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Fat-shaming is a form of weight bias-discrimination based on body size, whether thin or fat. Wikipedia sez:
Stigmatization based on body weight can lead to a devalued social identity and the stigmatized people are often ascribed stereotypes or other labels denoting a perceived deviance which can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Common, “weight-based”, stereotypes are that obese persons are lazy, lack self-discipline, and have poor willpower, but also possess defects of intelligence and character. Other common weight-based stereotypes of obese persons are that obese persons are unattractive, unhealthy, have a bad diet and/or don’t exercise. Pervasive social portrayals of obesity create and reinforce biased attitudes.
Regular readers of this blog or people who know me know that I’m not a fan of shaming people for their physical characteristics, nor innate traits such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. In fact, the only type of shaming I will indulge in is shaming people for having horrible attitudes, opinions and personalities. If you’re a bigot, I’ll shame the hell out of you, because your beliefs and opinions contribute to the suffering of others, whether directly through discrimination or oppression, or indirectly by normalizing harmful behaviors. Fat-shaming is very much a normalized behavior. Fat people are criticized as being lazy or stupid or unhealthy and none of that shit is helpful. The people who engage in that crap don’t seem to realize that other people don’t exist on their terms. Other people don’t get to define the terms by which we exist. No one is harmed by someone who is thin or fat, so people need to stop acting like people who don’t fit into socially acceptable body types need to conform for the benefit of others. In fact, fat-shaming isn’t helpful as seen in the results of a study by University College London:
Discrimination against overweight and obese people does not help them to lose weight, finds new UCL research funded by Cancer Research UK.
In a study of 2,944 UK adults over four years, those who reported experiencing weight discrimination gained more weight than those who did not. On average, after accounting for baseline differences, people who reported weight discrimination gained 0.95kg whereas those who did not lost 0.71kg, a difference of 1.66kg.
The research, published in the journal Obesity, contradicts the common perception that discrimination or ‘fat shaming’ might encourage weight loss. The study asked people whether they experienced day-to-day discrimination that they attributed to their weight. Examples of discrimination include being treated disrespectfully, receiving poor service in shops, and being harassed.*
Because this was a population survey and not an experimental study, it cannot conclusively confirm that the positive association observed between discrimination and weight gain is causal. Discrimination was assessed two years after the initial weight measurements and two years before the final measurements, but all the analyses statistically controlled for initial weight and other potential influences.
The data are from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a study of adults aged 50 or older. Of the 2,944 eligible participants in the study, 5% reported weight discrimination. This ranged from less than 1% of those in the ‘normal weight’ category to 36% of those classified as ‘morbidly obese’. Men and women reported similar levels of weight discrimination.
“There is no justification for discriminating against people because of their weight,” says lead author Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health). “Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain.
“Previous studies have found that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food. Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it.”