End Weight Hate, is the theme of Weight Stigma Awareness Week, or WSAW (Sept. 28 – Oct. 5) this year. Weight stigma and discrimination affect real people in life, contributing to their physical and mental health. There is a need to eliminate stigma and discrimination based on body size.
What is Weight Bias?
Weight bias is negative attitudes, beliefs, judgments, stereotypes, and discriminatory acts aimed at individuals simply because of their weight.
Fat-phobia is another name for weight stigma, that limits people in housing, health care, or in jobs, it is something that is internalized into all of us.
Tips to Overcome Fat Phobia
Fat is not always Unhealthy
Many of us are taught to accept that fat is always unhealthy, without ever being urged to interrogate why, or how, or if there might be other things going on beneath the surface.
Stop Saying “I Feel Fat” if You Are not
When you use a phrase like “I feel fat” to belittle your appearance, what you are saying to those around you — in particular those who are actually fat — is that you feel like you look like them and that their type of body is a ghastly, ugly, wretched thing.
Work Out Because It Feels Good
If you feel inclined to work out do so simply because it feels good. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, and those endorphins help us feel less pain and stress, it helps our hearts grow stronger and better able to keep our blood pumping. These are reasons enough to do the thing while exercising for the sole purpose of weight loss can quickly begin to feel emotionally draining, physically dangerous, and just not a ton of fun.
It’s also worth considering what type of exercise best fits in with your preferences. Maybe quiet walks in the forest are your cup of tea, or evening swims at the local pool or jogs with your best friend or yoga in the comfort of your own home. It is okay not to love going to the gym (fat people are often subjected to cruelty in public fitness spaces, so it is understandable not to enjoy those environments). Luckily, there are other ways of incorporating fitness into our lives that just feel better.
Weight vs. Self Worth
Not all of us are healthy, for an infinite variety of reasons encompassing physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Not all of us are healthy, regardless of the size found on our jacket tags. Still, all of us are worthy human beings. All of us deserve kindness. All of us should feel positioned to live the lives we want to live.
Curb Diet Talk
Women are undoubtedly conditioned to bond with one another over negative body talk. We learn to chat about our thick thighs in disdain, or our grey hairs in resentment, or our weight loss goals in desperation — and, along the way, we perpetuate so many harmful ideas about ageism, fat-phobia, and sexism. We hurt ourselves, and those we are with, and those who can probably hear us from the sidelines.
The easiest way to distance ourselves from this is simply to stop. Stop participating, stop engaging, and respectfully ask to change the subject.
Remember, Fat is Not…
“Fat” is not a synonym for “ugly,” for “undisciplined,” for “corrupt,” or “cruel,” or “selfish,” or “uninteresting,” or “unhealthy,” or anything else that it is so frequently compared to. So, let’s actively work to stop those associations. End Weight Hate.