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The Struggle for Weight Loss in Women Who Buy into a Stereotype and Then Have to Overcome Low Self Esteem

Posted Jan 18 2011 5:00am

Stereotyping is a fact of human nature. We define people by the groups they’re in, by their gender, age, what they wear, their political persuasion, their native land, etc. There’s no end to stereotyping. It is shorthand for who the other person is and who we are. There are positive stereotypes, and of course, there are negative stereotypes. In fact, we even stereotype ourselves. But how defining are negative stereotypes, and in this case, how defining for women is a negative stereotype?

A classical example of a negative stereotype for women is that of masculine strength vs. feminine weakness. When women see themselves as weak this affects their self-esteem. One defense we all mount against such negative stereotyping is differentiating ourselves from the stereotype. “Yes, I’m a woman, but my strengths are different than men. There’s nothing weak about my intelligence, my perseverance, my capability, my inner strength. And all the women I surround myself with are equally as strong.”

Why address stereotyping and self-esteem issues in a women’s weight-loss blog? That’s because stereotypical beliefs and self-esteem issues have so much to do with achieving successful weight loss. One stereotype that women have a hard time shaking is that which comes with being heavy vs. being thin. Thin is in; heavy is not. Heavy is all the things we don’t want to be. Thin is everything we want to be.

There we are with this negative stereotype weighing us down. This stereotype, negative as it is, also brings down our self-esteem. And that is then lowered self-esteem that we start with when we attempt to do something about our weight. The consequence of low self-esteem is that it takes away from what we have to lose weight: the intelligence, the perseverance, the capability, the inner strength.

The issue here for the woman who wants successful weight loss is to acknowledge the general negative stereotype for being heavy, but then learn to sufficiently distinguish herself from that stereotype. For example: “Although I am heavy, I see myself as capable, intelligent, quite with it, able to persevere, and possessing the inner strength that other woman who have successfully lost weight have.” So, you’re not only a member of the “heavy stereotype”. You also belong to the group of heavy women who can do something about their heaviness. If you can see a more differentiated you in the stereotype, you can maintain a good enough level of self-esteem to do what you have to do about losing unwanted weight.


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