Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gee, that's reassuring...not

The Mr sent me a link yesterday to this study.  To break it down, participants read about women who were all the same weight but one of the women in the stories lost 70 lbs to get to that weight.  It showed that even though the woman lost and maintained her weight, participants were still biased against the weight loss success story after having known her weight history and therefore perceived her as "less attractive."  In even simpler terms, you can lose the weight but people will always see you as fat if they know you were fat before.  The researchers say that one of the reason's society may feel this way is because the media and weight loss shows make it look like weight loss is very easy and controllable and thus increases the obesity stigma and blame toward obese people.

Here's why I think there is some truth to that study not so much with strangers but more with people you've known for a long time.  I have a friend who when she saw old pics of us after we lost our first 100 lbs said even though she saw us at our heaviest, she never saw us as that big so seeing the pictures was shocking to her. Several people have said that...almost like a reverse effect of "I knew you were big but not THAT big."  Then to go along more with the study I have a friend who had weight loss surgery 9 years ago and it has literally taken me this long to not gasp at her gaunt face when I see her.  I don't see her often face to face but see plenty of pics and still it would take me aback to see her from the waist up when she'd come over.  So I know that picture of being or seeing someone overweight stays in the brain for a long time.

I have to say it got me thinking.  There will (hopefully) come a time where we're no longer overweight and when meeting new people I often wonder how will they react if they're at our home and see pictures from our wedding on the wall or the picture I plan to put in a frame that says "never forget" of our before and maintenance.  Would that change their opinions of us?  There's this part of me that is afraid to see into the mind of the 'average' person because if they're completely uncensored because they don't know our history and say something about a heavy person, I'm not keeping quiet.  I will not tolerate someone saying something about an obese person in jest because I never want to forget what it was to walk in those shoes and I don't want to be around people who would treat another person that way.  This study along with the fat hate we experienced back in coach on the trip really makes me wonder if this transition is going to be harder than I anticipated.  I know, I'm getting deep...like a well.  I like things that make me think and/or prepare myself for other things I might not have thought of.

Do you agree with the study?  Do you think women who have always been thin are usually more attractive than those the same weight but have lost a significant amount of weight?

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15 comments:

  1. I think the study is a bunch of bunk! If I meet someone who has lost a lot of weight, I have nothing but admiration for that person. There is definitely a weight bias in this country, but like every other bias those people are just ignorant. Don't get too hung up on what other people say about you and your weight. If you let it, the angry feelings can sabotage your progress.

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  2. Interesting study. I thought the perspective was good. Yes, there are things out there now that make people think losing weight is easy and do-able. For those of us on a horrendous plateau we know this is true. But, it has made me re-think my "You should have seen me 90 lbs ago" t-shirt! I guess I have to live in the moment and not bring up that even though I am still obese, I am less obese than I was 2 years ago. Only others who have fought the good fight probably can really appreciate what you have accomplished (we someday I hope).

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  3. I have nothing but mad respect for someone who has successfully lost weight. I'm sad that we live in a world where people still think it's okay to judge others by their size. I agree with you, though - if (when!) I lose weight, I want to remember where I was before so I can remember to take better care of myself and not regress to being heavy.

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  4. This is interesting. I'm wondering if the opinions received were from women or people that had never been overweight, or if they had a mixed study. Personally I don't think I think of people as less attractive if I know they've lost weight as compared to those that have always been skinny. Cracks me up that the media and weight loss shows make it look easy. Anybody that thinks it's easy, should try it. The concepts are basic and simple, but the dedication and determination take real courage and perseverance. I do look at the people that have lost the weight with much admiration. I do have a slight bias though and it's a terrible one that if I know people have lost weight by surgery, my admiration isn't quite as great as it is for those that have done it without surgery. That's terrible of me, I know. Everybody has their own reasons and their own journeys. I still respect them for getting it done, but I give a little more credit to the people that did it without the surgery. Please don't take that as judgement from me if anybody reading this has had weight loss surgery. I have no room to judge anybody. I seriously considered having one of the surgeries as well, now I'm glad I decided to go a different route. Kudos to everybody that gets it done, I think you're all attractive as hell :)

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  5. I would have to agree with Karen. A great friend of mine had weight loss surgery a number of years ago and with only seeing her a couple times every six months she was shocked that I didn't comment on her weight loss. I really was perplexed myself as I could not understand why I didn't see the weight loss...basically it boiled down to me realizing that I had always seen her as thin. She is a sweetheart of a person so her beauty was truly within for me. Sounds like a Hallmark card! It's the truth though. BTW, my guy who has loved me for 31 years is blind to my weight- he still sees me at 108 pounds- I'm double that now. I'm not naive about how I may be perceived in public but I am hopeful that most folks see me for who I am. Just my thoughts on this "study" it's BS.

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  6. New Melissa, I applaud your honesty. I tend to feel that way too, about weight loss surgery. I always greatly admire anyone who has worked hard to change, whether weight loss or alcohol or drug addiction, behavoirial or attitude. It is hard to change and to make our selves better so I have mad respect for those who do. I think women are generally judgemental and not very supportive of each other, except on spark. The majority of people, men and women in our community are the best I have ever met. Mrs, you just keep going for you and the Mr. You two are all who matter. I can't imagine anyone hearing your story and not having their jaws drop off their faces!!!

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  7. I do think people are like that, so to a degree I would agree with the study. I think most people would admire someone who lost a lot of weight, but there are always aholes who have to find a reason to look down on someone, and being fat is a good reason (for them). People do judge overweight people and think it's so easy to lose weight. The thing that ticks me off is that some of the people who are most judgmental about fat people are the ones who eat horribly and don't work out, but they just don't gain weight. I know people who are so thin and eat huge meals of over 1,500 calories a meal and they do not gain weight. It's maddening. I can have a few bad days where I go over my calories and I gain several pounds. It drives me crazy how some people don't realize that for a lot of us it's a huge struggle that we've been dealing with our entire life.

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  8. Interesting. I'd love to know the demographics of the participants as I think age, gender, and cultural make-up would factor into the results. I'm sure there's *some* truth to the findings (there usually is), but as an overall statement of societal behavior, I don't buy it.

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  9. I can't say that I've thought much about my perceptions, other than to really enjoy seeing people on 'those weight-loss shows' at their new weight. Mostly because they are so happy and confident in themselves, whether they have reached goal or not.

    When I see someone whose health and well-being are obviously suffering, I'm just sad. Maybe they are on a journey to a better weight and maybe not, but I can't just walk up to a stranger and say 'Hey, I noticed you're obese and so was I and you should join SparkPeople because I did and look at me now.'

    As far as letting new acquaintances know, I can see myself going both ways...not telling (because I'm in a new town and no one would know) and then ambushing anyone who says something ugly about a person of size; or telling, proudly, and basking in the 'wow' compliments. So far it's been the latter. If anyone sees me as suddenly less attractive, their loss. ;-)

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  10. That's definitely a very interesting topic...It's funny because even though I'm not at my "goal weight", after losing about 60 pounds and staying at this point for a very long time, I almost *miss* the fact that new people never realize that I worked hard just to get to where I am right now!! Weird right? I almost want to show them pictures of how I used to be so they KNOW that I haven't always looked like this. I don't know what that means...I guess I want recognition for it. ???

    Anyways, I have a family picture that was taken probably when I was at least close to my highest weight and there are people new to us that have seen it and are SHOCKED at how different I look. I almost forget sometimes myself...but when they say "wow you look so different", part of me is wanting to say "yeah - I'm tolerable now, right?!?" Who knows what they are thinking in their brains, but I tend to think they are probably thinking something along those lines.

    Do I think thin people are more attractive? No, I don't...I tend to think I would look at the person that lost the weight more favorably because they have actually achieved something instead of just having good genes.

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  11. This is new info to me. And it sucks. Just who do those always thimn people think they are anyway. I often think to myself, "At this point in my life I haven't eaten any more than a person who is a normal weight." I justify that by this rationalization: Sure I ate more than a normal sized person for a very long time and I got very fat. But I ate so much less during that period when I was losing (and in case you hadn't heard this other disheartening tidbit, us former fatties have to eat less than someone who was NEVER fat just to maintain), that it makes up for the overeating years. Otherwise I would still be overweight, right? I don't know if my math is correct--and I know I am not the same as an always thin person in my altogether, (so much awful excess skin-yuck), but with clothes covering up the trouble spots--I think I look normal. So who are those skinny minnies to judge me?

    Fat prejudice sucks and it is so prevalent and there is no public outrage against it, like other prejudice. Like you say, we are considered weak because we got fat. People like to feel superior, and I used to know immediately if I was talking to someone who was feeling better than me because of my weight, and I would simply avoid that person if it all possible. I will say there are many people who at least cover up that attitude if they have it and treat fat people the same as other people.

    I wish I was as assertive as you, because I need to speak out when I observe fat prejudice and I don't do it very well. We are good as anybody else. Everybody has weaknesses and addictions. Ours happens to be food. JUST food. Something that shouldn't kill you or harm you, but can do both in obsessive amounts. And there's no way to hide that addiction, like people with other addictions can do, it's OUT there for all to observe and judge. Do I judge cigarette smokers when I see them outside a building puffing away? NO I don't. Because I know that is their addiction. And I know how powerful addictions are and how difficult they are to overcome. We never really quit being addicted either, we just learn to control it. At least I hope we do.

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  12. I wonder if they assume the person who used to be heavy has no willpower and will go back to being fat in no time, just like all the other people who have lost weight?

    That's NOT my opinion, but I know how easy it is for people to think like that.

    My bottom line is: anyone who didn't know me before won't have a clue unless they see a picture. Even then, they're just a bunch of haters and not worth my time, because how many of them have lost 200 pounds? My true friends will realize I'm amazing. As for strangers, they'll have no idea. They'll just assume I've always been that size.

    What I struggle with is strangers judging me for being heavy once I get down below 200 pounds. Yes, I'll still be overweight, but I won't be 356 pounds anymore. Unfortunately, they'd never know that and would just judge me at face value. It makes me want to buy one of the "I've Lost X Pounds" shirts, but then I realize I'm shy and wouldn't want to bring attention to myself. ;)

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  13. I read that article several times. I don't know. I think I'm bias, simply because I've been obese my whole life. I have the ability to admire people for losing weight, and I'm not oblivious to the difficulty in the task. I've never been thin looking at a fat person thinking they're unattractive BECAUSE of their weight. There are unattractive thin AND fat people. There was a statement in the article that really ticked me off though. They said people are trying in vain to lose weight and it's all about genetics, environmental food, and no amount of determination, will power or dieting will help (paraphrasing). REALLY?!? Then what have I been doing for the last 2 years? It's a shame people got millions of dollars to do this study when we have homeless people and starving children in our country.

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  14. I do remember that people were overweight but it doesn't bias my opinion of them now. To me it is more of an admiration, like "wow, they worked so hard and look fantastic. Good for them". My mother lost and maintained the loss of almost 100 lbs for close to 10 years now and people still say to me. Your mom used to be really fat. TEN YEARS AGO. So I do agree people never really let it go. I think that is why people tend to lose friends after a major lifestyle change. The enablers don't like their issues pointed out and some skinny people liked you fat because you weren't competition. You never would think it could be so freaking complicated!

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  15. I personally don't agree with the study, but what I can say I have noticed is that if a woman (and more so than a man) was heavy and has lost significant weight, she is more scrutinized in her every day living. What I mean by that is I know a couple of women who have had fantastic success and have worked so hard to lose a lot of weight in a very healthy way. Well, I observe other people still trying to goad them into eating "bad foods" and trying to tempt them (having zero compassion for someone's triggers)as well as obsessing on what these women do eat. I've heard comments like, "are you sure you should eat that? I don't think you lost all that weight eating that". With a little tsk tsk thrown in. I tell you, it makes me want to get physically violent with idiots like that. It's like there is such a lack of genuine happiness for these women and such jealousy that they've accomplished something so personally rewarding for them. It's made me look at the people around me and I can see there are some who really don't want to see me succeed because of their own mess. So I guess my point is that from what I've witnessed myself, it's not that thin women are more attractive, but there isn't nearly the scrutinization of their eating habits, dress habits, moods, etc, as there is on a woman who was heavy and lost weight. If they are thin, people don't think twice about what they're eating (and the assumption is that thin is healthy regardless of the private scene behind the doors). But when someone knows your history of weight, there seems to be more of a bias.

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