This week is Weight Stigma Awareness Week. Weight Stigma often comes from assumptions. The strongest stigma is if fat people just eat less they will be become thin and healthy. It is at the bottom of every cure for fatness: diet pills, surgery, low calorie diets, lifestyle changes are all to make a fat person eat less. Bullies claim that fat people are lazy and lack willpower, the well-intentioned think it's not fat people's fault. Food is everywhere. Except that why don't thin people have the same problem?
Everywhere we are bombarded with hateful messages: (Trigger warning ahead.)
The second? Costco as much as anything else is why the land of the free and the home of the brave is also the trough of the tub o’ lard, our exceptionalism measurable by not only our G.D.P. but also our B.M.I. That’s body mass index, and our bodies are indeed massive.
Even when Fat people say enough, we are okay with our size, that no matter what our eating habits are, we don't deserve to be treated like shit, that some of us are healthy and fat, that many of us eat no more than thin people do, we are told we are delusional or making things worse.
Obesity is a class issue, like tobacco. People in every class used to smoke, rich and poor, educated and non-educated alike. But when tobacco was conclusively linked to disease, more and more educated people stopped, until the image of smokers reached a tipping point, and went from “cool” to “loser.”
Yes people with a lower SES are more fat, but it's more likely to do with bias in society rather than poor people eat too much. Being fat is not like smoking. Smoking is a HABIT, being fat is hugely genetic. And if the fat is a habit why do so many people fail to lose weight?
Even "Doctors" think it's okay to shame fat people. In Katz, D. L., Murimi, M., Pretlow, R. A. & Sears, W. (2012). Exploring Effectiveness of Messaging in Childhood Obesity Campaigns. Childhood Obesity 8(2): 97-105 (The article unfortunately is not available unless you subscribe) is filled with praise for programs who shame fat children. Many of the quotes are disgusting but I will share one.
Sears: Good medicine means encouraging children and giving them the tools to get lean. An occasional child might be pushed over into anorexia, but I think the situation that you mention in Seattle is an overreaction and represents unwarranted fear.
Guess what? Teenagers who were formerly fat were found to suffer from eating disorders.
These problems may not be diagnosed quickly, because parents and doctors "think it's a good thing that these teens have lost so much weight," said lead researcher Leslie Sim, an assistant professor of psychology and an eating disorders expert at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minn.
I have mentioned before that some of the worst habits I've ever picked up came from dieting. The worst being the dieting/binge cycle. Thankfully I never do less than at 12oo cal diet but I did a lot of crazy things to lose weight. I think of all the people who starve themselves or have weight loss surgery and consume less calories than a normal person needs. Why isn't this considered anorexia? Just because they are fat?
Stigma also affects health greatly. Not just from the stress of being bombarded with messages that you are less than human if you are fat, but bias in even getting your health care.
Obese people are less likely to survive cancer, and one reason may be a surprising inequality: The overweight are undertreated.
Doctors often short them on chemotherapy by not basing the dose on size, as they should. They use ideal weight or cap the dose out of fear about how much treatment an obese patient can bear. Yet research shows that bigger people handle chemo better than smaller people do.
I have written before about doctors refusing to treat fat people or giving them surgery and treatments needed. I even spoke once to a supersized woman whose doctor refused to give her an lifesaving operation (the story has a happy ending, another doctor did the surgery).When are "Doctors" and "Journalist" going to listen? Stigma against fat is stigma against the fat person. It will lead to poor health care, eating disorders and stress.