Cherophobia: Characteristics, Consequences and Associated Social Factors

The Cherophobia is a neologism that alludes to the exaggerated fear or displeasure towards the own fatness or the one of other people. This term is also referred to in the literature as procrescophobia, obesophobia, fear of weight gain, weight phobia or fat phobia.

The phorophobia does not constitute a disorder classified as a specific type of phobia, and in the fields of clinical psychology and health the term is used to refer to a series of implacable and distorted attitudes toward body weight and the body’s own shape.


In the delimitation of the alteration known as cherophobia, moral prejudices and social attitudes play a highly relevant role, which attribute the excess of weight and the voluminous silhouettes of the bodies of the people more and more negatively.

Beyond the social impact of the cherophobia, it is necessary to take into account that people suffering from this psychological condition experience an excessive desire to be thin, a fact that motivates the development of compulsive behaviors to avoid weight gain.

In this sense, cherophobiais a psychological condition that is strongly associated with problems of eating behavior and psychological disorders such as anorexia nervosa.

In the present article the main characteristics of the phorophobia are reviewed. The relation that it presents with different social factors is discussed and the clinical consequences that this type of psychological condition can suffer are explained.

Characteristics of the phorophobia

The term cherophobia refers to a relatively ambiguous psychological condition that is not perfectly defined today.

In order to describe the phorophobia, it is first necessary to determine that, unlike what its nomenclature may indicate, it does not refer to a specific type of phobia.

In this sense, the cherophobia, according to the diagnostic manuals of psychiatry, does not constitute an anxiety disorder. In fact, it is not considered a psychopathological disorder.

In this way, the cherophobiais a concept that serves to designate an automatic and usually unconscious bias that leads to discriminate, objectify and underestimate overweight people.

The subjects with gordofobia automatically associate the fat people with attributes such as the lack of self-esteem, the difficulties to live a satisfactory sexuality and the need to attract attention by trying hard.

In this sense, the cherophobiais a psychological distortion that encourages systematically rejecting all fat or obese people, due to their physical appearance.

Several authors agree in affirming that the main idea of ​​the chordofobia is to understand that people with excess weight start with a definite disadvantage that makes them worth less than the others.

Seen with gophophobic glasses, obese subjects are perceived as desperate individuals who will accept worse treatment from others and who will be willing to be exploited or belittled.

Appearance of the term “chordophobia “

The term cherophobia owes its appearance to the professor of psychology and researcher Kelly Brownell who, together with Rebecca Puhl, Marlene Schwartz and Leslie Rudd, published in 2005 a book entitled ” Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences and Remedies “.

In this work an idea was postulated that had already been collected during the last years by multiple social movements: the discriminatory bias against overweight people.

This cognitive bias, which is the concept referred to by the term of gordofobia, highlights a main idea: the disadvantages of being overweight are not limited to the physical discomfort it produces.

In this sense, we begin to develop the concept of gordofobia from the extra discomfort, psychological type, which is produced by a discriminating bias against obese people.

The social rejection of overweight is not limited to this condition is a health problem that involves multiple physical problems, but is also motivated by aesthetic factors of cataloging and social acceptance.

Thus, the chordofobia is a term that allows to develop a series of attitudes and behaviors of rejection and discrimination toward overweight individuals, which are based on ideas and beliefs of social categorization.

Social factors of  chordophobia

The cherophobia is a concept that keeps a close relationship social factors. In fact, it is impossible to understand and define the term gordofobia without taking into account the processes of discrimination of society.

In this sense, the rejection of overweight is a phenomenon that has been increasing progressively in recent years. In general, most societies reject excessive weight gain, thus leading to the emergence of a social stigma towards obese people.

Attending to the social movements of rejection towards overweight, several authors have specified the different factors that could be related.

In the first place, it is now well established that excess weight is a condition that is detrimental to health. This factor could be important when it comes to understanding a certain social rejection towards overweight.

However, taking into account the discriminative qualities of the gordofobia concept, it is argued that the state of health is not a relevant aspect when defining this psychological condition.

The stigma towards fat people who develop individuals with gordofobia seems to be associated with cognitive biases that are related to more general social cataloging processes.

That is, the thoughts developed by a person with chordofobia are not limited to associating people with overweight with a worse state of health, but they relate obese people with negative and inferior attributes in a general way.

In this sense, people with chordofobia categorically reject overweight individuals, as they interpret that they have a lower personal value.

Social consequences

Several studies suggest that chordofobia is a growing phenomenon in society. More and more people are rejecting overweight individuals.

However, the chordofobia presents a paradoxical aspect. Although obese people consider themselves strange and with less value because they come out of normal, more and more people are classified as “fat”.

In fact, the physical aspect that people with gordofobia defend is presented by a minority of society, especially when this stigma is applied to the female sex.

However, this does not mean that people are increasingly fed worse and have more obese bodies, but quite the opposite.

The social effect of the chordofobia generates a gradual reduction of the threshold on what is considered obesity. That is, increasingly thin silhouettes are interpreted as fat or obese.

This fact shows that the chordofobia is not related to the medical or physical conditions of obesity.

While in the field of medicine the standards of what is and what is not obesity have good foundations based on scientific knowledge on how a healthy body is, in the social field the determination of “fat” is highly ambiguous and alterable.

Thus, society has a marked tendency to stigmatize the weight of people and increasingly establish stricter criteria when defining the bodies of individuals as “adequate”. In this sense, the chordofobia implies two main repercussions for society.

In the first place, more and more people adopt discriminative attitudes and attitudes towards overweight and, therefore, more and more individuals are more likely to develop gordophobia.

Secondly, the increase in stigmatization towards obese people means that these individuals are increasingly discriminated against by a society that tends to associate excess weight with generalized negative attributes.

Personal factors of gophophobia

The chordofobia is not a clinical picture or a psychopathology, and is a concept that is used mainly in the field of social psychology because of the social impacts that this causes.

Likewise, the main characteristics of the behavior of subjects with chordofobia are @nalyzed from an external point of view. That is, the subjects with chordofobia are characterized by developing attitudes, behaviors and discriminative behavior towards other people.

However, this does not mean that the chordofobia does not constitute a psychological condition that can be highly negative for the person who presents it.

Subjects with chordofobia do not categorically reject only the weight or appearance of other people, but also reject their own excess weight.

In this sense, it is usual for people with this psychological condition to develop compulsive acts to avoid at all times something that can mean an increase in weight.

People with chordofobia often experience feelings of failure when they gain weight and can develop a large number of obsessions about their physical appearance.

Thus, chordofobia is a psychological condition that is closely related to problems of eating behavior and psychological disorders such as anorexia nervosa. In fact, some psychologists have indicated that the phobia to gain weight is a necessary precedent for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.