Thinly veiled attemps to define success

How do you judge if someone is successful or not?

I know it's tempting to spout some homily about how success lies in the eye of the beholder, but the brutal reality is we do define success fairly narrowly in the local context.

So the kid who has achieved academic success and who's going to a top school is considered successful.

The chap with the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and a couple of Maseratis in his garage, and the woman who looks fabulous juggling a career and bringing up super smart kids singlehandedly?

Yup, they are our current notion of the people who've got a good gig going.

So what if you don't fall into these preset ideals of what our society considers success?

What if instead of being a svelte successful career woman with two kids in a branded school, you are 30, single, and grossly obese?

So much so that you need help cleaning up after yourself and you haven't worked a single day of your life because you can't come out of your room?

We went looking for people to talk to us about being severely overweight this week.

We wanted to show how hard it could be - physically, emotionally and mentally - especially after stories this week of a 200 kg woman who died in her sleep.

Considering that obesity is on the rise here, it was unexpectedly difficult to get people to come forward and allow their pictures to be taken. I salute the two who did come through.

Clearly obesity is a condition that people think their fellow citizens would mock, rather than empathise with.

I think back at the number of times I wail about how "faaaaat" I am and complain about the cellulite and jiggles, without realising that I may have been inadvertently hurting other people's feelings, simply because my 50kg-self is sometimes prone to dramatics.

But like it or not, my world view is also defined by what society considers successful. And like many, I will work towards that ideal. Which means, yes, I will obsess about being that goodlooking career woman with two ultra smart kids in tow.

I think that's why many of us fall for sales pitches.

I know that once I fretted so much about my skin that I called up a random clinic that had advertised about its acne cures.

I only came to my senses when the consultants were drawing up a chart about my payment schedule and realised that the total cost would have been about $8,000.

I declined, and for a good 10 minutes, was given a good talk about why I need the treatment badly and right now. I eventually walked away with just having to pay the consultation fee: That 10 minutes cost me $150.

I still wonder today if I should have paid.

natalie@sph.com.sg


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