By Rebecca Jane Weinstein, Esq, MSW
“At my sixth birthday checkup, I was found to be at the top of the percentile chart for fatness in children, and I was prescribed a diet. Then I was given a red lollipop. A child’s first irony. Don’t think I didn’t notice…
“Perhaps I was soothed by the only drug-like substance you can give a child. Or my mother started me on rice too early. Or nobody did anything wrong and my body just happened to be larger than was fashionable in the early seventies.”
Fat shaming kids—the real shame is the profound pain it inflicts
This excerpt from Fat Kids: Truth and Consequences is my own story. It is one of the many that depict the devastation inflicted upon children by well-meaning adults and health professionals.
By sharing these stories of profound pain and lifelong struggles, it is my goal to elucidate the actual effects our fat shaming culture has on people of all ages and assert why it’s imperative we get to the real skinny on weight stigma here:
That our fat shaming, weight bullying, diet-crazy, thin-obsessed culture is directly contributing to the very behaviors and outcomes it’s trying to stop.
And adding a few more, to boot. Overeating, emotional eating, binge eating–whatever you want to call it, it’s all a symptom of the same thing: binge eating disorder. Weight gain. Low self-esteem. Poor body image. Anxiety. Depression. Even suicidal thoughts.
In my writing, I share my own experiences being a fat child and, now, a fat adult. I also discuss, and am quite concerned about, eating disorders—particularly binge eating disorder. Which I have struggled with, and which is a common struggle of people labeled as overweight, and which seems to be perpetuated by our current “childhood obesity epidemic” and “war on fat.”
Fat shaming adults—hey, we have feelings, too (and sex)
If there are two subjects that are universally fascinating and rife with controversy, they are sex and fat. Though our culture is obsessed with both, the two commingling are sometimes seen as offensive, obscene, or even grotesque. Fat people are not viewed as sexual beings. Of course, this perception is far from accurate. Fat people have normal and peculiar sex lives, just like everyone else.
A compilation of true stories, cultural references, and narrative commentary, Fat Sex: The Naked Truth, tells the honest, and often heroic, heartbreaking, and hilarious experiences of large-size women and men in their romantic, intimate, and sexual relationships.
Fat science—the real research on obesity and weight stigma
In the works is Fat Science, a book that aims to gather the most pertinent and up-to-date information on obesity, weight stigma, binge eating, and related topics, looking at it through the lens of the social sciences. I will explore how and why the research is done and how it impacts society.
I’m also working on Elsa’s Tummy, a book for children ages four and up. It is a sweet and inspiring story about the wisdom of young people, even in the face of confusing adult messages, with illustrations by artist Joyce Ellen Weinstein.
Meet Rebecca Jane Weinstein: author, advocate, avocado lover (and that’s OK)
Rebecca is generously volunteering her time on BEDA’s conference planning committee to help us plan and promote the BEDA 2015 National Conference in Florida, November 5-7, and we sincerely appreciate her efforts.
She is the author of four books and counting and founder of PeopleOfSize.com, an online community that provides information, support, and interaction for “people of size.” An attorney and social worker by training, she has been working as an advocate and writer for twenty years. She has earned a reputation of an expert commentator on weight, weight stigma, weight bullying, and fat shaming and culture.
You can find more information on Rebecca Jane Weinstein’s books and other writing relating to weight, stigma, eating disorders, and culture at FatBooksSeries.com.