Expressive Writing Prompts for Fatphobia and Weight Bias
There is no escaping that people are afraid of fatness.
The dominant culture in our society favors those who are thin and dehumanizes those who are fat. We are constantly reminded of this on a daily basis. There is an entire 150 billion-dollar industry worldwide that exists because of faphobia and weight stigma. Add in approximately $3 billion for stomach amputation or stomach alteration surgery otherwise known as weight loss surgery globally.
There is no escaping that people are afraid of fatness.
Fatphobia: Fear of fat, fat people, and/or fatness.
Fatphobia is expressed through weight bias. Bias is defined as an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment. Weight bias is an outlook or unreasoned judgement that favors lower weight people and devalues higher weight people.
There two ways that we experience bias – implicitly and explicitly.
Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotype that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. They can be favorable or unfavorable and are not under our awareness or intentional control.
Explicit bias refers to the attitudes and beliefs we have about a person or group on a conscious level.
We all have implicit biases even if they may not align with our conscious beliefs. We also tend to favor the group that we share an identity with. So, thin people tend to favor thin people, tall people typically favor tall people, etc. We do not know that we are being affected by our implicit bias which makes it really challenging to change. Especially when our biases go against what we consciously say we believe.
Change is possible though. Our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs are changeable which is why expressive writing prompts are so useful.
Asking ourselves questions, and writing without reserve can help us uncover what is not yet in our awareness.
We cannot move towards freedom in our bodies until we are aware of our weight bias and our internalized fatphobia.
Writing prompts for fatphobia and weight bias:
· What comes to mind when you think of thin people? Do you associate thin people with anything in particular when it comes to ability? Activity level? Eating habits? Health? Leadership ability? Characteristics?
· What comes to mind when you think of fat people? Do you associate fat people with anything in particular when it comes to ability? Activity level? Eating habits? Health? Leadership ability? Characteristics?
· Imagine yourself if you were to gain weight. What would it be like to go through that process? Would you be afraid of getting fat, if you are thin? Would you be afraid of getting fatter, if you are fat? Would you fear how you would be treated if you were to gain weight? Or would you fear having more fat on your body? Or both? Why do you think this is?
· Are you currently pursuing weight loss, because you want to be less fat? Do you closely monitor your food intake to maintain your weight? Do you cut foods out of your diet to control your body size? Are you afraid to eat certain foods because you are afraid they will make you fat? Was there a time that you encouraged a fat person to restrict, diet, and/or cut their calories to lose weight?
· Do you have a close personal relationship with a fat person? If not, why do you think that is? If yes, do you have different expectations with them compared to your thin friends?
· What was the first fat character or actor/actress that you remember seeing in a television show or movie? Was it a main role or supporting role? Was the character’s life developed beyond their size or food habits? Was the character a villain? Were they someone’s best friend? Have you ever seen a fat person play a lead role where their size was not seen as a problem or a joke? Have you noticed if gender plays a difference in how fat people get cast? Is it more acceptable for men or women to be fat?
· Do people in your family comment on people’s body sizes after someone walks away from you? After family gatherings? Do your friends or coworkers make comments about other people’s size or weight fluctuations? What do they say? Have they done it in the past, but not anymore? What changed?
· Do you remember the first time you knew there was a difference in the way fat and thin people were treated? Do you remember the first time someone made a comment about your body size? How old were you? How did your parents/caregivers talk about bodies?
· What has it been like to think and write about these scenarios? What feelings has it brought up? What did you discover about yourself and the beliefs you hold?
When trying to write about challenging topics, you may discover your resistance to make time and/or sit down to do it.
Steps I take when I’m feeling resistance to writing:
+ Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes. Choose the least amount of time that you are willing to sit and write, so that you will be more likely to complete it.
+ Choose the question or set of questions that jumps out at you the most. You don’t have to write on all of them at once.
+ Put on your favorite music. I use my Pandora station that is curated to only be instrumental without words, because this helps me focus the most on writing.
+ Let your writing be imperfect. Don’t worry about grammar or if it makes sense. This is purely for you to get thoughts out of your head.
+ Pick the best medium for you. I love typing on my laptop. Others love hand writing in a journal. Maybe you can do voice to text. Do what works for you.
Here’s to being brave and digging deep where internalized fatphobia and weight stigma exist.
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