Sizeism (And Why It's A Big Problem)

Sizeism (And Why It's A Big Problem)


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.” ( 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.

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Being Hungry Sucks, No Kid Hungry Is Here To Save The Day

Hunger can be caused by many different things.

We all know that without proper nourishment our bodies can gain a host of problems, some of them being a “weakened immune system, physical and mental stunting, [and an] increased risk of diabetes.”

Hunger can be caused by many different things; living in a food desert, poverty, climate change or natural disasters to name a few. In the US alone, one in six children goes hungry every day. In my opinion, it’s the children that are most vulnerable because they don’t have the ability to gain access to the many social programs in place to help defeat their hunger without an adult.

In order to help the children in America who struggle with hunger, there is a program called No Kid Hungry based in our nation’s capital. At No Kid Hungry, there are multiple programs already in place to ensure children are receiving the nourishment their bodies and minds need to grant them success.

The programs are:

1. School Breakfast

Many kids do not get the chance to eat a healthy breakfast before heading off to school in the morning. Without a proper breakfast, children struggle to focus in school and therefore their grades can be impacted negatively. Since the launch of the school breakfasts with No Kid Hungry, 2.8 million additional children are being served breakfast at the beginning of the school day with their classmates.

2. Summer Meals

Children who rely on discounted or free school lunches to fill their bellies often times struggle to continue receiving proper nourishment during the summer when school is no longer in session. As a result, No Kid Hungry has implemented the Summer Meals program where children can receive free meals at schools and community centers all summer long. However, some sites have limited hours of operation, can be difficult to get to, or may be closed during severe weather. In order to help make meals available to every child at every time of day no matter the circumstances, No Kid Hungry is working to introduce mobile meals delivery.

3. Afterschool Meals

Children who come from impoverished families and neighborhoods often times only have access to the free lunch they receive at school, making it their first and sometimes last meal of the day. With Afterschool Meals children are guaranteed to go meals to be satisfied.

4. Food Skills Education

Although school meals are helping children, one of the best ways to help them is to educate their parents and guardians on “how to shop for and cook healthy affordable meals.” In order to educate the public in different ways (no one learns the same) the Food Skills Education programs teach through the use of “interactive grocery store tours, hands-on cooking classes, smartphone apps and other resources – all free, and all run through trusted local community programs.” Through the program, a staggering 464,000 families have learned how to shop smarter and cook healthier.

All of these programs are amazing on their own right, but it takes more than just offering these programs in select cities to truly end childhood hunger. How can you help? Well, for starters you can make a donation. You can also be an advocate and if you're a parent or teacher, you can work on bringing No Kid Hungry to your community. You can start a fundraiser, attend an event, and speak up for kids by contacting your local and national government officials to protect the programs already in place such as SNAP.

So, how will you help?


Cover Image Credit: pexels

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13 Life Hacks That Will Help You Live A Happier Life

Simplicity and prevention are keys to a happier life.

A piece of advice I often hear from my mother is that simplicity is always best. It was only when I began to truly mature that I realized the utter truth in this, and began adapting it to all aspects of my life, something that I think has made me an overall happier person. Another great piece of advice from my mother is that prevention is always best. I really began to put these pieces of advice into practice during my last two years of high school, and I realized that some little things I changed really helped my overall happiness:

1. Sleep well

I can’t stress the importance of this. Helps you focus, helps your mood, you are 100% more productive and at the moment during the day. Is something I am constantly underestimating, and possibly the point on this list that I struggle the most to live by, but when I do it really makes a difference.

2. Achievable to do lists

There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you didn’t achieve anything after a day of work. Sometimes its just because you are a terrible procrastinator, but it can also be due to too high goals. Start small, make the first point something you can easily tick off, this will motivate you to do the rest.

3. Exercise

Positive endorphins are released, you get to burn off your stress and you live an overall more healthy life.

4. Eat before you get too hungry

Hunger physically hurts, you aren’t able to concentrate and your bad mood bothers those around you.

5. Drink water

Do you sometimes get weird headaches that seem to come from nowhere? Could be dehydration.

6. Gum in your bag

For when you are feeling sleepy but can’t take a nap or when you don’t have time to brush your teeth but have a terrible taste in your mouth.

7. Pretty and comfortable clothes

Itchy sweaters, skirts that you constantly have to pull down and jeans whose zippers are constantly opening are all small contributors to a bad mood.

8. Ask help when you need it

Know when you are out of your depth and instead of becoming increasingly frustrated while trying to do something ask for help.

9. Know your support system

From the friends and family you can rely on to having your doctor’s office’s address and telephone number within easy access, you will find you will stress less about some things going wrong because you are more prepared to deal with disasters and accidents.

10. Eat healthily

I don’t believe in going to extremes such as cutting junk food off completely, but a balanced diet has done wonders for my mood.

11. Take medicine when you feel bad

This goes for an occasional headache or having a cough drop if you feel a cold coming on, for more serious things obviously go see a doctor.

12. Don’t hold your pee

It's unhealthy, it hurts and is terribly distracting.

13. Write everything down

Write things down as you remember so you don’t have to depend on your memory.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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