Your weight does not define who you are

Weight stigma and weight bias is real in this world. Weight bias relates to negative attitudes, assumptions and beliefs based on a person’s body size. Weight stigma is what is experienced by the person of a higher weight. Unfortunately, we live in a society where there are many such bias – weight, race, age, gender, disabilities, height, education etc. The list goes on. Just because weight bias occurs, does not mean you need to absorb and believe it. This article explores some things for you to consider.

Weight and your friendships

Think for a moment about your friends. How much emphasis do you place on their weight as a reason for you to be or not be their friend? Do you value the role they play in your life based on their weight or their other attributes? I would imagine that your answer will be that their weight or appearance has no bearing on why they are important in your life. The truth is the same about you. Your value in the friendship will be based on many other qualities, and not your weight.

What can you do: Ask your friends what they like about you? Why are they friends with you? Choose to focus on these things when you are with them, rather than feeling guilt or shame about your weight.

Weight and your fitness

The belief that people in larger bodies are not fit and that people in thinner/leaner bodies are, is based on a weight stigma belief.

Mirna Valerio is a runner who lives in a larger body. She has completed 11 marathons and 14 ultramarathons . In 2018 she was named “a National Geographic runner of the year. In addition, she has written articles; her first was titled “This Is Not a Weight Loss Blog”. She has had both positive and negative feedback from people. She said, “I think there’s some inherent racism and sexism going on, especially with body image and body shape. They don’t like to see me on a cover of a magazine because I do not represent what fitness means to them”.

Amanda LaCount is a dancer who never let body-shamers discourage her from going after her dreams. I can tell you, my body may be smaller than hers, but there is no way I can do what she is doing.  Go Amanda!!

What can you do: you can either choose to take what someone else says about you, or you can put your own fitness goals in place and achieve them. Having struggled with an autoimmune disease for many years, I was not able to exercise much at all. However, I fitted the “image” of what a fit person looked like. If only people knew!! Remember, a person’s body is NOT a good indicator of their fitness levels.

Weight and your work​

The workplace for some can feel very toxic. Talk about diets, weight loss, weight can sometimes feel suffocating. Sadly weight bias does sometimes exist in the workplace. Generally, though, in this kind of environment, other bias exist too, like if someone has a disability, or they are a certain colour or gender.

What can you do: Ask yourself “does my weight really impact my work abilities”. How can I turn my focus away from this and focus on what I really bring to the workplace, irrespective of my weight. Focus on YOUR strengths and abilities and remember you are only responsible for your own thoughts and actions, and not others peoples.

Weight and your health

Weight is definitely not a good indicator of health. There are many people in larger bodies who have great health. Vice versa, there are many people in small bodies who have poor health. When it becomes an issue, is when you let it. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I weigh too much, therefore I am not healthy and I can’t do anything”.

What can you do: Think about some of the things you can control.

These include:
– focusing on what you eat – not from a diet perspective, but from a holistic perspective, based on what health issues you have. Think about what to include, rather than what to exclude
– focusing on movement – whatever your ability is
– ensuring you get enough sleep
– focusing on changing your thought life and mindset
managing your stress
– taking time out to do things you enjoy and that help you invest in yourself

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