Weight stigma is a prevalent problem in today’s society. This is the concept of showing bias against individuals because of their size, and can sometimes be referred to as sizeism. Unfortunately, 40% of U.S. adults reported that they have experienced weight stigma at some point in their lives. This form of discrimination can affect how they are treated by healthcare providers, employers, schools, and in some cases, the people they are closest to.
People often think that weight stigma is just another form of “tough love” — telling someone they need to lose weight may eventually lead to them picking up healthier habits. But research suggests this is not true. Comments about weight can be extremely damaging to an individual, both psychologically and physically. Treating people unfairly based on weight does not motivate them to lose weight; it instead can cause them to decrease their physical activity, avoid taking care of their health, and develop eating disorders, which lead to more weight gain.
How weight stigma affects men
When we think about the effects of weight stigma, we often think about it as a problem for women. There is an abundance of research on how it affects the female sex, while there is an inverse for men in terms of documentation. This makes it difficult to quantify just how much weight stigma affects men. However, studies have quantified a few ways weight stigma affects males such as them developing unhealthy eating habits (starvation or binging), engaging in excessive physical activity as overcompensation, and relying on substances to cope with the negativity.
It is clear that despite not being a mainstream issue, the problem of weight stigma still greatly affects men and should be addressed properly. Dealing with the problem can be a difficult task, which is why it is important to raise awareness about the issue and how it affects the male population.
How to overcome weight stigma
Men should remember that they are not alone in the struggle against weight stigma. Here are some tips to help overcome this problem:
Find a supportive community
It can feel overwhelming to go through self-improvement on one’s own. Developing healthy behaviors might make men feel lost. In this case, it might help to find people who understand your struggles. An empathetic community that can give their advice and unique perspective can provide a solid support system for men who are dealing with weight stigma.
In fact, new weight loss plans for men encourage men to find a like-minded community as a major part of the journey. Case in point, WeightWatchers’ social network Connect allows you to share updates with thousands of other members as you’re all losing weight. #WWBros, in particular, is a tight-knit community of men who are getting #backontrack with the weight loss process, offering support and encouragement to one another.
Find what helps you feel good
Men who experience weight stigmatization may suffer from low self-esteem, giving them a more critical view of their appearance. Sometimes, the answer lies in quick fixes. Simple self-care methods, such as simply changing the way they dress or how they style their hair, can help. They also have the option of making lifestyle changes to accommodate weight loss and muscle development.
There are also surgical options for those who feel it would be a better fit for them. A few of the popular cosmetic procedures for men include male breast reduction, liposuction, and abdominoplasty. These operations target specific problem areas that might be affecting their self-esteem, making them in-demand procedures for those that want to feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin.
Seek greater education on the topic
Weight stigma can foster a lot of self-hatred, as implied above. The problem is that men are taught to adhere to societal standards, making it harder for them to deviate to a more positive mindset. Knowledge can be just the push to slowly eliminate the biases people have against varying weights – especially for men.
Moreover, self-reflection and emotional work are likewise essential to overcoming the problem. Uncovering the internal roots of the stigma can propel you towards more contentment and appreciation for your body.