As if we needed more evidence that anti-fat bias is about moral superiority and not about health, a new study finds that people continue to be negatively affected by fat stigmas even after they have lost weight. Researchers asked participants (young men and women) to read vignettes about a series of women—some who had lost 70 lbs and some who had remained weight-stable. They were then asked to rate the women based on attractiveness and other factors. The results? People hate fat people so much that they can't stop hating fat people even after the fat people become thin people.
"We were surprised to find that currently thin women were viewed differently depending on their weight history," said Dr Janet Latner, study lead at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, US. "Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight."
Of course. Because you don't really qualify as a thin person; you're just a fat person masquerading as a thin person. You're tainted. All that stuff that supposedly made you fat—laziness and moral turpitude and lack of willpower and that pneumatic Dorito funnel you had installed next to your bed—that's all still in there, waiting to make you fat and gross again! Despite all of society's protestations that fat people are just thin people with temporary gluttony problems, it turns out that they don't really see fat people that way. Fat once, fat for life. Nobody is more committed to the intrinsic permanence of fatness than the smug fat-haters insisting that fat is a choice.
On top of that, study participants reacted even more negatively to the formerly fat women if they were presented with additional information suggesting that weight control is easy. But it is almost certainly not easy, says Kerry O'Brien, one of the study's co-authors:
The message we often hear from society is that weight is highly controllable, but the best science in the obesity field at the moment suggests that one's physiology and genetics, as well as the food environment, are the really big players in one's weight status and weight-loss.
Weight status actually appears rather uncontrollable, regardless of one's willpower, knowledge, and dedication. Yet many people who are perceived as 'fat' are struggling in vain to lose weight in order to escape this painful social stigma. We need to rethink our approaches to, and views of, weight and obesity.
So make no mistake, fat people. If you lose weight, do it because you want to, and not because you're chasing that carrot that the fat-shamers love to dangle (it's a marzipan carrot—fat people don't eat vegetables!)—the one that says weight loss will be a magical release from shame and ridicule and your life will suddenly become perfect. They are lying. They are liar people. You might manage to become thin, but jerks will still be jerks.
Photo credit: pressmaster / Stockfresh.