Taking on a Weighty Issue

By Marsha Hudnall
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Readers of this blog are likely familiar with weight stigma.  But if you need a definition, here’s a good one from Janet Zimmerman, intern for the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA):

“Weight stigma is bullying, teasing, negative body language, harsh comments, discrimination, or prejudice based upon a person’s body size. Weight stigma is something that shames and hurts many people (of all shapes and sizes) and it is time 1) to spread an awareness of how harmful it is to all and 2) to talk about it.”

That’s the reason behind BEDA’s upcoming National Weight Stigma Awareness Week, September 26-30, 2011.  It marks the beginning of a concerted effort on the part of BEDA to bring attention to this problem that insidiously and not-so-insidiously chips away at self-esteem, health and well-being, often under the guise of genuine but misguided concern.

The misguided concern revolves around the mistaken belief that a person’s health can be measured by their body size/weight.  That’s clearly a myth but it’s one that is widely considered fact.  At a minimum, the tragedy of it is that it drives what may be a perfectly healthy larger person to chase after weight loss, usually to the detriment of their health because weight loss is not something that’s healthy for them.  They end up yo-yo dieting, struggling with feelings of failure and negative self-esteem, and often giving up on self-care.  It becomes a matter of “I can’t do this so why try?”  But what they’re often giving up on is healthy behaviors, no longer making an effort to eat well, move their bodies for well-being.  Basic healthy behaviors become a victim to weight loss failure.  So does the individual.

Join BEDA’s Facebook group for National Weight Stigma Awareness Week to stay on top of the event as it develops.  All you bloggers out there, please help us spread the word by participating in blog carnivals hosted by Kendra of Voice in Recovery.

And if you like what BEDA is doing here, consider supporting our other efforts.  We’re a new organization and need your help.  You can donate here.

We could use your help, too, by hearing your stories of weight stigma – how you’ve experienced it and what it has meant to your life.  Send your story (300 words or less) to BEDA (info@bedaonline.com).  You can just use your initials or “anonymous” as an identifier.

If you want to share some stories in the comments below, we’d love to use some to use in our posts for the blog carnival.  Thanks for making a difference!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

One Response (Add Yours)

  • We should all be watchful of our words, because our words can definitely affect someone’s view, self-esteem, and approach to different things. We shouldn’t force others with our beliefs, because that is their decision and not ours to make. Let them be themselves.

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