Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weight Discrimination

As our society has evolved, there has been more and more awareness about discrimination. The internet and social media has allowed for protests and movements to go global, and opinions to become both louder and stronger.

But one area that isn't often explored or talked about is the area of weight discrimination. In fact, there are plenty of people who may find certain jokes about race or sex distasteful, but will laugh heartily at jokes about weight!

Recently, weight discrimination hit the news (and social media) with the revelation from the founder of Abercrombie & Fitch revealed that he specifically does not carry "plus sizes" because it "attracts uncool people," thus labeling all people larger than a size 10 as being "uncool." This came back into focus at the same time that Gov. Chris Christie underwent weight loss surgery and mentioned in an interview how weight discrimination was still considered an "acceptable" form of discrimination. "Weightism" has now made it into our vocabulary, and even has it's own Wikipedia page. A man even recently tried to sue an employer who actually told him that he was "too fat" to work there - despite the fact that "weight" does not make it into a protected class under federal work discrimination laws.

This perpetual stigma led to a recent study that showed that weight discrimination actually INCREASED individuals' risk to become obese! It discussed that there are often deep-rooted emotional and psychological issues involved with gaining weight, and by being discriminated against people often gain more weight rather than lose weight from these societal pressures. This just adds to a list of recent studies that have uncovered the various effects that weight plays when looking at likelihood of employment, health risks, and even whether or not a student is accepted to graduate school.

What do we do about this growing area of discrimination? The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination offers the following advice to fight discrimination:
"Freeing yourself from weight obsession is the most important first step.
2. Decide not to judge anyone based on their weight, size, or shape.
Recognize that you may have prejudices, and make an effort to rid yourself of them.
3. Tell your friends and family that you have decided to be happy just as you are.
Going public about accepting your body can make a big difference in your world.
4. Don't laugh at fat jokes. Tell the person you don't think it's funny.
We know ethnic jokes are wrong; we have to stop accepting fat jokes as well.
5. Pay attention to media images. Notice when people are put down because of their size.
If you want to really make changes, write to the media and say you don't like it.
6. Notice when an ad or program tries to make you feel bad about your size.
Becoming thin won't make us happy, but those ads keep trying to convince us it will.
7. Decide not to buy products from companies that disrespect people because of their weight.
Let the companies know how you feel about their ad campaigns.
8. Speak out against weight discrimination.
Talk to friends, family, schoolmates, as well as the media and businesses.
9. Remember that strong, healthy, beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes.
Every person deserves respect based on who they are, not on how they look."

No comments:

Post a Comment