Yale University has done a study that focused on how a defendant’s weight affects jury verdict outcomes. The findings? Overweight female defendants were more likely to get a guilty verdict from male jurors. Women displayed less bias but the study found leaner men in particular were likely to judge a fat defendant harshly to the point of assuming female repeat offenders demonstrated deliberate malice in their criminal activity.
Yale researcher Rebecca Puhl summed up the basis of my views,
“Thinness has come to symbolize important values in our society, values such as discipline, hard work, ambition and willpower. If you’re not thin, then you don’t have them.”
This has been the contention of my disgust with the whole “Think like a thin person” mindset. The premise is that thin people make better judgments and avoid weight gain because they eat only when hungry, choosing appropriate foods, out of their own superior reasoning and self-discipline. Assuming that judgment is the primary or even the sole regulator of body weight is not only patently WRONG, it is a viciously demeaning insult to overweight people. It is CLEAR that the corollary to this “thin person” thinking is that people are fat because they are out of control with little to no self-discipline and eat out of poor judgment, laziness, and weak will. It breaks my heart that every year overweight people spend millions on “think like a thin person” weight loss books and programs that vilify and belittle their character. They are paying for the privilege of being shamed and blamed.
Similarly, I have as much disdain for the “love yourself” school of thought. The obvious corollary here is that people are fat because they hate themselves and eat out of self-destruction and self-loathing. You might as well be Jillian Michaels screaming at a fat person to conjure up a shred of self-respect and quit being such an abject failure.
Fighting to lose weight is not an act of surrender. It’s not an admission of failure. It’s not a plea for acceptance. It’s not begging for forgiveness. The only person you have to forgive is yourself if you’ve let our culture convince you your weight is a character flaw. Having a stomach that pumps out ghrelin is not a disease. It’s the way some of us are. We do not all possess the same ability to make food choices. I do the best I can with the body I’ve been given and I won’t apologize for that. Neither should you.