The medical establishment is starting to pay attention to the harmful effects of weight stigma, which is great—except that this type of stigma often gets framed as a “barrier to weight management.” 🤦🏻♀️
But the truth is that “weight management” IS weight stigma.
It frames larger bodies as a problem and tells people that they need to shrink themselves in order to be okay, which is the very definition of weight stigma (aka anti-fat stigma, weight bias, or weight-based discrimination).
Weight stigma is part of the fabric of diet culture, the toxic system of beliefs about bodies and food that's endemic to Western culture.
And in fact we have scientific evidence (CW for some weight-stigmatizing language) that diet culture's framing of larger bodies as a health hazard to be "fixed" via weight loss actually CAUSES weight stigma.
So if someone says they're against weight stigma but they’re still recommending weight loss...then they’re not really against weight stigma.
Or as my guest on this week’s episode of Food Psych, Jeffrey Hunger, puts it, “you can’t be anti-stigma in one breath and advocate for weight loss in another.”
Dr. Hunger (which is an amazing name for a weight-stigma researcher!) joins me to discuss how diet culture and weight stigma show up even in weight-stigma research, how his own thinking on weight stigma has evolved over the years, his experience of diet culture within the gay-male community, what intentional weight loss and the harmful practice of “gay conversion therapy” have in common, and so much more.
Here’s to ending the stigma against ALL bodies,
P.S. If you’re ready to break free from diet culture and its weight-stigmatizing ways, come check out my intuitive eating online course. It’ll help you learn to accept and respect ALL bodies (including your own), so that you can stop obsessing over your size and start living the life you truly want and deserve.
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