Islam and Eating Disorders: In Solidarity with BEDA on Weight Stigma Awareness Week

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Dear Readers,

War Against Disorders stands in solidarity with BEDA and supports their Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014, #WSAW2014. Weight stigmatization threatens individuals’ psychological and physical health by increasing the risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. The psychological toll of weight stigmatization can be devastating. Overweight youth who are stigmatized about their weight are 2-3 times more likely to engage in suicidal thoughts and behaviors compared with their overweight peers who are not stigmatized. According to Council on Size and Weight Discrimination: People who are larger than average encounter discriminatory attitudes and are denied equal opportunity in many areas of their lives: Prospective employers refuse to hire large size people, especially in jobs where employees do physical work, or jobs where employees interact with the public.

Our Message: End weight discrimination in health care, media, education, employment, social interactions, and many other areas of life. Lets Unite and Stand Together to make the world better for people of all sizes.

One thing You can do Today- “Don’t laugh at “fat jokes”. Interrupt sizism or weight discrimination when it is possible by pointing it out and expressing your opinion that it is wrong. Council on Size and Weight Discrimination

For Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014, BEDA is featuring Tools That Build Conversations; toolkits to help you address bias and discrimination in professional settings including:

  • Medical care and your doctors office
  • School setting and activities programs for your child
  • Psychological support and your treatment provider
  • Nutrition counseling 
  • Movement experts and physical therapy

For more Information visit:BEDA

I hope you’ll join this campaign. If you feel stigma and discrimination are  destructive and wrong, I encourage you to join us and BEDA in our efforts to end this widespread discrimination. You can join us by displaying BEDA’s logo on your website, blog or social site. For more Information, please visit. Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014 – Social Media

What is Weight Stigma – 2014?

Weight stigma is what a person experiences when weight bias is internalized as being ‘deserved’.  This occurs frequently today, resulting in larger people feeling shame, anxiety, depression, and self-hatred. These diminish a person’s body esteem and motivation for self-care.

Weight bias is negative judgment based on weight, shape, and/or size.  It fuels both explicit and implicit harmful actions by individuals and organizations, including social rejection, bullying, hate-speech, “fat jokes”, and exclusionary behaviors that create inequities in social access, employment, healthcare, and education.

Weight stigma and weight bias are cultural problems that affect almost every aspect of life for many people. This includes the ability to learn and the ability to participate fully in the economy and other important components of a thriving society.

Because of the interrelatedness of bias and stigma, demoralization and eventual complacency surrounding healthy choices is a logical consequence when larger people, especially children, remain targets of bias even when they eat well and are physically active.  

Common ideas fueled by weight bias include the belief that people larger than the “ideal” shape or size:

  • are lazy
  • lack self-discipline
  • have poor willpower
  • lack intelligence
  • have the ability to become and remain thin—body shape, weight, and height, as well as other physical features, are unique to the individual and perceived differently depending on culture. While it is environmentally influenced, weight in particular is largely genetically determined. Because of this, not all bodies can or should aim to achieve a standardized ideal of thinness, of shape, of size, or of body composition.

Equating “thinness” with health can lead to harmful assumptions that also contribute to weight bias and its consequences, ultimately reducing everyone’s ability to be healthy regardless of size or shape.  Indeed, thin individuals are also harmed by commonly-held beliefs that being thin is synonymous with good health.  Thinness is often confused with character or rigid discipline and because of this, thinner-bodied people can be neglected when they are unhealthy or in need of help.[1]

Weight stigma and weight bias are cultural problems that affect almost every aspect of life, including mental and physical health, social interaction, employment opportunities and the learning environment for people of all ages.[2]  Children are especially at risk for experiencing weight stigma due to their stage of development, as childhood and adolescence are periods where the impact of weight bias through peer comments and behaviors shapes self-image, body image, and development of social skills needed in adulthood.[3]

Weight bias, and by extension weight stigma, are behaviors and beliefs that can be changed.  They are human rights issues as well as issues of community wellbeing and as such it falls to our advocates, national leaders and government to develop programming that supports environmental and personal practices free of weight bias.  Together, we set the tone.


[1] Wildman, Rachel P. PhD; Paul Muntner, PhD; Kristi Reynolds, PhD; Aileen P. McGinn, PhD; Swapnil (2008) – Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(15)

[2] Puhl, R.M, & Heuer, C.A. (2009). The stigma of obesity: A review and update. Obesity, 17, 941-964

[3] Bucchianeri MM, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. (2014). Weightism, racism, classism, and sexism: Shared forms of harassment in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 1, 47-53