Sizeism (And Why It's A Big Problem)

Sizeism (And Why It's A Big Problem)

1317
views

The Obesity Epidemic: everyone knows what it is. I can hardly remember a time when there wasn’t one. When I was young, I remember telling a fat girl in my class to ‘go on a diet’ because I heard from others that that was something all fat people should do, me being completely ignorant of its meaning. The girl, of course, got deeply offended, and I spent that recess sitting inside to think about what I did wrong. The thing was, however, that anything I did or said back then was a clear reflection of what society had taught me. Thinking back on it now, I realize the real damage the ‘obesity epidemic’ has caused, and it goes by the name sizeism: to be prejudiced against someone due to their size. Sizeism most noticeably affects fat people. Although it is usually ignored and widely accepted by most of society, sizeism is a HUGE problem with real consequences, and the ‘obesity epidemic’ is under the wrong name.

Now, let’s think to ourselves: Why is sizeism so widely ignored and accepted? In the good old USA, that’s pretty much a silly question. All you have to do is take a quick look around at society, and it becomes pretty obvious. Society hates fat. From weight loss fads, to thin, attractive models on magazines, to the infamous ‘obesity epidemic’ (notice how I put quotes on this every time? It’s meant to be sarcastic). In almost all forms of media, the people you will see most are thin, attractive supermodels supposedly representing what is ‘beauty’. This is intended to teach society what is accepted as being ‘beautiful’, and so far it has been working. What’s worse, society almost encourages people to walk up to someone heavier, and tell them how to live their life 'correctly'. Beyond the whole ‘weight loss’ fad, the media also contributes to this negative stigma. In most media, a character of a larger weight is almost always comic relief, extremely disgusting, always hungry or eating, or all of the above. The idea that being fat is unattractive, however, only started in the early twenty-first century, around the same time that the ‘obesity epidemic’ became a thing. So when it comes down to it, sizeism is widely ignored for this one reason: the common belief that being fat is unhealthy.

Here’s some facts on the ‘obesity epidemic’. It is a ‘disease’ based off of having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or more. However, it is also connected to a series of symptoms, such as “increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers.” (nlm.nhm.gov). The thing is, almost none of these symptoms are related to increased flesh, and are almost entire related to bad life-style choices such as unhealthy diet and lack of exorcise. So, get this: I, a male with an average BMI, could have the ‘obesity disease’, yet not be ‘obese’.

In other words, the BMI system is complete BS.

Although there are still studies that go back and forth between whether you can be both fat and healthy or not, there are still a lot of other things that make less sense. For example, the ‘obesity epidemic’ is usually said to be cured when one is no longer obese. However, studies have shown that most of those who are overweight lose weight, but they usually gain the weight back. Moreover, the benefits in losing the weight are significantly below those of having a healthy lifestyle. In other words, if someone has a healthy lifestyle (good diet, regular exercise), they can still be considered healthy no matter what size they are. So when it comes down to it, the ‘obesity epidemic’ should really be called the ‘bad lifestyle choice epidemic’. It may seem like a trite change, but this small inconsistency has some HUGE consequences (pun intended).

One of the biggest problems (pun intended) with sizeism is the negative stigma that revolves around fat people. As case studies have shown, a large majority of people have negative first impressions about fat people, believing them to be “lazy, greedy, un-healthy, etc.” (Chin, Jean Lay). Because of this, people will automatically have a low opinion of someone who is fat, even if they know nothing about the person. What this does is cause a significant amount of mental trauma on all those with prejudice against them -- mental trauma that can cause more health problems than what obesity proclaims. In other words, people believing they are helping fat people are causing even more harm against them, and are encouraged to do so.

Nonetheless, fat people are not the only people negatively affected by sizeism. There has been a significant increase in adolescents with anorexia and bulimia. Although the eating disorders are usually caused by a want of control, the majority of cases come from a fear of being fat. In other words, encouraging sizeism is causing a huge increase of anorexia and bulimia.

As one can see, the hype over this ‘obesity epidemic’ actually causes more problems than it thinks it’s solving. Sizeism is commonly called the last acceptable social prejudice, but ‘acceptable’ and ‘prejudice’ should never be in the same phrase, because prejudice of any kind is never acceptable. Many people have the mindset that ‘if they can do it, why can’t others?’, or ‘if I can control myself and diet, why can’t they?’ This mindset is wrong on many levels, making it seem as if everyone were the same person, when they aren’t. Everyone is different, and not everyone is so easily able to lose/maintain weight. Even if being fat is unhealthy, prejudice against fat people is not only unhelpful, but also makes their situation worse as well as that of society in general. So next time you see someone picking on a fat person, go ahead and tell them to pick on someone their own size -- literally.

Cover Image Credit: https://0701.static.prezi.com/preview/tfhay7xbmwrxkyw4vzsgbehwbeadw6rhlm5vs2oll757hbaoaxlq_0_0.png

Popular Right Now

​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
1494325
views

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

My Eating Disorder Was A Secret, Even From Me

No one ever talks about it, and if they had my life might be different.

141
views

I remember ninth grade health class very well, specifically one day in particular. The day we talked about eating disorders, I was ready to hear about anorexia and bulimia. I was not ready to walk out of that classroom with confirmation that I had an eating disorder, but that is exactly what I did that day.

After speaking on anorexia and bulimia, my teacher told us about Binge Eating Disorder.

My 14-year-old ears perked up. I had never heard of this disease, but I was immediately interested. I knew anorexia and bulimia well, they were the diseases that, at the time, I wish I had the determination to try, but I was too scared to hurt my body.

Binge Eating Disorder was new to me. My teacher described it as continuing to eat after you were full and eating for hours at a time. As the signs and symptoms continued to be read, I realized... that the last three years of my life had been plagued by binges. There was a lot I couldn't control in my life, but eating was one thing that I always had control over. It was the one thing that always brought me comfort.

Most binges would start after I came home from a hard day at school, or maybe after I got in a fight with a family member. Maybe I felt insecure about the growing number on the scale, but I ate.

It always started with half a bag of chips, then maybe a cookie or other sweet treat, and then I would finish with something else I could find in the pantry. My mother would come home and begin making dinner.

Ashamed, I would hide the food anywhere so my family could not tell I had been eating and then I would go eat dinner.

This was a common occurrence for me, but I had no idea that my habits were wrong or should point to an eating disorder. The only thing that I knew was wrong with me, was that I was gaining weight.

For the longest time, I thought an eating disorder was something that helped you lose weight unhealthily, not gain weight. It wasn't until I sat in a health class that I realized that there was anything wrong with me.

Education is so important in overcoming eating disorders. We are making such great strides about informing people about the dangers of eating disorders and positive body image.

It is so important that we start making Binge Eating Disorder a topic that is as known as anorexia and bulimia. No one ever discusses Binge Eating Disorder, not even the dangers of it, maybe if they had my life might have been different.

Maybe I would have found out about it earlier and could have gotten help before it got out of hand.

I wish I could say that I left that health class that day and never had a binge again. The truth is I binged several times after that, and still to this day I have an episode, although they are very rare.

It would be unrealistic to tell you that I overcame my eating disorder that day because it is a journey I am still completing. Every day presents a new challenge, and sometimes I fail, but I will succeed, and succeeding is worth a few failures.

Related Content

Facebook Comments