Obese people seem to have no heads. There are pictures all over the media every day of headless obese people. In fact, it's hard to find an image of a fat person who has a head. Even on the often misinformed and biased 'news' reports on TV, all I see are grainy scenes of fat people slowly walking around shopping centres, shown from the neck down.
Thin people have heads - even ones like Samantha Brick - and eyes and faces and words coming out of their mouths. The only people who are dehumanised by this headlessness are fat people (and sometimes provocatively dressed or naked women). Most fat people do have heads - here are some. See their smiley, normal faces?
Journalist with a conscience Charlotte Cooper says it all beautifully in her blog
"We are there but we have no voice, not even a mouth in a head, no brain, no thoughts or opinions. Instead we are reduced and dehumanised as symbols of cultural fear. It's as though we have been punished for existing, our right to speak has been removed by a prurient gaze, our headless images accompany articles that assume a world without people like us would be a better world altogether."
If you're a journalist with a conscience, the Rudd Center for Food Policy at Yale University in the US offers media guidelines and a free image gallery 'to aid journalists, photo editors, bloggers, advertisers and other influencers in the creation and delivery of fair, unbiased coverage of obesity and weight-related topics on television, in print and online'.
"Journalists have an obligation to be fair, balanced, and accurate in their reporting of obesity. Unfortunately, overweight and obese persons are often portrayed negatively and disparagingly in the media, and reports about the causes and solutions to obesity are often framed in ways that reinforce stigma. These portrayals perpetuate damaging weight-based stereotypes and contribute to the pervasive bias and discrimination that overweight and obese persons experience in everyday life.
"These stigmatizing experiences can impair emotional well-being, leading to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal behaviors.
"Weight stigma poses significant consequences for both emotional and physical health.
These comprehensive resources can be found at www.yaleruddcenter.org and here. The Canadian Obesity Network has the same. (I can't find a UK gallery and if you Google 'obesity guidelines image gallery' you just get lots of websites about tortoises.)
So, people in the media, can we please see the faces of the people whose emotional and physical health you're damaging? If you're a journalist without a conscience, of course, please ignore this.
Image © Canadian Obesity Network
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