Interesting Article: Stigmatising the Obese

I came across this today quite by accident. Psychology Today Article on Fat Shaming and Stigmatization

It’s worth a read.

Whilst I’m very much against bullying people, stigmatising and demonising anything that has complex issues behind it,  I know that I definitely gave up smoking because of social pressures. Moreso than health issues and I definitely consider social pressures to be part of what makes me want to lose weight. It’s not the whole story by any means, but it’s a small part of it. Nobody likes being mocked or judged and we know that we sometimes are, we’d have to have an exceptionally thick skin to totally ignore negativity of any kind meted out to us.

I just wonder if it’s right though to assume that obese people don’t already know that some people may treat us differently because of our weight and that obesity is not the healthiest state to be in… do they think we are insane or just stupid?

Also if there is going to be a stigmatisation of obesity and obese people there needs to be some understanding of the real issues and some development of help and treatment which goes beyond 12 free slimming club classes, 6 months free gym membership, some tablets or bariatric surgery to eliminating the illness long term.

Decades of work, research and development went into understanding the psyche of the smoker, the actual effects of smoking, the way the body developed and dealt with its cravings and the way those cravings were able to be reduced. Similar research needs to go into fighting obesity. It is OK for doctors and experts to go around talking about medical effects but the only people who know about the real causes and effects are those of us who suffer this debilitating condition, who live with it and fight it every day of our lives.

As long as ignorant ‘experts’ like Bioethicist Daniel Callahan (The Hastings Center Report 2013 Find full report by clicking here) have anything to do with it, we are a very long way from anything like the support and information we need to solve this issue as individual sufferers and as a society. Mr Callahan cleverly suggests shaming fat people by asking them “If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way you look?… Fair or not, do you know that many people look down upon those excessively overweight or obese?”. Does Mr Callahan imagine that as your body grows your mental capacity shrinks? What an utter jerk!

What do you think? Social stigmatisation, subtle as Callahan suggests or otherwise, is it a good idea?


4 thoughts on “Interesting Article: Stigmatising the Obese”

  1. Slight sidetrack first – loving the new look of the blog. 🙂 I’ve been a cheapskate and only gone for the free version so there’s only so many bells and whistles available to me!

    Secondly, I also wholeheartedly agree with your summation of the article. I see absolutely no value in shaming the obese. Well, I suppose I wouldn’t since I am one of them, but the main reason I’m saying it is because I KNOW it doesn’t work. It certainly hasn’t for me and I have a lifelong history of stigmatisation going back to primary school. The really ironic thing now, looking back, is that compared to today’s “fat kids” I was actually quite reasonable a lot of the time. I was just fat compared to just about everyone else so I stood out a lot. And it wasn’t fun. But all those years of taunting and sniggering and nasty remarks (from strangers AND from my own family) seemed to trigger some very different reactions in me, neither of them positive. One was an angry defiance (this was mainly against my family) whereby I was all the more determined to eat what they told me not to because they didn’t love me or care about me, so why should I? (I should point out that this was my major reaction as a child – as time has gone I’ve reframed these thoughts). My other reaction was a crushing sadness and bewilderment along the lines of, “Why are these people saying these horrible things to me? They don’t even know me. What did I ever do to them?” See, in my mind, I would only treat someone the way they treated me if they had first really upset or offended me. Them doing it for no reason just did my head in. Still does, at times. But anyway, (finally) getting to my point, I know shaming me didn’t assist me to lose weight in any way. I don’t think it’s done much for the many overweight I seem to know. So it’s not the answer at all.


    1. Our stories are so similar although my family ‘thing’ didn’t end so well as you’ll see from my pages under My Journey to Fat.

      I was incensed when I read the article but then that’s what happens, experts make judgements and decisions and don’t ever realise that the true expert is the person who is suffering, they don’t think to ask them.


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