A new study by Institute for Health and Social Science Research at Central Queensland University says people who are obese are more likely to report mental health problems.
I’ve heard people tut-tutting in the few days since the report was released, with comments like ‘why don’t they do something about it’? They being the obese people of course. Or perhaps the big they, The Government, who should force the obese onto diets somehow. Since I don’t do
body snarking conversations – anymore – I turned the discussion to other things. I could have had the conversation I’m about to write, but history tells me these particular people are simply not interested in looking past their current set of beliefs. And that’s okay, that’s where they are, and my head’s done with brick walls.
I wasn’t surprised to read the story to be honest, because from my own work with people suffering from negative body image issues, I can say for sure that yes, their self-esteem is generally pretty low.
And why wouldn’t it be? If a person is overweight or obese in our society, they are also somehow a legitimate target for scorn, sniggering, unwanted advice, and any kind of nasty comment or petty outrageous behaviour from anyone who wants to dish that out. We have dehumanised ‘fatties’.
Dr Samantha Thomas in her interview during The Body Image Revolution pointed to the tendency of the media to use picture of ‘headless fatties’ to illustrate any point talking about weight. Take a person’s face away, and we’re left with the body as an object, not as a person.
When we turn a person into an object, we can then treat them any way we want to. And messages of hate will inevitably follow.
I’m imagining that right about now you’re saying ‘but fat is so bad for health!’. That’s debatable actually but the point I want to make here is that hating someone has never helped them, and it certainly doesn’t help the person doing the hating either.
Many studies tell us that the stigma we heap onto people who are fat causes them to feel marginalised, inadequate, anxious and yes, even depressed.
So it truly is “what comes first” – do they get fat and therefore stigmatised because they’re depressed, or do they get depressed because they are fat and stigmatised?
Studies tell us that it’s in fact more amazing that more fat people are not more depressed and anxious than they are, because of the way society views them and speaks about them.
And if you’re a fat person, there’s a very good chance that you speak as badly to yourself as does the outside world, after all that’s what you’ve been taught to do. You’ve learned that you are inadequate, less attractive, lazy, and probably not too smart, because that’s how fat people are shown and talked about.
From where I’m sitting, I’d have to say I think the studies are correct – fat shaming and fat hating aren’t doing a thing to motivate anyone to do anything other than want to hide.
So what to do? Each one of us has a role here – notice what you think and feel when you see a fat person, even if that fat person is you. Then do my ten day body bliss course, because it will help you take a new look at what you’ve always believed. One person at a time, we can change this world into one of acceptance … yeh I know I’m an idealist, I’m an Aquarian 🙂 Join me, find your own body bliss and be a world changing idealist too 🙂