With most Americans fat or fatter, you’d think we’d be lightening up on the anti-fat attitudes.
Alas, no. Even doctors often think their overweight patients are weak-willed.
But changing negative attitudes about body size might be as simple as changing what you see. When women in England were shown photos of plus-sized women in neutral gray leotards, they became more tolerant.
When the women were shown photos of anorexic women, attitudes became more positive there, too. “Showing them thin bodies makes them like thin bodies, more, and showing them fat bodies makes them like fat bodies more,” says Lynda Boothroyd, a psychology researcher at Durham University in England, who led the study. She calls it a “visual diet,” changing what your eyes eat.
Why the unflattering leotards? Boothroyd and her colleagues wanted neutral clothing to sever the link between thinness and success that’s so strong in Western cultures.
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