Reading » B2 Reading Tests » Fatphobia: The stigma of being fat – B2 English reading test
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  • B2 Reading Test

    Read an article about fatphobia, and for questions 1 to 6, choose the correct answer.

    Fatphobia: The stigma of being fat

    While many countries experience rising obesity levels, those who are overweight struggle with fatphobia. Here, Ellen Murray describes her own experiences.

    I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. Even during my pre-school years, I felt a sense of shame about it. It wasn’t that people were unkind or critical. But my mum, who is also fat, was constantly stressing about her own looks and self-worth, so I became aware that she considered being fat undesirable. The school I attended had a strict anti-bullying policy, so nobody was mean or rude, but in some ways, that was worse. Since nobody ever stated out loud that I was fatter than the other kids, I felt as if people were tiptoeing around me rather than accepting who I was.

    Since then, I’ve experienced all manner of horrible treatment. I frequently get jeered on public transport by people telling me I should pay extra. I don’t let that get to me anymore. What concerns me these days is that people have such unhealthy attitudes to weight. A friend of mine turned to drugs because she was so stressed about being fat. She got really thin, and all anyone said was how great she looked. They paid no attention to what she was going through. That’s something we really need to change.

    There’s also a lot of discrimination in medicine towards fat people. When seeking medical help, they invariably have to endure a lecture about how their weight impacts their health. According to research, if a fat person and a thin one see a doctor with the same complaint, the slim one is more likely to be tested and treated, while the fat one is fobbed off with instructions to change their diet and get fit. They have to be demanding and rude to get the treatment they deserve. More often than not, though, they avoid seeking medical help until the problem worsens.

    The increasing number of overweight people in the world is generally considered to be a problem. There is a movement of people who say that being overweight is not necessarily a problem at all: fat people can be just as healthy as those of a so-called ‘ideal’ weight. While I don’t feel in a position to say whether that’s true, I do worry that overweight people are considered a problem to be solved. It seems to give people the right to judge us as substandard. If it were a racial or sex issue, this kind of stigma wouldn’t be allowed.

    People make assumptions about fat people all the time. We are allegedly lazy, undisciplined and undesirable. The opinions of strangers don’t bother me, but these preconceptions persist even among people who know each other well. A friend of mine lost a lot of weight and soon afterwards received two promotions at work. She was congratulated on how well her work had improved. She couldn’t believe it, as she’d always given the company her all.

    The stigma endured by fat people is more harmful than any medical conditions they may suffer from, and it’s important to keep in mind that being heavy can be a result of poor health as well as a cause of it. There’s even growing evidence that these attitudes increase obesity. They certainly create mental health issues. Only by presenting overweight people in a positive light can this trend be overturned, and both the attitudes of fat and slim people must be addressed. All industries, including media, fashion, food, and medicine, should play a part in creating change.

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    Page 1 of 6

    1 What did Ellen find difficult about being overweight as a young child?


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