There’s reason to believe male jurors will be biased against overweight, female defendants. In a mock trial-ish study, Yale psychologists found that men were “significantly more likely” to find obese women guilty, Slate reports. The study presented the same check fraud case to 471 pretend jurors but paired the case with one of four images (big guy, little guy, big lady, little lady), asking the participants to rate their guilt on a five-point scale. “No fat bias emerged when the female pretend peers evaluated the female pretend defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men,” Katy Waldman writes. But when men assessed the guilt of women, the obese defendants were much guiltier. Male jurors who were not themselves overweight suspected the obese female defendants “repeat offenders” with “awareness of their crimes.”
The study’s authors told Slate that the findings suggested that obese people were stereotyped as “greedy” and “selfish.” I’m leaning toward Waldman’s interpretation:
“Perhaps we (especially we lean men) associate heavier women (but not heavier men) with impaired impulse control, since obviously all female people (but not all male people) want desperately to be thin and are only not so when they can’t regulate their Cinnabon cravings. Perhaps we lean men imagine that a nebulous fog of guilt surrounds all fat women, because fat — whether or not it is in fact unhealthy — is morally wrong.”
Why fat morality only applies to women is beyond me.