Weight Stigma Starts at Home
I’ve talked here before about weight stigma. I’ve shared my perspective on how weight stigma develops, how it exists among fat and thin women, and how our modern-day efforts to curb obesity are resulting in furthering the phenomenon. I’ve given lots of examples and even asked readers to share their own stories of weight stigmatization.
I’ve tried to use Nourishing the Soul as a vehicle for weight stigma awareness, because I think it’s so crucial. If we can’t see it, we can’t address it. And I want to put it in the face of each and every one of us, so that we can’t turn a blind a eye for one more day.
But in all this skill we’re developing to spot weight stigma — at the grocery store or in the boardroom or on an airplane — there’s often one place that’s sadly overlooked: the mirror.
When I say that weight stigma exists everywhere, that includes within each and every one of us. As progressive and educated and enlightened as we may be. As fat or as thin as we may be. As many friends of various shapes and sizes as we may have. We all have internalized our cultural weight stigma.
To deny this is to play the blindness card, and I can tell you how I feel about that. It gets us nowhere but further entrenched in our own biases.
It’s impossible to exist in our society and not have internalized at least some of the fear surrounding weight. This fear is often all-consuming for the patients that I work with; but even those without eating disorders are victims of the cultural obsession with thinness. Stand at a party or by a water cooler and you’ll hear it — the insidious whisper of fat talk.
It’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week. In honor of the occasion, I’m urging all of us –myself included– to take a long hard look at how our internalized weight stigma shows itself. It might be in the way that I treat the customer in line behind me at the grocery or the assumptions I make about my co-worker’s dating life. It might be in private ways or public ways; it might shout or it might whisper. But if you listen hard enough, you can hear it.
If you’re curious to learn more about weight stigma and get educated on the faulty assumptions about weight, I’d encourage you to start with some of these great pieces –
How do you observe weight stigma?