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Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW)

This week of September 28-October 2, 2020 is Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW) as recognized by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Unfortunately, stigma towards individuals in higher body sizes is pervasive within the traditional healthcare setting. Other well-known forms of discrimination include gender, race, and age - but weight biases or “weightism” are no different, and mainly stems from absorbed stereotypes. It is crucial that weight discrimination gains recognition as an issue of basic human rights. At the core of it, weight stigmatization is a social justice issue and is very much in alignment with the work I do with individuals with disordered eating and eating disorders.

Evidence-based literature shows that weight stigma poses several harmful consequences for both psychological and physical health of individuals of all sizes. Weight stigma impacts individuals quality of life in areas such as: healthcare, education, employment, and the overall societal perception of individuals in higher weight bodies*. So what should we do?

First off it is incredibly important, especially if you are a clinician, to look within for any internal biases you may be consciously or unconsciously upholding. Ensure that terminology or language you are using is not further stigmatizing or blameful on patients or clients. Through the NEDA page here, you can take action further by emailing your lawmaker and/or sharing your lived experience with NEDA.

WSAW is a great start to promote conversations of weight stigma and how it affects all bodies sizes, but the work (especially as healthcare providers) cannot stop there. We must actively work to dismantle stigma against persons, and continue to have a discourse on the negative consequences of weight biases in many different areas of life.

*Weight stigma can and does affect individuals in all body sizes - not only individuals in larger bodies.

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