As global health care officials move to treat the growing, worldwide obesity epidemic Alexandra Brewis, executive director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, has concluded that negative perceptions of fat people are growing.
“Of all the things we could be exporting to help people around the world, really negative body image and low self-esteem are not what we hope is going out with public health messaging,” said Alexandra Brewis, executive director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. via NYTimes
In a new study, Brewis explored attitudes about obese people in 10 countries, confirming high levels of fat stigma in ‘Anglosphere’ countries like America, England, New Zealand and Argentina. She was surprised to find that fat stigma had spread to American Samoa, Tanzania, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Paraguay.
Researchers fear that in raising public consciousness of the health damages and costs of obesity, they are unintentionally cultivating an anti-obesity ‘it’s your fault’ message. Note that the study included 700 people across 10 countries and is only a snapshot of international beliefs about obesity.
Nisha Somaia, who lives in New Delhi and is quotes by NYT, says that in India ‘Fat equals lazy. Fat equals comedy relief.’
The fashion industry, Ms. Somaia said, seems to promote the ideal of beauty as having a body “like an adolescent boy.”
“I think all around the ideal of beauty is skinny thin,” she said. “I had a highly educated friend confess that she would prefer for her children to be anorexic rather than overweight.”