Friday, October 24, 2014

Weight Stigma and First Lady of the USA

November 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Body Image, Featured

Last week,

Chevese and Lizabeth met with the Office of the First Lady to discuss Weight Stigma

Chevese and Lizabeth met with the Office of the First Lady to discuss Weight Stigma

progress was made regarding the overt shaming of fat people. Some everyday heroes went to the Office of the First Lady of the United States of America to help educate about the dangers of weight stigma.

You wonder, ‘what harm can this do?’, after all we have an obesity epidemic.

How would you like to be one of these kids this recent Halloween?

“Fat Letters” Handed out on Halloween

A Fargo, North Dakota woman called in to a local radio station days before Halloween. She told the broadcasters that although she was going to hand out candy, she was going to be selective. Cheryl, whose last name was not given, stated that she would not be handing out candy to children she judged to be “moderately obese”. Instead, she will be handing out letters explaining to the children’s parents why their child did not receive candy from her.

The letter begins innocently by stating, “Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays, Neighbor”. It proceeds to describe the reasoning behind the letter, stating, “Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season”. It concludes by urging parents to ration their child’s candy, and further monitor what their child eats.

This letter is detrimental to all who are to receive it. You cannot tell the health of someone simply by looking at him or her. A person who may appear to be “chubby” may have excellent health, while a person who is of normal weight, or even underweight, may not be as healthy. To judge a person’s health based on appearance only perpetuates myths about those who seem to be overweight, including the belief that they must not be living a proper lifestyle.

Just imagine what it would feel like for a child to expect a fun night of trick-or-treating, only to receive a judgmental piece of paper telling them they are fat. These types of acts make it easier for the victims to fall prey to bullying, self-esteem issues, and body image problems.

Overall, the letters will do more harm than good. It is not up to one woman to judge the health of her neighbors based on weight, and doing so may cause numerous problems. More public education needs to occur in order to break myths that the public, including Cheryl, believe to be true.

Information from NY Daily News.

Yeah, me neither. So we thankfully see progress by everyday heroes Chevese Underhill Turner, Founder of Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) and Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, Founder of BingeBehavior.com. Yesterday, after they met with the Office of the First Lady, they shared this on Facebook:

“BEDA and Bingebehavior.com would like to thank you all for your support and lightening fast response surrounding the First Lady and her appearance on The Biggest Loser (TBL). We found out during our meeting at the White House this afternoon that, even with our speed and our voices, we were not successful in stopping her appearance. As a matter of fact, the show was filmed months ago and aired last evening. That said, we spent a good deal of time with the Executive Director of the Let’s Move! campaign discussing the reasons why this community is so against this appearance and other options that would be more appropriate to further the Drink More Water! and Let’s Move! messages in the future. We got there too late for this season but you can bet that next season they will make a fully informed decision!

Beyond discussing TBL, we engaged the staff in a surprisingly long conversation about binge eating disorder and why we are so concerned about weight stigma. We left feeling positive about the opportunities ahead offered to continuing the dialog and we look forward to working with the Office of the First Lady providing weight stigma information, resources and solutions.

Again, thank you for your support and for the work we’ll do together regarding weight stigma in the future. Together, we can address these important issues!”

I am so proud of these two brave pioneers! And I am incredibly grateful for the work that they do to bring equality to all people…regardless of their size. For #weightstigma truly is a civil rights issue and I do find it ironic that a black woman in power has been discriminating against a group of people due to the appearance of their skin…obviously she sees it as a choice. Trust me, no one chooses to be fat. And shaming and bullying are not okay.
Becky Henry, Founder
Hope Network, LLC

Comments

2 Responses to “Weight Stigma and First Lady of the USA”
  1. Lizabeth says:

    Great post Becky! Thank you for sharing our concerns and that together, we CAN make a difference in messages we promote and the lives of those affected by those messages!

    Great piece and THANK YOU!

    Lizabeth

  2. I’m completely on board regarding the problems re weight stigma, but it looks like the Halloween letters thing was a radio prank that (deservedly) struck a nerve.

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