You know that thing about knowing a man by walking a mile in his shoes? This is like that … sort of: In order to better understand weight stigma in everyday life, psychologist Jason D. Seacat recently asked 50 overweight and obese women to keep a week’s worth of daily diaries in which they recounted rude behavior or mean comments they encountered as a result of their size. He just published the results in the Journal of Health Psychology, and some of the responses are really quite sad.
The women experienced an average of three fat-shaming moments every day, and Seacat sent Science of Us a few that stood out to him:
Teenagers made animal sounds (moo) outside of the store.
The dentist was worried I might break his chair.
I was told what a bad mother I am because I can’t set limits as to what my son or his friends eat during sleepovers, because I can’t even control myself.
With friends at a baby shower I went to McDonalds first so people wouldn’t look at me eating more than I should.
Boyfriend’s mother denied me access to food, also stated that I was so fat because I was lazy.
My ex-boss looked at me several times in a restaurant but acted like he didn’t know me. I worked for him for 5 years but he always hated fat people.
Spent the day gardening - realized with this survey how much time I spend alone.
Weight stigma, or fat shaming, is detrimental from a psychological standpoint for obvious reasons — no one wants to feel bad about their bodies. But research is beginning to show that it’s also bad for a person’s physical health; one study published last summer found that people who feel discriminated against because of their weight were more likely to either become or stay obese. So a little empathy goes a long way.