Saturday 9 December 2023

Fatphobia in Costa Rica out of control

Fatphobia is defined as the extreme and irrational fear of people considered “overweight.” Experts raise their voices against discrimination.

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QCOSTARICA — In the era of social media, where opinions spread at the speed of light, Costa Rica faces a growing problem: online fatphobia, sometimes also called weight bias or weight stigma, to describe the negative attitudes and stereotypes surrounding and attached to larger bodies

Fatphobia, a pervasive and socially accepted discrimination

Recently, a content creator caused a controversy on social networks with his derogatory comments towards overweight people. But this episode is just the tip of the iceberg of a deeper problem.

Here we explore how fatphobia is taking root in Costa Rican society and how it affects people in their daily lives.

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Through expert voices, we will examine the emotional and social consequences of fatphobia, as well as microfatphobias that often go unnoticed.

Additionally, we will highlight positive initiatives that seek to combat this weight-based discrimination.

We will hear from representatives of the health and fitness industry who promote the inclusion and acceptance of all bodies.

We will also speak with mental health professionals who will address the psychological implications of fatphobia in today’s society.

Fatphobia affects Tica society

From Gabriela Quirós, UNA, 2019, Ideal body sadness: 51% of women and 26% of men experienced sadness for not having what is socially defined as “the ideal body”

Mostly affected are women, of which 85% suffer more pressure to keep their bodies thin while only 75% for men.

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Health and fitness industry puts a stop to fatphobia

Mariela Saenz, head of Marketing at Multispa, says “we believe that all bodies are beautiful and worthy of love. We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for all people, regardless of body size. We believe that self-love is essential to achieving body recomposition goals. When we accept and value ourselves, we are more motivated to take care of our health and well-being.”

Laila Aguilar, trainer at World Gym, explains “We strive at World Gym to not only offer the client quality in infrastructure, machinery, customer service, order, but also something that goes further, which I believe makes us feel with great satisfaction and commitment to our partners as a gym and which is an environment with healthy coexistence, inclusion, freedom, free of bullying.

“For us, fatphobia has been a behavior that is equal to racism, transphobia or machismo, which is why we are not willing to tolerate it under any circumstances.”

Christina Miranda, Psychologist at Herrera Amighetti Mental Health Center, says “Nowadays, to some extent, we are living based on how we look, there are advertising, videos and texts with many tips for losing weight, exercise routines, “innovative ideas” for diets and many surgical proposals. All this allows there to be an obsession with searching for bodily perfection every day. Unfortunately, this causes people to compete to achieve the unattainable.

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“Fatphobia also affects thin people who express respect for a heavier person, but do not want to be fat, this tendency can reach such a point that it happens in an eternal diet and may feel a certain aversion to obese people.”

What is fatphobia, exactly?

Fatphobia is the fear and hatred of fat bodies.

“That encompasses a whole bunch of things, namely weight bias and weight stigma, such as the idea we see people of higher body weight as lazy, and unintelligent, or disgusting,” says Mary Himmelstein, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Kent State University who studies how weight stigma affects people’s health.

Fatphobia perpetuates negative stereotypes, and that can lead to discrimination against people with higher body weight.

For example:

  • They are like this because they want to.
  • Everyone who is overweight eats poorly or has bad health habits.
  • Obese people are not attractive.
  • They are not successful personally or at work.
  • They do not have an active sexual life.
  • They are lazy and don’t make an effort.
  • The word fat or fat itself has a pejorative tone: it is not a characteristic, but an insult.
  • In men, being fat is associated with being funny; In women, it is associated with being bad.


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