Stigma Essay, Research Paper
The Weight of Stigma
By Tina Sawicki
The lone sound is the shamble of pess and the birds shouting above me. The Sun gazes down, steeping me in its warm luster. I don t experience the heat, as I am being quietly fanned by my supporters. I am sprawled out in a full sofa chair, with my creases of flesh bared for all to stare upon admiringly. The creative person s eyes visible radiation with worship each clip he glances up to make full his eyes with my beauty. He is working tenderly, continuing my luster on canvas for the universe to see. I look up to see the thin, about gangly, adult females around me, with eyes filled with enviousness.
Then I am awake, in a universe different from my ideas and imaginativeness. I am amongst people who stigmatize me as fat, lazy, ugly and undisciplined. The universe I dream of, in the yesteryear, beyond my range. I am a stigma in my clip.
The term stigma has been around for decennaries. Used against those who are different or stray from the norm. Goffman, in Stigma 1963, delves into the different ensuing groups and behaviors from stigmatisation. Many of the constructs Goffman has developed are a big portion of my life and those within it. Populating with a stigma can be a hurtful and complicated manner of life to face.
Leaning against the fencing in the backyard of my childhood place, I yearningly cried out to my sister on her manner to school, that I wanted to travel with her. I wanted to travel to school so severely. I hated remaining at place, while she was allowed to travel into the unknown universe. Small to my cognition did I realize that traveling to school would get down my stigma calling. I was different from everyone else, this I did non cognize. I found this out when I began school as a kid. Goffman points out, public school entryway is frequently reported as the juncture of stigma acquisition, the experience sometimes coming really sharply on the first twenty-four hours of school, with twits, badgering, banishment, and battles ( pg.33 ) . I was taller than the bulk of the other kids, bigger boned than the other kids. This difference labelled me. I was the 1 they began to badger, to hit, to torture. Through the usage of the Labelling Theory, Frank Tannenbaum validates this as a procedure. I had to be labelled aberrant before I took the aberrant function. This function led me to self consciousness and placing myself as fat.
My lone safe topographic point was at place, with my female parent, my male parent, my sister. They would state me there was nil incorrect with me. Stating me, the other kids were covetous of me or that they would acquire their dues someday. I would come place weeping and my female parent would quiet me with Sweets and clinchs. My household was the wise in my life. Goffman offers the term wise as others who are related to the stigmatized and are sympathetic to the state of affairs ( pg 30 ) . It was a atrocious realisation that I was non one of them, a normal, we and those who do non go negatively from the peculiar outlooks at issue ( pg. 5 ) . And so began my moral calling, Persons who have a peculiar stigma tend to hold similar acquisition experiences sing their predicament, and similar alterations in construct of ego ( pg. 32 ) .
When the clip came for taking a baseball squad or rushing squad, I was ever the last chosen or had to be given a topographic point on the squad. I began to travel through a stage of my moral calling, larning I had a stigma and the effects of it. Other conventions began to presume what I was all about. They gave me a practical societal individuality ( pg. 2 ) , one which I was seldom given a opportunity to alter. I remember a instructor in Grade 6, who singled me out of the category to be made an illustration of. My desk was placed at the forepart of the category, beside the instructor s desk, and I was fundamentally made the category buffoon. During this assorted societal state of affairs ( pg.12 ) , my inmost frights were forced out. I was terrified of being the Centre of attractive force. It seemed every twenty-four hours I recoiled back from remarks from both the instructor and the other kids in my category. I hated holding to travel to school. I would travel place in cryings every twenty-four hours, until one twenty-four hours, I went to category and my desk had been put back and I was no longer the Centre of the instructor s attending, merely the kids s. I have learned as an grownup, my male parent visited the instructor with menaces on his life if I were non left entirely.
The undermentioned twelvemonth our household left that town. I was hopeful, dying to happen a new circle of friends or possibly a new individuality. Entering public school in the new town, I learned that the stigma I carried could non be hidden. It was extremely seeable and impossible to go through ( pg. 73 ) as thin or normal. Therefore my life ( pg. 62 ) as a fat single continued. I became state of affairs conscious, a critic of the societal scene, an perceiver of human dealingss ( pg. 111 ) . I attempted to be prepared for any and all assorted contacts. I was at the age where I began to detect male childs. I learned from a really immature age that my practical societal individuality ( pg.2 ) included an undesirability to the opposite sex. I was the brunt of many a gag, including a set up where the immature adult male I was interested in asked me to run into him at a peculiar clip and topographic point. I proceeded to be at that place on clip and the minute I stepped into the country designated, I heard laughter and hoots coming from the shrubs environing me. This made me cognizant of how unattractive I was to others.
Of the three types of stigmas Goffman puts Forth, abomination of the organic structure, character, and tribal stigmas ( pg 5 ) , I began non merely to transport the physical abomination of being fat but I began to develop character stigmas and defects. After larning my unattractiveness, I became depressive and self-destructive. I remember as a kid going hysterical and siting my bike about 7 stat mis to the provincial park in our country. It was filled with highly high H2O falls. I climbed atop the highest stone environing the falls and began to rock and sway. I had planned on jumping but seen a contemplation of myself in the H2O. For some uneven ground I did non leap that twenty-four hours.
In add-on to these character defects, I developed another physical abomination. In our high school, in order to acquire to the other side of the edifice you had to go through through the gym country. Within this country, there were rows of benches where the other kids sat and carried on during interruptions. Every clip I had to travel through this country I began to hyperventilate and huddle. To me this was an utmost assorted societal state of affairs and I reacted by take downing my caput as I walked through. Because of this changeless cowering and lowering of my caput, I have developed a intuition on the dorsum of my shoulders and highly bad position. This has become another physical abomination for me to transport.
My high school old ages did include several sympathetic others or ain, those who portion his stigma. A circle of plaint to which he can retreat for moral support and for the comfort of feeling at place, at easiness, accepted as a individual who truly is like any other normal individual ( pg. 20 ) . We were the three Musketeers, as we called ourselves. We ne’er went anyplace without each other. We calmed each others frights and used each other as a crutch when called for. We believed we were the cool group. That we were the 1s others aspired to be like.
There came a clip when this semblance no longer worked for me. I became ill of who and what I was and decided to make something about it. I began to play a function, normification ( pg. 110 ) . I became a different individual. I forced myself to make things I would otherwise hold non done. I forced myself into the alleged cool group of childs, who partied and did drugs. I had merriment but shortly realized they merely tolerated me within their group. I was non a normal and they knew it. When I was non in the room, and they believed I was out of earreach, they would take off ( pg 134 ) about me. Recognizing how I did non suit in, I resumed my topographic point with my sympathetic others.
Once I moved out of my place and into the metropolis on my ain, I began to detect my self-importance individuality ( pg. 124 ) was non something easy cover
T with. From what I saw on telecasting and from what I read or was lectured to me by my household, I should accept myself for what I am. Yet other things I read or saw, told me non to accept myself. That I should lose weight and that I would be so much happier if I did. I found it hard to presume a happy medium. I was non happy with who and what I was nor did I find the reply to be what I thought I should be. Goffman says, it is a inquiry of conformance, non conformity ( pg. 128 ) . This conformance becomes hard in a universe that believes an person should be of a certain organic structure size by fabricating film theater chairs to suit merely the slim, vesture of one size fits all or university desks made for the fat person to squash into or seek options.
I continued throughout my maturity to ever be on, ciphering about the feeling I am doing to a grade and in countries of behavior which I assume others are non ( pg. 14 ) . I would happen myself oppugning my visual aspect and sing each motion I made with vacillation. I attempted to go through by utilizing big, loose-fitting apparels as a disidentifier ( pg.44 ) . I believed I was making an semblance on myself to portray myself as normal. Bing introduced to the Internet was a beginning of a new individuality for me. I could maintain my stigma discreditable ( pg.41 ) and be person I usually am non. This individuality was ne’er lasting, as the other conventions on line would finally detect my secret by desiring to acquire to cognize me better.
I made an effort at one point to go sociable with others who carry the stigma of being fat. I found myself hankering to non be a portion of their group, believing myself different and non belonging amongst them. I became self-betraying ( pg.107 ) , seeking others of a heavier weight and comparing myself to them. It made me experience better about my ain stigma, that I wasn t every bit bad as they were. I found myself indicating and noticing about them. When I was among conventions, I found myself approaching, as Goffman footings it, coming near to an unwanted case of his ain sort while with a normal ( pg. 108 ) . I would follow the lead of the one I was with, noticing, indicating, jesting. All the piece feeling as if I were one of them, a normal.
I developed new sympathetic others as an grownup. They included a friend who had Cerebral Palsy, every bit good as several others who strayed from the norm. The conventions in my life seen one side of me, while the others saw another. I allowed the others to see a societal individuality ( pg.62 ) . One which portrayed me as strong, aggressive and able to allow remarks and the torture to flux over me without impacting me. My personal individuality ( pg.63 ) , which my sympathetic others seen, was one of hurting and unhappiness. I shared with them intimate inside informations which I would ne’er let go of to the conventions. I developed certain header accomplishments which lead to my societal individuality. Never allowing them see me shout or squinch, ever ready to assail and strike back. At other times I would utilize revelation etiquette ( pg.117 ) , presenting my stigma to the interaction and pulling a conversation from it, in order to salvage myself farther harm.
The calling I chose as a immature grownup was one where instantly I was aberrant. I became a Hairstylist. I became a member of the beauty industry and continued throughout this calling to be reminded continuously of my aberrance in being of that industry. I had to scope out occupation chances. Be certain that they were non of excessively high category salons. I learned this early when I decided to use to a salon in the metropolis which had a really clannish cliental. When I concluded my interview, it was said straight out that I would non suit in with the clients, that I was non stylish plenty to work at that place.
A support of my stigma came one twenty-four hours while I was working. A kid with his female parent came in for a haircut and was assigned to me. The kid was disquieted and argued with his female parent that he did non desire me to make his hair. Very aloud he declared I was excessively fat to make it. I remember instantly seeing red while the female parent flushed with embarrassment. I proceeded to make the haircut on the kid but decided to turn the tabular arraies on him with the female parent s encouragement. He had received a broken arm playing association football late and it was rather seeable. I began to explicate to him that I truly did non desire to make his hair because he had a broken arm and that I did non believe he should sit in my chair. He was really disquieted by this and his female parent and I proceeded to explicate the logic behind this. The kid apologized to me and I hope that he learned a really valuable lesson that twenty-four hours.
Goffman s Stigma, was written in 1963. With this in head we can happen the full book to be dedicated to work forces and the stigmas applied to that gender. It is unfortunate that he does non widen his research or theories to that of the female gender, as I find it hard to generalise all his constructs to both genders. It would be edifying to Goffman, if he were to be in our universe today, the extent of differences that have been found between work forces and adult females. Womans have shared many different experiences throughout life that can non be shared by work forces. Without this experience introduced to his theories, it is hard to accept his constructs as the concluding constructs. His lone mention to adult females in his book seems to be in the signifier of cocottes. Possibly in his clip, it was hard to presume adult females to hold stigmas or to even perpetrate aberrant behavior.
Goffman s treatment on the stages of larning a stigma or even larning the effects of holding a stigma, leaves out one of import aspect, the media. He discusses larning the stigma label through others in face to confront state of affairss every bit good as a kid. Goffman besides discusses a batch of stigmas which can be controlled through the condemnable system, yet being fat is an issue that can non be controlled this manner. The ultimate controlling frailty of those fat persons in society is one time once more the media. This type of acquisition is termed by Daniel Glaser in Theories of Deviance as Differential Identification, people acquiring their definitions of norms from other than other people. Everywhere one looks, the streets, the telecasting, the newspaper and magazines, there are ads specifying the cultural norm of beauty. It tells us we must thin to be happy. Womans have become so body witting that they find it hard to accept themselves as they are. The decorative industry is a billion dollar a twelvemonth concern, largely run by males, who outline the definitions of what society is to anticipate of adult females with their organic structures.
I believe in my life I have tried at least one hundred different diets that I have read in magazines, joined several fittingness nines, and considered more than one time decorative surgery to repair my stigma and go normal. I have even dreamed of digesting surgery which slices off my piquing creases of flesh, go forthing me with awful cicatrixs. I remember being elated by the consequences, disregarding the cicatrixs as portion of the conflict won. I could have on that Bikini that says I am normal, walk amongst those and carry myself with pride.
It is hideous, these stairss that some will take to go through or go a normal. In more recent times I have become slightly of a societal pervert ( pg.143 ) . I walk among those others, standing land for myself and disregarding the reactions of others around me. Those who say I do non belong do non belong in my life. I have complied with the alleged regulations of society, I go where I do non belong yet I accept the behavior of others to a certain extent.
The media has easy become a wise man of a different sort. It has taught us to accept to a grade those who are different, such as the physically challenged, or the blind. It is get downing to learn us that we don t have to follow with what we are told to be. It will take clip and the strength of many to dissect the current political orientations and norms amongst us. Possibly I can travel back to my phantasy of being admired for my beauty instead than being shunned for my singularity. Merely you can be the justice.