Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fat Jibes!

I read with interest an article dealing with "fat jibes", by authors Rebecca Puhl and Kelly Brownell, both from Yale.

It seems research has found that making people feel bad about their size and/or weight is not the way to go. It's counter-productive. There is a wide-spread belief that making people feel bad about themselves (i.e. attaching your fat photograph on the frig) is an acceptable and effective form of motivation. It isn't.

Victimisation (for that's what it is) amongst youngsters creates a no-win situation for them. This type of stigma doesn't work, and most of us know some of the consequences of being treated this way.

I bet most of us can confirm derogatory comments whether in the family, amongst our (so-called) friends and at work. Think of job discrimination. Do we get the promotion without having to undergo rigorous processes when many younger and slimmer people get into the short-list quickly and easily and it's NOT always that they're better at the job. Oh no! Even physical aggression. now, this is one of those "hidden" things that go on, but most of us again, will confirm that we've been subjected to this sort of treatment. We know all this because most of us have gone through this sort of unreasonable behaviour by others.

But the article quoted: "the personal stories we've collected in our studies are heartbreaking; a mother joking in a crowded room that she takes her child to a tentmaker to buy back-to-school clothes; a doctor telling a patient that she is too fat to interest her husband sexually; a teacher announcing to a classroom that an absent child 'probably stayed home to eat'".

These stories reflect a viciousness long ago shunned in matters of race or gender. Here, though, is a perverse twist. People inflicting the stigma are often convinced they are actually helping the victim.

The authors say, "We all need to change and the first step is simple. We must recognise that weight stigma is harmful, that it may well be contributing to obesity, and that it is not legitimate."

Health care professionals including doctors and nurses, dietitians and nutritionists and others within the health arena are very often the perpetrators of this stigma.

What I found of particular interest in this article was the statement, If even the health care system is unwelcoming, where can the obese turn for help?"

Where? Well a lot of us find help and encouragement (in verbal terms) from other people who are in the same predicament as us. It's by joining forces that we can find companionship and understanding.

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