Summer and Fatphobia: Does the Stigma Increase?

With the arrival of summer and good weather, many people head to beaches and pools to enjoy the sun and water. However, this season can also be a source of anxiety for those who feel that their bodies do not meet the beauty standards imposed by society. “Fatphobia, the explicit rejection of fat bodies, can be more prominent at this time of year because the body and physical appearance are more exposed,” explains Andrea Arroyo, a nutrition and psychology expert specializing in obesity and a collaborating professor at the Health Sciences Studies of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

Fatphobia has its origins in a series of social and personal causes, from the idealization of thinness to the frustration of not being able to reach desired bodies influenced by advertising, film, and fashion. “There are a series of limiting and distorted beliefs associated with the idea that fat bodies must be different from non-fat bodies, and these negative beliefs do not favor body acceptance,” highlights Arroyo. The loss of bodily neutrality, that is, not valuing bodies based on their appearance, is one of the reasons for the persistence of fatphobia.

Society imposes beauty standards based on unattainable exceptions for the majority. Bodily neutrality, which promotes accepting the body naturally regardless of its shape, can be a powerful tool to combat fatphobia. “Bodily neutrality means not taking into account the shape or appearance of your body when evaluating it,” explains Arroyo. This approach helps accept and value the body as it is, without trying to conform to unattainable standards.

Arroyo criticizes practices like the “bikini operation” for being lucrative and not considering health criteria. “These are practices not endorsed by health professionals and promote risky behaviors, such as very restrictive diets that endanger health,” she adds.

Fatphobic behaviors can be so ingrained in society that they manifest unconsciously, known as “microfatphobias.” Comments and jokes towards overweight people perpetuate stigma and promote the idea that fat bodies should be fought against. Arroyo clarifies: “Accepting body diversity does not mean promoting obesity, but recognizing that all bodies are valid. Combating obesity and accepting body diversity are two different concepts.”

Fatphobia can seriously affect children and adolescents, impacting their self-esteem and body perception. Healthcare professionals work to reinforce self-valuation and body acceptance through bodily neutrality. “It is very difficult to prevent someone from negatively influencing you, but we can work with the person so that these social realities affect them as little as possible,” affirms Arroyo.

In conclusion, bodily neutrality and the acceptance of body diversity are key in combating fatphobia, especially in summer when physical exposure increases. Educating and supporting people, especially young people, to value their bodies regardless of their appearance is essential to reduce stigma and promote mental and physical health.

Source: MiMub in Spanish

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