Obesity and grossophobia: three misconceptions that urgently need to be eradicated

Do you think exercising or eating less is enough to keep you on a leash? Be careful, these thoughts can be interpreted as fat phobia. On this World Obesity Day, here are three misconceptions to challenge to deconstruct our discourse.

“Move!”, “Stop stuffing yourself”. Phrases that may seem harmless to those who say them, but have bombshell effect on those who receive them. And these grossophobic attitudes, whether they are aware of it or not, are commonplace.

Overweight people eat too much and don’t exercise enough

“But we’re all going to gain ten kilos!”. A phrase we heard a lot at the beginning of the pandemic and the first incarceration. And that has certainly helped to reinforce the idea that gaining weight is primarily a matter of lifestyle.

Indeed, a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are often seen as the main reasons for being overweight or obese. An extremely simplistic view, given that obesity is a multifactorial disease (a UK study counts over 110): hormones, sleep disorders, depression, trauma, alcoholism, etc.

Losing weight is a matter of willpower

According to a survey revealed by the online psychological support program Fedmind, two out of three French people believe that obesity is primarily a problem of willpower. “In 2022, no health professional would dare to say to an alcoholic, ‘Well, it’s not complicated, you just have to stop drinking!’ However, such orders are still issued to the obese on their behavior.”asks Maïwen Janovet, founder of Fedmind and the association “Obèses Anonymes”.

Giving visibility to overweight people encourages obesity

You would think that the mindset on this subject had evolved, especially in the age of body positivism, which consists of celebrating all bodies and all morphologies. A benevolent, militant approach that focuses primarily on making obese people invisible and breaking through stigma by showing overweight men and women in the media, in advertisements or in television series.

Driven by feminist activists, fashion influencers and certain brands, “body positive” has gained traction in recent years. But in reality, the judgments die hard: according to the Fedmind survey, more than one in three French believe that giving overweight people more visibility amounts to exacerbating obesity by downplaying it (a view mostly shared by men, of whom 44% express this opinion). One in five French people go so far as to think that grossophobia “could help obese people lose weight”, arguing that “it would motivate them to stop being bothered by it”.

“You wonder if the health crisis hasn’t stigmatized the obese: some would be ready to ‘bully’ them to the end”indignant Mäiwen Janovet. “Feeling bad, blaming, being rejected and feeling negative emotions will actually reinforce a vicious cycle and the compulsive gain of emotional pounds. Obese people cannot deny, everything is done to remind them of their condition. no need to push them further!”she decides.

(ETX Daily Up)

Leave a Comment