Fat people are gross – The fat stigma

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Are you telling me that you don’t turn your nose up at an incredibly obese person walking in the streets? Or avoid sitting next to a fat person on the train. Even I’ve done it… and I’ve been that fat person! I always had an empty seat next to me on the train, which you think would be nice, but it actually sucks because I knew it was because I was fat (NB: this could be due to the fact that I love talking to people on trains.. which doesn’t bode well with living in London).


Stigmas are completely born out of social norms. We stigmatise people who don’t fit our culture of what is deemed healthy and desirable. Actually if you think about it, stigmas are evolutionarily advantageous to us. Back in the day when plagues were rife it would make complete sense to avoid someone deemed unhealthy. No-one want to kiss the gross guy with the black plague! You’d die! Obviously I can understand the smoking stigma too… no one wants to inhale passive smoke.

However, sitting next to the fat person will not harm you in any way (apart from the fact that maybe you’ll have slightly less room to wiggle your feet… and maybe they’ll steal your lunch… and maybe they won’t shut the fuck up if it’s me). Working next to the guy with depression isn’t going to affect you either. Yes, in essence these problems are ‘unhealthy’ to the person, but that really shouldn’t concern an onlooker. Why, as a culture, do we look down on fat people?

Well, it’s become normal in our society to stigmatise overweight people (and people with depression for that matter.. but that’s for another time). So what’s the real issue here? Well, have you ever been at the end of a stigma? I’m fat, Jewish, gay and I used to smoke… I’m a WALKING stigma! I can tell you that it absolutely sucks. It made me unhappy.. and you can read here in my last post that emotional eating definitely causes weight gain. Weight, like other mental illnesses, is self-perpetuating. It’s the old Fat Bastard “I eat because I’m unhappy and i’m unhappy because I eat”


Don’t just take BJOD’s word for it – look here for recent research which shows how stigmatising overweight people causes them to eat more… It’s a terrible loop which will only continue.

So, what should you take from this? Be nice to fat people, don’t stigmatise… and sit next to them if there’s an empty seat on the train πŸ™‚



28 thoughts on “Fat people are gross – The fat stigma

    pinkagendist said:
    January 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I’m not sure I can relate, I’ve always been extraordinarily beautiful and naturally thin. HA- just kidding (or am I?). But seriously, it is something to think about. Andrew Solomon wrote an amazing book called Far from the Tree in which he examines families that deal with various forms of stigma (deafness, gender, down’s syndrome etc)- the big take away is that they seem to become much better people in confronting these issues.

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Hey man thanks for the comment – I’m researching the book now. Looks interesting!

    shortdee said:
    January 31, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I can relate! All people do is stare , laugh , make a disgust face, or say hurtful things like OMG look how fat that person is……ewwww. People are heartless

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      It’s bizarre how people feel they can get away with it. I’m sorry you go through that.

      pinkagendist said:
      February 1, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Whatever people say, I promise you, doesn’t take anything away from your true value. I once held a dying woman in my arms; She didn’t care about my sexuality, my weight, my background or my finances. I could see in her eyes that she cared that someone was there, holding her. The next time someone misbehaves to you, remember that. They’re the ones who are doing something wrong, not you.

    mpwilson said:
    January 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I can totally relate to the ‘fat’ stigma. I’ve always been overweight, and have gotten bigger over the past couple years despite having a relatively healthy diet (well, some weeks are better than others lol). Hell, at one point I think I could honestly say I was the ‘thin’ one in the family, and I’ve never been thin. Lol. And let’s be honest, when we’re feeling down the easiest thing to reach for is food, usually something not healthy.

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Hey Martin,

      Thanks for the reply and I’m glad you agree. I’ve been reading your blog – it’s got some great, great content! I think everyone has a manifestation of stress… and some people resort to food. Myself included πŸ™‚


        mpwilson said:
        January 31, 2014 at 9:49 pm

        Hey Marc. Thanks for the compliment, I’m glad you’re enjoying what I’ve been writing! Funnily enough, for me, when I’m feeling stressed during the day I don’t tend to snack that much – it’s more at night, especially late at night when I suffering from insomnia that I reach for something to munch on. And tea, for some reason. LOL

    thatfatkidfromschool said:
    January 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Food for thought (excuse the pun). I agree with you and I know what it’s like. I use to be mega fat myself.
    I know look at other fat people and think to myself “I’m glad I wasn’t that fat” …I think social attitudes need to change also worth mentioning is we don’t judge people who are “too thin” do we!

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      January 31, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      it’s really interesting you say that actually because I’ve notice a new trend in girls especially who judge people for being too thin. Not boys I don’t think… but definitely girls. Interesting comment.

      kraftwerkorange said:
      February 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Actually people do look down on people who are too thin(I am not thin by the way) my best friend in high school and a couple other skinny girls I knew just could not put on weight. They’d tell me that people would ask them if they were anorexic/bulimic or hear ‘you should eat a sandwich or something’. One girl if knew was so beautiful, but very thin and told me she wished she could switch bodies with me! I was pretty shocked because I weighed almost 190 and 5’9″ at that point, but as a girl my weight was sort of well proportioned (I had thick thighs, a big butt that was pretty nice, and big boobs) but this was before the kardashians so guys generally teased me. Sorry for sharing my life story, the point of my post is that there is body shaming for all people. If you are too skinny ; you’re anorexic, if you’re muscular you must be on steroids and not very bright, and if you’re fat you’re obviously lazy and don’t care and just spend all you’re time eating. We as a culture need to stop putting people down for how they look and rather try to find out who that person is inside. Sorry for such a long comment .

        bigjewonadiet responded:
        February 1, 2014 at 11:25 am

        Don’t apologise for the long comment that’s pretty much the best comment I’ve received on the site so far!! Great, great insight. It will help my next post πŸ™‚ x

        thatfatkidfromschool said:
        February 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm

        I agree. we are getting tarnish with some brush I guess..I think a lot of it has to do with the media an our perception of “normal”. People will always want to change something about themselves but it begin comfortable in your skin is a state of mind.

    jason said:
    February 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

    On trains, it makes sense to not sit next to someone who takes up more space than the allocated seat, whether it’s because of bags, excess weight or annoying elbows and kness. Comfort will always be my first choice so inevitably some larger people will put me off if they are bigger than their seat and spill over. I’m not sure how I could do anything differently?

    For me, the optimum person to sit next to is someone fit though so I might not be the best example. πŸ™‚

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      February 3, 2014 at 12:07 am

      Everyones point of view is welcome here at BJOD! ha

    kraftwerkorange said:
    February 1, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Hey I sort of already commented, but I agree that this is such a problem in our society(I’m an American by the way). Ive been stigmatized at work for being over weight, like I said my weight was well proportioned, but I wasn’t thin. I worked as a hostess at a chain restaurant with several very pretty thin girls and a few heavier girls. I noticed that myself and the other bigger girls were often told to go do jobs like clean the bathroom or help in the kitchen (where we were conveniently out of sight of customers) while the thin girls got to stand around the front usually not doing their jobs. This always bothered me because every time I came back up front the seating and waiting lists would always be messed up. I also know what mental health stigma can be like. I’ve been in psychiatric hospitals quite a few times between 2010 and 2012, any time I got out people in college I was friends with who didn’t know I had issues didn’t know how to treat me and one teacher told me not to expect to get special treatment. That hurt me more than I can say. I’m 2012 I had a pretty bad breakdown abused drugs and went to rehab, relapsed overdosed (which people thought was a suicide attempt) so I was sent back to the hospital (where I actually made friends who understood what I was going through and I had fun), after that I was sent to a long term home for people who were mostly schizophrenic because I had nowhere to go (my diagnose btw is borderline personality disorder) so I didn’t really fit in with people with such serious mental illnesses. I spent 4 months there most of the summer and fall of 2012, so I missed out a lot on what little friends I had. I was allowed visitors, but other than my mom and dad and one of my five siblings no one came to see me they just felt uncomfortable around ‘those kind of people.’ Honestly some of my friends thought I was dead, from the drugs. It was so hard coming home and telling them where I’d really been. I lost a lot of friends because they just felt uncomfortable around me, I honestly only have three friends that I still am able to talk to. The internet however has been very helpful, I’ve found a lot of friends that understand or just don’t give a damn. Sorry again for telling such a personal story. The sad thing is in America there was a school shooting by a mentally ill person and the media now talks about mentally I’ll people like they all are dangerous.

    Anyways I enjoy your blog so far and am glad you followed me, I’m just starting out and appreciate any followers and feedback I may get from them. Sorry that this was an extraordinarily long post :).

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      February 3, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Such an interesting post. I studied psychology at University so find this stuff really interesting…. and thank you for being so open! I can’t believe they put you at the back of the restaurant… that completely sucks. I’m glad you’ve found a place on my blog to openly comment… the internet is very unjudgmental if you find the right place! πŸ™‚

    jessicachojnowski said:
    February 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I love your blog and I understand what you mean!! Totally get it, I’ve had this problem a few times myself and people make it so obvious. You seem like good company on a train journey. ☺️ x

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      February 3, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Haha you’re sweet for saying that πŸ™‚ I’m the fucking best on a train!! haha

        jessicachojnowski said:
        February 3, 2014 at 7:50 am

        Haha! I bet you are! Brighten up the train on this miserable Monday day. Well done you on your achievement. I hope that you are stupidly proud of yourself sir. πŸ™‚ x

    gaeliccraic said:
    February 1, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I can empathise but from the opposite end of the scale. being underweight people make assumptions that you want to look that way and are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and call you all the names like bag of bones, walking stick and the list goes on and tell you to just go and eat. they are after that if they sit by u they will get jagged by one of your visible bones maybe? but the thing is I don’t want to be so thin and by all the name calling only confirms my belief of how ugly I look and I don’t see myself as fat and don’t have Anorexia Nervosa but chronic intestinal failure. even if someone does have anorexia it gives no one the right to condemn as it is an illness and nobody sets out to get it

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      February 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you for being so open and honest on my blog. It’s a very true comment and I will be posting about it at a later date. Whoever isn’t ‘perfect’ in this world is judged

        gaeliccraic said:
        February 3, 2014 at 1:21 am

        I think perfect wrong word as there is no such thing only a work in progress and nobody is perfect in fact those who reject and taut us are truly not perfect. sometimes I wish human didn’t have the sense of sight and then they would then judge true beauty in what comes from the inner being and not the cover

    pickitupputitdown said:
    February 17, 2014 at 12:16 am

    This is a great article, I really enjoyed reading it. The body image issue was on my mind today because I saw press about Rachel Frederickson (the latest US Biggest Loser champion) getting criticised for being ‘anorexic’ after losing a shedload of weight. This seems crazy because the contestants obviously starve themselves prior to being weighed in for a massive cash prize, so they’ve all succumbed to a form of eating disorder by participating in the show – she was merely more extremely ‘successful’ in this.
    The reason I bring it up is that it’s a good example of how we do stigmatise both ends of the spectrum, because anyone who is different is an ‘outsider’ and supposedly fair game for shaming and ridicule. Social psychology will harp on about outgroups and ingroups a lot, but I think it’s important because all people will find that they unconsciously exile others who are different, even if it’s not for something they know they have prejudices about. Writing about the perspective from your individual place in a particular group is the only way that people will start to examine their assumptions and act to change them; so I applaud you πŸ™‚

      bigjewonadiet responded:
      February 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      What a great comment! The best I’ve had on the site so far for sure. I’m currently working on a post about the skinny stigma too … the biggest loser info is so interesting and i’ll investigate!

    psychologistmimi said:
    February 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    very honest and real post. it is true that obesity is one of the most highly stigmatizable “conditions” out there due to attributions of blame; even from the medical establishment.

    lovestorun100s said:
    February 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Something good for all of us to think about. The hardest thing is that food is so easily accessible and so many social outings focus around food and alcohol. Thanks for posting.

    babblinbabs said:
    February 24, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    i have to say that i have never not sat next to someone because of their weight. unless their weight is taking up two seats and i literally cannot. i avoid sitting next to homeless people, people clipping their nails, loud people and people who eat meals on the subway.

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