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Rejecting Fat Shame

By Camerin Ross
fat shame woman

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our culture has an obsession with thinness fueled by a fear of fat and a desire to fit in. Before the turn of the century, fatness was a desired state—an indicator of prosperity and health. Today, most fashion magazines illustrate an association between a thin ideal and power, money, and success.

Myriad problems are attributed to fatness, whether these associations are accurate or not. (The extent of this controversy is beyond the scope of this post but suffice it to say, it is not as clear cut as some would have you believe!) While bodies are bigger on average than in previous centuries, bodies are also generally taller and people are living longer.

The incessant focus on an “obesity epidemic” triggers fat shame (also the name of a terrific book by Amy Erdman Farrell) and fuels weight-stigma. Moreover, there is a common cultural standard that seems to believe that it’s okay—and effective—to use shame as a motivator for eliminating fatness.

What does shame feel like in you? For me, it is an intensely uncomfortable hot, creepy feeling under my chin and all the way down my neck. I feel like I want to unzip my skin and step out of it. The only thing it motivates me to want to do is run the other way.

We can‘t control who continues to frame fatness in a negative fashion, but your body is your business.

  • Claim your body rights back! No one has the right to judge, discriminate against you, or assume they know anything about your health or worth based on your size.
  • Reject weight bias (starting with your own).
  • Find support to work through feelings of shame created by our culture’s anti-obesity hysteria.
  • Instead of focusing on weight loss, focus on what really matters by asking, “How can I support my self-care and recovery today and step fully and boldly into the rest of my life?”

About the author

Camerin Ross, PhD Camerin has been a passionate consumer and advocate of mindful/intuitive eating strategies for over 15 years and found a home with Michelle May’s Am I Hungry? ® Mindful Eating program as a licensed Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating workshop facilitator in 2009. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology (2014) and developed her coaching skills with MentorCoach® in 2010. Camerin has worked with individuals and groups since 2007. She works in the San Francisco Bay Area and when appropriate, offers long-distance phone and webinar options. Passionate about sharing the practice of mindful eating, Camerin supports people finding freedom, peace and enjoyment with food and their bodies. She honors size diversity and works from a weight-neutral, Health At Every Size® perspective. You can read more at: CamerinRoss.com and reach her at (415) 937-0403 or info@CamerinRoss.com.


  1. L says:

    Thing is, I’m sincerely okay with other people being overweight or obese because I know it’s not entirely their fault, even though I do worry about their health and I know that most of them are really good, ordinary or extraordinary people with talents of their own. What I have a hard time accepting is myself. My mother blames the steroids for asthma I was on as a kid and a poor diet we all had in general, as does my father. I blame myself for being an idiot when I could have lost all this weight long ago and been healthier. I take full responsibility for the choices I made past and present, even from when I was very young, and it fills me to the core with self-loathing and I want to punish myself so that maybe I can force myself to learn from my mistakes and not forget the lesson.

    • Camerin Ross says:

      Reading your post, I was struck by something that is so common among people I work with in the Am I Hungry? Programs…I’ve been there too…we mistakenly believe that if we’re just hard enough on ourselves, that somehow, we’ll get slapped into shape and straighten up…sound familiar? This kind of self abuse was pointed out to me at the beginning of my mindful eating journey, and the question, How’s that workin’ for ya? was asked. I realized it wasn’t… After all the years of beating myself up–yet having compassion and understanding for everyone else–I finally got it–I needed to give myself the same respect and compassion I could give up others. And you know what? That IS workin’ for me 🙂 Hope you can find it too. We’re here for you!


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