Every single woman in the world is guilty of fat shaming. Whether it’s against a peer, an enemy, a stranger or yourself, women are so quick to call out another woman on her weight. It seems to be the most effective and hurtful form of criticism, and it’s sad that we all use weight as ammunition to cause harm.
What’s even more disturbing about this disgusting habit is how young it starts. A new study has found that discrimination and bias against "overweight" people begins at an alarmingly young age.
Researchers in England conducted a study in which they gave 126 kids who had just started school subtly different versions of the same story, with the inconsistencies limited to the physical characteristics of the main character. The varying stories gave the main character a different sex and weight.
When the character was an overweight boy, only one of the 43 kids reading that particular story would choose to befriend him. When the character was an overweight girl, only two in 30 said the same. Honestly, how tragic is this?
This discrimination and bias, known as sizeism, is undoubtedly due to the way children are raised and the messages (subliminal or overt) that they get from society. Children see thin people everywhere in the media and are taught that obesity is a serious health issue. More and more schools are implementing better lunch programs and are informing kids at a very young age how being obese can harm their health.
What schools don’t do, however, is teach children how to be accepting of those who are overweight. They spend more time engraining how unhealthy it is, but never touch on how you should treat someone who may weigh more than the average person. This study shows that weight and body discrimination can be just as contentious as those based on race, gender and class.
Is this the new societal norm? Judging someone based on his or her weight? I think it has been for a while, and after seeing the affect it has on children, I think it's safe to say we need to strive to set a better example.
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