Do Men Hate Fat Women?

By Josie Brown

pic1She’s got such a pretty face, but…”

That compliment shouldn’t sting, but it does—because of what goes unsaid:  “…It’s a shame she’s so fat.”

Says who?

Men? The media? Society? Other women?

Yes, all of the above.

When supermodel Tyra Banks took a walk in a fat suit that added two hundred pounds to her mean lean frame, the response to her was disgust and, worse yet, derision.

Whenever an actress or songstress packs on the pounds, the media pounces onto her, like wolves fighting over fresh, liberally marbled meat. You saw it happen to Britney Spears after childbirth, and again when Renee Zellweger beefed up for both Bridget Jones movies.

According to the journal Obesity, weight discrimination, especially against women, is increasing in U.S. society and is almost as common as racial discrimination. In fact, reported discrimination based on weight has increased 66% in the past decade, up from about 7% to 12% of U.S. adults. The International Journal of Obesity points out that, among severely obese people, about 28% of men said they have experienced discrimination because of their weight. That figure leaps to 45% for women.

In a survey of 400 Marie Claire readers, 77% acknowledge they’ve wondered “How did she get him?” when seeing a fat woman walk by with an average-weight guy; and 73% admit to having been “secretly disgusted when they saw a fat person eating junk food.”

Work and Weight

Weight discrimination is a common occurrence at work, too. In a national survey of 12,686 women between 1981 and 2000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, as the percentage of American white women who are overweight and obese expanded from 12.6 percent to 50.4 percent, the wage penalty for obesity nearly doubled: in 1981, a woman in the 75th percentile on the Body Mass Index (roughly 165 pounds for a 5-foot-4-inch woman) could expect wages 4.29 percent lower than women in the 25th percentile (roughly 120 pounds). In 2000, the same hypothetical woman’s wage penalty had risen to 7.47 percent.

He’s Just Not That Into Your Body

And yes, men can be cruel to zaftig women. Campus lotharios find sport in barhopping for “sweat hogs,” overweight coeds whose low self-esteem makes easy lays.

Sadly, society also has it in for men who may not mind dating chubby women. In a study conducted at the University of Liverpool in England, a man photographed with a heavyset woman was rated 22 percent more negatively (including be called “a loser”) than when the same man is pictured with a svelte date by his side.

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