Dickinson College Students Offended by ‘Fat Shaming’ Signs Suggesting Taking the Stairs

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Students at Dickinson College are taking issue with signs around campus that encourage students to take the stairs instead of elevators to improve their health. The students reportedly consider the signs “fat shaming,” as they promote the “dangerous narrative” that weight loss as “a positive thing.”

According to a report from the Dickinson College student newspaper, students were offended this month by a series of signs around campus that encourage students to avoid elevators. “Why not take the stairs if you are physically able?” the signs read. “Exercise and strengthen your heart and muscles.”

One student said that the signs made her feel guilty. She said that taking the stairs often caused her to feel dizzy. “I began to feel guilty every time that I took the elevator,” the student said. “I started realizing that I shouldn’t put my body through pain or stress when there is an elevator I could use,” she said. 

Another student said that the signs were “fat shaming.” “These signs were effectively fat shaming as they promoted weight loss as a positive thing,” the student said. “It had a negative impact on campus to have a series of signs that glorified a dangerous narrative that feeds into eating disorders.” 

Marni Jones, the dean and director of access and disability services at Dickinson College, said that the sign could be offensive to students who are forced to use elevators.

“Even with the qualifier “if you are physically able,” seeing a sign like this can feel shaming to those who have no choice but to use the elevator,” Jones said in a comment to the student newspaper. “I showed a picture of one of the posters to a student with a mobility impairment, who has difficulty using steps after having had four hip surgeries, to see what she thought about it, and she was visibly dejected upon reading it, saying, ‘That’s really unfair. You don’t know what other people are going through.’”

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