What is wrong with Fat-Shaming you ask? Well I will tell you EVERYTHING!
Everybody’s heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
But anyone who’s been picked on,fat shamed or bullied knows it’s not true.
What is Fat-Shaming?
An act of bullying, singling out, discriminating, or making fun of a fat person. The shaming may be performed under the guise of helping the person who is overweight/obese realize they need to lose weight or they will die, become ill, and/or never succeed in life or relationships. Fat shaming is an individual bias against people who are considered unattractive, stupid, lazy, or lacking self-control.
Fat-Shaming doesn’t work
We now have scientific proof that fat-shaming is ineffective in helping people lose weight. A study lead by psychologist Angelina Sutin at the Florida State University College of Medicine found that overweight individuals who experienced weight discrimination were over two times more likely to become obese by the end of her study, four years later. Participants who were already obese were three times more likely to remain obese by the end of the study.
If fat-shaming doesn’t work, why do so many still discriminate?
Weight discrimination and stigma continue to exist, at least in part, due to the belief that this type of shaming has an admirable purpose — to motivate people to lose weight. Fat shaming persists quite simply because we aren’t doing enough to fight it. We’ve become numb to the nonsensical manifestation of ignorance and hate.
Are you a fat shaming bully? Signs you are part of the problem:
– Feels superior in comparison to overweight or obese people
– Makes jokes about fat people seen in public or in the media
– Teases friends/family about their weight in attempt to be “funny”
– Allows for family members to make fun of fat people
– Views thinness as an attribute of success, happiness, or self-control
– Critical and judgmental of others. Assumes weight is a lifestyle choice
– Makes assumptions of personal character/morality based on appearance/size
– Views diets as a quick fix and easy solution to weight issues (research shows diets=weight gain)
– Looks down on others who do not adhere to “clean eating”
Obesity in itself is not an issue
Weight is not a behavior and obesity in and of itself isn’t a disease. Despite the AMA’s decision to classify obesity as a disease, there are numerous individuals who are obese with a perfect bill of physical health. However, obesity is linked to several medical conditions as well as underlying emotional issues (e.g., excessive shame and guilt). Scare tactics, shaming or discrimination aren’t acceptable interventions to combat the issue.
All the evidence from decades of research has demonstrated that obesity is not a choice. It is a complex socioeconomic, psychological and physiological phenomenon. We can all do things to influence our body weight, but the most important thing is to make sure that we are happy with whatever our healthy body looks like. Obesity is an issue, but the problem is regarding the health of the individual, not whether a given person happens to find them attractive or not.
When almost every country in the world has health crisis due to the availability and low quality of food and the increase in sedentary lifestyles, it can be very tempting to blame individuals for their weight.
Instead of an overwhelmingly negative approach to the issue, which would seem to do more harm than good, encouraging lifestyle change on the basis that it is better to be healthy than unhealthy appears to be the key, whatever size or shape that might mean you are. The idea that only one possible incarnation of physical health can exist is rapidly proving to be a myth, one that has been lethal for many people. Help efforts should focus on modifiable actions such as health/wellness screenings, physical exercise, television/video game time, meal planning, self-esteem building, balanced lifestyles, and healthy self-expression.
Be a part of the solution by ditching any shaming behaviors and supporting compassion.