This week is WEIGHT STIGMA AWARENESS WEEK! Weight stigma is the last acceptable form of prejudice in our society, and is as common as that of race or gender. It is rampant, yet, hardly acknowledged as harmful. This week is about bringing the issues of weight and size bias into the forefront of conversation.
Here are some facts about how weight bias and the resulting discrimination negatively affects those living in larger bodies:
*** The number of people who reported experiencing weight discrimination doubled between 1996 and 2006. Among people who live in larger bodies (those labeled as "obese"), approximately 28% of men and 45% of women said they have experienced discrimination because of their weight.
*** Individuals in larger bodies earn $1.25 less an hour, and over a lifetime will earn $100,000 less than their thinner counterparts.
*** Those labeled as "overweight" and "obese" are less likely to seek out healthcare due to the discrimination they face within the healthcare system. A significant portion of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a negative bias toward larger patients, which impeded their ability to provide quality care.
*** There are currently NO federal legal protections for those living in larger bodies. This means that as a nation, we support and encourage discrimination based on size in the workplace, healthcare system, schools, legal system, etc. This further reinforces the widespread belief that weight is a direct reflection of a person's value, and that larger bodies are less deserving of equal rights.
Unfortunately, we as a society have been led to believe that weight is "bad" and should be avoided at all costs. Because of this, we focus judgement on and blame those who live in larger bodies, for their "inability" to fit into society's made-up standards of beauty and health. Challenge yourself this week to consider how these standards and messages of right vs. wrong influence your views and treatment of yourself and others!!!
Puhl, R., & Brownell, K.D. (2006). Confronting and coping with weight stigma: An investigation of overweight and obese individuals. Obesity, 14, 1802-1815.)
Brownell, K. D. (2005). Weight bias: Nature, consequences, and remedies. New York: Guilford Press