Weight Loss Support - Fat discrimination




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Tara D
10-10-2006, 08:37 PM
I went to a talk at my local university by Fat Activist Marilyn Wann. She is the author of the book "Fat!So?" The lecture was entitled "Fat Lib 101: Because Life's Too Short for Self-Hatred and Celery Sticks."

Let me say first that it didn't focus on telling people that they shouldn't try to lose weight if they want to. Ms. Wann focused on the way that society views heavy people. She had the audience call out adjectives and nouns that are associated with being "fat" and being "thin" based on the views that are prevalent in modern US society. The whole experience was really very interesting. When you think about it, society does base many, many judgements on people based on their weight, meaning that people have generalizations that "fat people are _____" and "thin people are ______".

The main idea was that this is wrong, just as wrong as judging and denying people things based on their race, sex, height, disabilities, etc. I think we all know that this is true, but it's interesting to sit and talk about it for 1 1/2 hours and really discuss it deeply. She emphasized that we should really learn to value ourselves and our bodies at any size. It was a really good talk, and I encourage anyone who sees that she's coming to her town to attend the talk. I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on that.

In the end, we all have the right to feel good about ourselves regardless of our size or shape -- It's a shame that societal attitutes try to steal this away.


kaplods
10-10-2006, 09:08 PM
I've read the book, and I love it. Ironically, I think it has helped my weight loss, because it helped me put the focus were it belonged. I need to lose weight for health reasons, not because I am not a fabulous person right now, exactly as I am. No more guilt-induced binges when I am less than perfect on my eating plan, because there's nothing to feel guilty about. I'm fat, not a mass-murderer, which is sometimes how our culture seems to treat us and encourage us to see ourselves.

BreakingFree
10-11-2006, 01:59 PM
I've had the book for a long time but haven't read it. I have A LOT of books on weight/food issues and I've only gotten through about half of them. I guess I'll move this one near the top of the list! Thanks for letting us know about your experience.


rockinrobin
10-11-2006, 02:26 PM
I don't think that I or anyone else is a bad person for being overweight. I don't buy that junk that you can be fabulous at any weight, I'm currenly 257 and let me tell you I am not fabulous. I'm not a bad person, I'm just not the best that I can be. I don't feel good about myself, I've let myself down, my children, my husband, my friends and the rest of my family down. I'm just not capable of doing certain things that thinner people can. I certainly don't think any one should make fun of or make someone feel bad for what they look like. There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about what a fat person or a skinny person is like. I am a "good" person, but I most definitely do not feel good about myself, but if someone is as overweight as I am and does feel good about themselves, well they obviously are a much better person then I am. I don't mean that to sound as angry as it does, but then I guess I am angry at myself, oh I don't know, maybe I'll just go get the book.

jcatron243
10-11-2006, 02:29 PM
Societal issues are so interesting to me. I am going to have to read the book.

kaplods
10-12-2006, 12:38 AM
Being hard on yourself is a hard habit to break, but guilt and self-deprecation don't help you treat yourself with respect. I'm ordinarily not one to bring religion into a subject uninvited, but my growing faith has helped me change my perspective. I believe in God's forgiveness, and if God has forgiven me, who am I to disagree. If I can't forgive myself, it's like telling God He's wrong.

AmberKay
10-12-2006, 01:11 AM
kaplods-you're absolutely right. I think that's one of the toughest things I've gone through personally with my faith.

This book sounds great, I'd love to read it. It's amazing, the schemas people have. That we unconsciously (or sometimes consciously) put things and people into little groups. This is a really good example of social scripting or whatever.

kaplods
10-12-2006, 02:00 AM
Social scripting, schemas, collective unconscious, whatever you want to call the beliefs societies hold in general are very powerful, and I think it's why it is so difficult to lose weight permanently. We learn to believe that fat is bad (to the point of anorexia for some women) and that if we are trying to lose weight, we are "supposed" to feel bad, even if we know that feeling bad actually inhibits success, it just doesn't seem "right" to have a positive self image.

We also tend to think of thinness bringing happiness, which is why many women gain it back. They lose weight, it doesn't solve all of their problems, and they return to old patterns, and gain it back. I'm pretty realistic. Weight loss is going to make me healthier and possibly more attractive (though my sweet husband denies this is possible). It isn't going to make me smarter, funnier, nicer or even necessarily happier. Bad stuff is still going to happen, I'm going to have the same strengths and weaknesses of character and personality

I think part of making this work permanently is seeing ourselves and our fat for what it is, and putting it into perspective. I am at a size where my weight has severely inhibited my life. I made alot of mistakes to get this heavy, and many of them were tied to "buying into" societies myths about dieting, fat, and weight loss, and my worth as a person because of my struggles in these areas. When I look at the things I have accomplished in my life, all while being fat, I have alot to be proud of. A bachelor's and master's degree in psychology, teaching college, working as a probation officer, a youth counselor, retraining as a computer programer, working for a Fortune 500 company, charity work, my marriage...

Although weight loss is one of my highest priorities in life, I don't want to be remembered for it. It is important to me, but I don't want "she lost weight" on my tombstone.

rockinrobin
10-12-2006, 08:22 AM
Well kaplods you certainly do have A LOT to be proud of. I was going to write I wish I could say the same, but you know what I guess I really do have a lot to be proud of. Anyway, what I was orginally going to write is I absolutely keep the 2 issues separate. Who I am and then the weight. And the weight really has nothing to do with who I am. I've certainly gotten some good perspective reading these posts and I thank all of you for your insight. Hoping to be in a better frame of mind soon.

lilybelle
10-12-2006, 12:59 PM
Kaplods, your post makes a lot of sense. I didn't lose the weight just to make it easier on my pallbearers, but it certainly didn't change who I am as a person. I , have accomplished a lot in my life and it had absolutely nothing to do with my weight. The reason for me losing weight was my health and it still is.

Beach Patrol
10-12-2006, 02:52 PM
I've always known that fat people face a great deal of discrimination. There's many reasons for that; one being the stereotypical "fat people can't control themselves with food, so what makes you think they could control themselves otherwise?" Meaning control with money, family issues, just about anything. Another is that because being fat is so hard on one's health, it makes a person a greater health risk to insurance companies, etc. And of course, we all know the main thing: "Fat is unattractive in our society."

I'm too busy to worry about what others think of me. I have to do what I know is right for my body. And I understand that just because XYZ Diet worked for Sue & Sally & Jan, it might not necessarily work for me; for my body type. And I'll keep fighting that flab - as long as it takes, as many times as it takes - because I believe in the good fight for good health. Looking good is just a bonus ;)

Usedtobelucky
10-12-2006, 08:19 PM
I just wanted to share with you a recent personal experience.

My mom had a total knee replacement last Tuesday. She is 290 lbs and has been overweight her entire life. Although I have convinced her that it is best for her health to lose the weight, she never tried to lose the weight when I was younger. The surgeon spoke to me & my father after her surgery and had to hear about how she is the second largest person he has done knee replacement surgery on. He then went on to tell us that due to her weight the hospital physical therapy unit may decide to not accept her and she would have to be sent to a nursing home. There's no problem with being frank about something, but it's the way that he said it. With a little smirk on his face. I was worried enough about her surgery but to have the surgeon say, "They may take one look at her weight and realize that they are going to have to use a lift everytime they need to get her up. They'll probably say that she needs to be transferred to a nursing home." As it turns out, she was transferred to a nursing home, where she was treated like an invalid. The hospital said that it didn't have any beds in the physical therapy unit. That may have been true, but I guess I'll always have to wonder if it was true. This is the same surgeon that told her during an office visit that she wouldn't be able to lose the weight without gastro bypass surgery.

Another thing that I wonder about is how the media portrays fat people. We've all seen the pictures of fat people walking down the street with 3 hot dogs in one hand and a pint of ice cream in the other. (Ok, so this may not be humanly possible). They always show fat people from the neck down. This makes me wonder if these people have consented to the usage of their body by the media outlet. If not, it's just wrong. I can't imagine watching the evening news and seeing my body on tv, without even knowing that I was being filmed. Anyway, thanks for reading. Discrimination against fat people is so bad, but I don't see it going away any time soon.

kaplods
10-13-2006, 12:32 AM
One study I read in graduate school found that formerly overweight people held the worst stereotypes about fat people, and the more weight that a person lost, the more they hated fat people. It's almost like the child abuse victim who grows up to become a victimizer.

It seems as though there's an unspoken belief that if a formerly fat person doesn't have contempt for fat, their formerly fat self, and even other fat people, then they're going to gain it all back and become fat and therefore "evil" again.

I'd like to hope that I can lose the weight without coming to hate my "old" self and anyone else.

HarpoChicoGroucho
10-13-2006, 01:10 AM
One study I read in graduate school found that formerly overweight people held the worst stereotypes about fat people, and the more weight that a person lost, the more they hated fat people. It's almost like the child abuse victim who grows up to become a victimizer.

It seems as though there's an unspoken belief that if a formerly fat person doesn't have contempt for fat, their formerly fat self, and even other fat people, then they're going to gain it all back and become fat and therefore "evil" again.

I'd like to hope that I can lose the weight without coming to hate my "old" self and anyone else.

I don't hold any stereotypes about overweight people; I consider myself very sympathetic to their struggle. It doesn't make any sense that a reduced obese individual would forget what it's like to live in a morbidly obese body and end up hating fat people. I KNOW that heavy people are not lazy, simply eat too much and can lose the weight if they really wanted. I've been there - it doesn't make any sense that I would develop stereotypes because I'm thinner now. I don't hold any contempt for my former self, I didn't like it - and I don't want to go back to it, but I would NEVER judge or think disparagingly of anyone who struggles with their weight. I know how hard it is to lose weight. You don't have to hate something/someone to not want to go back to it.

kaplods
10-13-2006, 03:06 AM
All successful dieters don't end up fat bigots, and one study or even ten doesn't prove anything, but I've definitely met successful "losers" on both ends of the spectrum regarding sympathy towards overweight people. You would expect someone to be sympathetic to people in the "boat" they were once in, but it's not always true.

I've been in in Nutrisystem, Tops, OA, and Weight Watchers groups, and no group was without fat and formerly fat members who expressed hatred of themselves and other people who were fat, and said some of the nastiest things about themselves and others related to being overweight.

One woman who had lost about 75 lbs, had a pre-teen daughter at home who was still overweight. The woman said such horrible things about her daughter (not present), I dread to think what she said TO her at home especially because when other members encouraged the woman to be understanding of her daughter, because she (mom) knew how difficult it was to lose weight -- the woman's response was that she didn't succeed (at losing weight) by being soft on herself, she wasn't about to be "soft" on her daughter.

LookingForHope16
10-13-2006, 04:20 AM
I think that I want to read this book!

BerkshireGrl
10-13-2006, 07:38 AM
It's a great book :D

(I got it a few months ago from my local library using inter-library loan, which is an AWESOME thing.)

Indychick829
10-13-2006, 10:39 AM
We learn to believe that fat is bad (to the point of anorexia for some women) and that if we are trying to lose weight, we are "supposed" to feel bad, even if we know that feeling bad actually inhibits success, it just doesn't seem "right" to have a positive self image.


This is one thing I've never understood. I've been on this weight loss roller coaster since I was 12 years old. I'm now 27. And when I'm in my "weight loss phase" - and I'm actually WATCHING what I eat, and I'm EXERCISING - and doing what a normal human being SHOULD do in order to take care of their body - I've gotten the "hahaha, she's on a diet she can't eat that....


However, then there's those times - especially if you are overweight and you're out in a social (or even sometimes private) setting - and you ARE eating "whatever" you want - then people go - "oh my god, you're not going to eat THAT are you?"...

seriously - when it comes to weight loss and being "fat" or "thin" - it's a double edge sword - you're dam*ed if you do AND if you don't...

HarpoChicoGroucho
10-13-2006, 10:50 AM
All successful dieters don't end up fat bigots, and one study or even ten doesn't prove anything, but I've definitely met successful "losers" on both ends of the spectrum regarding sympathy towards overweight people. You would expect someone to be sympathetic to people in the "boat" they were once in, but it's not always true.

I've been in in Nutrisystem, Tops, OA, and Weight Watchers groups, and no group was without fat and formerly fat members who expressed hatred of themselves and other people who were fat, and said some of the nastiest things about themselves and others related to being overweight.

One woman who had lost about 75 lbs, had a pre-teen daughter at home who was still overweight. The woman said such horrible things about her daughter (not present), I dread to think what she said TO her at home especially because when other members encouraged the woman to be understanding of her daughter, because she (mom) knew how difficult it was to lose weight -- the woman's response was that she didn't succeed (at losing weight) by being soft on herself, she wasn't about to be "soft" on her daughter.

That's incredibly sad. I'm happy I've never come across a former heavy person with that attitude. I'd definitely give them a what for.