One of my followers told me about this study that showed people rate women’s attractiveness differently based on whether or not they lost over 70lbs or were naturally thin and maintained “stable” weight. There were negative reactions when participants were told that now-slim women were once 70+ lbs heavier; they were seen as less attractive.
The researchers couldn’t draw absolute conclusions, but they theorize that it’s related to the stigma of obesity that leads people to think negatively of overweight people not simply because of their aesthetics, but because of their perception of their personal ethics and values.
Overweight people are often stigmatized as being lazy because many people believe that it’s fairly easy to keep healthy and keep weight off. Few people understand or take into consideration the idea that weight loss/gain is different for everyone, and there is no one perfect answer that applies to everyone. People dismiss overweight people as being less valuable, less productive, less attractive, less everything. It is part of why many overweight people face employment discrimination and other issues in various settings.
The study calls for more efforts to reduce the “obesity stigma”. They argue that working on ending obesity is important but so is working to end the stigma. They argue, correctly, that stigma is often what leads overweight people, women especially to give up their efforts. When you feel shamed around others who dismiss and ridicule you, it’s hard to press forward. You know how people sneer at fat people who go to the gym? That’s unfair but people do it. Why? To feel better about themselves by ridiculing others.
Here’s my take: This is troubling and discouraging. I’m currently single and almost everyone knows about my weight loss journey. People still say mean things to me about be being “fat” and insult how I look now, despite having lost 130lbs in a year. People who have only encountered me post weight loss don’t seem to treat me like that. This study made me think about how I’m perceived, though. I talk rather openly about my weight loss and how I weighed 406lbs at one point. I talk about my weight loss efforts over the years, as well as my weight loss surgery…rather openly. This study made me wonder if I’m being viewed as less attractive because people know I was one almost twice this size. It made me wonder if people still judge me and see me in a negative “Fat” light. I wonder if people assume I’m lazy, have no will power, can’t commit, am a cheater because I didn’t lose the weight the “right” way, or whatever else. I know some do, as the insults have been hurled my way. But I wonder how potential romantic partners view me.
Do they think I’m lazy? Do they think I’ll be unable to keep the weight off? I think that’s another “fear” people have when dating folks who lost a lot of weight— that they will gain it all back again. Do people who knew me back then still see me as Fat Michelle? Or do they feel weird about approaching me now because they fear I won’t take them seriously because their approach seems superficial now? (That answer is Yes, by the way). I don’t want to be judged in any way, certainly not because I was once 172lbs heavier than what I am right now. I’m the same person, for the most part, just a healthier, happier, freer person now.
I just found this study interesting and thought I would share my thoughts.