Unpacking Our Own Weight Bias

I can’t believe we are already halfway through Weight Stigma Awareness Week! The other day I discussed some of the ways that weight stigma impacts our society. Today I want to explore some of the ways we (and I want to give a friendly reminder that while I am passionate about taking down weight stigma, I also grew up in a weight biased society. I also am continuing to challenge the stigma and conceptions fed to us by diet culture that might offend those in different size bodies) might unintentionally be showing our weight bias.

This assessment can be found in the book “Health At Every Size” by Linda Bacon (Bacon, 2010, p. 177-178).  Health At Every Size is a trademark term by the Association for Size Diversity And Health (ASDAH). We will continue to explore and unpack the Health At Every Size movement in the upcoming weeks. For now, note that this is a movement that believes in health regardless of size. It rejects weight, size and BMI as indicators of health and believes that all individuals are entitled to quality healthcare regardless of size. It also challenges that weight and size are a choice. This is a movement that is close to my heart and the lens that I use when working with clients.

For each of the following questions respond with never, occasionally, regularly or often.

“How often do you:

  1. Talk Negatively about your own weight?
  2. Choose clothes based on your perception of whether or not they make you look fat?
  3. Assume that someone wants to lose weight?
  4. Assume that someone should lose weight?
  5. Make negative comments about someone else’s weight?
  6. Encourage someone to lose weight?
  7. Admire someone for having lost weight?
  8. Admire someone’s ability to control his or her eating?
  9. Admire someone for burning calories through exercise?
  10. Assume someone is doing well because he/she lost weight?
  11. Admire someone’s slenderness?
  12. Assume that being fat is bad?
  13. Disapprove of someone because of what he/she weighs?
  14. Make comments to a heavy person about losing weight?
  15. Smile or laugh at a fat joke?
  16. Compliment a fat person on his or her appearance?
  17. Compliment a fat person on his or her personality traits?
  18. Actively oppose anti-fat comments?
  19. Challenge someone who conveys a myth about body fat?”

So, how did you do? Questions 1-15 demonstrate harmful cultural messages that often lead to weight stigma. Questions 16-19 are designed to show helpful messages that are more aligned with weight neutrality.

Please note that this assessment is not meant to induce shame for unintentionally contributing to weight bias, but instead is to help bring awareness to those moments to help prevent them for occurring in the future.



Bacon, Linda. Health at Every Size: the Surprising Truth about Your Weight. BenBella Books, 2010.

Katie Hill Stewart MA, LPC, LCPCWelcome! My name is Katie Hill Stewart; I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing north of Kansas City in Liberty, Missouri. My mission is providing support to adults struggling with disordered eating, body image issues, trauma, anxiety and depression.