'Fat Stigma' is Spreading; What Can We Do?

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/29/2011 2:07 PM   :  168 comments   :  25,715 Views

By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

The stigma of being overweight or of “Being a fatty” is growing globally, according to a recent blog post in the New York Times. Whereas once, a heavier weight represented wealth and the ability to have healthy children, it now represents laziness and sloth to many.

Parents were quoted as saying they would rather have their children be anorexic than overweight. To me, an eating disorder is an eating disorder. Why is one where you don't eat more socially acceptable than one where you do?

I do have a theory. It is still socially acceptable to make fun of a heavy person, but make fun of someone’s gender or skin color and there would be fallout. Why? "Fatty" chose to be that way, right? Wrong.

There are so many reasons people are heavy, but generally “I want to be fat” is not one of them. Genetics can play a part, and so can biology, psychology, environment, and just plain old lack of exercise and proper diet. It is never just a simple fix or a choice to just “be thin.”

While many are not “born heavy,” I believe the sentiments in the following song apply to everyone, big or small. To quote Lady Gaga:

““There's nothin wrong with lovin who you are"
She said, "'cause He made you perfect, babe"
"So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say"
I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track baby
I was born this way.”

Heavy people are not weak; many diet practically every day of their lives. They may fall off the wagon every day, but they still get back up. They get teased in public by strangers, berated by loved ones in private, have foods pushed on them and then get a talking-to about being on a diet. They get passed up for jobs and promotions, as proven in many research studies. They are not weak. They take a lot and keep going every single day.

Pain is also a side effect of being heavy. This is just another reason most people do not want to be heavy and struggle against it. It’s also a reason the general populous considers heavier people to be lazy. It isn’t that they are lazy, it takes more energy to move a bigger body and when pain is involved, it takes more fortitude than anyone without that extra weight, pain, or lack of energy can imagine. This makes it even harder to lose weight.

I’m not trying to make excuses here, I’m trying to give you a glimpse from the other side. WHY would someone choose to be fat? Some people do choose to be overweight. It is a choice and one with some very dire consequences. Just the same, there should be no stigma attached. I’m not going to attempt to explain the lifestyle of some who choose to become as big as they possibly can and have people who enable them purposefully with the same goal. Just know this lifestyle does exist. It is not a healthy choice, but it is a choice--one with a short life span and many health complications.

Life is hard enough without finding different segments of people to belittle.

Here are 5 tips to combat thoughtlessness:

  1. When you meet a heavy person, treat them the same as anyone else. If they move slowly, consider they may be in extra pain depending on their size. If they need to sit down, don’t assume they are lazy.

  2. If you see someone of size while you’re out, don’t snicker, laugh or take pictures with your camera phone. If they are like me, they will call you on it in public. I believe in politely correcting people’s rudeness so they think twice next time.

  3. Don’t let your child make fun of a heavy person without correcting them, apologizing, and explaining that that person has feelings, too. I generally will explain to a child that they hurt my feelings if the parent does nothing, because I feel there is a chance of changing the child’s attitude.

  4. Don’t treat heavy people like we are invisible. We are more than visible. Look at us and listen to our ideas. I hate being at cosmetic counters… when they wait on everyone EXCEPT me. I know they see me.

  5. Never EVER make fun of your child's or another family member’s weight. The scars you leave are invisible but deeper than you know.

With the global spread of the dislike of the overweight, there is more pressure than ever to lose weight and be healthy. Change can come from pressure, but most often it will come from that place deep inside of you that just gives in. When you hit rock bottom and start to realize you have to take those baby steps and work on the things you can do for the rest of your life.

If you have read this, you realize by now that by being overweight in the first place, you are stronger. You have dealt with diets, exercise programs, teasing, bias, and you are still here. Take that strength and run with it!

How do you fight fat stigma?


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Comments

  • 168
    Thank you for this heart-filled, thoughtful, compassionate blog, Beth! Your hard-won wisdom is a great gift to us all :) I was obese from about age 6 to 60, and I've been at a slim weight for the past nearly three years. My husband and I both lost 70-80 lbs. each. These days, our only concern is not other people's exteriors, but 1) what the numbers read on our bathroom scale, and 2) what the numbers show on the regular blood tests we get at the doctor's. Beyond that, people's size - or other aspects of their appearance - is pretty immaterial to me. It's all I can do just to mind my own :) - 8/27/2014   10:30:19 PM
  • 167
    For me, losing weight has been a journey of change and self discovery. I have discovered that I have low self esteem and a very poor body image. I am working on it and I have recently rediscovered an old saying: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me. I used to dread summertime vacations. That meant the beach/pool. As a 250lb fat slob I was absolutely embarrassed to take my shirt off and go swimming. As a result, I don't think I have been swimming in 15 years. Looking back on it now, how stupid am I? Even if every person at the pool pointed at me and started laughing and calling me fatty, so what? Why should I care what I look like in front of a bunch of strangers who I will never see again? I am learning that if you don't love yourself, not only can you really not truly love and have empathy for others, but you easily give power to the words of others over you. I beleive that if you are truly self confident and love the body you are in, be it 150 pounds or 350 pounds, all those insults, all those friendly little jabs (plenty of my buddies call me "big guy" or "big Bob"), all those naysayers will be little more than background noise. In the pool example, in the past, I empowered complete strangers over me. The fear that someone would make a fat joke, or that they are even merely thinking "look at that fat guy with no shirt on" crippled me with fear, resentment, and depression, and ultimately kept me from doing something I enjoy. A big part of my healthy lifestyle is taking the power back. I may still be 200 pounds with a flabby gut, but the next time I go to the pool ro beach, I am going to take of my shirt and walk with my head held high. If someone makes a comment, that's their problem. People who put others down are bullies. If you tell them off, punch them in the face, or run away crying, they have won. If you walk on by with your head held high, you just took the wind right out of their sails. It is silly now to think that I limited my activities because I feared that STRANGERS would make fun of me for being fat.

    I think obesity is an acceptable prejudice in society because unlike, race, gender, and skin color, obesity is a CHOICE. Yes, it is a choice. I chose to be fat. I have been fat for about 20 years now, and obese for at least the last ten. I could have done something about it when I was 20 pounds overweight. I chose not to. I knew I was overweight and was unhappy about it then. I chose to do nothing. Two years ago my annual physical didn't go so well. The doctor told me I was pre-hypertension, pre-diabetic, and my cholesterol was through the roof. He didn't want to put me on medication at the time. He told me to lose some weight and come back in six months to see how my levels were. I chose to "fire" my doctor and have not been back for a physical since. I also chose to not lose weight, but instead gain another 20 pounds. I don't want to be fat, never did. I just made poor choices and rationalized them along the way. People often tend to play victim. It makes them fell better. Why? Because when you are a victim, it takes the burden of responsibility off of you. Being a victim implies that someone or something is responsible for your condition and not you, and since that someone or something is out of your control, you are powerless to change your situation. Being a victim makes it very easy to justify doing nothing to change your situation. I have read that more than 95% of people who are overweight and try to lose weight will fail, and out of those who lose all the weight, the overwhelming majority will have not kpet it off for more than five years. At my heaviest, I was 90 pounds overweight. I knew I was fat, I knew it was wrong, I knew it was unhealthy, and I knew I was unhappy, but yet I told myself why bother when I am so far overweight and the only reward for suffering through deprivation is 99% chance of failure anyway. So I kept on eating and slowly killing myself as my depression worsened. Much like an alcoholic, I had to hit rock bottom before I decided I needed to do something different. But this was all my choice, it was all my doing. I'm done making excuses for myself. I am done hating myself. I am done giving others power over me. I am done giving food power over me. I want to be a winner not a whiner. - 8/27/2014   1:07:26 PM
  • DETOX55
    166
    This article is really interesting...I have to confess that I find really overweight people really hard to deal with, just as I find really underweight people hard to deal with...

    It actually has nothing to do with appearance...it's the result of having some bad experiences over the years with people who have eating disorders.

    Here is my experience...

    In the workplace, I've worked with several Anorexics who have been overworkers, focussed on unecessary details and quite poor at inter-personal relationships. They stick to themselves and are emotionally distant.

    Very obese people I've worked with took a lot of time off work, were ill-suited to anything but desk based work (they got winded and very tired when asked to present, walk around etc...) and found it really hard to be empathetic towards others.

    In my personal life, I've had some awful experiences with obese people - very aggressive, defensive, disorganised and unwilling to accept other people's opinions.

    My view now?

    Anoerexics blame themselves for their problems.
    Obese people blame everyone else for their problems.

    These are just my observations and experiences over the years; you don't have to agree...

    It will take a miracle to change my mind on this... - 4/23/2013   12:13:26 AM
  • 165
    i grew up with my mom telling me every day i was fat and ugly. ever since i was around 4 years old. my mom would go on diets and force me to do them too which being a young child usually left me very hungry every day. when i was a teenager i was active in volleyball and playing tennis with my dad and i was thin but i wanted to learn to eat healthy to lose the extra 10 lbs i had and tone everything up. my mom would start eating right with me and we would go on walks. then when i would tell her how i lost my 10 lbs and how happy i was she would sabatoge me and start buying junk food and making crap meals as a snack and bully me into eating it. ive never had high self estieme because of her. even when i was 16 140 lbs and solid muscle i thought i was fat and ugly. im 23 now and im 100+ lbs overweight and im finally turning it around. i keep getting turned down for jobs i would be perfect for and i feel it is because of my weight. i hate seeing those kids that make fun of the bigger people. i hate that i dont want to go to mall because i feel like im being judged if i go into a store made for skinny people. people laugh at me when im out with my best friend who is a size 4. she yells at them when they do and stands up for me because she knows how hard im working on losing the weight. i joke about my weight to my friends and family and they all joke with me and im ok with that because they will make the same jokes about themselves. - 4/2/2013   3:38:35 PM
  • 164
    Read thru all the comments for this blog, and am pretty floored at how narrow-minded and shallow some people are. They still act self-righteous (I know how to fix you! I've been there!) instead of grasping the point.

    The point of the article is: don't treat others differently because they are overweight. That's all. Simple point.

    We are supposed to be spreading the Spark. So, let's spread it by showing that we view everyone as a good person instead of defining them by their size. - 5/15/2012   8:05:18 AM
  • 163
    We make assumptions based on what we've experienced, and if we are thin, we have probably dieted and exercised, to try to stay "fit". A thin person might assume that someone who is obese must have the same knowlege and experience as they have, but lacked the willpower to stop eating or start exercising. Thin people are not so evil. If you do not assume weight gain is something you have power over, then, it could happen to you at any moment. As mentioned, very few people desire to be overweight, and I would guess that the people who make fun of the obese are doing so in response to their own fear that they may lose control and gain weight. If a "fatty" is seen as less capable, then it eases the fear that "skinny" might be succeptible. It is still hurtful and rude, but, in truth, no one who is confident feels the need to bring others down. Don't let their comments linger for too long in your heart. Everyone has a capable mind and a sensitive soul with potential you cannot understand if you are too quick to judge. - 1/24/2012   10:56:41 PM
  • 162
    I like the honesty in this blog to a certain extent. There are certain things that I agree with and others that don't make sense. I will however say that I have more recently changed my thinking on obese people. I used to be (and still am sometimes) one of those that definitely looked at obese people and thought, what is their problem? Why don't they get up and move and make some healthy choices? Why do they let themselves go like that? Then just recently I saw my husband's aunt and didn't even recognize her at first. She had put on a large amount of weight since the last time I had since her and I couldn't even tell it was her. But you know what? It wasn't because she had gotten lazy or complacent. It wasn't because she was making unhealthy choices or because of anything in her control. It was because she had gotten cancer and was undergoing so many different treatments and issues that she couldn't hardly walk. She tried as much as possible but even then she had a hard time going more than 100 feet or so without stopping because she was so weak from all she was enduring. Seeing that (and her frustration with her weight gain) has definitely helped me see obese people in a different light. I'm not saying that's the reason across the board (obviously it's not) but try to remember when you are looking at people that they might have a deeper issue that you don't know about that is causing the obesity. - 1/12/2012   9:05:00 AM
  • WHEELS54
    161
    I have two great women friends that I love. They are kind, intelligent and lovely. They are both obese and I would do anything that I could to help them but it's kind of like the elephant in the room that we never talk about. They have to know that they are really fat; they don't need me to tell them. It bugs me that they don't do anything about it but as many others have noted, we all make choices. I respect theirs although I think they realize that they miss out on a lot of great things in life because of their weight. Oh well. - 1/11/2012   11:52:49 AM
  • 160
    I was generally thin most of my life. Then when I turned forty I started gaining weight & over the next eight years I gained 85#. I then was able to shed all but 10# but I looked & felt better. Then, as a result of sleep deprivation I gained 50# in four months from 9 - 12/2007. The #s continued creeping up & I presently weigh more than I have ever weighed in my life. I hate the excess weight. Yes I want my thinner, healthier body back but due too many health issues it is difficult for me to exercise to any great extent. Walking isn't even an option as it was once as both my knees need to be replaced. I do my best to watch what I eat, however, I don't eat much to begin with. Someday maybe I'll figure it all out. I've been bullied most of my life, it just wasn't because I was overweight. It doesn't matter what the cause is, any & all stigma causes harm to those who are it's victims. - 1/9/2012   11:47:24 AM
  • 159
    I appreciated this blog and all the comments. Each one had a truth... or truths.

    Beth, sounds like you're feeling pain because you're needing understanding and acceptance? Addiction is baffllng to those who don't share that particular hell. When I was actively alcoholic the "normies" in my life could not understand why I couldn't just "sip" or give it up. In my experience, there is no choice in active addiction. I know those hopeless "born that way" feelings. What's important, I believe, is not that other people understand our situation but that WE do. We can't control whether others love and support us but we can start loving and accepting ourselves.

    That said, there ARE solutions available to overweight. (Improvement can happen even with tough medical conditions. I have juvenile diabetes and gained quite a bit of weight treating insulin reactions. Weight loss is more difficutl with this condition but it can be done.) In that way it's a different situation than race, sexual identity, ethnicity and other prejudices as some have pointed out.

    I was a course marshall at the 2011 Seattle Marathon last month. There were several BIG women RUNNING the marathon. They were stronger athletes than I, for sure. I'm betting they didn't start there. I also bet they are the targets of all kinds of negative assumptions in checkout lines. I hope they don't care because they know they are athletes and that they won't let anyone else's opinion stop them.

    Bless you on your path to Light and Love. - 12/4/2011   3:45:31 PM
  • 158
    You know, I've seen many people make comments that run to the tune of "I haven't got the time to take care of myself properly because I'm a parent/carer/businessman or woman that's working hard" etc etc.
    I'll say the same thing that I say to myself. It's actually from a Nike ad, but it rings extremely true. "Someone with less time than you is out for a run right now".
    I know it doesn't exactly fit with the blog theme, but it's something to think about. Also, I agree. I was born at 5.8lbs and screaming. I was not born the way I am now. Years of bad choices and then a decision to start making good ones made me this way. I take ownership of my situation because I'm the only one that can. - 10/18/2011   4:14:31 AM
  • 157
    It always shocks me when I read blog comments that are mean and not supportive on spark people. We are all here trying to be healthy and learn new ways of improving oneself. As a fat person I could give you a million excuses, but none are valid to anyone who thinks that fat people shouldn't be alive to begin with. I know why I am fat, I know that I am fat for that matter, but no matter if I have a reason or not, I still demand and expect to be treated with dignity and respect and try to show others the same courtesy. Shame on people who feel they can be disrespectful to any person for any reason. - 8/10/2011   3:10:39 PM
  • JACARD
    156
    You know, I've gotten the odd comment here or there, mostly from kids, and it never really bothered me. Yes, I am fat. Yes, I do look different. Kids point out things that look different. By itself, a comment from a kid never bothered me - and now that I have kids myself, I know that when a rude remark pops out I often wait until we get home to address it because you never know what will come next. What has bothered me more is the underlying assumption of incompetence. I've always had to prove myself doubly to get respect - I can recognize the surprise on a new co-worker or student's face when they realize that I am not only good at what I do but most likely smarter or more competent than they. I went to NYU law school on a full academic scholarship, and was offered scholarships by two of the four schools that ranks higher. How many people can say that? But I always have to rebut the presumption that because I'm fat I'm stupid.


    My husband is severely underweight. We make a very odd looking couple; him short and skinny-skinny and me tall and morbidly obese. He was telling me one day that he'd love to have me come visit his office because he has two colleagues (lawyers!) who are constantly complaining about fat people and making fun of them and he just sits there listening and thinking how embarrassed they would be if they realized they were essentially insulting his wife.

    They complain about a fat person who took too long bending down to get his neck lanyard ID to the contact to open the door. (What about a tall person? Why is this a fat problem?) They complained about a fat person who asked them to move their bag from the metro seat -- all fatties are so entitled! They try to avoid walking near fat people or having to talk to them -- they are so self-absorbed and usually stupid. My husband refused to repeat the insults, insisting there was no point (he's probably right) and he didn't remember them anyway (yeah, right!).

    I was really taken aback. No one's ever spoken to me like that, but is this really what they're all thinking? - 7/25/2011   1:12:35 PM
  • 155
    What a wonderful and educational blog. The other day, someone on Spark said that when you look at a heavy person, you are looking at the unhealthy choices they made in the past, not necessarily the healthy choices they are making right now. That resonated a lot with me. - 7/20/2011   12:03:32 PM
  • BOSHAD
    154

    Some people can eat and sit around without gaining wait. God Bless them. I have to face the fact that that is not the way it is more me.

    I hate it when a child says, "Mommy that lady is fat" and the parent doesn't respond and lets the child keep making comments that hurt my feelings. The fact is I am fat. One child kept it up in the grocery line so long, I finally said, "You better eat fruits and vegetables and forget about those chips, cupcakes and candy I see in your cart or you will look just like me. Grab a carrot and not the cupcake." The little boy's eyes bugged out and he looked at me and then at the cupcakes. I wonder if he had a cupcake later.

    You are right I do not want to be fat. When I was under 21 and living at home and going to school, I did not have control over what we ate or when we ate, but I could have gone for a walk, road my bike, etc. The fatter I got the less I moved.
    When the only memories you have are of being fat, you just accept it. People see a fat person as lazy. The solution is you work harder and more hours to show your the best and end up moving less and hittin the drive-ins and vending machines. The weight slowing increasing. Since it is slow you don't notice the changes as much . Even professionals blame anything from a hang nail to a headache due to fat but didn't provide you with a referral to a nutritionist, therapist, etc. Most likely becuase insurance carriers discourage it while at the same time saying they are for preventative health. Last year a doctor I didn't even know and was not treating with came in to my room and said "Oh my God, Oh my God are you fat." He then tore the sheet off of me and said, "Your even more discusting naked and walked out." No life isn't easy, but I can change. No more beef, potatoes and gravy with buttered bread and 1/4 cup of generously boiled green beans with butter. I am cutting back on beef adding in fish and poultry and a variety of vegetables steamed or raw with herbs and not butter. I am moving and stretching. As the pounds come off I will get more aggressive in exercising.

    - 6/11/2011   6:20:52 PM
  • SINGHJ16
    153
    Very beautiful blog. Lady Gaga is right .. No one in this world is perfect neither are the people who are giving judgmental remarks. - 6/1/2011   5:15:33 PM
  • RUNESHADOW
    152
    Wow, just read the comments added since I last read this, and I am appalled anew by the judgmental nature of some. No one has the right to "call out" those who are overweight. (Who died and left you in charge?) We have NO CLUE what-all contributes to a individual person's weight! Experts are still arguing over different aspects of weight and health issues.

    I don't hear a call for pity in the blog, either, but a call to fight stigma and treat ALL people with respect, period. So somebody convinced a neighbor to join SP and he may not be doing anything more with it. So what? It may not suit him. It is his life and he is still a human being to be respected and treated humanely. Maybe the guy opted for Weight Watchers or decided he doesn't give a hoot. Maybe it's none of our business? Whoa, what a novel thought.

    I still disagree with the simplistic SP philosophy that weight is SOLELY a matter of calories ingested vs calories expended. And for heaven's sake, yes, there are large people who are perfectly healthy. Saying, "I know, because I was that way" is judgmental, too, because there are a multitude of factors in weight. I don't appreciate judging people as "weak," again because we don't know the whole story. I was also born overweight or underheight and looked like a pale Buddha. I don't blame my genetics; I work with its effects.

    I applaud those who are positive and encouraging, those who are compassionate. We don't know, just by looking, what steps someone is or isn't taking. Each person has a story, a life, genetics, and so on. Perhaps people are taking baby steps. Maybe that huge amount of food is less than they used to eat, or they are adding healthier foods to their diets and still indulging occasionally in certain treats. That's positive, but onlookers wouldn't know that. Even if it's a coworker or someone you are familiar with, you don't know their entire story, so reserve judgment.

    The point is, people should not be judged for their size and mistreated, insulted, given unsolicited advice, and so on. It should not be socially acceptable to be cruel. If we want to help others become healthier, I think we'd better find positive ways to approach the issue, not confrontation, penalties, cruelty, or rudeness. And please let's teach our children and grandchildren to treat all people with equal respect. Kudos on the blog, Beth.

    ~~ Just a starry-eyed idealist truly pained by cruelty ~~ - 5/28/2011   4:34:12 PM
  • 151
    Wonderfully written. Tore my heart out - 5/27/2011   12:34:52 PM
  • 150
    We all know that in most cases, being overweight is a result of wrong diet and fitness choices (conscious or unconscious). And there can be various underlying issues why these wrong choices are made. In short, an overweight person is like a neon sign pointing out a problem that has not yet been fixed, and some people just love to point out weaknesses in others.

    I think that's just plain mean, but these days it seems ok to be mean to fat people. Why? Because in today's society, fat is simply not 'cool' or (dare I say it) sexy.

    I mean, ok, so I'm fat. Contrary to what some people think, I KNOW! And for all you know, I could actually be doing something to work on it. But somehow, complete strangers feel that it's ok to be rude, to make fun of and give stupid advice to fat people.

    What really gets me annoyed is that you never see the same treatment being given to smokers and alchoholics (unless they really go crazy). Yet, these are also unhealthy lifestyles that can lead to death or debilitating illness. Despite the fact that a smoker is slowly killing him/herself you would hardly find strangers going up to a smoker and rudely telling the person to get rid of that butt (pun intended!). I have never seen people laughing and snickering behind their hands when a smoker walks by. And drinkers are generally viewed as fun and outgoing people, while drinking is viewed as a social activity. In short, smoking and drinking are seen as cool and sexy, so society doesn't really have a problem with the people who do it.

    It's a double standard and it makes me sick! Everyone has problems, it's just that, overweight people can't hide the fact that they have a problem. That doesn't give other people the right to make fun or cutting comments. It doesn't help and only makes the person feel bad. So, just STOP already! - 5/27/2011   10:39:01 AM
  • CASSIEFLIP
    149
    To be perfectly honest, this article really disturbed me. I'm assuming it was meant to be motivational, but it really just seemed like something an overweight person would want to tell themselves as an excuse to what is likely what they consider a "problem" or would want to change about themselves. I know most of us wish we could blame our weight on a thyroid problem, or on someone else but that's not reality. That mentality will never help you lose weight. Overweight people aren't generally anymore stigmatized than they were just a few years ago. The worst thing an overweight person could ask for is pity. Just about every type of person has something they dislike about themselves. While I would never ridicule or humiliate another person, when I see someone else that is overweight I generally assume they are lacking self control. That is the largest part of their problem. They don't take responsibility. I definitely believe that "No one chooses to be fat" directly, but they do "choose to eat irresponsibly." Yes, everyone should enjoy themselves and definitely eat their birthday cake, but continually making unhealthy decisions does lead to becoming overweight, so essentially you are choosing to be fat. Being healthy isn't always a number on the scale or the size on a pair of jeans, it's a lifestyle. You can still enjoy certain foods in moderation. If food makes you happy, eat! But I'm sure that just because you enjoy chips that doesn't mean you don't enjoy apples as well. Overweight people can be easier targets, they generally seem lifeless and always unhappy. There will always be people out there to prey on the weak. I'm proud to be who I am, overweight or not. I'm still enjoying my life and because I have such a positive outlook, and great personality I'm never made fun of. Why would someone find it easy to make fun of someone who is so full of life? Life is good and if you can't make good with yourself, don't ask it of anyone else. Losing weight doesn't "start your life", so slowly start making a change and you will realize all along how much time you've been wasting. - 5/24/2011   1:50:12 PM
  • 148
    People generally make fun of, or harshly criticize, someone else as a quick, cheap way to temporarily feel better about themselves. We all have struggles and imperfections and some of the most perfect bodied among us struggle with hidden addictions. Many factors contributed to me going from 93 lbs as a young woman to 193 lbs as a middle-aged woman. I work on the factors that I can control - how much I sleep, what I eat, how, and how much I move, and my committment to better health. It is always easier to criticize someone else's outsides than honestly assess our own insides. - 5/23/2011   11:26:04 PM
  • GRENADAGIRL73
    147
    I am so glad that I took the time to read this and then everyone's response to it. I want to thank you, indygirl, for writing this blog. I also want to thank everyone who commented. It was an eye opener that there is such a strong anti fat feeling from some of the members on this site.

    When I was in my teens I was very overweight. On one particular day I had been shopping and walked by a gym that just opened at the far end of the strip mall I was shopping in. I had a bag of oreo cookies that I was asked to pick up. While standing and looking at the signage a man, probably an employee, asked if I wanted to enter a draw for a free membership.

    I was 15 years old, overweight with pimples. The fact that a man was talking to me kicked my shyness and ackwardness into high gear, so I shook my head no. I'm sure his comment "Yeah, that's right, go home and eat your oreos" was meant to be helpful. Like come on, don't eat that, please see that it is killing you. Instead, I used those oreos to stuff the shame.

    I do not blame him. I know it was my choice. However, I can honestly say that I would not have eaten an entire bag of cookies in 30 minutes if he had not made his helpful comment.

    Some people just need to learn what healthy eating and active lifestyles look like. Some of them may be very overweight, some are barely overweight.

    Other people have incredibly unhealthy relationships to food. I was one of these people. I am still a work in progress,

    I do not want something I say to "help" someone make the same decision I made that day. I try to be respectful. I try to only offer comments when invited. I try not to give advice, but to speak from my personal experience. I speak up when I see someone making inappropriate comments. I do not buy the magazies that speculate on whether this actress has gained wieght or that one is "scary skinny". Most of all, if I have nothing nice to say, I try not to say anything. - 5/13/2011   3:22:56 PM
  • WISTERIALODGE
    146
    It's a real problem, even for an obese person to think negatively about people who are noticeably larger than they are. I've been working hard and have lost 69 pounds in 11 months and sometimes get impatient with those I've left behind, because I forget just how fatiguing it was to carry those 69 pounds and how I didn't pay the slightest attention to what I ate and seldom about how much of it I consumed. I try to encourage those I see who are at an earlier stage in the process than I am and let them know that it can be done, but it can be frustrating to deal with those who continue trying to follow fad diets and refuse to altar their caloric intake the rest of the time they are not following a fad diet. My neighbor and I were the same weight last summer, I even got him to join SP, but I don't think he ever did a thing after joining. - 5/12/2011   10:36:38 PM
  • NIAGCHRIS246
    145
    It does seem that obesity is the last acceptable prejudice. There will always be people who bolster their own self-esteem at the expense of others. At the same time it seems that people have become more excepting of their own weight problem and don't recognize that they are overweight. They wear the same tight styles as slim people stretched over their bodies and are not embarressed that every roll is outlined. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or bad. The fashion industry is fostering this attitude by designing clothes for the overweight (that's good) but it amazes me when stylists on fashion networks pull overweight women aside and tell them that their cloths are to big, then strap them into tight clothes that are straining at the seams! Are we closing our eyes to our weight problems because we can wear the same revealing clothes as slim people? - 5/10/2011   10:32:21 AM
  • 144
    I don't think people should be made fun of for their size, but people should be called out on their unhealthy choices. It is rarely ever an issue with genetics, but much more commonly a lifestyle choice that lead them to that direction. That is not to say that they explicitly chose to be fat, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that for someone to get to a point of obesity, they have to have made very bad choices to get there.

    Lots of skinny people have unhealthy habits too and develop problems due to this. Nobody should get a free pass of making bad decisions.

    The solution is not to stigmatize these people and tell them they are lazy and stupid for making these decisions, but rather making them acknowledge that they have made unhealthy choices, and help people educate one another about healthy alternatives. - 5/9/2011   5:20:15 PM
  • 143
    Hey Wildflower,
    Thanks for answering my "asinine question" that those three plates at the buffet were for your husband and 2 kids. GREAT ANSWER! Whatever you have to tell yourself.
    I'll say it again: "We are all adults and we make our own choices."
    I choose not to go to buffets. I choose to exercise and eat healthy.
    And it was a rhetorical question. - 5/7/2011   12:24:37 AM
  • 142
    I agree with this article, for the most part. I disagree that people who choose to be fat are going to deal with dire consequences. When are people going to learn that fat does not equal unhealthy, and thin certainly does not equal healthy? If we are going to be a culture of personal responsibility, let people be who they are and deal with the consequences, IF any. If someone chooses not to hop on the bandwagon of the so-called "healthy lifestyle," respect them!!! And don't try to encourage them to make healthier choices (according to you), and don't try to scare them into thinking they are going to die. And if someone does choose to lose weight, let them do it in a way that works for them. It's important to not make fun of people and treat them as less than human beings. It's also important to respect people and let them be who they are and live with the choices they make. - 5/6/2011   1:56:24 PM
  • 141
    Gimme a break. Does being overweight make you stronger because you have to deal with ridicule? Sure. If you weren't overweight would someone probably find something else to ridicule you for? Sure. I am overweight and I don't treat overweight people any differently when I meet them or interact with them, but you are ultimately responsible for your own health and your childrens health. We need to stop being so PC and nicey nice. Overweight people are out of control and keep making unhealthy choices because they're easier than working out, cooking at home, etc. I know, because I was the same way. - 5/6/2011   11:13:26 AM
  • VALERIE302
    140
    This is so true of how other people can hurt you to the core! However, when I know that I am doing something about my health, and I realize it will take time, I honestly don't care what comments they make. It only shows how cruel they can be!! I just pray for them, and ask God to forgive them. - 5/6/2011   2:10:02 AM
  • 139
    Well, how I deal with that sort of stigma is that i just hold my head up high. I get my manicures and pedicures just like the next woman (whether they are skinny or plus size). I know that I'm beautiful inside and out. I show that in my everyday routine. I wear nice clothes and shoes. I wear makeup to special occasions. What I'm trying to get at is that you have to love yourself first before you can make that transformation on your body. When you are at peace with yourself, it does not matter what others think about you. Because eventually they will think you are something special too. You just have to show it. - 5/5/2011   4:19:42 PM
  • 19PITSY53
    138
    I will continue to do what I can as I can... this is where change begins... Only the best to everyone keep on the weight loss road. - 5/5/2011   2:41:24 PM
  • 137
    I was taught to never make fun of anyone, because I would not like it if it happened to me. I was the extremely thin kid naturally and people of normal to larger in size did the same ridicule as they did the fat kids in class. Everyone should learn not to pass judgment on size or anything else that makes us different. My aunt's thyroid ceased to work for her when she was young and people told her what a shame she WAS so beautiful. Guess what they were saying is she is not anymore. To me she is just as cute and sweet even if she become a size 6 again. - 5/5/2011   11:56:21 AM
  • STORMY724
    136
    There is no lobby or political focus group for the overweight, so we are fair game. Today most people don't make jokes about people who were "fair game" when I was a kid. I don't know that people were less sensitive ---just unaware of the hurt it caused. Most of us know better now. We no longer tell Polish jokes, or jokes about Jews, or African Americans ---or jokes that make ANY one group of people look stupid ---but I hear lots of jokes (on Leno for example) about fat people. There is certainly enough material out there to poke fun at the behaviors of celebrities and politicians (who have indeed chosen to put themselves in the public eye and sometimes choose outrageous behaviors) that comedians could certainly leave the overweight alone.

    Studies have shown that making fun of or belittling fat people does not change their eating behaviors. They have to want to change or be forced to change by medical conditions, much as a smoker, drinker, or drug addict has to want to change. And of course, being overweight makes it difficult for people to exercise and when they don't exercise, they become more overweight which makes it even harder to move.

    Bullying of any kind is just downright mean. At least schools are making some attempt to address the problem, whereas they used to just ignore it.

    I was not overweight as a child, yet my grandmother called me her little "butterball." Maybe she thought it was endearing, but I hated it when she said it ---so it's not only kids who do it. Lots of husbands/wives use worse insults against their spouses. - 5/5/2011   9:32:04 AM
  • THESLOWESTLOSER
    135
    Great blog Beth! - 5/5/2011   8:11:20 AM
  • LJEINVT
    134
    I often think that what I endured in early childhood from peers would be bullying now. I came from a family that was not wealthy, but was always clean, taken care of and LOVED. Yet now in my 60's I remember the names I was called, etc. Looking back I was not fat (5"7" and 138 upon graduation) but started a lifetime of yoyo weight loss. I finally can go to my reunions again and everyone treats me very well so I now realize it was childhood meanness. Please teach your children and grandchildren about kindness and not bullying. be sure they see your good examples. - 5/4/2011   11:10:56 PM
  • 133
    This is a very thought provoking blog. - 5/4/2011   8:07:31 PM
  • 132
    Awesome blog! People are so judgemental at times, myself included at times when I was younger I have to admit - I guess its a little bit of human nature, we see things the way we think they should be and don't understand why others dont do the same?.
    It occurs in all sorts of situations, not just the 'fatty' thing. I recall one time as a young girl working in a big office block and the "rule" of the office was that if you were going up 1 floor or down 2 floors you were to take the stairs, not the lifts. One of the girls I was in the lift with made a comment along the lines of 'dont be lazy, its only one level' to a lady who got in the lift to ride one floor. Now this lady looked healthy and slim. She turned around to my co-worker and said, "honey, I'd be happy to trade backs with you". Turns out she had been in an accident and walking, let alone climbing stairs was very painful for her. I have always remembered that and am very careful not to judge before finding out the facts.
    On the other end of the scale, at the same office, we had a lady who Id have to say was morbidly obese. It always saddened me - she was a lovely, lovely lady, and very pretty, but she had this bulk of a body (she was nearly a metre in diameter alone). But, what always annoyed me was at work she told everyone and they believed her about this gland problem which meant she couldnt lose weight. What she seemed to have forgotten, or just didnt recognise me, is that before I got my job I worked after school in her local dairy. She would come in before work and after work and buy enough junk to feed an army. and she did it most days. I never told anyone, or called her on it in private even but that was why she was fat, the choices she made, she may have had gland issues also, but her choices did not help. Sadly, but I guess not unexpectedly, she died of a massive heart attack at around 40yrs old. Her colleagues noticed she wasnt at work in the morning which was unusual for her not to have called so went to check on her and found her, had been out in the garden overnight. Always wonder if I should have called her on her food choices, maybe make her think about them at least. - 5/4/2011   5:22:53 PM
  • 131
    Wildflower I was thinking that too, but i didnt have kids but I was thinking that but really who cares ?

    As for being born that way ,, we are born with the same number of fat cells , they get bigger or grow smaller, and how we are raised and such determines alot , Part of me was how I was raised ,, having to clean up my plate or no dessert kind of thing or as I posted earlier I ate out of pure emotion , not that any of this is an excuse but if I had the knowledge then like I do now how to deal with issues, things would have turned out alot differently - 5/4/2011   4:24:01 PM
  • 130
    As you measure it out to others you will receive it back to yourselves. I believe that a charitable spirit toward other overweight people is essential to my own weight loss. To some extent, we ARE born this way! Yes, by being determined and consistent, I can improve my health and eventually weigh less, but some of the factors that led to my current condition were out of my control. Not to mention the fact that no one can tell by looking how much weight you or I have lost lately or how hard we are working on it! Or how discouraged we may be by the constant battle! Let's all be kinder to each other. - 5/4/2011   4:02:44 PM
  • 129
    After reading a post here that pointed out someones asinine point of view....

    "well if I see a fat person at a buffet with three plates what am i supposed to think"

    I have to comment. I go to the buffet maybe once a year and when I do I am commonly seen with 3 plates in my hand, and yes, I am fat.

    Let me tell you why I have three plates... I have a husband who is watching our two children at the table because taking all of them out and letting them grab food at the buffet is a nightmare! I fill all three plates with a healthy balanced meal rather than having my children load them with pizza and desserts.


    So think what you will about me and my three plates... I'm happy to carry them! - 5/4/2011   3:20:27 PM
  • 128
    I know I was not born over weight but born under weight, in fact , even though my doctor as a child told my parents I was over weight at the age of 8 years old, thats where it all began,,, I lived my life in a shadow, of condemnation ,, I was judged by my family , by my peers, by friends of my parents,

    I was taken to my first weight watchers meeting when I was 11 years old!! a friend of my mom pressured her into putting me on a liquid diet when I was in high school. My first year of college , my brothers advice to me : " Dont eat the cafeteria food its loaded with carbs and college guys dont date fat girls" so what did I do went to a "Medical clinic" and survived on 490 calories a day .

    And looking back of pictures when I was a child and in high school I was not fat!!!!

    Because of judgment from family , peers, strangers etc,,, I grew up with rejection , low self esteem I am just now knowing how to love myself, I married a man who loves me no m atter what , but it still hu rts!

    I saw peoples comments and I am not going to call any out by name,, one person on here said , well if I see a fat person at a buffet with three plates what am i supposed to think , my answer is : ITS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!

    i never carried three plates in a buffet but I was one who is a recovering emotional eater and would try to stuff down all the hurt with food, if i see a person like that in the buffet I dont judge t hem I see a hurting person just like I was a few years ago , I am learning how to handle my emotional eating and if we ever go to buffets Im alot wiser in my choices ,

    this blog brought me to tears because I can empathize like alot of people here can , being overweight for me was not a choice , true , I did not make great choices when I was older and I blame no one any more , its up to me to change things but in order to do that I had to deal with the issues on the inside first. and I am making prog ress!! - 5/4/2011   10:26:47 AM
  • MOV4WARD
    127
    it is always difficult to disregard and not take such judgements and/or attacks personally whether or not the particular attack is directed at me personally or someone else.

    or whether the judgement and/or attack were directed at, say an alcoholic or drug addict or someone who picks their nose compulsively, or whatever _____________ is being attacked/judged or picked on.

    or if the person wears the symbols or garments of their chosen religion.

    or if the person were left handed or right handed... or does not have the trappings of modern society & money, such as cell phones, designer clothes/cars, etc...

    people make the judgements/attacks.

    should we condone it?

    it is difficult to change these kinds of things and this is why we have to have the courage to say enough is enough... I stand against this and btw, here's are some ideas on how to stand against this pervasive fatitude attitude and bashing that is regularly heaped on people who are overweight.

    Kudos to you Beth and to everyone who has stood up and said so, here, now. Please continue to have the courage to do what you can as you can... this is where and how change begins... - 5/3/2011   3:53:28 PM
  • LINDACANDOTHIS
    126
    Perhaps we should consider the difference between shame and guilt. When one has done something wrong, feelings of guilt are appropriate, but need to have limits. Nobody needs to feel guilty about existing, even if that existence is in a shape not approved of by society. Shame on the other hand, is universally unhealthy -- for both the person who feels the shame and those thoughtless jerks who attempt to shame them. People who attempt to shame fat people are often pretty successful -- doesn't it feel good to be able to "help" other people feel bad about themselves? The purpose of that shaming is to demonstrate one's own virtue. In reality, we are all responsible for our behavior but we don't "choose" to be fat. Being fat is a moral transgression in our society. Each of us, fat or thin, is a product of a complex set of forces that have shaped a life. Some of those forces are under conscious control, some are not. Simple decency says you don't try to shame another person. You clean your own house before looking to the dirt in others' houses. - 5/3/2011   2:48:05 PM
  • JESSIEJUICE
    125
    Great post. I have a morbidly obese coworker who is fairly consistently pointed at/ commented on by children ( I work in a museum). I keep wondering what's going on with the parents/teachers? Making fun of people is never right and making fun of people for something that is difficult to change is even worse. I admire her fortitude for dealing with this on a daily basis with so much grace and you for encouraging people to accept themselves. As far as getting healthy goes- how much effort are we really going to put in if we don't love ourselves as we are in this very moment? - 5/3/2011   1:52:24 PM
  • W1LL0WIND
    124
    re: grandmajo09's comment, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Apparently you were born that way, and never did learn manners. - 5/3/2011   1:44:02 PM
  • ROCKIN24SEV
    123
    I thought the article was great and I appreciate your time and insight. I am fat. And I am beautiful. Do I like being fat? No. Does it hinder me in certain ways? Yes. Do I consciously think to myself "I want to be fat today"? No. I have a life, as a single mom I have 3 jobs, 4 kids, and Im constantly strugling to get by. My focus is always on where our next meal will come from, can I pay the mortgage, how can I afford clothes, so forgive me if what Im putting in my mouth happens to be the last thing on my mind. For those saying we CHOOSE to be fat, I think thats plain ignorance. Yes, lifestyle changes are the means to the end, but just because I happen to be more concerned about getting through each day with my familys' well-being intact, does NOT mean I am choosing to be fat. That is a judgement, which is exactly what this article was addressing. Dont judge. Walk a mile in my shoes and then tell me how it can be done better. At least I am conscious of my shortcomings. And I want to make changes. Why dont you commend us for trying versus condemning us because you think we can "do more". - 5/3/2011   12:09:30 PM
  • 122
    What a WONDERFUL blog post! Thank you for being so forthright and for the practical go-to advice you put out there. It is sobering to realize that the stigma attached to weight is so entrenched in our society that we have to be reminded of the person behind the body. You say some universally true things that I firmly stand behind; thanks for being confident and courageous! - 5/3/2011   11:23:05 AM
  • ZUNIE27
    121
    As the mother of two teenaged girls who recently went to prom, I have to agree that fat bias is VERY strong. I have one daughter that is a size 16. It was virtually impossible to find a dress in her size in any of the regular stores. (and the ones available were AWFUL) What irked and disappointed me, was these same stores..had plenty of choices in size 0. Now, one look at the statistics says that people are gaining weight, so why do these stores insist on catering only to one side of the scale, but not the other? Surely, the demand for a size 16 is probably much more in demand, than a size 0 would be. It was heartbreaking to see my daughter go through this. These stores should be ashamed of themselves. It's this sort of stuff that reinforces a negative body image..that often lead to unhealtier habits. - 5/3/2011   11:18:15 AM
  • 120
    You are right on, Beth! ALL people should be respected. God loves us, one and all. - 5/3/2011   10:26:14 AM
  • 119
    People still tease me in public and they don't know me. They don't know I've lost 145 pounds. They don't know I work out with degenerative disease, herniated disks, pinched nerves, arthritis and fibromyalgia. No, they judge me and make comments. If they had ANY idea of the pain I go through and the perseverance I show, they might think differently. Knowing humanity, however, they would just judge me for getting fat and having problems in the first place.


    It isn't about being born one way or another. My use of the quote was about self love. If all you got out of that whole quote was that people are born fat... well, I just don't know what to say.

    "I believe the SENTIMENTS in the following song apply to everyone, BIG OR SMALL. To quote Lady Gaga:

    ““There's nothin wrong with lovin who you are"
    She said, "'cause He made you perfect, babe"
    "So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
    Listen to me when I say"
    I'm beautiful in my way
    'Cause God makes no mistakes
    I'm on the right track baby
    I was born this way
    Don't hide yourself in regret
    Just love yourself and you're set
    I'm on the right track baby
    I was born this way.”"



    - 5/3/2011   8:30:38 AM

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