Overcoming Weight Bias with Curiosity and Compassion

Overcoming Weight Bias with Curiosity and Compassion
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

Isn’t it easy to judge that really large person at the grocery store checkout? We’re good at heaping on shame. “Just look at what she’s buying.” And we have advice too. “Just stop eating that crap!”

Someone with a weight problem is pretty easy to spot. Not so visible are drinking, gambling or spending problems. The dad in line behind us might be beating his kids for all we know. But that large person is a pretty easy target for our disgust.

Ignorance can contribute to narrow thinking. If you’ve never known a homosexual it’s easier to be homophobic. If you’ve never struggled with weight it might be difficult to understand someone who does. Theoretically, it could be any one of us.

What you might not know about that woman who has severe obesity:
• She works very hard just to move around. She is a weight lifter.
• She has tried and failed to lose weight more times than you can count.
• She constantly struggles with self-loathing.
• She’s not lazy. She’s exhausted.
• There’s a 40 – 60% chance some sort of trauma was experienced early in her life.
• Medical professionals also have weight bias and don’t know how to help.
• She lives with constant limitations because of her size.

Instead of making assumptions and becoming biased, be curious. Ask yourself what this woman might be going through. What might have contributed to this visible problem? What is good and right about her? What does she need from you?

If your struggles were visible for all to see, how would you want to be treated?

If you’re the person being judged:
• Stop thinking or caring about what others think of you. Those who are most judgmental can find fault with pretty much anyone or anything.
• Look around. You’re not alone.
• Love and accept yourself. Yes, you are lovable. Do the best you can to recognize and believe it.
• You’ve gotten this far. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

A cool thing happens when we surrender judgment. We see the best in everyone, including our self.