- practical (for instance, medical equipment or seats in most public places that are too small to accommodate obese persons);
- verbal (such as insults, ridicule, teasing, stereotypes, derogatory names or pejorative language); or
- physical (such as bullying or other aggressive behaviors)
In some cases stigma results in discrimination, such as employment discrimination wherein an obese employee is denied a position or promotion solely or primarily due to esthetic revulsion at his or her appearance, despite the individual being appropriately qualified.
I think this is a really important educational event. Weight stigma is so pervasive and unfortunately a largely socially accepted form of mistreating and abusing the overweight. The message is that the overweight brought their problem upon themselves, so they deserve it. Even the government wants to penalize the overweight. The latest is New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg, who would rather see poor children go hungry than risk them being overweight.
We are barraged with media messages about the “obesity epidemic.” Everybody’s fat. And getting fatter as we speak. All sorts of silly surveys done about the fattest city, the fattest state. Article after article pondering what the culprits are and what can be done about it. It’s exhausting.
Yet despite the fact that overweight people are so prevalent, they are marginalized, excluded, lives made more difficult. Airlines want to exclude them, or charge them for two seats. You have doctors who refuse to treat overweight people. They are unwilling to assume the “heightened risk.” They are unwilling to purchase appropriate equipment to do so. You can read all about it here and here. Hello, if the obese are supposed to be the unhealthiest, shouldn’t they be the ones most in need of medical care?
Fashion designers don’t want to design for them. Even the plus size clothing designers that do exist are waning, dropping like rows of dominos. Here in Westchester (a suburb of New York City), Lane Bryant and Avenue, two of the biggest women’s clothing manufacturers closed their stores. Then they closed their stores in Manhattan as well. I read an excellent article by author Jen Lancaster about how her Macy’s had ceased carrying plus sizes. Are there suddenly less plus size women out there? Are plus size women supposed to go naked? I don’t think so. Continue reading