and that same machine is showing us size 0 models and telling us that "Plus Size" models are size 8. We're left to fend for ourselves. It's sad. It's lonely. It's confusing. So I guess when I look at an overweight/obese person and "judge", I'm judging our unfortunate society while empathizing with the person's inability to fight it. I wish "put the cookies down" would be "don't let the cookie companies defeat you" or something more to that effect. We should be instilling empowerment, not blame.

JEN said...

good read. stumbled on your blog randomly, last year i weighed 285, now i am 153, and it's crazy. I never thought it was possible, and it feels weird to "blend in" physically even though mentally i doubt i ever will.

Verity Vaudeville said...

I think a lot of it is fear. That they'll become it too, so they ridicule and say mindless things with the purpose of diverting attention away from themselves. As someone who has struggled with weight all her life, it really irks me this endless preoccupation with size, and how it seems to always relate to self-worth.

Your writing is a breath of fresh air as always

clickmom said...

Every time I am in the check out line at the grocery store I evaluate my own groceries and put them into one of two categories: "wants to live" or "not interested." The funny thing is that the only thing I ever notice about other people's groceries is a lack of fresh food. But I would never ever say anything out loud, and I hope that if I happened to be close to someone behaving like the actors on that show, I'd step forward and tell them how inappropriate they were being.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, none of us is in anyone else's bodies. We worry we will be, we think about what it takes for US to put on weight. Yes, for me, being fat is because I "just don't care". But I also know, from living with my Mom, the catch-22 of obesity; that exercise can worsen knee, hip, back problems, that diabetes can make it much more difficult to drop calories.

And if you research obesity at all, one of the theories is that it's influenced by the perinatal environment, i.e. you do have it when you're born. I know that I do the right things to be at a healthy weight, but there are hormones at play preventing others from doing the same...

Rae Komonski said...

I feel the same way you do. Even though I'm still in the process of actually starting my journey to becoming a healthier person, I still think that no matter how much weight I lose I'll always be the heavy person. I'll always be the fat girl. It's who I've known for so many years. I can't change that, I think.

-J.Darling said...

There is a way of saying things so someone will listen to you, and there is a way of saying things for shock value. The things they those people were thinking were true. Our weight IS our own doing. Wether we're gentically predisposed, or have a medical condition that makes it hard to lose, whatever the reason, each person's health is their own responsibility (well, as long as they are decision making adults - kids often get the bad end of the stick becuase they are stuck with their parent's habits, but still - as adults they can choose to turn that all around).

Yes, a LOT of US tax paying dollars go to health care of people who choose not take care of their health, or feel it's too hard, etc. But for whatever the emotional reason, I can understand the frustration of someone who made different choices.

However, I've rarely known a put down to do anything productive. What most people who have never been obese don't get is that we are kings and queens of being hard on ourselves. We are the BEST at it.

Sometimes it takes someone believing we can change before we can change for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

hey lyn, those thoughts like "you're fat, a failure, ugly, despicable, etc, etc" - we need to rebuke those thoughts in Jesus' name and keep washing our mind and thoughts in Jesus' blood.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (ephesians 6)

This might sound kind of strange or scary but we need to WAKE uP to the truth - that there's a spiritual world out there and we can only gain victory over our addictions through Jesus!

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (ephesians 6)


Anonymous said...

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Keep trying Lyn, we need to proclaim truth in our lives, OVER AND OVER AND OVER again until we start to believe that we are mighty warriors in Jesus! the last part might sound funny at first, but that is what we're called to be!

i might sound like some religious nut but i promise i'm just an average person who has been torn down by the devil's lies for too long and i finally know the truth.


Anonymous said...

Eating disorders are the only human imperfection that are 'worn' for all the world to see and judge.

Those of us with eating disorders are easy targets for cheap shots and insults. I've had so many thrown my way by complete strangers that I sometimes feel as disformed as the Elephant Man, and want to shroud my face.

For those of you 'normal' folks out there, here are a couple of random insults that will always remain with me. Driving past teens at a bus stop and one of them does a Sumo wrestler impression at me. A person on the street starts neighing at the car and yelling 'a horse, a horse'. Best one was watching birds soar overhead and a guy walks by & asks if I was looking for where my next meal was coming from. Creative cruelty.

In a lineup of 10 people, 9 normal weight and 1 obese, everyone would make snap mental judgements against the obese person. Even if the rest of the group were raging drug addicts, alcoholics, perverts, criminals - they aren't judged because the rest of the world takes one look and at face value, they're all 'ok'. No scarlet letter for them.

screwdestiny said...

Does anything think there's anything wrong with berating people for smoking nowadays, which so many people do? Just wondering. It seems like a pretty similar thing to me, but it's a lot more socially acceptable to tell smokers they're stupid for what they're doing.

Lyn said...


I don't think it is okay to berate smokers either...

however, I have had to ask smokers to please move away or stop smoking when I was out with my child, such as when I needed to take her to a dr appt of to the store and someone was smoking at the entrance. My little girl has lung disease and you can't tell by looking at her. But secondhand smoke... just walking PAST someone who was smoking, for a few seconds, actually put her in the hospital before, hooked to oxygen and in a lot of misery.

Secondhand smoke risks my child's life. So I have strong feelings about it and WILL ask people not to smoke in nonsmoking areas or at children's playgrounds, but I never, ever berate, put down, call names, or tell them smoking is stupid. Not my business. My child is my business... not anyone's personal habits in their own space.