Face to the World

Blowing Past Stigma and Telling the World Who We Are

“I know all about you.” Those can be scary words, especially when someone says them out loud. And when they go unspoken, they can become a tremendous burden. For those of us living with obesity, those unspoken words become a dead weight that no scale can measure. That weight is stigma.

Preparing to open YWM2017 this morning, OAC Chairwoman Amber Huett Garcia tells us this gathering is a safe place to shed that stigma and start telling the world who we are:

We have to give ourselves permission to be our own best advocates. That permission starts with the things we tell ourselves so we eventually become natural advocates. We are re-writing the things we tell ourselves. We are building comfort in scarier situations. In those scary spaces we might otherwise feel shame in our bodies and a shake in our voices.

But we’re going to start speaking up. Don’t believe the things that people tell you about who you are and what that does or does not make us worthy. It’s time to reject other people’s stories because
we don’t have time to internalize them.

The Dead Weight of Internalized Stigma

Doctor Scott Kahan, co-chair of the YWM2017 program committee, has written extensively on what happens when we start accepting the bias that the world expresses about us. He tells us:

Weight bias can be the most unfair, inappropriate, and destructive part of living with obesity. But worse still is the harm that comes from believing that bias. We stigmatize ourselves and start internalizing the bias. This adds insult to the direct physical injury of obesity. We must come together as a community to support each other and fight all that bias.

Kahan’s opening presentation at YWM2017 this morning promises to be compelling.

We have to tell the world our own story. Not the story that someone else has written for us.

Click here for more on the harm of internalized weight bias.

Face to the World, photograph © Staffan Scherz / flickr

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August 11, 2017