Body Types and Stereotypes

We all have prejudices – I’m a Diet Coke girl and Coke Zero will never do – but what should we do when these prejudices extend to far? A recent study by Glamour Magazine has finally put some numbers to something we’ve all known for years. Women judge other women unfairly based on their body types.

Stereotypes and Prejudice

In our modern society we’ve done an excellent job getting rid of racism, sexism, ageism and religious discrimination (for the most part), and we’re all very aware of why it’s wrong to assume things based on any of those items. But there is one prejudice left that is not only engrained in us, but celebrated at times. The weight stereotype.

According to Glamour’s recent survey, women of all sizes automatically assign labels to others based solely on weight. Overweight women labeled other overweight women just as harshly as they did the thin ones. And the same is true for the thin women in the study. This means it wasn’t just personal prejudice talking – it was societal prejudice. These “rules” have been bred into us, much like racism was bred into society a generation ago.

The Name Game

When the women were asked to picture a woman who was overweight, they described the imaginary overweight woman as: lazy, sloppy, undisciplined and slow. Thin women, on the other hand, were labeled conceited, superficial, vain, self-centered, bitchy, mean and controlling. There were some “good” labels as well, but they aren’t much to sneeze at either.

Society apparently sees an overweight woman as “giving.” Thin women, on the other hand, are not. The article rather brilliantly uses the example of Sleeping Beauty. The good fairies were all kind, silly and plump. The bad witch, Millicent, was harsh, skinny and attractive. But let’s not blame Disney for our prejudices today. It’s far better to embrace the fact that they exist and then resolve them one person at a time.