Weight Bias, Weight Stigma, and Fat Phobia: How to Respond

Laken Brooks, 27, believes depression is the reason no one feels sad. Sometimes in college, a PhD student and a freelance medical writer can’t sleep. She forgot to eat. Then he dropped about 30 pounds in one season.

The rapid and unexplained weight gain is a sign of another health problem, but its slimdown has not raised red flags. “My friends and professors say I’m fine because of my weight loss,” he says, “but I think I’ve been at a very weak point – mentally and physically – my whole life.”

She went to her doctor for medical help. The advice: “You’ll feel better if you keep losing weight.” Months later, Brooks said, he survived a murder attempt.

Now she has her grief again and she is taking care of her grief. She has a good sense of her body. But he abandoned the question of whether people would notice the symptoms, and gave serious thought to him, if he was more vulnerable.

“But because I’m fat, people just know I’ve lost weight,” Brooks said. “And they thought that losing weight was what I needed to be healthy.”

What is Weight Bias and Weight Stigma?

Rebecca Puhl, PhD, studies bullying, discrimination, and discrimination. He is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and associate director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

He said the words were often thought of in the same way, but they were not.

  • Heavy weight The common denominator is the “social degradation” of people who are overweight.
  • Weight loss Beliefs or negative perceptions and stereotypes are introduced “to give way to critical thinking and unethical and discriminatory attitudes.”

Stress and stigma can come from anyone: employers, teachers, loved ones, or health care providers. Some examples are related to perceptions that “people are lazy with obesity, lack of motivation or self -discipline, or that they are inactive and don’t take medication,” Puhl said.

When you turn that idea on to yourself, it’s called internalized weight stigma.

It can blame itself in many physical ways, says Puhl, but it is more prevalent among people who are obese and those who are trying to lose weight. More research is needed, but more white women, compared to those identified as black or Latina, she said.

What are the effects of Weight Stigma and Weight Bias?

They can come into your life every day. “We may have a hard time finding clothes that we can sell. We may be prosecuted if we eat in public,” Brooks said. “We may have trouble getting seats on planes or cars.”

Knowledge and ignorance can affect your health. People with high weights often report to doctors as one of their main causes of stigma, Puhl said.

If you have a body mass index (BMI), health care providers can:

  • Spend less time with yourself
  • Provide you with health education
  • It seems like little appreciation
  • Use key language to describe your body
  • Attack other health problems to your weight

Sean Phelan, PhD, is a Mayo Clinic researcher studying the impact of weight discrimination and stereotyping on health care. He said people with large bodies who experienced the stigma were more likely to “shop doctor” or delay proper care.

Brooks says he won’t go to the doctor unless he’s “seriously ill.” In the past, she had neglected to focus on her alleged health until her depression and chronic illness made it difficult to ignore.

“Going to the OB / GYN is a very difficult experience,” Brooks said. “So it can be stressful if the doctor refuses to treat you with the dignity you need for your obesity.”

Evidence is growing that stress stigma – where a setting comes from – is a serious condition that can hurt your health and well -being, Puhl said.

“When people are embarrassed about their weight, they experience low self -esteem, anxiety, high levels of depressive symptoms, and poor physical image,” Puhl said. “There are links with higher levels of drug use and suicidality.”

People who are overweight tend to have unhealthy diets, have less physical activity, and have higher physiological stress.

“It shows that the heavy stigma is not a social problem,” Puhl said, “but it is also a health problem.”

How to Restore Stigma

It may be hard to fight depression, but it’s good to talk about it in the future. Start by telling someone if they said something out of line or didn’t like it about your grief.

“It’s easier said than done,” Puhl said. “But this is a situation where you have to support yourself. The doctor is right.

When it comes to weight loss and health care, here are some technical tips:

To plan. Write down some important questions before your visit. “And if the conversation turns to depression, and you’re not there, talk to the doctor,” Puhl said.

Take some time. Metaphors can increase your anxiety and throw you out of balance. It can help you give yourself a pep talk inside and “take a deep breath and reconnect to the meeting,” Phelan says.

Bring a man of help. Puhl hopes to show a friend or loved one your goals for the election. “They’ll let you go if you think this is too hard for you to talk about.”

Educate your provider. Talk about weight loss. Your doctor may reconsider or shake their routine if they find that you have been despised in the past. “There are a lot of charities out there that respond in ways to support,” Puhl said.

Can you seek health care?

Many said they experienced a heavy stigma in a health care setting. They may be ashamed of their weight if they step on that scale in the doctor’s office or receive unwanted or inaccurate speech.

Compared to a year ago, more health care providers found that depression was a problem. And some may signal that they are an important place, Phelan said. For example, you may see signs that stress will not increase if you do not want to talk about it.

“I think it’s really hard to see that in writing,” he said.

You can ask a provider if they use the Health at Every Size (HAES) method. “It’s a common belief that I’m a doctor and you get the best care it’s not about losing weight,” Phelan said.

Brooks hopes to reach out to people with large bodies and ask them where to find their health care. She found a psychiatrist she wanted, but she was looking for a “fat” doctor to take her health insurance.

“I’m not going to give up because fat people are our own supporters,” he said. “But it can be exhausting to spend years – in fact, years – trying to find a doctor you can really trust.”

Allow yourself

It can be hard not to learn the stigma internally, Puhl says, but it can help with cognitive development. Ask your doctor to prescribe you a medication that works with many people. They can help you compete and change negative thoughts with helpers.

“Sometimes it can be as cliche as writing nice personal messages and getting them to you on your phone or in sticky notes,” Puhl says. “You can go and look at them when you start to get down that kind of self -blame.”

Brooks advocates physical fitness, or the notion that “your body doesn’t have to be magical and beautiful.” Instead, he takes a body – good in his own life, which means “thinking best about plants, strengthening your body when you exercise, and keeping your body and things healthy. everything that can be done. “

Physical fitness doesn’t mean leaving your health, Puhl says. “But you don’t have to hate your body if you don’t look like a weakling.”

Seek community support

Search social media for similar people. There are growing numbers of areas dedicated to physical well -being, physical neutrality, and health in all its forms. “You can get a lot of strength from those communities,” Phelan said.

It’s important to have a support network of “fat people” that can provide reassurance and advice, says Brooks, that health care is more important.

“Your friends may be close friends or very fond of your experiences,” Brooks said. “But it really encouraged me to be able to talk about my health struggles with other people who have had a similar situation.”

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