2024 Equity Challenge Day 13: Weight Bias 

We need a world that insists upon safety and dignity for all of us — not because we are beautiful, healthy, blameless, exceptional or beyond reproach, but because we are human beings.

Aubrey Gordon

Activist, podcaster, author of “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat”
▶ LISTEN TO DAY 13 – 5:52

Today’s entry was written by Ann Arbor YMCA, one of our Equity Challenge Community Group Partner Organizations. Learn more about the Ann Arbor YMCA at the bottom of this entry.

Weight bias is a prejudicial attitude toward people based on the size of their body, usually directed toward people with larger bodies. This bias can look like judgments about a person’s weight, assumptions of laziness, believing it is an issue of choice or self-control, and other negative beliefs. The National Institute of Health describes weight bias as “a socially acceptable form of prejudice today.” Research has even shown that weight bias is tied to racist beliefs. We’ll talk more about this in Day 15 focused on anti-fatness in health care. care.

Beyond personal belief and prejudice, weight bias is a systemic issue that negatively impacts the health and wellbeing of people in our community. Below are a few examples of stereotypes about health and weight:

  • Seeing weight as a choice ignores systemic issues such as a lack of access to healthy foods, ability to access spaces and activities that promote movement, or even having the time to engage in movement.
  • Experienced weight-based discrimination may lead to people to feel unsafe in fitness centers, public parks and other events and spaces focused on movement or physical activity, where unwanted comments are common.

Everyone in our community deserves to experience a sense of belonging and to have access to a variety of spaces without fear of harassment and prejudice.

The Ann Arbor YMCA is a charitable association of adults and children joined by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of children and teens, promoting healthy living, and supporting our neighbors. Each day, we work to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the chance to learn, grow and thrive. The Ann Arbor YMCA’s mission is to put our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility into action through facilities and programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.





  • Share this policy brief on weight bias and weight stigma from the UIC School of Public Health at your workplace, especially if you work in public health, fitness, a medical field, community serving organization or school. Ask if there are ways your organization can use this information to be more inclusive in serving the community.
  • Weight bias and stigma are perpetuated every day in the ways we talk about ourselves, our children and others. Consider how statements like the following perpetuate negative beliefs:
    • Incessant commenting on body weight, e.g., “I feel so fat”
    • Complimenting others on their bodies or weight loss.
    • Talking about having a “beach body” or using body image as a measure of self-worth.
    • Anything related to weight loss as self-improvement.
    • Anything that equates thinness with superiority or virtue.
    • “I’m being so bad” when referring to eating certain foods.
    • Commenting on how much someone else is eating.
    • “Do I look fat in this?”
    • Anything assuming that people of certain body shapes or sizes aren’t athletic or can’t partake in physical activity.
  • Join us this Friday for our Community Action Friday at the Ann Arbor YMCA. This project involves a community mural painting developed by The Youth Volunteer Corps. This project is family friendly with shifts throughout the afternoon and early evening. You can get more information and sign up on our volunteer portal.

Reflect And Share

  1. How do you feel after today’s challenge?
  2. What is something you need to learn more about?
  3. In reflecting on the action item above, how has weight bias and stigma impacted you in your life? Where did it come from? How can you counter it?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hashtag #RiseToTheChallenge.