Fighting Body Size Discrimination in Massachusetts

An Act prohibiting body size discrimination

Weight stigma is widespread and results in discrimination from landlords, lenders, employers, and service providers; interpersonal harassment from loved ones; and structural exclusion when public spaces are built to be inaccessible to larger bodies, as with the ever-shrinking size of commercial airline seats. Weight stigma is also a known risk factor for eating disorders in people of all sizes. The more a person takes negative messages about fat bodies to heart, the likelier they are to develop an eating disorder, regardless of how much that person weighs. In addition to eating disorders, weight stigma is associated with risk for diabetes and other poor health outcomes.

STRIPED supports the Massachusetts Legislature’s work addressing weight stigma and discrimination through legislation. An Act prohibiting body size discrimination has been introduced for the 2021-2022 legislative session and has been assigned H.1822/S.1127. Read our full policy brief  to learn more.

Sign-on Opportunity! Join us in calling for an end to weight discrimination in Massachusetts by having your organization sign onto our community coalition support letter urging lawmakers to support this important legislation. If you would like your organization to sign on, contact us at: STRIPED@hsph.harvard.edu and we’ll follow up with you with more details.

More resources on weight stigma and discrimination:

  • STRIPED has compiled a fact sheet, news stories, and science summaries for more background on the problems weight discrimination poses.
  • This policy brief, published by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UCONN, covers weight bias and weight discrimination law.
  • The Scarlet F,” from Harvard Public Health magazine, features STRIPED Director S. Bryn Austin and Trainee Monica Kriete MPH ’18 and explores weight discrimination from a public health perspective.
  • This legal article by Jennifer Pomeranz and Rebecca Puhl explores the legal landscape for people with large bodies seeking protection from employment discrimination.
  • Rebecca Puhl’s Washington Post op-ed titled, “Weight discrimination is rampant. Yet in most places it’s still legal,” calls attention to the importance of this legislation.