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Sizeism/Weightism: How to Cope With it, and How it Affects Mental Health

By HERWriter
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A major emphasis has been placed recently on the rising rates of obesity in the United States, and an obsession with thinness has only increased. Unfortunately these focal points of society have also put a major preoccupation on the weight of people instead of who is actually inside the body.

In fact, there are currently a few terms to describe this social issues: sizeism and weightism. Both terms will be used interchangeably in the article. Experts and people who have personally experienced this form of discrimination share their knowledge on this important issue.

<< What is weightism/sizeism? >>

Ragen Chastain, a professional writer, speaker, creator of the blog “Dances With Fat,” and a three-time national champion dancer and self-proclaimed “fat person,” gave her personal definition of weightism and sizeism.

“Weightism/sizeism occurs any time we treat someone differently or because of their body size, or draw a conclusion from their size other than ... what size their body is and ... what our own prejudices about that body size are,” Chastain said in an email.

Although people who are skinny and people who are overweight both experience sizeism, she personally believes people who weigh more experience more discrimination.

“I do believe that there is a greater stigma on people of size,” Chastain said. “I think that being fat is associated with many more negative stereotypes than being very thin is. Also, fat people are often ‘blamed’ for having a body size that is not socially acceptable, while more often those who are very thin are seen as being victims. That said, this is not the Oppression Olympics and it’s not about who has it worse but about ending size-based stigma altogether.”

She personally has experienced weightism and believes it is prevalent in the U.S. society.

“I’ve had strangers comment on my food choices at restaurants (“this is why you’re fat”), moo at me from cars, make fat-bashing comments at the gym (of all places), and I write a blog about Health at Every Size where I am very clear that people have every right to choose whatever lifestyle they want, and I get death threats and hate mail every day,” Chastain said.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.