You may have noticed I’m passionate about non-diet approaches to health. In fact, the whole reason why I studied mindful eating was to explore anti-diet strategies my clients could use (and news alert – mindful eating is a fantastic non-diet approach skill!)
Now if you’re new to the topics of diet culture and the non-diet approach, you might be interested in an article about weight stigma I wrote some months ago. It recently got picked up by WHIMN website. I wrote the opinion piece because this year, I made a pact with myself to speak up more on the topic of weight stigma. Again, you might not be that familiar with the topic of weight stigma. If so, don’t worry. The article will shed a little bit of light for you.
Before I share the link with you, I wanted to make a couple of things clear:
- I am by no means an expert on this topic. There are many who have been championing this cause for decades (and more eloquently I might add!).
- I don’t have lived experience being in a larger body and I am, without a doubt privileged. I’ve got gainful employment and I get to do a job I enjoy. My body, skin colour and sexuality also fit the social norm.
- I should probably also point out, weight bias is something I still need to reflect on and challenge daily. Seeing “fatness as bad” was embedded into our university training and it took me almost 10 years out of the 18 years of practising as a Dietitian to be confident enough to move to what I knew was a kinder, more human way of operating. In writing this article, I found it tough to provide scientific definitions of BMI to provide background for the reader without stigmatising. The “o-words”and “excess” weight/muscle/bone are all judgmental and based on an assumption that the “normal” or “healthy BMI” is something we should all be. (spoiler alert – we don’t have to be).
- I especially feel very ashamed of the harm I have caused by prescribing diets in the past and the way I would have bandied the “o-word” around. I have been self-reflecting on this for about the last 8-9 years and I’ve certainly got more listening and more “work to do” as they say! It goes without saying – I AM SORRY.
Weight Bias and Weight Stigma
Although I live with multiple privileges and have got a truckload of learning still to do in this area, I do see the effects of diet culture and weight stigma every day in my work. It’s there in conversations with other health professionals (many of whom have suffered the effects of weight stigma themselves) and in presentations at various conferences. It’s there in the thoughts and beliefs of students coming into our dietetic program where I teach. It’s in the government health documents and in the journal articles that cross my screen. I also know my clients living with Eating Disorders have felt it and it’s impacted them deeply. In turn, their pain has impacted me.
Weight bias, weight stigma and fatphobia are super complex topics and my article, written from an educator and clinician lens, only touches the surface. However, I do hope that at least one person out there in the broader community gets something valuable from it. I would be happy for any feedback you might have. Feel free to drop me a line!
Here’s the article: Forget about weight, let’s talk about weight stigma
NB: If you’d like to learn more on the topic, a good starting point could be heading to the Association for Size, Diversity and Health website.
If you use social media, you might also like to search for hashtags #weightstigma, #HAES and #fatpositive.