Do Media Portrayals and Social Consensus Information Impact Anti-Fat Attitudes and Support for Anti-Weight Discrimination Laws and Policies?
Although weight stigma and discrimination are associated with increased body dissatisfaction and eating disorder risk, reduced opportunities, and poorer well-being, there are few legal protections for such discrimination in the U.S. We addressed one barrier to enacting protective legislation – public attitudes toward anti-weight discrimination laws – by assessing the impact of media representations of fatness and information about peer attitudes. Using a 2 × 2 experimental design, participants (N = 525) completed baseline assessments of political conservatism and weight bias and were randomly assigned to view fat-negative or fat-positive media content that was ostensibly supported or not supported by their peers, followed by questionnaires assessing fat phobia and legislative attitudes. Two-way ANCOVAs controlling for baseline weight bias and political conservatism indicated a significant effect for media framing, with greater fat phobia and less support for anti-discrimination laws and policies among those who viewed the fat-negative frame; however, effects for ostensible peer support and interaction effects were not significant. These preliminary findings suggest that efforts to shift media rhetoric may enhance support for anti-weight discrimination laws. Future research should investigate other barriers to anti-discrimination legislation and estimate their impact on body dissatisfaction, eating disorder risk, and other indicators of population health.
Ambwani, Suman, Scott Elder, Richanne Sniezek, Mary Taylor Goeltz, and Ariel Beccia. "Do Media Portrayals and Social Consensus Information Impact Anti-Fat Attitudes and Support for Anti-Weight Discrimination Laws and Policies?" Body Image 39 (2021): 248-258. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144521001248