As obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S., so might our acceptance of those who are overweight. But a new study from Yale University suggests the converse trend: rather than feeling tolerance in our society, the overweight and obese say they feel more heavily discriminated against now than they did a decade ago.
"If a person perceives he is being discriminated against," Andreyeva says [lead author of the study], "it might have significant consequences for his or her health and mental health. Even the perception of discrimination can be important because it is self-perpetuating." And if rates of weight discrimination are indeed on the rise, say the authors, then it's up to society to mandate legal protections for those who are overweight, just as laws protect people from discrimination by race, gender, disability and age. [TIME, 11 April 2008]
It can't be helped, I guess. Those who are different and those who often discriminate can't live harmoniously together. Cultivating a behavior of tolerance and respect for all always requires a certain level of maturity on people. And maturity varies from person to person. Discrimination exists everywhere. It can begin as early as the primary years in school. How many times have fat kids ran away crying from too much teasing by classmates? When they grow up, the same thing happens in the work place. It is mentally and emotionally agonizing indeed.
Legal protection? Will that work? Will society even pass a law making discrimination of fat people a crime?