Changing the Face of Obesity in Canada: Network Launches Image Gallery

Canadian Obesity Network

This morning, I am speaking on the issue of weight bias and discrimination at the Journées annuelles de santé publique (Québec), in a session called: Regard sur la discrimination et les préjugés à l’égard du pods.

It is perhaps only fitting, that today also marks the launch of an image gallery by the Canadian Obesity Network, Canada’s national network of obesity researchers, health professionals and other stakeholders.

The image gallery features the first set of a, hopefully growing, collection of non-stereotypical images representing Canadians living with overweight and obesity, which are intended for use by media and others, who report on or talk about obesity.

As noted in a previous post, the stereotypical depiction of ‘headless’ torsos that generally accompany mediate reports on obesity (and unfortunately even find their way into talks by obesity researchers and health professionals), are not only demeaning but very much promote and propagate the negative image of people living with excess weight, a key driver of the widespread weight bias and discrimination that obese people face everyday.

The purpose of the image gallery according to the Network’s website:

“In an effort to reduce pejorative portrayals of overweight and obese persons in media reporting, we have created an Image Gallery that provides a collection of photographs that portray obese individuals in ways that are positive and non-stereotypical. These images provide a fair and non-biased representation of youth and adults who are overweight and obese. Our gallery can help promote accurate coverage of obesity-related topics in news reporting and challenge harmful weight-based stereotypes.”

All of the depicted individuals have most enthusiastically volunteered their images to the Network (see terms of use). They are to be commended as it requires a considerable courage and commitment to step forward for such a cause.

The Network is also grateful to photographer Robert Tinga, who generously gave his time and expertise to these shoots.

My sincere hope is that we will soon start seeing more images like these, that reflect the fact that the obesity discussion is about real people, real families, real Canadians – not just anonymous headless torsos.

Montréal, QC