Weight Bias Issues
Obesity stigma is a major issue in our society. Weight bias is negative attitudes, beliefs, judgments, stereotypes, and discriminatory acts aimed at individuals simply because of their weight. This type of stigma has negative effects on the victims and we need to eradicate it. When it comes to fighting weight bias and stigma, every voice counts. There are a variety of ways you can get involved in the OAC’s efforts to combat weight bias and stigma:
Take the Pledge to Speak out and Challenge Perceptions of Obesity
HERE’S THE ISSUE: Although the disease of obesity affects more than 93 million Americans, it is very misunderstood. False but common perceptions of obesity create weight stigma and can prevent people from getting help and support.
YOUR ASK: Take the pledge to speak out, challenge perceptions of obesity and help improve understanding and support.
Help End Weight Bias and Stigma Caused by the Sale of “Fat” Costumes at Halloween!
HERE’S THE ISSUE: When retailers sell “fat” costumes they promote weight bias and stigma. The sale of these costumes lets people think it is okay to make fun of a body type often associated with obesity. It is not okay, and it is not “funny.” These costumes also allow negative stereotypes about people living with obesity (that they are lazy and undisciplined) to continue. This is wrong and hurtful.
YOUR ASK: Send emails to major retailers who sell “fat” costumes at Halloween and ask that the costumes be removed from their stores and websites.
Help Educate the Media to Accurately Represent the Disease of Obesity and the People Affected by it!
HERE’S THE ISSUE: Often times, articles in the media addressing the disease of obesity project weight bias. This bias is most commonly seen through the use of headless images and the use of the term “obese.” When weight bias appears in the media, even if it is unintentional, it has enormous reach. It not only perpetuates the stigmas and bias much of society has, it can have a very harmful impact on individuals affected by obesity. Psychological effects include depression, anxiety and poor body image.
YOUR ASK: Contacting the editors of the top 25 media outlets across the US and asking them to use people-first language and images that do not promote stigma is an important step toward ending weight bias in the media.
Sign-on to OAC’s Letter Addressing Weight Bias on NBC’s Tonight Show
HERE’S THE ISSUE: The April 25th episode of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon featured an “Angry Man” monologue from Jay Leno that severely stigmatized people affected by the disease of obesity. His monologue included joking about the causes and effects of obesity to living with the disease. The statements made by Mr. Leno and featured on the Tonight Show greatly contribute to the stigmatization of people with obesity. Obesity is a serious, complex disease affecting more than 93 million Americans nationwide and is not a joking matter.
YOUR ASK: Add your name to our letter to NBC executives to help end weight bias on television!
OAC’s Letter Addressing Weight Bias in CBS’s Blue Bloods
HERE’S THE ISSUE: A recent episode of CBS’ Blue Bloods featured a character’s decision to have gastric bypass surgery in a negative light. The episode, which shamed the character’s decision and referred to surgery as the “easy way out” and a “cosmetic procedure,” is offensive and unacceptable. Bariatric surgery is a scientifically sound treatment for obesity and no one should be discriminated for seeking this tool.
UPDATE: The OAC has received an official response from CBS regarding the Blue Bloods episode. CBS has assured the OAC that Blue Bloods producers recognize that obesity is a disease affecting millions of Americans and their intent was to have a thoughtful discussion on the episode and showcase how it impacts police officers. CBS explained that producers also understand the complexity of obesity and the OAC’s concerns regarding the portrayal of bariatric surgery. CBS has stated that there was no intent to offend or creative negative conversation around obesity or bariatric surgery.
Past Weight Bias Issues
- Entertainment Tonight Fat Suit Segment
- Boy Scouts of America
- Click here for additional past weight bias issues.