J. E. Mill traced the concept of stigma to classical Greece, where it was used to refer to physical markings in individuals who were seen as having “tarnished moral character” because of their actions (traitors, criminals) or origins (slaves). Since then, stigma has been used in an extensive variety of contexts to explain undesirable characteristics ranging from perceptions of welfare recipients to children with HIV/AIDS.

Erving Goffman identified three types of stigma. The first type, abominations of the body, refers to stigma associated with physical markings such as a deformity or disability. In other words, abominations of the body involve stigma that are the results of a visual difference that a society or group views as undesirable. For example, the stigma faced by leprosy patients would ...

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