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Sharing Weight Discrimination Stories Online

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Health officials have declared war on obesity. But some people who are overweight say they’re being shamed about their weight, treated like they’re less than human, and they want it to stop. They’re talking about their pain through social media and finding strength in sharing.

Kelly Bliss knows how to move. She teaches an exercise class in her home. Also, she calls herself fat. To her, it’s not an insult.

“It’s a characteristic, not a character flaw,” said Bliss, a psychotherapist and fitness coach.

But Bliss says over the years, her body has made her a target. People have yelled at her on the street.

“And I’m walking down the main street in our town, and I’m hearing, ‘Hey fatso! Hey tubby! Hey whale!'” she said.

She said even medical professionals have been cruel, once when she injured her knee.

“This doctor stood a few feet away from me, never touched my knee, never touched me at all, and just gave me a diet and said that would fix my knee,” said Bliss.

Fat people have been sharing such through YouTube like on Project Lifesize, a YouTube channel.

One woman said, “The fear is that I have is that somebody is going to say, ‘Look at that fatty, look at that whale.'”

Another said, “It’s hard hearing that people hate you.”

Watch the video…

On Twitter, where they’ve shared what they are told, things like “fat mothers are bad mothers.”

Blogger Brian Stuart, who lives in Boston, created a Twitter hash tag called #ThingsFatPeopleAreTold.

He read some of the things people posted: “Your body sends a bad message to your children… Your chronic illness would disappear if you lost weight.”

“There was one person who talked about having a police officer sort of tell her that she should have been happy that she was raped,” said Stuart. “A lot of people talked about being told that they wouldn’t find love. That they wouldn’t be able to um find anyone who would, who would care about them.”

Brian Stuart says he was overwhelmed by the response to his Twitter feed. He collected more than 450 pages of Tweets.

“The way fat people are treated in our culture and in our society needs to change,” he said.

Both Brian Stuart and Kelly Bliss say the war on obesity is having unintended consequences.

Bliss said, “I wish like heck we would have a peace movement, and focus on health at whatever size.”


National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA)

Reported by Susan Barnett, CBS 3

Top Content On CBSPhilly

  • Mama Cass

    Overweight and Obese people are like heroin addicts, a stain and a drain on our society and world…over-consuming and overwhelming our healthcare resources….There behavior affects everyone and they need to stop being selfish

    • wow

      Also, if you could detail for me what health resources you’re personally paying for because of my size, I’d really love to know considering one of the biggest problems in our country is the LACK of resources. Educate yourself, please. Sitting around, ignorant to reality, relying on stereotypes and blind hatred doesn’t make you better than anyone. In fact, it only makes you the selfish one for not proactively doing all you can to seek out the actual truth.

    • being human.

      I am sorry for whatever it is that happened to you in your life to cause you so much pain that you lack compassion for your fellow man. I hope that you can move beyond it at some point because there may be a moment in your future when you need compassion, and I hope to God that whoever is at your side deals out more to you than what you currently have right now for people who are overweight.

  • Emma

    We need to start telling people that just because they are skinny doesn’t mean they are healthy. Then we can move from there. I also don’t know why US citizens whinge about obesity costing the health system billions when they don’t even have proper government health….

  • RockingJamboree

    You mention ProjectLifesize in the video piece, but don’t link to it in the article. Why?

  • Acceptance?

    I’m not sure what the purpose of fat acceptance is? If someone is morbidly obese, I don’t think acceptance is a wise or an intelligent choice. Smokers are told that their habit is unhealthy so why shouldn’t people who eat to much hear the same thing. If it’s an addiction, get help. But obesity costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year, so then it becomes society’s problem.

    • CG

      Fat acceptance would allow those who are genetically pre disposed to be heavier to accept their bodies and not constantly diet. The fact is that constant dieting almost always results in weiigh loss and then what was lost is gained back plus more. If you are not one who this has happened to, you can’t possibly understand unless you want to. Unfortunately, the dieting is often not done in a heallthy and sound way. Even plans that are medically supervised often are not safe. When one does not get enough food as is often the case with these plans, ones body thinks it’s starving. That is what then leads to overeating.

      My story is that I was adopted. I have an adopted sister who I share no genetic link to. We played together throughout much of our growing up. She was always more athletic than me and could beat me at most things physical. She also ate more than me. She has always been quite thin and remailns so. I have always had extra pounds. If my sister and I played side by side, ate more than me, and remained skinny throughout, and I did not, it stands to reason that there are simply some factors beyond our control. But I guess many folks think I should put more effort into not being fat than everyone else. I think I get to make that decision and I choose to eat healthy and to exercise 3-5 hours per week. At this point, that is all of the priority that I can attach to it. I am more concerned about keeping and maintaining my GOOD health than weighing what others think I should.

    • being human.

      So in your eyes, for a person to be treated humanely and be treated with respect and kindness (what we all deserve) there are certain stipulations? It’s not so much about fat acceptance as it is looking beyond the physical to see a human being, a person who bleeds red blood just like you, and realize that not a single person on this earth deserves to be shamed into feeling like they aren’t worthy of being treated like a human being. A lot of people say that being overweight is a choice, and in some cases in this country I think it is. There are also cases where people have hormone conditions and other things that are part of their inability to lose weight. Whatever it is the MAIN POINT we are trying to drive home is that anybody’s body or size is absolutely none of your business. Fine, you want to argue that being fat is a choice? You CHOOSE to be prejudice and discriminatory against other people because of aesthetics. What do you plan on doing about that in order to be a more kind human being? I’d be more worried about that then I would about a body that is none of my concern.

  • kmd

    Thank you for this story. It is so refreshing to find a well-written story about fat people that doesn’t show a picture of a fat body without a head, and that accurately quotes what fat people actually say about our lives.

    We have a long way to go before fat people are treated like human beings. I wish that Mrs. Obama and others could see how much harm they are doing.

    • Acceptance?

      The First Lady is performing a public service. Obesity is an epidemic that needs to be addressed because lives are being lost. Are we supposed to stand by while people eat themselves to death?

      • CG

        Agreew with KMD. Also,

        What Mrs. Obama is trying to do is of benefit to all kids. Why target the fat ones,while depriving the others? It alienates the fat ones, and indirectly tells the others that they are superior. Telling anyone, especially kids that they are superior often leads to bullying and no one deserves that. It also gives the message to the ones who are not fat that they are doing the right things in terms of exercise and nutrition. I am certain most can learn a lot.

        I am fat and know for a fact that at 50, I use less health insurance $$ than many of my co-workers, many of whom are younger than me.

      • kmd

        Why can’t the “Let’s Move” campaign be simply about helping all Americans to move more and eat better? A rising tide raises all ships. If all Americans have access to increased opportunities to move and better food, that will address the problem you and she claim to care so much about very well.

        But instead, the campaign targets fat people with unscientific claims about what causes fat people to be fat and whether fat is itself a health problem — just like the “eat themselves to death” claim you make here. Why does the Let’s Move campaign need to attack fat people, add to the discrimination we face?

        I’ll tell you why — because hate sells.

  • Linda

    Thank you for this wonderful story! It’s great to see more nuanced reporting when it comes to issues of size and weight.

  • A fatty whose accepted her body

    Thanks for publishing this fat positive story. Too many people don’t realize that it is possible to be fat and healthy. Many things play a role in body size. I have found that most people can lose weight, but most can not maintain the weight loss even when sugically mutilating their bodies with bariatric surgery. One only has to look at those they have known nd those in the media including Oprah and Kirstie Alley to prove that point. They have all the resources available and still gain the weight back. I wish people would think about that and consider that it’s possible that not all people can be under a size 14 or whatever.

  • Jenny

    Being grateful for being raped beggars belief. I know this is an extreme example, but this obsession with fat has gone TOO FAR!
    It suits many to think thin=health but in truth that’s the lazy way out. Health is dependent on a number of factors and to make sweeping generalisatoins that ALL fat people are unhealthy is wrong.
    Have you noticed too that the insults levelled at the fat have also, through the ages, been leveled at race/culture? If you don’t believe me, next time you see somethgin written about a fat person, take out the word “fat” and replace it with “black”. THEN you might get an idea of how downright ignorant and nasty fat hatred is.

    • Acceptance?

      Comparing obesity to race is a absurd.

      • being human.

        What’s more absurd is being blind to the fact that discriminating against any single person for ANY reason is just as disgusting as racism. How on earth people like you don’t see that blows my mind. Hatred of anyone for any reason is wrong because we are all human beings and THAT should be enough.

      • kmd

        I agree that such comparisons are never helpful.

        But if you are making this assertion because you believe that obesity is changeable but race is not, you are wrong.

        I know you won’t believe me based on my assertion, so I will simply ask you to please find the medically proven method of permanent weight loss and publish it here.

        All diets work; anyone can lose weight. But no diet works permanently and weight cycling (lose/regain, repeat ad nauseum) is worse for our bodies and itself causes long-term weight gain.

  • Sharing Weight Discrimination Stories Online | Treatment Obesity

    […] Sharing Weight Discrimination Stories Online Posted by in Cause of obesity on Jun 29th, 2011 | 0 comments Sharing Weight Discrimination Stories Online Health officials have declared war on obesity. But some people who are overweight say they’re being shamed about their weight, treated like they’re less than human, and they want it to stop. Read more on CBS Philadelphia […]

  • Shelly

    I feel for overweight people who struggle with trying to lose weight and stay healthy but sometimes an overweight person is an inconvenience. Recently i was on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte with my grandaughter on my lap. I was in the center seat and the lady on the aisle seat needed a belt extender and then was partially on my seat and partially in the aisel. I could not use my arm rest or lower my tray because she was in my way.I was crampd with my arms in front of me because there was no room Fortunately Ito sit back. am not very big, and she was very nice but it was not a comfortable flight. Because of her being in the aisle, someone bumped the other aisle seat on their way back d=from the bathroom and a soda spilled on a tray. The attendants should have done something as soon as she boarded. I found out near the end of the flight that there were empty seats in the back. IIf an extender is needed, then apparently another seat is needed!

    • being human.

      To refer to another human being as an inconvenience sort of negates you saying you “feel” for them. I understand that you were inconvenienced, but the only person who made your trip an uncomfortable one was the airline for not doing their job. One, they are far more concerned about selling seats then they are the comfort of their passengers. Do you know that the average seat size of an airline seat is the size of a medium sized laptop computer? How on earth is that normal for anyone in this country? That discriminates against people who simply have wide-set bodies, women with larger hips, and people of all body types and sizes. That’s unacceptable. It concerns me when people can be so cavalier in saying “an overweight person is an inconvenience.” An inconvenience is construction when you’re trying to get to work, a long line at the coffee shop, or having mismatched socks. When we refer to other people as a problem, like they’re just a “thing” that’s bothersome in society, we need to open our eyes and realize that we are talking about other human beings. I hear what you’re saying, I do, but please try to open your mind and realize that no matter the size we are all human beings with feelings, and lives, and families, and emotions, and we are all fighting our battles every single day.

    • Native New Yorker

      Sorry you were inconvenienced but the airline seating has always been a hassle for people of EVERY size. Tall people especially have little to no leg room. So it’s not about larger persons… but the airlines charge an arm and a leg (no pun intended) for extra luggage and other amenities. No one is happy with the airlines. So don’t blame it all on the fatties.

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