More than a Label: Obesity and Health

December 2, 2015

Maybe upon seeing the girl in the image above (Tess Munster, a model that weighs 120 kilos), you may have thought: Yes, she is really pretty and attractive but… “She’s fat.” This is the label that millions of people around the world have to face every day. Even more given that the rate of obesity has been rising further in recent years.

We can’t overlook the fact that obesity carries an extremely high health risk and is something we should control and avoid. No one is denying that. However, if you add to the stress of trying to lose those extra pounds, the stress of abuse, the sometimes derogatory labels, and the rejection by a society marked by very exclusive standards of beauty, that without a doubt can make many feel miserable.

Let’s think about our teenagers, those young overweight victims of schoolyard bullying, unable to get out of that circle. Low self-esteem, social alienation and distorted thoughts about their own body become a prison in which “eating” is sometimes the only way to find relief.

Hence, it’s not only important to address the issue of obesity from a nutritional point of view, with strategies designed to implement a change in their habits, food choices and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. But also, it’s vital to offer psychological tools to resolve inner conflicts and face the situation more efficiently.

Psychological strategies to address obesity

First of all, we should highlight that each person has their own story, context and a personality which, no doubt, will make some tools necessary while others not. Some strategies will work well for certain people and not at all for others. It’s important to keep this in mind.

1. Support from the people around us

It’s possible we decide to go on a diet, better our eating habits and avoid things that are unhealthy. Yet, if we don’t have support from the people around us, it’ll be very hard for us to carry this out.  If that is your case, establish a limit between yourself and those around you who don’t understand you.

Understand that losing weight is equal to gaining health, bettering your quality of life and having a better vision of yourself. Every effort will be worth it. You’ll gain in health and self-esteem. 

2. Fix distorted thoughts

“This is who I am. I’ll always be fat.” “I’m unpleasant to look at. No one will ever notice me.” “I’ll never be as thin as my friends, that actress, that model…”

All of these are distorted thoughts that won’t do you any good. They’ll devour your motivation and destroy your self-esteem. Your goal is to reach your ideal weight. Keeping in mind that it should be a goal that doesn’t pose any risks to your health.

To accomplish this, you must know that you don’t have to reach the “emaciation” look we’re sometimes sold. Because that is not beauty, and much less is it healthy.


3. Communication styles and social skills

How do you relate to the world? Do you feel insecure? Do you usually alternate between periods of great passivity and moments in which you let out your aggression?

You need to start expressing yourself, controlling your emotions while avoiding isolation and these moments of anger. Anger and hopelessness can make you feel more anxiety to eat.

Manage your emotions, develop your social skills. Look, if you wish, at the model at the beginning of this article. Tess Munster suffered through bullying during her childhood and adolescence. She had to leave her state to start over, to leave behind the misery and move forward.

She studied photography and slowly she began to notice that her face was attractive. That her body wasn’t a prison. And that she wasn’t ashamed to show it off. Nowadays, she graces the cover of magazines. Her face conveys balance and satisfaction. There lies its appeal.

4. Do you have anxiety? Maybe a covert depression?

In many cases, obesity hides more serious psychological processes that often go undetected. You go to primary healthcare to be offered a diet and referred to a nutritionist. However, you’re incapable of following these nutritional guidelines. Why is that? Because many of us naturally resort to binge eating to relieve anxiety and frustration. It may also be because we’re unable to overcome a loss, a failure, an unrequited love, or any other process that we weren’t able to handle properly.

Behind these extra pounds and obesity, sometimes there are many inner processes that we must be able to recognize in order to face. Don’t forget to ask for help when you need it. Look for strength and motivation within, and never stop loving yourself. You are more than a label. 

Take care of yourself inside and out.