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Why is it important to avoid judging people based on their weight?

Katie Rickel, PhD
Psychology
The next time that you find yourself judging someone who struggles with their weight, consider the following:

We all engage in unhealthy coping behaviors sometimes: We might text while driving. We might smoke cigarettes. We might “forget” to put on sunscreen at the beach. Overeating just happens to be one unhealthy behavior that has visible consequences. Overweight individuals have a whole array of strengths and weaknesses just like the rest of us; their bodies do not connote anything about who they are as a whole and complete person.

Many overweight people are desperately trying to improve their health: Changing long-standing nutrition and physical activity patterns is no easy task. For many obese individuals, punishing diet programs are all too familiar. Most could write their own books on diet and exercise because they have tried virtually everything on the market. That overweight lady on a scooter may very well be fully engaged in the weight-loss process. For all you know, she may have already lost 60 pounds and is only just now able to even fit into the scooter. Weight loss is a slow and effortful process. You cannot make assumptions about efforts in self-care just by looking at someone.

The majority of obese individuals experience some level of physical and emotional pain every day of their lives: Imagine not being able to stand up from a chair without shooting pains through your legs. Picture yourself sitting through a movie with the arms of the chair digging into your sides. Envision yourself being pointed at by small children who ask their mothers, saying “Why is that man so fat?” Being an overweight person in our culture presents physical and emotional challenges on a daily basis. Don’t be yet another source of pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.