Once again, social media proves itself to be a valuable advocacy tool for chipping away at weight bias. Last week, a Twitter user who was using the Bing Search Engine to look up “Childhood Obesity” uncovered a clear problem. The search engine pulled a stigmatizing photo of a Hispanic child binge eating cake with his hands, which was accompanied by symptoms that included “stretch marks” and “pot belly.”
Fighting Weight Bias: We Need All Hands on Deck
That same Twitter user shared his search result online and tagged Bing to alert them that this was a case of explicit weight bias and obesity stigma. Explicit weight bias is a form of discrimination. It’s an obvious and direct example of weight bias that is generally carried out in someone’s actions or in a visual way.
Immediately after, more Twitter users were alerted to the issue and joined-in the outpouring of responses. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) was also alerted, and we sent a letter to Microsoft that educated about weight bias and encouraged the graphic to be removed.
Microsoft Does the Right Thing
Fortunately, after receiving the OAC’s letter and reviewing Twitter responses, Microsoft immediately removed the graphic from Bing. Their response tells us that calling out specific instances of weight bias works – and with each small win, we can create a domino effect that gets rid of weight bias for good. That is the ultimate goal.
Resources for Fighting Weight Bias
Using social media to respond to weight bias is an example of what the OAC calls “Ongoing Actions.” You can do these actions at any time if you see an issue that you think deserves attention. If you see something that isn’t right, Take Action!
You can also use the OAC Action Center to respond to weight bias issues in other ways. We regularly share updates about current issues that need your immediate attention.