The Stigma of Obesity: Humiliation is Hard to Shed
The beginning of the new school year is just around the corner. As a child, this was my least favorite time of the year. A summer filled with swimming pools and family outings and friendships would be replaced with homework and teachers and classmates. School is not the most nurturing of places when you’re a fat kid.
Worst of all was the weigh-in. Every single September there would be one day when teacher would form two lines: one for boys and one for girls, and we would fall into our places alphabetically by last name. On that day every September I wished that either I had missed school or that my last name began with “Z.” I envied my (fat) best friend Susan, whose last name began with “W.” My last name began with “F” putting me near the front of the line.
One by one we would step onto the scale as the school nurse (in grammar school) or the gym teacher (in middle school and high school) called out our weights to be recorded. Once your weight was recorded you left the room. All of the girls standing in line behind me would hear my weight. That is why I envied Susan on this day. Lucky Susan whose last name began with “W” put her at the very end of the line.
In the 6th grade one of those nasty little girls told the boys my weight. I remember the way it happened: We were engrossed in our reading assignments and so the classroom was utterly silent. It was the kind of stillness where one might believe you actually could hear a pin drop. Then with the roar of a thunder clap that jars you from sleep, my classmate Mike’s booming voice breaks the peace and quiet. He said only two words, meant for me, “142 pounds!!!”
I hated the 6th grade.
The Consequences of Morbid Obesity
When considering the negative effects of morbid obesity a person might be quick to point out (and accurately so) the physical problems obese people frequently have. Certainly health issues are a concern as the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are among the illnesses the morbidly obese are at greater risk for.
The medical expenditures to address the health issues that generally accompany obesity are equally troublesome and undesirable.
But these are not the only problems that morbidly obese people face.
Obese people are often treated disparagingly by the medical community, a contention not only made by obese individuals but by members of the medical professions themselves.
In addition, there are the psychological effects of ridicule that accompany morbid obesity such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Let’s look at each of these issues in brief.
Obesity-Related Illnesses and Death
Morbid obesity adversely effects normal body functions and can result in serious illness. Not only can life span be shorted but the quality of life is often compromised as well.