Fat-Shaming Leads to Weight Gain, Not Loss

What Women Really Think
July 26 2013 4:13 PM

Fat-Shaming Leads to Weight Gain, Not Loss

168871610
Plus-size pride: It's good for your health.

Photo by Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Having been a reader of fat-acceptance writers like Kate Harding for a long time, I can safely say that there are many people/commenters who are deeply concerned that if we don't shame and insult fat people for their weight, they won't be motivated to lose it. This "idea" was just dealt a major blow by researchers from the Florida State University College of Medicine, who that found that shaming fat people about their weight correlates to weight gain, not loss:

Participants who experienced weight discrimination were about 2.5 times more likely be obese by the follow-up survey and participants who were obese in 2006 were three times more likely to still be so in 2010, the researchers wrote.
Advertisement

This is no tiddlywinks study, either. Researchers followed more than 6,000 participants for four years, and their findings suggest that stress and shame contribute to binge-eating. As many fat activists have long pointed out, making a spectacle out of someone's body tends to discourage that person from using it in ways that draw even more attention. Working out or even just taking a walk is hard to do if everyone around you has a comment to share about your body. And that's when you're even allowed to exercise. In some cases, as with the Boy Scout Jamboree, fat people are openly excluded from exercise, despite all the exhortations aimed at them to get more of it. 

The debate over the fat acceptance movement often gets lost in the weeds of debating whether obesity is the cause of problems like heart disease and diabetes, or if it's just a correlation and therefore it's perfectly possible to be a fit fat person. But whether it is objectively unhealthy to be fat, shaming people over being fat is a bad idea no matter how you look at it. All shaming someone gets you is a person who feels bad and is probably making even more unhealthy choices because of it. Regardless of where science falls on the subject of "is fat bad for you?" we know that shame absolutely is.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.