Overweight people just can’t win. According to new research, there is still an anti-fat prejudice that exists former obese women–even after they lost a lot of weight. Why can’t people see women for who they are–not how much they weigh or weighed? And furthermore, why does this discrimination persist only for women and not men?
Published in the journal Obesity, the study asked both men and women to read several stories about women and their weight. One story featured a woman who had lost about 70 pounds, and another talked about a woman who was currently obese or thin and not trying to alter her weight. The participants were then asked to rate the women’s attractiveness from each story and give their opinions on fat people in general.
And guess what?
People tended to judge the overweight women who lost weight more harshly than women who were currently overweight or currently thin. In other words, even after the weight loss, women are still seen as being unattractive and out of control. The anti-fat stigma remained.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Janet Latner from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, explained to FoxNews.com:
We were surprised to find that currently thin women were viewed more differently depending on their weight history. We found that people who had lost weight were viewed more negatively in terms of attractiveness than people who had remained stable.
Latner went on to say that this judgment had a lot to do with the way people perceive overweight women:
There are several theories as to why anti-fat stigma persists. The leading theory is controllability theory – suggesting that stigmatized conditions are despised more when they are perceived as easily controllable, a widespread perception about obesity. Our findings partly supported this theory by demonstrating that reading vignettes describing weight loss led to greater obesity stigma than reading vignettes describing weight stability.
Oh, geez. Maybe people don’t understand the amount of energy, determination, commitment and hard work it takes to lose a significant amount of weight. Those women kick ass. And they deserve to be applauded, not discriminated against.
Can we all just stop judging women, regardless of how much she weighs or has weighed in the past?