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25 Jun

Micro-aggression and body shaming

Chipping away at the fat: 

We can all recognise out and out prejudice, can’t we?. But what about the subtler type, that chip, chip, chips away at the soul?

Most of us wouldn’t dream of overtly attacking or harassing overweight people. But how many of us can honestly say we’ve not absorbed some of the distaste against them, so evident in society at large?

We suspect that the observations made here will ring bells with all sorts of people who are part of a socially stigmatised group, and not just those who are overweight. Racial minorities, those in the LGBTQ community and even, simply, women, come to mind.

The small but frequent, seemingly harmless comments, looks or attitudes, known as microaggressions, are not imagined. They serve to devalue people. They knock their self-confidence time and again, day after day.  

Imagine what that’s going to do to anyone. Maybe you’ve experienced it. These microagressions also provide a constant source of stress, which has been shown to increase the risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, raised blood pressure and heart disease.

Eventually people who are stigmatised learn to anticipate and expect these attitudes and behaviours. They’re in a constant state of preparation. Which creates another layer of ongoing stress.

These looks and comments become so routine they become normalised within society at large. This can mean they may not be recognised as wrong, or as stigmatising. People can easily start to believe they deserve to be treated in this way. Does my bum look big in this?

If they challenge what’s being said, they’re often told ‘it’s just a joke’ or they’re imagining things. Shades of Harvey Weinstein…

Research has found that even very young children show anti-fat attitudes. Where do they get that from? They’re not born with them. They pick them up from behaviours around them, maybe also from children’s stories or cartoons.

It’s important then to challenge these attitudes and behaviours. If we don’t, we’re perpetuating the oppression they cause and continue to cause. Bit by bit, every day. 

If you recognise this issue, or you’d just like someone to talk to, do get in touch. Practically Slim recognises the crosses our clients have to bear. We care and we can help. Call us today.

This blog is based on an article by conscienhealth exploring another by Angela Meadows, a Researcher in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, which was originally published here on The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence.


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