I came across this research from three universities which concluded that overweight women may never escape the painful stigma of obesity – even after they have shed the pounds. While I have not done any amount of research on social stigmas associated with previously obese women who conquer fat, I do concur that there is a perception that obesity is a controllable condition. In my 25 years of working with this population, I can honestly say that the vast majority of my clients who have obesity and food-related issues can and do overcome them. Some need more time and consistent, dedicated energy. Others do so more easily. Very few (that I have met or worked with) have considerations that render them helpless in the fight against fat. Therefore, I have informally concluded that most obese people can lose weight, and therefore the assumption that “we have to be more forgiving of fat” in general is erroneous.
I do believe that there is a social stigma associated with being obese. Personally, I think that women who overcome it successfully, and for long periods, are regarded with respect, not derision.