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

Adrian Peterson: When Does Spanking Become Abuse?
This week has been filled with reports about NFL Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's accusation of reckless or negligent injury to his four-year-old son. The incident has once again raised the controversy surrounding the use of corporal punishment. Three issues are key in this deba

posted 6:00:52am Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Would You Allow Your Teen to Have Sex in Your House?
A friend of mine was having coffee with me and mentioned something that took me aback. Someone we know is allowing her son's girlfriend to live in the house with them and have sex under their roof. Neither of these "kids" are 21 and the family claims to be Christian. Honestly, I don't understand!

posted 6:00:33am Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Does Porn Affect Your Relationship?
During an evening talk show  there were plenty of jokes about pornography. And as the host and celebrity guest settled down, it was evident, porn, in their opinions, is no big deal.  If fact, many of the tabloids and even a few respected marital therapists, will tell you that a little porn is fi

posted 6:00:38am Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

5 Ways to Live in Financial Harmony
Money can't buy you love but it sure can make love difficult. Especially if you are in a relationship and not managing your money well. When it comes to money, here are 5 tips to live in relationship harmony: 1) Decide how your credit cards will be used when you enter a relationship. One person

posted 6:00:28am Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Understanding Depression: Let's Keep Talking
This week, Janet Parshall had me on her radio show, In The Market, to talk about a topic the church and society have  a great deal of trouble discussing--depression. The phone lines were constantly lit up. People wanted and needed to talk. Emails were sent asking for help. With  1 out of 10 peo

posted 6:00:22am Sep. 10, 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.