When she was an overweight teen, bullies relentlessly tormented Natt Smith, one of The Huffington Post's weight loss success stories.
"I was walking down the science hall and one of the notorious school bullies poured milk over my head and followed me around making mooing sounds, pausing only intermittently to ask why I was so fat."
Part of me wants to cry and part of me wants to get in the car and find the guy. This infuriates me.
Last time, I wrote about the humiliation and insults I endured as a fat kid, and I stressed how much worse it is for women, how there is an evil gender bias in obesity. For women, because of their metabolic disadvantage relative to men, it is much easier for them to become obese and much more difficult to solve the problem. It is terribly unfair but true. In addition, women suffer torments and indignities that the men are not subjected to, that men escape. Please read "The Evil Gender Bias of Obesity and Weight Gain" to get the details. At the end of the article I promised to tell you what should be done about it. Here it is:
1) Prosecute Persecution
We need to stop fooling around with bullying, hate and unfair discrimination. People need to be stopped from committing hate crimes and illegal discrimination -- jailed, regardless of age, if that's the only way to stop them. We need to stop excusing and pooh-poohing evil masquerading as "humor." Responsible citizens need to call it out when they encounter hate and harm and loudly denounce it for all to hear. We need to recognize the evil in our midst to extinguish it.
We have laws against assault and battery. We have laws against hate crimes and certain kinds of discrimination. We need to enforce the laws faithfully and arrest and prosecute the violators. Committing battery with milk because a person is overweight (or scissors, as in the case of Gov. Romney's classmate) is a vile act, a battery and a hate crime. Acts like that should be aggressively prosecuted.
We need laws against the intentional infliction of psychological harm, bullying. We need to refine our current laws to include discrimination and hate based on physical characteristics and body size. Obesity is a disorder of great complexity, less understood than AIDS of the current era and leprosy of the past. Those with no clinical credentials who claim to know it all need to be put in their place, told to be quiet about things they are not qualified to lecture about, especially when it harms others. They need to be stopped, by force of law, if necessary. No one should be treated unmercifully and unlawfully by the mean and ignorant because of a disorder, which obesity is.
2) Find the Solution
I was put on a diet at the age of 7. It didn't work. As time went on, I got fatter. I developed some bad habits of course, but so did all the other kids. Not everyone else got fat like I did. Then I noticed that dieting seemed to work a lot better for others, where the same dieting did not work for me. It occurred to me that there was something different about me, relative to weight gain and dieting.
Now I know that I have a condition, probably genetically ordered. It's a predisposition to obesity called "Weight Loss Resistance" (WLR) and I have joined Dr. David Katz's National Exchange for Weight Loss Resistance to explore the phenomena. This, like the gender bias I described in my prior article, makes achieving and maintaining a healthy weight extremely difficult in our culture.
Many who have found their obesity impossible to resolve have learned that their problem is related to these genetic biases, and they have found great relief in stopping the self-blaming and self-condemnation that had become a habit. Now they could accept themselves without judgment, just as they were. This has given rise to a movement to accept obese people as OK, to accept obesity as OK, "fat acceptance."
When I was over 300 pounds, hating my body and myself, I learned that loving myself unconditionally is a prerequisite for getting better. I learned that I had to love my body, stretch marks and all. I had to love myself despite all the failures of the past and weaknesses. I learned that we will only care for and help what we love. We neglect what we don't care for and we destroy what we hate. Nothing good comes from hating. Those who decide to accept obese people as OK and stop punishing and abusing them are on the right track.
However, when I learned to accept myself as I was, imperfect and obese, I still had a big problem. I had stopped judging and I started liking myself, which was good. But I was still obese, getting worse, and getting sick with it. Obesity is a killer, especially as you get older. My days were numbered, and my life and quality of life were being snuffed out by my weight. Accepting obesity as OK, "fat acceptance," is not a solution.
Fortunately, my life and work led to a respect for the natural sciences and the science of behaviorism. We know exactly what a person needs to do to lose weight and manage their weight, regardless of WLR or gender bias. When I learned how, after 25 years of failure, I lost 140 pounds through behavior medicine and the therapeutic psychogenics I discovered, and I have maintained my ideal body weight for more than 25 years. I've taught many patients and clients to do the same. Now I teach other therapists too. Obesity can be solved, even when it has seemed impossible.
We need to stop blaming, hating and discriminating against obese people, but equally important, we need to use what we know to solve obesity and the obesity epidemic. That is the real solution to the evil of obesity bias. The good news is that the solution is at hand, right in front of us, for those who seek it.
For more by William Anderson, MA, LMHC, click here.
For more on weight loss, click here.