Changing Perception with the OAC Mission: One Mind at a Time
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As I reflect on my time spent representing the OAC at various conferences, meetings and in other public forums, I feel many different emotions:
- The joy of seeing people’s eyes light up when they learn that we are truly here for them to help them find a better, healthier life and provide unbiased education
- The pride of knowing I represent an organization that advocates tirelessly for obesity treatments and prevention.
- The hope for getting the OAC name out to the public so we can help individuals beyond our 42,000-strong membership.
The emotion that I have never felt is shame. It never ceases to amaze me when I meet those people who just don’t get it and make extremely stigmatizing comments when I tell them I’m lucky enough to work for the Obesity Action Coalition. It actually breaks my heart as I smile through my teeth and kindly explain that we are a patient-advocacy organization and that yes, we are helping to fight a disease, and no, people do not “do this to themselves” in the kindest way possible. In that moment, I feel like an overprotective mother who just wants to shield her children (our members) from all the hate and bias. But this is why we are here. It is unrealistic to think that we can remove the bias from every person’s mind, and in some instances their comments. But I DO believe we are more than capable to slowly change the public perception of obesity one individual at a time. We are a powerhouse in the obesity community. We have some of the most renowned obesity experts who sit on the OAC National Board of Directors; we have members whose powerful words inspire thousands of individuals on a daily basis; we have a family that is committed to fighting for and protecting one another.
On a daily basis, I receive news alerts to my email for various keywords: obesity, severe obesity, bariatric surgery and so on. Most recently, my Google Alert brought me to an individual’s blog that questioned how it was possible that there is an obesity epidemic and attributed it to one thing: laziness. I felt my blood boil, but as I wish to live in a world free of anger and judgment and therefore must start with myself, I took a deep breath and decided to add it as fuel to my fire to spread the OAC’s message and to continue on my mission to change the public perception of obesity.
So this is my message to all of our dedicated members, supporters, followers and family: together we truly CAN make a difference. We WILL work day and night to make a difference in your lives and all those affected. I ask you to help me in my quest to change the public perception of obesity by sharing the OAC and our mission with just one friend or family member who has never heard of us. When we are exhibiting at events, many people walk up to our table and say, “I have never heard of your organization before!” Help us to never hear this again. Help us make the OAC a household name, at least within our community. Share the OAC with one, ten or 100 of your closest friends. There is strength in numbers and the stronger our membership the louder our voice.
For our health and our family,
Lindsay McGhay, OAC Marketing Manager