Thursday, January 24, 2013

188.4; Fat Shaming

Let's face it.  When you're heavy/obese, people DO judge you differently.  It's human nature and some part of me doesn't blame people for their thoughts.  I mean if I'm honest with myself, I judge people all day long, some negative and some positive. 

The difference is that I usually don't do it OUTLOUD.  And the biggest lesson in life is that my initial judgement is likely to be wrong in some way.  So I've learned that I need to assess people and situations for a while before coming to a final judgement.

But today I read this article:  Fat Shaming To Cure Obesity.  In it, the author explains that the stigma of shaming him as a smoker lead to him quitting. 

I CANNOT imagine how much more shame would have lead me to lose weight.  In fact, the shame of my weight kept me from going to the gym to work out.  The shame kept me from seeking help because I'd have to admit that I was fat.  The shame kept me inside on nice days instead of walking in the neighborhood because I had been called FAT by passerby cars when I was out walking to LOSE WEIGHT.

Shame does not usually lead to changing behaviors.
As with any punishment, shame can have the short-term effect of discouraging certain behaviors. It will, however, have only a weak long-term impact on reducing unwanted behavior and a negative long-term effect in terms of bringing about behavior change (Covington, 2000; George, White, & Schlaffer, 2006). Moreover, using shame to modify behavior will have a number of potential unwanted consequences (Levine, 2005).
We should not be shaming people to change.  We should be encouraging people to seek change on their own.  When someone believes that the idea to change is their own and not someone else's, they assume control over the change and are more often than not successful in changing. 

Please, if you know someone who isn't healthy, may be overweight, don't shame them into changing.  Encourage.  Kindness goes a long way in this world.

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