They say first impressions are lasting impressions. I agree with this for the most part. However, there is a stigma associated with being overweight or obese. That stigma is like a diamond with many facets. The main facet is that overweight or obese individuals are viewed as lower class citizen’s because they are not height/weight proportionate. I will discuss weight stigma and why this is emotionally damaging to those that struggle with weight issues.
Weight stigma is all about the first impression. When someone see’s or meets an overweight or obese person that first impression is automatically askew. Some think that this “type” of person is lazy or undisciplined in his or her eating habits when the reality could be totally the opposite. Some people have weight issues for many reasons that go beyond just not eating right or exercising enough.
A perfect example of this is me. Yep, I said ME. Until recently, I did not know why I could not lose weight. I would try diet after diet and nothing would work permanently. When I went to my doctor I found out my thyroid is the culprit. My thyroid does not work at all, which makes it nearly impossible to lose weight even though I was eating less than most skinny individuals. Should I be penalized for being obese just because I had medical issues? Should I be overlooked for a great job just because I have tried and tried to lose weight and my body just wont cooperate? Finally, should I be overlooked by a man just because of my weight even though prior to meeting me he was totally interested?
I used myself as an example but the reality is weight stigma destroys an individuals emotional health. How or why we are taught this I have no clue, but this perception needs to change. In the last link provided there was a study done about this very issue and they found that obese people were even more emotionally damaged when treated different. If being fat isn’t enough lets really demean someone by treating them like second class citizens which makes them turn to food for comfort.
About a couple of weeks ago I was watching an outdoor movie with some good friends. This movie was the remake of The Wizard of Oz. I commented to my friend, “Look at Judy Garland, wasn’t she so pretty?” he nodded in agreement. Then I went on to reply, “Look at her body. Tell me what you see”. To which my friend replied, “I see a healthy, beautiful Judy Garland!” I commented with “When did the image of health and beauty change? If Judy Garland were to try out for a movie today with her size 8/10, she would not be considered for the role.” To which my friend replied, “Yep, your right Kelly”.
Weight stigma is all about the first impression.
Weight stigma is in the eye of the beholder.
It should not matter how fat or how skinny a person is…but today, for most of society, it does matter. This is because when we get right down to the big fat root of the issue, we judge. We judge by appearances and social standing. We judge by how we were raised and how we believe an individual should “look”. We judge because of peer pressure and social norms. Maybe this is or isn’t intentional but either way the individual affected is not only offended but this type of stigma destroys the individual’s emotional health and self-image.
- Are You Guilty of Weightism? (doorwaysarizona.com)
- On American Obesity. (qinatown.wordpress.com)