Fat shaming, Diabetes shaming, and James Corden

Friday, September 20, 2019
We need to be cheering each other on…not shaming!

People live with the burden of shame and self-blame, especially when it comes to their weight and chronic disease. It is not okay that people live with the shame and frustration of living with a chronic disease that cannot be cured and which others perceive as a flaw or due to a lack of willpower. I recently became aware of the complex emotions related to living with Type1 Diabetes and the shame and blame that T1Ds live with because of how people are so uninformed about this chronic, life-long disease. In a recent Facebook exchange a person living with T1D shared that “My concern is that the majority of the public still associates diabetes with obesity and lifestyle, and does not know there is more than one kind of diabetes. Most children with diabetes are affected with Type 1, and the condition is highly misunderstood. When ties are made generally between kids with diabetes and obesity, it makes me nervous for the T1D kids who do endure judgment and shame from others who don’t understand that it’s an autoimmune disease.”

We have to ask ourselves why it should ever be that important, for someone living with T1D, to make the distinction that T1D is not associated with obesity? Absolutely T1D is not caused by obesity. Truth is that there are kids with T1D who are also overweight or obese. But that is not the only point being made here. More importantly perhaps is that it tells us that fat shaming is alive and well and deeply scarring for children who are already challenged with another chronic disease. No one wants to be labeled fat because it has come to mean you are to blame for your condition or you are weak and have no willpower to correct your slovenly ways. Through the eyes of someone who has grown up with T1D we are able to see how brutal the judgment is for those children as well as kids who live with Type 2 diabetes and/or are living with excess weight. Clearly being labeled fat is the worst of all. No one wants to be associated with that terribleness…

Shaming is harmful. Shaming our kids to feel bad about a chronic disease is not only shameful it is scarring and can leave an open wound that lasts a life time as we can see from the words shared above. It has never been okay to shame others about their weight or a chronic disease they must live with. We do need to talk about how to manage our diseases in a positive and constructive way. This can and must be done in a safe and respectful way. Fat shaming can no longer be allowed…even from others who themselves live with other chronic diseases.

Here is what we need to be talking about…The growth of diabetes in our children has escalated . The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that from 2002 to 2012, incidence, or the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes in youth increased by about 1.8 percent each year. During the same period, the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased nearly 3x more quickly, at 4.8 percent. The study included 11,244 youth ages 0-19 with type 1 diabetes and 2,846 youth ages 10-19 with type 2. By 2050 it is estimated that the numbers of children with T1D will triple while the number who live with T2D will quadruple.

James Corden addressed the issue of fat shaming in a humorous as well as insightful way recently on his show. He was calling out Bill Maher for his insensitive comments about the need for more fat shaming. As Mr. Corden points out, obesity is a complex issue and no one has ever benefitted from bullying!

Bottom line…fat shaming and weight bias has no place in a world where kids and adults are living with chronic diseases and working everyday to live life as their healthiest selves. We need to call out the shamers and support those who face each day wanting to manage their diseases and weight successfully. We need to be cheering each other on…not shaming.

We need to support those facing their diseases and weight each day wanting to live life as their healthiest selves.

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