People of all ages that live with overweight or obesity experience weight stigma and bias on a regular basis. This stigma has the potential to negatively affect their health and wellbeing.
One of the leading causes of this negative perception about weight, is the way in which obesity is portrayed in the news media.
Typical media representations of obesity show people gorging, lazy, sloppy, wearing ill-fitting clothing and, through dehumanising images of people – photographs taken from behind or with their head cut off. It could be argued that this is to protect the identity of people but in effect it associates obesity with shame.
This public portrayal of overweight and obesity is damaging, and we know that stigma has harmful effects on health and wellbeing. It may lead to a person to not seeking medical attention for fear of judgement and continues to frame obesity as a personal choice.
We at WIN are working to change this depiction of overweight and obesity. Together with The Obesity Collective and Cancer Council Victoria, WIN developed a media guide that assists media outlets in being respectful in their reporting of people living with obesity. Check the media guide.