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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.

 joanna@poppink.com

Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.

Suffragette procession 1911Brave Suffragettes marching for women's dignity, respect and equality. Women can vote because of their courage and determination

My point about fear of fat not being a "subclinical issue" in healthy women (see Women are Human Beings, Not Symptoms) just got confirmed with this article from PubMed via the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "An experimental study of the role of weight bias in candidate evaluation," written by Beth J Miller and Jennifer D Lundgren.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, "...obese female candidates were evaluated more negatively than nonobese female candidates and nonobese male candidates were evaluated more negatively than were obese male candidates."

Ms. Miller and Ms. Lundgren conclude, and I quite agree, that the fact that weight bias exists for obese female political candidates but not males (where a larger body size is shown to be beneficial) shows the layers of both gender bias and weight bias that are at play here in very unfair ways.

So what is to be done? Crying, "It's not fair," didn't work on the playground when we were children, and it doesn't work now. Some situations that are not fair eventually reach the court system, where a judge rules what is fair and what is not. But equal pay for equal work hasn't happened yet. And how can law possibly rule on what goes on in an individual mind?

We can pass laws that make nasty or destructive behavior toward another person a punishable crime. But we can't pass laws that change actual beliefs and perceptions.

Does this mean that if a woman wants to run for political office, she has to be smart, dedicated, influential, Harvard educated with a high-grade point, have terrific references and a low BMI? Does she have to consider her weight and height ratio as or more important than her experience and intellectual qualities, and her passion for her political agenda? It looks that way right now.

We need new ideas and new leadership. As I see it, as an eating disorder recovery psychotherapist, dealing with food, weight and self-esteem issues every day, women have a list of challenges.

Here are some solutions.

  • Face the fact that the situation is not fair and that something needs to be done by women.
  • Don't believe the negative name-calling that goes with body image in this culture. In other words, build sturdy self esteem.
  • Support each other. Stop competition in terms of weight and body image. That just plays into the current unfair practices that harm women.
  • Speak up and write in praise of women for their genuine talents.
  • Laugh and discount comments and criticisms made about a woman's body, no matter who she is. Ridicule and humiliation are powerful tools.

And don't run to an eating disorder to save you from the challenges women need to face today. Eating disorders only make the situation for all women worse. Step out of the eating disorder and into the fray.

The Suffragettes did a lot. God bless them, but they didn't do it all. We have work to do for ourselves and our daughters. And by the way, men will benefit too.

Body image stigma is just as bad as any racial prejudice and just as threatening to democracy. Women must take inspiration from the Suffragettes and unite to empower themselves with freedom and dignity regardless of size or shape.


Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.

She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

Appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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