How to Cope with the Hardships of Weight Bias - Part 1: Beyond the Social Stigma

Fatty. Slobby. Tub o'Lard. Chubby. Fat-Butt. No terms describe the many hardships of weight bias people with weight problems face.

There are many health issues of being overweight or obese. If you carry that extra pudge, you'll risk getting Type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. You will die much earlier than you would naturally do.

But there's a psychological and social side to the problem. Fat people tend to have low self-esteem, which restricts them from enjoying normal life. That leads to depression, anxiety, anorexia, and suicidal thoughts - to name but a few consequences.They can lead themselves to trying diets and weight-loss gimmicks that don't work.

Well, they can't just commit suicide by shooting, hanging, or stabbing themselves just because of their size. Some people deeply assaulted by others about their girths attempt it by eating more and barely exercising. They are killing themselves by taking what causes the singling out and putting down too personally, skipping workouts, and putting even more junk in their mouths.

That leads us to the question: what causes such size discrimination in the first place?

Fatty, Fatty, 2-By-4!!!

Obese or overweight adults are as likely to be teased as obese or overweight youth.
Obese or overweight adults are as likely to be teased as obese or overweight youth. | Source

Most of it Starts Early

Remember the times when you were picked last for dodgeball at PE? Remember walking down the school hallways and some students sang to you, "Fatty, Fatty, 2-by-4," or, "Wide load coming through?" Remember ambling home from school and hearing kids make cow or pig calls as they walk by?

That was what weight stigma felt like to most of you when you were young, even before childhood obesity started to become a problem.

Slimmer kids often target obese or even slightly overweight youth for a series of jeers and insults. They often moo or oink as they see them. They assume what they eat for every meal, though some eat adequate amounts of fruits and/or vegetables and eat less saturated fat. For instance, kids would assume an obese girl ate a stack of pancakes with excessive slatherings of butter and syrup, although she actually ate oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts for breakfast.

Unwise Words for Overweight/Obese People

Weight Bias at Home is Even Worse

When you were young, your dad would pinch your flabby arms and call you a "porker." Your mother would tell you that you're not worthy of attracting those worthy of relationships due to weight and appearance. When mealtime comes, you probably would have been eating celery than that home-cooked meal your mother or father serves the rest of your family.

Just like how weight bias is a problem at school, it can also be problematic at home. It's not the siblings or cousins that tease you about how you weigh and it's not about them calling you "funny tummy." Those much older than you can also carp you about weight. That includes your grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and parents. Sure, some of them are concerned about health, but they may unintentionally harm you emotionally with such comments.

Even though your family loves you and you love them back, being harangued by relatives on weight cuts you deep. One disturbing and sad study showed that a lot of women made negative remarks on their bodies and hated them when they came from such families. They were often at high risk for eating disorders.

Don't You Just Feel Bad for the Duo?

It Happens EVERYWHERE

Weight discrimination can be found at any place - in the bank, on the sidewalk, or even on the hiking trail during low tourist seasons.

Take water parks, for instance. Don't just cite many a person having to wear a bathing suit suited (no pun intended) for an old person instead of a bikini and wear a shirt to hide the fat rolls. (When wet, especially if it's white or pastel-colored, it can cause embarrassment.)

Water parks are places that strive to be safe. In order to be safe, patrons have to be below their maximum weight (or maximum combined weight if they are riding together, such as a double-tube slide) to go down a particular water slide.

Another place that fat people dread is the airline. Most obese people can't fit in their own seats, thus they spend more on a second seat just to fit in. They add more to the fuel costs, and some people consider them to be checked-in luggage instead of just passengers.

Water Slides Like This Are Often Discouraging to Most Fat People

They're Not the Slender Bodies You'd Usually See at Gyms and Fitness Events

But those women are not letting body image get in the way of enjoying exercise!
But those women are not letting body image get in the way of enjoying exercise!

Lastly, there's the health club. This is where people do their physical activity (read: exercise). Sure, exercise is good for just about everyone no matter what size. It keeps you from dying from a heart attack, a stroke, or some other malady related to physical inactivity.

But it's not just a torture room because people who just hate to exercise have to drag themselves there. No. They are comparing themselves to others.

For many women, being overweight isn't just a matter of belly fat putting them at high risk for heart problems. While many of them sweat in over-sized T-shirts and baggy sweatpants or shorts, the slimmer women bring them down emotionally. How? Those in the latter group often wear fitted tops that sometimes show the midriff (camisoles, tanks, bra tops) and short shorts and form-fitting pants (such as jazz pants).

Men also have to deal with it as well. While they work out in their T-shirts, the more toned peers were tanks or no shirts at all, depending on dress code.

Either way, the gym is a source of discouragement for many obese or overweight people. If they are surrounded by a lot of slimmer, more toned, and/or beefcake bodies, they are likely to hate themselves. Remember hating themselves is an often primary source of unhealthy behaviors like eating crud and nixing exercise, the latter of which the gym emphasizes.

All the self-hatred is from how they compare themselves to other people with distinct (read: slimmer and/or muscular) sizes.

At Least He's Enjoying Working Out at the Gym...

So Why the Weight Bias Already?

Most teasing in general comes from how people feel. They would use it as a stress reliever and a mood booster at the expense of other people. Some may have weight problems themselves and take it out on others who are dealing with that too.

Few times, it comes from the concern of people concerned about how people's obesity is killing them. As mentioned before, those people are prone to dying of cancers, strokes, and heart disease.

Some of the time, the bias comes from safety. For instance, ballet (not for fun) needs dancers to not be overweight because they might have to go on pointe. It requires them to balance themselves on their toes and being overweight makes them injury-prone.

At Least the Dancer Inside this Costume is of "Reasonable" Size

A bulk of the social stigma comes from the distortion of what the ideal body image is.

Long ago, plump people, especially women, are well-like. The body images of the olden times allured painters, sculptors, and engravers. Some cultures even prefer even slightly portly ones than thinner ones because they feel they are more desirable.

Nowadays, a thin, overly slender body image is often the most attractive. We see it all too often in many fashion shows and dance performances. Dance teams wearing bra tops and jazz pants sashaying across the basketball or football fields at halftime are wonderful to watch, but they are pretty sad to some fat people.

Fatter people are often left out from events and activities that exult this body image. That leads them into more comparisons of their bodies with others, which leads them to more self-disrespect.

Thinner People are Better Suited for Midriff Tops

Sad, but true. Even a dance team member with a bit of a muffin top isn't suited for such garb. That really brings fat people down.
Sad, but true. Even a dance team member with a bit of a muffin top isn't suited for such garb. That really brings fat people down. | Source

So what should you do to not only reach your weight loss goals, but also deal with the "perfect body image" environment? What measures should you take to feel more good about your body and not care what others think?

Poor girl - she must've been in the process of losing weight, but her mother STILL chides her about the remaining flab, even in PUBLIC!

What's the Snidest Comment Made on Your Weight?

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How Did People Treat You When You're Overweight or Obese or How Did they Used to Do it If You Already Have Lost Weight? 1 comment

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

I admire your work here. You pointed out the physical as well as the social hazards of obesity. You have also shown onlookers the hurt they can cause by their insensitive remarks. Hope we all take heed. Voted Up and Useful.

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