Our health is our business. Yet society seems to feel entitled to comment on, judge, and control other people’s weight. Weight shaming has become so normalized that even the healthcare sector listens to discrimination over science. Approximately 52% of women say that weight discrimination has prevented them from receiving quality care. 53% of women say that healthcare professionals have made inappropriate comments about their weight. Rather than acknowledging the complex factors that lead to extreme weight gain, people believe that obesity stems from poor lifestyle choices and personality flaws.
The prevalence of weight shaming contributes nothing to the welfare of people living with obesity. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at weight shaming, and what society needs to do to correct it.
Obesity Is Not A Choice
Obesity is not a simple matter of eating more than a person should. Certain factors can make some people more susceptible to obesity than others. Health conditions that cause hormonal imbalances, such as underactive thyroid, Cushing syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, can make it difficult for the body to burn fat. Anti-depressants, seizure medicine, and corticosteroids also make people more vulnerable to weight gain.
Many external factors also contribute to obesity. Some people are unable to increase their physical activity due to their limited access to parks, gyms, walkable streets, and sidewalks. Others, especially low-income individuals, may not have access to healthy food options and are forced to consume high-calorie fast-food meals to sustain themselves.
Weight shaming attributes obesity exclusively to overeating and lack of exercise. It cannot solve obesity when it does not offer solutions to the greater problems contributing to extreme weight gain.
Weight Shaming Makes People Sicker
If obesity is a health condition, shame is not medicine. In some cases where obesity stems from a disordered relationship with food, the emotional effects of weight shaming can lead to poor eating habits. Furthermore, experiences with weight discrimination in medical settings have made people with obesity afraid to seek care. Doctors with weight biases tend to attribute the majority of health conditions to weight, which prevents them from providing accurate diagnoses to their patients.
Weight Shaming Leads To Poor Mental Health
Weight stigma leads to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. When weight gain is treated as a personal failure, weight shaming triggers feelings of inadequacy. The isolation created by society’s negative perceptions of weight causes people with obesity to internalize negative self-beliefs and question their own self-worth. Because weight shaming promotes feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and frustration, persistent weight shaming makes people with obesity vulnerable to depression.
To make sure that people with obesity receive quality care, the healthcare sector needs to correct its weight discrimination problem. Healthcare management professionals, who are in charge of overseeing healthcare institutions, can effect change on a larger scale. Hospital administrators can implement policies that penalize size bias and give care providers a better framework for treating patients with obesity.
It is also important for organizations and individuals alike to encourage societal acceptance. Businesses, especially clothing businesses, should do more to create products that accommodate all sizes. Those working in media can do their part by representing characters outside conventionally accepted body types. Campaigns like the body positivity movement help to shed light on the negative effects of weight shaming, while also promoting acceptance and love for body diversity.
Though weight shamers claim that health is their main concern, their actions contribute nothing to well-being and instead cause further damage to people’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Society needs to end the era of weight shaming, and cultivate a culture of compassion in its place.
Submitted by Dionne Eloise for mybeautifulfluff.com