End the Stigma Around Weight

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End the Stigma Around Weight

Photo credit: Gemma Sturgeon

Photo credit: Gemma Sturgeon

Photo credit: Gemma Sturgeon

By Gemma Sturgeon, Print and Design Editor

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We live in a world that claims obesity is one of the biggest issues, but fails to consider that the stigma around weight and obesity is just as detrimental.

According to Teaching Tolerance, fat stigma is driven by a society that equates size and health and uses size to define an individual’s self-control and worth.

There are many factors other than eating too much (which is often assumed as the sole cause), that affect someone’s weight, such as their natural metabolism or body shape.

According to Wbur.org, our thin-ideal obsessed culture has created an environment of weight discrimination, due to the oversimplification of obesity. Obesity is often mistakenly assumed to be a result of laziness or lack of willpower. This puts an unhealthy emphasis on personal responsibility for the person to lose weight, instead of admitting that weight discrimination is a problem within itself.  

A huge negative impact of this weight stigma lies in the current education and employment systems. Dress codes tend to specifically target girls who either have more developed bodies, or just weigh more than other girls.

According to Find Law, dress codes are put into place to prevent any distractions from the learning environment. All schools do have the right to choose a dress code they see best creates an effective learning environment.

I do, however, believe there is a flaw in this system. Dress codes tend to target women in general, and specifically those who weigh more.

In a feature article on the The Huffington Post, dress code discrimination is discussed, not only in the education system, but also in the workplace. In this article, a woman shares her personal story, explaining that she got called in for wearing inappropriate clothing (leggings and a tank top), while every other woman of a smaller size wore almost identical outfits and were not called in.

Although I believe in maintaining a proper learning and working environment, the fact of the matter is that there needs to be consistency in the way “dress coding” girls works. Someone who is a size 0 could wear the exact same outfit as someone who is a size 14, and the girl who is larger is picked on for showing more skin. This not only causes insecurity, but can cause more distraction in that one individual than the distraction they are presumed to have caused in the first place by choosing to wear a particular outfit.

According to Jane E. Brody on The New York Times, obesity has been labeled the last socially acceptable form of prejudice. There are constantly people in society who, very publicly, make comments about others’ physical appearance, which has become acceptable to many.

By disregarding the feelings of the people on the other side of the labels “fat” or “obese,” this stigma becomes more and more normalized. In magazines or on clothing websites, the amount of plus sized models is little to none. According to The Huffington Post, 50% of women wear a size 14 or larger in clothing, and most clothing brands only have clothes going up to a size 10.

According to Psychology Today, as the population of our world grows, the models and celebrities we constantly see on tabloids get progressively thinner. It has become normal to exploit obese people on the Biggest Loser, and use popular celebrities’ “bikini body” to advertise the newest diet.

Girls should be able to scroll through their favorite online store and find their size and girls who don’t fit into a size 0 need someone who looks like them to look up to. We have to put an end to stigma around weight and discrimination in education and work environments, and keep the rules consistent for all sizes.

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