4 minutes reading time (835 words)

This Discrimination Is Loud In Its Silence

Discrimination hurts The impact of weight stigma

When people reach out to me for help with weight loss, there is sometimes a profound expression of sadness and stress from living in a body that society judges harshly. There is rarely a day  that goes by where they are not impacted by the relentless and misguided assumptions about who they are and how they live their lives.

There is no denying it. Discrimination against people living with excess weight is everywhere. This discrimination takes its toll and it is a heavy toll.

Sometimes the hurt and sadness becomes overwhelming for them. This is not just because someone once made a mean comment made to him or her. This is because someone may have heard such comments day in day out since they were as young as five years old. Even younger in some cases. These comments or references about their weight have been made at family dinners, extended family gatherings, social gatherings, in the schoolyard, in a local bar, when getting dressed for a school formal, in the supermarket, in the GP's office, when discussing surgery, or in a clothing shop. The list is endless. People are subjected to a litany of microaggessions that some people who do not have excess weight might be unaware of.

"A micro aggression is a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group. "

This discrimination is loud in its silence. To deny it exits is an example of gas lighting a person's reality. An example of this might be when someone expresses being discriminated against in the work place or in a job interview and the work place denies it. There are many non-verbal ways that discrimination is expressed. Some examples are not having chairs that are comfortable in waiting rooms, restaurants, cinemas, aircraft, or in a medical setting not having blood pressure cuffs or gowns to fit all sizes. Cafes that have narrow seating booths, seat belts on airlines that need extenders and the list goes on and on.

We know so little about anyone's life. It is generally unhelpful to offer platitudes such as: "Have you thought about eating less? Joining a gym?Trying this diet or that diet? Or: "my friends aunties boyfriends nieces friend in the office of where her second best friend works, has lost weight, shall I find out for you what they did?"

Its as if they haven't heard these things a million times before from well meaning people. But really  how on earth will any of those measures address a genetic predisposition to living with excess weight, or trauma, sexual abuse, metabolic syndrome, loneliness, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, unemployment, domestic violence among so many other things impacting their weight, let alone help them lose weight and keep it off?  Especially, given that we know diets never work. Thankfully we understand that obesity is a chronic disease for many and therefore might require surgical and or medical support as well as psychosocial help and support.

This article published in the Washington Post this week discusses the affects of weight stigma and is well worth a read if you have a chance. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/overweight-discrimination-common-harmful/2021/06/11/2946c538-c88c-11eb-afd0-9726f7ec0ba6_story.html

I cannot stress the importance of checking our own internal bias when talking to people who are struggling with their weight. The last thing we want to be doing is reinforcing a sense of hopelessness.

This led me to reflect on the groups I am running and some research I came across this week from the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation. They have found that psychosocial interventions have been found to reduce inflammation and boost beneficial immune system function.

This is really helpful information and backs up some of the benefits of participating in a group for support.

Unfortunately due to the recent Covid outbreak our type 1 and type 2 diabetes groups will be delayed by a few weeks. I will update the information on the new launch dates as soon as we are out of lockdown and can safely run these groups in a Covid safe environment. 

The online weight management support group is continuing and the next intake will be in a few weeks so please don't hesitate to reach out if this is of interest for you or anyone you know.Because it is  an online group, location is not an issue.

We need to, and can do better to support people living with excess weight. If they ask for help, we need to be there for them and help to give them the support they need. They are not a statistic or a problem to be solved. They are a person asking for support and help. We need to listen to their story, not judge them and offer the care and help they are asking for with compassion and respect.

I hope everyone is doing ok at the moment with the recent lock downs and all  the uncertainties in life at the moment. Take care good care, and I'm always happy to hear  news from you about  how you are getting on.

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