Ankara University Faculty of Communication, Public Relations and Publicity Department faculty member, Head of Advertising and Publicity Department Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin stated that with the research they started in 2020, they revealed that obesity does not only cause other health problems, but also that the lives of individuals with obesity are highly restricted due to the stigmatizing and discriminatory approaches they are exposed to.
My role is heavy, so what's your role?' project started. The project, which is the first in its field with the studies carried out, aims to raise awareness on discriminatory behaviors and discourses in obesity and appeals to everyone in the society. Explaining the details of the project carried out within the body of the Turkish Obesity Research Association (TOAD), Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin stated that with this study, they wanted to draw attention to the traumas, disappointments, hopes and struggles of individuals with obesity and to be their voice. prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin underlined that individuals with obesity are mostly injured by words, and emphasized that every positive change in the language and behaviors used will have great effects.
Ankara University Faculty of Communication, Public Relations and Publicity Department faculty member, Head of Advertising and Publicity Department Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin stated that with the research they started in 2020, they revealed that obesity does not only cause other health problems, but also that the lives of individuals with obesity are highly restricted due to the stigmatizing and discriminatory approaches they are exposed to. Stating that these approaches cause people with obesity to live as 'hidden disabilities' in society from time to time, Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin said, "The project, which invites the society to fight together to prevent obesity patients from being ignored as individuals and expressed only in numbers, is the first study in this field." prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin added that with the book 'My Role is Severe – Discrimination and Stigma in Obesity', which emerged as a result of their work, they conveyed these difficulties experienced by individuals with obesity in their own words.
PROF. DR. DENİZ SEZGİN: “CAUSES THEIR EXCLUSION FROM SOCIAL LIFE”
Providing information on how stigmatizing and discriminatory approaches affect individuals with obesity, Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin said:
“Stigma begins by giving various adjectives to obese individuals on the grounds that they are cute by their families and their environment. Words spoken like jokes and adjectives are neither sharp enough to be reacted to, nor nice enough to be accepted as a compliment. However, these expressions mean unknowingly broken hearts, postponed dreams and plans waiting to be realized. In addition, the stigma they experience in education and business life affects their whole lives, and the stigmatizing behaviors they are exposed to by health professionals may cause individuals with obesity to give up on health services. The stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes they experience in all areas from transportation to restaurants, from clothes to friendships cause them to be isolated from social life. There is also an element of pressure, as all overweight individuals are cheerful, fun and entertaining people.
In short, even the right of an overweight person to be unhappy and unhappy in the crowd is taken away; The task of adding joy to every environment they enter is softly placed on their shoulders without being asked.”
Drawing attention to the effect of the information in the media about individuals with obesity, Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin said, “Individuals with obesity are also imprisoned within certain limits with stereotypes and stigmatizing discourses in the media. Broadcasted news, programs, movies, TV series and advertisements reinforce discrimination.
HOW CAN WE AVOID Stigma AND DISCRIMINATION?
prof. Dr. According to Deniz Sezgin, the solution to this problem lies in being attentive to individuals with obesity. Emphasizing that not only the physical effects of obesity, but also the psychological effects such as unhappiness and depression should be taken into consideration, Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin said, “Obesity patients experience difficulties such as emotional emptiness and exclusion as well as hypertension, heart diseases or diabetes. They are trying to survive in a world where they decide for themselves, from what they should wear to how they travel.
DON'T SAY "Your face is very beautiful, but if you lose some weight..."!
Giving the message that in the right approach to individuals with obesity, the language used should be corrected first, Prof. Dr. Deniz Sezgin said:
“Individuals with obesity are most hurt by words. Everything starts with language. Contrary to popular belief, adults and older people with obesity do not like nicknames given to them. "Your face is beautiful, but you should lose some weight!", which overweight individuals often face. For example, the expression “I am saying it for your own good” that almost everyone uses in their lives… Therefore, our priority should be to change our language and review our expressions.”
PROF. DR. SEZGIN: “WE ARE STARTING CHANGE IN THINKING AND LANGUAGE”
Stating that individuals with obesity are stigmatized and discriminated against in education, business life, social life, benefiting from health services and media, Prof. Dr. Sezgin gave important details about the content and objectives of the project:
“My Role Is Heavy, So What's Your Role?” A project comes to life in which we will talk about our roles in this regard, and this year we aim to initiate a change in language and thought, starting with the media. We believe that with the transformation in the language and visuals used by the media, an awareness will be created in the society. We aim to carry out this project under the leadership of the Turkish Obesity Research Association in order to raise awareness in other fields. “Obesity Media Guide” has been prepared to support the media in their news studies about obesity and their use of language and photography. Then we will start the “Role of the Media in Obesity” workshops.”
Stating that they want to prepare a media analysis report in March 2022 after the workshops held, Prof. Dr. Sezgin stated that they believe that the practices in the society will also change as a result of the sensitivity of the media.
HOW DID THE BOOK AFFECT INDIVIDUALS WITH OBESITY?
Sharing the feedback on the book 'My Role is Severe - Discrimination and Stigma in Obesity', Prof. Dr. Sezgin said, “One of the effects of the book was that the participants of the interview continued their treatment or started treatment, which they took a break, especially during the restrictions applied due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the decisions they made after the interviews. They shared with us the news, images and happiness of losing weight.”
In addition, employees from different professions and sectors who read this research, which emphasizes that everyone in the society has a role, said, “What is our role? What can we do?" He added that they saw his support. prof. Dr. Sezgin added that the book can be used as a resource for other research, as well as having a positive effect on people who unwittingly use stigmatizing and discriminatory statements.