What ‘fatphobia’ really means, and why it’s so harmful

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“It’s all so dehumanizing, and it endangers both the physical and mental health of those who [are] overweight or [obese].’ Photo: Pexels
 (Hallie Levine/ Livestrong)– Fatphobia. Anti-fat bias. Anti-fatness. Sizeism. Weight bias. These are different terms, but they have one thing in common: They all focus on weight stigma, the discriminatory acts and beliefs targeted at people who have overweight or obesity.

You may hear fatphobia most often, but terms that include the word fat tend to generate controversy.

I personally prefer the term weight bias,” says Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, an obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, whose campaign led the American Medical Association (AMA) to remove all references about fat from its website and literature in 2017. Studies have shown that in health care settings, “The word fat itself is very inflammatory.”

Indeed, terms like fatphobia are controversial because they can imply that anti-fat discrimination is the result of a phobia — an uncontrollable or unintentional fearful mental state — when they’re actually learned (and often conscious) beliefs and behaviors, wrote fat activist Aubrey Gordon. (…)

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