It's not just about self-esteem.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past several decades, you've probably absorbed your share of stereotypes about fat people, often in the form of jokes or advertisements. You don't even need to seek these messages out, because they're delivered to us all the time. So often that they feel like background noise (to me anyway). Maybe I don't notice them because I'm not the butt of the joke, and I don't face the most severe consequences for them. But fat-shaming isn't just about hurt feelings and rude jokes, it can actually have deadly effects.
Deadly? Like what?
If the issue was only limited to rude comments and dismissive behavior (which alone can lead to heavier people avoiding doctor's appointments and missing potentially life-saving screenings for cancer and other illnesses) then the solution would be simple: Train doctors in better bedside manner. Courtesy however, is not the only cure because the problem is not limited to insensitivity. Studies demonstrate that people who are overweight- some by as little as 13 pounds- receive sub-optimal care from medical staff (via + via). This can lead to misdiagnosis, omission of important tests, and inadequate treatment. In the UK, a survey revealed that many doctors supported denying non-emergency medial care for patients until they lost weight.
So, what's causing illnesses in the fat community?
Is it weight, or is it the fact that doctors are overlooking symptoms that would be red flags for a smaller patient?