Fat Shaming - Discrimination of Obese People

Makalakumu

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This hoopla came to my attention via NPR.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/...NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130606

On Sunday, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, a professor currently on leave from theUniversity of New Mexico with a visiting position at New York University, tweeted a comment that sent shock waves through academia and beyond:
Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth

Later that same day, Miller deleted the tweet. But screen-captures like this one were already let loose, and the tweet soared through cyberspace. Then Miller tweeted "sincere apologies," noting first that the "idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet does not reflect my true views, values, or standards" and then adding "Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria."

Apparently there is a rising form of discrimination in America. Here are some more quotes from later in the article.

Fat-shaming is all too pervasive. I asked Rebecca Puhl of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity to contextualize Miller's denigration of obese people. In an email message sent on Monday, Puhl noted that weight bias is widespread and socially acceptable in our culture:
Our research with national samples of thousands of Americans shows that reports of weight discrimination have increased by 66 percent in the past decade, and are now on par with rates of racial discrimination especially for women.

On weight bias in higher education specifically, Puhl described two research studies published this year. The first study by Jacob M. Burmeister et al., Puhl summarized in this way:
The researchers examined 97 applicants to a graduate program in psychology at a large university. The applicants reported their height, weight, and provided information about their applications to psychology graduate programs. Researchers then analyzed and coded their letters of recommendation for positive and negative statements as well as overall quality.
It was found that applicants with a higher body weight had significantly fewer post-interview offers of admission into graduate programs, especially for female applicants, even though their body weight was not related to the overall quality of their letters of recommendation. Of notable interest is that those with a higher body weight actually had more positive adjectives in their letters of recommendation.

Once qualified overweight candidates were viewed in person, in other words, their chances of admission tanked.
Puhl described the second study by Viren Swami et al. in these terms:
198 participants (both men and women) were asked to select a female candidate that they would most and least likely choose for admission to university from an array of figures varying in body size. Results showed a clear bias against selection of overweight and obese women, who were only selected by 6 percent of participants for university admission compared to the selection of underweight figures by 60 percent of participants.

From these studies we see that Miller's tweet apparently mirrors real discriminatory practices that hurt real people, often women.

What do you think about fat shaming? Would you consider this a form of discrimination? Most of the time we consider something discrimination if it's something that a person is born with and cannot change. Does "fat shaming" redefine discrimination?
 

Instructor

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Well as a person who has lost 40 pounds this year I feel I can respond. To me, your body is a reflection of your choices. When I saw myself as fat in the mirror I reflected that for the last few years I had been rather careless in my eating habits and not exercising like I used to do. I made some changes and lost the weight. I am not what I would call slim even now but I don't look obese, I look healthy. People still seem to treat me the same way.

Conversely when I see folks who body build and make their body look extremely muscular I see that as somewhat vain. But it was my own vanity that lead me to lose my weight so I can't judge them.

I wish the human race would find a way past this perceptual stumbling block that discriminates others and even ourselves on the way we look, that includes race, color, fitness etc. At the end of the day it's who people are and what they do that really matters, not how they look.
 

Blindside

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I think it has been pretty well documented that attractive people, both male and female, have an advantage during hiring processes, the issue with obesity sounds like an extension of that. I am not saying that it is OK, but how are you going to put in safeguards against it? Personally I am not a fan of affirmative action hiring quotas, are we going to add BMI to the a quota list?
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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It seems like it's a backlash against social pressure to remain healthy. I know some people can't help it, but how common are those cases in reality?
 

harlan

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Discrimination has always been with us. It's just that it's not being veiled anymore. Probably due to what my parents referred to as the break down of civilization.:uhyeah:
 

Steve

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Our country is grounded in the belief that we should be able to discriminate in all things, with a few exceptions.

I dint have to hire you. I can pick another candidate, provided the basis for my selection isn't one of the relative few protected bases.

Obesity isn't a protected base. Race is. Gender is. Religion is.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2
 

Steve

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Discrimination has always been with us. It's just that it's not being veiled anymore. Probably due to what my parents referred to as the break down of civilization.:uhyeah:
I would say that, in general, we are much less overtly discriminatory than in years past. While I don't necessarily think that people should be treated poorly based upon their eating habits, I would say that for most people, we are much more respectful of diversity, as a society.

I don't want to imply that things are perfect. They are clearly not. However, we have made strides with regards to the treatment of the protected bases, whether race, gender, religion, disability or any of the other protected bases that exist . In addition, the societal treatment of GLBT is much more accepted than even 10 years ago, and making rapid progress. Many states are reversing overtly discriminatory legislation banning gay marriage, and some states are even legalizing and formally recognizing gay couples as married. Sexual orientation is also a protected base in some States or Cities.

All of that said, to expand a bit on what I wrote earlier, I think we should be respectful, and that all professional decisions should be based upon relevant qualifications. But, obesity is not a protected base. In the USA, we are free to discriminate based upon any criteria we choose, provided we are not violating the law (whether the civil rights act, the ADA or some other relevant law).

I can choose not to hire people whom I find irritating, who I think are sloppily dressed, who have tattoos I don't like or piercings I believe are unprofessional. Are they qualified for the job? Maybe, but I'm free to discriminate.
 

Aiki Lee

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One thing to keep in mind is that obesity is very often tied to poverty in America. Unhealthy, high fat, high sugar, processed foods are cheaper and last longer than healthy, natural, and organic foods.
Just something to think about.
 

crushing

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Well as a person who has lost 40 pounds this year I feel I can respond. To me, your body is a reflection of your choices.

Out of curiosity, did you lose 40 pounds by following the USDA MyPlate nutrition guide, or was what you did a significant departure from these guidelines?

"MyPlate is divided into sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 30 percent vegetables, 20 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy, such as a glass of low-fat/nonfat milk or a yogurt cup."
 

oftheherd1

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One thing to keep in mind is that obesity is very often tied to poverty in America. Unhealthy, high fat, high sugar, processed foods are cheaper and last longer than healthy, natural, and organic foods.
Just something to think about.

Also there has been debate on the fact that obesity, just like smoking and other unhealthy behavior, may increase insurance costs, and therefore premiums. Is that a fact or just an excuse? I don't know.
 

K-man

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One thing to keep in mind is that obesity is very often tied to poverty in America. Unhealthy, high fat, high sugar, processed foods are cheaper and last longer than healthy, natural, and organic foods.
Just something to think about.
That is certainly an issue but the ready availability of 'fast food' is possibly a more relevant reason. When I was at school, pre McDonalds and KFC, if you had a fat kid in the class it was unusual to say the least. Now days many kids are overweight and a high percentage of those are obese.

Overweight & Obesity - 2013 Statistical Fact Sheet
Adults
 Among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7 million are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and higher):
- 79.9 million men.
- 74.8 million women.
 Of these, 78.4 million are obese (BMI of 30.0 kg/m2 and higher):
- 36.8 million men.
- 41.6 million women.
http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319588.pdf
If poverty is the cause, how come America is considered to be such a rich country?

As to discrimination, if I was employing, yes, I would probably discriminate.. That discrimination may not even be a conscious decision.
:asian:
 

Aiki Lee

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America is a rich country, and still 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty and do not know where their next meal will come from.
http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts.aspx#
When you can only eat what you can afford sometimes eating at McDonald's 3 times a day is cheaper than buying healthy food for you and your kids.
Amerians have a disproportionate population of obesity due to many factors including poverty, an increasing sedentary life style, and rise in reported rates of depressive disorders.
When it comes to fat shaming someone needs to draw the line somewhere between encouraging healthy habits vs judging somone on their appearance.
 
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