326. Weight Stigma and Body Image with Sarah Pegrum

The topic of weight and body image is more prevalent in today’s society than ever before.  Every day we are bombarded with messages that convey the thin ideal and encourage us to strive for certain body types. Sadly, what is often overlooked is the harmful impact of these societal expectations, especially on people who don’t fit the narrow definition of beauty. Our guest for this episode is Dr. Sarah Pegrum, a clinical psychologist, ACT peer-reviewed trainer, and author of the groundbreaking book “Break the Binds of Weight Stigma.” Sarah provides an insightful perspective into the role of weight stigma and anti-fat bias in our culture, as well as how the wellness and health industries perpetuate these prejudices for their own gain. We discuss how this, in turn, leads to shame and consequent unhealthy behaviors and underline the importance of analyzing the “obesity epidemic” narrative more critically, as it is often more complex than it is often portrayed. Tune in for this empowering conversation on breaking free from body image struggles using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and start embracing life to the fullest!

Listen and Learn: 

  • Sarah’s experience putting this book out into the world and her fears of being a voice on the topic of weight stigma and body image 
  • How weight stigma manifests itself in the media and everyday conversation
  • Weight stigma and the negative impact it has on mental and physical health
  • How does the sense of belonging and fitting in pertain to weight stigma?
  • How our personal learning history may contribute to issues surrounding body image
  • How we get into patterns of avoidance and control and how that can be problematic
  • The emotional impact of weight stigma
  • How important is it to feel positive about your own body to have a healthier relationship with it?
  • How to apply the acceptance part of acceptance and commitment therapy when we aren’t feeling so positive about our bodies
  • Sarah’s words of wisdom for people consumed by thoughts of body criticism
  • What needs to change at the cultural level in terms of weight stigma and discrimination?


About Sarah Pegrum

Dr. Sarah Pegrum is a Clinical Psychologist and ACT Peer-Reviewed Trainer currently based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She has been researching and practicing in the field of body image, weight stigma, and eating disorders for over 15 years. She entered this field while completing her studies, with her PhD research which delved into the lived experience of people who had struggled with anorexia nervosa. She later moved to Canada, working as a clinical psychologist at an intensive outpatient program where she developed, facilitated, and evaluated interventions.  Transitioning to her current position in private practice where she provides therapeutic guidance to individuals navigating diverse challenges, and specialized in body image, weight stigma, and eating disorders.

Dr. Pegrum is also passionate about sharing information and training others in body image, weight stigma, and eating disorders, as well as in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She has presented on topics of body image, weight stigma, and self-criticism at a number of ACBS World Conferences both online (2021 and pre-con 2023), and in-person (San Francisco, 2022, and Cyprus, 2023), as well as at the Australia and New Zealand ACBS conference (2022). She is the founder of and is building an online community of practitioners who are interested in learning about ACT and body image (ACTing with Body Image). Dr. Pegrum is also an active member of the ACBS the incoming co-president of the Women of ACBS SIG and the outgoing president of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of ACBS. She is the author of the upcoming book Break the Binds of Weight Stigma.

Her therapeutic practice is deeply rooted in a value-driven ethos, with values of authenticity, safety, compassion, curiosity, connection, and humor at the center. These guiding principles seamlessly intertwine with her client interventions, clinical training, and, more recently her writing. When not engaging in professional activities, you will likely find her connecting with these values as well as adventure, by traveling the world and seeking out different experiences and cultures.

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Episode 326