Dr. Ernest Levister
What is fat shaming? An act of bullying, singling out, discriminating, or making fun of a fat person. The shaming may be performed under the guise of helping the person who is overweight/obese realize they need to lose weight or they will die, become ill, and/or never succeed in life or relationships. Fat shaming is an individual bias against people who are considered unattractive, stupid, lazy, or lacking self control.
Fat-Shaming doesn’t work. We now have scientific proof that fat-shaming is ineffective in helping people lose weight. Recent studies have found that overweight individuals who experienced weight discrimination were over two times more likely to become obese four years after they entered the study. Participants who were already obese were three times more likely to remain obese by the end of the study.
If fat-shaming doesn’t work, why do so many still discriminate? Weight discrimination and stigma continue to exist, at least in part, due to the belief that this type of shaming has an admirable purpose—to motivate people to lose weight. Fat shaming persists quite simply because we aren’t doing enough to fight it. We’ve become numb to the nonsensical manifestation of ignorance and hate.
Weight is not a behavior and obesity in and of itself isn’t a disease. Despite the AMA’s recent decision to classify obesity as a disease, there are numerous individuals who are obese with a perfect bill of physical health. However, obesity is linked to several medical conditions as well as underlying emotional issues (e.g., excessive shame and guilt). Scare tactics, shaming or discrimination aren’t acceptable interventions to combat the issue. Help efforts should focus on modifiable actions such as health/wellness screenings, physical exercise, television/video game time, meal planning, self-esteem building, balanced lifestyles, and healthy self-expression. Be a part of the solution by ditching any shaming behaviors and supporting compassion.
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein