If You're Fat, Your Friends Will Always See You That Way

Illustration for article titled If Youre Fat, Your Friends Will Always See You That Way

For many people, a decision to lose weight isn't just made because of the obvious health advantages, but to change the way people think about them. So it's a shame that new research suggest that, in the minds of friends and family, a fat person is always fat, regardless of how much weight they lose.

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The research, carried out by the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, The University of Manchester, and Monash University, examined how anti-fat prejudice persists even after women lose weight.

To do that, the team of researchers asked participants to read short descriptions of women who had either: lost 70 pounds; stayed consistently fat; or stayed consistently slim. Then, the participants were asked their opinions on the women—including how attractive they found them—as well as being asked about their general attitude towards fat people. Janet Latner, one of the researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, explains the results, which are also published in the journal Obesity:

"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.

"The findings demonstrate that residual obesity stigma persists against individuals who have ever been obese, even when they have lost substantial amounts of weight."

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Perhaps predictably, the researchers blame the effect on a widespread societal belief that weight is highly controllable. While there is evidence that both supports and refutes the assumption that it's easy to shed pounds, it's undeniable that weight is thought of negatively—a notion regularly amplified by the popular press.

Of course, working out how to change that is extremely difficult—especially when you can't even convince your friends that you've lost weight. [Obesity via EurekAlert]

Image by Olly/SHutterstock

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DISCUSSION

thethepete
thethePete

I disagree. I have several friends who've all lost significant weight, both male and female. Every one of them is a "larger" individual, built with a big bone structure. They're at a healthy weight now, and I consider them to look fit and attractive.

I actually just saw an ex-coworker of mine who has lost a considerable amount of weight since I last saw him, his girlfriend as well actually, and I thought both of them looked healthy, fit, and definitely didn't think either of them were "still fat".... Although I've also had girlfriends that wear a size 18, and my current girlfriend that wears a size 2, and I still feel that they are each and all attractive. People focus too much on fitting in a cookie cutter and less on proportion and individual attractiveness.

Healthy is important, but I would never expect someone who's been 300lbs their entire life to be as trim as someone like myself (I've stayed between 160-200lbs of healthy weight since I was 16, and I'm more fit now than I ever was [6'0" tall]) Everyone has their own healthy weight, not a number on a chart.

There's such a push in society to be a certain "whatever" (height, weight, colour, style, etc) that overweight people will never truly feel they're skinny because they've been inundated with messages telling them that they'll never be skinny enough, unfortunately the ideal "size" is completely unattainable for some. Then they end up loosing too much weight, look unhealthy, feel unhealthy, and are depressed because they're still not attaining the desired 'image'; and invariably end up giving up and re-gaining the weight.

I think the people in this "test" were pretty shallow, or they're looking at the same effect as my "little brother" will always be my "little brother" even though he's now 4" taller than me.

TL;DR... Stop being so superficial and stop trying to fit everyone into the same image of "attractive", the world will be a better place.