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View on Fat and Obesity Changing

For those of you who fear being stigmatized for your larger-than-average size, finally, some good news. The article, “Fat stigma fading? Fewer see obesity as problem of bad personal choices, survey says” (11/6/14, WBUR’s CommonHealth), tells us that new research indicates that “the general public and health care providers are starting to view obesity as a ‘community problem of shared risks’ as opposed to a personal problem stemming from ‘bad choices.’” Quotes from the Obesity Society News suggest a “significant shift in perceptions of obesity in 2014,” and that “data also show differences among various demographic groups. In 2014, younger and higher income respondents more likely view obesity as a community problem. Older respondents more likely view it as a medical problem. Male and rural respondents more likely view obesity as a personal problem of bad choices.” Says Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Deputy Director at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy...

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Time to Give Up the Body Shame

While reading our local paper, I came across a photo captioned “Dancing to support first responders” which really caught my eye. The photo was of a couple dancing the tango. Each was what our culture might call “overweight” or what I prefer to call on the higher end of the weight spectrum. The pose they struck showed their grace and dancing prowess. The story accompanying the photo was about why they chose to be in a charity dance competition to benefit such an important cause. I immediately thought back to the two clients I’d seen the day before who’d complained that they were too large and embarrassed to be seen exercising. Both came from highly judgmental families, but neither was of such a high weight that she couldn’t jog, dance, or exercise. I’d seen both bound up the path to my office when they were running late for a session, so obviously,...

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Big Can Be Beautiful – Only You Can Change Your Body Image


Image by Debbie Digioia  No matter what our weight, too many women (and men, to a lesser degree) think it’s natural to vilify fat and, if you’re of a high weight, that you need to feel badly about it. Can we all agree that we live in a fat phobic, thin-obsessed society—and it’s been that way for far too long? It’s so normalized into our society that fat is out and thin is in that you may not know that there was a time, as I do nearing age 70, when norms were otherwise, back in the days of zaftig beauties like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. I discuss body image often with clients and sometimes with friends, and have come to recognize two unequal perspectives about being large in our culture. The first is to shrug and say that these are the norms and that all we can do is try to...

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