I read an article recently that advocated fat-shaming as a way of helping obese people lose weight. I wish I could say this was a joke, but it's not. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Obese people feel ashamed all the time anyway. Trust me, they don't need more. They feel shame every time they step on a scale at the doctor's office and see that number. They feel shame every time someone makes a rude comment about their weight. They feel shame every time they can't fit in a restaurant booth. I am here to say that shame never resulted in anyone losing weight. It only adds weight, both physically and emotionally.
I say this because I know from experience. Many overweight people, me included, are also emotional eaters. There is immense shame and guilt involved in that as well. It just galls me to no end to think that some researcher thinks that by adding more shame to the equation, it will make someone suddenly think that they need to start losing weight. It is way more likely to result in binge eating.
For me, all that shame ever did was to contribute to me eating my way into a dark hole so deep that I didn't think I could ever crawl my way out. It was only when I decided to stop feeling ashamed that I was able to start losing the weight. Did I bear responsibility for the weight I had gained? Yes, I did. I would never try to act like I had no idea how I had gained so much weight, that it must be a sudden massive hormonal imbalance or maybe a gigantic cyst (gross). I knew exactly how I had gained weight. But at the same time, I decided to be kind to myself and lose the shame. Healthy or not (definitely not), the extra weight and the food that put it there served a purpose for me. It was a coping mechanism during the hardest period of my life that I have ever faced. A dysfunctional coping mechanism to be sure, but a coping mechanism all the same. I decided that I was through judging myself and feeling ashamed for using food as a way to deal with all my emotions.
I don't care how many doctorates or other impressive titles you have after your name, you will never convince me that fat shaming helps people lose weight. You know what helps people lose weight? It's not just cutting calories and exercise, though those things are no doubt important. What helps people lose weight is realizing that they are worth something at any weight. Yes, that may sound trite, but it's true. When you don't value yourself as a person, you see no reason to treat yourself well. When you believe that you are garbage, you treat yourself like garbage. You eat garbage. So instead of putting people down for their weight, we should be building them up. Some may say that that will just make them believe they don't need to lose weight at all. I don't agree with that. When people start to gain some self-esteem finally, they also start to think that they deserve better. And so they go out and they work for it.
You know what? Those fat-shamer adovocates are right about one thing. Someone should be ashamed here. It just isn't the fat people. It's them.