HOW DO YOU SEE ME?
‘”If only I weighed less, I’d be happy.”
Is this a thought that has ever crossed your mind? It might have crossed mine once or twice during the last several years, just maybe. However, I intellectually know that the two are not connected… or are they?
The alarming rates of obesity have brought widespread attention to the medical consequences of this public health problem. Often ignored, however, are the social and personal obstacles that the plus size community face. Bias, stigma and weight discrimination are frequent experiences for many plus size individuals, which have serious consequences for their personal and social well being as well as their emotional health. Given that at least half of the American population is overweight or obese, the number of people faced with this discrimination and stigmatization is immense.
There is clear evidence of weight stigma and bias in multiple aspects of daily life for the plus size population. Negative perceptions exist in employment settings where they are viewed as being less competent, lazy, and lacking self-dicipline by co-workers and employers. These attitudes can have a negative impact on wages, promotions and decisions about employment status for this population. Multiple forms of weight bias occur in educational settings as well. Plus size students face numerous obstacles, ranging from harassment and rejection from their peers as well as biased attitudes from their teachers (please note that I am not in any way saying that all teachers feel this way or intentionally have biased attitudes). This often starts early, as early as pre-school when overweight people are characterized as being mean, stupid, ugly, unhappy, lazy, and having few friends. The effects of these stigmas can last a lifetime which is why many plus size children grow up to be plus size adults. Their self worth having been destroyed at such an early age will take hard work to undo. How sad that this cycle is repeated and that society continues to turn a blind eye, it makes me sick!
A long history of mocking and discrimination against people of size runs through many cultures. May people assume that plus size people are to blame for their condition, and that obesity is a sign of low or no willpower or overindulgence. People of size have fewer social and romantic relationships, college admissions, careers and earning power may be negatively affected by weight, particularly for women. While it may not be generally acceptable to discriminate based on gender, religion, ethnicity, may people continue to ridicule, mock or even abuse the plus size community. No one deserves such treatment, NO ONE !
My personal experience as a plus size woman, and, as a plus size personal trainer gives me a unique perspective on what it takes to help people of size start on their heath and fitness journey, which is why my abilities as a personal trainer should not be defined by my size, but rather by my experiences, my intelligence, my skills,my passion, my heart and my soul.
NO ONE SHOULD BE DEFINED BY THEIR SIZE. NO ONE !!
SO, how do you see me?
Barbara Steinmetz, ACE CPT