Weight stigma is a widespread problem in the United States, often resulting in discrimination from employers and medical professionals, as well as interpersonal mistreatment from families and loved ones. Weight stigma may also result in social exclusion in public spaces, such as gyms, bars, and restaurants, and structural exclusion from areas not built for larger bodies, such as classroom desks and airline seats. Internalizing the ever-present negative messages about fat bodies can also lead some to engage in disordered eating, regardless of how much someone weighs or what their body looks like.
In this month’s episode of PHPod, host Kara Schmidt sits down with Rev. Dr. Anastasia Kidd , the Director of Contextual Education at Boston University School of Theology, and Massachusetts State Senator Becca Rausch to discuss weight stigma in the Commonwealth and beyond and the urgent need for policy intervention. Kidd discusses her recent book Fat Church: Claiming a Gospel of Fat Liberation, which explores the ways White American Christians have historically participated in anti-fat bias, healthism, and body policing. She also introduces the concept of fat liberation, which is the deliberate work of tearing down the systems that have enabled weight discrimination, fat stigma, and fatphobia in most aspects of life, including employment, health care, and education. Senator Rausch, who represents the Norfolk, Worcester and Middlesex districts, speaks about the bill she is currently sponsoring, Massachusetts Bill S.1108/H.1705, which is designed to protect against weight and height discrimination. If passed, Massachusetts will be the second state to have such protections against size discrimination.