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

Change Whining Into Gratitude
A mom asks: The other day I was so embarrassed because my child whined around when I was trying to talk to another mom. When our children whine, it really bothers us. We want to turn that whining to gratitude. How do we make that happen? When you want to extinguish one behavior and then replac

posted 6:00:32am Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »

8 Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
Are you irritable? Difficult to live with because you are constantly tired? Time to look at your sleep habits and do something about them. If you are tossing and turning consider these 8 tips: Women take an average of nine minutes to fall asleep at night compared to 23 minutes for men. IF yo

posted 6:00:15am Nov. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Do You Help Your Teen Too Much? Answer These 5 Questions
Julie was handed her biology test in class. While she studied for the test, the material was difficult. When she saw the red C at the top of the exam, she began to cry. Racked with anxiety, she couldn't believe she barely passed the test. The stress overwhelmed her. One has to wonder why? This is

posted 6:00:30am Nov. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Eating Well: Rules for the Road
I've been commuting between a small town and a large city. The almost four hour rural commute usually requires a meal stop. Here is where the challenge comes. The only food stops on the rural route are fast food restaurants. The temptation is to grab something fast and keep moving-greasy fries, h

posted 6:00:32am Nov. 14, 2014 | read full post »

If You Want a Child Who Sticks To It, Look at Dad!
If you want a persistent child, dads are key. Persistent is a trait most parents want to see developed in their children. When the assignment is difficult, we want  our kids to persist in their studies and do well. When the team is losing, we want a child who stays in the fight until time runs o

posted 6:00:32am Nov. 12, 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.