I think a lot about how antifat bias is such a variable experience. In some settings, I may experience a lot of privilege, and then on the same day or with a different person, I might experience terrible antifatness. It's useful to keep in mind that this can be a very variable experience, especially for a smallfat person like me. Trust me, folks, this is no lightweight issue. Weight discrimination puts a target on us all, constantly reminding us that society's got some seriously skewed standards. No matter your size, our society's obsession with weight impacts you, but it's important to remember that anti-fat bias impacts some of us a lot more than others.
Nearly all people of size have some experiences with healthcare providers dismissing, mistreating, or otherwise harming people seeking care. Shoot, I've even heard stories from friends I think of as thin people being directed to "lose weight" when they go to their doctor's offices. Fat stigma can act as a significant barrier to healthcare access, hindering individuals from seeking the necessary medical attention they require. Fear of judgment, discrimination, and negative assumptions from healthcare providers can lead to avoidance or delay in seeking care. Research has shown that fat individuals often face biased attitudes from healthcare professionals, leading to inadequate treatment, dismissive attitudes, and a lack of appropriate interventions. These experiences can result in decreased trust, poor patient-provider communication, and reduced adherence to medical recommendations. Ultimately, fat stigma not only exacerbates existing health disparities but also undermines the overall well-being of people in larger bodies (Puhl & Heuer, 2009; Tomiyama, 2014). Anti-fat discrimination in healthcare is a significant contributor to poor outcomes for people in larger bodies.
Anti-fat discrimination can take on many forms, and it's not just about being labeled as "lazy" or "unattractive." From subtle side-eye glances when you reach for a second slice of pizza, to outrageous assumptions that your weight somehow correlates to your intelligence, society's size-shaming spectacle knows no bounds. But hey, let's be real here, dieting down to a smaller size doesn't make you smarter.
Fat discrimination in the workplace has far-reaching consequences, impacting various aspects of individuals' professional lives. Research indicates that people in larger bodies are more likely to face hiring biases, lower job satisfaction, and limited opportunities for career advancement. They may experience workplace harassment, such as derogatory comments and exclusionary behaviors, which negatively affect their well-being and productivity. Fat discrimination can also lead to unequal pay and lower job security. These experiences contribute to increased stress levels, reduced self-esteem, and decreased job performance. Addressing fat discrimination is crucial for fostering inclusive work environments that promote equal opportunities and support the well-being of all employees (Roehling et al., 2013; O'Brien et al., 2008).
Weight discrimination isn't a one-size-fits-all issue. It intersects with other factors like race, gender, and socioeconomic status. For instance, women of color may face unique challenges due to the intersection of racial and weight discrimination. It's important to acknowledge and address these intersections, as the impact of weight discrimination can vary for different individuals.
Weight discrimination is heavy, but it is experienced differently by us all, and impacted by other privileges we might hold. By challenging societal norms and embracing body positivity, we can flip the scale on weight discrimination. Remember, folks, our worth isn't determined by the numbers on a scale but by the joy we bring, the kindness we share, and the laughter we ignite. So let's embrace our bodies, love ourselves unconditionally, and make the world a kinder place for everyone, no matter their size!
Note: I kind of go back and forth between talking about people in larger bodies, fat people, and other language. Personally, I'm comfortable describing myself as fat, and I think a lot of people in fat activism prefer the word fat to other more euphemistic language, but I've also heard from a lot of folks recently who don't necessarily object to other people describing themselves as fat, but don't want that word applied to them. (Run on sentence, much? Don't care, not fixing it.) So I'm experimenting with different language, because I know we aren't all on exactly the same page about this. Possibly it's own whole blog post? Maybe.