For many of us, weight isn’t an easy subject to talk about. In fact, in U.S. culture, it’s often considered taboo. Together, these forces combined make it hard to navigate the weight management journey.
But why is this? According to the Obesity Action Coalition, Founder of the Your Weight Matters Campaign, individuals affected by overweight and obesity are often the victims of negative stigma. In other words – weight bias. And in our society, weight bias is a major issue as well as the last socially acceptable form of discrimination.
The Problem with Weight Bias
If you’ve ever been poked fun at or discriminated against because of your weight/size, you know the negative effects of weight bias. And if you’ve struggled to take control of your weight, you know how hard it is to take care of your body when so many people are telling you what’s wrong with it.
As a society, it’s high time we face the realities of weight bias and put an end to negative stigma. Discrimination toward people affected by overweight/obesity is all too common, with individuals often facing negative stereotypes and unfair treatment because of their size.
And to make matters worse? These experiences of bias can occur in everyday settings such as:
- Family and Friends
Recognizing the Effects of Bias
Unfortunately, most people don’t recognize the realities of others living with weight bias. It’s not uncommon to think that pointing out what’s wrong with someone’s size will motivate them to improve their health. But in reality, research shows that weight bias actually prevents people from improving their health and reaching their weight management goals.
For example, a healthcare provider that blames a patient for their weight might stop that patient from scheduling future office visits and exams. Or, when a person internalizes that bias and dwells on it for extended periods of time, those experiences can lead to depression, poor self-care and worsening health.
Your Voice Matters
As someone familiar with the weight management journey, you play a special role in helping to defeat weight bias and create a world where all individuals are treated with the respect and care they deserve.
Combating bias requires a collective effort from all of us. Below, you’ll find a few examples of how you can take action:
- Use respectful language when talking about people dealing with excess weight
- Speak up if you hear someone teasing another person about their weight
- Raise your voice if someone is discriminating against you personally
- Educate others in your life about weight bias and its harmful effects
- Research anti-bullying/harassment policies in your place of work
- Talk to your healthcare provider about any weight bias experiences you’ve faced in the past
- Call-out biased instances in the media (television, radio, social media, etc.)
Want More Information about Speaking Out against Weight Bias?
The Obesity Action Coalition, Founder of the Your Weight Matters Campaign, offers plenty of information to guide you in taking a stand with us against weight bias. For more information, please CLICK HERE.