Eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of all mental illnesses. They are complex disorders triggered by environmental factors, and studies have shown that weight stigma is one of the major triggers.
According to Chevese Turner, CEO of BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association ) “We must continue to raise awareness around weight stigma and how focusing on weight rather than health and valuing smaller sizes can, in fact, have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of a person-of-size—especially those who have or are predisposed to eating disorders.” The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) has launched its third annual National Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW), September 23-27, 2013. This online event aims to help build awareness of what weight stigma is, the harmful effects weight stigma can have on people of all ages in all environments, and what can be done to stop it.
Reducing weight prejudice requires shifting societal attitudes, challenging media portrayals of obesity, debunking pervasive weight-based stereotypes, and pushing for legislation to protect individuals from weight discrimination. These are ambitious, but necessary goals if we are to eradicate weight bias.” Rebecca M. Puhl, Ph.D, Deputy Director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.
In the words of former editor of Australian Vogue Kirstie Clements “The longer I worked with models, the more the food deprivation became obvious. Cigarettes and Diet Coke were dietary staples. Sometimes you would see the tell-tale signs of anorexia, where a girl develops a light fuzz on her face and arms as her body struggles to stay warm. I have never, in all my career, heard a model say “I’m hot”, not even if you wrapped her in fur and put her in the middle of the desert.”
What is Weight Stigma?
Weight Stigma, also known as weightism, weight bias, and weight-based discrimination, is judgment or stereotyping based on one’s weight, shape and/or size. Weight stigma fuels behaviors and actions by individuals and organizations that include bullying, hate-speech, and exclusions that limit the ability of a person to gain employment, healthcare, and education.
Victims of Weight Stigma
- The lonely child on the playground, who’s always picked last for games
- The highly competent worker who is paid less than his peers and gets bypassed for promotions because he’s larger
- The anxious patient who fears getting regular check-ups because she knows she will be shamed for her weight
- The friend who nervously laughs along as the group laughs at fat jokes, hoping no one will realize she’s who they are laughing at.
Tips to Combat Eating Disorder
- Understand the nutrients your body needs.
- Calculate your ideal body weight
- Understand that body’s fluid levels change everyday, several times a day
- Make a list of pastimes that make you feel good
- Make a food list
- Try to reawaken the taste, temperature and sensation in your mouth
- Avoid keeping your binge foods at home
- Try to drink no more than two litres of water a day
- Stop Using Laxatives and diuretics
- Try to build a structure into your diet pattern
- Join the Campaign to the end Weight Stigma Today!