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

Fatal Attraction: What You Found Attractive May Now Bother You
When John dated Katie, he was attracted to how book smart she was and how much she loved to learn new things. He is the first to tell you, he's not cut out for academics and loves to play instead of learn. As someone who needed to play more, Katie was attracted to John's outgoing and fun personality

posted 6:00:02am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Would You Rather Be Shocked Than Bored?
I can remember so many times when my kids would say to me, "I'm bored!" And they didn't like my response, "That's a good thing. Maybe you can listen to your thoughts or think creatively." Truth is, most of us don't like to be bored. At least not in this wired age. Our typical boredom trainers are

posted 6:00:54am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Kardashian Catwalk Controversy: A Little Sibling Rivalry?
Think drama! NO, think mindless drama. Now who comes to mind? The Kardashians of course. If there is a way to keep their names in the news, they find it. And so it goes with the latest "controversy." Apparently, 18- year- old Kendall Jenner banned sister Kim Kardashian from attending her fashi

posted 7:55:46am Sep. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Lifestyle Changes Now May Prevent Alzheimer's Later
I remember when my grandmother began to have memory loss in her early 80s. It was hard to watch because she knew she was losing it. Eventually, Alzheimer's took its hold on her mind and she ended up in a nursing home not knowing who we were. If you, like me, have a family member who suffers with

posted 6:00:32am Sep. 24, 2014 | read full post »

What is Bipolar Depression?
When academy award winning actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones announced that she suffered from Bipolar II Disorder and checked into a mental health facility for a brief stay in 2011, it made celebrity news. People wondered. What is Bipolar Disorder and how does that differ from depression? The Nat

posted 6:00:15am Sep. 22, 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.