The Effects of Fat Shaming - An American Epidemic the Cultural Bias Against Fatness!

Effect | Shaming | Fat | USA | 03rd October 2021 | Virtual Wire

 

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In America, obesity is a critical health concern. A related problem is Fat-Shaming. Fat shaming can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor body image.

We believe these seven steps can help recognize, address, and minimize fat-shaming in Western culture. In America, obesity is a critical public health problem resulting in almost 400,000 deaths annually. The obesity rate for Americans in 2020 was 42% for adults, rising 26% since 2008.


The cultural bias against fatness is a form of discrimination present in most societies around the world. In many countries, people who are considered "overweight" or "obese" are subjected to social stigmatization and exclusion from employment opportunities and access to education and public transportation. In America, fat-shaming is an epidemic that can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor body image.



What is Fat Shaming?

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The term "fat-shaming" refers to using language, images, and other means of expression to ridicule people with higher body weights. There is a difference between criticizing someone for their weight and fat-shaming them. While both actions may be motivated by the desire to help someone struggling with an unhealthy lifestyle, only one is driven by a sense of superiority. People who fat-shame assume that they are morally and ethically superior to those who are overweight and obese.



Why the Western World has a Weight Bias Against Fat People

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There is a cultural bias against fat people in the Western World. Higher weight is associated with lower social status and more negative self-evaluation. Weight bias also leads to discrimination, such as less support from doctors and fewer job opportunities. Weight bias exists in all cultures, but it may be more commonly accepted in Western culture than other cultures because Western cultures often equate thinness with attractiveness while some different cultures do not. As a society, Westerners have access to smartphones and social media at younger and younger ages. This access makes it difficult for these developing minds to escape anxiety and depression from comparison and unrealistic expectations.



How to Deal with Weight Stigma and How It Affects Our Well-Being

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Weight stigma is a consequence of anti-fat bias and is prevalent in America. Despite being almost equally as likely to be obese as their white counterparts, African-Americans have the highest rates of weight discrimination. Several steps can help minimize weight stigma and its negative impact on Western Culture.



Educate others on how to recognize weight stigma

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Recognition of weight stigma can lead to positive discussions about its impacts and should be the first step to ending this bias.



Offer Criticism to Weight Stigma found on television and in the media

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In western culture, it is not uncommon for only thin images to be promoted. Let young teens and children know that these images do not represent our diverse society. The media often uses tools like filters and airbrushing to present an idea that may not even be how the models look.


Remember that weight and health can be mutually exclusive

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Some skinny people make poor dietary and fitness choices, just like people who weigh more can run marathons. Size is not indicative of a person's health and fitness ability. Medical professionals use BMI (Body Mass Indicator) to determine health based on age, height, and weight.


Place value on things other than appearance

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Especially with teens and young adults, it may be challenging to find things that showcase individual worth aside from appearance. Think about when you see a baby or young child. One of the first things you probably say is, “Oh, look how cute they are.” It is an innocent observation, but we must move past just commenting on appearance. Make an effort to point out other aspects that make others valuable, like “Oh, what a clever kid. I could have never thought of that.”


Identify role models that represent a positive body image

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There are many examples in the media that showcase positive body image. A few that come to mind for me are Lizzo and the brand Fenty Beauty. By identifying others who are comfortable in their skin, you can learn new habits to appreciate your appearance.


Remember that we cannot control the thoughts and actions of others

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There is a difference between having constructive conversations about weight versus arguing about one's biases. It is not worth risking your peace to discuss with others who are set in their beliefs.


Finally, look at the source

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Is the website you are viewing known only to have skinny models? Does the magazine have a history of promoting adverse facts relating to weight? When speaking to a friend or family member, are they typically open and accepting? Stigma is often based on individual insecurities. I learned at a young age not to take the opinions of others as gospel.



We can't change how society treats us, but we can change how we respond

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Regarding weight bias, we may not change how everyone treats us, but we can change how we respond. Recognize that you are more than just a number on a scale. There are so many things that make you a fantastic person. We can always have discussions about weight and body positivity, but the only thing that matters is how you feel about yourself at the end of the day.


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