Comedian and talk show host Bill Maher recently commented on the obesity epidemic and its role in the dysfunction of the American health care system. He suggests the solution to lowering health care costs is to motivate people to lose weight by body-shaming, or fat-shaming, them. The segment also included many common misconceptions about obesity.
If you feel ashamed of your weight, seek out and create a strong support system of family and friends or find a body-positive community on Facebook or online. Focus on your overall well-being by practicing healthy behaviors, regardless of your weight. This should include your mental health.
As noted above, we think of body shaming as something that primarily affects the younger generation due to the constant access to social media and the internet age. The truth is that body shaming, and bullying in general, does not discriminate against age. Judgement affects people of all ages, including the elderly population.
These are all natural changes that all humans will experience as we age. However, that does not mean it is simple and easy to adjust to. Hence, older individuals will develop their own personal insecurities regarding their changing appearance and physical abilities. When body-shamed for it, either by other elderly people, their children, or strangers, it can exacerbate their anxieties.
Thanksgiving can be a challenging holiday for people who struggle with body image or issues surrounding food. While the holiday is supposed to be about gratitude, for many, it has come to be about indulging-or over-indulging on quintessential dishes.
Erin Wentroble, the site director for The Renfrew Center, an eating disorder clinic in Pittsburgh, agreed with avoiding comments on portion sizes, body shape changes, moral comments about food or referencing caloric content. Someone in recovery for an eating disorder may be on a set meal plan that would dictate portion sizes.
I am so excited for these three people as they use enormous courage to work on accepting their bodies as they are. But as I reflect on these events my excitement turns into a real sadness. What sort of society do we live in where it takes great courage for three truly amazing people to believe that they deserve basic respect as they go about everyday activities, regardless of the shape of the body that they live in? Really, what sort of a society have we not only accepted but contributed to creating, and maintaining?
It takes courage to make the decision to stop participating in body shaming, and by doing so forge a better future for us all. My final question to you is: do you have the courage? And my final request: please search for it and use it every day.
As your child grows and enters puberty, they are bound to become insecure. Remember, not every child goes through puberty at the same time. Some kids are ahead of the curve while others are late bloomers. Preteen and teenagers can be too self-critical which can hurt their body image.
Most recently, while the election results were coming in and Trump was falsely claiming they were rigged, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper characterized Trump as "an obese turtle on his back, flailing in the hot son, realizing his time is over." The fact that Cooper resorted to fat-shaming by calling attention to Trump's obesity reflects a widespread acceptance of fat phobia within our society. It was entirely unnecessary to reference Trump's weight to comment on how anti-democratic and dangerous his misinformation campaign is.
On October 8, former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll fat-shamed Trump on Twitter in a now deleted quote-tweet that read "Sir, I hear you weigh 1300 pounds." I replied directly, writing that while I supported her and believed her claims of being sexually assaulted by Trump, it was inappropriate to body-shame him in order to critique his awful behavior.
When I say it's time to stop fat-shaming Trump, it's not because I care about his feelings or don't enjoy gloating over his loss. It's because I want all body-shaming to stop, because its psychological effects are much more harmful for fat people than being fat is. Trump isn't awful because he's fat. He's awful because of his callousness and cruelty. Slam him for what he says and does, not what his body looks like.
The key to preventing avatar-shaming, which was prevalent in earlier iterations of the metaverse, is to make sure that individuals creating virtual worlds, or the gatekeepers, themselves, represent a diverse range of ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. That currently seems to be a remote possibility. Over 83% of American tech CEOs are White, and about 80% of them are men, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
We also need support for those who enter pregnancy with eating disorders and support for those who develop them during pregnancy or after, since body policing can be particularly complicated for folks in these situations to navigate.
Before you confront a source of body-shaming comments, it pays to do a little reflection, according to psychologist and author Emily Sandoz, an assistant professor at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
"If it's someone close to you, I do think its worth addressing the root of it," body image therapist Sarah Herstich, LCSW, told INSIDER. "If you don't, then resentment builds and ultimately it can ruin the relationship. So in those instances I definitely think that it's worth digging into. Let people know how their words are really impacting you."
"You have to have the ability to say, 'I love this person but they're toxic to me,'" therapist Andrew Walen, founder and CEO of the Body Image Therapy Center, told INSIDER. "'And even though I love them, I have to pull away.' It's not that you avoid them altogether, but that you become aware of how much of that toxic stuff is likely to come up and limit yourself appropriately. That is a really, really difficult decision, and for many people it is the right one."
"If you have experienced body shame or body hate for a long time over the course of your life, it's just not that easy to shake," Sandoz said. "It's not like you can just tell yourself, 'Oh, yippee, I'm actually awesome and beautiful!'"
Walen and Herstich recommended seeking professional help whenever body image worries start to interfere with day-to-day activities, like work presentations, dating, or hanging out with friends and family.
When someone experiences body shaming, they often become preoccupied with their body shape and weight. They may also become dissatisfied with their body, which seems to be a very prevalent feeling. According to a Verywell Mind article by Lauren Muhlheim, PsyD, CEDS and medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., FTOS, 50 percent of preadolescent girls and 30 percent of preadolescent boys dislike their bodies, while 60 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men possess a negative body image.
Body shaming and eating disorders are closely linked. Victims of body shaming may feel compelled to engage in dieting, excessive exercise, disordered eating, and other behaviors to change their appearance. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, about 65 percent of people with eating disorders experienced bullying that contributed to the development of their eating disorders.
A therapist can provide professional, unbiased counsel to navigate and heal from the effects of body shaming. Thrive offers outpatient therapy as well as eating disorder treatment programs to help heal your relationship with food and your body. Reach out to us to learn more about how you can thrive just the way you are.
If you are someone who has made comments like this before, this is a PSA for you to stop. No matter how you may mean them, it is body shaming, plain and simple, and it is hurtful. If you are a parent that has also experienced this, speak up with me. Do not let this continue. Mama Bear is out, and she is here to stay.
If you're struggling with negative feelings around your body or weight right now, keep reading for advice from Eliza Kingsford, a licensed psychotherapist and behavior-change specialist who helps clients struggling with food addiction, body image, emotional eating and weight loss. Below, she shares her best advice on how to work on accepting weight gain and moving forward in a healthier physical and mental place.
When you're unhappy with your current weight or not feeling the best about your body, it's easy to get trapped in a cycle of guilt or shame. But guilt and shame can be huge obstacles to overcome on the way to feeling better, which is the goal at the end of the day.
"Even if you have gained weight, even if you don't love what you see in the mirror, even if you are working on a better relationship to food and body, the shame and the guilt that goes on top of it has never served anyone," Kingsford says. "No one has ever shamed themselves into a better job, or shamed themselves into being a better parent, or shamed themselves into being a better partner."
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do for a healthy body (and mind) is to try to stop focusing on or obsessing about your weight. One way you can do that is by stepping away from the scale, and staying away from it while you're focusing on building more positive habits and a positive mindset around weight.
"When depleting [the body] of these nutrients, some people experience depression, irritability or moodiness, as well as exhaustion and low energy," said Gomer. "There are a variety of disorders that come from crash dieting such as bulimia or anorexia. In the long run, the risk of liver and kidney failure, brain damage and calcium deficiencies that cause osteoporosis are just not worth it."
"That being said, I would make an appointment for couples counseling, and talk to the counselor specifically about this issue, how your wife doesn't have concerns with it. You two do need to communicate, and get on the same page. Your [mother-in-law] needs to stop bullying and body shaming your daughter, who sounds like a normal, healthy child. [Mother-in-law] can go pound sand. I would go as far as to talk to your daughter - does she even want to see [mother-in-law]? Otherwise,go low / no contact," they continued. 2b1af7f3a8