Author: Marie-Michèle Ricard, psychoeducator, psychotherapist and teacher
Do you know what a prejudice is?
It’s an opinion or belief that you adopt without the necessary information. Prejudices usually turn out to be false and are very contagious! And you know what? They hurt both the people who are victims of them, and also those who hold them. They act like barriers, preventing you from understanding others and being open to them.
It’s practically impossible to not have any prejudices. What’s important is that you recognize the ones you have so that you can gradually develop a fairer thought pattern. The best way to fight them is to look for the necessary information and keep an open mind.
Common prejudices about appearance
- Fat people are lazy
- Fat people eat too much and can’t control themselves
- Thin people are happier
- To be manly, you have to be tall, strong and muscular
- To be a “real girl”, you have to be feminine with “shapely” curves
- A “real guy” can’t be short
- Fat people are less attractive than thin people
- Fat people shouldn’t wear swimsuits
Can you think of any others?
Where do these prejudices come from?
Negative attitudes towards appearance or weight are learned in early childhood, just like how racist or sexist beliefs are learned.
Society, your upbringing and your personal experiences have all contributed to you developing many prejudices.
The good news is that everything that can be learned … can be unlearned!
INTOLERANCE TOWARDS OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE
Our society is very intolerant and discriminatory towards those who are overweight. Weight discrimination seems to be as present as racism or sexism, if not more! 😱
Unfortunately, this form of discrimination is socially accepted and held up in many ways.
HOW DO PREJUDICES TAKE ROOT IN US?
Regardless of your weight, you may have retained prejudices about weight from society. In other words, you’ve become attuned to them. Unfortunately, this may lead you to like your body less, and you may develop the belief that you have yourself to blame or that you are responsible for your situation. You may also develop a fear of being fat.
So, how can we get rid of prejudices in our daily lives?
Do we need to ban the word “fat”?
“Fat” is an adjective, just like “big”, “small”, “round” and “blond.” The idea is to get rid of the association between “fat” and “negative”.
Because fat people are, above all else, people! They should be described as anyone else would be, with their strengths and weaknesses, their skills and abilities.
When you feel that you have a prejudice about appearance, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I letting myself be influenced by my first impression of this person?
- Can I challenge my first impression?
- Does my negative opinion come from the fact that I think this person is fat? This guy isn’t muscular enough? This girl isn’t feminine enough?
- Do I realize that these prejudices can damage my relationship with this person and my relationship with my own body?
- Try your best to not rely on your first impressions
- Remember that your prejudices warp reality
- Don’t share prejudices to stop them from spreading
- Learn about how weight works
- Accept that some of your thoughts come from prejudices and develop your mental flexibility
- Develop your relationships, get to know people for who they are
- Speak up against all forms of bullying
- Advocate for body diversity
- Find influencers who promote body diversity
The importance of accepting body differences
Diversity is what makes human beings beautiful.
We are all different and weight is part of that difference. It’s impossible to expect everyone to be the same weight, the same way you can’t expect everyone to have the same shoe size or height.
Our differences make us all unique, and that is our strength.