Fat Stigma Spreading Worldwide

Kara Powell | Apr 11, 2011

While in college, I remember studying research indicating that in certain parts of the world actually view fat positively, as a sign of affluence and the ability to have leisure time.

Seems like that is changing, at least somewhat.

This article highlights some preliminary evidence that stigma against fat is spreading around the world. In the midst of our worldwide warranted concern about obesity, it is challenging to find a good balance in which those who are overweight are not marginalized, judged, or blamed. As a person, a woman, a youth leader, and a mom (especially a mom of girls), I personally struggle to find, model, and talk about a balanced perspective on health and weight in which I am being a good steward of my body but not being overly focused on nutrition, working out, etc.

I remember one tough conversation with a friend who was concerned about her high school sister, who was pretty heavy at the time. She didn’t know how to talk to her about it without making her even more insecure. She wanted to be a safe place, a place of encouragement and help, but was afraid that she’d push her sister away instead of draw her close.

If you were concerned that your own teenage child, or a teenager you were close to, was so overweight that his/her health was at risk, what would you do? If you thought that a kid’s weight was causing them to feel more insecure and withdraw socially, would you talk with them? Or would you be afraid that that would hurt instead of help?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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