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We all come from different walks of life yet sadly we all have one thing in common. That is having dealt with discrimination in one form or another. But as a heavier person, it sure can feel like we’ve been dealt the shortest straw. So why are overweight people discriminated against.
In this article we are going to look into ‘the why’ as well as how exactly us bigger people can feel discriminated against. With over 169 million people in the USA either overweight or obese, its fair to say that we will all have different stories to tell.
But what’s interesting to me is that, the overweight population exceeds the number of ‘regular’ size people. There’s more heavier people then ever before yet the discrimination against obese people continues to torment us more than ever.
Sure, we all know the associated health risks with being outside the satisfactory BMI guidelines, but you know what, that doesn’t make us lessor human beings. At the end of the day, its our body and our decisions which have lead us on the path we take. So why should anyone feel the need to discriminate against someone else simply for living a different lifestyle to their own.
How Heavy People Are Discriminated Against
Oftentimes we think of discrimination in terms of harassment or physical violence. While these forms of blatant discrimination do transpire, it’s important to note that most members of subjugated groups find that these extreme experiences of prejudicial treatment are rare.
Rather than experiencing discrimination in extreme ways, they find that they move through a world in which they grapple with several subtle forms of prejudice. These subtle modes of prejudice are oftentimes referred to as microaggressions. Unfortunately, overweight people tend to experience these microaggressions on a regular basis.
Microaggressions That Overweight Individuals Experience
There are many forms of discriminatory microaggressions that overweight people might face. Each and everyone of us would have felt discriminated against in one way or another. While to some they may seem petty or not worth complaining about, discrimination should never be accepted regardless of how much it may impact you or not.
Here are some of the ways the average overweight person may feel discriminated against on a daily basis.
- An overweight person stepping onto a bus and moving towards an empty seat only to find that the person sitting beside them starts to scowl and observe their body pointedly
- Fat people are just lazy. I know I’ve heard this many times in my life, yet I’m one of the hardest workers on the team.
- An overweight individual noting that other people are watching them as they eat in a diner
- An overweight person finding that other individuals are looking at the number and type of food items they have placed in their trolley
- A thinner friend asking the fatter friend if she looks fat in a certain garment
- Overhearing children giggle or make fun of them as a result of their weight
- An overweight individual worrying about whether the doctor will take their current health issue seriously or simply tell them that they need to lose weight to get rid of the pain associated with a sprained ankle, swollen knee, etc.
- Life insurance for overweight people. Enough said.
Why Are Overweight People Discriminated Against
While the humiliation and degradation that individuals experience as a result of obesity seems to defy logic, there are actually several reasons that social scientists and psychologists think give rise to this discriminatory behavior.
Unfortunately, many people believe that obesity is a byproduct of poor moral conduct. Specifically, they tend to associate obesity with a lack of self-control.
Rather than understanding or acknowledging that obesity is oftentimes directly related to a medical issue such as diabetes or the administration of a specific medication that causes weight gain, many individuals assume that overweight individuals are simply eating too much.
Because overeating is a behavior that the individual lacks the discipline to correct, many individuals think that the physical condition of the overweight person is their fault. In drawing this conclusion, individuals oftentimes rationalize fat shaming as a mechanism that can be used to correct the undesirable, immoral behavior.
It’s ‘Cool’ To Fat Shame
Another reason for discrimination is that individuals often feel that it is socially acceptable to ridicule and demean overweight people. Especially as we live in a profoundly image-based culture. My friends are going to think I’m so cool if I put down another person simply because they are overweight. Unfortunately, people do think this way as its part of the
One word used to describe the culture of this contemporary era is the “Me Generation.” In this generation, individuals are primarily concerned with themselves. This reality is made evident by the prevalence of individuals taking selfies and posting them on social media sites.
Within the prevalent thought systems created and encouraged in a culture predicated on self-elevation and creating images that depict perfection, anyone who does not conform to societal standards of beauty and impeccability can and will be subjected to mocking, ridicule, and ostracism.
Unfortunately, people who are overweight are deemed unattractive and, within a culture predicated upon the idealization of a flawless appearance, find themselves subjected to verbal insults and various other forms of dehumanization.
Since the invention of the internet and it becoming more and more widely available, the opportunities to discriminate against another person has never been easier. Which unfortunately is the case for overweight people. Many of us are too intimidated to even post a picture of ourselves because of the harsh words keyboard warriors will say.
While Easier Than Ever, Discrimination Is Not Acceptable
Irrespective of the reasons that motivate an individual to fat shame an overweight person, it’s important to note that this behavior is never acceptable.
Fat shaming is unacceptable for many reasons, including the fact that it is an inhumane behavior which dehumanizes and degrades individuals who have as much innate value as everyone else.
The reality of fat shaming has drastic negative consequences on the overweight individual. For example, the hostile environment that overweight people are regularly exposed to entails ongoing, constant stress on the mind and body. As a result of this, the body produces stress hormones while also undergoing neurological, immune, and cardiovascular shifts to grapple with and contain the existing threat to its equilibrium.
Employment Opportunities Are Slim
Unfortunately, the prevalence and cultural acceptability of fat shaming can impact every aspect of an individual’s life. For example, employers will oftentimes consider the fact that a job candidate is overweight and select a slimmer person for the position.
In many cases, the prejudicial behavior results from a preconceived notion that overweight people can not move with substantive agility or think as critically and creatively as thinner individuals.
For example, there was a case study done on overweight workers in Poland. This study showed that of the 420 women workers, 5.3% of them were discriminated against while 10.5% of the workers had been verbally or emotionally abused because of their weight.
Health Insurance Debacle
In addition to impacting employment opportunities, the prevalence of fat shaming within contemporary cultures can affect an individual’s ability to attain quality insurance.
When an individual is overweight, health insurance companies often perceive them to be a big liability due to their increased susceptibility to unwanted conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In recognizing these realities, health insurance companies often charge overweight individuals higher rates.
What Can Overweight People Do To Handle Discrimination?
Once you’ve answered the question “Why are overweight people discriminated against?,” you may be wondering how overweight people can effectively grapple with the microaggressions they experience as a result of being obese.
There are several strategies that can be used to handle this type of discrimination. One great way to grapple with obesity-based discrimination is by finding a support group. In this setting, you can gain advice, encouragement, and sympathy from other individuals who have had to grapple with ridicule as a result of their excess weight.
In many cases, support groups also provide participants with a wide range of educational resources they can use to learn more about forming healthy, supportive relationships that empower individuals to optimize their self-esteem and maintain a position of trust within a world where they feel they can’t rely on others to treat them with respect and decency.
Use The Energy In A Positive Way
While nobody likes to be shamed, whether its for being overweight, bald or because you have freckles, it hurts all the same. Bullies will be bullies and there’s not always a easy solution to any given situation.
For some of us overweight people, we have the possibility to use this energy and turn it into motivation to lose weight and become healthier. Take the negativity and use it as your drive to end the fat shaming once and for all.
However, its not easy exercising and losing weight when you’ve been overweight all your life. So its important to take it slow and partake in easier activities in the beginning. Participating with simple yoga moves for overweight people may be all it takes for you to get the drive back.
If you want something more challenging, you can always invest in some high weight capacity exercise equipment and work out from home while watching Netflix. It sure is healthier than sitting in the couch and watching TV.
Another strategy that overweight individuals can deploy to overcome ongoing discrimination is the attainment of legal counsel. Legal counsel is important and imperative for those who want to effectively grapple with discrimination during hiring processes, within the work environment, and in any other setting where the overweight individual feels that her or his rights have been violated.
Lawyers and attorneys can provide you with the legal counsel necessary to make an informed decision regarding whether to sue, attain a settlement, or take some other form of action that will engender justice.
Discrimination Against Overweight People Is Real
One of the worst experiences in life is realizing that you have to live within a society that views you as inferior due to your lack of conformance to its values and guidelines. Even when obesity continues to climb in numbers.
If you are currently dealing with microaggressions and other forms of discrimination due to your obesity, it’s important to recognize that you are not alone.
In fact, there are numerous support groups and counseling professionals that you can turn to in order to develop healthy self-concepts while also empowering you to maintain high levels of confidence when interacting with others. Review the information found in this article so you can remain on track to overcoming and excelling in a world irrespective of what others think and say about you.