In Jacqueline Clark’s blog post Fat shaming. It’s a thing.,Clark analyzes Nicole Arbout’s youtube video “Dear Fat People” on the merits of whether or not fat shaming is an actual issue with society or if it is something that fat people just made up in order to make themselves feel better. Arbout states that “Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up.” and that it is playing the “race card with no race”.
Clark goes on to explain how wrong Arbout’s claim is. Research has been conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University . In the 2012 policy brief on weight bias, Rudd researched the effects that weight discrimination has on people. They found that the consequences of weight bias include serious medical and psychological consequences, reduces earning potential, affects hiring and promotion opportunities, and affects academic opportunities and achievement. Arbout declared that being overweight is not a discrimination because being overweight is a choice that people make. This belief is how weight bias was started and has continued to rise.
Who’s right? Should weight bias be considered a discrimination as Clark states or should we continue to shame people for their choice to be fat as per Arbout’s video rant? I agree with Clark’s scientifically backed argument rather than a video claim without any corroboration.
Why should this matter? People come in all shapes and sizes. It can be argued that the way that people have gotten there takes many different paths. Some of those paths may have been the results of free will while others may have been unavoidable circumstances. Regardless of the ways that individuals got to the end result doesn’t matter. It’s how society treats these people that matter. We have laws and policies that protect many people from a variety of discrimination. Some of these protected classes are because of choice (religion, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy) and others are because of nature (race, color, natural origin, disability, age). Why shouldn’t discrimination of body type be included in the list of protected classes? It should be!
In 2013, The American Medical Association declared obesity as a recognized disease. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a nearly 50,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to the individuals affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support. The OAC states on their site that there are nearly 93 millions Americans who are affected with the disease of obesity. Obesity is not something that people consciously choose just for attention!
Research shows that a very large percentage of discussions about obesity on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, are of a fat shaming nature. This often turns into downright harassment and cyberbullying – especially against women. Do you think people are happy that they are overweight? No! The Rudd Report showed that fifteen percent of respondents would be willing to give up 10 years of their lives to avoid being fat. Nearly one-half of respondents would give up one year of their lives to do the same. About eight percent of these same survey respondents also indicated they would rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child. Such findings illuminate clearly the stigma associated with being obese as well as the fear that people have of being targets of the prejudice and discrimination stemming from it. (Clark)
Bottom line is – stop shaming people for being overweight. It is doing more hard than good. Follow the old adage “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all!”
Arour, Nicole. “Dear Fat People.” YouTube. YouTube, 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Chou, Wen-ying Sylvia, Abby Prestin, and Stephen Kunath. “Obesity in Social Media: A Mixed Methods Analysis.” Translational Behavioral Medicine 4.3 (2014): 314–323. PMC. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
Clark, Jacqueline, PhD. “Fat Shaming. It’s a Thing. – Sociological Images.” Sociological Images Fat Shaming Its a Thing Comments. N.p., 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Friedman, Roberta and Puhl, Rebecca, “Weight Bias, A Social Justice Issues.” Rudd Report. N.p., 2012.