The harmful impact of fat phobia

 

Fat phobia – what does that word mean to you?  Would you describe yourself as fat phobic?

If you laugh at or put down people in larger bodies OR you live in fear of putting on weight, you ARE fat phobic.

Fat phobia is so rife (and widely accepted) within our culture, most of us don’t realise we are behaving in fat phobic ways.

In this post, I’m exploring the harmful impact fat phobia has on fat people and those holding fat phobic views.

I’m sharing some questions to help you understand and challenge your beliefs about fat people.

Watch or read below:

 

What is fat phobia?

Fat phobia is a dislike of fat people, in the same way that homophobia is a dislike of gay people.

While prejudices against sex, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability are legislated against, fat phobia has (sadly) remained an acceptable and normalised form of prejudice.

In fact, fat phobia is so ingrained in our culture that most of the time you don’t even realise when you are being fat phobic or marginalising people in larger bodies.

In a culture that consistently promotes ‘thin is best’ and demonises fat and fat people, it’s hard to escape from having some fat phobic beliefs.

The fat stereotype

There are a lot of stereotypical views around fat people such as:

  • Laziness
  • Lack of self-care
  • Never exercise
  • Always eating
  • Only eat ‘fast’ or ‘unhealthy’ foods
  • Just need to stop eating and start exercising….

…and the list goes on

But just because someone is in a larger body, it doesn’t mean these beliefs are true. Any of these things could apply to anybody of ANY size.

I admit that because of the prevalence of fat phobia, I can momentarily slip back into the fat phobic beliefs I used to have.

The impact of fat phobia

Fat phobia causes A LOT of harm…

People in larger bodies are denied access to medical care, not recruited for jobs, and are treated unfairly in a range of different situations.

And while fat phobia is clearly harmful to fat people, it also harms anyone holding fat phobic beliefs.

At the heart of fat phobia is a fear that YOU too will become fat.  Many people believe that judging fat people will motivate them not to gain weight.

BUT fat phobia doesn’t serve anyone. Evidence consistently shows that body shaming doesn’t help someone to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. Quite the opposite.

Fat shaming hinders positive behaviours such as enjoying exercise and asking for help with mental health issues.

The fear of becoming fat encourages negative and unhealthy behaviours such as restriction, bingeing, and over exercising.

Examine and challenge your views 

If you hold fat phobic beliefs, I don’t blame you. You’re only human and you aren’t immune to the messages all around you.

But if you want to feel more comfortable in your own body (whether you’re larger bodied or not), it’s time to start examining your beliefs about fat people and to heal the fear of fat.

And, in doing so, you create a kinder, more compassionate space for people in larger bodies to live their life without fat prejudice.

Everyone is entitled to the same right to happiness regardless of race, gender, ability, sexual orientation or size.

So I’d like you to think carefully about your beliefs around ‘fat’.

I’m going to end this post with some coaching questions to help you examine your beliefs about people in larger bodies:

What do you believe about people in larger bodies?
• How do you know these beliefs are true? What evidence do you have?
• What do your beliefs tell you about your own body image?
• What beliefs might you hold if you had greater compassion for all bodies, including your own?

I’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions.  Please leave a comment below.

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