Weight Stigma

The fashion industry has for a long time produced images of mostly women and men that did not correspond to the normal weight distribution of people. Skinny models were present across all media. The so-called social media of today amplify this trend further. The “Barbie hype” has reinforced the idea of low weight as a socially desirable norm. In scientific research the term coined for this phenomenon is “internalized weight stigma” (IWS). A study shows (Highes et al. 2024) it affects more women than men and more people who are described as socioeconomically disadvantaged adults. Pressure to lose weight originates from multiple sources and social media platforms have given rise to bullying. A major outcome of IWS is eating disorders as eating is often wrongly associated to be the only cause of higher weight. It is not. Many other factors contribute to the actual weight of a person. Even the overuse of the body mass index (BMI) as short hand version to define overweight or obesity is misleading for persons with strong muscles. Just fixing on one parameter of body shape or weight tends to reinforce weight stigma. “Keep walking” and a regular healthy diet, this avoids to internalize a weight stigma. Exercise is fun, the more you do it in a group, the easier it is to get going regularly. We ought to keep trying and eventually it will become a routine.