A Joyful Journey...

Join Doris Smeltzer, critically acclaimed author/educator, as she muses on topics from eating disorders to the mysteries of life. Often "Featured" are select, astute observations made by Andrea during her all too brief 19-year life…it is she who taught us: the joy IS in the journey!

Reducing pain in the world

A few days ago I read an enlightening post by Jenny Copeland, PsyD on the Health At Every Size blog 

In it she talks about our culture's widespread and extremely harmful normalization of "body judgment."  I was aware of the obvious increase in weight stigma but did not have the research to support that its prevalence rivals other forms of bias, until the end of this article's first paragraph:

The rates of weight stigma have increased to the point that it is one of the most prevalent forms of bias in the United States. 1,2

The great thing about this blog piece is the perspective from, and about, the "thin" side of the weight spectrum. It is important to remember that judgments of people based on weight--no matter what size the individual--is harmful. The author discusses the recent Internet meme, "real women have curves" and then quotes Heather Cromarty who discusses this in one of her Shameless blog articles:

...society tells you that if you’re not extremely thin, you’re worthless. However, extremely thin women? They’re still people. Further, bodies are just bodies. They have no intrinsic worth, no moral value, other than what we assign them.

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that in recent months I've had some moments of judging my body and finding it "lacking." Yet that judgment was assigned by me...my body appears to blithely continue its miraculous work in spite of my toxic verdicts (although when my attitude gets adjusted and I recognize my judgments for what they are, I imagine my body may have an easier time--functioning with a negative mind has to be more difficult than with a positive one).

I loved how Dr. Copeland ended her "...Skinny on...Skinny" by naming the major consequence of judgments: 

Living as a thin person in a world warring against ‘obesity,’ or as a part of a family who has struggled with weight, does not make my life inherently easier or better. I experience pain as a result of weight stigma: not just my own, but also against my loved ones, my patients, and greater society. My experiences are neither better or worse, nor easier or harder, than others who are differently sized or shaped than me. Pain is pain. It cannot be compared – it is simply different.

Pain IS pain...so let's all attempt to halt our judgments (based on weight or any other criteria) of self or others. In so doing, we play a role in reducing the amount of pain in the world.

[1] Andreyeva T, Puhl RM, Brownell KD. Changes in perceived weight discrimination among Americans, 1995-1996 through 2004-2006Obesity. 2008 Feb;16(5):1129-1134.

[2] Puhl RM, Andreyeva T, Brownell KD. Perceptions of weight discrimination: Prevalence and comparison to race and gender discrimination in AmericaInternational Journal of Obesity. 2008 Mar;32:992-1000.

[Originally posted on the Gürze Books Eating Disorders Blogs]

Thank you Michelle Obama!
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