FEATURE

Fed Up With Fat Bias: Cover Story for Herizons Magazine (Winter 2017)

“Herizons

By Sharon Haywood

It’s bad enough that women have to contend with a glass ceiling that limits their advancement at work, not to mention a wage gap that translates into 73 cents being paid to women for every dollar paid to men—and less for women of colour.

But for women who don’t fit in to society’s confines of acceptable body size, weight stigma is another bias that makes it more challenging to be treated equitably, let alone get ahead.

In Edmonton recently, sociology student Connie Levitsky came face-to-face with weight stigma when the plus-sized clothing retailer Addition Elle fired her.

The reason? Levitsky had described her sales position with the clothing chain on her personal Facebook page as “Conquering the world, one well-dressed fat lady at a time.” Addition Elle told Levitsky that the company objected to the word “fat,” which in today’s thin-obsessed society carries negative and shameful connotations.

However, fat is a label that Levitsky and others in the body-positivity movement have embraced as a way to deconstruct the stigma and to challenge the stereotypes attached to the word. She has no issue with the more technical terms “overweight” and “obese.” But she acknowledges that some people in the fat-acceptance movement are opposed to medical-sounding labels, as they can carry moral undertones add to fat stigma. While problematic, overweight and obese are the only categorical measures used in fat-related research today.

Regardless of the term used—curvy, plus, overweight, obese or fat—size discrimination is a regular occurrence for many people in Canada and throughout much of the world. And women tend to pay the highest price of all...

Continue reading at Herizons' website.

Bio

2016Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing.

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Bio

Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a lengthy career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing. After backpacking throughout Mexico, Southeast Asia, and much of South America, she found her second home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there she committed herself to writing. She studied the craft, joined a writer's group (Thursdays@Three), and experimented with various styles of fiction and non-fiction, which led to her participation as an author, editor, and presenter at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires in 2008 and 2009 representing the U.S. Embassy.

Today, she is a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to medicine, web design, the American justice system, wind technology, anthropology, psychology, and the English and Spanish languages. She has authored textbooks and several online courses for colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. From authoring white papers to copy editing university-level exams, from ghostwriting for bestselling authors to development editing quarterly and annual reports, Sharon's experience is far-reaching.

She especially enjoys combining her love of the written word with her passion for body image activism and feminism. She regularly writes for Herizons, Canada's leading feminist magazine and is a body image columnist (in Spanish) for Entre Mujeres, a supplement of Clarín, the largest newspaper in Argentina. She is also a proud contributor to Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago), an anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

In 2009, Sharon joined the London-based AnyBody team, part of the international movement Endangered Bodies, which inspired her to organize Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body in Buenos Aires, one of five international summits held in March 2011. Subsequently, she founded AnyBody Argentina, the Buenos Aires chapter of Endangered Bodies, which fights against sizeism and promotes healthy body image for Argentines, issues that Sharon writes about in both English and Spanish. From 2009 to 2014, she was co-editor for AdiosBarbie.com, a website that promotes healthy body image and identity for people of all sizes, ages, races, cultures, abilities, and sexual identities and orientations; currently, she acts as an advisor for the team. Between 2013 and 2016, Sharon was a Global Advisory Board member for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, in which she advised on issues affecting young people's body confidence, contributed to various resources for parents, mentors, and youth leaders, and wrote various articles for the Dove Self-Esteem site.

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Proud Contributor to:

Fifty Shades of FeminismPublished in March 2013, Sharon contributes "Owning the F-word" to this anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

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