Fighting Body Size Discrimination in Massachusetts

An Act making discrimination on the basis of height and weight unlawful

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 making discrimination on the basis of height and weight unlawful has been introduced for the 2019-2020 legislative session and has been assigned S.2495. Read our full policy brief  to learn more.

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 An Act making discrimination on the basis of height and weight unlawful.