Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Prejudice Against Fat People

In the current society, the perception of most people dyed in the wool, that fat people are ugly, lazy, unattractive and sweaty. Those few extra pounds are no longer a personal matter to be sighed over in the privacy of the bedroom. They are a social problem which, it is said, need to be worked off together.

Speaking from my own experience, we can often see such incidents in the MRT train. I once saw there was a big sized guy, almost twice my size was sitting on one of empty seat in the train. Due to his big size, he almost occupied two seats, leaving a tiny space for other passenger. During that time, it was the peak period( after working hour), everyone looked tired and frustrated of having to squeeze with so many passengers. Then, few of the passengers started to give him a 'dirty look' and kept staring at him from head to toe which made him so uncomfortable. Then, there was a young adult who was standing in front of him, covered her nose with a frustrated face due to the smell of that guy's odour. What happened next was that big sized guy immediately alight at the next station without looking back.

One reason why prejudice against fat people is stigmatizing in our society or even in Singapore is because people especially new generation place great importance on physical appearance. They tend to have a certain perceptions of the outgroup and give certain treament to them because they are so called 'not the same' as the ingroup in terms of appearance and those in the out-group are more similar to each other ( although that is not always the truth). Individual tend to judge another individual based on first impression or the use of schemas for the fat people and social categorization. This is happening even in a love relationship eg. love at first sight. Do you really think what first capture/attracts a guy/girl's heart is the personality of the opposite sex, and not based on the appearance? Personally, I don't think so. Although when you asked that individual what you first like about him/her and usually he or she will replied by " Oh, I like him not because of his look, but because he's such a caring guy". Yes, maybe that guy is really caring towards the girl but we need time to get to know our partner well before we could label him as caring. Therefore, the first impression is usually based on appearance. This is something like modern racism where people learned to hide their prejudiced attitudes in order to avoid being labeled as racist where people outwardly act unprejudiced while inwardly maintain prejudiced attitudes.

For many of the growing numbers of people who are overweight or obese, the immediate battle remains not one of losing pounds, but of fighting for acceptance from the society. One of the ways to stop prejudice against fat people is is to redefine or break down the ingroup/outgroup boundaries. We should discourage categorization and encourage personalization and if there is categorization, we should accept them and treat them with mutual respect, and not to treat them differently.

14 comments:

FestingeRules said...

I understand the reasons behind disliking fat people. Who doesn't want to look slim and slender? Even if there's no media that constantly input the mindset into ours,i personally think that slim and slender figure is still the most attractive one.
However, I believe everyone has their lazy times and even though the number of times is uncountable, it all depends on how healthy we are are. If one is fat, he or she has got to be healthy so they can 'justify' it for themselves that, 'i'm happily healthy fat!
We often see chubby people being happy and most of the time fair-skinned. I tend to often reduce my prejudices against them because i would 'justify' it with the idea that, they eat alot of healthy food.
:D ylee

Grayson Tan Wei Shan said...

Mm.. actually i also think that media really plays a big part in shaping the mentality of people in the world. Media is really a powerful source of influenced. I feel that as a human being on earth, size does matters not because we want to impress but is all because of healthy weight and diet. Like in the past chinese feels that fat people are beauties and slim people are frill and thin. As western culture influences asian culture, gradually trend changes.

I feel that it is also a type of discipline to remain acceptable and pleasant to the eye. I did not mean that fat people are not. Chubby but not fat. I feel that it is a personal responsibility to attract the opposite sex REGARDLESS of age, guys to keep themselves fit and ladies to keep themselves slim not thin.

yup

My Formulation is said...

my question is what is wrong with Fat people? they are just as normal as we are, i understand that when we see some one at the first place, we will see their lookings, figures, that is the first reception for all of us, however, personality is the finally thing that make people getting along with each other. i think that is the reason why alot married couple can stay with each other forever till death, isn't it?

Mani said...

I do agree with you. It has to start from young where the children should be educated on these issues whether at home or in schools in order to grain in them.

Anonymous said...

It is the system that we are borned into...In secondary schools, those fat boys had to run rings around the parade square during recess. Those students who are thinner will get to eat, and sometimes they will stand there and laugh at those fat guys who are running. It is something that i think which may have contributed to this discrimmination against fat people.

Archie said...

I think that prejudice against fat people largely depends on the society with live in and how the the society views it. In Singapore is it mostly in built in our system that its not good to be fat, thus people often tend to be prejudice towards them. There are alot of factors that play a part in this form education to media to your own perception.

Smitha said...

It is wrong and it is hurtful. Sometimes a person can not change their weight, it is in the genes, like the colour of your skin and your height. Well as psych students at JCU, if we constantly keep saying prejudice is bad, the meggage will spread. Like what John said, little acts of kindness...so kill prejudice. Make the world a better place

said...

"Prejudice against fat people", because others feedback those fat people charactersitics are as lazy, slow, or whatever negative aspects. The first idea came out from my mind is people are making fundamental attribution errors agnist fat people, also very negative sterotyping, although, physically, they are not look slim or slender.

If those gerernalised fat people negative way, or just think about how is people looking, or how they apperances address, that is too naive.

I dun mean that how people looking is useless, but over emphasis on it will produce a bais.

said...

Additionally, social comparison theory could also be employed in the article.

Without thinking of the bias on fat people along, thoes "normal" people likely downward compare with them, in order to produce a good feeling about themselves on either biologically or psychologically, have more confidence.

justinjal said...

People should be educated about these issues at a young age

lisabethis said...

Prejudice Against Fat People. I have a prejudice against fat people. I am not proud that I do and I would like to change my views, but I am just being honest. No one is born obese. They eat and eat to fill the void of low self esteem, and other reasons. It is a lack of self control. What is the difference between someone who drinks too much and eats too much? We put drunk drivers in jail. Overeating won't necessarily cause the same bad effects as drinking and driving, but am I supposed to pity them, or try to hide my first impulse of repulsiveness? I was stuck in a very narrow hallway where the man coming down the stairs would not go back to the landing behind him to let me by, instead just pushed by leaving my with sweat from his body on my face and shirt. I think it is their own fault they are fat. It's not like they are crippled. They can stop eating. This is where the root of my prejudice comes from. So judge me if you like for my opinion.

Anonymous said...

As a physician, I work very hard to remain equally empathic and caring with overweight and obese people as I do with the more slender population. I have a bias against those patients I treat who use up thousands of dollars in health care: inpatient treatment for heart attacks, knee and dependent joint replacements, end-organ kidney failure, etc. . . when all they needed to do to reduce their overall risks was LOSE WEIGHT on good diets and with some regular exercise. They take money--millions of dollars--away from populations that need more research and treatment: such as the elderly, the young with congenital illness, and cancer patients. It makes me want to firebomb Wendy's every single time I see a diabetic in follow-up who sheepishly tells me he "hates the taste of vegetables" and is tipping the scale at 200lbs. If you do not want to follow your physician's advice, why should we continue to treat you?

Philly said...

My Question for you is -

Have you ever DIRECTLY worked or Lived with a Fat person??

I never held any grudges or prejudices against fat people until I had lived or worked with them.

LAST NIGHT for example, they workplace just employed a new overweight girl. The second time I have had to work with her and to say the least it is clearly apparent that she has more than few screw loose.

I am naturally skinny and therefore a target and threat to this overweight girl. She has attempted to "throw" her weight over me and her social interaction is bizzare to say the least. Another "fine" example, is where she repeatedly kept telling drunk guys behind the bar that she was "Anal"... (classy).

Although I try my best not to stereotype any group or class of people. Throughout my experiences with overweight girls, I have seen that the ROOT CAUSE of their excessive weight is caused by serious psychological and emotional issues.

Therefore, this "prejudice" against fat people (as with the majority of people exhibiting personal issues) is FAR MORE than being just skin deep.

Inside-out , NOT outside-in.

(If only most people could understand this *sigh* )

#Fact

presstoe said...

It's not about looks. It's about your unhealthy body being exposed to others. If you have a substance abuse problem, maybe you can hide that, but if you were wearing it on your sleeve, people would react with the same kind of disgust if that was something they were adverse to. Common, very few overweight people were just born that way. Unfortunately for them, we see the result of their bad habits physically in our space. Yes, an over weight person occupying two seats that are meant for people of normal size is disdainful. They aren't pregnant, what is the reason they need to sit? If its just the weight, maybe if they stood on two feet often enough, it wouldn't be as bad. We should have transit bathrooms for drunks and special railed chairs for dope fiends nodding off on every bus and train. I mean that's what fat people take the liberty of bestowing upon themselves when they sit in two seats designed for two passengers.