Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together


News Anchor Confronts the Stigma of Obesity

posted by Linda Mintle

This week, a television viewer wrote anchorwoman, Jennifer Livingston at WKBT-TV in LaCrosse Wisconsin, an email informing her that she was overweight. He went on to say that she is not an example for young people, and needed to promote and present a healthier lifestyle when it comes to her appearance. It was her community responsibility. The anchor responded with one of the best retorts I have heard in awhile. She acknowledged being “fat” and told the man to stop setting an example of bullying people for their weight.

America’s obese are subject to tremendous psychological burdens. Obesity may be a medical state, but people create the psychological burden associated with it. Often, the pain involves self-hatred that can lead to depression and anxiety, social isolation and alienation.

There is unbelievable social bias toward the obese. Obese people are stereotyped and often viewed as ugly, lazy, unwanted, unhealthy, weak-willed, uncontrolled, etc. If you are obese, you are less likely to marry and more likely to fall in social class. You are likely to be discriminated against concerning jobs, college entrance and be stereotyped by your physician. Basically you are stigmatized by an unsympathetic society; we’re “allowed” to discriminate against you. Fat jokes abound.  But what does it mean medically to be obese?

Obesity is an excess of body fat. Little agreement exists on just when body fat and weight become a health issue. (Opinions range anywhere from 5% to 30% above ideal weight.) And to make matters worse, a variety of tables are used to measure ideal weights.

Researchers use the body mass index (BMI) as a measure of body fat and health risk. BMI is weight in kilograms per height in meters. The National Center for Health Statistics defines overweight as a BMI of 27.3 in women and 27.8 in men. This is approximately 20% to 40% above ideal weight on the 1983 Metropolitan Life tables.

Most people classify obesity according to weight even though there are numerous medical, psychological, and behavioral variables involved. Obesity is referred to as a public health issue because of the associated medical complications leading to morbidity and mortality.

Obesity is not a psychological condition. It’s a medical condition that has multiple causes, consequences, and treatments. However, obesity can cause or be caused by psychosocial problems. So to ignore these issues is irresponsible.

Moreover, the stigma against obese people must be attacked. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is one advocacy group trying to do this. Other programs focus efforts on recognizing the stigma, preparing obese people to respond to it, and repairing the damage to self-esteem.

The next time you are tempted to make fun of someone obese, think about the incredible complexity of her condition and your role in reducing social stigma. You don’t know an obese person’s life story or unique medical make-up. You don’t know how much she may struggle to be accepted.  Stop judging and adding insult to injury. You could be part of the healing rather than the hurt if you exercise the unconditional love of God.

As Jennifer so rightly stated, we are all more than a number on a scale.



  • Linda Mintle

    Ron,
    I have devoted much of my career working with obesity–kids and adults. There is no denying the medical issues involved and the health problems created. But the issue here is having a complete stranger single you out and tell you to lose weight. This approach doesn’t work. The anchor knows she is overweight and where to get help. You need to be working with someone to help them with weight loss, not simply telling her she is a poor role model and bad community example.

  • Pingback: News Anchor Confronts the Stigma of Obesity | Dr. Linda Mintle

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ron

    I have been obese. I wish someone would have spoken to me when they saw me eat junk food, or when I bought such food at the grocery, for I now suffer with a bad hip because I did not lose weight. My excess weight placed too much pressure on my joints. God save us from political correctness!

Previous Posts

The Hope of the Resurrection
It’s Good Friday. Do you sometimes feel as if your life is lived  in a perpetual Good Friday mode? Like the movie, Ground Hog Day, it seems you are replaying the same bad day over and over, fighting despair and struggling. Disease, broken relationships, prodigal children...the landscape looks

posted 7:00:41am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Honey, Do Your Know Where My Glasses Are?
It's a running joke in our house. Where are mom's glasses? Mom, that would be me, is constantly putting them down and forgetting where they are! I don't think it is an aging thing because the misplaced glasses have been misplaced for years. Oh and this happens to my cell phone on a regular basis

posted 7:00:14am Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

It's Tax Day But How Is Your Emotional Bank Account Doing?
Yes, today is tax day and many of you will make that last minute run for the post office before midnight! Why? Because you don't want to be penalized by the federal government. But what about your emotional bank account?  Do you need to make more deposits when it comes to your relationships? An

posted 7:00:26am Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Bully Targets Not Who You Think
A high school sophomore takes two kitchen knives to his school and goes on a stabbing frenzy in the hallway of his high school wounding 22 people. According to his lawyer,  he was well liked and not a loner. The typical bullied pattern of a loner, social awkward teen may not fit this time. Bully

posted 7:00:07am Apr. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Chew on This If You Chew on Gum
When that new flavor of gum hits the grocery store, its tempting. Watermelon sour, triple berry fruit...sounds like dessert in a stick, but what is the skinny on gum chewing? As a mom, I didn't let my kids chew gum, probably because I am not a gum chewer, so we never had gum in the house. But I k

posted 8:05:16am Apr. 11, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.