What is Weight Stigma
Weight stigma is a form of discrimination or stereotyping based on an individual’s weight or body size. This type of discrimination is often more socially accepted than other forms of discrimination based on the false belief that those in a larger body are unhealthy compared to their peers.
Impacts of Weight Stigma
Despite the intention of using weight stigma as a tool to shame people into smaller bodies to “improve their health”, research has shown that weight stigma leads to greater risk of:
- anxiety and depression
- development of poor body image, self-esteem, and disordered eating behavior
- avoidance of physical activity and medical intervention1
All of which contribute to decreased health outcomes. This type of discrimination can happen in many settings including workplaces, healthcare, at home, and yes, on our college campus.
Ways to Fight Weight Stigma At MSU
Ensuring an inclusive campus for all students is essential for providing a safe and beneficial learning environment. While weight stigma can feel like a massive and unsolvable societal issue, we can make an impact through our individual actions to positively change the culture around weight at MSU.
- Check Your Own Bias: analyze the messages you’ve learned and internalized about bodies throughout your life from your family, friends, education, and social media and evaluate how those messages impact your perception and treatment of others
- Speak Up: in situations where individuals are being discriminated based on body size, speak up and advocate for change
- Promote Inclusivity: make sure that individuals of all body types are included and supported, whether it be through your campus involvement at your job, clubs, or classes
- Utilize & Promote Campus Resources: see the resources listed below for support and advocate for more weight inclusive campus initiatives
- Weight Neutral Nutrition Education: http://www.montana.edu/oha/
- Counseling & Psychological Services: https://www.montana.edu/counseling/services/index.html
- Office of Diversity & inclusion: https://www.montana.edu/studentdiversity/
Tomiyama, A., Carr, D., Granberg, E., Major, B., Robinson, E., Sutin, A., & Brewis, A. (2018). How and why weight stigma drives the obesity ‘epidemic’ and harms health. BMC Medicine, 16(1), 123.