Fat-Shaming Doesn’t Help Weight Struggles


Fat-Shaming Doesn’t Help Weight StrugglesBeth’s journey continues as she explores from a very personal angle why so many of us struggle with eating and weight in the first place.

University College London: Fat-Shaming Study

“A new study from University College London evaluated the question: Are people who experience discrimination or negative interactions based on their weight actually encouraged to lose the extra pounds?

The answer, according to their findings, is a clear no. Not only do people who report day-to-day discrimination not lose weight, they actually gain weight.” (via WashingtonPost.com)

So why is there so much fat-shaming going on?

I’m no expert but I’ll guess it’s because people mistakenly believe that the “overweight” person is to blame for their weight issues; the “obese” are unwilling to control what goes into their mouths and too lazy to exercise so they deserve to be ridiculed, taunted and shamed.

Weight Loss Surgery

As I said, I’m no expert but I do have some experience with this sad phenomenon. My younger sister opted for bariatric surgery several years ago. She lost over 150 pounds and found a new lease on life. Gone were the shin splints, breathing difficulty, back pain and borderline diabetes. She blossomed.

But slowly, the weight returned.

Why? Research tells us that bariatric surgery is no panacea and, in fact, long-term success is impossible without changes in diet and exercise.

What’s going on with my sister? I know that whatever reasons were in place before her surgery are probably still in place; emotional eating, poor self-image, lack of confidence, inability to prioritize her health- all of the above or something else that I’m not aware of.

Miscommunication Around Weight Struggles

My mother, who paid for the initial surgery and the subsequent reconstructive surgery, is disappointed and unable to wrap her brain around it. She has taken to fat-shaming my sister and the resultant affect on my sister has been devastating.

“You don’t love me unless I’m thin” is what my sister hears. I don’t think that’s what Mom is saying. In fact, I think she’s saying “You are weak and lazy and have wasted good money. You’re killing yourself and you don’t care how that affects me. It’s selfish and I’m pissed off!” I think that’s closer to what Mom is feeling.

How sad. How unbelievably sad.

Journeying Towards Health & Understanding

A simple farm girl from the Midwest, Mom doesn’t want to hear about eating disorders or emotional pitfalls. It’s all hogwash to explain lazy, selfish behavior. It’s some intentional personal affront to offend her and she’s damn angry about it.

She offered to pay for counseling for my sister but Sis said no. She’s come to terms with her weight issues and says she’s happy. I hope she’s telling me the truth.

My truth is that I’d like to send them both to Green Mountain to learn how complicated and systemic food relationships can be. I’d like them to room together and talk it out until they realize that each person’s journey is their own – my sister’s toward health and my Mom’s toward understanding.

One response to “Fat-Shaming Doesn’t Help Weight Struggles”

  1. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    Great post Beth! I hope that your family can find ways to be supportive of each other in this journey, but it is hard to change perceptions on weight….especially for someone who has never struggled with weight issues as I assume is the case for your mom. I’m in the reverse position in that my mom’s side of the family is mostly overweight or obese and many of them suffer from diabetes and other health conditions. I have been active and thin most of my life (but had food issues still) and it’s hard to truly understand where someone else is coming from. The best you can try for is to be supportive of their attempts to be healthy and maybe your mom could focus just on the health component with your sister and not the weight. IF your sister is making good choices to try and make healthy habits part of her life, maybe they can find common ground and let the weight battle be what it is.

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Beth Turchi

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