Monday, February 09, 2009

Weight Bias

Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity recently published a couple of online videos regarding weight bias. The first involves weight bias against children, both at school and in the home. The other focuses on weight bias amongst healthcare professionals. What can you do to help reduce the incidence of weight bias?


Anonymous said...

That is a great question, Dr. Stacy, and one I grapple with all of the time.

What I try to do is this:
Live my life.

When I feel like I want to hide because I'm afraid of being judged because of my size, I take it as an opportunity to put myself out there. I have to remind myself that many women feel this way, whether they are the same size as me, larger or smaller.

I work in a health-related role, and when I worry that I'm not the image of health and wellness that people are expecting, I push myself to "go public" -- to make presentations, to be an advocate. To refocus away from weight and onto health. To be the only fat person in a room when people are talking about health and wellness can sometimes be scary, but I remind myself that I'm there to keep people honest, to make sure that what's being suggested isn't harmful to people who are fat or those who are worried about fatness. Just being in the profession I'm in (public health -- prevention focus) sends the message that wellness and health aren't just for those with BMIs under 25. I am also learning to advocate for those who are impacted by the language used to try to make fat people less fat (ineffectively) -- those people who are afraid of becoming fat because they see the discrimination and stigma and bias, even if they don't actively perpetuate it.
Sorry, this got to be long, but it's a great question.

moxie3 said...

Beautifully said, we need more people out there like you to advocate for us!

Diana said...

well here is what i think: I really think that the title of your book should be "Does every woman have an eating disorder" That title would draw me in more that the one you currently had. I was looking on a google search for ED blogs and this came up... when i originally saw it- i thought "wow... that's a bold satement to make." Because It was a blog, I clicked on it. But if it were a book I probably wouldn't even pick it up. I am a girl who has an eating disorder that I've struggled with for several years now and have read several books on eating disorders and I think that your title would be more effective if you put it in the form of a question.

Mkay so here is my personal story:

It's easy to put blame on someone for a "mistake" that you make. Obviously eating disorders are bad for our bodies, health, and mentality on life. A lot of times ED are seen as a disease. However, I don't believe that's true. Every therapist/ psychiatrist I've seen has told me that. And when that is put in my head- I think of it like it's okay for me to do it since "it's a diease". I believe it's an addiction that might can be recovered from. Since I'm bulemic it's hard for me to see the light in the conclusion of this addiction but I think about people who struggle from alcohol addictions to try and get a glimpse out of the darkness. I still wonder a lot whether or no it's possible to relapse. The alcoholics I've come across attend AA and get chips as they reach each month of sobriety. But for us who have food issues and/or image issues don't really think about the benefits of being sober. There are tons of comercials/ billboards that advertise the problems of adolescent substance abuse. But a killer that a lot of us (even adults) face are conditions that involve a lack of nutrition... we bring it upon ourselves just like the substance abusers do.

when i was 12 i watched a lifetime movie in my skills for living class that was about a gymnast who struggled with bulemia. It had the opposite affect on me. Instead of taking that information in and avoiding throwing up... it gave me the idea TO throw up. My parents were picky about how I looked because my sister/stepsister were thinner than I. I was an important and great player on my soccer team and had excellent grades in school. But that was never enough for them. So I CHOSE to pick up this bad habit of throwing up. I blamed my parents for it for several years but slowly realized that that blame was just to cover up my own insecurities. I am now 18 years old and am in college. Over the past 6 years I have gone one year without throwing up which was between 15 and 16. I Don't have a self image problem at all. However, I have found that the throwing up is just for my own control. And this is why I think maybe every woman does have an ED. It's all about control. Knowing that addictions allow us to have that time in our life away from the busy world where we can do something that we CAN control is the most amazing part about it.

My computer is dying so I can't finish this- but this is some of what I think.

FatGirlSlim said...


I have never really tried to lose weight before... my weight has kind of yo-yoed in the past because I was on and off meth for several years - I never got really skinny, but I never got really fat, either.

Well, finally, I got clean (still clean, going on three years)... and I got fat. And I was clean for maybe a year, and I went to the doctor to renew my birth control. Well, the nurse took my height and weight (around 200? 201? and 5'2), and then the doc came into the examining room...

Like pap smears aren't uncomfortable enough... She proceeded to rattle off a list of diseases I probably have, including cervical cancer. She hadn't even put the gloves on yet! I was horrified and humiliated, and walked out of the office before she got a chance to scrape around up there. Still had to pay $80 to get abused by a health care "professional." Unbelievable. I was in hysterics for like, two hours. I've always told myself that I'm overly sensitive about that kind of stuff, but NOBODY deserves to be treated that way.

Big surprise here... I haven't been on the pill (which complicates things, as my birth control is used to treat a medical condition as well as pregnancy protection), NOR have I gotten a physical... for two years! I've packed on 40 pounds since then, and have just started Weight Watchers to try to get it off, but man... I can't help thinking about the irony of it all... If I was allowed to get my preventative care in a non-hostile environment, my chance of actually being a problem and placing a burden on the public health care system would go way down.

The second video really got to me, obviously... I don't think it's ok to be fat, but no matter your size or health, there is no excuse for anyone to treat you with anything less than respect and courtesy.