Four Signs We’re Turning a Corner on Weight Bias

Weight bias is getting four kinds of critical public attention that gives hope we’re turning a corner on this problem. Increasingly it’s being called out as unacceptable fat shaming.

Fat Shaming, Google TrendsA quick look at Google Trends shows you that 2012 was the year people started taking notice of “fat shaming.” Before That it simply didn’t show up in searches or headlines. The more neutral term, weight bias, was the only thing that showed up. Then in 2013, interest in the subject took off. Here are four examples of how it’s grabbing our attention.

  1. Media. This week, Elle magazine found itself in the position of defending a cover of Mindy Kaling that cropped away her curvy body. It was quickly compared to cover treatments of Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel, and Allison Williams that showed off their thinner bodies. Said Jezebel, “this isn’t the first time that Elle has depicted women who are larger than your average cover model in ways that obscure their bodies from view.
  2. Celebrities. More celebrities in recent months are calling out fat shaming as unacceptable, unhealthy behavior. Just last week, Alyssa Milano extracted an an apology from comedian Jay Mohr for making offensive comments about her body.
  3. Popular Backlash. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson wiped out millions of dollars of his company’s stock value and ultimately lost his job late last year when he made disparaging comments about women whose large bodies “just don’t work” for Lululemon products. Likewise, a fitness blogger found herself banned from Facebook for hate speech when she launched a rant about larger women feeling good about their bodies.
  4. Research. Weight bias research is building to show how harmful and counterproductive shaming is. People who experience weight bias avoid the healthcare they need. It makes people less likely to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Calling out weight bias for what it is — fat shaming — appears to mark a turning point in public opinion. Increasingly, weight bias is just not acceptable.

Click here to read more about Kaling’s cover on Elle, here to read more about Mohr’s apology to Milano, here to read more about Lululemon’s troubles, here to read more about the fat-shaming blogger, and here to read about recent research on the effects of fat shaming.

Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams, and Zooey Deschanel; Elle magazine covers

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