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An NPR article, aptly titled “Hating on Fat People Just Makes Them Fatter,” might not be the perspective most people expect to hear when they think of the status quo.
Generally, moral superiority would have us believe that obese people feel a sense of shame when bullied, which results in their desire to lose weight.
So, why wouldn’t those bullied by diet culture, skinny people, and the able-bodied resolve to lose that extra weight? Are obese people just happy people, content with their lifestyle and dietary habits?
Looking at the larger picture paints a more saddening reality.
Implicit social stigma and financial barriers often prevent obese people from reaching out to others for help, getting a personal trainer, or setting steady weight loss goals.
Instead, a cycle of binge eating or overeating often takes the place of healthy behavioral habits – or, people jump to lose weight fast, looking into ineffectual dieting pills that can be dangerous.
But why do people hate fat people? What is the root cause of the discrimination itself? Read to find out.
Rampant Diet Culture and Obesity
It’s clear that North America has both a rampant diet culture, and an obesity epidemic.
Yet, despite the prevailing attitudes toward obesity and the constant barrage of weight loss products by the diet industry, nothing seems to be changing for the better.
A decade ago, not a single state had an obesity percentage over 35 percent, while now, most states sit closer to 40 percent. We have a better knowledge and understanding of the health ramifications of poor dietary habits now more than ever, and yet, things are getting worse.
We know the dangers of over-eating refined sugars, trans fats, and loading up on processed food. The consequences of obesity are well established at this point – some of these diseases include diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
How is it possible that despite our ever-expanding knowledge of human physiology, we can’t seem to cut out the junk?
The Effects of Diet Culture
Dieting has become so ubiquitous as a part of identity, we are now fully immersed in it. Sabrina Stings, Ph.D., points out, “It is the belief that we can control our bodies based on what and how much we eat, and it places a moral judgment on food and bodies.”
Looking at diet culture, we can consider why this is to blame. Few people would likely argue in favor of obesity as a marker of good health.
However, the diet industry and perspective towards body fat have further solidified people who are obese as “the other.”
This industry has made those who are overweight feel as though they hold less social capital.
The culture can manifest itself as internalized hatred or disgust for others who are different, which often only serves to reinforce the same behavioral patterns that may have caused obesity.
Many people turn to food as a solution or support system for emotional problems when they lack the resources to address these problems in healthy ways.
Fixing these issues is the real way we need to address obesity, rather than thinking an attitude of shame will stomp out unwanted behaviors.
Why Do People Hate Fat People?
We’ve addressed multiple root problems of obesity and how it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many people without resources feel trapped in a vicious cycle of unhealthy lifestyle habits. Addressing the core emotional issues behind obesity and overreacting is the only way we can fix the obesity problem.
The adult woman is probably the number one target of this misplaced anger. This is quite clearly a result of the extreme emphasis culture can place on physical appearance and beauty as it relates to women’s bodies.
The perspective toward the beauty of bodies is very narrowly defined, and has only recently expanded outside the thin framework to include larger women in the media.
Often, overweight people are extremely easy targets. Their personal flaws are outwardly visible for all to see, and by casting judgment upon them, we can deflect inner judgment. Perhaps our inner problems aren’t so easily visible to the public, but we must remember, no one is superior – judging based on appearances can cause others to miss out on an individual’s inherent value.
Reconsidering Fat Hate
Perhaps diet culture is to blame for the root cause of fat hate within society.
This judgment that stems from diet culture, now culturally solidified, marks those who are obese as bad, or as those to be discriminated against.
Instead of seeing those who are obese as excuse makers, we should remember people who are overweight are often likely trapped in a cycle that’s hard for them to break away from.
To spread empathy, we should consider there are often other factors at play, which are difficult to get under control.
Overweight people could have underlying health issues, which may contribute to hormonal imbalance, thyroid problems, and digestive problems. All of these can lead to the inability to properly lose weight, or metabolize food effectively.
Reasons it’s difficult to lose weight can arise from any number of probable origins, from financial insecurity, to food addiction and binge eating. Rather than questioning the culpability of fat people and considering moral superiority, we need to establish a better understanding of the root causes of obesity, and tackle those problems with collective consideration for others.
So, did you come here wondering “why do people hate fat people?” We’re here to tell you, don’t worry – that hate comes from a place or a set of problems in someone they don’t want to address themselves! Ignore hate and don’t let it define you. Instead remember the truth – everyone, especially you, reader, is beautiful in their own unique individuality.
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