Jan 252013

A bioethicist/researcher, Daniel Callahan, has recently endorsed ‘fat-shaming‘ to help curb the obesity crisis. While his reputation precedes him, this idea is a crock.

Fat-shaming is the practice of publicly addressing obese individuals’ appearances. While discussing a person’s appearance may be innocuous to some people, this fat-shaming idea would be just another form of verbal bullying to individuals who are overweight.

Obese people already know what they look like; they are completely aware of their appearance. They don’t need anyone to point it out to them.

Not all people who are obese choose to overeat or be inactive. Some have hormonal/metabolic issues, others are on medications that make them gain weight. Then there are some who have eating disorders from emotional dysfunctions.

Fat-shaming may be a form of bullying. Michelle Meiklejohn freedigitalphotos.com

Fat-shaming may be a form of bullying. Michelle Meiklejohn freedigitalphotos.com

Eating disorders are nothing to laugh about or make light of. It is assumed eating disorders are the result of inner, personal (intrapersonal) turmoil.

Experts in the psychological field call this behavior ’emotional eating.’ Instead of dealing with emotions in a healthy way, some people eat when they have emotions that they cannot mentally cope with. They turn to food for comfort. Fat-shaming the emotional eaters would only damage their already fragile emotional state.

Fat-Shaming Assumptions and Consequences

The fat-shaming idea is assuming all people have control over their weight. This is not true. It falls into the belief that obese individuals choose to overeat and/or are lazy from being inactive.

Being lazy is not always a choice (if it even is a choice, I question that). I believe it is a symptom of an underlying disorder or dysfunction. The behavior of inactivity (laziness) has various numerous etiologies. It can be from a low vitamin B deficiency to a possible childhood trauma, among vast other causes.

These underlying issues are not always in the control of the obese person. There is always a reason for a person to be inactive or, what we call in our society, ‘lazy.’

Can you imagine fat-shaming children? Their food choices are completely out of their control! Also, they are impressionable and vulnerable. Most children are incapable of expressing themselves accurately. They may not feel ‘good’ but believe their inactivity is from laziness. This gullibility will compound their negative self-esteem.

So, fat-shaming any person who is obese (or overweight) is a technique that would only cause more problems with individuals who are already struggling with various issues.

Bad idea, Mr. Callahan.