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Discrimination Against Overweight People

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | Discrimination, Firm News |

Discrimination against overweight people is common in American society.  In my work, I have seen that for my clients, the effects of such discrimination in the American workplace are strikingly unequal between men and women.The New York Times article, Body-Shaming Dressed Up as a Fitness Goal Is Still Body-Shaming, describes how college athletes getting “fit” can brush up against eating disorders. The article discussed how coaches employ the euphemisms used for weight loss goals in modern America.Eating disorders, anorexia, and bulimia, in particular, have long been a scourge, primarily of girls and women.What is the relationship between our notions of beauty and a mental illness that always sees one’s self as ugly and leads to life-threatening behavior?  What is the relationship between beauty and self-worth?  Where is feminism in all of this?Some basic points about eating disorders:Eating disorders strike 9 percent of the population, and they are the deadliest mental illnesses after opiate overdose, about 10,200 deaths per year.The community of people that fight against sex discrimination needs to look further at the beauty culture and our differential expectations of appropriate appearance for girls and women.  The problem is much more in 9th grade and freshman year of college than on the cover of fashion magazines.Title IX first gained prominence in the US to force school districts and colleges to invest in girls’ and women’s athletics.  The point of athletics is to make people feel good about themselves and healthy, not to make girls adhere to a look that fit societal stereotypes of beauty.It should not surprise us that the case of Dr. Larry Nassar emerged in gymnastics, a sport where traditionally, girls have been taught to feel bad about their bodies.  When people feel bad about themselves, they are more vulnerable to exploitation.  They are less likely to trust their own judgments and more likely to follow the directives and advice of others.The relationship between thinness, beauty, worthiness, self-confidence must be more openly explored.   The number of eating disorder deaths is a national calamity, and we must have conversations to do better as a society.

Read the full NY Times article, “Body-Shaming Dressed Up as a Fitness Goal Is Still Body-Shaming”