by Tiffany Wong
In this week’s brainstorming session, we were asked to individually respond to the questions of who, what, when, where and why in relation to our issues. As I have slowly developed a stronger understanding and interest around weight-based bullying and expectations within our society today, I have responded to these questions accordingly.
Issue: Fat shaming and obesity
Who does the problem affect?
- Young women and men
- Young children
- Particularly people with little knowledge of the nutritional value in the foods they consumer, people who are time poor or people with little income
What are the boundaries of this issue?
- Social pressure and expectations
- Traditional and new media
- Celebrities and social influencers
- Parents and guardians
- Schools, universities and the workforce
- Food industries and manufacturers
Where does the problem occur?
- The problem can occur anywhere in the world and on the Internet. However, it is more common online than in real life, as people feel more protected expressing their thoughts and criticism and stay hidden behind their screens, often known as ‘keyboard warriors’ or ‘haters’.
Why is this issue important?
- My individual research has led me to realise that weight-based bullying is the most common form of bullying in youth worldwide. People who fall victim to bullying within this category are more likely to develop negative emotions, which may lead to a viscous cycle of overeating to help them gain a sense of comfort. This may also result in people developing a mental health illness, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Therefore it is important to break the barriers of those expectations and social pressures to look a certain way.
I found responding to these questions to be very successful in helping me pinpoint some of the key elements that my research has led me to. Following from this task, I came up with a draft proposal and 5 possible design solutions.
Possible Design Solutions
- Facts and statistical data on the rate of weight-based bullying and body shaming represented as a data visualisation and presented to the public. (Data Visualisation)
- Sharing stories from victims of bullying in the form of an app or a campaign shared across social media. This will also include links to counselling and any other means of help related to this issue. (Service design)
- Encouraging and positive messages collated together to allow people to feel less pressure to lose X amount of weight in X amount of time. Therefore they won’t feel like they have failed before they have even started their healthier living journey. (Data visualisation)
- Creating an interactive design that unveils the personal story of an obese individual alongside images of unhappy overweight people, when the image is selected. By doing so, I hope to remove the stigmatism around obese people and show the public that overweight or obese people are human and just like everyone else, no matter what size you are. The main message in this design is to treat people how you want to be treated. (Generative design)
- An online space where obese and average size people can share stories, experiences, and advice to create a positive and supportive community. (Service design)
Improving the rate of obesity within adolescents due to the social pressure and expectations within our society to look a certain way. To raise awareness and educate people on the foods they consumer and to upkeep regular exercise, but most importantly to encourage people to be more accepting of each other and not conform to society’s expectations.
The proposed design intervention could be an automated text messaging system that sends facts and statistical data on the rate of youths experiencing weight-based bullying and the consequences it has on the victims, both physically and psychologically. By doing so, I hope to raise awareness and encourage the general public to think before they act.
Although this statement is still very broad, it is a good starting point with the potential to be developed further.