Social Question

desiree333's avatar

Since when can a person's worth to society be reflected in a mirror?

Asked by desiree333 (3195 points ) December 18th, 2012

I’ve always struggled with self-esteem and confidence issues. Within the past year I have gained about 60 pounds and I’ve noticed an astounding negative correlation between my weight and the respect I receive from others. The body policing that runs rampant in society (particularly youths) absolutely appalls me. Individuals are more likely to assign positive attributes to attractive people and negative ones to overweight/less attractive people. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there is also a wage gap/employment discrepancy associated with weight? I would just like to start a Fluther analysis on body policing, fat shame, and prejudice based on outward appearance in general. Thanks for the opinions.

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10 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I agree that this phenomenon exists. I suspect it is something fairly innate, not just culture. I know there are cultures where bigness is a sign of status and wealth. So I could be wrong. But I do think that the norm is not to be fat, and so if you do not match the norm, you are likely to be discriminated against.

I think a person’s worth has always been seen in the mirror. If you have eyes to see it. I always thought I was ugly and no one would like me. Especially women. I turned out to not be seeing myself very clearly, probably due to depression and/or low self esteem.

But looks matter. They always have. I think they always will. We use looks as a way of guessing how suitable a mate a person is. It’s built into us, I believe, and it won’t ever evolve out of us.

zenvelo's avatar

A lot of what you perceive as “fat-shaming” is a criticism of unhealthy life style choices. People don’t feel that enabling or even just accepting weight gain is okay. Being above a BMI of 30 is on a par with smoking, the only difference being there isn’t second hand eating.

And there is a rationale behind wage/promotion discrimination – overweight people are less efficient or innovative workers and have a higher absentee rate.

FYI, I am currently overweight, and am working on losing 30 lbs.

Bellatrix's avatar

@zenvelo can you provide any supporting material for your comment that “overweight people are less efficient or innovative workers”? I don’t recall ever seeing any research that says this. I would like to read the studies that back this up. I can understand and agree someone who is overweight might take more sick leave and there certainly is research to back this up and it makes sense that someone who is overweight is likely (not certain) to have poorer health outcomes but not the other suggestion.

@desiree333 There certainly has been research into discrimination of people based on weight, height and attractiveness. A Google Scholar search will bring up a range of papers. Weight can affect your wages. A study of European wages and employees found an increase in weight of 10% had a negative impact on wages of 1.86% (for males) and 3.27% (for women) (Brunello & d’Hombres 2007). So your gender also affects your pay (which is probably no surprise!) Han, Norton & Stearns (2008) found the impact of weight on wages was likely to be greater if you work in a job where you are required to have more social interactions.

Of course you will also find studies that will show people who are tall are paid more and research that says attractive people are more likely to get the job. In some workplaces, where there are strong guidelines about equity and diversity you are less likely to see this because those places often have channels for those who are discriminated against to appeal.

The long and short, or fat and thin of it is that in most cases there will always be a reason to blame for not getting on in your job. If you have a strong work ethic, do your work well, have good qualifications and experience, you can still do very well.

Shippy's avatar

I believe people can be beautiful whatever their size or shape. In fact I prefer weightier people overall. There is prejudice. However, I believe it all starts in “self love” and self acceptance. We project how we feel. We also decide if we are acceptable or not. This spills over into our attitude and our relationship with the world.

I never let the world decide whether I am good enough, physically. The power lies within you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would worry about the (mental and physical) health of a person who gained 60 pounds over one year for no reason. Is their eating a side effect of some other problem? Does eating dominate their life?

The_Idler's avatar

Self-discipline is an admirable trait, beneficial for oneself and those around.

Trim your hair, shave, cut your nails, keep clean, keep fit, speak considerately, and move appropriately. Then you will be perceived as civilized, even if you are a sadistic monster.

Do otherwise, and you will appear useless, even if you are well-intentioned and diligent… in other respects.

To complain about this situation is to accuse all other humans of creating the ‘problems’ you perceive. The mistake is to place blame. The certainty is that a problem exists between the Self and the Nature of Others. The practical reality is that one has power to change only the Self.

This is by no means advocacy for conformism. I behave how I want, and I say what I want, and that may not always be the best for me, but I don’t hold it against society for discriminating. That’s what happens to differences. Differences get discriminated.

I have enough confidence in my words and actions that I feel comfortable defending them in a reasoned debate. If you have a reasonable justification for your decision to become overweight to a point generally considered unhealthy and unrestrained, start telling people about it.

Perhaps they will ignorantly scoff at your esoteric logic, but you will be satisfied that you gave them the opportunity to understand. If there’s one thing you have to learn, to be at ease in this world, it’s the fact that some people just can’t listen to reason.

bookish1's avatar

Fat-shaming definitely exists. It is a lot worse for women than for men, but it exists for men as well. There’s also a class component, as it tends to be wealthier people who can afford to (monetarily and in terms of time) eat well, go to the gym, and get health care.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I definately notice and don’t approve. I have been a yo-yo’er for years, and this year lost about 30 lbs, but yes, you can definately tell a difference.

Some skinny people seem to me to ‘pick on’ overweight people. Like a few years ago my skinny minny sis-in-law who is a personal trainer actually took my plate away from me at Thanksgiving saying “You have had enough” and luckily for her, I was drinking wine, so I didn’t kill her, but still, that is the attitude. Like we’re beating a child in front of them or something.

The whole fitness thing is a personal choice, which most doctors would agree with, but still a CHOICE. You can’t force someone into a healthy lifestyle, they have to want it.

As far as the workplace, I only have had one experience with that and it was a chubby girl who wore clothes that were a little too tight or too short for my ultra-conservative fitness-nut boss, and they fired her for it, at least they told me that’s why they fired her. Bad Karma folks.

desiree333's avatar

@LuckyGuy Well, I’d say it all boiled down to depression and feeling as if I am nothing but a shit stain in my environment. I went from being an active carefree senior in high school to a miserable, lonely, stressed -out university student. I’ve continuously been growing apart from friends and have never had any type of relationship to speak of. It’s very difficult to find motivation to take care of myself when I have nothing to look forward to in my life.

zander101's avatar

The media (in North America) can shape society’s perception on this very phenomenon and it’s a bit unnecessary because it shows a rather unrealistic view on how for example a male or female should look visually. The funny thing I’ve noticed is that yes, a person can be visually stunning or beautiful so to speak, however looks can be incredibly deceiving and how a person may look on the outside may not directly reflect who resides on the inside. @desiree333 discovering motivation can be tough, but one thing I’ve learned is that no one is responsible for your happiness but you, life throws it’s curveballs, however nothing is permanent.

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