Supportive Friends & Family Can't Shield Women From Media Fat Shaming

Illustration for article titled Supportive Friends & Family Can't Shield Women From Media Fat Shaming

Not judging friends and family members about their weight certainly makes you a better person, but it may not do anything to reduce their body issues. A new study found that women beat themselves up for being fat, even if they aren't getting negative messages about their weight from people in their social network.


Researchers at Arizona State University interviewed 112 women from Phoenix ages 18 to 45, and 823 of their friends and family members, according to ScienceDaily. They found that women are usually bad at estimating what the people closest to them really think about their weight. Cultural anthropologist Daniel J. Hruschka said, "Women were a bit more attuned to the views of close friends and family, but even then, they generally perceived the judgments of others inaccurately."

Knowing that Aunt Edna only remarked about you taking a second piece of pie because she's excited you like her cooking may prevent family feuds, but it actually doesn't do much to help your body image. So what does contribute to the stigma against fat? You guessed it: media and pop culture. The researchers said society views being overweight as a "profound personal failing," and associates fatness with "laziness, lack of self-control, and being undesirable or even repulsive." Previous studies have shown some Americans say they'd rather go blind or die years sooner than be considered fat. Lead author Alexandra Brewis says these, "messages are so pervasive and powerful that even the most loving support of those closest to us provides only limited protection against them."

Fat-Stigma Study: Mass Media Messages Appear To Trump Opinions Of Family, Close Friends [ScienceDaily]

Image via Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.



After I lost 60 pounds, I felt amazing. I was in a size 10/12. Hell, even my shoe size was smaller. My family, friends, and coworkers were all praise.

Then I picked up Tina Fey's Bossypants, which I enjoyed reading tremendously, and got tot he part where she wrote, "I was once overweight. I was a size 12 ... wore loose overalls and burned by pudgy belly with the iron." (NOT AN EXACT QUOTE. I had to return the book to the library.)

And in that one page, Tina Fey, who I love, told me that my new size, shape and accomplishments were no longer about my hard work, my ability to run, my strong arms, or the compliments I got from my social circle, but now after all of that work I WAS STILL FUCKING OVERWEIGHT. And it happened just that way in my head, and I was depressed for two weeks afterwards.

That shit's powerful.