“I feel like I’m taken for a brainless piece of meat,” said Sophie, 56, who requested anonymity.
During medical appointments “for very specific symptoms, the first words of the doctors are: The first problem to be treated is your obesity”, she regrets, considering herself “reduced to (her) carnal envelope”.
For her, society and the medical profession have a “narrow vision” of obesity: “He is fat who does not want to restrict himself”. An image associated with “dirtiness, inconstancy, laziness”.
Two out of three French people consider obesity to be “a problem of will”, reveals a survey carried out in February by the startup Fedmind, which fights against grossophobia by organizing discussion groups. European Obesity Days take place on Saturday and Sunday.
However, far from being a question of will, Sophie’s obesity is “the symptom of a compensation linked to a psychological problem”, she explains, and the remarks do not help her to get better, at least opposite.
Obesity results from “an accumulation of circumstances of which people are victims, such as metabolic disorders, mental illnesses”, explains to AFP Nina Lahaeye, of Fedmind. “There are more than 110 factors contributing to obesity, it’s not a choice,” she says, but the public is misinformed on the subject.
Sylvie Benkemoun, president of the Think Tank on Obesity and Overweight (GROS), adds that “fatphobia implies that everyone can weigh a standard weight” without considering, in addition to “traumas and psychological disorders, possible genetic predispositions.
Sylviane, 45, sees “three numbers” when she steps on the scale. Overweight since she was three years old, she says she has “never experienced a normal weight curve”. She experienced trauma that led her to find “refuge in food”, but she was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
“When I was a teenager, an endocrinologist told me If you were in a concentration camp, you would be thin. There, you stuff yourself, that’s all,” she recalls. Throughout her schooling, she was the victim of stigmatization and it never really stopped.
– “Unconscious stereotypes” –
This discrimination persists even though the World Health Organization (WHO) was alarmed, on May 3, by an “epidemic of overweight and obesity” in Europe, which is faced by nearly one in four adults. .
According to the Fedmind study, one in five French people thinks that the remarks made to overweight people encourage them to lose weight so that they no longer have to suffer them.
A false idea that only increases the difficulties of the victims. “The problem with these stereotypes is that they are unconscious,” says Sylvie Benkemoun. “The authors of these remarks do not realize the harm that it can produce, it prevents living”.
On the contrary, “grossophobia produces obesity”, adds Catherine Grangeard, psychoanalyst and author of books on the subject. “(Society) makes us believe that being thin is being good about yourself, it’s extremely serious manipulation.”
In particular, she points to diets that can “lead to obesity through a yo-yo effect”, by causing you to lose weight to regain a little more.
Sylvie Benkemoun, for her part, points to the “increasingly invasive” surgeries offered to lose weight. If obesity increases the risk of developing serious illnesses, “grosphobic doctors often miss other illnesses such as cancer, which are diagnosed later”, she regrets.
The WHO considers people with a BMI (body mass index) between 25 and 30 to be overweight, and over 30 to be obese.
“Society is far from trivializing fat bodies, stretch marks, sagging breasts,” regrets Nina Lahaeye. So, to change mentalities, round women “dare” to show themselves on social networks.
An uninhibited display that constitutes “activist hope” for her, calling on overweight people to “break away from weight loss sites and surround themselves with people who (them) look like them, and say to themselves I can be fat and happy “.