5 Ways to Deal with Weight Prejudice

overweight

Sizism

I’ve had quite a few thoughts running through my head lately about “weight prejudice.”

This is where overweight people are treated differently because of their weight. I’ve even heard overweight people saying that skinny people just don’t want to be around them at all.

I think a lot of this prejudice goes back to childhood. If you’ve grown up thinking that it’s acceptable to make rude comments about others you’re likely to carry this on into adulthood. This can be anything from religious bigotry to ethnic hatred, racism to sexism, and it’s no different to ‘sizism’.

“… children no more than 6 years of age describe silhouettes of an obese child as ‘lazy, dirty, stupid, ugly cheats and liars.’… black-and-white line drawings of a normal-weight child, an obese child, and children with various handicaps, including missing hands and facial disfigurement, (were shown) to a variety of audiences. Both children and adults rated the obese child as the least likeable. This prejudice extends across races, across rural and urban dwellers, and, saddest of all, even to obese persons themselves.”

Isn’t that shocking?

I think most of us have experienced some form of discrimination at one time or another. You may have found yourself on the receiving end of unkind comments about your looks, your clothes, your religion, or your job, etc.

But, I’m wondering if you’ve experienced unkind comments about your weight? Or, perhaps you’ve been the one doling out the bad comments?

The truth is, that many overweight people do feel others treat them differently because they’re “fat!” And, whether you agree that this is the case or not, it’s very real to those concerned.

Here are 5 ways to deal with weight prejudice

#1 Make good friends, forget about the bad

If certain individuals are treating you bad because of your weight, they simply aren’t worth worrying about, are they?

People like this are not your friends, nor should you want them to be, and even if you were slimmer they’d still be nasty.

My advice is to make friends with people who are worth your friendship – be assured there are people out there who will treat you well no matter what size you are.

#2 Keep negativity in check

When you feel self-conscious it can be very easy to start thinking that no-one likes you because of XYZ.

But, even if there are some people out there who don’t like you because of your weight (their loss, right??), this is certainly not the case with everyone.

Do remember though, if you’re always thinking negatively and putting yourself down inside your head, it will show on the outside, and this can certainly make it more difficult for people to get to know the real you.

So, try to be yourself around people and stop worrying about how fat your are, or feel. Check out How to Stop Negative Thinking for more tips.

#3 Step out with confidence

You are a great person and you do deserve people to treat you well. So, be confident, and try to show people you’re not afraid of what they think of you.

Remember, prejudice is driven by ignorance, you don’t need to bow to that kind of person. Be confident in your own skin.

#4 Be friendly

If you’re constantly angry or grumpy this can be more off-putting to other people than any issues they may have with your current weight.

So, examine yourself too – don’t simply assume the blame always lies with others.

Remember, if you’re angry against others on the inside this is usually evident on the outside too, and it can make it very difficult for people to warm to you.

#5 Don’t play the victim

If you don’t like the way your body is right now, don’t just assume that you can’t change things.

You absolutely can if you put your mind to it.

If you really do want to lose weight though, you need to do it for you and you only, not to gain the approval of other people.

Many people fall into the trap of thinking that being “skinny” would make them so much happier or more successful, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s more to do with your mind-set than anything else.

Choose to eat healthy, to exercise, and to take care of yourself for you and your health. Remember, no-one else is going to do that for you. It’s your call, so take action.

While being overweight may really get you down at times, do try to remain positive. Remember, you cannot fix other people or their crummy attitudes…fat people or thin ones.

So, choose to be happy and healthy for you, not others.

For those of you reading this who don’t struggle with your weight, I challenge you to check yourself next time you see someone who is overweight.

What thoughts enter your mind? Do you think of them as lazy, or without self-control?

Remember, no-one is perfect. What gives you the right to feel superior over another, just because you are perhaps thinner, or more athletic? It would be more fitting if you endeavored to reach out to others with whatever help you can give.

If you cannot help in some way, turn in the other direction, rather than criticising, or making rude comments. Give others the respect they deserve as human beings.

What are your thoughts on this subject? I’d love to hear from you.

“Prejudice cannot see the things that are because it is always looking for things that aren’t.”

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

VM January 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I am saddened by the small mindedness of some people. I was very suprised to experience weight loss prejudice though. When I had lost 14lbs, I was very happy to achieve that milestone. I had spent years suffering from a low body image, so after losing weight and improving my fitness, I was much more confident. I didn’t see myself as ‘there’ as I was still four stone off goal. Buf that first 14lb is special to me.

A so called friend responded by sending me a message reminding me that that I was still much bigger than her. She went onto write loads of nasty things online about me being full of myself yet had nothing to celebrate yet. The final straw was when she told me that mutual friends said a lot of nasty things about me behind my back. When I asked them they denied it – and I believe them.

Of course I was not going to let a spiteful, lying nasty little girl stop me and I have gone on to continue losing weight, exercising and working to goal. I’m very happy with each loss. But the potential for damage could have been there.

I don’t understand her behaviour. She’s a very high achiever herself so I don’t understand why she resents others achieving. She is so in love with her own body it is unreal – she never misses a chance to promote how wonderful she thinks her body is. I hope that one day ypu write an article on dealing with spiteful people after weightloss

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Melanie January 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi VM.
You have given me some inspiration for an article on this, it is a very difficult subject to address, but so important. Thank you for sharing your story.

All I can say is you are better off without a friend like her. It sounds to me like she has major issues with her own mind, despite what she may try to protray about how “prefect” her body looks.

You are amazing for losing so much weight, and also for carrying on regardless of spiteful relationships… good work, and I know you will continue to be successful :-)

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Melanie February 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Hi again VM,
I have written an article in response to your comment. You can find it here: http://www.dietriffic.com/2011/02/21/weight-loss-story/

I hope you find it helpful :-)

Best wishes,

Melanie

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Joyce Garber April 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I am saddened that in the last item of your blog that you appear to lump all overweight people into the category of eating disordered. Perhaps it was not intended that way but that is how it came across to me. There are lots of reasons people are overweight and not all of them have anything to do with addiction. There are those who do fall into the addiction category but that is rarely the only reason even in those cases. It feels dismissive. Perhaps again unintentional but just further proof of how pervasive the misunderstanding about this subject is. I also find it fascinating that you are a thin person writing on weight. Have you ever struggled with your own weight issues?

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Melanie April 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

I am sorry Joyce, but I have no idea what “last item” you are talking about? Please explain.

I have re-read this article, and I am convinced that it is as sensitive to the issues of people who struggle with their weight as I intended it to be when I wrote it. In fact, this article is all about improving the self-esteem of my readers who struggle with this.

Your question about whether I have ever been overweight puzzles me. I am a registered dietitian, if I cannot talk about weight issues, then who can? Is it necessary that all health professional must go through a period of being overweight to understand the issues?

I am fully aware that I can never understand all of the issues, which someone may have to deal with, but that is the case for most things in life. That does not mean that my advice is not valuable, and the fact that I work hard to maintain my own weight, by eating well and being active, and am successful at that, shows that I know what I am talking about, and can help others to do the same.

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Joyce Garber April 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I am confused by your confusion. I feel like I stated my point pretty clearly but here is the direct quote: “Remember, there are many other addictions which you could judge even more severely.”

This feels like it is stating that obesity is always a matter of addiction. That is simplistic and simply not accurate. I stated that in my initial post and doesn’t look like you addressed that. Do you believe that obesity is always an addiction issue?

I also did not say that you have nothing to offer or that you have to have worked through weight issues to offer good advice. I simply questioned it because of what appears a rather incorrectly overt statement.

Thanks for being willing to really try to understand my comment. That is refreshing.

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Joyce Garber April 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I didn’t know that you were a dietitian, although I still would have made the same comment. I didn’t see your education posted anywhere on the site I was linked to from google. Your about the author doesn’t mention it. I don’t assume just because people are dietitians that they have no prejudice about weight. In fact most dieticians I know do have weight prejudice.

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Melanie April 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for your reply, Joyce. I see what you were meaning now. I didn’t even notice that when I re-read the article, which I think shows I did not intend that statement to sound how it did to you.

I certainly do not believe that obesity is always an addiction issue. Obesity is such an incredibly complicated area, and to say that this, or that, is the cause is almost impossible in most cases.

I wrote this article back in 2009, so I cannot clearly remember what point I was trying to make, but I did not mean to suggest that obesity is always the result of an addiction. I think I was trying to get across that if someone were an alcoholic or drug addict, or whatever, you might be critical of them also, but you don’t know that that is what they are, just by looking at them. Whereas when someone is overweight, it is plain to be seen, and because of that they suffer a great deal by the comments, harsh looks, etc. of others. I was trying to encourage my readers to give people the respect they deserve as human beings.

I will edit that comment, however, as I feel it must be amended. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have updated my About the Author, also, as I had overlooked that I don’t state I’m a dietitian in there. You can find about about my credentials on my About Page, if you so desire.

I cannot speak for other dietitians, although I would be saddened to think that weight prejudice is the case for most. Personally, I work hard to try to understand and get to the bottom of the issues my clients face. I endeavor to be sensitive. I hope that it clear to my regular readers, too.

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Joyce Garber April 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thanks for your reply Melanie and for being willing to consider the comments of those who read your articles. I also appreciate the personal clarifications you have made. I appreciate your engaging in dialogue with me and hope you continue to be a help to many people. Thanks for engaging in this difficult issue and bringing light to how people faced with obesity prejudice may feel.

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Melanie April 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Hi again Joyce,
I am always thankful to someone like yourself, who is diligent enough to point something out to me, but also come back to discuss it further. Sometimes people leave one comment, and you never hear from them again. So, I also appreciate your dialogue :-) Take care, and I hope to “see” you around on Dietriffic in the coming days.

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