A World Free of Weight Bias: This is the Vision of the OAC – Because of YOU!

The mission of the Obesity Action Coalition is to elevate and empower individuals affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support.

The third pillar of the OAC mission is perhaps the most essential component of the OAC’s work. Our advocacy and our education help drive us forward, but it is the support that we offer that truly brings us to the people we serve. Support can be interpreted a number of ways: Our advocacy efforts support individuals in their journey, especially when seeking treatment for their obesity, and our education supports individuals who are looking for answers. As an organization, support is at the forefront of everything we do.

As our organization has grown, the OAC has taken on many issues. One particular issue that has become a core focus of the OAC is fighting weight bias and discrimination. We formed the OAC’s Bias Busters, a program that activates our members to put an end to weight bias. Through Bias Busters, we give our members and supporters an outlet to thoughtfully express their concerns on stigmatizing issues. Most recently and most notably, more than 1,500 individuals signed the OAC’s petition calling for the removal of fat-shaming apps from major app stores!

We’ve created important guidelines, policies and initiatives for the media, our partners and our individual members, such as the OAC’s People-First Language for Obesity initiative, which has garnered support from more than 20 of our key partners, and thousands of individuals nationwide.

One of our most significant accomplishments in the weight bias arena is that we have continually empowered our members to have a voice and advocate on their own behalf against weight discrimination. Sarah Bramblette, the 2014 OAC Member of the Year, has been afforded many unique opportunities to combat weight discrimination, and to raise awareness on the stigma of the disease and its damaging effects. Sarah shares with us how the OAC has played an integral role in her growth as an individual fighting weight bias:

Sarah Bramblette

Life is a never-ending journey with many unexpected detours, or what I often refer to as adventures. I discovered the Obesity Action Coalition in the midst of a not so nice adventure, a time when I was experiencing weight bias at my job. I had been actively involved in the bariatric surgery community since undergoing RNY gastric bypass in 2003, and learned about an OAC teleconference on weight bias from my WLS pal, Michelle.  I called in and participated in the conversation and was excited that such an organization existed that fought for individuals affected by obesity. When I learned about the inaugural Your Weight Matters Convention in 2012 being held in Dallas, TX, it didn’t take much convincing for me to make the decision to attend.

Despite having already been on my journey to health for nearly nine years, YWM2012 reignited a spark within me. Through the convention I learned more about the OAC mission, and what stood out to me the most was that OAC supports individuals affected by obesity regardless of selected method of treatment, even if their choice is no treatment at all. However, I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words, and from my experience with OAC staff, board members, and fellow members at YWM2012, it’s no surprise why action is their middle name.

While I chose surgery to assist me in losing weight, I am and will always have a BMI that classifies me as “obese.” I have Lipedema and Lymphedema, conditions which cause excess adipose tissue and lymph fluid to accumulate in my arms and legs. No amount of calorie restriction or intense exercise will enable me to have a normal BMI. However, I still focus on eating healthy and exercising, along with compression therapy for my lymphedema, to maintain my overall health. Sadly, I do not get a second chance to make a first impression, so despite my weight being caused by a medical condition, and despite the fact I am overall healthy, I still encounter weight bias.

Together with the Obesity Action Coalition I fight weight bias and stigma. I am most passionate about eliminating the weight bias in healthcare and the workplace. OAC has provided me with a powerful platform to share my story as a means to spread awareness about my conditions and how I fight to overcome weight bias and stigma. The story of my experience with weight bias at my job was featured as part of Members Matter in Your Weight Matters Magazine. My story of Living with Lipedema has also been a part of a larger informative Your Weight Matters piece on Lipedema.

In addition to sharing my story via OAC, they have provided many opportunities for me to share my story with other audiences. This past year, James and Eileen sent me information about the HealthCentral Anti-Stigma photo contest encouraging me to submit an entry. I won the contest, and my photo and story caught the attention of The Doctors daytime television show. In what was yet another detour in my journey, this time a whirlwind exciting adventure, I appeared on national television to share my story of advocating for myself and others.

I am forever grateful to the OAC for empowering me to make a difference. This year I was recognized as the 2014 OAC Member of the Year, and beginning January 2015 I will be a member of the OAC Board of Directors. In addition to sharing my story, I look forward to using my talents, skills and education in order to further the mission of the OAC.

Sarah Bramblette

Sarah HAS made a difference, and she is not alone! Thousands of OAC members have made a positive impact in helping change the public perception of obesity. Thousands of OAC members have raised their voice to call for change. It is BECAUSE OF YOU that the OAC is able to give individuals the strength to join the fight. DONATE TODAY to support the OAC’s fight to end weight bias.

Your donation WILL make a difference and help us WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST OBESITY STIGMA. Your donation will MAKE THE OAC’s VISION, that we will live in a world free of weight bias, where individuals are treated with dignity and respect regardless of their size or weight, a REALITY.

 



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