The debate around fat shaming has been rife in the media over the last few weeks. The bottom line is fat shaming is bullying and it is never okay in any circumstance.
It has saddened me to hear some of the stories that have been in the media recently directed towards people who are overweight or obese. The opinion from some people around the world has been that people who are carrying too much weight should be shamed into losing it. There was even input from a personal trainer on Good Morning Britain who said “the more we fat shame, the more people will keep their mouths shut and stop over-eating” https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7468613/Good-Morning-Britain-viewers-horrified-guest-says-obese-people-fat-shamed.html
Without a doubt rising obesity is an issue worldwide and here in the UK the demands obesity related illness are having on the NHS is significant. There are also a huge number of resources aimed at understanding why it is happening and what can be done about it. However, the idea that people can be shamed into losing weight is absolutely farcical.
I grew up in a family where several members have struggled with their weight for decades. As a young child I remember sitting in the sand dunes with my family on a sunny day wondering why we weren’t allowed on the beach or to play in the sea like the other families. It took me many years to realise that we were ‘hiding’ from people who might judge. Watching people you care about go on ridiculous diets and being upset because they are unable to lose as much weight as they want to is heart breaking.
I’m not suggesting that for many people eating less and moving more wouldn’t work but it is far more complex than that and the psychology surrounding obesity is extremely complicated. The people who suggest fat shaming is okay are also saying that people who are obese are simply eating too much. People over-eat for a whole host of reasons and it’s rarely because they’re hungry.
I also regularly work with people who battle with their weight and in my experience the majority of people who are obese do not want to be and they certainly do not need anyone to shame them. They can do that all by themselves. I wouldn’t call anyone the unspeakable things I’ve heard some obese people call themselves so I’d actually be interested to hear how the people that think fat shaming is acceptable are going to achieve what they suggest.
We should be providing people with the support they need. This isn’t about shaming them or absolving them of any responsibility for their health, it’s about empowering them to make the necessary changes.
Your health is your wealth