What is fatphobia?

My last message to wrap up this latest topic series in 2022 is around practicing inclusion and addressing internal fatphobia. These terms tie in with the Health at Every Size (HAES) approach, which I spoke about in the last blog post.


Day 28: How our standards affect our kids, too


Discussions around mental health are happening in every facet of our society with messages arising from social media, mainstream media, radio, nutritionists, schools, sports, and celebrities. There is no argument that mental health is important and poor mental health is real and seemingly fairly common.


So why are we hearing so much about it now? I'm in no position to say for sure, but from practicing dietetics alone, social media is a HUGE part of it. Social media has turned our world upside down. Now our kids get to become intimate at an early age with, well, anything and everything. Kids are learning how to compare themselves with edited versions of people and associating "ideal standards" with unrealistic images. The thing about today's world is that there are no degrees of separation. Kids may get bullied or engage in comparing themselves with their peers during the school hours, but could come home and distance themselves with sports, art, homework, family time, time outside, or perhaps playing hide and seek with the neighbors until dark. Those times are pretty much over. Social media prevents any distance from this topic.


One of the greatest weapons we have is our mind. We can't necessarily change our bodies, but we can change how we approach the concept of how bodies are supposed to look. Practicing the idea that humans do not need to be "tweaked" or worked on to be beautiful or healthy is a good first step. You can do this by tallying the times you start judging yourself and others to bring you self-awareness.


The other really prevalent issue I see, not just in my office, but in everyday life is fatphobia. This is essentially the extreme judgement of fat people and, therefore, an internalized fear of getting fat yourself. I believe this was taught to us at an early age but isn't a true value. A simple "don't call Aunt Mary fat", "that's not nice", and other pseudo-values, are examples of how a good intentioned mother or father might teach their son or daughter that being fat is a bad thing. If we could change that language to a conversation about how people come in all sizes and that neither skinny nor fat is superior to the other, we can start shifting some of the fear and stigmatization around the word "fat".


Note: I enjoyed writing this series and hope that it offered you some interesting information that you either didn't know or haven't thought about in a while. If you are interested in adding a healthy diet and nutritional knowledge to your goals for 2022, please schedule a consult and let's get started. Thanks!



Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director








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