Clever ad campaigns hardly take time to go viral, and so does some irksome ones that promote unrealistic ideas and expectations. A recent one from a supermarket chain came under fire for shaming overweight people in the guise of promoting healthy eating. It’s not directly offensive or provocative, but many believe it has an indirect mock within. The ad features an imaginary world full of obese people. The protagonist is a young boy who wants fly like birds, but is unable to do so because of his unhealthy lifestyle. He eats lots of healthy berries, loses weight, and learns to fly. The intention is to promote healthy and mindful eating, and to shake-off the intense liking of fast food. But the exaggerated depiction is earning more wraths than accolades.
A lot of people believe in the misconception that a little bit of shaming and stigma can motivate people. Naysayers keep trumpeting – Eat less and exercise more. Of course, workouts can definitely lead to weight loss. But it’s not just justifiable to assume that people are fat because they are lazy. Uncontrolled eating, poor discipline, and lack of will power are not the only reasons behind weight gain. Some are born obese. Some become fat after giving birth; some others gain weight due to chronic illnesses or side effects of certain medicines. Even surgeries can result in sudden weight gain.
An author-columnist recently ridiculed an obese police inspector by posting an insensitive and distasteful tweet along with his image. The targeted cop later revealed that a medical condition is the reason behind his weight gain. Depressingly, this isn’t the first time that netizens on social media have crossed the line, and this won’t be the last. Fat shaming is everywhere, every time, and the cop is the most recent victim of this emotional trauma. In a world where fair, young, thin, and rich are the ideal, likeable, and enviable, body shaming is a favored pastime, and judgmental comments from both dear ones and strangers are a norm. In 2013, a professor was censured for posting a fat-shaming tweet. He quickly backtracked and tweeted “sincere apologies,” but it didn’t slowdown the firestorm.
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Trying to body shame an obese person will only raise the risk of heart diseases and other fatal health woes, a study suggests. Obese people are often regarded as lazy, unattractive, and incompetent. Scathing comments and insults leave them feeling stigmatized, and later the jibes and emotional scarring impair their health. After failing to deal with negative stereotypes, they spend recklessly on miracle cures and unhealthy supplements, only gain more weight and feel more dis-empowered.
Off-the-cuff remarks or comments on weight can do much more than damaging one’s health. “You’ve put on a lot of weight nowadays.” Consciously or not, we get talked down like this at some point or the other in our lives. They come from the right place, but those sugar coated words are gratuitous, only destroy self-esteem. Preventing someone from eating an ice-cream or lecturing them on the need to be “more active” are not ways in which one should indicate their concern.
People come in all sizes and shapes. Everyone looks different. But some folks cannot stop their urge to ridicule those who struggle with their weight. Entertainment and advertising industries, increasingly influential social media platforms, and their unrealistic norms, values, and standards are the main facilitators of this worrying trend. Fat shaming is more impactful than gender, racial, and sexual discrimination.
From a health perspective, obesity is undoubtedly risky, given the number health problems that it can lead to. But here is a grim fact – according to experts, its fat shaming, and not laziness and lack of will-power that leads to binge eating and obesity. It’s stressful and upsetting beyond words. Fat shaming can elevate the level of cortisol in our body, and result in overeating and weight gain. It’s harmful and grinds people down.
These days, fat shaming is rampant in our society, and women face more harsh judgments than men. It’s hard to believe that top models and actresses too get body shamed. But despite modeling for top magazines, they too are named, blamed, and shamed. But thankfully, many are good at giving sassy responses. The problem of fat shaming is not limited to adults alone. It begins at an alarmingly young age. Weight gain is one among the common reasons why children get bullied in schools.
Shame gluttony and laziness – it’s not mockery. But shaming someone’s weight gain is sheer sadism.