Body is not a mere biological and psychological existence, however every individual’s body is a very personal and individual part of him, but it is a phenomenon which is constructed socially, and consequently a human’s body is a physical and social reality in every society. With the advent of the consumer society, physical body and its subsequent reflectivity of individuals’ bodily identity became more important. In this society, by manipulating Outward and visible feature of their bodies and distancing from the concept of “natural body”, individuals started to construct social body . The emphasis of the modern western culture on slenderness and its consequent overweight stigma result in stigmatizing obese people.
World Health Organization (1998) introduced a grading system for categorization of obesity and overweight according to BMI. Overweight as a BMI is between 25 and 29.9 and obesity as a BMI is higher than 30. Although this distinction is important for health discussions, with those dimensions of social and psychological outcomes, it is less important overweight.
However, obesity is considered important as a disease and public health crisis, its stigma creates much suffering. The influence of negatively ethical views and attitudes regarding overweight and obesity like laziness and lack of self-control obviously has been growing commoner both institutionally and personally
Goffman speaks of three distinguished types of stigma: 1. the first type is the ugliness and flaws related to the body. Those who has suffered from flaws in terms of their appearance and according to normal cultural criteria. 2. The ethical flaws which harm cultural norms. 3. Ethnic and tribal stigma. Obesity is obviously consistent with the first two types of Goffman's categorization. Obesity is a physical flaw because it is obvious and explicit, on the other hand, it strongly associates with ethical flaws lacking in self-control and will.
Therefore, With the framework of theories of Goffman, Giddens, Festinger's social comparison, exchange, steaks and Bergner and previous studies, the following independent variables were included in a multivariate hypothesis:
There is a significant correlation between Personal factors - psychological (1. BMI 2. Age 3. Self-esteem) and social factors (1.social comparison, 2. influence of family and peers, 3.media consumption ,4. Education) and the rate of their perceived stigma of obesity.
This research method is survey and the tools employed in the present study is a researcher-made scale titled as "Internalized stigma of obesity in 15 to 44 year old women". The population of this study us 15 to 44 year old women of Yazd who are estimated to be 129699 individuals by Statistical Center of Iran. The sample size based on Cochran formula, 380 people were estimated. The sampling is regular stratification sampling method .Finally, Cronbach's alpha for questions related to the stigma of obesity were 0.90 and for the variables of social comparison, the influence of families and friends and self-esteem were 0.89, 0.73, and 0.62.
Discussion of results& Conclusions
Findings of the present study indicate that the presence of the internalized phenomenon of obesity stigma among women in the society, which social comparison is considered as its best predictor.
According to Festinger, individuals compare themselves with other in order to evaluate their capabilities and the more important these particular capabilities or the more their relations with current and behaviors are, the more the pressure for the elimination of differences and heterogeneities existing in the group occurs. Beauty and apparent attractiveness are dominating women's lives as a main factor despite the growth of women in fields such as science, employment, and so on in such a way that they are intertwined with important situations of an individual's life. Therefore, the more the individuals compare their bodies with those of others, the more the pressure of stigma is carried on them. In addition, the more the social comparison is, the less the individuals' self-esteems are, and dissatisfaction with their bodies and consequently the terrible feeling of not being beautiful, being different and in some cases, being degraded will dominate the individual.
BMI which measures obesity in measurement of stigma related to obesity is degraded to the second rank.
Stigma in micro level is involved in individuals' internal feelings towards themselves. Although stigma flames up in the heart of interaction, its pressure is imposed on individuals' most internal imagination and feeling towards themselves, which this feeling is terribly irritating. However, it should be noted that individuals with different psychological features differently experience and feel a common stigma; self-esteem is one of these features.
According to Exchange theory, being approved is an important award which originates from interaction. Therefore, in a society which physical attractiveness for women is considered as a privilege by which she is approved, praised and admired, being approved and accepted in terms of fitness by families, friends and peers who are the most important groups for an individual and he is in continuous contacts with them will be considered as highly important. To distance a desired fitness results in social pressure and consequently internal pressure on women. Therefore, women who are more influenced by their families and friends and the imagination of their bodies is dependent on the ideas of family members and friends, are more imposed by internalizing the stigma of obesity.
Bodies increasingly has been changed into a public subject for mass media, which with various presentations regarding diet, cosmetic surgery and other programs emphasize the importance of beauty and youth in such a way that in modern societies, media are considered as cultural factors containing information, ideas and even recreations focused on weight and diet (Malterud & Ulrikssen,2010). Therefore, the more the individuals are exposed to media, the more their sensitivity towards their bodies particularly their body sizes is. Because having and achieving induced ideals through media are difficult and not feasible for all people, they result in the feeling of stigma of obesity. In addition to the amount of use, considering the kind of media enjoys more importance. This point that what kind of content every medium presents to its audience, undoubtedly is effective in the feeling of stigma in obese individuals. In the investigated sample of series and satellite fashion channels, because of too emphasis on female physical attractiveness and in most of the cases as the only factor of women's having value and successfulness has the most influence on the feeling of stigma in women suffering from overweight and obesity.
The function which education can have in the heart of the daily relations and cliché ideas governing it, equipoising individuals' thoughts is of values available towards attitudes and conditions and various groups. In other words, educated individuals not only have more neutral compared with some negative attributes in other individuals, but they also are potential to the feeling of being less stigmatized regarding their obesity compared with their bodies.