Diet & Weight Magazine

Just By Looking At Us

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

Just By Looking At UsPeople believing that they can glean tons of information about others based only on their body size is reaching *cough* epidemic levels in this country.

As has been said by the brilliant Marilyn Wann, there are exactly two things that you can tell by looking at someone’s size:

  1. What size they are
  2. What your preconceived notions and prejudices about that particular body size are

When people look at someone and think they know anything other than those two things, they are just acting on their preconceived notions and prejudices (which which is made much worse when they are doctors, eating disorder professionals and other people who should know better).

Many current cultures have developed intense preconceived notions and prejudices against body sizes (in some cultures they are against fat bodies, in some cultures they are against thin bodies).  In US culture there is currently a strong bias against fat bodies.  We are not the first or only group to be the subject of stereotyping and scapegoating, and we have options (always options, never obligations!)

We can notice how often these messages come at us from people who either want to sell us something, or want to put us down as a way to raise themselves up.  We can point out situations where we feel that people are operating from stereotypes and preconceived notions if we feel like it. We can remind people that health is multi-dimensional, not entirely under our control, and that each person gets to choose what health means to them, how important health is to them, and what path supports their priorities and goals.

Perhaps most importantly, we can work to be the person in charge of how we feel about ourselves, and to decide that we like, even love ourselves, regardless of how close or far we are from some arbitrary social ideal.  So as we deal with being stereotyped, stigmatized, and scapegoated, it may help to remember that it’s not us, it’s them, and we are under no obligation to buy into their stereotypes when we choose how to view ourselves.

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