If you have a BMI over 30, you may want to think twice about studying evolutionary psychology at NYU. (Actually, you should think twice about studying evolutionary psychology, period. But whatever.) Or maybe just consider never, every studying under Geoffry Miller.
According to Jezebel, Miller – who is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico and lecturer at New York University – tweeted:
Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth
Seriously, people. Everyone knows that all that fat just gunks up the thought channels in your brain so the smart thoughts can’t get through!
Miller later apologized and noted that his tweet represents neither his selection criteria or the selection criteria of any university. I might believe the bit about universities, but his own personal criteria? I have my doubts. I mean, he typed out that tweet and sent it out into the Internet ether. I’m skeptical that he would do that unless he believed what it, even just a little bit.
But forget this guy. He’s just one in a more wide-spread problem of fat phobia. Speaking from personal experience I can say that, yes, people do treat you differently when you’re overweight or obese. I don’t think it’s always intentional. But it happens.
And it happens in possibly the worst possible place: the doctor’s office. A recent study indicates that one third of third-year medical students at the Wake Forest School of Medicine have an unconscious bias against obese patients. (Even though this study is pretty limited, it falls in line with other studies on the subject.)
This is obviously a problem. According to an NPR interview with David Miller, the study’s author, assumptions associated with obesity can effect the treatments doctors offer.
“If doctors assume obese patients are lazy or lack willpower, they will be less likely to spend time counseling patients about lifestyle changes they could make,” he said. “Doctors also may be less likely to recommend formal weight loss programs if they assume their patient is unlikely to follow through. “
Sound familiar? People make inappropriate assumptions about a person’s ability because of their weight. It should go without saying that your weight has no bearing on your intellectual ability. In fact, there are a lot of different reasons why someone might be overweight or obese, nor is being overweight or slightly obese necessarily a sign of ill health. It’s just a bias without foundation in reality.
Geoffry Miller may have lacked the willpower to stop himself from hitting the send button, but his casual fat shaming is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons