As far as I can tell, this is the first article from a mainstream American publication analyzing why overweight people are subject to so much disgust and disdain evern though 60% of Americans are obese. Self-loathing much?
As many women’s magazines’ cover lines note, losing the last five pounds can be a challenge. So why don’t we have more compassion for people struggling to lose the first 50, 60, or 100? Some of it has to do with the psychological phenomenon known as the fundamental attribution error, a basic belief that whatever problems befall us personally are the result of difficult circumstances, while the same problems in other people are the result of their bad choices. Miss a goal at work? It’s because the vendor was unreliable, and because your manager isn’t giving you enough support, and because the power outage last week cut into premium sales time. That jerk next to you? He blew his quota because he’s a bad planner, and because he spent too much time taking personal calls.
The same can be true of weight: “From working with so many people struggling with their weight, I’ve seen it many times,” says Andrew Geier, a postdoctoral fellow in the psychology department at Yale University. “They believe they’re overweight due to a myriad of circumstances: as soon as my son goes to college, I’ll have time to cook healthier meals; when my husband’s shifts change at work, I can get to the gym sooner.…” But other people? They’re overweight because they don’t have the discipline to do the hard work and take off the weight, and that lack of discipline is an affront to our own hard work. (Never mind that weight loss is incredibly difficult to attain: Geier notes that even the most rigorous behavioral programs result in at most about a 12.5 percent decrease in weight, which would take a 350-pound man to a slimmer, but not svelte, 306 pounds).