Office of MISS explores weight discrimination

True: Weight discrimination is more apparent in today’s society than gender, sex or race.

As part of the MISSConceptions series, Ro’Linder Wright presented “Weight Discrimination: It’s Weighing on America” in the LSC yesterday.

“Weight discrimination is very prevalent, but its one of those things that’s kind of hidden in society – kind of subtle. I think health is a big part of it and our office is there to help,” said Ashley McDonough, MISS program coordinator.

The presentation began with a series of icebreaking scenarios. The audience was asked to share its reactions to various weight-related scenarios. After a brief discussion, a PowerPoint lecture presented aspects of the American weight struggle, including diet pills, workplace discrimination and health-related issues.

Diet pills, as well as lap band surgeries, stomach stapling and crash diets are common, but unhealthy means of weight loss. Although risky, Americans now spend approximately fifty billion dollars a year on pills and products to lose weight, according to the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination.

College campuses have their own niche in the problem of weight discrimination. Specifically, eating disorders are a problem for college-age students.

“It’s really apparent because of eating disorders -everybody has the pressure of the freshman forty. If they do gain, they think they’re fat – it’s a big struggle in college. People eat too much, they eat too little, everybody deals with that struggle,” Wright said.

Included in the presentation was a history of the ideal body type, perpetuated by the media. Shows like “America’s Next Top Model” idealize low body weight and sell the image to women, according to Wright. One point Wright brought up was Marilyn Monroe, who was a size 12, and still the image of beauty for her time.

After the presentation, the floor was open to the mostly female audience to share personal experiences. Cathy Hernandez, one such participant, shared her struggles with finding a job as a police officer and how her weight has proven an obstacle.

“Whenever I went in, they said ‘well, we need your height and weight,’ and he said that he’d go to the captain. I met her, and right away she said ‘I’m sorry, you don’t meet the qualifications.’ I graduate in December with a degree and internship under my belt and they’re telling me I’m overweight. I don’t think I am,” Hernandez said. “That kind of crushed my dreams.”

Overall, the lecture reiterated the importance of inner beauty over outer beauty and how a person’s weight is not a representation of who they truly are.

“Beauty is not what we have on the outside, it’s what we have on the inside,” Wright said. “Beauty is only skin deep.”

The next MissConceptions event is a Third World Culture Seminar on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. in LSC 304.

Contact the Office of Multicultural and International Student Services for more information.

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