Rudd Center Media Gallery:
Combating Weight Bias in the Media
Obese people are highly stigmatized in the United States and suffer from inequalities in employment, education, and health care as a result of weight discrimination. Studies show that in addition to the mainstream media, the news media is an especially pervasive source of stigmatization against obese persons. A Rudd Center content analysis of videos that accompany online news found that 65% of videos paired with online news stories about obesity stigmatize overweight/obese adults, and 77% of videos stigmatize overweight/obese youth. Another Rudd Center content analysis of online images in new stories found that 72% of photographs paired with online news stories about obesity are stigmatizing toward obese individuals. News photographs and videos tend to portray obese individuals as headless (i.e. only from the shoulders down), from unflattering angles (e.g. with only their abdomens or lower bodies shown), and engaging in stereotypical behaviors (e.g. eating unhealthy foods or engaging in sedentary behavior). These images degrade and dehumanize obese individuals, while spreading false assumptions and oversimplifying the complex issue of obesity.
In an effort to reduce stigmatizing portrayals of overweight and obese persons in the news, we have created a Media Gallery that provides a collection of brief, professional video clips and images that depict obese individuals in a variety of settings. These images and video clips provide a non-biased representation of adults who are overweight and obese, and are intended for use as background and b-roll video footage for the news media. Our Media Gallery can help promote accurate coverage of obesity-related topics in news reporting and challenge harmful weight-based stereotypes.