Fat Shaming: Mean or Effective?

I'm of the firm opinion that fat shaming is completely justified (given we're talking about one of your friends, don't walk down the street calling obese people walking out of Walmart fat). This is for two reasons: being fat is objectively unhealthy and unattractive, and losing weight is something completely within your control. If I was overweight, getting ripped on by my friends to lose weight would motivate me to work out, and after 6 months or so, I would no longer be overweight and would be much happier and more confident because of it. People today are way too sensitive. If you're fat and are wondering why you haven't been laid in 2 years, maybe lose the weight. 

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Comments (93)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 18, 2020 - 3:21pm

If that's how it worked, sure. The fact of the matter is, most fat people have been made fun of for as long as they have been fat. If the first few hundred jokes didn't get them to change their lifestyle, dogging them about it isn't going to change their mind. I think being constructive and positive is a much better alternative. Instead of "shaming" someone, offer to take them to gym. Offer to show them healthier foods, or suggest doctors/nutritionists that you are familiar with. Shaming someone about their weight often makes them insecure and less likely to seek help. Think about how many people avoid the gym because they are afraid of people staring or making fun of them, when the literal point of the gym is the make people fitter and healthier. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 18, 2020 - 7:40pm

I think some people respond differently. if you look at a guy like David Goggins who used to be obese and now is an ultra-marathon killer, I'm sure he's of the opinion that tough love is the way to go. Sometimes negative emotions are the strongest motivator. Look at a guy like Michael Jordan, who became the GOAT from his anger and pure competitiveness. Positivity sounds nice on paper, but in practice you get a bunch of 260 pound "body positivity" women in a room talking about how they are still beautiful yet all look disgusting and are making no meaningful progress

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 18, 2020 - 8:13pm

There is a huge difference between between shaming, being constructive and positive, and telling people that being fat is being beautiful. You are intentionally missing the nuances of communication to make your point. For every person that feeds off negativity like Michael Jordon (who is an absolute outlier in every regard, physically and mentally), there are thousands of overweight people who live ashamed of their existence and afraid to seek help because of the bombardment of negativity they receive. Just because you see some SJW op-ed about how being fat is beautiful doesn't mean most of the public think that. Fat people definitely know that most people don't see them that way. They see the stares, the smirks, the mocking, the jokes. 

Let's be honest here. Very few people thrive off negative feedback. Almost all of the "hardos" in finance would break like a twig if their MD shit down their throat about how incompetent and shit they were, or if the MD made fun of their abilities or looks every day in the office for a year. They'd be bitching about it on WSO and asking whether or not to lateral or quit. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 19, 2020 - 6:13pm

You got issues with reading comprehension bud? I said to "offer to take them to gym", not just point them to where the gym is. That means you offer to go to the gym with them to make them feel more comfortable about working out, or teaching them things they can do if they've never been to the gym before. 

Dec 23, 2020 - 11:42pm

Generally agree with you. But at some point, people have to take personal responsibility. Be afraid of the gym all you want.... there is no one to watch someone running in place, doing jumping jacks, pushups, etc. at home. Not to mention, being able to walk / run daily has everything to do with motivation and nothing to do with ability. Think you're making this into a mental problem (which it certainly can be) when in all reality, most people are just conditioned to be lazy. 

Dec 18, 2020 - 3:23pm

If shaming  = insulting, then no, that's a shitty thing to do. Better be more encouraging than shaming.

On a related note, I absolutely hate fat people saying "fat is beautiful too". No, fat is not beautiful. People shouldn't insult you for being fat, but fat is not beautiful.

Dec 18, 2020 - 3:24pm

Look, this is easier said than done. some people are overweight because of a medical condition (there are many), due to medication they are taking, due to emotional/mental health issues or other stress they are coping with.
I was always in shape, I love to lift weights, and never had any problems at all with my looks. Normally, that doesn't mean I have the right to go to someone else and "shame" them.

Having said that, among us close friends we have the agreement that we stop each others self-harming behavior (mainly focused on drugs, tobacco, ..), but weight is also included. So if you are really close to your friends I would say it is fine to address it. If you are allowed to know the background of their weight gain, you should be allowed to ask.

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Dec 24, 2020 - 4:10am

For the vast majority of people - you are right! Most of my friends who are fat are like that because they go to McDonald's 4x a week and the other 10 times they are at Taco Bell or Dunkin'. They can't be helped, honestly.

Dec 18, 2020 - 3:24pm

Quit giving a shit about how much other people weigh. If you don't like how they look, then turn an eye and move on. 9 times out of 10 this subject comes from the try-hards whose life revolves around going to the gym as much as possible and tracking everything that goes into their mouth I stg lol. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 18, 2020 - 3:40pm

I don't care about the vast majority of people's weight, I'm referring to people I'm friends with. Same as getting your friend to not do drugs, etc. I don't want to associate with people who are lazy and not going anywhere in life. There is a lot of truth to the saying "you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with"

Dec 20, 2020 - 1:28am

Analyst 1 in IB - Gen

I don't care about the vast majority of people's weight, I'm referring to people I'm friends with. Same as getting your friend to not do drugs, etc. I don't want to associate with people who are lazy and not going anywhere in life. There is a lot of truth to the saying "you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with"

"I don't want to associate with people who are lazy and not going anywhere in life". Sorry for the rant but this really got me.

Mate, open your eyes. Not everyone who is fat is lazy. Not everyone who does drugs is lazy. There are real reasons why people fall into these habits and often can't pull themselves out of it. Often they want to.

I don't know your background and won't presume. But many of the people on this forum have had it pretty good to be where they are. Sure, they work hard, but they had a good starting hand. The same can't be said for many people.

There's a lot of benefit to trying to help people improve and assuming the best in them. You will end up lifting the people around you up.

Dec 18, 2020 - 3:42pm

I do think fat shaming is mean. I'd guess that fat people are aware that they're fat and probably do feel incredibly insecure/sad about it, even if they try to mask these insecurities by putting on a "confident" front. Now are they going to do something about it, which is something that you allude to and I agree that you're right in that we do have control over our bodies, is a different question.

I think something that's really hard for people to grasp is that there's no "quick fix" to obesity; you have to make long-term and permanent lifestyle changes. It's also an incredibly slow process, especially in the beginning, because you will probably not be able to see many differences when you start out (which can be really discouraging, like I'm working so hard exercising and whatnot and I don't see anything to show for it yet, why bother? kind of mentality). I'd also hypothesize that a lot of fat people have a really unhealthy relationship with food, kind of like that hypothetical question, do you eat to live or live to eat? Just speaking anecdotally, I've observed fat people feel alarmed/panicked when they feel a slight sense of hunger (not even like a deep/lasting kind of hunger), and they immediately go for unhealthy, unfilling/unsatiating foods like chips when they're probably better off drinking some water or something. 

But I do think from a public health standpoint, the American obesity rates are a huge concern because obesity is directly linked to a variety of different diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers). I don't know how we fix that because it seems like a complex issue with a lot of different components to it, but I don't think fat shaming and making people who are probably sad feel even worse is the correct answer.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 18, 2020 - 4:06pm

I'm chubby but I used to be fat. I'm 21 and now fit into clothes I wore as a 12 year old because I lost some weight (6'1" 225ish). At my worst I was 250. Fat shaming definitely helped me understand that I had flaws, but once I got off my ass I realized that it was all in my hands. Started losing weight, starting fucking hotter girls. That motivation carried a lot through the rest of my life too, so I keep my apartment cleaner and I dress better.

I think as a friend if you've pointed out flaws and been shaming, then you've done enough and it's time to get your buddy in the right mental state to improve.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 20, 2020 - 1:34pm

I lift a bit so I got a bit of muscle weight. Yeah I'm still heavy but not as big as I used to be. Not a lof of fat people doing pull ups and running 3 miles. But of course still got progress to make, thanks for reminding me ;)

Dec 21, 2020 - 8:34am

This reminds me of the Dr. Dre Lyric: I'm 6'1" 225 I'm pure chocolate.

I’m a fun guy. Obviously I love the game of basketball. I mean there’s more questions you have to ask me in order for me to tell you about myself. I'm not just gonna give you a whole spill... I mean, I don't even know where you're sitting at

  • 1
  • Developer in RE - Comm
Dec 18, 2020 - 4:39pm

Adoption and twin studies show that obesity is nearly as heritable as height.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 18, 2020 - 4:53pm

There's a reason why people are so MUCH more obese today than they were 100 years ago and its not because obesity is inherited 

  • Developer in RE - Comm
Dec 18, 2020 - 5:11pm

Yes, there's a reason why people are much more obese today. The environment (mostly, the food environment) has changed. Genetics don't explain the rise in obesity over time.

HOWEVER, the variation between individuals in the USA in 2020 is largely explained by genetics.

The same is true of height. South Korean women are about 8" taller on average than they were 100 years ago. That increase is environmental. But the reason why South Korean woman A is taller than South Korean woman B in 2020 is mostly that they differ genetically.

Think of genes (genotype) as a capacity for a particular bodily trait (phenotype). Given a certain environment, that genotype is expressed as a particular phenotype.

100 years ago, some people had a bigger genetic tendency towards obesity, but that genotype wasn't being expressed much in that environment. Now, in the modern environment, it is.

Dec 18, 2020 - 9:44pm

Part of it is processed foods and accessibility to extremely high calorie meals. If you were searching for food in the wild and you found an apple tree - it would be a great moment, but you can only eat like 3 apples and you're done for good. That's hardly any calories and full of nutrients. But, you dip that apple in chocolate and it goes from 100 calories to 1000 calories. And the psychological effects are felt with each bite. When the mind encounters chocolate or a high calorie food, pleasure chemicals are released in much more significant amounts than just the regular apple. As a society, we have made all these high calorie foods available and then have formed a workplace where you're sitting in a chair all day. You can't sit all day and eat all day and not expect to lag.  

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 5
Dec 18, 2020 - 9:40pm

Nature says kill or be killed. You don't see many fat animals in the wild. Not for long. 

Science calls it a neurobehavioral disorder for humans. Environment plays a role.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2570383/

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Developer in RE - Comm
Dec 18, 2020 - 9:48pm

Thanks. Never seen this paper before, but the coauthors are both important researchers in this area.

Quote: "There is little serious doubt that the single most powerful determinant of inter-individual differences in adiposity is heredity"

As I was saying....

Dec 18, 2020 - 10:03pm

Yeah check out the conclusion - its pretty much what this thread is addressing:
 

"Conclusions.

For medical, social, and economic reasons, most obese people are highly motivated to lose weight but find it difficult to lose weight and, if they succeed, even more difficult to maintain weight loss (59). The biology that underpins those difficulties is at last becoming clear. However, such information is certainly failing to filter through to the public. Here is a respected (if avowedly acerbic) Sunday Times journalist responding to thoughts that the U.K. government might financially motivate healthy eating: "Perhaps instead of offering fat people money, which they will only spend on pies, we should once again stigmatise them. Schoolchildren could be encouraged to pelt fat classmates with cakes, exclude them from playground activities, and subject them to cruel jibes. And pinch them on their horrible fleshy arms during assembly. Fat adults could be forced to pay for two seats on public transport, could be given the worst seats in restaurants, and scolded over their choice of dessert. 'Have the fruit salad, you fat pig,' and so on. Most obesity is, after all, a consequence of stupidity and indolence and not of some genetic affliction. It is a lifestyle choice which people would be less inclined to adopt if they knew we all hated them for it … " (Sunday Times, 27 January 2008)."

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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  • Developer in RE - Comm
Dec 21, 2020 - 8:34am

Why does this comment have monkey shit? It's a statement of fact- either true, or false. There are two survey papers posted in the comments here that summarize more than 100 empirical studies. These studies overwhelmingly find that what I said is true. And this doesn't even get into the newer research methods- regression analysis on large genome samples- that are now finding the actual gene variants driving the heredity identified by the adoption and twin studies.

Again, this is the view that's held by nearly all the scientists who do research on obesity. Responding with "LOL this is stupid, just eat less" isn't going to cut it. If you disagree, the burden is on you to find convincing empirical evidence to support your view. Here's a hint: you won't find it.

Dec 18, 2020 - 9:55pm

In the US, there is much more of a stigma to calling out overweight people than in other countries. In China, if you haven't seen someone in a while and you see them again, you can say "you're fat" and it is more of a neutral phrase than the loaded phrase that it is in the US.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 19, 2020 - 10:55am

Being overweight is by no means healthy, but many causes are attributable to underlying illnesses. Whatever the subject is (a person being overweight, bald, etc.), you should better avoid expressing certain comments.

But if it is a close person who became overweight due to lifestyle and not underlying medical conditions, then it is completely fine to express your thoughts in a good way. I do not think the person might feel attacked if no mocking is done. I am a total opponent of the "fat is beautiful" statement, but respect always comes first.

"Anyway, four dollars a pound"

  • 1
Dec 19, 2020 - 9:56pm

Monkey Capital

Whatever the subject is (a person being overweight, bald, etc.)

But, being overweight is controllable to some extent - being bald is not. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 19, 2020 - 9:57pm

Except for Elon and Lebron - they can control being bald - lol

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Dec 21, 2020 - 8:52pm

"Fat-bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round

I was just a skinny lad
Never knew no good from bad
But I knew love before I left my nursery
Left alone with big fat Fanny
She was such a naughty nanny
Hey big woman, you made a bad boy out of me"

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Dec 20, 2020 - 12:38pm

Fat shamed one of my close friends in highschool and he decided he didn't want to graduate fat. Dude started taking caffeine pills to suppress his appetite and running every morning before school. Now he's into weight lifting and looks fantastic.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Dec 21, 2020 - 6:38pm

While encouraging friends to lose weight can be beneficial, the way he started losing weight is horrifically unhealthy (great way to have an eating disorder) and not sustainable. If he lost this weight due to some 1000 calorie diet or some shit, he's going to gain that weight right back if he ever goes back to eating like a normal person. Lifestyle changes should be made such as eating healthier and going for runs. Taking caffeine pills to stop eating just isn't healthy or sustainable.

Dec 21, 2020 - 8:57pm

If he lost this weight due to some 1000 calorie diet or some shit, he's going to gain that weight right back if he ever goes back to eating like a normal person. 

The key is not needing to go to 1000 calories intake per day. Eat 2000-3000 and burn 3500+. This usually requires a workout in the morning and at night, but if you're dedicated you can workout and basically eat whatever you want; hitting that calorie deficit is where its at. The focus on low low calorie intake at times leaves the body with less nutrients which isn't good. 
 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Dec 20, 2020 - 3:16pm

Gonna have to disagree with the completely under your control. I had the same opinion for a while. In most cases, unhealthy eating causes people to become obese. Those people should be encouraged to lose it. But there are more instances than I had originally thought of people that are on medications that make it impossible to lose weight and sometimes gain weight. Making a blanket statement that you're fat and therefore unhealthy is just wrong. I agree with you in 80-90% of cases where being fat is just being lazy. But not really accurate for those other 10-20% of people who cant help it.  

Dec 21, 2020 - 9:33am

I'm not sure which medications. Sister and other sister's friend were on chronic pain medications and antidepressants, respectively, which made them gain weight.

My sister isn't obese, but slightly overweight. She has Reflex neurovascular dystrophy ("RND") which caused chronic pain, migraines, weakness in joints, among other things. Staying active for her was hard because her pain medicine made it impossible to lose weight and the effect on joints made it hard to work out (she dislocated one knee during dance at age 15 and another during cheerleading at age 17). 

For my other sister's friend (who is obese), I had the opinion for a while she was lazy and the whole body positivity thing was just annoying. But she had severe depression and the medicine that worked for her caused her to gain weight. So in her case, her mental health issues were a more severe threat to her life than the long-term physical health issues of being obese. Imo working out and going to the gym does help a number of mental health issues, but I don't know the extent of her depression so I'm really not in a place to say the mental health benefits of going to the gym would offset the benefits from the medication. 

Dec 21, 2020 - 10:04am

Medication used to treat depression (i.e. olanzapine), autism (i.e. risperidone), anxiety (i.e. clomipramine), epilepsy (i.e. gabapentin), diabetes (i.e. insulin), high blood pressure (i.e. metoprolol), and birth control all come with weight gain as a listed side effect.

It's pretty much the most common issue with prescription drugs :s

  • 1
Dec 21, 2020 - 9:15am

Though I will say I don't have a hugely strong opinion on this matter, as someone who was scrawny growing up and made fun of for it (by friends in jest), I don't see anything wrong with it going both ways. I will add that sometimes I think shaming is totally ineffective and different people react to tough love different. Also, everyone has different problems and shortcomings and as long as you don't mind someone else calling you out for something they see as wrong with yourself, then I see no problem with what you're describing. 

Dec 21, 2020 - 10:08am

Fat shaming is wrong.  No reason to be mean to someone else, and as others have said, you won't have been the first and if they didn't change before, this won't be the straw to break the camel's back.

That being said, I would strongly agree that we should not be encouraging fat acceptance.  Being obese is unhealthy, unsightly, and has a massive social cost.  "Big is beautiful" is bullshit, and the growing movement that says that fat people have medical conditions is equally bullshit.  Maybe you have to work a little harder to keep the pounds off, that sucks, but that's not an excuse not to.

Dec 21, 2020 - 10:11am

Ozymandia

and the growing movement that says that fat people have medical conditions is equally bullshit.  Maybe you have to work a little harder to keep the pounds off, that sucks, but that's not an excuse not to.

Medication used to treat depression (i.e. olanzapine), autism (i.e. risperidone), anxiety (i.e. clomipramine), epilepsy (i.e. gabapentin), diabetes (i.e. insulin), high blood pressure (i.e. metoprolol), and birth control all come with weight gain as a listed side effect.

It's pretty much the most common issue with prescription drugs.

Given that 13% of the US population takes antidepressants, it makes sense to show a little compassion here.

  • 3
  • 1
Dec 21, 2020 - 10:43am

CuriousCharacter

Ozymandia

and the growing movement that says that fat people have medical conditions is equally bullshit.  Maybe you have to work a little harder to keep the pounds off, that sucks, but that's not an excuse not to.

Medication used to treat depression (i.e. olanzapine), autism (i.e. risperidone), anxiety (i.e. clomipramine), epilepsy (i.e. gabapentin), diabetes (i.e. insulin), high blood pressure (i.e. metoprolol), and birth control all come with weight gain as a listed side effect.

It's pretty much the most common issue with prescription drugs.

Given that 13% of the US population takes antidepressants, it makes sense to show a little compassion here.

And we all know there is no way to counteract weight gain, say with additional exercise, or eating healthy.

Again, I'm not suggesting you go heckle every overweight person you pass on the street.  But we as a society should not be normalizing obesity.  We don't encourage people to become alcoholics, or chain smokers, so why should we do the same for equally unhealthy behavior such as being obese?

Dec 21, 2020 - 1:07pm

Ozymandia

I would strongly agree that we should not be encouraging fat acceptance.  Being obese is unhealthy, unsightly, and has a massive social cost.  "Big is beautiful" is bullshit, and the growing movement that says that fat people have medical conditions is equally bullshit.  Maybe you have to work a little harder to keep the pounds off, that sucks, but that's not an excuse not to.

YES YES YES

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Dec 23, 2020 - 10:46pm

Hoping to provide a new perspective coming from a different culture. Fat shaming is something my European friends and I (Asian) all agree is interesting in the American culture. In other parts of the world, if you are fat, your friends and family will remind you (with humor) and people generally take it well. People understand that being fat is objectively unhealthy so when they get the jokes/comments, they are more receptive of the feedback. That said though, I was raised to believe that lacking control of your diet is a sign of lacking discipline, which is looked down upon.

Dec 24, 2020 - 9:36am

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 14, 2021 - 9:43pm

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