It’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week! Weight stigma and its close cousin, body shaming, both contribute to poor health. In fact, much of the health risk associated with obesity is a result of that stigma, which causes stress and anxiety, raising cortisol levels and thus worsening one’s health condition. Furthermore, body shaming makes people even MORE likely to binge, purge, or starve themselves. Anyone who thinks that making negative comments and assumptions about an overweight person is actually “helping” them, out of “concern for their health,” should think again – this actually makes things worse, not better. And this is even more true for those of us who shame ourselves – we can’t hate ourselves into better health. Only love can do that.
Translation: When an overweight person is made to feel BAD about their weight and themselves, this has negative effects on health.
Some doctors don’t yet realize this – and they make the problem worse by engaging in fat shaming! But there is new SCIENCE to back this up. Click here for a summary of recent studies.
The main conclusion is this: weight stigma is bad for us. Being judged as less worthy based on weight results in poor health. What can we do? As the article says, “you can’t force society to stop judging you, but you can stop judging yourself.” In other words, stop internalizing those harmful messages. It’s easier said than done, I know. But it is necessary for recovery and for better health. Be patient with yourself as you embark on this process of un-learning all of the harmful negative beliefs you’ve been taught about weight – it will take time. But it will be worth it, to be free of those damaging beliefs and judgments – trust me! 🙂
We all fall prey to believing weight bias and stigmas sometimes; it’s hard not to, in our society. Can you identify some ways in which you can try to reverse these harmful beliefs and judgments?