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Fatism Is the New Racism

Is Fatism the New Racism? Do We Need a Law Against It?

Federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race — but no such protection exists for the larger people. A new study from Yale University shows that weight discrimination is ballooning out of control. The study shows that overweight women are twice as vulnerable as men, and discrimination strikes much earlier in their lives.

The author of the study alleges that our culture has made it clear that judging someone based on race or culture is wrong, but the same societal pressure is missing for the differently sized. She says,

"we live in a culture where we obviously place a premium on fitness, and fitness has come to symbolize very important values in our culture, like hard work and discipline and ambition. Unfortunately, if a person is not thin, or is overweight or obese, then they must lack self-discipline, have poor willpower, etc., and as a result they get blamed and stigmatized."

The main reason for this is the belief that a person has control over their size, which isn't always true given factors like genetics and economics. It's cheap to eat badly. Fatism therefore, can affect employment with no legal recourse. Given this information, should the government step in?


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healthyfatgrrl healthyfatgrrl 5 years
Wow, the ignorance is rampant on this site! " Living of the government , eating a bucket of chicken ", are you serious? ! The cause and conditions of obesity are complex, this is NOT a simple issue of portion control or exercising until you drop.... healthy eating , food choices are expensive. If we truly cared about those who suffer, then offer low cost fruits & veggies , offer personal trainers who don't charge exorbitant fee's ( which ONLY the weathly can afford). Change your attitudes about who can do what ! Example; a person who weighs 110# may have serious high Cholesterol ( blood levels) vs. a higher person by 50 + lbs or more & have lower Cholesterol ( blood levels). Ask a MD which person is healthier .... Speaking as an individual how has experienced discrimination, both professional life & personal life, stop with the Know-it-all attitudes!
dieanna dieanna 8 years
I am morbidly obese. I was 320 pounds but am slowly but surely losing it and am now at 270. I don't understand all this drain on the economy bullshit. I work my 40 hour job just like the rest of you and most of the time I am the last person to call in for work. I may be all sweaty from the manual labor but hell I will probably get it done faster than most of the lazy bastards I work with ( I am the biggest person at my work by a landslide ) And do you know what I do with my money...It goes right back. I pay all my taxes and I buy alot of stupid shit. I own all the game systems (If you haven't guessed ) A freaking huge tv and pay expensive rent. I own two cars and I am saving up for a freaking 4 month vacation to do whatever fat people do. I have been fat for a long time and only recently do to some of this stupid shit I have grown bigger. Fat people can get jobs..Plenty of space for them at mcdonalds and co. Its the good jobs , the better jobs that I would get if only they could get past my double chin. But screw it I am doing what I want to do now. I don't need that and I don't need to work for any one besides myself. Thats why I am going to get healthy ( I never said skinny) and get my wheels rolling. I know I am not a great person but I feel much better than most.
MeemsinBoston MeemsinBoston 8 years
I'm seeing a lot of people conflating two different issues. 1. Obesity. 2. Disability/sickness (etc.) Obesity does not *necessarily* cause disability or illness -- there are plenty of heavy people who are perfectly healthy, active, and productive. There are are also plenty of people who are thin who are inactive, unhealthy, and unproductive in the workplace. Weight is not necessarily indicative of health, and quite often it is a preexisting disability that causes people to become less active and then gain weight. We're talking about a correlation as though it were a causation.
Roarman Roarman 9 years
Even if you have a medical condition that may predispose you to obesity there are ways to combat that. It is actually more expensive to buy prepackaged, processed foods than it is to buy fresh ingredients and make it your self. A head of lettuce is cheaper or the same cost as a box of ring dings. Also, exercise is free. Drink water instead of soda, free and no sugar. Pack a lunch instead of going to Mcdonalds. There are choices you make that put you in the situation of being overweight/obese. Not everyone is going to be a size 2 but you don't have to be a size 22.
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
I learned so much from reading the heartfelt stories about your experiences. Thank you. We all appreciate it. I've never heard from someone who struggled with being obese from an outside cause. The solution is not to QUESTION obesity by drawing up medical treatments, fitness programs or even therapy. We need more understanding, encouragement and positive mindset. We took a step forward just by sharing and listening here. The eagerness to prove "superiority" (in quotes because who has the right to grant power above another?) will always exist in our dark, discouraging, ignorant society. I.E. a thinner woman has a greater chance of getting a job than an obese one. Why? Because people have made invisible connections between physique with efficiency. And it would be a big mistake to forget that modern society's image of beauty has been very, very constricted and biased. I think what most people that have commented that shun or look down upon obesity are trying to say is that ALL MEDICAL, GENETIC, EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS ASIDE, obesity does not deserve special treatment and is a threat to the person's health and eventually our workplace. However, because we do not know everyone's circumstances, we have no right to judge. Until that day comes when we can tell if a person is obese from medical conditions or just flat out laziness, people that are not in their situation need to just stop assuming and start understanding. We are all different inside and out.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Bucko, your point is well written and makes sense to me (being overweight as well and frequently not getting home until 8 during the week) but I have given up trying to convince anyone that just because I am fat does not mean I am unable to function. I just keep doing what I do and ignoring those who don't have an open mind.
Bucko Bucko 9 years
Hey gang... I have to "weigh" in on this issue because I think you may be missing some of the most basic reasons why folks might be heavier these days. I myself am an overweight gal and have been for my entire life, so I can sympathize. I can see both sides of the coin as valid, but not being considered for a job I want because of my weight seems ridiculous to me. Please also understand I know plenty of people who are thin who cannot lift a box of paper. And what about the princesses in the office who don’t lift that same box because they don’t want to break a nail… do we discriminate against the “ultra” high maintenance chicks too? OK, so here I go... I think you would be remiss if you did not consider the one most obvious of reasons for obesity, which is addiction. Typically addiction is linked to drinking, drugs, smoking or even sex, but seldom do folks realize that SUGAR is highly addictive. Prolonged exposure to sugar actually physically alters the chemical make-up of your brain. It may not be as easy, but conceivable, that a smoker, drinker or even a heroine addict could quit cold turkey and not be presented with another opportunity to use. Now consider a person who is addicted to sugar… how easy is it to not eat? Impossible! Granted it is in the food choices at that point… but if you know anything about addiction… put a smoker in a smoke shop and tell him to only by a pack of gum. Another concept that was not fully developed is the “busy lifestyle”… now I know this is going to slightly brush up against “lazy”, but it is very easy to grab takeout food opposed to cooking when you are working until 8pm. Granted you can choose to get a salad instead of a Big Mac, but only rabbits eat lettuce everyday and maintain sanity. Now I know that there are some fat folks out there that get 3 Big Macs and a large fry instead of eating a normal portion, but even a normal portion in a fast food environment is far more calories than should be ingested in one sitting. I personally wish there were a cheap fast food joint that served portioned-right foods that are healthier like steamed veggies and lean meats. I know there are tricks around this “busy lifestyle” issue, and I am not offering this entirely as a defense, but it is a contributing factor. This is a very tough argument to have because the general consensus is that if you are fat then you are somehow defective. I clearly have issues with food, but I am smart, dedicated, fun, friendly, and can function in my job better than many of my co-workers. I can admit that I cannot climb a mountain, run a marathon or climb 10 flights of stairs without being out of breath… but I can get my work done ahead of the curve and I don’t need anyone to do any heavy lifting on my behalf. Thank you for reading and potentially taking on a different point of view on this subject.
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
...Ok, so I should maybe clarify my post before someone comes in and becomes offended. There are people that I've seen who are morbidly obese because I know for a fact they don't take care of themselves. Everyday you see them lazing around with a big mac or some other super un-healthy food product. Now I know it sounds somewhat unbelieveable, however, I went to college with this guy who lived in the same building as I, and I was best friends with his then girlfriend, and well, we both couldn't figure out why it was he was the way he was. And to make excuses for his unhealthy behavior, he would lie about things like relatives dying (even though they're still alive and healthy), just to get out of going to class. I know its an extreme case, but extreme cases like that should be denied employment, or employed with being told to go see a therapist. I understand that there are many reasons that people become obese, and I wasn't trying to offend people, but again, you may not lose all of the weight you want and end up being a size 0, but at the same token, you can be healthy. Honestly, most jobs should have people take a cholesterol test because remember, they do (usually) have to pay for the insurance that pays for the medical services one would receive for having a heart attack. I would also say that anybody who is found to be sickly thin (I mean there are size 0's that are healthy), they should be unemployable as well. Its more of a reliability issue than an actual bias of mine. After all, if the person has super bad cholesterol levels (mind you, thin people can have high cholesterol), as well as they are super unfit and way overweight for their size, those things can be contributing factors to having a heart attack. The same with anorexia and bulimia. Any extreme strain on the heart can cause a heart attack. And if someone has a heart attack on the job, their employers are held liable if anything happens to them. The liability issue is huge with businesses trying to keep their name clear of any issues, so there is a reason behind it. No, medical records should not be released in full, but those who are at a higher risk for an early death because of things that they volunarily do, then yes, they should not be employable.
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
Morbidly obese people should not be employable because they show an incapability of taking care of themselves, let alone being able to comfortably take care of a job. I'm not talking about those people who are larger, and fit (think Queen Latifah), I'm talking about those people who could be stunt doubles for sumo wrestlers. Plus, think of all the extra money businesses have to shell out for their extra health problems...seriously, people should take better care of themselves. I'm not against big people, I'm against morbidly obese because of the McDonald's diet people. Eat right and stay active unless you want to look like this:
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Just a comment on i am awesomness's comment above: Her response to Matdredalia's story isn't uncommon. Most people I've run into immediately regret having been mean or judgmental towards a fat person once they learn that the person's obesity is caused by medical or biological factors beyond the person's control - which is nice, as far as it goes. The problem, of course, is that there's no way to tell just by looking at a fat person how they got that way. As a result, we fatties have to either put up with being judged and ridiculed, *or* we have to take the time to tell people about our personal health situation and hope that they'll actually believe us and don't just say "oh, you're just making excuses - none of that would matter if you'd just stop stuffing your face all day and get off your fat ass once in a while!" If only it really were that simple - but when 95% to 98% of all attempts at losing weight - including attempts made by eating less and exercising more - end in failure because either the person didn't losing as much as they wanted or they gained back everything they did lose - and usually a fair bit more - it should be pretty obvious to ANYONE that its a hell of a lot more complicated than just "diet and exercise!" I don't know about you, but I, at least, don't relish having to divulge my medical history to people just to justify my existence and hope they'll decide I'm worthy of being treated like I'm human. But because people tend to be ignorant of the fact that there are a lot more things out there than just eating too much and not exercising enough that can cause or contribute to obesity, and that the vast majority of those are, in general, not readily controllable by the individual, I end up having to go over my medical history again and again. Part of what really makes me angry about this, though, is that even if you believe fat people are worthy only of scorn and ridicule because this is something they've stupidly done to themselves, there are a LOT of other ways people hurt themselves doing stupid stuff. People can find themselves partially or fully paralyzed - or even lose limbs - by driving too fast, following too close, trying to drive while eating or talking on a cell phone. They can be maimed or injured by riding a motorcycle without a helmet, horseback riding, using power tools, sky diving, hang gliding, bungie jumping, cliff diving or engaging in sports like skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding or BMX bicycle riding. My point is that it's not unreasonable to think that a person who's disabled *could* have gotten that way by doing things that are well-known to be highly risky, or just by being careless (as is often the case in car or motorcycle wrecks.) And yet when someone sees a person in a wheelchair, using a prosthetic limb or using crutches, there is no assumption that this person should be scorned because they might have gotten their injury by engaging in activities or behaviours that are known to be hazardous. The person isn't asked to explain why they're disabled or to justify why they should be treated like everyone else. In general, the focus just automatically goes to trying to find ways to help them participate as fully in life as they can and continue to be a contributing member of society, which is exactly how it should be!! Rather than worrying about how or why a person is in the shape or condition they are, we should focus on helping them to find ways they can do things that are useful and that can help them be able to support themselves. Would both the person and society in general be better off if rather than marginalizing people, we were to just accept them in the state they're in and find ways to help them fully use the skills and talents they have?
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
Matdredalia-- thank you for sharing your story. It really helps to put a face on the problem. I was definitely not talking about you when I wrote my comment-- you clearly had/still have a serious medical condition, and your willpower had nothing to do with the entire situation. I'm really sorry that you had to go through with that and that crappy doctor... Have you looked into outside scholarships for school, like on You certainly have something to write about as life experience! I wish you the best in the future, I really really do! :)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
During my manager years at McDonald's I interviewed many applicants. I would like to make the argument against only fat people being slobs. I hired several who looked overweight but were well dressed over people who were slim, but not professional looking. I found that more often than not, the people who take the time to make themselves look good, whatever their weight, are the ones who do the best at work. While there are exceptions to this, I did not find many.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I am sorry but I have to respond to this bit of stupidity... "Obesity is not healthy, it's very unhealthy at that. They have so many problems doing there jobs, get tired easy." Ummm... that would be "their" not there. Obliviously weight doesn't equal the ability to use the correct word. Yes and how the f--- do you know what my physical ability was when I was 330 pounds? Or for that matter what the physical ability of any other obese or overweight or normal weight person is? Are you psychic? Do you have some special power that allows to know what everyone else in the world's physical limitations or abilities are? Or do you just make assumptions based on your poor health and physical abilities at an astounding size 6? Or do you just like making lame unfounded generalizations because you have no clue what you're talking about but you like to hear yourself speak? Sounds to me like you have been or may be the definition of a "fat skinny person". Someone who from outward appearance is skinny but actually carries their fat deposit in layers in their abdominal cavity and on their organs. One of the worst health scenarios - sneaky death via the illusion of health. I know for a fact that when I was morbidly obese I had no health problems related to my weight. NO high cholesterol, no high blood pressure, no diabetes or pre-diabetes and no fatty liver. Hmmm...I actually had the endurance of a cross-country runner because I had exercise anorexia - YUP a fat anorexic. Because I was worried about the destruction that everyone else said I was doing to my body by being obese I had ekgs, blood studies, bone density tests, echo cardiograms (which showed at 330 pounds that I had no - repeat NO fat around my heart muscle at all no thickening of the arteries or veins - surprised the cardiologist and me because heart disease runs in my family). My lack of excessive energy was probably hormonal and due to my over exercising, not simply because of my bulk. When I had GBS surgery my bariatric surgeon was shocked that I had NO internal cavity fat. Oh yeah I had a ton of ton but its surface layer fat, fat outside the muscle. But none clogging up the inside. None around my liver, heart, intestines, or stomach. My skinny friend on the other hand he was and is "fat skinny". He had emergency appendix removal on his 150 pound 5'10 frame and SHOCK of SHOCKS internal fat by the boatload. He prided himself on his ability to wear his tiny waisted (25) Rock & Republic jeans or to fit into clothes in the junior boys department BUT his diet is horrible - his exercise routine is non-existent. According to his surgeon his health is horrible though he looks good and internally he's fat. He's heading toward Type 2 Diabetes though his weight is low because of his poor management of his physical health and diet. And boy that's pathetic. Has he changed his ways - no once a skinny moron always a skinny unhealthy moron. As a fat chick I competed in local 5ks and he went to brunch and the clubs. Would you like to see the pics of me dragging my skinny co-workers over the finish line at Bay to Breakers? They couldn't walk 7 miles straight in under two hours without stopping - while talking? I freaking walked back home the 7 miles the other direction (at 300 pounds then) while they waited for the crowded bus to go half the distance. Does that mean all skinny people are unhealthy - no. It means that looks are not a true indicator of health or ability or obviously intelligence. Are all fat people unhealthy simple because of their size - do they all get tired easily and have trouble doing there jobs? No, only a moron would actually truly believe such a thing. Using your line of odd logic all blacks would be violent criminals? All Muslims would be ultra-radical terrorists? All Irishman would be drunks? And all Americans are boorish? Stupid and irritating that some person would actually state such nonsense. Perhaps your family was ridiculing you for reasons other than your weight and you just were too oblivious to realize or under it. And oh yes, when exactly will my two morbidly obese 70 year old aunts be having this huge awakening? Perhaps around 90 or so like their mother when she died. Or maybe at 98 like their fat father when he died of old age? I'd like to issue a wake up call for stupid people who like to generalize. Being slim now makes me thoroughly intolerant of stupidity and those who generalize to make themselves look better - so I'd start issuing beat downs for stupidity.
vanora826 vanora826 9 years
Newsflash: Obesity is not healthy, it's very unhealthy at that. They have so many problems doing there jobs, get tired easy. Let's see, does anyone remember John Candy besides the smoking and other activities. Big people who don't exercise enough and eat the right food are going to have a huge awakening eventually. From my own experience being a size 6, even after children; I am ridiculed by my entire family besides 1 other skinny aunt (thanks to lipo that is). I am constantly told I need to eat more. Yet, I already eat until I am full every day. I cannot help the fact I get my fathers hyper metabolism. But that is not an excuse for me not to stay in shape. Eventually it will shut down. And I will not stand for it. Bad enough my own son is on a path of destruction staying with my mother that hangs out with people 2 to 3 times her size so that she feels skinny. Before Katrina, Zachary weighed 45 lbs.; which is average at the time of his height and age. Now, he is over 100 lbs. at 8 yrs old. I, myself weigh 115 lbs. What does that say about society? Obese adults just raise kids to be obese by not controlling food intake. Or even proper exercise as stated earlier. Bottom line: It is not discrimination, it is a Wake Up Call!
tralalala tralalala 9 years
thorswitch, I have to disagree with you. Image is important for businesses, especially when it comes to sales or dealing with clients. Maybe it's just because I work in a very superficial industry, but I think if you have two people applying for a job, both of which are equally qualified, both with super personalities, but one is more conventionally attractive(conventionally being the key word. I'm not saying that overweight people are unattractive. I think I'm pretty hot haha, but as previously stated, not model material) than the other, that there's no problem in hiring the more attractive applicant. Yeah, it sounds awful, but studies have shown that people respond better and are more likely to spend money when dealing with attractive people, so having them on your team would be an asset. Also, I just want to point out that I don't think that you should judge people based on how they look, but in buisness, I think it's unfortunately a necessity.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
One big problem I have with the idea that fat people - regardless of how it got that way - are ok to discriminate against because they don't "look professional" enough, even if they are otherwise qualified for the job is that it only serves to preserve the status quo. Right now, being fat is seen as "unprofessional" even in cases where the person's weight is caused by factors like genetics, necessary meds that have weight gain as a side effect, medical issues or other issues outside their control. Allowing business to continue that kind of discrimination - even when the person is qualified to do the job - does nothing but perpetuate the stereotype. If companies were required to give the job to the most qualified person, regardless of size, and fat people were more able to be put into positions of responsibility and authority, perhaps people would realize we're actually CAPABLE of doing such jobs.
tralalala tralalala 9 years
Speaking as someone who was morbidly obese, and is now just overweight (although less so now than last year. Woo!) I think it would be stupid to create an anti descrimination law for fat people. I have thyroid problems that I am actively being treated for, I've been working my ass off/eating well, and I'm much healthier than I once was. That being said, I'm still not going to be working in a gym or modelling any time soon. If you aren't suited for the job, then don't be upset when you don't get it. I work in film, where regardless of which facet you're working in, image is very important. Luckily I've been able to get by with the help of talent, personality, and fantastic contacts until now, but now that I'm moving into more important positions, I've noticed that thinner people have been getting jobs that I'm going for, despite us having pretty much the same qualifications. Yeah, it sucks, but it's something I was prepared for when I entered this industry. I know for sure that when I weighed more, I was sick more often and missed a lot of school/work. I understand that many people are obese because of medical reasons(myself included to an extent, even though poor lifestyle choices added to it for sure), but that doesn't change the fact that it does make it harder for them to work effectively in certain professional settings, and I think that should be taken into consideration when hiring people.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
designergirl - While I've experienced weight based discrimination from both sides (male and female), the female side is the pretty saddening. But I believe it's because women in our society tend to be so insecure about their own size and looks that bashing someone else makes them feel better. I know that sounds catty, but it is the only reasoning I can possibly understand....other than women are all just judgmental b*#$!es, which I refuse to believe because I've known too many wonderful, kindhearted women in my life. I am so sorry for what you've gone through :( *hugs* No one has a right to hurt you like that. Just know this is one big girl who would never tell you to eat a sandwich. I might nudge you to eat more if I saw you not eating enough to stay healthy, but never maliciously :)
designergirl designergirl 9 years
Assuming that people are obese or overweight because they have no willpower is fallacious. Scientists and doctors understand very little about the digestive system and hunger. It's not as simple as eating a certain amount of Calories to stay thin. Though, I will admit that I once judged people based on their weight because I had too many negative experiences of people saying stuff like "eat a sandwich" to me. I am naturally thin and was once anorexic. I have no idea why larger people felt they could say that to me without causing themselves to be also judged by their weight. Also, I would like to add that most discrimination based on weight that I have had experience with was committed by women against women. I find that very sad.
remedios remedios 9 years
I really should read more before I post. I just read a few and totally missed the posts by thorswitch, wackdoodle, and Matdredalia that provide an honest look at their own experiences. Thanks for opening up.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Sorry about the duplicate post earlier - when the first one didn't show up after about 10 min, I though it must have gotten lost and reposted. Please excuse the error.
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