Mardi 01 décembre 2020

How to fight stigmatization of obesity?

Jeffrey Sobal proposed a model to "face obesity" which is composed of four steps (Sobal 1991):

  • Recognition. Identify and become aware of stigmatization mechanisms.
  • Preparedness. Prepare obese people for the effects of stigmatization, enabling them to spot both the various social contexts where it is manifest and the categories of persons who are the real merchants of discrimination ("the great stigmatizers" of Goffman).
  • Reaction. Bring together all psychosocial attitudes and behavioral techniques at short and long terms, enabling to better come to terms with stigmatization.
  • Repairing. Try to make the stigmatization phenomenon known to society as well as to health and administrative authorities and try to promote communication or even legislative reforms which could transform the societal attitudes toward obesity.
    These proposals were summarized by the sociologist Jean-Pierre Poulain (Jean-Pierre Poulain, Rossana Proença, Sandrine Jeanneau and Laurence Tibère. "T’as vu comme t’es gros? Faire face à la stigmatization sociale des obèses" (i.e. Have you seen how fat you are? Confronting social stigmatization of obese people , p 11 and 12)

The fight against stigmatization can be considered in two ways : Assistance and follow up of obese people to help them tolerate and face stigmatization. Actions with social actors in order to make them aware of stigmatization mechanisms and to limit their effects.

Actions can be taken on different levels:

  • Communication/advertisement: though public health channels.
  • School teachers/ especially gym teachers: Physical exercise can be a lever for the integration of obese children and can contribute to their self-esteem rather than their self-devaluation.
  • Medicine: there is no doubt much to do on this front
  • Society: we could, for example, try to change the social process that organizes, legitimizes and spreads the representations which underlie stigmatization. Why not organizing massive communication campaigns, support actions to obese defense organizations, or do like what has just been decided in Spain, that being to ban the broadcasting of images of top models who look anorexic and whose BMI is lower than given values?

"A fat person always hopes a little in spite of his all-too-many failures. The other people's eyes ask him to hope. That's heavy look to carry, much heavier than our weight." Anne Zamberlan (cofounder of Allegro Fortissimo)

  • Dernière mise à jour: 19/11/15 16:53