Research from the University of Hawaii reported this week indicates that negative attitudes toward women persist even after they have lost weight. Researchers suggest that policies are needed to combat prejudice against the obese based on inaccurate assumptions. I do not know how such policies would work, since we have been talking about this issue for almost 50 years now without much progress. But I do know something about the emotion of shame, which tortures many people who have difficulty controlling their weight. This is the challenge overweight people face everyday.
Shame is a powerful survival emotion that comes into play when we are defeated or excluded. People who face rejection, or stigma for any reason, usually find themselves experiencing shame or anger. Neither of these emotions help to make you more attractive. These emotions are designed to motivate your survival behavior. When shame is activated, you are faced with an emotional compulsion of trying to hide, expressing anger toward those you want to accept you, or taking the anger out on yourself. Some women feel compelled to starve themselves to skeletal proportions, without ever losing the sense that they are overweight. 9 Ways Parents Can Prevent Bullying
The brain is designed to pay attention to pain and danger, and the stigma of social ostracism is both painful and dangerous. But, paying attention to the inner pain of shame does not help. It just compels you to hide, or be angry, without much you can do about it. So, it is important not to let yourself be defined by these painful feelings. But how the devil do you do that? Here are 4 tips to overcoming the social stigmas of obesity. Hurrying and Worrying: Your Brain Doesn't Differentiate
1. Beautiful posture. Oddly enough, practicing acting beautiful can change your mind set by making small changes in your body. The emotion of shame makes you slouch and look away. Practicing standing straight up, head held high, and walking gracefully, tells you and people who see you that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Changing your posture works subtly to change your inner feelings, and the responses of those around you.
2. Beautiful smile. The emotion of anger makes you glare at others, and gives you a sharp tongue. There are many ways to smile. But the most lovely smiles come naturally, when you are thinking about those you love or experiences you love. When you can focus on joy, compassion, love, and beauty, rather than fear, shame, and pain, your smile will lift your own spirits and the hearts of those around you.
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