New study shows real women (who) have curves face increasing stigma throughout Americas

LatinaLista — Obviously the headline is a play on the well-known film “Real Women Have Curves,” which became the battle cry for all other-than-skinny Latinas. But according to researchers at Arizona State University (ASU), more and more Latinos see a woman’s curves as anything but sexy.

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Researchers at the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts collected data from 10 countries and territories, including the U.S., on their cultural attitudes towards fat and obesity.

The findings were disappointing.

Countries that at one time viewed obesity in a neutral or positive light were now found to view it negatively, to the point of stigmatizing obese individuals.

In “Body Norms and Fat Stigma in Global Perspective,” researchers found that in countries like Puerto Rico, Paraguay and Mexico, where obesity used to be considered “normal,” there was now an anti-fat attitude.

Mexico and Paraguay were the only samples in which the culturally correct answers associated overweight and obesity with laziness.

In fact, among all the countries, Mexico and Paraguay had the highest fat stigma scores. The researchers credit this global spread of stigmatizing overweight people with public health or fitness campaigns that target obese individuals as the ones at fault for gaining weight rather than including social or environmental factors that contribute to weight gain.

“Stigma causes prejudice and discrimination and a lot of emotional suffering. The spread of stigmatizing ideas has the potential to do enormous social damage,” said Alexandra Brewis, executive director of the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change and director of the Center for Global Health.

If there is good news from the study, it’s the fact that while these attitudes against fat people are prevalent, most people still consider it rude and impolite to confront a person about their weight.

Clearly, the national push to combat obesity is making everyone conscientious about weight gain — but perhaps to an unhealthy level. It’s never healthy to stigmatize someone to the point it drags down their self-esteem, and in turn, makes them uncomfortable in their own skin.

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