Why are fat people abused?

From BBC News:

Shouted at, spat at and even attacked, overweight people are campaigning for laws to protect them. Why is “fattism” seen by many as an acceptable prejudice?

Verbal attacks are part of daily life for some of the overweight. From people commenting on the contents of their shopping trolleys to shouting abuse at them in the street. In extreme cases there can even be physical abuse.

Why are many folk so intolerant of fat people? Discrimination on other grounds is widely frowned upon, so why is weight different?

One study in America found attitudes towards overweight people are more negative than other types of stigma often seized on by children, such as wearing glasses or having a physical disability.

That doesn’t mean they can’t control their actions toward overweight people. But the more fat people are portrayed as social pariahs, the more justified people feel in attacking them.

“Society’s increasing hatred of fat and obsession with thin is creating appalling prejudice,” says Ms Orbach. “It is allowing people to feel justified about abusing fat people.

“Every overweight person has become the person we must not be.”

Ms Coupe says the pressure to be thin is the only reason she can think of for her attack.

“I can only imagine this woman did what she did because she has been on a diet for most of her life and resents it. She probably hated me because I have accepted my weight and am happy with it.”

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