The Excessive Fear of Obese People
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when a fat or obese person walks into a room?
Do you experience unexplained fear or disgust when you see someone overweight?
Have you ever tried to control your anxiety around fat people, and found that you just couldn’t? You may have a fear of fat people. It might give you some closure to know that there is a fat phobia name for what you’re experiencing.
What is The Fear of Obese People Called?
Cacomorphobia is the term given to the phobia where one experiences an extreme fear of fat people. This is the classic fat phobia definition and does not mean you discriminate against fat people. Although irrational, having a fear of overweight people is a legitimate medical condition.
Let’s take a closer look at what this fear is. Knowing more about what you’re experiencing will put you in a better place to handle your fear.
What Fat Phobia Is All About
While some people may not like those of us who are overweight, what you experience goes beyond having a personal dislike. Fat people inspire in you an unexplained and uncontrollable terror.
To a large extent, fat phobia is media and culture-induced. We rarely see fat people in movies and films unless the show is a comedy. Cacomorphobia is also different from the fear of obesity or fear of getting fat. The fear of obese people has to do with dreading the sight of fat people.
You will inevitably encounter people of different shapes and sizes everywhere; this includes people who are overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70% of Americans are overweight or obese.
What Causes Cacomorphobia?
To understand your fear, we have to get to its root cause. Can you remember a traumatic experience with an obese person when you were younger? Like other phobias, negative experiences are responsible for our fear.
You might have been bullied by a fat person when you were younger. Perhaps you felt intimidated by them even when it wasn’t the intent. For this reason, you could have grown up thinking that fat people are harmful and are out to attack you.
Fat Phobia Symptoms
To be certain that you indeed have cacomorphobia, we need to look at the possible symptoms. The symptoms and the degree to which people experience them differ from one person to another. Symptoms can also be influenced by the specific trigger for your fear of fat people phobia. You may experience symptoms that are physical and/or psychological.
● Increased heart rate
● Profuse sweating
● Shivering and trembling
● Rapid and difficulty breathing
● Wanting to flee and hide when you spot an obese person
● Obsessive and uncontrolled thoughts about fat people
● Having mental images of being attacked by an obese person
● Experiencing agoraphobia, the fear of places that cause panic
● Having an uncontrollable, irrational, or exaggerated response to a fat person
● Intense focus on fat people to the extent that you find it hard to concentrate on anything else
Your fear of fat people is controllable. You don’t need to suffer because of unreasonable, illogical fear. The quality of your life may have severely gone down because of it. It might have reached an extent where you find it difficult to function normally and carry out normal day-to-day tasks.
Don’t be discouraged. While there is no magic pill that will make all your fears go away overnight, there are options that you can explore and steps that you can take to get better. The first step is to start with self-help and see if it reduces your anxiety and fears.
Self-help calls for you to put more effort into your recovery. You can do things on your own that can help you minimize your cacomorphobia and its effects on your lifestyle. Go at a pace that you are comfortable with. Be open to trying different methods since not all methods will work equally well.
Remember that recovery is a process that requires willingness, discipline, and commitment. Here are a few self-help methods you can try.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Only you truly understand what you go through when you encounter fat people. Write down what you feel and think. Go into as much detail as you can. Review what you write to gain more insight into your anxiety. Identify possible triggers and coping activities that you can do the next time you start to experience your fear.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Whether it is a close friend or a trusted family member, this person should care about you and have the capacity to calm and comfort you. Tell your selected confidante how your anxiety strikes you, what causes it, and what you have tried to do about it.
Mention specific incidents and how they played out. Use the opportunity to unload some of the weight of your fears and as a springboard for discussing how you might handle them better. Narrate incidents you care to share. You will realize just how helpful this is once you start doing it.
Try Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques include meditation and controlled breathing. When in public and within sight of a fat person, breathe in and out until you get your fears and your breathing under control. You will realize that this relaxes your mind and releases anxiety.
Another relaxation technique is self-affirmation. Look for positive, affirming statements that can help you overcome your fear and are meaningful for you. For example, you can remind yourself that you are in control and that your fears are only as great as you make them.
Look Into Support Groups
It is comforting to know that you are not alone when dealing with cacomorphobia. Support groups can help you find people who are going through the same challenges as you. Sharing your fears with people who have gone through similar experiences is not only cathartic but can also provide you with helpful ways to deal with your fear.
If joining a support group in real life seems like too big a step, you can look for one online. For people who may be shy or feel too embarrassed to talk about something so personal in front of strangers, it is a good alternative.
If you’ve been considering getting professional help, look into therapy. You can look for therapists, counselors, psychologists, or even psychiatrists who specialize in handling phobias. Some therapies you may encounter include psychotherapy and desensitization therapy.
In psychotherapy or talk therapy, you will be required to talk to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will listen to help you cope with your situation better. They will help you understand your moods, sentiments, and behaviors. A psychiatrist can help you define the root of your fear based on what you tell them during the session. He or she can also offer tips on how you can cope with your anxiety better.
Desensitization therapy in fear of fat phobia requires you to spend time in the company of fat people. While it may be hard at first, you will gradually get used to their presence. Desensitization therapy works by creating new thought associations to modify former behavior. It seeks to reduce fears with relaxation and more positive reactions.
How to Cope
Bear in mind that overweight people are not all bad. A person’s shape does not define their character. Together with the support network you choose, you can work on your fear of fat people and create a conducive environment where you can peacefully and more healthily coexist with them.
While your doctor can prescribe antidepressants and sedatives for short-term relief, you should also look for non-medicated ways to manage your fear. Now that you know more about what cacomorphobia is, you can look into getting the help you need whether it is by engaging in self-help activities or by looking for a trained professional for treatment.
As you learn to manage your fear, be patient with yourself. Have faith that you can overcome this and you will become stronger from the experience.