Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

Weight Stigma Awareness Week: Recognize

Monday September 24 marks the beginning of Weight Stigma Awareness week for 2012! Today's theme is Recognize. One of the missions of WSAW is to help everyone begin to recognize weight stigma or weight bias and its impact on our society. Each of us knows stories or has experienced weight stigma in our own lives. As part of this RECOGNIZE theme we wanted to list just a few of the ways we see weight stigma impact the world!
  • Our society is obsessed with physical beauty and categorizes beauty as measured by thinness.
  • The medical establishment often uses BMI to determine health rather than other measures like lab work and cardiovascular health. Doctors often assume that some who is "over weight" is automatically unhealthy.
  • Physicians and other health care professionals often advise fat patients to lose weight no matter what their medical condition, whereas a thin person with the same condition would be given medicine or other medical treatment. Hospitals and other health care facilities and equipment (such as cat scans and MRIs) are often inaccessible to large people.
  • Over weight individuals are systematically denied health insurance and life insurance, or they are forced to pay higher premiums than those of average weight.
  • Children and adolescents are often bullied at school, in extra curricular activities based on weight and size.
  • Teens are often cut from activities such as cheerleading, dance teams, or sports teams based on size/appearance rather than on talent or ability level.
  • Many people make assumptions about larger people: they are lazy, they are stupid, they are.. fill in the blank with any negative adjective here.
  • The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination  Reports the following statistics related to weight stigma and employment:
    • Workers who are heavier than average are paid $1.25 less an hour. Over a 40-year career, they will earn up to $100,000 less before taxes than their thinner counterparts (Baum, 2004).
    • Slightly heavy women make about 6% less in wages than standard weight women. Very heavy women make 24% less. Men experience significant wage penalties only at the highest weight levels. (Roehling, 1999)
    • Heavier workers are not given raises as often as thinner workers. In a study of over 2000 women and men, wage growth rates were 6% lower in a three-year period for heavier workers. (Loh, 1993)
    • Young women (ages 18 to 25) employees are especially penalized if they are larger than average, earning 12% less than their thinner counterparts (Register, 1990) and being more likely to be found in low-paying jobs (Pagan, 1997). Other factors were ruled out, and the reason for the difference was found to be social bias and discrimination. (Gortmaker, 1996; Stunkard, 1993).
    • Of people who were 50% or more above their ideal weight on the height-weight charts, 26% reported they were denied benefits such as health insurance because of their weight, and 17% reported being fired or being pressured to resign because of their weight (Rothblum, 1990).
At Castlewood Treatment Center we work to help our clients move past societies assumptions about weight, health and body image. We beleive that people are beautiful and can be healthy at any size. Health is important to us: Mind, Body and Soul. We want our clients to have healthy eating habits that are balanced and include ALL food groups. We want our clients to learn to accept their natural body: weight, size and shape, rather than feel they need to attain some measure of perfection called thinness.  We have clients of EVERY size, shape, and weight. Our hope is that our clients leave treatment aware of their weight biases and with a changed attitude toward themselves and others. We should all aim to look at our similarities and the hearts of others rather than making assumptions about another based on weight or appearance.