Weight Bias – The Voices that are Not Always Heard
As the beginning of my second term as chairman of the OAC quickly approaches, I cannot help but reflect on this past year and our successes. One of the main goals of the OAC and my personal passion is to change the public perception of the disease of obesity and those affected by it. Every day, new therapies for the treatment of obesity are being researched, developed, and perfected; however, weight bias remains. Weight bias is pervasive in healthcare, media, education, employment, entertainment, and daily life. We MUST continue our fight and strengthen the battle against weight bias until it is completely eliminated.
Weight bias is not something that’s always easy to identify or tackle. In fact, quite often, individuals affected by obesity are timid when it comes to combating weight bias. But, as the old saying goes, “There is strength in numbers,” and that is where you and your voice come into play.
Last year the OAC launched its “Bias Busters” campaign, with the main goal being quite simple: Recognize bias, address it and bust it. Period. Behind the scenes this year, the OAC worked diligently to tackle numerous weight stigma issues by contacting healthcare professionals regarding their bias with patients; theme parks about weight-stigmatizing attractions; and reporters concerning their portrayal of obesity and individuals affected in the media. We continued to work with outside partners to ensure weight awareness campaigns remain sensitive to the individuals affected.
Throughout its existence, “Bias Busters” has tackled some impressive and important issues; however, many issues still remain:
We want to see an end to “fat suits” sold and chosen as a Halloween costume.
We want to see stock imagery companies appropriately depicting an individual affected by obesity so the media uses the right images when running a story on obesity.
We want to create a world where blatant hate-pages on Facebook targeting individuals affected by obesity are not tolerated and not even created in the first-place by the public.
In order to fully eradicate weight bias in all aspects of life, we must move from being reactive and become proactive – we must educate, educate, and educate. We must raise our voice every time someone makes a “fat” joke, we must correct those who make uneducated and uninformed assumptions about anyone affected by this lifelong chronic illness. In an effort to promote a more proactive approach to weight bias, the OAC published two new Weight Bias Guides that serve to raise awareness and to help all members of society better understand just how deeply weight bias impacts the lives of individuals affected by obesity and excess weight. I invite each and every one of you to utilize these guides as a resource and to share them with others.
I will leave you with one clear and important message: The simple reality of combating weight bias is that we have more to do. We can’t let up in our efforts. We can’t just say, “Well, we tried, but they still use those images.” We can’t say, “Geez, Facebook is such a big company. They’ll never hear us.” We are a 40,000 member-strong organization. That’s 40,000 voices all saying, “STOP. Enough is enough.”
If you’re affected by obesity and not yet a card-carrying member of the OAC, JOIN. Join us and let your voice be heard. One voice is often unheard. Forty thousand can speak loudly and clearly, but imagine the power behind100,000 voices! To join now, please click here.
You can also help us build our voice by forwarding this blog to at least one person you know who would benefit from joining the OAC. Let’s unite on our mission to make 100,000 voices heard by becoming a member.
And, if you are already a card-carrying member of the OAC, you can make an even bigger impact by donating to the cause – donate to the OAC! All donations are tax-deductible and even small contributions can go a long way in the fight. To make a donation now, please click here.
Join me as we tackle weight bias in 2013 – together we really do make a difference. Together we can make certain that Every voice WILL be heard.
Pam Davis, OAC Chairman