As ridiculous as it sounds, fat people are assumed to be inherently unattractive, stupid and enslaved by creature comforts. Such stereotypes are portrayed by both the media and the public. Even in "politically correct" circles, where one would certainly not hear derogatory remarks about ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, or people with disabilities, one continues to hear derotagory remarks about fat people.
Stereotypes, and the resulting prejudice, develop from a belief that a group of people share common characteristics. This belief is almost always grounded in myth and ignorance. The central myth surrounding the prejudice against fat people is that fat people really could lose wieght if they wanted to. Research shows that fat people inherit metabolic factors. Within three to five years 90-95% of all diets fail. Tragically a high proportion of people will die from weight loss surgery and that dieting makes a person fatter. Most fat people have no more control over their size than a person does in the colour of their skin. Our society, accepts that some people will be shorter or taller than average, and some people will be thinner than average but cannot accept that some people will be fatter than average.
This climate creates a "blame the victim" mentality, where myths and stereotypes are used to justify treating fat people as second-class citizens. This has a devastating effect on the quality of life for fat people. Fat people are discriminated against in employment, in that they are denied employment, denied promotions, denied benefits, and sometimes fired, all because of their weight. Fat people cannot adopt children, solely because of their weight. Fat people are denied access to adequate medical care, sometimes denied treatment, misdiagnosed, harassed, and treated as though every medical condition is a weight-related condition. Fat people are denied access to public accommodations, such as public transport, airline travel, theatres, and restaurants because seating is not available for them.
Research has documented that women are most commonly the victims of size discrimination. Perhaps this is because men have traditionally gained credibility through the power and wealth they accumulate. Women have gained credibility through how closely they conform to society's ideals of beauty. Size discrimination is therefore linked to sexism. Women get fatter as they get older (a physiological phenomena), so size discrimination is linked to ageism. As lower income women tend to be fatter than higher income women, size discrimination is linked to classism. Size discrimination is undoubtedly a feminist issue.