I read an article this week about Kelly Osborn (daughter of Ozzy Osborn) and her recent weight loss. Now I never watched her family's reality show, so before Dancing with the Stars last season, I had no opinion of her. I liked her on DWTS, and saw a lot of my self in her with the confidence and image problems. The article about her weight loss was entertaining (after crazy diets, calorie counting finally helped her see healthy weight loss), but on quote from her stuck in my mind. She has battled drug and alcohol addiction as well as weight issues. She talked about how much more tolerant and forgiving people and society are for drug addicts than they are those who are overweight. She's right. I constantly see news articles about people struggling with drug addiction (and I in no way want to dismissed the effects of drug abuse) but they have excuses-peer pressure, broken home, pain, injury, environment, etc. But when talking about those overweight, it's because we are lazy gluttons that can't seem to push ourselves away from the buffet table. With the number of overweight people in this world, why is this still the case? Why is there so much hatred towards overweight people as opposed to practically all other health issues?
03-12-2010, 07:04 PM
Its a prejudice that is acceptable in our society. In all honesty...and I don't mean to offend, but being fat has some major drawbacks in our culture.
03-12-2010, 07:06 PM
Maybe becoming a drug or alcohol addict seems so remote a possibility for people, but becoming a food addict hits closer to home. Who doesn't love junk food and who doesn't gain a few pounds over the holidays and struggle to get it off? I'm sure the numbers are a lot higher than those who have done meth or coke. Maybe there's an ongoing, underlying fear in all people, "What if eat too much and became fat?" But, it's less likely that they would think, "Gosh, I hope I never get tempted to smoke some crack!" I don't know what it is, but it IS sad........
03-13-2010, 08:45 AM
I don't know if I agree with that 100%. I do think that in Hollywood it is more acceptable to need rehab than a diet coach because it is all about looks. And I get that the media feeds society all this crap. But in real life there is no way I or anyone I know would look down on someone who is fat compared to an addict or alcaholic.
Addiction is something thought of as selfish, evil, dirty, wrond. Being fat is more like, oh that's too bad. And I think it's because being fat is becomming the norm. You will loose your job and your kids for being addicted to drugs. If your fat you are just like 1/3 of the othert ppl you know.
I supose every community is different. Like the norm ansdstigmatisims are different in Nova Scotia, Canada than they are in say California, USA. Or at least I would think so.
I've rambled enough i think.
03-13-2010, 11:25 AM
Addiction is something thought of as selfish, evil, dirty, wrond. Being fat is more like, oh that's too bad. And I think it's because being fat is becomming the norm.
Maybe it is because I have worked in the addiction field...I don't see addiction as selfish, evil or dirty. I see it as a disease and it is horrible! My drug of choice has been food...but it is so hard for even me to be compassionate with food as an addiction. Just stop. Make better choices. on and on and on The only thing "I think" I know is not every overweight person has a food addiction.
And I so don't see being fat is more like, oh that is too bad. Cuz I see judgment all over the place! Fat people are lazy. If they really cared they would do something.
Those are my opinions...and please no one take offense...I was rambling!
03-13-2010, 12:16 PM
I think the dichotomy is clearest when looking at eating disorders: if someone chronically undereats and seriously damages or risks seriously damaging their health, that's a disorder and they need treatment. But if someone seriously overeats and seriously damages or risks seriously damaging their health, they are a fat lazy slob.
I am not saying "oh, I have an eating disorder it's not my fault wah wah wah". I am saying that when someone has a BMI above 50, there's likely something going on that is different than what's going on with someone whose BMI has crept up to 29. They need different solutions, different advice, different approaches. Again, this isn't to say that the behavior of the person with the BMI of 50 isn't the problem--it likely is--but it's different types of behavior problems that get you to 50 than those that get your to 29.
An analogy: I am a high school teacher, and we have all sorts of interventions in place for kids who have failed a class, designed to catch them up and get them the skills they need to go on and be successful. Many of these interventions are pretty useful and helpful. However, we also have a (much smaller) number of kids who are failing ALL their classes, or most of them. These kids don't need the same interventions as the others X 6, because there's something else going on with them: the symptoms may be the same, just more pronounced, but the underlying causes are likely different and need different solutions.
03-13-2010, 12:50 PM
I think that fat has lost some of it's stigma, but not nearly as much as you would think it would have considering that it's so common.
One study done I believe in the mid 80's or early 90's (I remember reading it in college or graduate school. I wanted to do my the thesis on the psychology of weight loss, but I was too ashamed to pick a subject like that when I was so overweight. I thought it would look like I was trying to make excuses for myself, rather than trying to understand myself), found that overweight people hed more harsh and judgemental beliefs about being overweight than did normal weight people.
Reading that article did change my perception of anti-fat bias and prejudice. I can hardly blame society for bashing on obesity, when statistically I'm more likely to even harsher.
I think the strangest stereotype of obesity is the assumption of laziness and stupidity. I found that even though I had a masters' degree and a resume that showed that I always held two jobs (or a job and school) ever since I was 13 - employers sometimes still tended to assume that I was an idiot and wouldn't work unless a supervisor was breathing down my back.
It may have cost me some jobs, but even when I was hired, I often saw that I was treated differently than other new employees. Eventually, I disproved the stereotype to them, but in itself that was sometimes very offensive (when employers over-gushed compliments regarding how surprised they were that I was such a good worker). "Fat" was never brought up as the reason, but I saw it being done to other fat employees as well. It was rather obvious that a fat employee who was just an average worker (no better or worse than the skinny employees), was labeled as extremely lazy and incompetent.
It's like the old saying applied to women and minorities "you have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good."
Cultural stereotypes are difficult to overcome. Even when there are laws against them, they're still very common, and again it's likely for targets of the bias to blame themselves more than others (maybe it's a tendency that allows us to feel we have some control over the situation). For example, a study of various minorities found that people of any specific minority was more likely to agree with more of the stereotypes than people of a different heritage. Although it's also possible that it's just easier to be honest about stereotypical beliefs when we're part of the sterotype.
To be entirely honest, I'm less concerned (as terrible as they are) about the stereotypes, as the culture of silence. Just as child abuse and child sexual abuse was once a subject that was never talked about and brushed under the rug. What happened "behind closed doors," was considered nobody's business, obesity is still a subject that in some ways is still considered an inappropriate topic to discuss.
I still see people's eyes widen in surprise when I acknowledge that I am fat. Their shock turns to discomfort if I spend more than two seconds on the topic, and I still get weird, but culturally-sanctioned comments, such as "Oh, don't say that, you're not fat." (I got that one again, a few days ago, and at least I didn't break into hysterical laughter as I did once in the past, really hurting the feelings of the person who said it).
I do find it offensive when overweight people hold the stereotype - not because I think it's ill-intended, but because it deprives the person and other fat people of the help and support they need, and that makes me angry. The number one complaint on this and other weight loss boards, and in in-person weight loss groups is lack of support.
The stereotype that disturbs me the most, is that we're not worthy of assistance. "They want to be that way," is a phrase I've heard not only about obesity, but of substance abuse, poverty and other social ills.
I think debating about which stereotypes are more or less accepted, understood, sympathized with..... it's all pointless. The negative results are largely the same, and it wastes energy that could be spent working on the issues. It's not even about fighting the stereotype, it's about rising above it to help people.
But, I think that help for obesity comparable to the help available for other issues is a long way off. I don't think it's only because of the acceptability of the prejudice, but the fact that obesity can be ignored because the impacts (on the surface) seem smaller to the larger community. Ignore substance abuse and alcoholism and it has a larger impact on the community. Impaired driving, intoxicated assaults, loss of income, criminal behavior, broken families....
Ignore obesity and the ripples to the larger community are still there, but there less obvious. I think all issues that now receive support and funding (whether through private charities and giving or governmental support) all were at one time blamed solely on the individual. Only gradually did society have to take some of the responsibility. I think obesity is the same.
I'm not "blaming" society for my obesity, but considering how widespread obesity is, it has become "society's problem" as well. And just like early programs to deal with issues such as substance abuse, child abuse and even smoking (another "small" problem that has only recently been seen as a societal problem) the early programs may be misguided and will not be very effective. Eventually though I think it will be.
3FC and other sites like it, is truly breaking ground. There have always been "support groups" for weight loss, but I've seen very few who deal with it with the compassion and bravery of folks here. Willing to discuss the issues without hatred, judgement and scorn (for the most part).
One day more of the support will be found in the greater community, but it's being built here and in other places like it.
03-13-2010, 10:48 PM
When Joan Rivers talks about Kate Winslet having a weight problem.....It's definitely more "acceptable" for them to have substance problems than to be 15 lbs overweight!! It's ridiculous and it makes me mad.
03-14-2010, 08:37 PM
I feel that people are more accepting of the fact that addiction to drugs or alcohol or cigarettes is seen in a more chemical and non-organic, outside of oneself way. Which is true--nicotine is extremely addictive, etc.
What I have found is that people view overeating and obesity (which for some people is the result of a food addiction or binge disorder or an eating disorder) as a moral flaw. I literally have people in certain setting who are thin, and who are open about having issues with food and at times have anorexic type disorders, but yet, they seem to be more accepting and less judgmental of that version of an eating disorder, but they look down on those that are fat. It is as if they are more understanding of someone simply not eating or exercising to the extremes, but they harbor bias when the disorder manifests in the form of overeating. Somehow the person who overeats is lazy or slothful or lacking will power, etc.
I have encountered situations where I was the odd person out because my eating disorder is overeating, AND I am not thin, and I can't fit a lot of clothing options right now. It is like there is a group that loves discussing their weight (none of them are anywhere near overweight--even minimally!) and being anorexic at one point and their style, but they seem to not be open or accepting of the reverse.