Body praising defeats fat shaming acts

Body praising defeats fat shaming acts

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Reflections Washu

It was only a year ago that the American Medical Association decided it was time to recognize obesity as a disease. Writing for The New York Times, AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris stated she believes this decision will “help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.”

However, in a society where 70 percent of Americans are overweight, how can we even begin to help those afflicted and provide healthy prevention tips for younger children? Some have decided that the best method is what is commonly known as “fat shaming.” This entails people discriminating or shaming those who are overweight and/or obese with the hopes that they will be humiliated into changing their lifestyles or from even starting unhealthy behaviors. However, countless studies have shown this kind of bullying only results in people increasing their risks of obesity and, unsurprisingly, staying obese.

In an article for “Psychology Today,” Traci Stein, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and a Master of Public Health in community health education, explained that “weight-based discrimination and stigmatization are both common and linked to poorer emotional and physical health in those targeted.”

The biggest fault in the fat shaming movement is that people forget obesity isn’t always the product of a lazy, unsuccessful person who has inadequate self-control. Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, recently commented in an article on fat shaming for “NBC News” that in order to break the cycle fat shaming induces in regards to increasing numbers of obese Americans, we must first “shift focus from just a number on the scale. We want people to engage in healthy behaviors, regardless of their body size.”

Though it is important for us to stay on top of the health of American citizens and children, it is also imperative that we don’t lose sight of the main lesson: In a world saturated with images of what we “need” to look like, we must learn to love and appreciate our bodies.

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