It’s not OK to comment on a person’s weight – overweight or thin.

Here we go again. Fat bashing is alive and well. A Wisconsin CBS TV news anchor, Jennifer Livingston, received an email from a viewer entitled “Community Responsibility” where the writer expressed his opinion on Jennifer’s weight.

He suggests that “obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.”

Well Jennifer responded to the hateful attack and kudos to her for what she said.

The sad thing is the viewer is not alone in disseminating this kind of  talk. While the concept of political correctness has yielded some big benefits: being prejudiced is no longer PC. But there are some prejudices that remain and seem to be tolerated –maybe because they aren’t recognized as such.

Talking about the weight of an individual is one such prejudice that continues to be tolerated.

It’s attitudes like that that makes overweight people prey to all kinds of quick weight loss schemes that simply result in their gaining even more weight. Or  it keeps them shut inside away from the world because they’re embarrassed to be seen.

But the fact is that a person’s bodyweight is very a personal issue. Despite the fact that it’s true that the epidemic of overweight is a huge public health issue, commenting on an individual’s body – unless you’re their healthcare practitioner or family member is simply no one else’s business.

How many times have you commented to a friend or colleague about how great they look because they’ve lost weight? Why not leave it at “You look great!” and skip the weight part. Or have you ever remarked to someone about the weight an individual has gained? Somehow this comes across as being acceptable when in fact it means that you are checking out someone else’s body just a little too closely.

Talking about other people’s weight or even your own in front of others can lead to unexpected victims.  For example, talking about how a person has let herself go – meaning they’ve put on weight – in front of a vulnerable teen who’s feeling chubby can make them self-conscious about their own weight. Comments like these can contribute to the development of an eating disorder or starting on the rollercoaster of yoyo dieting. Even worse is the parent who chides him or herself or the other parent about weight issues.

Talking about weight in front of a child also teaches that youngster that it’s OK to go to school and tease a child who might be overweight.

These are issues that I always bring up when counselling clients about weight loss.  When an overweight person says that they won’t put on a bathing suit or shorts, when they’re trying to get fit, I suggest that they need to combat their own prejudices about overweight.

Weight is an issue for society as we live in an environment that promotes obesity.  But it’s time to recognize that fat as a prejudice is simply not acceptable.

Maybe you disagree with my thinking. What are your thoughts on the subject? Please share in the comments section below.

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Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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4 Comments on “It’s not OK to comment on a person’s weight – overweight or thin.”

  1. October 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I agree!
    There is so much judgement tied to what we weigh. So many people think that what we weigh in some way describes WHO we are or how we live and that leads to a lot of false assumptions. It’s kind of interesting that people feel somewhat justified in offering “suggestions” to how we can improve ourselves, when they should be spending their time looking inward at how they can educate themselves instead.

    Keep YOUR judgement off MY body!

    Thanks for the post, Rosie!

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      I agree with you, Marci! You’ve brought up some good points. It is really quite amazing how people still think it’s alright to offer suggestions and comment about people’s weight! I know that you are helping to change attitudes- keep it up!


      • October 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

        Hopefully, the more we speak out about this issue, the more people will stop and THINK before they speak..but it’s going to take time.

        BTW…. My book is set for official release in February..but will be available for pre-order in November. Exciting!

      • October 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

        Congrats, Marci! I’m looking forward to reading your book!

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