I’m going to assume that you are doing what you truly think is best for fat people. Normally I can see where many different points of view are valid, but in this matter you are just wrong. Shaming is never the way to go and here is why:
People don’t take care of things they hate and that includes their bodies. When you encourage people to be ashamed of their bodies, you decrease the chances that they will believe that they are worthy of care.
Shaming may actually create the problems that it’s purported to solve: Peter Muennig from Columbia found that the stress of stigma and shame were correlated with the same diseases with which obesity is correlated. So every time you make someone feel bad about themselves, you put their health at risk.
Muennig’s research also found that women who were concerned about their weight had more mental and physical illnesses than those who were fine with their size, regardless of their weight. So telling a fat woman to be concerned about her weight is dangerous.
When doctors are told to shame fat people for their weight, it leads to fat people not going to the doctor, they miss out on preventative care, and they end up not getting treatment until an issue is very advanced (which gives them even less time to wade through doctors who ignore their actual health issues and just tell them to lose weight to get actual evidence-based healthcare.).
When we shame people for getting sick, then they are too embarrassed to get the treatment they need.
We will never know how much all of the shame and stigma affects fat people until we stop shaming and stigmatizing them.
Shame is just never, never the way to go. There is no proof that shame and stigma lead to thin bodies or good health outcomes. There is plenty of research that shows that shame and stigma lead to negative health outcomes. You can no longer justify your shaming behavior in any way other than an attempt at putting down others to try to feel better about yourself, or to try to feel superior. So now you know. And knowing is half that battle.
Acting on your knowledge is the other half. Knowing the negative effects of shame, the only responsible course is to stop body shaming immediately.
Project Update – VICTORY!
Our e-mail writing and Facebook bombing worked! Citizen’s Medical Center has ended their policy of not hiring people with a BMI over 35. Add this to our victories including getting NEDA to remove the STOP obesity Alliance from its list of partners, responding to The Biggest Loser’s marketing that people can’t be loved until they are thin with our own kick ass video, creating the Fit Fatty Forum Photo Gallery, creating the 353 member Rolls Not Trolls Community to spread Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size to the darkest corners of the internet, Marilyn Wann’s incredible STANDards project, and raising $21,000 and putting up 6 billboards and 10 bus shelter signs in Atlanta to show kids of all sizes that they are valued and supported, and the iVillage Diet Quitters slide show that is in production, the HAES/SA Activist Community is kicking some serious ass.
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