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Fat Shaming

Don't confuse the psychic, psychological, pain of body, (fat) shaming with the physiologic, physical, pain of body suffering. While both conditions detract from a healthy sense of wellness, without good physical health, and an absence of physical pain, sound mental health and a sense of contentment or happiness is hard to maintain and enjoy. Preventing disease, disability and death, as well as symptomatic discomfort, is just as important for a sense of good health as is being free of scorn, ridicule and being shamed. Any social force, like shaming, that serves to isolate and separate an individual from their society and culture serves as a painful form of abandonment that has serious psychological and emotional consequences. However, as we witness almost daily, cruel and bullying behavior is hard to stand against and change, as it involves courage to stand up to a wrong. That human quality appears today to be in short supply, just as it was lacking as was portrayed in the movie High Noon. As health care professionals, I believe that our efforts and time should be invested in helping those overweight individuals who are committed to losing their excess unhealthy weight to accomplish that goal, instead of trying to right an ingrained social bias, prejudice and stigma. Of course physicians and all concerned health care professionals should stand up to weight based shaming, and speak out against this painful wrong with a strong and concerned voice. However, a socio-economic bias, which is often fashion and culturally condoned, one that allows ridicule to be directed without restraint or empathy upon innocent individuals is unjust and morally wrong but is unlikely to change quickly. It may be harder to stop a fat person from being kicked around and socially shamed, than it is to help that overweight individual to lose weight and free themselves from the undeserved ridicule and embarrassment. Weak and ignorant people like to shame because it makes them feel superior, part of and included in an accepted group, and better about themselves. Now is the time to help support overweight individuals break free from the shaming process, as we help them achieve a healthier, but not necessarily thinner, weight, and as we condemn the repugnant activity of fat shaming.

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