Why Being Fat Is–and Isn’t–All That

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Our nation is in a crisis. Our waistlines are bulging almost as quickly as our stock market is plunging. More and more Americans are finding themselves uninsured and at the doctor – primarily for weight related conditions such heart disease and diabetes. I am a strong believer in taking responsibility for your self and your health. Yet with all the information out there on the undeniable influence of the billion dollar media, fast food, diet and even sugar industries, why are we still only blaming the victim?

And by blame I mean, why is overt discrimination and prejudice towards fat and obese people still accepted in our country?

Watch any comedy geared at a 12 year-old boy and you’ll see what I’m talking about (check out Date Movie, Get Smart, or any Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence/Tyler Perry fat suit production). Despite what popular culture would like us to believe, fat people are not gluttonous, ugly slobs worthy of unbridled ridicule.

There are a number of serious causes to obesity. While some people talk to friends, or go for a run, many fat and obese people use food as their primary coping mechanism and eat to calm unmanageable stress and anxiety. They also eat to dampen negative emotions and to avoid unpleasant situations. Illnesses such as depression and chronic pain can also lead to overeating. Disturbing events, such as childhood physical, emotional or sexual trauma can also cause self-medicating with food and result in overeating.

Also, there are many medicines and medical conditions that cause weight gain. Ask anyone with a severe thyroid condition, or who has had to take long-term corticosteroids or certain anti-depressants about how their weight got out of their control. Then, there is the uncontrollable factor of genetics. Just as certain people inherit thin versus wide noses, our DNA makes some of us shorter, stronger, and even wider.

Poor self-esteem and negative body image lead people to engage in numerous behaviors that are bad for one?s health. Studies show that people with a low sense of self are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as unprotected and unsafe sex, along with drug and alcohol abuse. These folks are also more likely to be involved in unsupportive and often abusive relationships that further contribute to negative feelings towards one’s body and self.

And wouldn’t you know it?  Folks with low self-esteem are also more likely to overeat and engage in unhealthy eating and dieting habits.

Studies also show that young women who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from feelings of rejection, shame, and low self-esteem. So whether or not you are overweight because of self-esteem issues, being overweight or obese will no doubt lower your self-esteem and lead to unhealthy eating habits. Ongoing failure at dieting (which has been proven to never work) can also affect self-esteem and make it even more difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle!

Our charge at adiosbarbie.com is to provide the resources to love your body, through thick and thin. We believe that – whether you are thin, fat, white, black, or green – if you build your self-esteem and accept yourself just as you are, you will naturally make healthier life and food choices. What a concept! So, love your body, treat it well, and work on yourself before you work on your abs. For when you love yourself, we know you will lead a happier, healthier – and yes, fuller life.

 

 

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Weight Stigma: Breaking it Down with Advocate and Activist Marilyn Wann

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