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Sizeism or size discrimination is discrimination based on a person's size.[1] Size discrimination usually refers to extremes in physical size, such as very tall or short; extremely thin or fat.


This type of discrimination can take a number of forms, ranging from refusing to hire someone because he or she is too short or too tall, to treating overweight and underweight individuals with disdain. In some regions[where?], anti-discrimination laws are in place to prohibit sizeism, along with other forms of discrimination, but sizeist stereotypes (such as "overweight people are lazy", "skinny people are mean"[citation needed], or "tall people can play basketball") are often ingrained in modern society.

In the USA, the list of anti-discrimination acts does not specifically include sizeism as an offense.[2]


Sizeism can be based on height, weight or both, and so is often related to height- and weight-based discrimination but is not synonymous with either. Depending on where in the world one is and how one lives his/her life, people may have a tendency to be especially tall, slender, short, or plump, and many societies have internalized attitudes about size. As a general rule, sizeist attitudes imply that someone believes that his or her size is superior to that of other people and treat people of other sizes negatively.

Examples of sizeist discrimination might include a person being fired from a job for being overweight or exceptionally short though their work was unaffected.

Sizeism and stereotypes

Like other forms of discrimination, sizeism is not always explicit. It involves the perpetuation of stereotypes and attitudes which support those stereotypes, such as the idea that fat people are lazy, fat people eat too much and do not exercise enough, tall people are good basketball players, that overweight people often contract diseases which render some jobs dangerous for themselves and others, that skinny women will be mean behind people's back and steal someone's boyfriend or, a skinny man isn't masculine due to lack of muscle mass. Sizeist attitudes can also take the form of expressions of physical disgust when confronted with people of differing sizes and can even manifest into specific phobias such as cacomorphobia (the fear of fat people), or a fear of tall or short people. Sizeism, being a newly recognized discriminatory stance, is usually observed by those who are its targets.

See also


  1. "sizeism.", The Oxford English Dictionary. 3rd ed. 2012. Web. 26 April 2012.
  2. Antidiscrimination (EEO) Law Information, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. June 15, 2011. Web. 26 April 2012.


  • Yofi Tirosh, The Right to Be Fat, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, 264–335 (2012).