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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 1, Thread 7.

1. What are your personal biases?
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 7:11 PM/EST

As I watch the TV show I am checking for my own personal biases. I caught myself thinking that the wife was supporting the family and felt very negative towards the husband because he doesn't appear to have a "job" and has admitted he is an alcoholic. I was upset that he cautioned ciciley against a relationship with a foreigner because they are looking for a green card. This is one of the most insulting thing you can say to a person involved in a relationship with a foreigner. I know my personal biases in favor of my own race and gender sometimes get in the way of my professional decisions. I feel that being aware of them helps to lesson the damage.

22. Personal bias
Wed, Sep 22, 1999 - 10:56 AM/EST

I know I have a bias against fat people. I don't mean overweight people; I mean people with rolls of fat hanging around their middle, and limbs like tree trunks. Perhaps it dates way back to when I was a toddler. My grandmother, an obese person, had a preference for big bear hugs, which squished my little face into her huge bosoms, and I literally could not breathe. I would "emerge" from the hug gasping for breath. She died when I was four.

My bias seems to exclude fat people who have a glandular problem rather than an overeating problem, which I guess means that I make an allowance for those who can't help it and that I penalize those who can't control their eating (perhaps because I can't relate to or understand that disorder?). And the bias seems to be directed more at fat women than fat men. I recently met an obese man, who is charming, fascinating, witty, and intelligent.

I find that my bias is almost nonexistent with him. Rather, he brings out my maternal instinct. I fear for his health. The same is true for an obese woman at my church, who I love dearly. She is an exception to the bias. I don't kinow what this all means. Maybe I've been making exceptions to the bias because I have given these people a chance to be who they are on the inside. If I hadn't allowed myself to reach out to them in the first place, I'd have lost some very meaningful relationships. To use Jonathan's phrase, the "emotional risk" was definitely worth it!

24. response to ayrie 51's personal bias
Sun, Sep 26, 1999 - 9:26 PM/EST

Being a very overweight person with "limbs like tree trunks" your post really pushed my button. You say that your predjudice isn't against persons with a "glandular" problem, just against those who don't control their eating.

How can you determine by sight who has lost control of their eating vs medical obstacles towards losing weight? After 15 years of constant exercise, nutritional studies and controlled eating habits, I have lost a grand total of 4 pounds. I eat less calorically than my 125 pound sister-in-law. I was a slightly plump child, but did not become huge until my thirties, despite a life-long commitment to healthy eating and exercise. I still swim 4-5 times weekly and walk when I can, despite progressive knee arthritis.

There are so many incorrect assumptions about fat people and their lifestyle. I'd venture a guess that there are *no* very obese people who gained the weight due simply due to a lack of discipline or slovenly lifestyle. There is just to much pain and predjudice and discrimination and public ridicule on a daily basis to ignore. I can't imagine anyone not feeling motivated to try a myriad of methods to become "normal" acceptable or attractive. I'd venture a guess that most of these folks (or should I say *we* folks) have tried numerous radical diets and liquid fasts and even some surgery to lose weight, all to no avail. My own dieting history actually resulted in more weight *gain* in the long run than loss. I now am trying, with great difficulty, to accept myself as I am.

25. response to ayrie 51 cont.
Sun, Sep 26, 1999 - 9:31 PM/EST

I will continue my healthy habits until I die, and will struggle with the medical profession to get treatmnet for any ailments that arise. Doctors almost always assume that every and all health problem must be due to my weight, and almost always prescribe only weight loss. When I ask what they would do if I were normal size, I *sometimes* get a more realistic treatment. I was once told that resistant cough from the flu was due to my weight.

I most definitely have ailments that are related to being so overweight, but can do little to prevent them. I do believe, however, that it's my right to get them *treated* and not just brushed off as being due to my weight.I have to be very assertive and confrontative with doctors to find out what is the best treatment. Asking what they would do if I was of a normal weight almost always startles them into suggesting something other than weight-loss surgery.

I will not undergo this surgery because my research reveals that almost everyone who undergoes it has a life long of digestive and infectious problems, and tend to love a greatly shortened life, despite the weight loss. Others somehow gain all the weight back and more despite having a stomach capacity of just one cup!

26. response to elena
Mon, Sep 27, 1999 - 4:42 PM/EST

My apologies for pushing your button. Actually, I'm so glad you responded. Now that I have developed friendships with some obese people, I see how stupid the bias is. And grossly unfair, just like all biases. I mentioned it in the first place because it is a bias I've known I had since childhood, unlike those biases we deny or don't recognize we have. Please don't think I'm shaped like a toothpick.

Pregnancy 10 years ago rounded me out pretty well, and I've never lost the added pounds, no matter what I do. I can't look at a photograph of myself anymore without thinking, "Oh, what a fat face I have." As a matter of fact, I've been eating about 600 calories a day for about 3 weeks, and the scale hasn't budged a centimeter downward. But I sure feel tired and cranky--not the reward I was seeking. I applaud your decision to accept yourself the way you are! And your persistence in getting a straight answer from doctors is impressive. It's a good tip. Thanks for your honesty and sharing.

27. re: ayrie's response to elena
Tue, Sep 28, 1999 - 11:25 AM/EST

No offense taken.I'm just duly noting how quick my feelings ignite despite eons of experience with this. And even *I*, too shared your bias in the past. Before I was so heavy, I *perceived* myself as grossly overweight, but was in reality only about 15 pounds too heavy. I was extremely judgemental about anyone heavier than I, and had to consciously examine my reactions to fat people. Our society places so much value upon good looks that it is so thoroughly incorpoarted into our psyches on even a subconscious level.

My ex-husband would describe incidents of internal and almost self-hating racism among his extended family (African American). Those who were darker, had more pronounced ethnic features or were less attractive were subject to heavy-duty ridicule.

Read more featured posts here or continue reading thread 7 from Relationship Group 1.

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